Firestep looked to the sky from Searing Lake, sighing as he shook the liquid from his large, water-logged wings.
The Hundred-Year Star blazed like a second sun in the sky, chasing away the darkness of the night. The wind blew south, and Firestep felt it in his skin, chilling him. It wasn't long before the rolling wind brought clouds along the sky, dimming the Hundred Year Star's light enough to make it feel like night again.
"Firestep! I knew I could find you at the lake," a familiar voice tickled the colt's ears, and he pivoted his head to the shallows.
A filly his age with violet eyes and a coat as black as his own waded in, disturbing the peace of the lake, and he laughed at his twin's antics.
"Dawnfrost, good to see you again," he replied affectionately and swam like a graceful duck toward the shallows. Once the water was only knee-deep, he shook himself out.
Droplets splattered all over his sister, who squealed and whacked him with her indigo wing.
Between the twins, you could tell them apart despite their matching black coats; Dawnfrost had a white blaze from her forehead that turned into an apron face around her muzzle, and the indigo feathers she sported were edged in black. Four white anklets decorated her ankles. White spots flecked her coat, her mane and tail faded into white.
Firestep had orange eyes, a black mane and tail, a white snip like a droplet on his nose, and feathers of flame; his namesake.
His sister flopped onto the sand, grinding her aching shoulder blades into the tiny rocks. "Riftbreeze had me on ground patrol for hours," she complained. "It feels so good just to lie here."
Her slightly soggy brother came and joined her, the two staring up at the sky when really, they should be asleep in Leaf Herd's grazing territory.
"Don't worry about it," Firestep offered, looking over at his twin. "Riftbreeze shows his affection through toughness. You know he likes you."
Dawnfrost sighed. "Yeah, but for a mentor, it wouldn't hurt if he said it to me at least once."
When the black foals had become six moons old, exactly one week ago, they were each assigned mentors to aid them in using their wings and learning new techniques. Riftbreeze, the mentor assigned to Dawnfrost, is a tall greyish-blue steed with a shaded mane and tail. He could be easily identifiable due to his feathers, which are pale blue with darker grey spots on them. Riftbreeze was a reliable, supportive individual who was fiercely protective and loyal.
But, for some reason, he was having trouble connecting with Dawnfrost. Firestep guessed that this was because his sister was a black foal.
He snorted, and Dawnfrost turned her attention to him.
"I'm tired of everyone being afraid of us," he sighed.
Dawnfrost shifted, digging her shoulder blades into the sand. "Well, what do you expect? We are black foals. It was only ever easy for Nightflame if I remember the legends correctly. But Star; well, he went on to unite the herds of Anok and raise his best friend from the dead, didn't he?"
Firestep nodded, knowing this was true, before turning his eyes skyward. "You're right, sis," he smiled, thankful he wasn't alone. "Lightfeather died, but the Destroyer's mother survived. And we both cry white flowers. That has to mean something, right?"
Dawnfrost went quiet, and Firestep stopped looking at the stars and returned his gaze to his twin. "What's the matter?"
Dawnfrost flicked an ear his way, and he saw she was staring at the black roan sky, the light of the Hundred Year Star reflected in her eyes.
"What if..." she whispered, so quiet Firestep wondered if he had imaged it, "what if one of us becomes the Healer... and the other turns into the Destroyer?"
The wind roared, as if on cue, and Firestep shivered violently, despite the summer humidity.
Dawnfrost was staring at him now, her eyes pleading. Firestep shook his head, rolling to his hooves.
"Of course that's not going to happen. The legends also say the black foals choose what they become and that they receive both the golden and the silver starfire. We'll be alright, Dawnfrost. I promise."
After a few seconds, Dawnfrost nodded and got to her hooves too, shaking out the sand. "We better get back," she suggested, gesturing a wing to the dark sky.
Firestripe smiled at her, and the two quietly trotted back to Leaf Herd.
"What are you two doing out so late?" The sentry, Bristletail, demanded when they got back.
"We thought we saw an enemy steed," Dawnfrost answered, thanking her quick thinking. "And we went after them."
Bristletail sighed, deciding to buy the lie. "If that had been true, you would have gotten Oakwing. But as long as you don't stay out too late again, I'll let you two off for now," the sentry said affectionately, resting his wing on Firestep's back.
The colt dipped his head in a sign of thanks. Bristletail was Pinefall's best friend and acted like the twins' uncle; he was more vocal than Pinefall.
Dawnfrost bowed her head too, Bristletail smiling at them. He let them pass into Leaf Herd's grazing territory: a large plain called Howling Meadow, where all the other Leaf Herd steeds were sleeping, or pretending to sleep.
"Wait," Bristetail said, and the two halted.
"I meant what I said. You have to promise me you won't go out by yourselves again." The bay stallion stamped his hoof and lowered his head. "You have no idea what over-stallions would give for power such as yours."
Dawnfrost blanched at his words; she hoped that wasn't true. "Thank you, Bristletail, and we won't," she promised again, nodding her head.
The bay flared his wings. The sight of them made Dawnfrost wilt, as she turned her head to stare at her own. They hung off her like useless branches; she couldn't even tuck them on her back.
Firestep saw this and put his forehead against hers. "We will learn to fly," he said, his voice grave. "Riftbreeze and Sparktrail will help us."
Bristletail bobbed his head, agreeing with the young black foal. Dawnfrost inhaled, hoping it to be true.
"Easy for you to say. You can actually move your wings," Dawnfrost sighed. Firestep narrowed his eyes, then his expression softened, and he licked her forehead.
"Let's get some rest now."
As Dawnfrost followed her brother back to Howling Meadow, she stared up at the sky. She longed to dance among the stars with the other foals, to feel the breeze in her feathers.
Her shoulder blades panged at the thought.
Ancestors, she thought to the stars, how can I ever protect my brother, if I can't even fly?