Cedarfire trotted past the birthing tree where the mares gave birth, gazed up at the pines, and sighed.
Why did he tolerate Flintwing? Why didn’t he challenge him and free Mountain Herd from his cruel grasp?
His anger had almost overflowed Foal Day the year before, a cruel practice when, each year, once all the pregnant mares had given birth, all the foals were gathered in a line in front of Flintwing to be “inspected”. He had paced down the line and glared at the trembling foals.
Cedarfire squeezed shut his eyes. His tiny filly had been the most terrified of all. She had tried to hide her broken wing, but Flintwing had….
Cedarfire slammed a wall of rock down over that thought and turned toward the clearing where the black foals were held with a vengeance.
Rainshine flicked her tail and stared up at the sky, feeling the pang of homesickness once again. She missed her parents desperately, and she had never gotten a chance to flee. Flintwing’s daughter, Stormrain, who was the image of her father, only with dark green feathers, had been assigned to keep watch over her since the moment she had arrived.
Rainshine had almost lost hope.
But when she had heard of Starpebble’s capture, her hope had returned. Maybe she could help them escape… and they would take her with them! Starpebble had been a good playmate in their foal days, always helping Rainshine out of scrapes.
Rainshine turned and walked toward the edge of the forest, wanting to smell the scent of trees and spring. Stormrain followed her, a solid, gray, menacing shadow.
As she neared the clearing she almost bumped straight into Cedarfire, Flintwing’s top captain. She gulped and backed up. “Sorry, sir,” she mumbled.
Cedarfire surveyed her. “You’re the filly from Snow Herd, right?”
She trembled. “Yes, sir.” Under her breath, she added, “And I want to go home.”
He pricked his ears. “What did you say?” Seeing her terrified face, he gentled his tone. “Don’t be afraid.”
Rainshine whispered so Stormrain couldn’t hear. “I want to go home.”
Cedarfire raised his head, an unreadable expression on his face. “I understand.”
She winced and gazed at the ground, trying to keep the tears from falling, but one slipped down her muzzle and wet a tiny spot of ground.
Cedarfire turned to Stormrain. “Leave us.”
She huffed and backed up. “But my father said--”
“I can watch her. I’m your father’s top captain.”
Stormrain turned and stalked off, her black tail swishing.
Rainshine sighed with relief as she listened to Stormrain leave. But she cut it short when Cedarfire turned his head back to her. He smiled. “I don’t like her very much either,” he confided.
Rainshine smiled softly, the first one since she had arrived in Mountain Herd. She would never consider herself a part of Mountain Herd, as Snowstone had. She was Snow Herd, through and through.
Cedarfire nodded to her and started to walk away. “Come,” he commanded, and Rainshine trotted to catch up with him. He slowed his pace so she could keep up.
“Where are we going?” she inquired. Cedarfire hesitated slightly.
“I’m going to check on the black foals. Maybe you would like to see Starpebble?”
Rainshine arched her neck with delight. “Yes!”
Cedarfire stopped for a moment and looked at her. She quailed, wishing she had not been quite so enthusiastic. What if he decided it was too dangerous?
Cedarfire glanced around, then leaned toward her and whispered in her ear, “When you escape, I’ll help you.”
Rainshine was struck dumb for a moment and stared. But Cedarfire simply continued walking normally, as if nothing had happened. “Come on,” he ordered.
Flintwing scowled. He knew the envoy he sent to Cobrawing would come back with only bad news, but he had to try. Cobrawing would never do that. He knew what was best for his herd.
But what about what’s best for my herd? thought Flintwing sourly.
And that's chapter 22! Sorry I posted it late, and to make up for that it's a little longer than normal. Mild criticism welcome, and PLEASE inform me of any mistakes. Thank you!
Flintwing~ (over-stallion) dark gray stallion with slate-blue feathers, black mane and tail
Cedarfire~ (captain) agile bay stallion with blue feathers, black mane and tail, thin white blaze
Snowstone~ (under-stallion) white stallion with mint feathers, white mane and tail. Deceased
Stormrain~ (yearling) dark gray filly with dark green feathers, black mane and tail
Hoperiver~ (single/widowed mare) pure white mare with sparkling blue feathers flecked with amber, white mane and tail
Mistwing~ (over-stallion) white stallion with misty blue and white feathers, silver mane and tail
Ashcloud~ (lead mare) smoky gray mare with smoky purple feathers, black mane and tail, large diamond-shaped star on forehead
Frostroot~ (medicine mare) light gray appaloosa mare with pale yellow feathers, light gray mane and tail
Fogfire~ (captain) gray stallion with navy feathers, black mane and tail. Deceased
Moonfrost~ (mated mare) dark silver mare with dark purple feathers, black mane and tail, Deceased
Echoflower~ (single/widowed mare, elder) white mare with pink feathers, white mane and tail
Rainshine~ (weanling) dark silver dapple filly with silver feathers, black mane and tail
Cobrawing~ (over-stallion) bay pinto stallion with green feathers, mixed brown-and-white mane and tail
Dustcloud~ (lead mare) palomino mare with pale green feathers, white mane and tail, wide white blaze
Sunfire~ (captain) gold dun stallion with violet feathers, gold mane and tail, thin white blaze
Starpebble~ (weanling) silver filly with pale blue feathers, white mane and tail, deep blue eyes
Ember~ (black foal) solid black colt with black feathers, black mane and tail
Spark~ (black foal) solid black colt with black feathers, black mane and tail, four white socks
Brightsky~ (mated mare) bright palomino mare with mixed blue and purple feathers, white mane and tail
Sunlight~ (single/widowed mare) palomino pinto mare with pink feathers, white mane and tail. Ember and Spark’s dam. Deceased
Summersong~ (weanling) brownish-gold filly with pale pink feathers, light brown mane and tail