The Matriarch Gwendolyn thinks back on the events of 1148, a tumultuous year that saw the birth of Wildseed, the excommunication of Woodstuff's Grove, and rising tensions with the weasels of Darkheather.
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Lily is played by Eliza. Sable is played by Arden. Francisca is played by Riley. Tander is played by Drakkel. Isolde is played by Poor Weather. Zeke is played by Devious Vacuum. Marx and Granny Waxwort are played by Gnome. Overlord Rampaul is played by Ikks.. And our Games Mouse is Grant.
Music performed by Thylacinus. Today's episode was edited by both Grant and Riley.
The Matriarch's record of 1148
Let me begin with happy things. The year will be remembered for Wildseed. The landlords of Gilpledge saw last Fall's surplus as an opportunity and bought an entire caravan of grain from Ivydale with which to build a brand new settlement. Two patrols were sent out to escort this journey. Saxon, Kenzie, Rand, and new Guardsmouse Taryn (whose further missions are covered in later pages) went ahead [see appendix I: New and Ascending Guardmice 1148]. I assembled a new patrol as well from the exiled Marx, my contentious friend Francisca, and her new Tenderpaw Tander.
When underway, they noticed the caravan was intentionally making poor time. The governor of Ivydale had made a side deal: wealthy merchants offered a higher price for the grain so they could store it in the hopes a poor harvest later would drive up the price. It backfired, as a fear of weasel attack scattered the grain peddlers into the night. The patrols divided, the real threat appeared: a pair of whistle pigs hoping for a meal. The scavengers were driven off, and the goods protected, but Saxon was injured for the rest of the season. Lockhaven accepted the fleeing harvesters and peddlers, where Marx convinced them, and the laborers who were to accept the wagons for the under-the-table deal, to instead follow the original mission. In no time at all, Wildseed set its first foundations.
After some time guarding and assisting the building, the patrol rescued a cartographer, and escorted her home to Port Sumac to produce new maps reflecting the settlement-to-be. In the harbor an alarm went up. Calogero was swarmed with crabs again, and the patrol set sail to reclaim it. Their plan reflected a flair for creative solutions, creating a disguise made from discarded crab shells. They emerged from it with the element of surprise, and Francisca was in her element.
By the heat of the summer, Wildseed was ready for residents. A new caravan, this one of settlers, formed at Shorestone. It only seemed right for Francisca, Tander, and Marx to attend to them. Francisca was very interested in taking a mission there. Their path was not easy. At times the threat seemed to come from within, an attack Francisca had no defense for. [see appendix IV: Disciplinary Action 1148] Caring for one another is our strength. The last challenge was the greatest: turning a group of mice and buildings into a sustainable community. But, they managed.
[Several pages later]
Meanwhile, I had assembled another new patrol. The stoic Zeke, the reticent Isolde, and the caring Sable were sent out to lay a portion of the scent barrier after the frost melted. Sable also took a new Tenderpaw this year: Lily. The supply was low this year, and they were met with delays at every step. They escaped a snake before bureaucracy of Elmoss took its delay, then had their weapons stolen at Sprucetuck. This was a blessing in disguise, as Lily proved herself able to see solutions nobody else did; a perspective Sable chose to protect from certain facts. As Lily befriended a noble weasel and searched for the missing gear, Sable and Zeke discovered the weasel had caused the trouble in the first place. I do not believe Lily knows the full truth even now. All preparations complete, the laying of the border was relatively simple.
I kept them together in summer as well, on a mail delivery route west, with the charge to aid any mouse in need along the way. Sometimes the mouse in need is your own patrol mate; and sometimes, a patrol is a powerful bond. They became family this season. In Barkstone, they were involved in a murder trial where the "victim" was not actually dead, and in Woodstuff's Grove they became criminals themselves when Zeke stole mail that had been confiscated by the corrupt, autocratic mayor. They even gained a new member with Lily's pet spider, Stencil. At the end of their route, in Pebblebrook, a mystery they had been following came to a head. A mysterious letter was in their deliveries, hinting at a conspiracy we are calling "The Spear" that seeks to use the Guard for some end. Bronwen has beel following this same puzzle that, until this year, I thought was a folly. But, that matter is still ongoing. Bronwen remains suspicious of every mmouse she meets. It was also a turning point in the relationship between Lily and Sable. They are now, legally, family.
[Several pages later]
In Fall, all patrols changed. Two were pulling on separate threads, and we had no idea until they returned this Winter that they were on opposite ends of the same knot.
Darkheather was recruiting mice for an unknown purpose. For our own knowledge, and at the request of several settlements, I assembled a patrol to investigate. Marx went to be levelheaded. Sable for her wariness. Lily was special. No other mouse in our order is friends with a weasel noble. I did not hear one word for months.
Meanwhile, I sent Francisca to turn a moose back away into the Wild Country. She took Tander, Zeke, and Isolde (who did not want to be chosen) [see appendix IV: Disciplinary Action 1148]. At Wolfepointe, they enlisted the renowned hunter Harford, and were counseled by a mouse elder who claimed she could see the future. With all the resources they could muster, the moose was scared away. They elder's powers came from a "sacred fruit" that was being cultivated for export. She begged them to stop the trade before something terrible happened. The Patrol went ahead to Port Sumac and apprehended the overland smuggler who led them to a sea smuggler and confirmed their fears: this pipeline lead to the overlord, Rampaul. Harford was central to the plot, believing if the weasels saw visions of future war, they would move to prevent it. The cargo was seized and the traffic stopped, though not without difficulty. [See Appendix III: Serious Injuries 1148]
On the road to Darkheather, the others met up with other mice, including Dalla of Sprucetuck, and the esteemed Brand. They entered under a ruse and began new lives undercover. Even in those tunnels, life continued. Lily was undaunted, challenging a tunnel lord after he confessed to killing three guardsmice thought lost last Winter. The overlord's project was to concentrate the sacred fruit into a prophetic wine, and improve the formula. The rumors of what Rampaul saw spurred the patrol to escape home. Marx had one last piece of intel to collect: the administrative notebooks of the Tunnel Lord charged with the laboring mice: Fulbert. With her weasel friend's help, Lily secured escape for herself, Sable, and one of the sciencemice they had grown close to.
In the days after their return, Marx's body was found dead and dismembered. We may never know what happened to him. [see appendix VIII: Deceased Members 1148]
[Several pages later]
Winter brought new changes that we will see in the coming Spring, as it tends to do. Tander is now a full guardsmouse, and Zeke has been promoted to Patrol Guard [see appendix Ia: New and Ascending Guardsmice 1149]. Lily has taken up Marx's weapon as she enters her second year as a Tenderpaw. The strain on her relationship with Sable is worrying, but they both have others to lean on. This Spear conspiracy continues to keep me up at night. To help, the oldest mouse in Lockhaven, Ivy Waxwort, has come out of retirement and left her beehive to walk the wilderness again.
I fear for the days ahead and the challenges unseen. I find solace in the dozens of journals on these shelves that end with the same sentiments. The Territories surived all those winters and I am sure we will see many more. With the strength of mice, and the skills of the Guard, (and my modest gift of guidance), even these shadows will melt away. The Guard prevail.