Mudpelt's First Fight
Mudpelt woke up to find himself pressed against Mistyfur. She blinked at him sleepily.
"Good morning," Mudpelt whickered softly.
"Good morning," Mistyfur replied, nudging his muzzle.
"I'm glad you two are awake," Rippletail neighed. "I want you both for the dawn patrol on StoneHerd's border. I'll lead it."
Mistyfur and Mudpelt both nodded. Mudpelt was more worried about SwiftHerd attacking. After all, there were only two places where StoneHerd could get into the territory without swimming the River; the border near Fourstones and a place where the River dwindled away into a tiny stream that could be waded across.
They cantered out of the camp and down to where the River became a stream. Rippletail renewed the scent markers while Mudpelt looked across the stream. WaterHerd's territory was sparsely wooded, so he struggled to see in the thick woods of StoneHerd's territory.
Mudpelt's fur prickled when he thought he saw a shadow move.
"Rippletail..," he began.
Suddenly, Blizzardtail, the StoneHerd deputy stepped out of the trees.
Mudpelt pinned his ears. He had learned from an apprentice to never trust a StoneHerd horse.
"We need to expand our territory," Blizzardtail neighed. "We have had more foals born and the mountains cannot support all of us."
"You won't expand here," Rippletail whinnied, her ears pinned.
"Oh, yes, I think we will," Blizzardtail replied lazily. He flipped his head and five other StoneHerd warriors pushed through the trees. They were huge and muscular.
Rippletail slowly bent her head and whispered to Mistyfur. "We need help. Go back to camp and get more warriors."
Mistyfur nodded, and then slowly backed away. When she had backed up a few steps she whirled around and ran.
Blizzardtail watched her go, his eyes glaring coldly.
"Attack," he neighed softly.
The StoneHerd warriors splashed across the stream. Mudpelt felt a rush of adrenaline. How dare they try to steal our territory, he thought furiously. He reared up as the nearest StoneHerd warrior, a young dark grey stallion, ran at him. He came down with his front hooves on the stallion's back. Mudpelt realized this was Hawktalon, from the Herdmeet. Hawktalon neighed furiously in rage and pain, but a dapple grey mare, Sleettail, came up behind Mudpelt and bit down hard on his flank.
Mudpelt whirled around, but he was outnumbered. He lost track of time, all he knew was he had to keep fighting. He wearily kicked and bit but he was losing strength.
Mudpelt suddenly heard a fierce battle neigh behind him. He turned to see Mistyfur leading Streammane, Reedstar, Waterpearl, and Splashstream. They threw themselves into the battle, rearing up at the StoneHerd horses. Mudpelt saw Sleettail back away as Waterpearl came up beside Mudpelt, rearing and striking out with his front hooves.
Blizzardtail saw that his horses were losing.
"Retreat, StoneHerd," he neighed furiously.
Mudpelt gave Sleettail one last bite on the flank as she whirled around to splash back across the stream.
Blizzardtail turned around when he was across the stream.
"Don't think this is over," he neighed, pinning his ears and baring his teeth.
Mudpelt suddenly wobbled; with the adrenaline of the battle gone he hardly had enough energy to stand. Mistyfur and Waterpearl came up on either side of him and supported him on the slow walk back to the camp.
"Those StoneHerd horses were no match for us," Mistyfur neighed excitedly.
Waterpearl nodded but still looked wary. "We had still better watch out. StoneHerd may not give up that easily."
Mudpelt saw Swanwings coming out of her den when he staggered into the camp. Swanwings' eyes widened in surprise and she hurried over.
"What happened? Is he hurt?" she asked frantically.
"He's just tired," Waterpearl assured her. "StoneHerd attacked us."
Swanwings eyes narrowed. "Bring him into my den."
Mudpelt walked into Swanwings' den. Waterpearl glanced at Mistyfur.
"We had better tell Reedstar what happened," he neighed.
"Alright," Swanwings replied, and then turned to Mudpelt.
Waterpearl and Mistyfur left, while Swanwings carefully sniffed his wounds.
"I don't think you're too badly hurt; if you rest you should feel better soon," she neighed.
Then her voice softened. "You can sleep in here, Mudpelt. I'll leave so you can be in peace."
Mudpelt felt a rush of warmth toward his sister. "Thanks."
She nodded and walked out of the den. Mudpelt flopped down and fell asleep.