Swanwings couldn't get her dream out of her head. She knew something horrible was about to happen, but all she could do was pace back and forth. All of her senses were alert; she was tensely watching and waiting.
She heard the pounding of hooves and froze. She saw a horse running flat out toward the camp. Swanwings realized with a jolt of surprise that it was Mistyfur. Swanwings galloped frantically to Mistyfur, intercepting her as she entered the camp.
"What happened?" Swanwings demanded.
"We were attacked," Mistyfur neighed haltingly through her panting, her flanks heaving. "By StoneHerd."
Swanwings suddenly realized what her dream meant. The boulder falling into the water must have meant that StoneHerd would attack WaterHerd.
Reedstar had overheard Mistyfur. "Then show us where they attacked you."
He gathered a patrol to him and they galloped off, led by Mistyfur. Mudpelt and Rippletail must be fighting alone, Swanwings realized to her horror. Images flew into her mind of Mudpelt lying in a pool of blood, his eyes wide and staring…
She shook her head to clear it. She was a medicine horse, and her first duty was to her Herd.
Swanwings trotted into the medicine den. Mosswings was in her normal place, sleeping. Swanwings decided not to wake her. She looked in the crevices in the rock and found marigold for wounds, juniper for strength, and moss for blood. She would need a lot of it to heal all the injuries the warriors were sure to have.
A little while later, she heard murmured greetings from outside. The patrol must be back. She took a deep breath and stepped out into the sunlight.
"Swanwings, over here," she heard Waterpearl call, his neigh sounding anxious.
She trotted over and saw to her horror that Mudpelt was barely standing, supported between Mistyfur and Waterpearl. He had deep wounds all over his body, and one of his ears was torn.
Mistyfur looked at Swanwings, her eyes full of worry. "Can you save him?"
Swanwings thought to her dismay that she wasn't sure she could. He had lost a lot of blood.
"Take him into the medicine den," she ordered. As they took him away, she saw that Rippletail was in almost the same state. She was better than Mudpelt, though, because she was still fully conscious.
"Take Rippletail to the medicine den as well," Swanwings neighed. Her head spun. How could she save these horses?
She heard a whisper in her ear. "Swanwings, remember that StarHerd is with you."
She looked around but no one was there. She felt her head clear. Of course! StarHerd would always be there for her. She stepped into the medicine den where Mudpelt and Rippletail were lying down.
"You'll all need to leave if you aren't hurt badly," she neighed, looking at all the horses pressed into the cave.
Reedstar nodded and ushered out other horses before leaving himself.
Swanwings wished she could build them a nest, they were lying on the hard dirt floor of the cave, but she didn't have time. She started gathering moss from her stores to put on their wounds to stop the bleeding. She had just gotten the bleeding stopped when she heard hoofbeats, and looked up to see Goosehoof standing in the entrance.
"Mistyfur sent me to help," he neighed.
"First, we need to build them a nest. Go find some moss and other soft things for that. Then, get some weeds from the bottom of the river. They help to soothe the wounds," Swanwings ordered.
Goosehoof nodded and then turned and galloped away.
Swanwings pressed her muzzle against Mudpelt's fur. He was very hot, he might have a fever. That wasn't good. If the wounds got infected, Mudpelt could die.
She found some feverfew, and also decided to give him some juniper berries with it for strength, then gently nudged him awake. He slowly blinked open his eyes, and stared at her with a blank expression.
"You need to eat this," Swanwings whickered.
She couldn't tell if he heard or not, but when she put the herbs in his mouth he swallowed them.
She had just finished giving Rippletail the mixture when Goosehoof trotted into the cave. He had a mouthful of bedding, and a whole pile outside that he and Swanwings brought in and made a comfy nest around both horses.
"Now, the river weeds," Swanwings reminded Goosehoof and he nodded and ran off.
Only a few heartbeats after Goosehoof had left, Silverstream burst in. She gasped when she saw Mudpelt, and walked over to his side.
"Oh! My poor son," she neighed.
She turned around and confronted Swanwings. "Will he be all right?"
Swanwings pressed her muzzle against Silverstream's neck and answered, "I hope so."
"I suppose I have to get back to Fishfoal," Silverstream neighed. "I know you'll do everything you can for him."
She turned and walked out.
Swanwings waited until Goosehoof came back with the river weeds, then thanked him and pressed them on the horses' wounds. When she had let the juices soothe the wounds, she chewed up marigold and put it on their wounds to help heal them.
Swanwings stood back; she had done all she could for them. She truly hoped that her brother and her deputy would be all right, but she could do nothing more than watch and wait.