Of Mice and Boys By: Pent Ghelsburg
Disclaimer: The characters depicted in this work are purely fictional. They are the original and rightful intellectual property of their creators. I use them with permission and respect. This work contains underaged content. You have been warned.
“And though she be but little,
she is fierce.”
Imagination is like the cosmos, both infinite yet limited beyond the scope of what one considers to be possible. But unlike the vast starry spaces of the skies, the imagination is something we can readily tap into. Not everyone can take advantage of cosmic interests, but what's really stopping someone from indulging in pretending one is an astronaut or an astrologer. Such is the beauty of the mind. The only thing really stopping it from wandering is oneself.
Such is the beauty of childhood. The innocence of not knowing the otherwise difficult nature of life in adulthood. As such the expanses of their fantastic visions can often be less restricted due to inhibitions that may develop over time. This is what allows kids to play make-believe and attempt things that older people would find wasteful or otherwise pointless. But what happens when that fantasy becomes so realistic that the kids consider it to be the truth?
Pent and Bouncy had been friends for about a year now and the two went to the same secondary school. Ever since entering it, they had mostly been assigned to the same classes. At 12 years of age, they were both in the second year in the school and had quickly befriended despite their otherwise natural predator and prey relationship. Bouncy as a rabbit was naturally inclined to be fearful of his friend who was a fox. Despite that, they had become good friends when they found out that both of them were members of the same gaming group.
The extracurricular activity was one that was scheduled after school hours and allowed the students to engage in more social activity. The specific idea of this particular club was to promote the already popular subculture of gaming. Bouncy was the more active of the two boys in the group as Pent was more interested in academic pursuits but the fox occasionally showed himself. This weeks activity was a role-playing game called Mouse Guard.
The idea of the game was to take the place of a mouse who was employed in one of the many territories of the Mouse Guard World. The organizer of the event had announced that there would be an award of a token for any person in the group who either felled the great snake or became a Guard Captain. Pent had long been a fan of the game and when he heard they were finally having a session of it, he knew he couldn't miss out. Bouncy, on the other hand, had never heard about the game but decided to try something new anyways.
The day finally arrived where the organization had planned the event. The organizer had set character sheets and a makeshift board with planning paper in order to properly set up the game. The idea was to have the kids work on their characters on the first day and then develop them over the weekend, once they had properly learned how. Then next week they would set up a scrimmage and accomplish some goal that the organizer would set up.
Pent already knew what he wanted to make, after all, he had played the game before. So when Bouncy arrived, it was Pent who showed him the ropes and explained how the character sheet worked. The fox instructed the rabbit to create a backstory and lineage for his mouse. Bouncy ended up creating a fighter mouse from Copperwood while the fox had a survivalist mouse form Sprucetuck. All the kit needed to do was change his friendship and the two were set to make some sort of episode that involved their characters.
At home, Bouncy focused on making the details of his character from rank and skill to stats and abilities. It took an immense amount of reading, more than the rabbit was used to doing. However, the cub was set on making his new character as complete as possible to make the new gaming experience as memorable as possible. When he was done he had a complete character sheet and was very excited about the prospect of what the actual game would involve. He would have to wait until next week to find out.
The next week went by like a flash as time often flies by when one busies themselves with constructive tasks. The two boys were no different as they had school to worry about. By the time the day finally rolled around the cubs had almost forgotten all about the ordeal. Of course, they remembered that it was a gaming club day, but neither could remember the details of what they had planned to do during the extracurricular activity. When they arrived to the room, the place was set up with boards and dungeon master guides along with some note pads.
Once Pent came into the room, he instantly remembered exactly what was going on and the excitement returned to his personality. It was always nice to see since normally the cub was calmer and more collected than his age mates. Bouncy, on the other hand, was usually a ball of energy and was hard to contain even under the most strict of circumstances. The club sponsor showed the kids to their table and handed them each a set of note cards.
“Alright, boys and girls. You will pick yourself a GM and establish a setting along with a goal. Remember combat is not always a required objective in Mouse Guard.”
