Swanwings was walking along the River, enjoying the sound and smell of it. She came to a huge oak tree standing next to the River. She heard a cracking sound, and one of the branches broke off and fell into the River. The branch floated in the water and was carried down the River.
Swanwings blinked her eyes as she woke up. It must have been a dream from StarHerd. She tried to figure out what it might mean, but couldn't. She walked out of her den, still thinking about her dream. She blinked in the bright sunlight and made her way to the freshly gathered pile. She chewed a mouthful, nodding at Mistyfur who was opposite of the pile from her.
She noticed Mosstail walk out of the River, dripping wet. Mistyfur trotted over to her.
"Where have you been all day?" Mistyfur asked.
Mosstail put down some dripping Riverweed on the freshly gathered pile. "Getting food in the River."
Mistyfur looked dubiously at the small pile of Riverweed. "And this is all you managed to bring back after a half day of gathering?"
Mosstail flinched. "I'm not an apprentice. Don't tell me what to do!"
She turned and walked away, tossing her head angrily.
Mistyfur just stood there looking stunned. Swanwings was stunned as well. Mosstail had always been a kind, thoughtful warrior. Swanwings had never seen her lose her temper this way.
Swanwings walked over to Mistyfur. "What was that?"
Mistyfur shook her head. "She's mad at me. I had Mudpelt follow her to see why she wanted to go on the gathering patrol so much. She spotted him, unfortunately, before he could figure it out."
"I have noticed she's been acting a bit strange," Swanwings neighed.
"Have you seen what she's been doing?" Mistyfur asked.
"No," Swanwings shook her head.
"Well if you see anything, tell me," Mistyfur neighed, and then walked away.
Swanwings shook her head. She wished she knew what was wrong with Mosstail. She knew it hurt Mudpelt to see her so angry and confused. Swanwings suddenly had a realization. What if her dream had to do with Mosstail? She thought back. There was a branch that fell into the River. She was pretty sure that the River was WaterHerd, but what did the branch represent?
She was jolted back to reality when she heard a horse's whinny of pain. She looked up to see Toadnose limping back into the camp, wincing with every step. She hurried over to him.
"What happened?" she queried.
"I stepped in a hole, it was stupid," he neighed, gritting his teeth with pain.
Swanwings rubbed her nose on the leg. It was swollen and hot, but she couldn't feel a break.
"The good news is it's not broken," she neighed. "But it'll take a while to recover."
Toadnose nodded, looking disappointed. "No more patrols?"
"Not for a while," Swanwings replied. "Why don't you go to my den to wait?"
Toadnose sighed, but limped into Swanwings' den. Swanwings looked around for the nearest horse, and saw Frogleg passing.
"Frogleg, could you get some moss and Riverweed? Toadnose is in my den and he needs a nest," Swanwings neighed.
Frogle nodded, and hurried down to the River. Swanwings stepped into her den and pulled some alder leaves from a crevice. She chewed them into a poultice while she waited for Frogleg. She didn't have to wait long before Frogleg trotted in with a huge mouthful of Riverweed and moss.
"You can put the Riverweed down and spread the moss around to make a nest," Swanwings instructed.
She picked up the Riverweed and pressed it against Toadnose's leg. She could tell by his sigh that it soothed the wound. Then she applied her poultice of alder leaves to his leg.
"Is that good, Swanwings?" Frogleg asked.
Swanwings looked and saw he had made a comfy nest of moss.
"That looks great. Thanks, Frogleg," she neighed.
Frogleg nodded and backed out.
"Now," she addressed Toadnose. "You'll need to lie down and rest that leg. Be careful not to rub the poultice off."
Toadnose nodded obediently and laid down. Swanwings put the unused alder leaves back into their crevice. She waited until she heard Toadnose's deep breathing, and then walked out of her den. She saw Ripplestar walking toward her.
"Will he be all right?" she asked.
Swanwings nodded. "He was lucky, he only sprained it."
"Good," Ripplestar neighed briskly. "Make sure he rests it until it's totally healed. We can't afford lame warriors."
Swanwings nodded, and Ripplestar turned and walked away. Swanwings walked back into her den, and lulled by Toadnose's breathing, fell asleep.