Between this session and last session clock was advanced two months; it´s now middle summer. Gwendolyn sent peacemakers to Barkstone to keep the relations alive. They failed. Alba Rynbeldel, daughter of the patriarch, and head of the family now that both his father and his brother are under Mouse Guard custody, used her fathers disappearance, her family relationships and the actions of Gill´s patrol to win the Barkstone Mayor election. Now Barkstone is closed to the Guard, rumors about insanity in house Rynbeldel are growing strong, and the mood in territories is strained.
The summer gave it´s best for the journey; the sun and the wind were oblivious to the worry in the territories, and were not afraid to show themselves to the world. Day by day, the wind smell more and more of ocean; and especially Beagan loced the scent. A day before Chistledown the patrol arrived at a stream; there had obviously been rains further north, and the stream was overflowing so that wading was impossible. The patrol decided , with Beagan and Thom in the lead, to build rafts and cross the river. Working together, the rafts were ready in no time, and with Gill´s patrol on the lead the mice started their trip over the stream. Halfway there a hidden undercurrent caught the leading raft - it was too strong to break free from, and attempts to do so only made the raft to spin. The raft behind them, now knowing the danger, succesfullly evaded it, but Gill´s patrol was taken far from their path.
|Partio matkalla pitkin joenrantaa|
The next night Cole sits next to Gunrey at the campfire and tell him, with quiet voice, his concern; his beloved, daughter of a seamstress, lives in Dawnrock, an Cole was worried about her health. Others did not hear the conversation.
When patrol arrived at crossroads, roads ahead leading to Whitepine and Dawnrock, they saw a girl in dirty clothes coming from the direction of Whitepine. Patrol stopped the girl, and she told her story: she was 17, and her name was Lenore. She was in love to a smith´s son in Chistledown, but her parents did not approve, as they were a rich and influential family, local elite. A week ago her brother died in a accident, and her parents were stricken with sorrow. Now that she no longer had her brother, and her parents did not give her the little attention they used to, she thought she had nothing left in Whitepine and started the long walk to her belowed. The journey, however, was not easy for a solitary mouse, and she was tired, hungry, dirty and wounded on her leg.
Cole treated the girls wound and made sure she was healthy. Thetreatment did not take well, and the Lenore was unable to travel for the night, and would have a scare. Beagan was strongly of the opinion that she could not be left alone, and Gunrey was already ready to take her to Chistledown, because Whitepine was too far. Cail objected to sending escorts, as they needed all the mice they got if there really was plague in Dawnrock. Gill decided, after discussion, to send two mice from Cail´s patrol to take Lenore to safety and them come after them.
At night, when Radulf and Thom were at guard, Lenore, who could not sleep, came weeping to talk to the pair. They listened, gave what comfort they could, and Thom hugged her and patted her on the back. After a while, Lenore calms down, goes back to her bed and at last falls asleep.
At morning Lenore wants to give his necklace, made of gold and of good make, to Radulf as thanks from help and comfort (she was raised to noble manners, and even if Thoms hug helped her more, the thanks from work of an apprentice belongs to the master). Radulf accepts the necklace, and the Patrol watches Lenore leave with her escorts behind a hill. Afterwards, Cail comes to Radulf and tells that he disapproves: the guard should accept no payment, for they work to help, not to get rich. Radulf answers by telling him that he will not sell the necklace, but rather keep it as a keepsake. Cail is not happy, but leaves the matter be.
At last the patrol gets to it´s destination: a wonderfull sight opens up from behind a hill. Endless sea sparkling in the sunlight, and the city of Dawnrock embraced by the ocean wind. When the patrols enter the city (the worriless city doesn´t have walls), the local mayor comes to them disturbed:
Thank the maker you are here, we were about to send a runner to get help. Come with me, this is not something to be discussed on open streets!
|Hiiren elämässä kuolema ei koskaan ole kaukana|
Two things of note happened during the night: Gill went for a walk on the craftsmice´s block, and overheard mice growing restless and mourning their dead. Elsewhere, Gunrey woke up and noticed that Cole was not reading nor sleeping. He went out, and witnessed two figures hugging each other before separating and going their separate ways. One came towards Gunrey, and it came closer, was reavealed to be Cole.
Gunrey: Did you make it?
Cole: I only hope i was in time...
At morning Cole tells the patrols, that it indeed is Plague, and the block had to be quarantined. But only for four days; the plagues was curable, but manufacturing the medicine would take 4 days. The patrol plans the best places for roadblocks and think of the best way to keep citizens calm. The spost for roadblocks were found with no problems, and calming the citizens was tasked to Thom, who had learned public speaking from his parents. So all the craftsmice are summoned (and asked to keep a little distance from each other, to keep the plague from spreading), and Thom on a herring barrel to give his speech. He speaks of hope, of order, and convinces the mice, that even with the sickness, the guard can save them, if they only let them. And the mice believe him, completely taken by Thom´s narrative.
Three days the quarantine worked, but situation inside the quarantine was getting more and more dire. Everyone had to watch their friends die, everybody had to fear for their life. At the evening of the third day the situation escalated out of control: five mice came to demand exit from the patrol, who was at guard duty at the moment. At first Thom tried to reason with them; but they would not listen. Then Gill took his staff, held it horizontally and stood on the way of the mice - "One more step, and everyone of you will die".
|Ei ole helppoa ampua niitä,|
joita halusi suojella
At the dawn of the fourth day the medicine was ready, and the sick could be treated. Whole patrol survived their sickness, with the help of the medicine, but Gill´s facial nerves were damaged by the plague. He could not control his expressions as well as before, making him a worse liar. Of 200 mice in the town, 50 were dead. The quarantine saved most of the citizen, but it was not perfect: Cole, even knowing that it was plague, delayed the quarantine to smuggle his beloved out of the zone. She was sick, however, and even though she survived, two of her cousins died of the plague.
Before heading back to Lockhaven, the patrol drowned their sorrow on spirits, and Gunrey and Radulf took it out on each other, wrestling on a muddy alley. When they left the town, joy had not returned to the territories, even though the catastrophe was averted. Gill had to live with his choices, his hands now red with innocent blood. Thom´s first mission surely tested his innocence. And Gunrey, just learning to trust his patrolmates, now has to ponder meaning of friendship: he trusted his friend, not revealing his secret, and for that, the plague nearly broke quarantine, and two mice lay dead. Cole is depressed of his actions. And house Rynbeldels is still scheming.