Confused and slightly nauseated, the members of Scout Squad Five along with Morwyn now stand outside the gate entrance to the city of Lockhaven, home and headquarters of The Mouse Guard. The tenderpaws, Bundt, Darow, and Landon, stare in amazement at the city’s high, ivy-covered, stone walls; this is the first time that they’ve ever seen Lockhaven in person. Patrol Leader Dina and Morwyn immediately head to the grated gate and hail the guard to grant them passage. They are met by an armored mouse sentry who recognizes both of them and sends a hand signal to others guards within. The squad hears a metallic grinding noise as the heavy iron gate starts to ascend, and all are ushered into the gatehouse. Dina hands one of the messenger guards a rolled and sealed parchment, which contains her mission report, and asks that he deliver it immediately to Gwendolyn the Matriarch of The Mouse Guard.
In the small, squat room of the gatehouse, the tenderpaws gawk at the gate guards in their heavy shining armor with tall copper shields in paw. In Saint Louren, the Guard Post isn’t as heavily guarded nor do the guards there have such armor or shields for protection. Morwyn grins and tells them that he will have to give them a tour another time. For now, they must head to the Library Study to see his Uncle Tellus, a member of the High Council of Mystics. There they will present the Serpent Stone and their findings to him. All five mice exit the gatehouse and enter into the main hallway of Lockhaven.
Traversing their way through the main hallway, the great detail and intricate designs of the woven tapestries lining the hall takes the tenderpaws breath away. A few large scenes depict an army of mice and an army of weasels fighting on a snowy winter landscape. The young mice know from their history lessons that this is a rendition from the events of Winter War of 1149. Other artwork pieces on the walls display fallen heroes of The Mouse Guard to honor and memorialize their sacrifices. Several active serving guard mice also pass them along the way. Longing for Guard cloaks of their own, the tenderpaws regard them with reverence and then start to discuss the cloak colors that portray each mouse’s personality or spirit. They also make subtle hints to Dina at which color would best suit each of them once they are initiated as Guard mice.
Morwyn and the members of Scout Squad Five finally make it to the Library Study after a few more turns and straightaways. The entrance is tucked into a stone alcove off of the main hallway. Its two arched doors are made of a dark-brown oak wood and are adorned with many mystical symbols and lettering. Morwyn whispers a few indecipherable syllables and the doors open on their own. From the viewpoint in the hall outside, it looks somewhat small, but that is far from the truth once they step foot inside. Almost every wall in the Library Study is covered in bookshelves filled with several varieties of books except for a small portion of the back wall which is contains an open fireplace carved directly into the stone. Near the hearth, they find an elderly grey mouse reading a book while sitting on a cushioned chair. The chair looks as if it were once a small tree that had grown into this shape on its own. The old-fur mouse puts down his book, greets the newcomers, and introduces himself as Tellus the Wise.
Once the introductions are complete, Tellus orders one of his young mouse attendants to bring refreshments from Lockhaven’s kitchen for the weary travelers. The old-fur gestures for them all to take a seat around the fireplace and implores them to tell the details of this last mission. After all are seated, the attendant comes back with a serving tray full of freshly baked gabcroons, which were drizzled with the fabled sweet honey from Lockhaven’s honeycombs. There’s another kitchen servant following close behind with a set of cups and a clay pitcher filled with cool cider. As he notices the refreshments, Bundt’s eyes grow big with anticipation and a little drool can be seen sliding down the side of his furry cheek. The servants hand each mouse a gabcroon and a cup of cider then they exit the Library Study. Dina begins the reporting while the tenderpaws eagerly eat. Tellus listens to every word and says nothing. As usual, Bundt is the first mouse done with his food and drink. He then licks each finger on his paws and starts to pick the scraps out from his fur as the others are still eating. After Dina’s report is finished, the attendant comes back to clean up and gather the kitchen trays and cups.
Ever curious, Tellus the Wise takes Morwyn’s staff which holds the Serpent Stone in its apex. The orb remains inactive as the old-fur carefully examines it. Remembering the Mystic Scroll tucked into his belt pouch, Morwyn hands this to his uncle as well with hopes that he will be able to decipher the ancient text without too much trouble. Tellus squints at each glyph on the scroll and thinks that it may be written in the language of The Lost Ones if he recalls correctly. However, he says it has been ages since he’s seen this language and will not be able to translate it without a special codex book. The old-fur describes what the cover looks like and tasks Morwyn and the three tenderpaws with locating it while he further inspects the Serpent Stone.
