The Herds' Cooperation
Swanwings was in a bare desert with the sun blazing down. A small stream ran, but as she watched the sun dried it up until it was nothing. But a giant boulder, tree, and sagebrush appeared and blocked the sun until the stream started running again.
Swanwings awoke with a start and raced out of her den.
"Ripplestar!" she neighed, seeing her with Mudpelt and Mosstail. "All four Herds have to join together to win. I had a dream from StarHerd."
Ripplestar nodded. "Then you, Mosstail, and I will travel to the other Herds. Mudpelt, you are in charge."
Ripplestar whirled around and started galloping toward SwiftHerd territory with Swanwings and Mosstail following her. They crossed the Island and continued into SwiftHerd territory, not even pausing at the border. As they neared the camp, a small patrol galloped out to meet them.
"Ripplestar," Rabbitstar neighed contemptuously. "What do you want?"
"Swanwings had a dream…" Ripplestar began.
"Sunwings had the same dream," Rabbitstar cut in. "But we've seen where SunHerd's staying, just outside of our territory. There are so many. Maybe StarHerd is wrong."
Swanwings tensed up, and noticed that Sunwings did as well.
"StarHerd are there to look after us," Sunwings put in.
"If you can convince the other Herds to fight, meet here before moonhigh. But if you're not here by moonhigh, we're leaving. They'll attack us first because of Sagetail's grudge against us," Rabbitstar neighed, pinning his ears.
"Very well," Ripplestar neighed.
"Windmane, escort them to their border," Rabbitstar ordered.
"We're going to the TreeHerd border," Ripplestar objected.
"Then escort them to that border," Rabbitstar sighed.
Windmane took the lead, galloping toward the TreeHerd border. When they reached it, Windmane stopped and the WaterHerd horses kept going, although they had to slow to a trot because of the thick trees.
"Stop!" a horse neighed as the patrol rounded a giant oak.
It was Birchstar, Cherrywings, and a few other horses.
"Swanwings had a dream," Ripplestar neighed urgently. "We must fight together."
"You're right," Birchstar nodded. "Cherrywings had the dream as well."
"We will meet at the SwiftHerd camp an hour before moonrise," Ripplestar neighed.
Birchstar nodded. "Owltree, escort them to the border."
Cherrywings met Swanwings' gaze, and nodded at her, her eyes full of concern. Then the TreeHerd horses melted back into the trees. Owltree started to go back the way they had come, but Ripplestar shook her head.
"I want to go to the StoneHerd border," Ripplestar neighed.
Owltree hesitated, but then headed that way. The patrol left him at the border, again slowing to a trot because of the rocky terrain.
"WaterHerd," came a disdainful neigh from in front of the patrol. Swanwings stopped behind Ripplestar.
Icestar stepped out from behind a boulder, followed by Cragwings and one other StoneHerd warrior.
"Has Cragwings had the message from StarHerd? Will you fight with us tomorrow?" Ripplestar asked.
"She did, but that doesn't mean I'll do what it says," Icestar neighed, a malicious gleam in his eyes. "I plan to let you all die in battle and weaken SunHerd enough so that when they attack us we will easily be able to defeat them."
"Cowards," Ripplestar neighed.
The StoneHerd horses all stiffened.
"What did you say?" Icestar neighed with barely controlled fury.
"You're too cowardly to fight," Ripplestar taunted them. "You may say you'll fight them later, but I know you'll really run away and hide like foals."
"You're wrong," Icestar neighed, furiously pinning his ears and baring his teeth. "We'll be at the fight tonight."
"You'll be at the SwiftHerd camp an hour before moonhigh?" Ripplestar asked incredulously.
"Of course," Icestar neighed.
"I doubt it," Ripplestar shrugged. "Goodbye."
"Bouldermane, escort them to the border," Icestar snapped.
Bouldermane trotted toward the River with the WaterHerd horses following. They crossed the River and went into their camp.
"That was brilliant, Ripplestar," Mosstail neighed in wonder.
"Thank you," Ripplestar replied, looking a bit smug.
Swanwings felt ready for the coming battle. The four Herds would work together, as StarHerd had wanted, and everything would work out.