Swanwings looked fondly at Bluefoal and Wavefoal as they splashed in the River. Mistyfur stood belly-deep in the water while Fishleap watched the foals from the shore. Wavefoal was getting close to one year and he looked strong.
Swanwings saw Nightriver leading Helos down to get a drink. Nightriver had lately taken to guarding Helos every chance he got. He liked being in control, and he enjoyed taunting Helos. Swanwings wished Ripplestar wouldn't let him guard Helos, but no other horse wanted to do it.
When Mistyfur saw Helos coming, she splashed out of the River and onto the shore. Bluefoal ran to Fishleap's side, but Wavefoal stood his ground, pinning his ears at Helos. Swanwings nickered at how much he looked like Mudpelt. Wavefoal slowly walked back to Mistyfur, glaring at Helos. Helos walked cautiously into the River, wary of his footing. It was obvious he wasn't a WaterHerd horse.
"Hurry up and drink already!" Nightriver neighed, shoving Helos.
He stumbled and slipped, going down hard onto both knees. He struggled to get up. Swanwings trotted quickly down to him and supported him as he got to his feet.
"How could you do that, Nightriver?" Swanwings asked angrily.
"He's a prisoner," Nightriver replied. "And you shouldn't waste your herbs on him."
Swanwings wished Nightriver was still an apprentice so Mudpelt could knock some sense into him. She turned to glare at Nightriver.
"I'll do whatever I want," she neighed.
She turned, flicking her tail, and helped Helos into her den. His knees were scraped and bleeding. She chewed some herbs up and applied them to his knees.
"Come and see me if they start bleeding again," Swanwings ordered.
Helos nodded and followed her as she walked out of her den. Toadnose was waiting there.
"Nightriver asked me to watch Helos for him," he neighed, sounding embarrassed.
Swanwings nodded to him and watched as he led Helos back into the cave. Swanwings remembered that she was out of tansy. She knew of a patch where they grew that wasn't too far away from the camp. She had started walking away when Mudpelt trotted up to her.
"Where are you going, Swanwings?" he asked.
"To get some herbs," Swanwings replied. "They're not very far away."
"Sorry, but you can't go by yourself," Mudpelt gently neighed. "Ripplestar wants groups of at least three horses going out because of SunHerd. They've been seen on our territory."
Swanwings sighed. "All right."
Mudpelt turned around and scanned the camp. "Marshmane and Mosstail, go with Swanwings."
They walked over to Swanwings.
"This way," she neighed, and trotted off.
Marshmane and Mosstail stood guard while Swanwings picked the herbs. She carefully shook the dirt off of them and put them in a pile. She heard a branch crack and looked up to see four SunHerd horses.
"Get out of our territory!" Marshmane neighed angrily, stepping toward them.
"You can't stop us," one of them jeered.
Marshmane started toward them, but Mosstail pushed in front of her.
"Leave them," she neighed. "We can't win this battle."
Marshmane snorted angrily and turned to help Swanwings carry the herbs back. Swanwings couldn't believe that SunHerd horses had dared to be in WaterHerd territory. But no matter how many times they were driven out they kept coming back. And WaterHerd was tired because of the extra patrols. Swanwings knew they couldn't keep this up for much longer, but she didn't know what they could do about it.