Pent and Bouncy were in the same group and the group decided that the fox would be the GM since he knew the most about the game. It was a little disappointing to the kit since he couldn't use his character in the scenario. It didn't matter so much though as he liked to use his creativity to craft tales of fantastic measures despite his otherwise academic interests. The fox planned for a simple excursion where the patrol would be expected to investigate a disturbance in the territories.
Pent decided his duties would be delegated as Magistrate of Copperwood which allowed the fox to still participate on some level. Bouncy was assigned as a tenderfoot for the patrol as this was his first service to the guard. His mouse was a fresh-faced albino one whose weapon of choice was a relic of a hammer and shield that had been passed down through the generations as his rodent was supposed to serve as a defense against enemies.
The patrol was 4 mice strong for this excursion with the captain of the squad being elected as the most experienced mouse who was simply called Devon. He was a pitch black mouse with matching cloak who preferred cloak, dagger, and espionage than actual combat. Devon had weathered several summers and had even been a part of the great War against the weasels. His name was legendary and just his presence was reassuring to the other mice who were nowhere near as experienced as he was.
The other mice were an assortment of experiences with the tenderfoot tan mouse, Oscar, representing the newest blood in the group. There was also Shirley whose expertise with herbs and medicines was second to none. She also was considered a master of poison and antivenom for when the situation called on it. To fully round on the group was a single battle-hardened warrior who had only seen real battle once. But Griswald's time in the barracks and training was, in theory, enough to prepare him from anything he might see outside the walls of Lockhaven.
Lockhaven was the most fortified of all the territories for it is where the Royal Family presided. The orders becked the patrol to walk outside the walls and to quell a disturbance by the Serpentine quarters which was, for mice, some distance from the hostel itself. The four mice grabbed provisions and headed out to the drawbridge which was opened when they asked for exit from the city. No questions were asked since it was obvious who their employ was by their cloaks.
Oscar was quite unsure of himself once they left the safety of the walls of Lockhaven. They were all he had known as a youngling and he had only seen the outside one other time and that was when he had transferred to Lockhaven for training. There wasn't much to see either since it was under the cover of darkness and by caravan as well. He was reassured by Griswald who could sense his uncertainty. But they were rushed on by Devon, who wanted nothing more than to just get the job done.
The surroundings were a lush and dark forest of grass which had scattered trees which were far too tall for any of the mice to make out. The rustling of any bush sounded more like a violent windstorm than anything else and the rodents had to ready for anything. None of them knew what caused the so-called disturbance but many pilgrims coming to Lockhaven had reported it. One of which claimed that it was a band of brigands who had pilfered their trade supplies. However, there was no verification that the artisan was telling the truth as they soon picked up life as a baker and pursued the matter no further.
The patrol continued their way walking east from Lockhaven through the wild country. Various brush obstacles were around making it even more difficult for the mice to traverse. The Ivydale forest was just beyond and there was a small sign which indicated that it was soon to begin. The tales of the were nothing short of legendary. Often told by parents to their young children to keep them from wandering beyond the safety of the city gates.
The shrubbery in the forest was nothing short of stifling. It didn't seem to any of the mice that there was a clear way through. Devon led the patrol without fear and hesitation. His intent was clear and he used a small sword to cut through what foliage was needed to be chopped. The other three mice struggled to keep up as they had yet to really take any sort of break. It was beginning to rain and drops of water were falling from the brush and leaves above. Shirley was most pleased at this since it at least made it somewhat cooler in the otherwise muggy undergrowth of the forest.
It wasn't long before Griswald suggested they set up damp. It was already dark under the thick foliage above and it only seemed to be getting darker, the further they went in. The scent of trees was replaced by the foul odor of musk and sweat. It seemed that other animals were about even know it seemed as if nothing seemed to be about, the ever-present resonance of sounds reminded each member of the patrol that they were not alone.
Devon agreed it was a worthwhile time to take a break and the patrol began to set up camp near the large stump of a fallen over tree. The tree would suffice to serve as protection from the elements as well as provide them some cover from predators, should they come lurking about from the shadows. They set up a small tent and Griswald went about preparing a meal after a fire was set up at the center of camp. The four shared dinner and didn't speak about much since they were tired. After all, it had been a long day and they wanted an early start to the next day.
