Late into the summer, Thorn returned from his scouting mission to track the movements of a female fox which had slipped past the scent border. The fifth patrol was to reinforce a united attack from the militiamen of the three westernmost cities, headed under the generalship of Guard Captain Folker. The army’s objective was to kill the fox, or drive it from the territories.
Because the fifth patrol was already positioned at Elmoss, they were charged with recruiting military support from Elmoss for the attack. Following the disaster of the Fever, Elmoss was notably cagey and reluctant to support a united assault, arguing that each city must stand on their own. Garrow in particular openly derided this way of thinking, but Rowan was able to negotiate Elmoss into providing its contribution. The army rallied in Elmoss, then traced the fox to its lair.
In the battle plan, the mice took up defensive positions in the upper boughs of a nearby tree near the fox’s den, then blocked the entrance to the fox burrow with scattered debris. The debris was then ignited by siege weaponry and the smoke was used to drive the fox from its burrow. However, the beast emerged from a secondary, hidden entrance and rushed the army’s formations. It was killed in the assault, but not before injuring several dozen mice and destroying the sprucetuck siege weapons, sparking a fire which consumed the tree the army had fortified. The mouseguard, with the fifth patrol among them, rescued as many of the survivors as they could, but the spreading blaze threatened to overtake the wounded faster than they could be dragged to safety.