It was a beautiful, sunny spring day that brought a sliver of hope to a tiny mouse with a huge destiny in the Mouse Guard.
Waking to the sweet aromas of baked breads and puffy pastries, Bundt got up bright and early to help his mother, Misu, with the daily chores within the bustling Le Grande Surprise bakery. Carot, Bundt’s father, was already out planting grain in the fields outside of the city of Saint Louren.
After completing the daily chores, Bundt heads out to the store front to take care of all the customer’s orders and delivery pick ups and drop offs with his little sister, Cina. About mid-morning, a courier from Saint Louren Guard Post hand-delivers a message addressed to Misu. It was a contest flyer from Julia, the Master Chef of Saint Louren and Misu’s long-time friend. In order to win, the contestants were to bake the best gabcroon, a dense bread filled with seeds, fruits, and nuts; they are a staple travel ration within The Guard. The winner would become an apprentice under Julia within the Mouse Guard. Bundt is determined with all his heart to win.
On the day of the contest, Misu gives Bundt a small satchel of her family’s secret spices—cinnamon, sugar, and crystal honey—to ensure his victory. While walking to the guard post, Bundt meets up with Moka. Spoiled and self-centered, she brags that her parents, who are the owners of Les Petits Gateaux bakery, have taught her the best gabcroon recipe, and she is going to win the contest because she is beautiful. Meanwhile, Bundt’s rival, Dalek, is lurking in the shadows and following them to the guard post. His parents are the owners of El Pan Negro, known for its signature black breads.
Out of all the contestants, Bundt, Moka, and Dalek were the major competition and held the attention of the three judges: Master Chef Julia, Guard Captain Primo, and Scout Squad Five leader Dina. Once the time was up, the contestants were ordered to bring their gabcroon to the judging table for visual and taste inspection. While Bundt was putting the final touches on his pastry with some sprinkling of his secret ingredient, he notices Dalek quickly switch his own platter with Moka’s. As they were walking towards the judge’s table, he thought he saw a slight twitching movement of something inside the pastry that Moka was now carrying. In order to protect her, Bundt fakes seizures to distract the judges and switches the pastries back during the whole commotion.
The judging begins. Three gabcroons were chosen on specific qualities the judges preferred; Julia chose Bundt’s, Dina chose Moka’s, and Primo chose Dalek’s. Guard Captain Primo was just about to dig his fork into the flaky pastry when Dina stabbed her hunting knife into the gabcroon to kill whatever had been moving inside it. Upon inspection, she recognizes a Chocolate Stinger Scarab, which was an insect with a deadly sting strong enough to kill a full-grown snake. Primo orders the guards to arrest Dalek and put him in detention for a possible assassination attempt. The scout leader let the captain know that the insect, once dead, is a chocolate delicacy in southern regions of the world, so he continues to eat it but with caution.
After the taste inspection, the judges order all contestants out except for Bundt and Moka. They deliberate in hushed whispers while the two remaining contestants stand in the center of the room. Unanimously, the judges choose Bundt as the contest winner and congratulate him. He has won an apprenticeship in The Mouse Guard! Upset and almost in tears, Moka leaves the room and runs back to home. Julia escortes Bundt to her office behind the bakery hall once all the other guards leave. She explains to him that she and the other judges figured out his ruse with switching the gabcroons after Dalek was arrested. Not only were his baking skills excellent, but also his compassionate quality had lead them to choose him as the winner.
On his way home, Bundt ran full speed with a letter from Julia in his hand to present to his mother. Misu read the letter ecstatically and let Bundt know how proud she was of him. She also read that he has only one day to prepare for his apprenticeship and to spend time with his family while he can. When Carot came home, he took Bundt to his study and explains how happy he is for his son. Out of an old, wooden box, Carot pulls out a knife that was handed down to him from his father. He tells Bundt of the stories of Capo, who was a legendary scout in The Guard. Bundt accepts the knife with a big smile and heads to bed since it had been a long day and has yet to know that there are many more of them to follow.