Working as a team, the young mice each start searching opposite ends of wall of shelves for the book. Bundt and Darow take the left side wall, while Landon and Morwyn take the right. After a few moments, Bundt and Darow notice something weird during their search. They couldn’t believe what they say when one of the books seemed to shift and move. A mumbling growl could also be heard for a brief moment when they neared it. Noticing a pattern, the two mice try to capture whatever it was they seem to be chasing. Once they successfully cornered it at the end of the shelf, they inadvertently spotthe codex book. With quick reflexes, Bundt grabs it and finds himself face-to-face with a one-eyed, leathery creature poking its flat head out from inside the book’s pages. Its mumbled growls get louder, and its yellowish eye glares at him with a burning hatred. Scared for his life, Bundt decides not to open the book and runs it straight to Tellus who grabs the book from the mouse’s shaky paws.
Morwyn chuckles at Bundt’s antics but also tells him that he has nothing to fear. Then, Uncle Tellus introduces the tiny creature in the book as Fitzgigigit, his guardian companion. At the same time, it impishly winks its eye at Bundt. The old-fur mouse lightly pets the leathery creature on its flat head and unrolls the Mystic Scroll to show it to it. Fitzgigigit takes one brief look at it and quickly disappears from the codex book. Another growling mumble from the right side wall indicates where the odd thing ended up. Morwyn runs over and grabs a book that the creature is in now from the lowest shelf; it’s an old dusty tome that he then brings over to the group. Tellus the Wise takes it in his wrinkled paws and explains that it is the Tome of Legends. This ancient text contains tales that have been gathered over time from many sources within the Mouse Territories. He opens it to where Fitzgigigit resides and begins reading the Crown of Silver, Crown of Gold legend to them.
Journey to Darkwater:
Upon finishing the story, Uncle Tellus recalls that the ruins of Rosestone lie in the east near the water port city called Darkwater. He offers to translate the Mystic Scroll for them but will need a few hours. In the meantime, Dina heads to the Lockhaven’s mission control room to report a possible new mission status.
After consulting with Gwendolyn, the scout leader returns with new orders from the matriarch. Scout Squad Five will now be dispatched to Rosestone to search the ruins. Uncle Tellus finishes translating the Mystic Scroll, and he is only able to say that it will protect them when it’s most needed. Having used the last of Uncle Tellus’ emergency teleportation stones, Morwyn apologizes to Dina. She says there’s no need and states she’s been granted the use of riding hares from Lockhaven’s stables to travel to Darkwater. The team spends the rest of their time preparing for their next journey.
After six long days, Scout Squad Five uneventfully arrives at the visitor’s center of Darkwater and are greeted by a long-snout shrew named Devon. While questioning him about Rosestone and its location, they find out that the ruins have been renamed to Ghastly Garden Grove by the locals. This is in part due to the haunted spirit that resides there; folk lore says it is the long-dead ghost of King Avidar himself. Devon shows them its general location on their map and warns them of denizens of the swampy marshes that surround the place. Without further delay, the scouts head out.
The Tomb of the Corrupt King in Ghastly Garden Grove:
As Scout Squad Five reaches the outskirts of the swamp marshes of Ghastly Garden Grove, they notice the area is covered in a dense fog and stifling humidity. It almost feels as if it’s draining the life right out of them. All of a sudden, a determined Black Raven swoops down upon the scouts before they enter the swamp and is determined to make a quick meal of the mice. The team fought hard against the bird and drove it off; it decides that some berries are an easier target than these tough guard mice.
The overgrown vegetation and sticky marsh mud pose quite an obstacle for the team, but they persevere. Darow takes a moment to clean off his ax in the murky water but is immediately surprised by a big Bullfrog. Bundt had a sneaking suspicion about the water near Darow before the attack and had already readied an arrow in his new bow. His aim was strong and true; the arrow struck the Bullfrog right in its croaking throat before it was able to snap Darow up in its great maw. The creature died instantly. With a great cheer from his camarades, Bundt was celebrated for his courage! The team began declaring him “Bundt the Bullfrog Slayer”.
