After a busy summer spent pouring out portions of the scent borders, three Guardmice are assigned to a temporary Patrol led by Abram, an old veteran of the Shire Civil War, and accompanied by a strange mouse wearing animal skins named Scout—she had been a Guardmouse with a Patrol thought lost some years ago. In the final fortnight of autumn this group is formed to launch a rescue mission into the Blue Mountains to rescue Scout’s offspring before they starve in the coming winter; the large Oak from which they collected a wealth of acorns in past years is dying, and they have no suplies stored for winter ill-equipped camp located near the summit of Little Stoneymouse Mountain.
After a wet journey up into the mountains, stopping for a night at the Mouseguard Fortress at Skyline Pass where Abram met his old rival from the Shire Civil War, Guard Captain Seyth, the Patrol headed south along the ridgeline, well into the wilderness with the weather turning sour. After a dangerous encounter with a snake, Scout was severely injured, and a strange new mouse calling himself Schmool showed up claiming to be Scout’s husband & urging the Patrol to bundle her up the wounded mouse & take her to the camp just a little farther up the mountain. All of the members of the Patrol were weary of this strange mouse running on all four legs & wearing snake skins, but they had little choice as a cold rain started & they were days away from the last outpost of Mouse civilization at the Fortress. Abram guarded the rear of the Patrol as they carried Scout into camp.
They arrived in a camp which consisted of a few poor tents around the trunk of a dying oak tree, at at the center of the camp stood a very strange old hermit mouse wearing a metal crown & claiming a prophetic vision of a visitors from the sky. The Patrol tried to argue with the group gathered here, urging them to return with them before the full force of winter arrived in the mountains, but the mice in the camp were bewitched by the words of the old hermit calling himself Curran & insisting that all the mice would be taken into the sky to safety. Aenen Nealsson Smith, the Guardmouse wearing a hauberk of armor came forward to examine the hermit’s metal hat & staff. Mossflower Wilderbark tended to the wounded Scout.
Next morning as the Patrol realized they could not convince the mice to leave for their own good, they assessed that a tree blight in the oak had possibly affected the mice with a kind of hallucination, so with Myrtle Metalmouse’s archival knowledge of tree blight & mass hallucination she assisted Mossflower with brewing a concoction they hoped would cure the mice of their delusions; Aenan helped by passing a cup full of the potion around to the mice, urging them to drink, and most did. After some time many of the mice became cold & scared of their situation & agreed to return to the Fortress with the Patrol. The old hermit, however, remained steadfast in his prophey & a few determined young mice refused to leave the camp. As a snow started & Scout regained consciousness the Patrol turned & began the trek back to the Fortress at Skyline Pass with more than half of the young mice. A few of those returning succumbed to the cold, but Myrtle’s beetles arrived with foodstuffs to strengthen the group of mice with enough fortitude to return to the Fortress, and not all were lost.