(this story is a group project with @Aspenray and @Embermoon )
Summerleaf stood on the hoofholds in a tall breadnut tree, hiding, and watching the Jungle Herd army train while she ate the breadnut seeds. She wanted to be close to the action, having never been in a battle, or have gone to training before. Lavawing, the over-stallion of Jungle Herd said she was too small to fight properly. She wanted to go into the army, but she was four years old and still looked like a yearling.
Summerleaf plucked another breadnut and popped it into her mouth. She was too far away to hear or see them properly, but she could tell that right now they were practicing hoof-to-hoof combat. Her brother, Oakfeather was there, practicing, and that made Summerleaf jealous, because he was a year younger than she was. Both her parents and her granddam were there as well, and she felt left out. Maybe she could ask Oakfeather if he'd teach her what he learned, then she could show Lavawing that her size didn't matter.
"Summerleaf!" A voice called from behind, distracting her from her thoughts. She turned and saw her cousin Maplefeather flying up to meet her. Summerleaf nickered a greeting to the bay mare.
"Are you watching the army train again?" Maplefeather asked as she hovered next to Summerleaf. "Lavawing already said you can't join."
Summerleaf lowered her head and sighed. "I know, but-"
"Let me guess," Maplefeather interrupted. "Most of your family is in the army, and it's your lifelong dream. Am I right?"
"Yeah. I just want something exciting. The army can give me that." She looked at her runted body, frowning. "If only I was taller...."
"Don't be so hard on yourself. You can still be a battle aide, or a medicine mare, or even a weaver." Summerleaf tried to speak, but Maplefeather held up her wing, shushing her. "I know those font sound exciting, but they still help the herd. Anyway, I was sent by Lavawing's captain to inform the army that the herd is having a meeting. It's a good thing I found you, because you should be there too."
Summerleaf groaned. Though the idea of a meeting sounded interesting, she wanted to stay and watch the army some more. "Fine. Do you know what the meeting is about?"
Maplefeather shrugged her wings. "No idea. They didn't say. I'm just the messenger." She looked towards the training army. "I got to go. I'll see you at the meeting!" With that, she took off towards the warriors and battle mares.
Summerleaf sighed. She wanted to help her herd, and be a hero, and have an exciting life, but she didn't know if she could do that. She stayed in the hoofholds, watching the army until Maplefeather reached the teaching captain. She said a few words to him, then he barked at the army and they all turned and started towards the center of the territory where the meeting was taking place.
She watched them until they disappeared into the trees, again wishing she could be among them, then she took off and followed them into the Jungle.
Summerleaf arrived at the meeting, just as Lavawing began speaking, and settled next to her brother, Oakfeather.
"Where have you been?" He whispered in her ear.
She hesitated, searching for something convincing to say. "Uh, I was practicing weaving baskets."
Oakfeather stared at her, obviously not believing her. "You hate weaving," he said.
"Well, I- um..." Summerleaf stuttered.
"Nevermind. Let's listen to what Lavawing has to say." The two siblings stood side by side and listened to their over-stallion.
"My captains and I have been debating on this for a while." The dark bay over-stallion stood proudly with his back arched as he spoke. "Our army right now, is one of the smallest in Anok with only twelve hundred warriors and battle mares, and we decided we need a change."
Summerleaf pricked her ears. What was this about?
The over-stallion continued. "Due to the fact that the tension is rising between all the herds, we have decided to allow anyone into the battle training sessions, so that everyone will be prepared if a battle is to occur."
Summerleaf threw up her bright, yellow-green wings so fast, she almost knocked Oakfeather over. "Did you hear that?!" She whisper yelled in his ear.
Oakfeather righted himself. "Yes, I heard. What's he talking about? All the herds are at peace!"
"So?!" Summerleaf pranced excitedly in place. "I can join the army!"
An appaloosa mare in front of them turned her head. "Shh! I'm trying to listen to Lavawing."
