The two stallions saw the form of Cloudpepper’s body get clearer and clearer until her head eventually came clear of the trees, followed by the rest of her body. She was a cloudy colored flea-bitten gray, the flecks about the color of storm clouds and the rest of her body a creamy pale gray. Her legs were even more creamy and she had three small socks, on the right front leg and both back legs.
“Hello,” she said to Thunderblaze. “Thunderfrost has told me a lot about you.”
Thunderblaze went to answer but was interrupted by Lakefrost, who was waking up. It was nearly dawn. “Who are they?” she asked her mate groggily, motioning towards Thunderfrost and Cloudpepper.
Thunderblaze smiled. “My sire and his sidekick,” he answered.
“Thunderfrost is back?” Lakefrost asked incredulously, now fully awake.
Thunderblaze smiled. “Yes, he’s been back most of this whole time.”
“What does that mean?” Lakefrost asked.
“I’ll let him explain, but I think we should get Sunshadow, Redstorm, Flamesong and Flamefrost up first. I don’t want him to have to repeat himself a dozen times.”
Thunderfrost was interested by something else his son had said. “Flamefrost?” he asked.
“Flamesong and Redstorm’s son,” Thunderblaze replied, hiding the complete truth for now. Thunderfrost nodded, believing Thunderblaze.
Thunderblaze and Lakefrost woke up the others and when they were close enough to be able to hear, Thunderblaze motioned for his father to start.
“Wait!” interrupted Redstorm. “Shouldn’t we tell the council leaders that he’s back?” Thunderblaze nodded and went to wake up Star, Morningleaf, and Brackentail.
He got over to Star and Morningleaf and gently nudged them both awake. When he saw that they were both blinking sleepily at him he whispered, “My sire is back!”
Even though neither of the two of them had met Thunderfrost, they had heard the report of the raid from Stormsky. “How is that possible?” Star asked. “I thought he was dead!”
“I’ll let him explain it,” Thunderblaze answered. “When I woke Redstorm up, he said I should get the two of you and Brackentail. Where is Brackentail right now?”
Morningleaf pitched in. “He’s probably behind those trees that stick out from the forest,” she said, motioning with her aqua wing. “He sleeps there almost every night now, trying to think of a way to impress me.” A trace of bitterness crept into her voice. Thunderblaze noticed it and thought it would be wise not to comment.
He nodded and said, “I’ll wake him then. Go over to where Lakefrost and I usually sleep, we’ll meet you there.” The two of them nodded and got up, and Thunderblaze went to wake up Brackentail.
When he rounded the bend of trees into Brackentail’s field of view, he was surprised that the big brown steed was already awake. He had his face pressed in between the low branches of a tree and was muttering to himself.
“Why’d she walk away? And with Star for that matter?” It was obvious that he was referring to Morningleaf. Somehow, it seemed like Brackentail hadn’t noticed that Thunderblaze had even gone over to the two of them and then come towards him.
Thunderblaze got closer to Brackentail and eventually the brown pegasus realized there was another steed nearby. He jerked in surprise and nearly hit Thunderblaze in the chest. Regaining some of his composure, Brackentail faced Thunderblaze angrily.
“What are you doing here?” he asked the palomino steed.
“My father, Thunderfrost, is back. It was decided that a few of the members of the council should be there to hear his story. He already told me, but I think it would be better to have several steeds here his story at once so that he doesn’t have to repeat himself too many times.”
Brackentail had heard of Thunderfrost and reacted similarly to the others. “He’s here? I thought he was dead! Why is he back?”
“I’m not totally sure why he’s back, but I’ll let him answer the rest of the questions. Now let’s go.”
Brackentail followed Thunderblaze out, but on the way back to Thunderfrost, Brackentail noticed Cloudpepper.