Cast of Characters
Patrol Leader Roric @Marshmallow
We're only mice, nothing more.
Never miss a chance to rest and resupply.
Patrol Guard Lane @The Everyman
When it's do or die, you can only rely on yourself.
Always protect the weak and young, at any cost.
Guardmouse Finn @NotoriusBEN
Exhausted, harrowed, and shattered, a guardmouse endures.
The Guard's name shall never be tarnished.
Guardmouse Basil @the_jake_1973
Trust the Guard, never a politician.
Always provide for those in need.
There is nothing so difficult that it cannot be overcome.
Never back down from a challenge.
* Indicates a slight change in wording, so that each Instinct contains absolute words like "never" or "always".
The Long Road to Copperwood
Our story begins, as stories are wont to do, in the city of Lockhaven, home to the Guard, and the nearest thing to a capital the territories have ever known. A full year has passed since the Axe shattered itself upon the cold walls of this fortress, and all its pieces scurried back to their homes in Barkstone, Elmoss, and Copperwood. The damage had been done, though. Midnight had proven to the territories that the Guard could bleed. And bleed it did: the number of dead and missing mice may well take years to tally ...
Spring has come again to the territories, yet even in the heart of this place -this fortress- surrounded by wood and stone and friends, there are places where a mouse can see the warmth of his breath. Gwendolyn's chambers, stocked full of maps and charts and written-promises far too valuable to risk exposing to an open flame, is one of those places. The Matriarch of the Mouse Guard is bent over a large table when you enter, flanked on either side by the Oldfurs -- captains, who have earned the honor of standing at the right paw of the Matriarch after years of devoted service to the Guard.
An intricately-designed map of the territories is carved upon the well-worn face of the table, and dozens of small wooden figurines checker its surface like the pieces of a child's game. As Gwendolyn turns to face your patrol, you notice that she's holding one final piece in the palm of her paw.
Outside, the first rains of spring are tap-tap-tapping upon the many-colored windows of Lockhaven, while a chill wind blows against its strong stone walls. Gwendolyn braces herself against the cold, pulling her heavy blue cloak tight about her pale blonde fur. There is a sadness in her eyes, as she looks to Roric
and his patrol, but her voice is resolute:
"The Winter came sudden," she reminded them, "too sudden." The Matriarch of the Mouse Guard turned again toward the map table, and pointed to a marker on the long road to Copperwood. "Here lies Greyview, the finest observatory in the territories. Within its walls, you shall find a redfur by the name of 'Mayhew'."
She motions toward several large sacks, leaned up against the furthest wall, where a huge black axe hangs upon display. A chill run down your spine when you realize that you are standing in the exact spot where the treacherous Midnight met his defeat, only scarcely more than a year ago. "Within these packs", she explains, "Mayhew shall find a gift from the Guard: a fine new lens for his telescope, hand-crafted by the glaziers of Lockhaven, over the course of the long Winter."
Gwendolyn places a hand on Roric's
shoulder, and meets his gaze with her own. "In return for this gift, he shall give you his weather recordings, along with a prediction of this year's activities. Let him know that, even as times are lean, he shall count upon more gifts of the Guard, should his predictions ring true. Return to me when the task is done, and you shall all be rewarded." The Matriarch smiles a small kind of smile, and places the last of her figurines upon the long road to Copperwood.
"Make haste, my friend." She turns toward the rest of the patrol.
"And remember your oaths."
[Now is the time for writing Mission Goals]