Summerleaf quieted, but still vibrated her wings in excitement.
"Battle training will be in the open field by Cloud Forest when the sun reaches it's peak in the sky. Don't be late." Lavawing folded his dark-red and gold wings neatly on his back. "Meeting adjourned."
Jungle Herd started to disperse, talking amongst themselves. Oakfeather still looked confused. "I was just talking with Pinefire this morning. He said the herds are getting along better than they have for years. Why did Lavawing say there is tension between us?"
"Who cares?" Summerleaf flew a circle around his head. "I can finally go to battle training with you!"
The next day, Summerleaf raced towards Cloud Forest to where the hundreds of pegasus were gathered, excited to get started. She landed next to where Oakfeather and Maplefeather were talking.
"Oh my pegasus, I'm at battle training," she said, her eyes wide.
Maplefeather feather nickered. "Hey, Summerleaf."
Oakfeather scanned the jungle, looking distracted. "Hey."
Summerleaf tilted her head. "What's up with him?" She whispered to Maplefeather.
The bay mare opened her mouth to answer when Thistlefire started barking orders to the army. "Nevermind. I'll tell you later."
The two mares turned to the captain to listen when something in the corner of her eye distracted Summerleaf. She turned and saw a curly haired brown weanling colt.
"Wait, what?" Summerleaf slowly trotted towards him. "Dark wood! What are you doing here?"
The brown feathered colt looked up at her with terrified dark brown eyes. "Summerleaf! The captain forced me to come. I don't want to be here!"
"Wait, hold on. Calm down. Why did he force you to come?" Summerleaf asked.
"I don't know." Darkwood looked around as if to see if anyone was listening. "He just came and dragged me by here by my wings. My mama tried to fight him, but he knocked her out. I'm scared!"
Summerleaf pinned her ears. "Did he force anyone else here?"
Darkwood nodded. "I think they took every weanling and yearling here except for Brightnight."
Of course Lavawing's only daughter wasn't forced in the army. "Ok Darkwood. I'll talk to Lavawing and see if you can leave. Just... Hang in there bud." She nuzzled the trembling colt, trying to comfort him, and he bleated on her shoulder.
"Summerleaf!" Maplefeather called from behind. "Come on, it's time to train!"
Summerleaf sighed. "I'm sorry, Darkwood. I'll speak to Lavawing, I promise." He nodded, and Summerleaf turned and trotted back to Maplefeather to finish the session.
"Go. It'll be fine." Maplefeather pushed Summerleaf toward the over-stallion with her wings.
"Ok, ok! I'm going!" She pulled away, and after a deep breath, she slowly walked toward Lavawing as he preened his dark crimson and gold feathers. "Uh..." She took another deep breath. "L-Lavawing?"
The dark bay stallion slowly lifted his head to look at her, reminding her of the wolves that loved in the north. He curled his lip in disgust when he noticed her runted body, like he didn't like what he was seeing. "Yes?"
"Uh, I-I was wondering i-if a c-colt named Darkwood could, uh, leave the training sessions?"
Lavawing slowly stood to his full height as the evening rain fell on the jungle over head. "Leave the army?" His voice was deep and she could feel the power of it in her chest. "We need as many steeds as we can fit in our forces!"
"But, they're so young and small, and-"
"Are you questioning my orders?!" Lavawing flared his wings.
Summerleaf backed away, terrified. "N-no. Sorry, I'll leave." She dipped her head to him, and quickly walked back to Maplefeather.
"Well?" Maplefeather asked. "Did he say-" She quieted when Summerleaf lowered her head. "Oh."
"They're just foals!" Summerleaf shook her head. "Why is he forcing them in the army?!" She swished her tail angrily, then deflated lowering her head and wings. "We have to help them"
Maplefeather looked at Summerleaf. "But, how?"
Summerleaf sighed. "I... don't know."
How is chapter one? Sorry it was so long. Poor Darkwood. Anyway tell me what you think!