Swanwings checked her supply of tansy. It was good, but she was low on borage and watermint. She was tired, it was the day after the half moon and she had been to MoonTree last night. Sunwings' new apprentice, Cloudhoof, had been there. He had looked eager to learn.
Swanwings shuddered when she remembered StarHerd's message. Mosswings had come to her.
"Beware, Swanwings. Great peril is coming to your Herd," she had neighed.
Then, Swanwings had heard a terrible buzzing like many bees coming closer and closer. Swanwings shivered again. She didn't know what this danger was, but she knew when it came it would be devastating.
Swanwings shook the feeling of fear off and walked outside her den. She decided to take Whitehoof with her to pick herbs. She looked around for his mentor, Toadnose. She saw him heading into the nursery with a mouthful of grass. She trotted over to intercept him.
"Toadnose," Swanwings neighed. "Can I borrow Whitehoof to help me pick herbs?"
She knew Toadnose hadn't been spending as much time with his apprentice since Marshfoal had been born. The other warriors had been trading Whitehoof off between them.
"Sure, Swanwings," Toadnose replied.
Swanwings nodded. "Thanks."
She found Whitehoof eating at the freshly gathered pile.
"Whitehoof," she whinnied. "I need your help to gather herbs. Toadnose said it would be all right."
Whitehoof looked downcast. "All right, Swanwings."
Swanwings took Whitehoof to the place where borage grew and taught him how to dig up the roots. She nickered softly at the expression of boredom on his face.
They gathered herbs until sunhigh, and Swanwings' and Whitehoof's mouths were completely full. They both carried the borage and watermint back toward the camp.
She looked behind them to see Beaversplash trotting to catch up with them. Swanwings dropped her herbs on the ground.
"Hello, Beaversplash," she neighed.
Whitehoof whinnied a muffled greeting; he still had his herbs in his mouth.
"I just wanted to thank you again for helping Lakefoal. She seems full of energy again," he neighed.
"It was nothing," Swanwings replied. "But I've got to take these herbs back to the camp now."
"I could help," Beaversplash neighed eagerly.
"All right," Swanwings nodded.
Beaversplash picked up a mouthful of the herbs on the ground, and Swanwings picked up the rest. Whitehoof gestured impatiently with his head for them to go, and Swanwings nodded, nickering to herself. They walked back to the camp and deposited the herbs inside Swanwings' den.
"Thanks, Beaversplash," she neighed.
He nodded, and walked out of her den. She turned to Whitehoof.
"You did a good job today. Maybe Mudpelt will do battle training with you now," she whinnied.
"Really?" Whitehoof lit up.
He trotted over to Mudpelt as fast as he could.
Swanwings nickered in amusement. Whitehoof would make a great warrior. He was already growing stronger, and looking less and less like a yearling. She watched him trot over to Mudpelt, who was eating from the freshly gathered pile. Mudpelt looked surprised, but nodded his head. Whitehoof practically galloped out of the camp, with Mudpelt close behind.
Swanwings watched them go, and then turned to go into her den. She shook the mud off of the herbs. Then she stripped the important part off with her teeth. She sorted the herbs, and then put them in their places in the rock crevices. She grabbed a mouthful of the leftover plants and took them to the Dirtplace. She spat them out, making a face at the bad taste in her mouth.
She walked down to the River to get rid of the taste. She put her nose in the water and sucked in a few mouthfuls. She decided that she was tired, and started walking back to her den. It was only a little past sunhigh, so she couldn't go to sleep. She could, however, take a short nap.
Once she got inside her cave, Swanwings settled herself to take a nap. She closed her eyes and sighed. She felt peaceful, and that everything was all right in her Herd. But then she heard the buzzing noise and with it two loud bangs. She quickly opened her eyes, shaking. StarHerd save us from this horror, she thought.