Ember frowned. “It would what?”
Starpebble pulled her wings close and looked away. “It would break my heart,” she whispered, “after all I’ve taught you.”
Ember pulled away. “What! Oh no, Starpebble!”
She turned away, and he saw a tear trace its way down her face. He stopped and couldn’t do anything, say anything, move anywhere.
She turned and began to walk back to the herd, then paused. She came back and wrapped her wings around him. Then she began to tell him of what the starfire was.
Slowly, Ember realized just what he must not become. He began to cry silently, and tried to turn away from that dark road, the road of enslavery and tyrannism.
Long after Starpebble returned to the herd, he stood there, gazing up at the sky and the Hundred Year Star.
If he couldn’t stop himself, if he turned to that path, he only hoped she would be safe.
Starpebble’s wings flapped once, slowly, and she glided in a long spiral down to the ground. Ember and Spark stood there at the edge of a long outcropping on the other side of the Red Rock Mountains from Desert Herd. Spark looked intensely nervous. Ember was just gazing out at the bright blue sky, his eyes glistening with anxiety. Starpebble touched him with her wing.
“You’ll be fine.”
Spark stepped out to the edge of the outcropping and looked down. He gulped and backed away. “What if I crash and I can’t fly?”
Starpebble grinned. “You won’t. All you need to do is glide. Just spread your wings and run off the cliff."
“This is a really bad idea,” worried Spark.
Ember stepped forward. “I’ll go first.”
Starpebble nodded. “Whenever you’re ready.”
Ember took a deep breath and glanced up at the Hundred Year Star, glowing brighter each day as it neared their birthday. Starpebble felt a twinge of unease but shook it off. Today they learn to fly! Why am I so uneasy?
Ember galloped toward the edge of the cliff, spreading his wings. When he reached the end he galloped straight off, his wings catching the wind. He let out a neigh of pure joy as he glided around in a wide circle, his wings wobbly gripping the wind. “I did it!” he whinnied.
Starpebble reared and neighed with happiness. Her heart overflowed with joy and she no longer felt uneasy. Everything was right in the world.
Spark’s nervousness seemed to disappear. He raced to the edge of the cliff, cheering his brother on. Starpebble joined him, a loose pale blue feather coming out in the breeze. Ember landed with a slight stagger next to them and threw his wings around Starpebble.
“I did it! I really did it!”
Starpebble tensed at Ember’s wings and Ember let go of her quickly. “Oh, I’m sorry, Starpebble….”
She shook her head. “It’s fine. But guess what, Spark, it’s your turn!”