Swanwings' Dream Comes True
Swanwings watched Mudpelt's tail disappear as he galloped with his patrol on the sunhigh patrol of the SwiftHerd border. She shook her head as a fly landed on her nose. The weather was warming up, the birds were singing and the River was flowing steadily.
She decided to go into her den and organize herbs. Yesterday's outing with Whitehoof had yielded many herbs that she hadn't put away yet. After a little while of putting borage away, she heard a faint noise. It was the buzzing from her dream!
She bolted out of her den and looked past the River. She could faintly see a silver bird flying toward them. She knew StarHerd had warned her about this. She turned to see that many horses had come out of their dens to look at it.
"Hide! StarHerd warned me about this! Hide in your dens or in the River!" Swanwings neighed frantically.
Ripplestar looked at Swanwings' panicked expression and started issuing orders. The Herd ran around in confusion, darting into dens or splashing into the River. Swanwings trusted that Ripplestar would see that the Herd was safe and ran into her den, panting.
Suddenly, the camp was still except for the buzzing, coming closer and closer. She listened as the buzzing was right overhead, and then went on and became fainter.
Swanwings waited until it had been quiet for a few heartbeats, and then slowly poked her head out of her cave. Other horses were peeking out of their dens or slowly wading out of the River.
Ripplestar emerged from her den. "What was that, Swanwings?"
"I don't know," Swanwings shook her head. "StarHerd sent me that sound in a dream, but I don't know what it is."
Ripplestar shook her head. "Well we can only hope it won't come back."
Swanwings knew she was right as she looked around the camp. Most of the warriors were looking wide-eyed at the sky. Some were trembling, and she could hear Marshfoal's and Lakefoal's cries from inside the nursery.
Goosefeather limped up to Swanwings. "I cut my leg on a rock when I ran into the River."
Swanwings looked at his left back leg. It had a long but shallow cut.
"Wait here and I'll get you some riverweeds to stop the bleeding and marigold to stop infection," Swanwings ordered.
She trotted down to the River and waded in. She reached her nose underwater and pulled up some dripping riverweeds. She trotted back to Goosefeather and told him to hold them on. Then she entered her den and grabbed the marigold. She carefully chewed it into a poultice and applied it to Goosefeather's leg after removing the riverweeds.
Goosefeather winced. "It stings."
"It'll save you more pain later," Swanwings replied. "You're good to go."
"Thanks," Goosefeather neighed, and then walked off.
Swanwings heard the pounding of hooves coming towards the camp. She looked up to see the StoneHerd border patrol coming back. Mistyfur led Frogleg and Beaversplash into camp. Swanwings could see they were unsettled by the bird as well.
"How did you escape?" Ripplestar asked as she trotted over.
"We hid in a cave just across the River, in StoneHerd territory. The River was too shallow to hide in where we were at," Mistyfur explained.
"That was good thinking," Ripplestar neighed. "But we can only hope StoneHerd won't smell you and think we've been trespassing."
Mistyfur nodded. Beaversplash went to the nursery. Mistyfur walked up to Swanwings, her eyes worried.
"I hope Mudpelt's all right," she whinnied.
Swanwings suddenly remembered Mudpelt and Fishleap were on the SwiftHerd patrol. But there was nowhere to hide there!
It was almost sundown, and Swanwings and Mistyfur were frantic with worry. Ripplestar had taken a patrol to look for the missing horses. She had taken Goosefeather, who was worried about his mate and son, and Frogleg. They were now anxiously awaiting Ripplestar's return.
Swanwings heard the pounding of hooves and looked up. It was the patrol! But as she squinted her eyes against the gathering darkness, she saw only three horses. She and Mistyfur exchanged a look of despair. Mudpelt! Fishleap! Her brother and sister were gone!
Ripplestar trotted back into camp. Goosefeather's head was hung with sadness. Fishleap came up and comforted him.
"What happened, Ripplestar?" Mistyfur asked.
"We found their scent on the border, and it met with SwiftHerd scent. Then both of the groups went into SwiftHerd territory. The bird must have made the WaterHerd horses go into SwiftHerd territory where SwiftHerd must have captured them," Ripplestar replied.
Swanwings and Mistyfur gasped.
"Can't we go and get them?" Mistyfur queried.
"Of course," Ripplestar neighed. "We'll go to SwiftHerd's territory tomorrow. And if they don't give them back, we'll fight for them."
Mistyfur nodded, looking grim.
"I'll need to tell Splashstream and Mosstail," Swanwings neighed.
She walked toward the nursery, and then ducked into the cave. Marshfoal and Lakefoal were standing next to their mothers, for once not playing.
"I'm sorry, Splashstream and Mosstail, but…Toadnose, Mudpelt, Fishleap, and Whitehoof have gone missing. SwiftHerd took them," Swanwings rapidly explained.
Mosstail's eyes widened and she let out a faint whinny. Splashstream pinned her ears.
"I'll fight them," she neighed fiercely.
"No, you have Marshfoal to take care of," Swanwings neighed gently. "But Ripplestar is going to attack tomorrow and I'm sure she'll choose Nightriver to go. He can get your revenge for you."
Splashstream calmed down. "You're right. My son is a great warrior; he'll get revenge for his father."
"I hope Mudpelt's all right," Mosstail softly whickered.
"Me too," Swanwings neighed.
Beaversplash walked into the nursery. "I've got the grass…what is it?"
Swanwings left the nursery, leaving Mosstail to explain. Swanwings thought about how many Herdmates would grieve if these horses didn't return. StarHerd bring them back safe, she thought worriedly.