When she awoke she was in a small clearing, with Mountain Herd warriors around the edges. Above her were Summersong and Sunfire, looking concerned. She slowly lifted her head and noticed one thing at once.
“Where are Ember and Spark?”
“Separated from us and each other and in different clearings, I’m not sure where,” said Summersong. Seeing the question in her eyes, she continued, “We were surrounded, stallions were holding my wing and one had his hoof resting on your neck. They threatened to hurt you and me if they used their starfire. Ember and Spark wouldn’t have been able to get to us before they killed us.”
She sighed, and then the awful memory of Snowstone’s death rolled over her and she buried her face in her wings and wept. Summersong quickly got down beside her and wrapped her wings around Starpebble to comfort her. She whispered, “Snowstone, colt of--”
“Moonfrost and Fogfire,” sobbed Starpebble.
“--colt of Moonfrost and Fogfire, brother to Starpebble. Fly straight and find your rest.”
“Fly straight and find your rest,” echoed Sunfire.
Starpebble raised her tear-streaked face. “Why did they kill him? Why?”
Sunfire turned away. “Flintwing was the only one who didn’t like him, from what I hear. The guards have been discussing Snowstone’s death, and he was very popular… I think Flintwing didn’t want a rival.”
Starpebble shakily stood, with Summersong helping her keep steady. She stiffened her wobbling legs and raised her head. The guards had their backs to them and Starpebble cast onne angry glance at them before turning to her friends.
“So, how do we escape?” she murmured.
Sunfire shook his head in bewilderment. “I have no idea.”
Starpebble shook her head. “Sooner or later, Cobrawing will come for us.”
“I doubt Flintwing would give us up without a fight. He knows I’m a top captain, and he knows you two are close friends of the black foals. He’s already proven he’ll do anything,” said Sunfire dismally.
“How so?” asked Starpebble.
“He already killed Snowstone.”
“That was Flintwing?!”
Starpebble shuddered, remembering the cruel look of his eyes, his enormous frame. Who would live under such an over-stallion?”
Flintwing paced the ground and before him, Cedarfire quailed, though he didn’t show it. He was Flintwing’s top captain, and he had earned it by not showing fear or grief… not even when, on Foal Day, Flintwing had killed his only daughter, whose mother had died birthing. She had broken her wing beyond healing and become a dud and was therefore “unfit” for the herd. Flintwing wanted only perfect steeds.
“We will keep the fillies until Desert Herd gives us land for them. The black foals we will keep for our own uses,” growled Flintwing to Cedarfire. Cedarfire nodded, though inside he seethed.
“See the guard is doubled over the black foals and their friends. We don’t want anything happening to them,” was Flintwing’s parting remark. Cedarfire turned and trotted away.