"Could we please play with her?" Duskstorm pleaded to his mother.
Peachblossom turned her head to gaze into Duskstorm's eyes. She blinked innocently. "I wants to play."
Softwind shook her head. "She is still too young. For goodness sake, she is only 13 days old!"
Peachblossom turned to her mother, her brown eyes huge and sorrowful. "I wants to play," she said again, this time more fiercely.
"Pleasssseeeeeeeee, mother," Amberstone whined. "We won't be hard on her."
"I already said no."
"I wants to play." Peachblossom frowned.
Amberstone and Duskstorm stared unblinking into their mother's eyes, willing her to say yes.
"I. Wants. To. PLAY." Peachblossom dug her hooves into the ground.
Softwind narrowed her green eyes, and finally cracked. "I will let you show Peachblossom around Dawn Meadow, but absolutely no flying, swimming, leaving your sister behind, no ruff housing, and you must always have at least one eye on her." She narrowed her eyes even more, which her children thought was impossible. "If anything, anything, wrong happens to Peachblossom, you will be grounded. No flying, no swimming, and certainly no seeing of friends. Understand?"
Amberstone and Duskstorm thought this compromise was great, and nodded vigorously. "We will guard her as if she is the greatest treasure in the world." Duskstorm puffed out his chest.
Softwind raised an eyebrow.
"Because she is," Amberstone quickly added.
Softwind's frown softened. "Go, before I change my mind."
The three siblings hurried off, the soft morning sun playing across their shiny feathers.
Everything was right in River Herd. Star's 100th birthday had come and gone with no sign of the black foal. The herd had stopped worrying about the foal and had gone back to their normal lives. Except for one.
"Hey, wait for me!" Tansythorn shouted from behind them. She flapped her wings and raced towards them.
"Hi, Tansythorn," Amberstone greeted.
"Hi," came the small voice of Peachblossom.
"Did you hear what the scouts saw yesterday morning?" Tansythorn panted as she fanned herself with her purple feathers.
"No. Should we have?" Duskstorm asked.
Tansythorn shrugged. "I guess not. I only heard about it because I heard the scouts talking about when they came back."
"Eavesdropping again?" Amberstone sighed. "Didn't you learn your lesson from last time?"
"I wasn't eavesdropping." Tansythorn frowned at Amberstone. "They were having their conversation right next to me where I was looking in a bush for..... ummmmm..... acorns."
"Acorns?" Amberstone raised an eyebrow.
"Nevermind that. That's not important." Tansythorn's eyes lit up. "What they saw is what's important."
"What did they saw?" asked Peachblossom.
Tansythorn looked down at the small dapple filly as if she was seeing her for the first time. "Maybe she shouldn't be hearing this. It might frighten her. And can she keep secrets?"
"I is not scared," Peachblossom declared. "And yes."
"She is great at keeping secrets, even better than you." Duskstorm nodded.
Peachblossom blinked convincingly.
Tansythorn raised an eyebrow but continued. "You probably don't know this, but the real reason why there are scouts searching Anok is because Star sent them."
"We know that," Amberstone interrupted. "There was a mountain lion spotted in Dawn Meadow and Star and the council sent pegasi to go and find it."
"Wrong!" Tansythorn smirked. "I don't know the true reason why Star sent them, but I know what they saw." Tansythorn paused, waiting for her friends to explode with anticipation.
"What did they see?" Amberstone sighed. She was used to Tansythorn pausing before she let out a secret. "Landwalkers?"
"No." Tansythorn smirked again. "What they saw was a rouge pegasus."
"And that's important because?" Duskstorm asked.
"It's important because I theorize that the rouge pegasus is the black foal's mother."