Starpebble was taken by surprise. “What?!”
“Shhh,” he warned. “Look, I know what happened to Father and Mother. I saw it happen. And why else would you be with four Desert Herd steeds if you hadn’t joined Desert Herd? There’s nothing there for me now. The sickness here is over now. And….” He trailed off, his eyes shiny. “There’s so much for me here.” Snowstone smiled at her. “Starpebble, I do love you, but I have to stay. There’s someone….”
“You!” shouted a pegasus. They whirled in shock. Not far away an enormous dark gray stallion was standing next to a sleeping foal. “Get them! Snowstone’s running away!”
Snowstone pushed Starpebble away from him. “Run!” he whispered hoarsely. She did so, beckoning her friends wildly with her wings. Snowstone thundered after them, seeing them safely away.
They came out on a grassy stretch, and then all of a sudden they were at the edge of a cliff, with angry, shouting pegasi galloping after them. Sunfire took flight, along with Ember and Spark, but Starpebble clutched at Snowstone.
“Come with us,”she gasped. “Please, Snowstone.”
But he shook his head. “I can’t. This is my herd now.”
“Starpebble, we have to go!” shouted Sunfire.
“I won’t leave without you!” she screamed at Snowstone.
“Starpebble, listen to me!”
“No!” Starpebble cried.
The gray stallion emerged from the trees and galloped toward them, his eyes glinting.
Snowstone pushed Starpebble nearer the edge. “GO!”
The gray stallion leaped at Snowstone. “Oh, no you don’t!” he growled. “We are not letting the black foals get away!”
He reared in front of Snowstone and came down hard with an over-stallion’s deathblow.
Starpebble screamed as Snowstone crumpled, blood staining his white face, and he fell off the cliff. Then she crumpled into a merciful little heap of unconsciousness.