The next morning Thunderblaze woke up early and nuzzled his day-old newborn. Sunshadow enjoyed the attention and nuzzled back, each drinking in the other’s scent.
Half an hour later Lakefrost woke up, still slightly weak, and let Sunshadow nurse.
Noticing her weakness, Thunderblaze commented.
“Are you okay?” he asked. “You still look sort of frail.” In fact, Lakefrost did feel a bit weak. Her eyes were a little sunken in and her coat was dull, but she wasn’t going to let Thunderblaze know that.
“I’m fine,” she said defensively. Changing the subject, she said, “Our colt seems to be making some new friends.”
Thunderblaze looked over at Sunshadow. He was tottering around on his unsteady little legs toward a pregnant mare that was walking toward the couple. Sunshadow clacked his teeth in a peacemaking gesture toward her. As the mare got closer, the couple were happy to recognize Flamesong, Lakefrost’s childhood best friend and Redstorm’s mate.
Walking steadily now, Sunshadow tried to butt up against her to nurse. Chuckling, Flamesong redirected him to Lakefrost. Coming within talking distance, she said cheerfully, “That little spitfire sure is energetic enough! Tried to nurse off me and butted right into my baby. What’s his name, by the way?”
“This is Sunshadow, Flamesong,” Lakefrost told her, reclaiming her colt and letting him nurse.
Thunderblaze’s attention had been attracted to something else. “You look about ready to pop, Flamesong! When are you due?”
She chuckled again. “Dewbreeze says tomorrow or the next day, but I’ve already had a few contractions as early as last week.” With that said, she had another contraction. The force of it startled her. She lay down on her side, showing the whites of her eyes. “I think this might be it!” she panted. “Someone get Dewbreeze and Redstorm!”
As Lakefrost tended to Flamesong, Thunderblaze galloped into the sky, chasing after an army platoon that was drilling. He caught up to Redstorm and called, “Flamesong is in labor! Land the platoon and get to her while I get Dewbreeze!” He darted away, hearing Redstorm call orders.
Dewbreeze had noticed the fast-moving figure of Thunderblaze darting into the sky. She now saw him zipping toward her. She pricked her ears as he landed in front of her.
“What’s the hubbub?” she asked him.
“Flamesong is in labor early,” Thunderblaze said, out of breath.
Dewbreeze startled at that news. “Flamesong?” she murmured to herself. “That could be tricky.” Overhearing her, Thunderblaze was suddenly even more concerned.
“Why is it particularly Flamesong that’s tricky?” he asked. He and Lakefrost were so close to Flamesong that he thought of her as a sister. Now, due to Dewbreeze’s concern, he was nervous about losing her. He had seen how exhausting labor could be from Sunshadow’s birth.
Dewbreeze shook her head. “You’ll see soon enough,” she said in response to his question. She shook her concern aside and issued some orders. “Pick up that stack of bark,” she said, pointing. “Also those roots.” When Thunderblaze had done so, she picked up yet another pile of roots. “Now we need to get back to Flamesong.”
Once they were at Flamesong’s side again, they saw that she had already given birth to a lovely bay colt with a thin blaze, rear socks and gold wings tipped with dark blue, but she was still lying down.
Thunderblaze’s confidence surged back when he saw the healthy colt. “Why were you antsy about her, Dewbreeze?” he challenged happily. “Her colt looks fine!”
Dewbreeze ignored his outburst and directed him to put his pile of roots in front of Flamesong and the bark on the ground. He did so, but when he backed away, he fluttered his wings happily.
“I’m worried about her as well as the colt, Thunderblaze. Flamesong, eat a few of the roots that Thunderblaze put in front of you to build your strength.” Flamesong did so, but lay back on the ground, sighing. A minute or two later, she had another hesitant contraction. Seeing it, the observers’ hearts lurched. It could only mean one thing. Dewberry put their thoughts into words.
“Twins,” she said heavily. Issuing orders again, she put down the roots she had carried in front of Flamesong. “Eat these,” she said. “They help contractions come faster, and at your stage, that could be the deciding factor on whether you and the twin can survive.”
Flamesong obediently chewed and swallowed the roots. She had consistent contractions until the baby’s shoulders were out. Redstorm was the closest to the foal and was looking at the small body intently.
“It’s black,” he said. The others looked up, suddenly alarmed. Then Thunderblaze shrugged.
“Well, remember what Morningleaf said at the meeting? Black is probably just a normal coat color now,” he said.
Redstorm snorted. “You believed that? I didn’t.”
Dewbreeze ended the discussion by raising her wings. “Black foal or not, it’s my job to make sure that it’s born safely and the mother is healthy. Lakefrost, help me pull the second foal out.”
Lakefrost had regained the rest of her strength since the morning. She went around to the back of Flamesong and took the foal’s right leg with her wings and waited for Dewbreeze to do the same with the left. “On my three,” Lakefrost said, and Dewbreeze nodded. “One, two, three!” They heaved and the rest of the foal’s body came out, but stopped at the back legs.
“Flamesong, eat another bite of the roots and PUSH!” shouted Dewbreeze. Flamesong did so, and at last the foal’s back legs came out. The colt had two rear socks.
Flamesong lay there for a few more minutes, eating Thunderblaze’s roots to build her strength back. Then she rolled up onto her hooves and let both foals nurse, sliding her purple wings over them to warm them and dry them off. Dewberry went to fetch more roots, leaving the two couples with the twins and Sunshadow.
The naming discussion began. Redstorm said the obvious ones. “Redflame? Flamestorm? Redsong?”
“I like Redsong, but it sounds like a filly, and I think we should mix in their names, because they helped so much,” Flamesong said, gesturing towards Thunderblaze and Lakefrost.
Sunshadow’s parents were surprised and flattered at this. Then Thunderblaze suggested, “Thunderstorm? Redlake? Stormfrost? Thunderflame?”
“I like Thunderflame,” Redstorm commented. “For the black one, I say Blackstorm.”
“Oh, yes, Blackstorm,” said Flamesong.
It was Lakefrost’s turn. “How about, for the bay, Flamefrost?”
“Yes!” said the others in unison.