Starpebble stayed by her father a long time, until she felt a wing over her back and glanced up. It was Echoflower, an elder, her hide covered with long but not deep scratches, her pink wings all mussed and tear streaks down her muzzle. “Starpebble, please come back to the herd,” she said softly, taking in Fogfire’s body and Starpebble’s scratched hide.
Starpebble followed Echoflower back to the herd, where she saw a group of pegasi gathered around a dark silver shape lying still on the ground. A heartbroken cry wrenched from her throat as she leaped forward.
It was her mother, Moonfrost, dead. Both her dark purple wings had been broken.
Starpebble crumpled to the ground, her wings over her head, too shattered even to cry. In the space of a couple hours her entire family was gone. Her parents: dead. Her brother: kidnapped by Mountain Herd.
There was worried whispering all around her, but she didn’t look up. She huddled into her wings, trying to make it all go away, to make it all stop. Finally, when she could bear it no longer she leaped up and into the air, flapping frantically higher and higher until the pegasi down below were nothing but dots.
She soared in a wide circle and into a cloud. When she emerged she was soaring south, away from her herd and friends, away from all she’d ever known.
Then an idea struck.
She would go to the twin black foals to help get her brother back. Surely they would understand, as they had lost their mother when they were only three days old. Surely they would help her!
Starpebble began to veer east, to Desert Herd. Her mind was reeling with memories of her family….
Her mother picked Starpebble up in her wings, as little Starpebble cried from a bloody knee….
Her father flew circles around her, laughing as he gave her her first flight lesson. Snowstone swooped under and over her, neighing at her….
She grazed next to her mother, talking of the Mountain Herd plague….
Her father, dying…. Her mother, dead…. Her brother, saving her from the Mountain Herd steed….
The white of his body tumbling with the stallion….
And then she was flying away….
Her eyes swimming with tears, she didn't notice she was flying lower and lower, until she landed with a stumble and collapsed on the ground. Her wings fell limp around her and she raised her head to the sky.
Starpebble let out a cry of rage and grief and love and longing, which echoed across the sky and into the clouds, up to where the blue sky turned black.
Then her head dropped and she slept.
In her dream, she saw a majestic black stallion, a large white star on his face and glowing with a golden glow. As he moved, his wings left streaks of black and gold behind him. He lowered his head to Starpebble’s. “Starpebble, listen to me,” he said.