I want to apologize in advance for the amount of reading on this page, LOL! I had a lot to cram into this Chapter, and, honestly, into most of the chapters from here on out. I hope you enjoy it though!
Part 1: A Difficult Question
South of Snow Herd’s old territory lived a different group of wild pegasai. The grass here was lush and green, and there was plenty for the thousands of steeds that called the old Sun Herd Territory their home. The moon shown brightly, the Hundred Year Star just a dim point, lost in the scattering of the millions of stars in Anok’s night sky. All across the wide expanse of meadow, mares and stallions of all sizes, shapes, and colors were settling down for the night, their bellies full and their hearts at peace. Dams and Sires were hard at work settling down their foals for the night, including Morningleaf and her mate, Star, who were attempting to get their twin daughters to sleep.
“Come on, you two.” Soothed Morningleaf gently, her aqua wings spread wide to move her foals in the direction of the tall oak tree where the family had made their home within the meadow. The bay filly stamped her hoof indignantly.
“But, Mama!” She squealed. “You know that the best play time is at night!”
The young black pinto glanced at her sister, and, after a warning glare from the bay, spoke up as well. “Y…Yeah!” She squeaked. “We want to play under the stars!”
“Hush now.” Chastised Morningleaf, giving both of her foals a push with her wings, lifting their back legs momentarily in the air. “I don’t want you waking up all of River Herd with your antics. Besides, it’s getting late and I don’t want you two to be tired tomorrow.” She finished softly.
“But, Mama…” The bay protested.
“’But’ nothing, Aquawind.” Said Star, his eyes glittering with amusement. “You need your rest.”
Aquawind’s eyes widened in shock, her father usually sided with her in these arguments. The black pinto just giggled quietly.
“Oh, be quiet, Shadowlake…” Huffed Aquawind as she cast a glare towards her sister.
“Come on, girls. Say goodnight to your father.” Morningleaf said.
“Goodnight, Dad!” Squeaked Shadowlake with a smile.
“Goodnight…” Grumbled Aquawind, still irritated that they needed to go to bed. With a playful roll of her eyes, Morningleaf herded her foals over to the oak, where she settled down with them. Star watched lovingly from a distance, not yet ready to go to sleep. He fluffed out his black wings, protecting himself from the cool biting breeze that promised the coming season of winter. He knew that River Herd would have to migrate to a warmer area soon, he just hadn’t realized that it would be this soon. He hadn’t realized he was drifting off until a voice brought him back to full attention.
“Was I that difficult when I was a foal?”
With a smile, Star turned to face the steed who had spoken. His yearling son, Wintersky, stood not too far away, his light gray coat glittering in the moonlight, his blood red wings folded neatly onto his back.
“Oh, yes,” Replied the black stallion with a quiet laugh. “Your mother and I had a LOT of trouble getting you to fall asleep.”
“I can imagine!” Wintersky said with a laugh. A few moments of silence passed between them before Wintersky spoke again. “Does it get tiring?”
“Does what get tiring?” Star asked with a curious tilt of his head.
“Caring for a whole herd on top of your family.”
Star fell silent, thinking on his son’s question. “No,” He finally answered. “Perhaps if I was leading this herd alone as Over-Stallion it would be, but there is a whole council of Pegasai in River Herd to help make decisions. No one Pegasus has to make all the decisions on their own.”
“I can see how that would help…” Mused Wintersky. “But even still, a lot of the steeds in River Herd look to you for advice, surely you can’t ignore that.”
The black stallion nodded in agreement. “I see your point, Wintersky, and I agree. I suppose it’s just finding a good balance between leading your herd and protecting your family.”
“How do you find the right balance?” The grey yearling asked.
“Well I guess you…”
“If I may cut in,” Interrupted a new voice. Star turned, spotting the pink winged, chestnut pinto figure of Sweetroot, the River Herd Medicine Mare.
“Oh, Sweetroot, is something wrong?” Asked Wintersky, perking his ears. Sweetroot just shook her head.
“No, young stallion.” She said calmly. “I just need to speak with your father for a moment.”
Star nodded. “Of course, Sweetroot. Does this conversation need to be private?” He asked.
“Private would be preferable, yes.” Sweetroot replied. Without another word Wintersky kicked off from the ground, coasting in the direction of the oak where his mother slept with his younger sisters.
“Now that we’re alone, what is it you wanted to speak with me about?” Star asked gently.
“I’ve just come back from a Council Meeting,” She began.
“There was a Council Meeting?” Star asked in shock. “I wasn’t aware we were meeting today…I would’ve…”
Sweetroot pressed her wings around Star’s muzzle to quiet him. “Nor were you supposed to know about it…we were meeting to discuss YOU, Star.” She said.
“Me!?” Star asked confused. “Why were you meeting about me?”
“Well, the meeting was more specifically about the future of River Herd.”
“What do you mean?” Asked Star.
“The Council and I both agree that we cannot go on like this…” She stated.
Sweetroot fell silent, obviously trying to choose her words carefully. “River Herd cannot go on being lead solely by a Council.”
“But…I thought that…”
“Don’t get me wrong,” Sweetroot interjected. “The Council was a great idea, especially when we were separate Herds living as one. But now that we are one herd, The Council and I both agree that…”
“We need an Over-Stallion.” Star finished.
“Yes.” Sweetroot said with a nod.
“And I suppose you’ve already chosen your candidate?”
Sweetroot nodded again. “We all agree you were the best candidate for the job.”
Star nodded. “I figured that.”
“So…will you take it?” She asked. Star looked at River Herd, his ears twitched slightly as he thought about Sweetroot’s question, but the more he thought about it, the more he realized he couldn’t make a decision now.
“I cannot give you an answer right now.” He stated to the Medicine Mare. Her eyes widen slightly, and she opens her mouth to protest, but Star speaks first. “I need to think about it in more detail.” He explains. “Besides, even if I were Over-Stallion, I would still keep the Council to help me with decisions. I just need time to think about it.”
Sweetroot sighed, nodding slightly. “I see the wisdom in your decision, Star.” She said. “I just hope you use that same wisdom to make your decision.” She says as she spreads her wide pink wings to take off.
“I will, Sweetroot.” He said with a nod. “Don’t worry.”
“I won’t, Star.” She replied. “Have a good night.” She said as she flew back towards the main body of the Herd.
“You too…” Star muttered watching her fly away. He looked back towards his family. ‘What am I going to do?’ He thought, his ears pinning back slightly in agitation. ‘How could I lead a HERD!?’
So, THERE'S PART 1!! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I had writing it! Be prepared to see a LOT more of Morningleaf and Star's foals in future chapters!