As evening turned to night, a darkness began to shroud the Ghastly Garden Grove. Scout Squad Five was on high alert now. Ever watchful Dina sensed something in the darkness stalking her team as they got closer to the ruins of Rosestone. A strange smell crept from somewhere in the distance; Landon, all too familiar with it, demanded the scout team start to make a run for it. They all ran toward the stony outcroppings just in the distance that were the damaged remnants of Rosestone’s city once formidable walls. All the scouts are now able to hear the mysterious creature chasing and closing in right behind them. The crescent moon shed little light to see by, but the mice’s nocturnal instincts kicked in. At last! They sighted the entrance to the tomb amidst some shattered, fallen pillars that were once part of a grand monument to King Avidar. The whole team entered just in time and quickly pushed the stone door of the tomb closed with all their combined might. A claw scratch against stone was the last thing they heard as the door slammed and sealed shut.
Conflict: Ghost King Avidar and the Thorny Snapdragon:
The tomb itself smelled of mold and mildew. Also, the stench of sulfur drifted in and out from the fetid swamp. A small spiral staircase led them down into the hallway preceding the mausoleum. The forest’s vegetation above grew rampantly over the years and caved in some of the stone ceiling and walls of the underground structure. Several sconces, now aged and broken, lined the tomb’s hallway with bits and pieces of them scattered about the floor. The scouts stood in awe before the partially opened door to King Avidar’s resting place. Inside they saw the scant moonlight shining down through a large break in the ceiling just above the king’s sarcophagus.
Morwyn, young and inquisitive as he is, went straight to the sarcophagus and began reading some of the inscriptions set in the stone. The others decided it best to open it to see if the king was buried with his Silver Crown or not. Upon opening the sarcophagus’ lid, a cold chill filled the room. Landon finds the Silver Crown still resting on the dead king’s skull. He picks it up, wraps it in a silken cloth, and places it safely in his backpack. All of a sudden, a blue spirit shimmered into existence; it was none other than the ghost of King Avidar! The malevolent spirit charged straight for Bundt with a hateful grimace on its transparent face. Recalling Uncle Tellus’ words, Bundt pulls out the Mystic Scroll, holds it in front of him, and closes his eyes fearing what’s to happen next. When the spirit tries to claw at Bundt’s chest, it shrieks in pain and winks out of existence instead. They all are able to relax after several minutes when they see it doesn’t return to harm them again.
Continuing with their mission, Bundt decides it best to help Morwyn to copy some of the scripture from the king’s coffin. Darow and Dina search their surroundings for anything of value beginning with the urns and other various offerings left in the mausoleum. They don’t find much but do notice a disturbing amount of assorted skeletons from different species of rodent-folk littering the floor. Not a moment sooner, a thorny plant-like creature known as a Thorny Snapdragon descends from the hole in the ceiling above. Its two menacing sprout heads snap at the nearest guard mice. Thick vine coils shoot forth from the plant’s base and slam against the door of the mausoleum shutting them in. Scout Squad Five decide to fight off the vicious creature and draw their weapons. Darow successfully chops one of the sprout heads right off and goes for the other, while Dina starts to hack at the thorny vine coils barricading the door. Not a moment sooner, a new sprout head pops forth from the main body of the plant. Morwyn tries his best to take one out but isn’t so lucky to land any hits. Landon with his long sword and Bundt with his bow and arrows team up against the large head of their common foe. After many coordinated attacks, they successfully destroy the Thorny Snapdragon. Its regenerated sprouts die off as well. Embedded deep in its roots, they find a weird book bound in leather. Master Chef Gusto’s Official Recipe book was printed on its front cover. No one other than Bundt would need or want this item, so he wraps it in cloth to keep it dry and packs it away in his satchel.
The scouts feel their exhaustion creeping in and need to rest for the remainder of the night. They choose to setup a safe camp in the hallway and fortify the two stone doors at each of its ends. Each one takes turns guarding the team as they sleep, still fearful of the mysterious creature that chased them earlier. In the morning, the scouts reluctantly open the tomb’s entrance door and make sure the mysterious creature was not about. They head straight back to Darkwater.