Mudpelt led Beaversplash and Nightriver on a gathering patrol. They were heading for a place with great grass between SwiftHerd territory and Nofurplace. It was near the border between their territory and endless grasslands owned by no horse. As they approached the spot, they saw five horses standing on the border. Mudpelt pinned his ears and headed toward them. The horse nearest them raised her head, and Mudpelt saw that it was Arrya.
"Get away from here!" Nightriver neighed angrily, stepping forward.
Mudpelt glared at Nightriver until he stepped behind him. He was in charge of the patrol, not Nightriver.
"What do you want?" Mudpelt asked Arrya.
"Take us to see Ripplestar," Arrya replied. "We need to speak with her."
"Not all of you," Mudpelt shook his head. "Only you, Arrya."
"Then you'll take her captive like you did Helos!" one of the SunHerd horses neighed.
"That would be against the Warrior Code," Mudpelt neighed.
"I have no faith in the Warrior Code," Arrya sighed. "At least let me take one horse with me."
Mudpelt hesitated. "All right."
Arrya turned to the SunHerd horses. "Luna, come with me. The rest of you stay here. If I don't come back, you know what to do."
"Beaversplash and Nightriver, stay behind them. Arrya and Luna, follow me," Mudpelt ordered.
He didn't want to show them the Island, so they went the long way around the Lake. By the time they arrived in the camp, it was late afternoon. The WaterHerd horses pinned their ears and whinnied angrily as they saw Arrya. She and Luna held their heads high. When Goosefeather, who was guarding Helos, saw them, he backed up so he was completely blocking the entrance, his ears flicking nervously. Ripplestar walked calmly up to Mudpelt. Mudpelt explained what had happened as the whole Herd listened intently.
"What is it you wish to say to me, Arrya?" Ripplestar asked.
"SunHerd wants Helos back," Arrya explained. "If you give him to us, we swear we will leave and find a new place to live. But if you don't, your own territory won't be safe. We will never give you any peace until you give him to us."
Mudpelt silently willed Ripplestar to agree. He knew that many would have been glad to give Helos up to StoneHerd, except they didn't think he deserved to die.
Ripplestar stood silently, deep in thought. Then she shook her head.
"I do not trust the word of a loner. You would probably attack us the moment we gave him to you," Ripplestar neighed, her ears pinned.
Mudpelt's heart sank. He knew Arrya meant what she said, and she was stubborn.
Arrya glared at Ripplestar. "You have made a deadly mistake."
She turned to leave, gesturing for Luna to follow her. She started to walk away, but her steps faltered and she turned back.
"At least let me see him!" she pleaded.
Ripplestar's gaze softened. "Very well."
Goosefeather moved aside and Helos walked out. Arrya trotted toward him and they rubbed noses. But Ripplestar signaled to Nightriver, who began nudging Arrya away. She looked sadly at Helos, but then turned and walked out of the camp, followed by Luna.
"Take the prisoner back into the cave," Ripplestar ordered.
Goosefeather hesitantly walked toward Helos, who walked calmly back in to the cave. Mudpelt saw horses angrily whickering together. Mudpelt knew they weren't pleased with Ripplestar's decision. Mudpelt could only pray to StarHerd this wouldn't cause trouble in the future.