They slept for a few hours before getting up. There was no real semblance of light as it was darkened out by the overarching foliage above. Devon was the first one who got up and busied himself with waking the others. The fire was already put out and they could begin the day anew once they repacked their camp. After they did so, Griswald was given the lead for a while as Devon decided he could use the experience. The younger mouse led on to what he assumed was a source of water.
The sound of running water became more and more prominent as they seemed to come closer to it. It seemed that Griswald was correct which made Devon proud about his decision. Shirley was especially glad since she could forage for new herbs along this newly discovered area. She was allowed to do so along the banks of the river, which to the mice could have as well as been an ocean. It didn't seem overly rough but to the mouse, the waves were higher than anything she could have imagined. Oscar was permitted as her escort, though he wasn't the most secure of the group.
The two walked without a word along the banks of the river as it ran past them calmly. What water did spray on them was rather refreshing as it had stopped raining sometime during the night. Some light also tucked into the area so they could see somewhat further into the distance. Just then the water started to bubble as it erupted into a large spout. Devon watched from afar in terror as a weasel burst out from the formerly calm water. Shirley shrieked and fell back in terror as Oscar tried to whisk her away from the danger.
The weasel struck forward with its jaws wide open and snatched up Oscar who stood defiantly in front of Shirley. Oscar fervently struggled inside as its teeth chomped down. Fortunately for the small mouse, he was able to hide behind one of the teeth and save himself from being eaten. Devon and Griswold took hold of their weapons and brandished them trying to jar the monstrous critter enough so that he would drop their friend. The mustelid slipped under the waves and disappeared for the moment, along with the youngest member of the patrol.
Panic undertook Devon who immediately began to feel guilty. But it wasn't long before the weasel re-emerged with a violent splash of water as it launched itself onto dry land. Shirley had rejoined the crew now and took it upon herself to act quickly, nodding at Griswald who understood perfectly her plan. From her satchel, she took a long vine and quickly threw one end of it to the other mouse. They ran forward while Devon busied himself being the bait. Devon swung he swung his great ax, lunging forward towards the feet of the weasel who easily danced around him as if he were a toy.
Meanwhile, Griswald and Shirley struggled to keep up with the Weasel whose strides of the movement were beyond anything they could accomplish. Eventually, the oldest mouse grew desperate and flung his ax upward, aiming for one of the hind haunches witch as much force as he could muster. The weapon fell short of its target and instead ended up on the upper midsection of the beasts foot. It shrieked in pain as a small amount of blood spilled out. This stopped the vermin in its track long enough for the other two mice to use the vine as a restraining device, wrapping it around the critters two rear legs.
When it tried to move again, it violently fell forward falling flat on its face. Devon looked at the thing as it fell near centimeters from where he stood. Defiantly he stared at it as Devon and Shirley continued wrapping a second length around its arms. The weasel knew it was over as the patrol leader fetched his ax and began threatening the mustelid to open its maw. Eventually, it did and Oscar was eventually freed from his captivity. There didn't seem to be any harm that had come to him, but he was definitely in need of a wash.
The youngest mouse had weathered the storm well enough, even managing to pull one of the weasel's teeth from the inside. He held it up triumphantly as if nothing had ever happened and the patrol returned home. Once back at Lockhaven the crew was rewarded for their valiant deed. The leaders of the guard were even more impressed that they had managed to subdue a weasel with only 4 mice. It was something they intended to have a parade for, especially since it was beyond anything they could ever imagine.
“Game set and match.” Pent announced.
It seemed the skirmish was over. The mouse patrol had come out on top and the dice rolls had been in their favor. Despite a few hiccups, none of the boy's characters were permanently injured. All and all both cubs had considered it a success. The event was a big hit with the club and many of the other kids clamored for more games in the future. As for Bouncy, he had a lot of fun despite the few hiccups of the mouth prison and almost being eaten. At least it was a tale for which the mice could tell their future younglings, he thought.