It was raining. It was a cold, sweaty rain, the kind that makes a mane feel glued to one’s neck. It was the kind that makes you feel muggy, the kind that makes you wish you could sleep in a Jungle Herd nest. But this was Sun Herd, where all the pegasi sleep in Dawn Meadow.
Stormfrost was alone, trekking through the meadow. She was a fierce, flighty weanling, with a white coat, a gray mane, and crystal blue wings. She had been fighting since she was born. Her dam, Crystalcloud, had given birth while under attack by leopards and had died in the melee. Stormfrost had kicked and reared at the cats, but Crystalcloud had used her last ounce of strength to toss Stormfrost away. It had saved her life, but it made the other pegasi of Sun Herd wary of her. She was too warlike, too strong. She had figured out how to sharpen her hooves as a young foal, before she was weaned by the new lead mare, Raincloud. Stormfrost had at first fought Raincloud, not wanting to be nursed by her mother’s successor. But she had soon learned, after starving for a few days, she had no choice. Her sire, Clearwing, had ordered her onto the battle mare team the day she was weaned. He said that she needed an outlet for her ferocity. But only Stormfrost knew the truth. She was in pain. A fierce, unwelcome presence clawed at her brain. Warning her. Her warlike behavior was caused by this presence, taking over her body and mind until her true nature was enveloped by this dark one. It called itself Deathwing. It was her over stallion until she had the strength to challenge it. The rain stung her now, and Stormfrost thought about how she would do that. She wanted to tell her sire, but she knew he would never understand that by putting her in the army, he was inviting Deathwing to come out. She speculated that two souls were born into her body. One was Stormfrost, the gentle-natured filly, and the other was Deathwing. The name said it all. Stormfrost walked through the heavy rain, trying to spot her sire and his mate. But she couldn’t see them. She started to feel a creeping in her mind. She knew what it meant. Deathwing was there. It took control of her body and her thoughts. It kicked and clawed through her body, dashing into the air and through the storm. It saw her family and growled through her mouth, “Why did you leave me?” Raincloud looked up, surprised. She knew Deathwing, but as Stormfrost. “Come here, filly,” she said gently, trying to appease Deathwing’s nature. “Come shelter.” At the kind words, Deathwing dropped away. But Stormfrost knew it would come back. She snuggled into her sire and his mate and fell asleep next to their warm bodies.