Mudpelt was mutual grooming with Mistystar when Swanwings walked up to him.
"Mudpelt, I need to speak to you in my den," Swanwings neighed.
"I'll be right back, Mistystar," Mudpelt promised before walking away.
He followed Swanwings into the medicine den. Swanwings told him everything that had happened with Bluepond and Gorsefur.
"She made the right decision," Mudpelt neighed.
He heard a horse whinny his name.
"I've got to go," he neighed.
He walked out of the medicine den and saw Whitewater walking toward him.
"I need you to lead the SwiftHerd patrol," Whitewater neighed.
"Ok," Mudpelt agreed. "Nightriver, Toadnose, and Goosefeather, want to come?"
The three nodded and followed Mudpelt toward the SwiftHerd border. When they were there, Mudpelt saw Rabbitstar and several warriors standing on the border.
"What do you want?" Mudpelt asked suspiciously.
"I want to talk to Mistystar. It'll just be me, Tumbleweed, and Gorsefur," Rabbitstar promised. "The rest of my warriors will wait here for me."
"Fine," Mudpelt agreed. "Follow me. Toadnose, take up the rear."
Mudpelt led the horses the long way around the Lake. He wasn't going to give away the Island, and SwiftHerd horses couldn't swim.
When they arrived in the camp, Mistystar approached Rabbitstar.
"What do you want?" she asked.
"We want Lilyfoal," Rabbitstar replied.
Blackshell pinned his ears and started forward, but Toadnose stopped him.
"Gorsefur is Lilyfoal's father, and the filly should be raised in SwiftHerd," Rabbitstar continued. "Our last two foals did not survive long, so we have two broodmares with milk that she can choose from. SwiftHerd is prepared to fight for that filly."
The whole time, Bluepond and Gorsefur had been staring at each other. Bluepond's eyes were full of sorrow, while Gorsefur's were full of anger. Mudpelt could see the Herd looking at Lilyfoal, and taking in her long legs and thin build.
"Is this true?" Mistystar asked Bluepond.
She nodded sadly. "But it was a mistake. And I never saw him again, or plan to see him in the future."
Blackshell looked at her in shock.
"I'm sorry I never told you, Blackshell, but I couldn't," Bluepond neighed sadly.
Mistystar turned back to Rabbitstar. "I am sorry for your loss, Rabbitstar, but WaterHerd are prepared to fight for Lilyfoal."
Rabbitstar pinned his ears. "Very well."
He galloped out of the camp, followed by Gorsefur and Tumbleweed. Mistystar turned to the WaterHerd horses.
"We must fight, not for a SwiftHerd horse, but for a broodmare's filly, and for a future WaterHerd warrior! Follow me, if you wish to fight, but I shall not force any horse to come," Mistystar neighed.
Splashstream shook her head. Mudpelt knew she wouldn't join the fight. Nightriver looked torn. He loved battle, but he didn't like its purpose. All of the horses except Nightriver and Splashstream went to join Mistystar.
"Thank you for your loyalty," Mistystar neighed. "But I need two horses to guard the camp. Lakenose and Beaversplash, stay here."
Mistystar cantered out of the camp, followed by her Herd.
"We'll have to swim across the Great River; we can't risk them seeing the Island!" Mistystar neighed.
The WaterHerd horses swam across the Great River to meet the SwiftHerd horses that were galloping toward them. Mudpelt whinnied fiercely as the horses clashed together, He reared and kicked and bit in the frenzy of horses. He saw Blackshell and Gorsefur fighting furiously. He saw Trouthoof trying to fight a SwiftHerd warrior. He ran over and kicked at the warrior. She turned to face him, and Trouthoof reared up from behind her. Mudpelt reared up also and the mare galloped away.
Mudpelt felt a pain on his flank and turned to see a SwiftHerd stallion kicking at him. Mudpelt reared up, but the stallion dodged and kicked Mudpelt. He grimaced. The stallion pranced back and forth, dodging his blows and scoring ones of his own.
"Having trouble?" he heard Wavetail neigh.
Wavetail reared up at the stallion. As he dodged, Mudpelt slammed down on him, making him squeal. The stallion turned and sprinted away. Mudpelt felt a jolt of pride for his son.
"We work well together," Wavetail neighed, before heading back into the battle.
Mudpelt saw with satisfaction that the SwiftHerd warriors were retreating. Gorsefur was the last to retreat, giving Blackshell a glare of pure hate before galloping away.
The battle had been hard, and most of the WaterHerd horse had wounds. Mudpelt winced at his multiple wounds as he followed the other back to the camp. He was filled with the pride he always got after winning a battle. They had saved Lilyfoal! Everything would be all right now.