Hard times beset the town of Flintrust. Some of their problems seem unavoidable, but others were clearly the result of the short-sightedness of the masters of the trade guilds who prioritized their immediate profit over the prosperity of the town. It has always been a town for honest, hard-working mice. Many of their young travel to Lockhaven every year to become tenderpaws. With the economic problems the town faces, the young mouslings have fewer prospects, so even more turn to this tradition. While it supplies the Guard with new recruits, the loss of so many young mice only sends Flintrust deeper into this awful spiral.
We happened to arrive in the midst of an election. A challenger for Mayor Winslow’s office accused him of corruption. He argued that Flintrust should be even more dedicated to the Guard, and send more of their young as tenderpaws. We discovered that Mayor Winslow had taken money from the masters of the trade guilds. The simple reality was that they controlled everything in Flintrust, and the mayor could not accomplish anything without their cooperation. He had tried to rein them in as best he could, though it really didn’t amount to much.
The Horn of Flintrust is the traditional badge of office for the captain of the town guard. He was, understandably, loathe to part with it, and his duty to the town made it impossible for him to come with us, but a crucial shipment of food had gone missing recently, so he agreed to lend us the horn for our mission if we could bring in the missing shipment. We found it soon enough on the road outside of town, where a shrike had attacked. If you have never seen a shrike’s gruesome larder, then I envy you. The site of this monstrosity enraged me. We slew the vicious bird and even rescued some of the mice it had impaled upon the thorns above. We managed to recover much of the shipment and bring it and the wounded mice to Flintrust.
As we returned to town and my mind returned to the topic of its economic woes, the example of the shrike and my seething anger could not help but compare the bird’s ruthless predation, the way it takes even more than it could ever eat and cruelly impales mice to feed upon them later, to the practices of the trade guilds in Flintrust. I barged into the guild hall straight away, setting aside my cloak to deal with them not as a patrol leader of the Mouse Guard, but simply as one mouse enraged by their callous disregard for their fellow mice, their overweening greed, and their horrible, monstrous cruelty. They were not prepared for such a response. It was stupid and hot-headed of me, but it might have introduced precisely the element of chaos necessary to change things in Flintrust. Fearful that I would kill them then and there (and I can’t entirely promise that I would not have), they pledged to change their practices.
I am, as ever, fortunate to have such companions as Brienne, Clove, and Beagan. While it may arguably have helped when dealing with the trade guilds, my anger certainly did not help in making Mayor Winslow’s case to the people of Flintrust. When I could not, Brienne was able to take control of the situation and lead our efforts on the Mayor’s behalf. We told the people of Flintrust that a strong and prosperous town that could continue sending tenderpaws for many years to come would benefit the Guard far more than sending all their young away, leaving the town with little future. Our words seemed to carry some weight, as Mayor Winslow carried the day and retained his office.