Brackentail gasped and staggered backwards, darting his head from Star to Morningleaf, unable to comprehend what his friend announced, “You are?” He asked slight disappointment clutched his heart; he would never be able to be with Morningleaf… forever.
Star looked a bit astonished, seeing the big colt sag a little, “She said yes, Brackentail,” he said quietly. Brackentail jerked his head toward the black stallion, “You asked her,” he snapped, “and if I asked Morningleaf-?”
His friend grew silent, his eyes widening in hurt. But the orange winged colt ignored it, “I would have,” he cried, “If you hadn’t rushed in to do so!” At this he whirled and leapt into the air without a look back; he wasn’t going to be happy or to share their joy, they could just do it alone together. Sudden tears sprang to the young stallion’s eyes before he could stop them, and they flowed freely. The anger surged in his vanes as Brackentail flew higher.
His lungs tightened as he realized it was Opalsky calling him. He thrust out wings and halted, hovering as he turned to face the golden palomino as she caught up with him with ease, “What are you doing all the way up here?” She asked, her emerald wings buzzing.
Brackentail struggled to breathe, from overreaction and lack of oxygen, “I- I was-,” blackness swarmed into his vision as his brain shut down. The last thing he heard was a frantic gasp of Opalsky and her shriek as he lost all contacts between his mind and his body.
. . . .
Bright flashes of silver light blinded Brackentail as he raced for the cotton woods; this was the battle to end all battles. The young stallion felt utterly helpless as he hid behind brush, watching Star getting scorched and torn in his starfire operated shield, taking in all the wrath of Nightwing instead of everyone else. Brackentail held back frightened tears as his friend suffered undeservingly before his eyes; suddenly a flash of aqua blue feathers darted before him and rammed the bubble. Wait, that’s not what happened! The young stallion thought frantically. The round shield spun to the ground and bounced along the ground before evaporating. “Morningleaf!” Brackentail screamed, but no sound came from his mouth. Nightwing sucked in his breath and roared starfire at Star, piercing him in the chest. A scream erupted from his black friend’s mouth, and he exploded into ashes.
“STAR!” Light burst through Brackentail’s dream as he woke from his nightmare. The orange winged colt’s heart thudded painfully and his chest ached. He blinked, a deep gold face peered at him, and red liquid trickled down her face. He couldn’t keep back a gasp, “Opalsky?” He managed to squeak.
The mare took a hold of Brackentail’s face in her wings and lifted him into a different and proper position, “Yes, it’s me, Opalsky.”
A black pegasus loomed over both of them, “Star?”
White flowers sprung around Brackentail’s head, “I thought you were dead,” Star said, his deep voice rumbling in concern, “Why did you do that?”
Silent tears rolled down the orange winged colt’s face, “I-I-”
But the black stallion hushed him, “Don’t speak. It will only make things worse,” he commanded gently, “We need to get you to Sweetroot.”
Moments later, Brackentail was being prodded and fed awful herbs and roots, and being pestered with questions. “Why didyou do that?” Sweetroot asked, rubbing mashed plants on his torn hide.
“I don’t know,” he mumbled, wincing at the pain, “I just remember getting angry at Star for some reason. So I guess I flew really high, and too high, if it weren’t for Opalsky, I probably would be dead right now,” he admitted, not meeting the medicine mare’s startled gaze.
“What? Why did you get angry at Star? What did he ever do to you?”
Then everything came flooding back to Brackentail, but he held his tongue. Sweetroot snorted disapprovingly, and continued in silence. Opalsky loped in the clearing, “Star and Morningleaf need you Sweetroot,” she announced hastily, prancing lightly on her hooves, “I can take care of Brackentail.”
The old mare hesitated, but nodded resentfully, “All right, I’ll come,” Sweetroot stood to her hooves and trotted away, leaving the two alone.
Once she was out of sight, Brackentail jerked his head toward Opalsky, “What happened with them?”
The young mare shrugged her wings, “I think Riversun needs attention,” she said promptly, and saw his uncertain look, “They aren’t having foals already Brackentail,” she nickered, “If that’s what you’re thinking.”
The young stallion winced in surprise, “I don’t know why I was thinking that,” he admitted.
“Why were you angry with Star?”
He held his breath, and tore his eyes away from the pretty filly’s gaze. Should he trust this steed? Brackentail wasn’t sure, but it seemed to him that it wouldn’t hurt to explain his feelings, since it didn’t have anything to do with her, “Star and Morningleaf are becoming mates,” he said slowly, “I just feel… jealous- of how Star gets to be with Morningleaf, and I never had the chance; and I get it I suppose; after all, I am undeserving of her affection.”
Opalsky leaned back in surprise, “I get that- because there was a rumor of how you two were secretly tug-of-warring over her,” she forced him to meet her gaze, “But I had no expectation that you would actually share that with me.”
Brackentail’s face flushed hot, “I don’t mind really, since you don’t really have anything-” he stopped himself short, realizing how rude it sounded.
“Do to with it,” Opalsky finished, and slight hurt skimmed her voice, “Was that what you were going to say?”
His eyes widened in the truth, “I didn’t mean- I didn’t think it was rude until I began to say it out loud.”
The pinto palomino turned away, flicking her tail, “Truth is so often bitter, that it’s almost painful; lies can cover the pain, but once known, they can hurt one more than thought,” she said, not meeting Brackentail’s surprised gaze.
The young stallion pricked his ears toward her, astonished by her wisdom, “I-” he began, and looked away, “Sometimes, it’s better to keep your thoughts to yourself,” he murmured, “Because they can often hurt others,” Brackentail turned his gaze to Opalsky, “Please forgive me for being rude to you.”
The young mare pretended to be skeptical, “I don’t know,” she nickered, looking off where Sweetroot had gone, “I guess so, but you still want to be with Morningleaf, don’t you?”
He snapped his head toward her, “What? What are you saying?” The young mare turned around, her golden eyes sparkling mischievously, “Oh,” he muttered, realizing that she was just playing with him.
Opalsky drew closer and laid down beside him, “You know I was just teasing you, right? Of course I forgive you,” she laughed, and thrust her small muzzle into his mane, nickering.
Brackentail looked down at the Desert Herd steed that had chosen to follow Star, she was one of the believers, the one in a thousand that had like Morningleaf; yet was unknown. A sudden feeling came over him, warm yet startling toward this mare, it was the same toward Morningleaf, but different.