When Starpebble woke again she stood shakily, her mind still going over her dream. Star’s words lingered in her mind. “We will always be with you.”
She bent her neck and grazed until she was full, then lifted off into the bright blue sky, still heading south and east.
She traveled for five moons until the landscape below her changed from the rocky ground of the edge of Mountain Herd (she had circled Mountain Herd territory, not wanting to encounter any patrols) to red rock and then gritty sand and then sand as far as the eye could see.
As she flew she felt like her hooves were melting and she was boiling. As a Snow Herd steed she was not at all used to this type of climate.
She began to sink lower and lower, not realizing she was. Her eyes crossed and her head swam. Then she blacked out and crashed into the sand.
When she awoke she was lying comfortably next to a small oasis. Close by, two Desert Herd pegasi cropped the lush grass that petered out not far away. As she tried to stand, one looked up. He moved to her with an easy grace that spoke of years of war and scout training, and when he spoke, his voice was calm, but with a thunder that would make any steed listen up.
“How are you feeling?” he asked slowly. Starpebble was grateful for that, as her head swam.
She tried to speak but coughed. He beckoned to the second steed, a palomino mare, and she went to the pool of water and scooped water in her watertight wings. She walked to them and knelt. “Drink,” she commanded.
Starpebble drank, and feeling the cool liquid slide down her throat, she sighed with pleasure. “Thank you.”
The gold dun stallion looked pleased. “You’re welcome. When Brightsky and I found you we thought you were done for.”
Brightsky tossed her white mane. “Yes, you were almost covered with sand and barely breathing. Who are you? How did you get there?”
Starpebble looked at them, calculating whether or not to tell them. “I’m Starpebble, but I’d rather not say what my business is right now.”
Brightsky shrugged her wings. “Suit yourself.”
“Who are you two?” Starpebble asked.
The stallion ruffled his violet feathers. “I’m Sunfire, lead captain of Desert Herd, and this is Brightsky, battle mare and in my platoon. She’s also my mate.”
Brightsky tilted her head. “And you are a long way from home. Snow Herd I presume?”
Sunfire spread his wings. “Can you fly?”
Starpebble stood unsteadily and flapped her wings. “I think so.”
“Good. We’ll take you to Cobrawing.”
Brightsky spread her wings and nodded at Sunfire. “Ready.”
They lifted off, Starpebble drafting off of Sunfire, and flew east.