Stormfrost woke up. She was lying in a hot bed of some sort. Two foreign pegasi were looking at her. “Where am I?” Stormfrost asked groggily.
“You’re in Desert Herd territory,” said one of the pegasi, a mare. “I’m Smokeroot, and this is Flamefire. We found you lying in our grazing lands, and we decided to take you in. Now that you’re awake, we’re going to take you to Lightwing. He will decide what to do with you.” Stormfrost paled. Of all the herds she could have landed in, Desert Herd was the worst. Her herd had just fought them! And they had seen Deathwing in action! But she had no choice. She was a prisoner of this herd now.
The two pegasi led her to a meadow, that Stormfrost supposed was one of their sparse grazing lands. It was withered and dry, and Stormfrost suddenly saw why they had wanted Sun Herd lands. In the center of the meadow was a strong-looking palomino stallion with white wings tipped in orange. She assumed this was Lightwing, the Desert Herd over stallion. He saw Smokeroot and Flamefire approaching with Stormfrost between them. Lightwing’s eyes widened, then narrowed. He trotted towards them. “You are the over mare of Sun Herd,” he said. “You killed my warriors.” He didn’t question it. He just spoke it, as if it was an obvious fact.
Stormfrost bowed her head. “I can explain,” she said. Lightwing hovered, and a few of his warriors surrounded her.
“We will hear you out,” Lightwing said. “Then we will decide what to do with you.” Stormfrost nodded in agreement. That was a better deal than she had expected. She started to speak.
“I have been possessed,” Stormfrost started, only to be interrupted by murmuring from the steeds around her. Lightwing glared at them, and they quieted. “I have been possessed,” Stormfrost repeated, “by a spirit called Deathwing.” This made even Lightwing balk in fear. “I am trying to go to the Golden Meadow to return the spirit to its place.
Lightwing nodded, subdued. “I believe you. Deathwing has threatened our ancestors in the past, infecting them with an uncontrollable lust for power. Your quest could save so many from pain. We can help you by escorting you to where the blue sky turns black. We can teach you how to hold your breath for a long time. We are trained to fly that high.”
“Thank you,” Stormfrost said,
“We will start right now. Flamefire, will you educate and escort Stormfrost?”
“Yes,” Flamefire said. “Stormfrost, come here. We will start your training so you can leave in an hour. There is a Desert Herd secret that you will have to keep a secret.” Stormfrost obeyed and nodded. “So,” he said, “To fly high, you need to hold your breath. You need to take a deep breath, and only let the air out through your nose. Practice.” Stormfrost did so until an hour had passed. It soon was time to leave.