Swanwings drowsed in the heat of Greenleaf. It was extremely hot, and the camp was still. Most of the horses had found spots of shade. Swanwings was standing under an oak tree, glad that her wings could shade her as well.
She felt thirsty, so she walked slowly down to the River. It was very low; the very edges were now dry cracked mud. She carefully made her way over the mud and lowered her head to drink. It tasted foul, not like the clean taste she was used to but like dirt.
She looked up to see Mudpelt walking toward her.
"I can't wait until Greenleaf's over," she neighed, feeling like she was going to explode in the heat.
"Me too," Mudpelt replied. "The water tastes disgusting, doesn't it?"
Swanwings nodded, curling her lip."I'm so used to water being the easiest thing to get. But now we have to be careful not to walk in it so we don't ruin the drinking water."
Mudpelt nodded. "It is strange. This is the hottest Greenleaf I can remember, even though the elders are always saying this is nothing compared to what they went through when they were young."
Swanwings nickered. "Let's go back in the shade, I'm hot already."
Mudpelt nodded and followed her as she walked back toward the shade of the tree. She cocked one foot and closed her eyes, ready to take a nap.
She heard pounding hoofbeats and looked up, Frogleg was running full speed towards the camp. The horses pricked their ears and stepped out of the shade. Ripplestar trotted to the front of the group of horses, where Frogleg skidded to a stop.
He panted, trying to catch his breath. "SwiftHerd have crossed the border! They are desperate for food! Splashstream and Goosefeather are trying to fight them off."
Ripplestar pinned her ears. "Mistyfur, you're in charge of the camp. Waterpearl, Nighthoof, Beaversplash, and Toadnose come with me."
The horses she had named thundered out of the camp. Swanwings ushered Frogleg into her den. He was panting heavily in the heat.
"Mudpelt, get me some water for Frogleg," Swanwings neighed.
Mudpelt cantered away toward the River.
Swanwings found the cooling herbs and fed them to Frogleg. He was still wheezing. Mudpelt came back with the water soaked moss and Swanwings carefully let Frogleg lick it.
Mudpelt left and Swanwings went out after him. The few remaining horses were all talking about the battle. Mistyfur was on watch. Mudpelt was pacing; Swanwings knew he was frustrated he wasn't fighting for his Herd.
Part of her felt bad for SwiftHerd, they were starving in the heat. After all, they only had a small stream on their territory, and it was far away from their camp. WaterHerd had the River right next to their camp, and it always had green grass around it. But even though the River was lower than it usually was it still gave their Herd good food throughout Greenleaf.
She remembered Mosswings' warning at the MoonTree. Mosswings had warned her not to let Ripplestar hold a grudge against TreeHerd. She hadn't said anything about SwiftHerd. Maybe she was mistaken, Swanwings thought.
Swanwings heard the slow plod of horses walking towards the camp. Mistyfur trotted out to greet them, and then froze. Swanwings could see as they got closer they dragged a horse's body. Swanwings felt her heart skip a beat. She trotted toward them, until she was close enough to see the white pelt.
No! StarHerd, how could you do this to me, she thought as her head spun. Waterpearl was dead!
The other members of the Herd had started to walk forward. Mudpelt and Silverstream walked up together, and then froze. Silverstream let out a wailing neigh. She rushed forward and pressed her nose against Waterpearl's. Mudpelt just stood there, until his ears started going back.
Mudpelt whirled on Ripplestar angrily. "Who did this?"
"It was Brackenfur. But you can't do anything about it, our revenge for his death was beating SwiftHerd," Ripplestar tried to calm Mudpelt.
"Let me take a patrol for revenge," Mudpelt neighed, pacing.
"No, Mudpelt," Ripplestar replied. "It was an accident; Brackenfur didn't mean to kill him."
Mudpelt suddenly looked drained, as if what she was saying had finally sunk in. Mistyfur came and pressed against his side.
Swanwings tried to overcome the shock. She had thought her father would always be there for her, he had seemed invincible. She pulled her thoughts back to the injured horses. Ripplestar had Waterpearl's body moved to the center of the camp. Swanwings wanted to stand vigil for him, but she had to see to her living Herdmates first. Splashstream and Goosefeather were the most wounded, the rest just had light scratches. Swanwings sent Splashstream and Goosefeather to her den where they immediately collapsed. She treated their deep wounds quickly, hoping they wouldn't become infected in the heat.
When she was done, the sun was setting. She left her den to join Silverstream and Mudpelt in standing vigil for Waterpearl. She touched her nose to his I cold fur, remembering all the good times she'd had with him and knowing he was with StarHerd now.