Star’s, now Starwing’s, mind raced, his ears twitching in agitation, trying to pinpoint where the whinny came from. River Herd was tense, searching the skies for any sign of the steed they heard. Flaring his wings, Starwing attempted to look larger than the others, which wasn’t that difficult. He was born larger than most pegasai, and his black coat made him stand out in a crowd. Morningleaf, now Morningcloud, stood next to him, both Aquawind and Shadowlake huddled protectively under her aqua wings, Wintersky standing not to far away, determined to help his father protect their family. Starwing nodded gratefully to his son, who nodded back in response. He noticed Shadowlake shaking like a leaf, Aquawind whispering something that comforted her sister. Looking back into the sky, Starwing saw the lone Pegasus dive out of the cloud cover, circling high above their heads. Squinting, he attempted to make out the color of the steed’s coat and wings, his eyes widening when he spotted them. With a smile, he nodded, and the Pegasus landed in front of him, folding his orange wings neatly onto his back, his brown hide glistening with cloud sweat. A ripple of excitement flowed through the herd as they spotted who it was. Starwing stepped forward, wrapping his wings around the big stallion in a hug.
“Welcome back, Brackentail…” He said pulling away, looking the stallion in the eyes. Brackentail smiled, but shook his head.
“You know as well as I that Brackentail isn’t my name anymore, Star.”
“Ah, yes. After Morningleaf and I had Wintersky, you went off to take on the Captain challenge.” He said, remembering that day. “And, since you stand before me today, I assume you’ve survived." He replied with a playful smirk.
Brackentail nodded, “Now, all that is left is for the Council to give me the title of Captain.”
Star shook his head, “You’re not the only one who’s gone through a name change, Brackentail.” He said calmly, “While you were gone, the Council has asked me to be Over-Stallion, my name is Starwing.” He stated, curious as to how the brown stallion would react.
Brackentail balked a little, his wings lifting slightly off of his back in shock. “Are you serious!?” He asked in surprise. “The Herd was ok with this?”
Sweetroot stepped forward, “VERY ok with this…” She said.
“I am not getting rid of the Council,” Starwing said calmly, “Morningcloud and I are just…”
“Morningcloud?” Brackentail turned to look at the chestnut mare, their two fillies peeking out from under her wings. His eyes widened slightly, looking between Morningcloud and Starwing. “You had twins while I was gone?” He asked.
Morningcloud nodded, “This is Aquawind, and this is Shadowlake.” She said, indicating to both of the foals. Brackentail nods slightly, turning back to Starwing.
“I suppose I have no choice in the matter of your ascension to Over-Stallion?” He asked narrowing his eyes.
“It has already been decided.” Sweetroot interjected. “The whole Herd has agreed.”
Brackentail snorted, “It’s not like I disagree with the decision, I was just asking.”
Starwing nodded, “In all seriousness, I should give you the title you deserve.” He said, spreading his wings wide, “Brackentail, colt of Ashfire and Rowanwood, today you have proved your strength and resilience. You have spent a year travelling the Vein alone, living off the land, dodging predators and enemy pegasai, and living away from the herd; and you have become stronger for it. You have survived the year alone, and because of that, you have proven you are ready to lead others.” Stepping forward, Starwing folded his wings neatly onto his back. “As Over-Stallion of River Herd, I call upon the steeds of this herd to hear your new name and title, and to welcome you by it. Brackentail, from this day forward, you shall be known as Brackenfire, Captain in the River Herd Army.”
“Brackenfire, Brackenfire, Brackenfire!” The Herd chanted. The large brown stallion stood up straighter, his head held high with pride. Starwing was proud of his friend, he had accomplished so much after Nightwing’s defeat, and now he was a Captain, his parents would have been proud. Morningcloud stood beside him, wrapping her wing over his back, nuzzling him.
“Just like Lightfeather would be proud of you…” She murmured.
“How did you…”
“How did I know what you were thinking?” She asked with a smirk, “You’re sweet like that, I knew you were thinking of those we lost…and how they would be proud of us…you always do.” She stated.
Starwing smiled, looking up at the darkening sky, “I just wish they could be here with us…”
Morningcloud nods, “I know…but they wouldn’t want us to dwell on the past, but to focus on the future.”
Starwing nods, looking out over his herd, his future…and he knew that their journey, was only JUST beginning.
I bet you thought I forgot about Brackentail! XD After all, Star's friends spoke up for him during that slight quarrel between the Herd while Star was chosen as Over-Stallion, why didn't Brackentail?? Well, he was away on a journey!! There IS a reason (besides wanting to be a Captain of course) why he decided to do the challenge that will be talked about in later chapters!! So, what did you think of this chapter? I hope you liked it! As always, constructive criticism is welcome!!