"Teach me everything! Let's start right now!" neighed Mudhoof excitedly.
It was his first day of warrior training! He longed to just run across the grass forever.
Ottertail just nickered. "Patience, Mudhoof. I know you're ready to learn but we've got to tell Rippletail where we're going first."
It was the Herd deputy's duty to organize patrols, and Rippletail was the deputy. Ottertail walked over to her with Mudhoof in tow.
"Rippletail, I was thinking of showing Mudhoof the territory. Would that be all right?"Ottertail asked.
"Of course, but you should take a warrior with you. We never know what the other Herds will do," Rippletail replied. "Take Turtlefur."
"All right." Ottertail turned and trotted to the freshly gathered pile, where a light brown stallion was eating. "Rippletail wants you to come with me while I show Mudhoof the territory."
"Fine," Turtlefur replied. "You can never trust StoneHerd."
Mudhoof was confused. What was StoneHerd?
Ottertail saw his puzzled look. "I'll explain everything when we get there. Now come on!"
Ottertail and Turtlefur started galloping out of the camp. Mudhoof tried his hardest to keep up. I must show them I am ready to be a warrior, he thought determinedly.
After a while of cantering, Mudhoof was confused when he started to hear the sounds of a river.
"I thought we were going away from the River," he neighed to Ottertail.
There was a river right below the camp; he often watched the warriors swimming in it from the nursery. But they had gone in the opposite direction of the River.
"We did," neighed Ottertail, slowing to a stop. "We are lucky enough to have our territory surrounded by two rivers. We are headed toward the Great River and the Lake."
"What's a lake?" Mudhoof asked.
"You'll see soon," whinnied Ottertail. She started cantering again and Mudhoof was forced to follow her.
Soon, they came to a halt next to a huge river.
This is much bigger than the River by the camp, Mudhoof though wonderingly.
"Look over there, Mudhoof." Ottertail nodded her head to their left. "That is the Lake."
Mudhoof looked, and to his surprise saw that water from the river had formed a huge pool that stretched farther than he could see. The water was calm, in contrast to the roaring of the Great River.
"There is a place to cross just ahead," Turtlefur neighed.
Mudhoof nodded, and they trotted to the edge of the Great River. He noticed a large island in the middle of the flowing water.
"The river is shallower on either side of the Island. You should be able to cross here," Ottertail whinnied with a glance at Mudhoof.
He squared his shoulders and looked determinedly at the rushing river.
"Come one then," Turtlefur neighed over his shoulder as he stepped into the water.
Ottertail stepped to Mudhoof's side as he stepped into the Great River. It was freezing, but felt surprisingly good. The water came up almost to his knees. The current was strong, and he was glad to have Ottertail braced against him.
He made it to the Island without having to be supported by Ottertail too much. She looked at him with pride and neighed, "You're very strong. I'm sure you'll make a great warrior some day."
Mudhoof met her eyes and nodded. They walked across the Island, which was very grassy with even a few trees. They crossed the Great River a second time and started cantering again.
After a while, Mudhoof noticed the grass got less and less green but longer. Also, there were barely any trees. Then, without any warning, Turtlefur and Ottertail stopped.
"What can you smell?" asked Ottertail.
Mudhoof raised his head and sniffed. "I smell…other horses, but… they smell different."
"This is the border. SwiftHerd's territory starts over there," Ottertail explained.
"I've heard of them," Mudhoof neighed.
He had been listening carefully to the warriors when they talked near the nursery, because he wanted to know as much as he could.
"Actually, there are three other Herds besides ours," Turtlefur put in.
"Yes. SwiftHerd are known for their speed," Ottertail nodded. "They live on grassland."
"And, over there," she motioned with her head to the right. "Is TreeHerd. They are known for being able to go without being seen, and they live in a forest."
"What is the fourth Herd?" asked Mudhoof.
"We are going to see their territory now. I'll tell you when we get there," Ottertail whinnied. "But first I want to take you to Nofurplace"
She and Turtlefur started cantering roughly parallel to the Great River. Mudhoof followed, shaking his head. There were so many things in the world he had to learn about!
After a while, Mudhoof saw a lot of wood standing up! Ottertail and Turtlefur stopped a ways away.
"This is Nofurplace," Ottertail motioned with her head. "The Nofurs keep horses captive in these fences."
So that was what the wood was, a fence. Mudhoof looked farther down and saw giant squares made out of wood.
Ottertail followed his gaze. "Those are their dens, and the biggest red one is the one they keep their horses in."
Mudhoof stamped his foot in confusion. "But why don't the horses escape?"
"Because they are soft and like being kept by Nofurs," Turtlefur sneered, showing his teeth.
"Now let's go," added Ottertail. "I don't like being too near the Nofurs. You never know what they'll do."
Mudhoof nodded. He wouldn't like to be captured by Nofurs.
They cantered away, going between Nofurplace and the Lake.
"We just have to see StoneHerd's territory, and then we can go back," neighed Ottertail over her shoulder.
Mudhoof was exhausted, but he tried not to let it show. They hadn't cantered too far before they came to a smaller part of the river, where it dwindled down to a stream. They stopped, and Mudhoof looked at the huge rocks with high crags towering above the opposite side of the river.
"The river is our border with StoneHerd. They live in the mountains," Ottertail whinnied.
"They can't be trusted," added Turtlefur.
Ottertail looked down at Mudhoof sympathetically. "I bet you're exhausted. We'll take it easy on the way home."
Mudhoof nodded, trying to look strong. His head spun with exhaustion at all the things had had learned. I'll be the best warrior ever, he thought as he trotted back toward his home.