Things went smoothly for a few weeks. Training was progressing steadily, up until the point where every steed was ready for fierce battle. The sky herders and spies were learning their respective code languages so well that if you weren’t looking, it would seem that there were large flocks of birds in every place imaginable. Looking at the sky, squadrons of pegasi flew across the clear blue air, their colorful feathers catching the light.
It really was pleasant, Riverlight thought, mulling over the situation as she wove a basket with her deft feathers. That was, if there wasn’t a potentially deadly reason for this seemingly lovely situation.
Her thoughts turned to Eclipse. She wondered where he came from and what his family history was that made him bitter enough to get the silver starfire. She actually sympathized with him, as she had with Star when it was uncertain whether or not he was the Healer.
She had been forced to join Mountain Herd when Sun Herd had lost the war over territory and the fact that Thunderwing had lost track of Star. Riverlight had been miserable in Mountain Herd, but at least she had had Smokesky with her. She had been determined to escape, so she joined up with Smokesky, Duskmist, and Cloudsun. A larger group had been considered because of safety in numbers from predators, but a smaller group would have a smaller chance of being noticed by the patrols or, worse, by Rockwing himself. Their escape started out fine. They went to the drinking lake just past dusk, as a heavy rainstorm had started. Combined with the growing dark, it was incredibly hard to see the four Sun Herd pegasi through the rain. Their coats were drab as well: a palomino pinto with cadet blue wings, Cloudsun, a dark blue roan with silver wings, Duskmist, Smokesky, the iron gray with cadet blue wings that could still fly at that point, and herself, Riverlight, a dun pinto with pale aqua wings.
They had gone inconspicuously, they hoped, to the lake to drink. They went to the far side of it, closest to the light pine forest that marked the beginning of the Vein out of Mountain Herd’s territory. As an especially thick layer of fog rolled in from the effect of the rain, the four former Sun Herd members acted. They went for a quick swim in the muddied water of the lake to make their coats much less noticeable, then under the cover of the billowing fog, snuck in between a few pine trees into the forest.
Their escape hadn’t gone completely unnoticed, however. They had successfully avoided the eyes of other pegasi, like Rockwing or Frostfire. However, they had gotten so wrapped up in the idea of using the forest as cover that they didn’t think about the dangers of the forest itself. But waiting under a collection of thorn bushes in the middle of the forest were six good-sized and hungry wolves.
Riverlight had elected to lead the way and because of that decision, her sharp eyes --the sharpest in the group-- saw the movement of the canine predators in the underbrush.
“Stay close!” she hissed. “And stay quiet! There are wolves in the bushes!”
The other three escaping pegasi were alarmed but had the good sense to follow her instructions. They bunched closer together yet far enough away to run for it if needed. That need became obvious sooner rather than later.