Blaze stood in the meadow with Lakefeather and her brother Oakheart, his wings tensing to his sides with anxiousness. Beside him, Lakefeatherwas nearly prancing, her wings trembling slightly.
Many of the pegasi in camp were gathered with them around the grove that Petalroot treated her patients, and they looked as worried as she did. All but one mare. She was a dapple grey with long, beautiful black mane that looked silky to the touch. Her wings were a glimmering shade of blue with white fading at their tips, and her eyes were a sparkling ocean blue.
She was standing in a pile of her own feathers and trembling like mad. Her eyes were filling with tears of worry and ears were flat against her head.
Blaze flattened his ears, wondering why she was so worried about Foxtail. Was she, a close friend of his? Or mate?
Petalroot suddenly emerged from the grove, the pegasi going silent as she did. It was as if they were all holding her breath as she stood before them. The mare with blue feathers rushed forward, her ears pricked, “Is he alive? Will he be okay?!” She asked frantically.
Blaze looked back at Petalroot, seeing sorrow glimmer in her eyes. By then he already knew what she was going to say. Petalroot closed her eyes, lowering her head midway, “Froststar….I’m so sorry”.
What came next, Blaze couldn’t prepare for. The mare named Froststar threw her head back with the most sorrowful wail he had ever heard. It sounded like the mare he had heard that one day who had a stillborn foal. It was a sound that had haunted him from then on, and to hear it again was too much to bare.
As for the rest of the camp, they hung their heads in sorrow. Some cried, others yelled with anger. The whole camp was in an uproar of pain.
Blaze looked over at Lakefeather, and could see her wiping tears away with her wings. Her brother had his head tucked and eyes clenched, as if he were holding back tears.
Blaze could feel the waves of anguish as he stood there. He hung his head and closed his eyes, allowing a moment of silence to follow his actions.
He did this whenever a pegasus died back in Mavelyn. It was usually one of the elders, and they would go one after the next. Blaze felt like he had lost a family member though, with each one of their deaths.
“What is going on here?” A booming voice suddenly spoke. The pegasi had stopped crying as Blackwing marched through the crowd. Blaze stepped back as he watched the leader approach Petalroot, his eyes filled with a stern concern.
Petalroot stood strongly, looking up at the tall stallion, “Foxtail is dead, he was killed by Outcasters-”. “What?!” Blackwing said, his ears flattened, “How!?”.
“By the looks of his injuries, it appears he was beaten to death. He also had multiple internal wounds that I couldn’t mend...I’m sorry” Petalroot said, her head lowered.
Blackwing extended one of his wings, placing it on Petalroots shoulder. His eyes were soft and morning, “My dear Petalroot, his wounds must have been untreatable. I know that there isn’t one pegasus you can’t treat”.
Tucking his wing, he turned to the grieving pegasi, his eyes burning with fury, “The Outcasters have spoken, they want war, and war is what they will get”.
“I can’t believe this…” Lakefeatherwhispered. She was gazing into the distance, like the Outcasters were going to appear over the hills and attack them.
Blaze stood beside her, his thoughts still lingering about Foxtail and what he had said. He had never witnessed a war before, and he heard many horrible stories about it.
“I don’t believe it either….” Blaze said, his ears flattened against his skull.
Lakefeather turned away from the hills, “Foxtail was supposed to return safely, he was merely a messenger, they aren’t supposed to be harmed…”. Tears began cornering in her eyes, “Why are they so heartless!?”.
Blaze pricked his ears, “A messenger? Why can’t you hurt a messenger?”. “Because!” Lakefeather cried, “They mean none of the herds harm! They are strictly there to deliver a message! Not to start a fight! It is against the rules to hurt one!”.
Lakefeather turned her head away, lowering it, “They broke that rule….”.
Blaze was silent for a moment, not knowing what else to say that would comfort her.
“Was Foxtail a friend of yours?” He asked softly.
Lakefeather nodded, “He was a friend to all of us here. Whenever we were depressed because of the harsh conditions here, he would make us all laugh. He would tell us stories and such….it would help us all and lift our spirits”.
“He sounded like a good friend” Blaze said. He then thought for a moment, “Who was that mare? Froststar? Why was she so destroyed?”.
“Because that was his mate. They have been together forever”. Lakefeather sat down in the tall grass.
Blaze joined her, “Well, that explains a lot”.
The sudden sound of heavy hoof beats erupted from behind them, making the two pegasi turn. They both stood up when it was Blackwing that was approaching.
“Blaze, Lakefeather….” He said, stopping before them. Lakefeather flattened her ears, “Blackwing sir, what’s going on?”.
Blackwing sighed, “Well, after today’s events, I have come to a decision that I’ve been pondering on for a long time”.
“And?” Lakefeather pressed after a moment.
“And I think that you and Blaze should return to River Herd”.
Blaze didn’t get what had happened next, but Lakefeather blew up. “What!!?” She cried, stomping her hooves, “No way! I’m not leaving! I’ve lost too many pegasi that I love to Outcasters already! I want to stay and fight!”.
“But you can’t fight Lakefeather!” Blackwing boomed, causing Lakefeather to stumble back. His expression darkened, and his shadow towered over the two, “You are not skilled enough to fight! Nor do you have the strength to take on an Outcaster!”.
There was silence for a moment before Blackwing softened, “Your brother is a great warrior, and knows that you will be safer in River Herd, along with Blaze here” he said, nodding his head at Blaze.
“So my brother came up with this idea?” Lakefeather spat, her eyes narrowed.
“No, but he convinced me”.
The large black stallion spread his massive wings, “I shall have a warrior come with you, since some of your migration will be on the ground”.
Blaze felt pinned when Blackwings gaze landed on him. It made him feel useless that he couldn’t spread his wings or fly. He felt like a horse, forever trapped on the ground. As Blackwing flew away, Lakefeather sighed, her black mane flowing in the wind.
“So….now what?” Blaze asked.
“Now?” Lakefeather said, looking over at him, “Now….we wait, and go home I guess”. Blaze gazed down at his hooves, ‘Your home...not mine’ He thought miserably