The Rat King (Part 1)

It is a warm spring day when the summons from Gwendolyn arrives. The morning chill has been chased away by the warm sun and Lockhaven bustles with activity as everymouse is trying to find any reason to work outside or run errands around the town. The note simply says:

‘Aengus,

Please assemble your patrol in the map room for an assignment.

Gwendolyn’

The Guard has been with the dawning of spring. A season’s worth of mail needs delivering, mice need escorting and all the other activities restored which winter postpones. It is routine work, but important to the mice of the territories.

This is the beginnings of a play-by forum session of the RPG Mouse Guard, so you can, you know, get the feel of it…..

Legend:

GM
Aengus
Tedwyn
Thom

Aengus clasped his woven green cloak around his furry neck, then slung his trusty ashwood bow over his shoulder. He quietly made his way through the dank halls of Lockhaven, almost unseen by the other guardsmice bustling about, preparing for their first mission of the season. He checked his list of recruits. “Hmmmm… should prove an interesting bunch” he said under his breath with a puff of herb smoke drawn from his elaborately carved pipe. He made his way from room to room, calling each mouse of his patrol with nothing more than a grim nod. Patrolmates in tow, Aengus marched to Gwendolyn’s quarters, his black fur bristling with anticipation at the thought of feeling the cool autumn air. It was about time.

Tedwyn had awoken late and had resorted to multitasking in order to be ready in time. He’d had to visit the crapper whilst cleaning his teeth and there had been some unpleasantness when he got his hands mixed up, but it was nothing a damp flannel couldn’t rectify. His name was called and he excitedly pulled up his britches (it’s normally the other way around), grabbed his sword and notebook, and thrust his hat on at a jaunty angle. Feeling ready to face the world, he marched briskly from his room to meet his new patrol leader, with a trail of toilet paper unravelling behind him from where it was wedged in his thundercrackers.

Thom’s ears pricked when he heard his Patrol Leaders voice echoing in the hall.

With a sigh, the young fur unfolded his legs and finished the silent prayer he had been meditating on since an hour before dawn. He glanced around the room, then stood to gather his cloak, scarf, and canteen from the small side table next to his bed. Though the bed was unused, he had chosen to sleep on the stone floor of his room, like he had done the night before and the night before that, in fact, Thom hadn’t slept on a bed since he had fled Sandmason. It’s not that he didn’t like them, he just didn’t think he deserved them.

His spear was near the door, it gleamed in the little light that entered his room. He could smell the familiar metallic scent and when he lifted it from it’s rest it felt familiar and warm in his paw. The spear was the only item from his hometown that he had bothered to take. But then, there wasn’t much left after… Thom quickly pushed the bubbling memories back into the dark corner of his mind.

Stepping through the door, he noticed the figure of a dark-furred mouse wearing a bow walking furthest down the hall, the smell of sweet smoke trailed from his pipe. Behind him, a strangely dressed moused followed excitedly. He guessed that these were his patrol mates.

With another glance down the hall in the opposite direction, Thom wrapped his head with his scarf, tightened his cloak and followed in line toward his next mission.

Gwendolyn looks up from her map as the patrol arrives. She had been discussing assignments and routes with one of her scribes, who she dismisses. “We’ll continue in a little while,” she says. Turning to the patrol she smiles and gestures to her map. “It has been a mild spring Aengus, and I have a mild mission for you. There is some mail that needs to be delivered to Pebblebrook. Most important is this.” She hands Aengus a letter sealed with the mark of the Matriarch. “Instructions for the patrol that overwintered there. It should be a good chance for you to get to know your patrolmates.” She smiles at Tedwyn. “After you have completed your mission please return to Lockhaven through Gilpledge, lending a hand where it is needed. If necessary, I will send further instructions if anything important comes up. So far, however, 1152 is looking to be a good year for the Territories.”

As the patrol leaves Gwendolyn motions for Aengus. Quietly she says, “I trust you to put the mission above personal concerns. There is no need to linger in Pebblebrook.”

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Ok, your first obstacle is a Pathfinder 5 Ob to reach Pebblebrook. Roleplay what you say or do along the path to achieve your goal. Aengus as patrol leader must make the check. The other members of the patrol can think of what they are doing to help, describe it and tell me what skill or wise they are looking.

Aengus drew his cloak tight around his dark fur. With a deep puff of his pipe he stepped into the brisk Spring air. “Finally…” he sighed. His whiskers twitched, taking in the scents of melting snow, fresh budding leaves, and all the creatures that were waking with the warming air.

“Don’t dither mice. We have a mission to complete. Tedwyn, put that map away. We won’t need it. Stick close to my side, and I’ll show you how to find your way without a piece of fancy parchment. Thom, take the rear guard. Stay within shouting distance.”

