Swanwings woke up with the screams of her Herdmates in her ears. The day before, she had had to hide in the River with the weakest members of the Herd, unable to do anything while her Herdmates fought for their lives. Every part of her had wanted to go heal them, but she couldn't.
She shook her head, trying to clear it of these thoughts. She heard rapid hoofbeats and looked up.
Goosefeather ran into her den, panting. "Fishleap is having her foal!"
Swanwings was glad this joy had happened to Goosefeather, since his mother had died the previous day. She knew Goosefeather would make an amazing father.
She grabbed a mouthful of herbs and followed Goosefeather to the nursery. Fishleap was lying down, stretched out. Swanwings fed her the herbs.
"Goosefeather, go and get Silverstream. Then stay away, she doesn't need you panicking while she has her foal," Swanwings ordered.
Goosefeather threw one more worried look at Fishleap before cantering away.
"It's all right, Fishleap. You're doing great," Swanwings encouraged Fishleap, who was straining and pushing.
Silverstream trotted into the nursery. She had birthed or helped to birth many foals, and she was soft and kind.
When the foal was born, Swanwings licked off the sac while Silverstream helped the, for once, tired Fishleap to her feet. Fishleap wearily turned and started licking her foal. Swanwings watched as Fishleap supported the foal in its attempts to get up. It finally struggled up and started nursing. Swanwings looked closely over the foal. It looked very healthy. It was a colt, and it was white.
Swanwings turned to Silverstream. "You can go get Goosefeather now."
Silverstream nodded. "You did great, Fishleap."
Silverstream left and a few heartbeats later Goosefeather came trotting in. He rubbed noses with Fishleap, and looked back at his new colt.
"He's beautiful," he neighed in awe. "What should we name him?"
Fishleap looked down at her colt, and then thought for a few heartbeats. "How about Whitefoal? There aren't very many white horses, so it would be special."
Goosefeather nodded. "Hello, Whitefoal."
Swanwings left, sure that Fishleap and her foal would be all right. She had hoped to be able to check up on her, but tonight was the half-moon. Swanwings spread her wings and launched herself into the air. She flew steadily to MoonTree, where she was the first one there. She landed and waited for the other horses.
Cragwings arrived first, nodding to Swanwings reluctantly. Cherrywings landed next. She stood off a ways, looking awkward. Swanwings guessed it was because Cherrywings' Herd had attacked Swanwings' Herd only because of Rowanstar's illness in his old age. Swanwings walked up to Cherrywings and pressed her nose against her neck.
"I don't blame you, Cherrywings. Or Rowanstar. I know he was sick," Swanwings tried to comfort her friend.
Cherrywings looked at her, her brown eyes brimming with sadness. "Rowanstar's dead. The sickness took him after the…the battle."
"I'm so sorry," Swanwings breathed.
It was horrible that such a great leader's last act had been to force his Herd to battle WaterHerd for no reason.
Sunwings arrived finally, apologizing for being late and the medicine horses gathered around the MoonTree and pressed their noses to it. She felt the familiar blackness seep through her, and opened her eyes.
"Mosswings!" she neighed happily, pressing her nose against her former mentor's.
She shivered at how cold Mosswings' touch was, and that her fur sparkled like a million stars. It was still strange to see her old friend like this, even though they had been meeting for a long time.
"Swanwings," Mosswings neighed warmly.
Then her expression turned serious. "WaterHerd was right to defend themselves from TreeHerd's unjust attack, but you must make Ripplestar understand that Rowanstar was ill, and he is deeply sorry about what he did."
"I'm sure she knows that," Swanwings neighed.
"Make sure she knows," Mosswings repeated. "Ripplestar must not hold a grudge against TreeHerd or a terrible thing will happen."
"All right," Swanwings replied.
She didn't know why Mosswings was making such a big deal out of this when she knew that Ripplestar would forgive TreeHerd. Ripplestar could be harsh sometimes, but she wouldn't hold a grudge against a horse that was out of his mind.
"Go now, and remember what I have said," Mosswings neighed.
Swanwings closed her eyes, and when she opened them again she was back by the MoonTree. The other medicine horses were stirring. Cherrywings looked worried, but Sunwings and Cragwings looked normal. Swanwings said her goodbyes and launched herself into the air to go home.