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Fewmets is a Medieval English hunting term derived from the Old English, with the intimation that these droppings are the only hint of the animal's presence; that the creature itself has yet to be seen.
T.H. White's novel The Once and Future King makes reference to the "Beast Glatisant", or Questing Beast, constantly hunted by King Pellinore who uses its fewmets not only to track the beast, but to monitor its condition and state of health. White describes how the Medieval huntmaster would wrap in leaves the spoor of the animal he was stalking, carrying this package stored in his hunting horn. This part of his job served two vital purposes:
- Firstly, even if the noble sponsor of the hunt and his equally exalted guests were sufficiently skilled huntsmen to keep up with the hounds, it would have been beneath his dignity to dismount and examine the condition of the spoor to ascertain how close the hunted animal was. He would be shown the excrement, to ascertain from its condition how close the prey might be; but the physical task of retrieving the droppings would be left to the huntmaster—a skilled functionary, but also a commoner.
- Secondly, in the event that the patron was not knowledgeable about woodcraft, the fewmets served as the huntmaster's bona fide. They were physical evidence that there was in fact an animal out there to be caught—and that the sponsor of the event and his noble friends were not being led in a merry and altogether pointless chase around the woods by a malicious or ignorant bumpkin.
In fantasy fiction and role playing games, fewmets are the droppings of dragons or other mythical creatures. (Reference Madeleine L'Engle's A Wind in the Door, and others.) Dragon fewmets are often the source of gunpowder in such books and games, allowing black-powder weapons into the fantasy genre.