After a few hours on the trail Aengus nonchalantly veered off trail. Before the other mice could question his move he stated,

“This will save us nearly a full day’s journey. We’ll move through the denser forest. Sure we’ll miss Shaleburrow, but you two have been softened up enough over the winter. A few days on trail will whip you into shape. Besides, once we hit the high ground we’ll have a better view of the surrounding territories.”

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Okay, so I have Pathfinder 5, +1D Forest-wise for a total of 6D.

Let me know if you guys want to help. I’ll wait for your replies before I decide if I want to go follow my independent trait or not

Thom already distancing himself at the rear of the patrol, nods silently as he receives his orders from the Patrol Leader. He thinks to himself, “Fine by me. I’d rather be back here than anywhere for now.”

As the patrol moves on towards their destination, Thom realizes something is amiss far too late, the trail has thinned almost to a faint line, and there is little sign of any discernible traffic on their present course. The leaf litter around them is all but undisturbed and soon Thom can no longer recognize any landmarks. He has traveled the route from Lockhaven to Pebblebrook before a few times in the past, but now he is in completely unknown territory. As they continue to walk along, he overhears the black furred leader shout something nonchalantly about shortcuts and missing Shaleburrow altogether, he also mentions getting into shape and something about not being so soft.

After contemplating the situation they are in, Thom begins to doubt the choice of leadership, but rather than speak up, he chooses to see where this will lead. He has yet to notice any sign of danger, yet moving into the dense forest ahead, he can’t help but wish his mentor wouldn’t have chosen a stark white cloak to place him in. Just in case, Thom places both hands on his spear and sharpens his senses as best he can to anything that might endanger the patrol.

Thom doesn’t help.

Tedwyn kept his head down as usual when meeting Gwendolyn, glad of his patrol behind whom he could hide. Although Thom seemed distant and Aengus seemed brusque, Ted hoped they would soon become a team; he missed his old patrol and the camaraderie they shared in spite of him being a tenderpaw.

He followed Aengus through the city and out into the countryside, Thom travelling silently behind him all the while, but when he tried to help by pulling a map from his britches he was reprimanded by his patrol leader. Ted felt a little upset. He’s studied hard and always listens and learns, and feels a little anxious about making another faux-pas in front of his patrol.

Ted followed Aengus down the winding trail, making notes upon his map as he went. He wondered unhappily what fun adventures his old patrol were having right now.

Ted feels too intimidated to help with his Pathfinder 3. He’s just tagging along, making notes of the route and not paying much attention to possible dangers…..

First test of the mission.

Pathfinder Ob 5
Rolling Pathfinder 5 +1D Forest-wise +1D Persona Point

Rolled: 3s (2 axes)
Spent Fate Point: 2s (1 axe), rolled 1s
Total: 6s

Pass!

Aengus leads the patrol on the long journey to Pebblebrook. Choosing a path less travelled Aengus breaks the trail, maintains constant vigilance and takes every watch. For the other mice the journey was uneventful. Warm spring days and cold nights passed in silence with no chatter amongst the party until finally they arrive below Pebblebrook. Built into the exposed banks of a much diminished river the town is a beautiful mosiac of colourful round stonework held together with a nearly white mortar. Stone arches and balconies stud the dried mud wall. An overhang of turf shields the bank from the noon sun. In this vertical city another patrol are awaiting their spring orders.

Taking a long swig from his canteen, Thom surveys the town Pebblebrook. It’s arches and height add to an ominous feeling that the quiet mouse cannot place. It’s almost as if the entire town is full of staring eyes all fixing their judgmental stares upon him.

Finished with the cool drink Thom now takes a moment to secure his scarf around his muzzle to obstruct the eyes he is sure are watching him.

Aengus slumped against a sapling to catch his breath. He pulled out his pipe, ornately carved with guardsmice. From his belt he pulled out a small pouch of pungent smoking herbs. Carefully, he placed pinch by pinch of the herbs into the bowl of his pipe which was carved into the shape of a wolf’s head. Surveying the town of Pebblebrook below, Aengus too a deep breath of the chill Spring air, lit his pipe with his flint and tinder and took a long draw. The pipe smoke filled his lungs and calm washed over him. Still, he felt tired, nearly exhausted.

The fresh herb smoke and the knowledge that he would soon see his old friend invigorated Aengus.

“Let’s move guardsmice. Time to have a drink and some hot food, but don’t lose sight of the mission.”

Wow! Thought Tedwyn, this Aengus really knows his stuff. Moving away from the main trail could have been dangerous but it was a breeze and now the new trail is mapped. Perhaps this information could be shared with the Guard to make the trail usable by all?

Ted pondered this as the patrol entered the beautiful town of Pebblebrook and made towards what appeared to be Aengus’ favourite inn. Aengus still overawed him, so he kept his cartography ambitions to himself for now, stuff like that could wait until they were back in Lockhaven.

The game continues….

 

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