Mudpelt frantically paced back and forth, trying desperately to peer over Silverstream, Fishfoal, and Swanwings to see Mistyfur. Mistyfur was lying on her side with her body stretched out. She strained and pushed and Mudpelt could see she was in pain. He longed to rush to her side but Swanwings had said it was crowded enough as it was.
"Come on, Mistyfur, you're almost there," Swanwings encouraged.
Mudpelt saw tiny hooves come out, but Swanwings shifted to help the foal and blocked his view. Mudpelt shook his head angrily, and resumed his pacing. He wished he could fight this battle for Mistyfur, but this was one thing she would have to do alone.
"All right, Mudpelt. You can come in now," Swanwings neighed as she stepped back.
Mudpelt eagerly walked in. The foal was the same misty grey as her mother, but darker. It wobbled on teetering legs, supported by Mistyfur.
"It's a filly," Mistyfur whinnied, her eyes full of love.
"Oh," Mudpelt breathed. He gently sniffed noses with the filly. "She's beautiful."
Mistyfur nodded proudly.
"What should we name her," she asked.
Mudpelt glanced at Swanwings.
"What about Mossfoal? In honor of Mosswings," he neighed.
Swanwings' eyes widened. Then she nodded, her eyes brimming with gratitude.
"It's perfect," Mistyfur whickered. "Mossfoal."
Silverstream and Fishfoal came up to see the new arrival. Fishfoal curiously sniffed noses with Mossfoal.
"She's ok," Fishfoal neighed with a disdainful snort.
Mistyfur nickered in amusement. "We're glad you approve."
In a few days, Mistyfur decided Mossfoal could go on her first trip outside the nursery.
"Good luck," Silverstream whispered, trying not to wake Fishfoal.
Mistyfur, Mudpelt, and Mossfoal left the nursery. Mossfoal blinked furiously in the bright sunlight. She looked in awe around the camp, which was bursting with life. Streammane and Ottertail gazed adoringly at Mossfoal as they walked past. Goosehoof ran by, followed by the loud neighs of Wetpelt chastising him for the wet moss he brought in. Reedstar was neighing with Rippletail about the patrols. Swanwings was looking at a splinter Turtlefur had gotten.
Mossfoal pressed close to Mistyfur.
"It's all right, darling," Mistyfur neighed soothingly.
She coaxed her forward, and they walked across the camp. Mudpelt pointed out the dens as they walked. When they reached the end of the camp, Mosstail saw the River. She shrank back. Mistyfur nudged her forward.
Mudpelt walked a little ways into the water. "It's all right. Just come out to me."
Mossfoal lowered her nose to the water and snorted. She lifted a tiny hoof and lowered it carefully. When it went through, she jumped. Mistyfur walked out a little ways too. Mossfoal slowly waded into the water. Mistyfur walked back and pressed against her to support her against the current. Mossfoal looked more at ease, and she even pawed the water with her hoof.
"That's my girl," Mudpelt neighed proudly as she splashed Mistyfur.
Mistyfur rolled her eyes, and they gazed fondly at each other.
"She's shivering," Mistyfur neighed. "I think it's time we went back to the nursery."
"It is a bit cold," Mudpelt agreed.
Mistyfur guided Mossfoal out of the water and up the bank. Mudpelt took one more heartbeat to enjoy the feel of the water against his legs, and then trotted out after Mistyfur.
As soon as they got into the nursery Mossfoal laid down and went to sleep. Mudpelt looked warmly at his filly. Mistyfur looked tired too, so Mudpelt decided to leave them in peace.
"I think I'll go now," he whispered.
"All right," Mistyfur yawned.
She stood above Mossfoal and closed her eyes. With one last glance at them, Mudpelt turned and walked out of the nursery. The sun was just starting to set, making the camp have an orange tinge. He felt peaceful as he watched the sun set.
"Where is that stupid apprentice? He was supposed to bring me some food ages ago?" an angry voice neighed.
Mudpelt turned to see Shellpelt, an old silver stallion, coming out of the elders' den.
"It hasn't been that long, Shellpelt. Just be patient," neighed another horse from inside the elders' den.
From the sound of it, it was Wetpelt, an old white stallion.
"Have you seen him?" Shellpelt asked Mudpelt crossly.
"No," Mudpelt replied.
Shellpelt narrowed his eyes. "Well if you see him tell him we've been waiting for moons."
Mudpelt tried not to nicker and nodded.
Shellpelt turned and lumbered back into the elders' den. Mudpelt watched him go, thinking about Mossfoal. He couldn't wait for her to become an apprentice, and yet he wished she would stay a filly forever.
He turned in time to see the sun disappearing, taking another day away. He was ready for tomorrow.