Ember stepped back. He couldn’t believe it. Why was he silver?
He concentrated, reaching for the ember inside of him. Gold, he thought desperately. Gold!
Slowly, his hooves turned black, then gold, and the sparks turned gold. He heard the entire herd sigh with relief and then mumbles of apprehension swept through it. It wasn’t my fault, he thought bitterly. I didn’t make it go silver. It did it on its own. But why silver? Was he as bad as all that?
Never use the destroying starfire, he ordered himself. Never.
Starpebble was worried. Why had Ember been silver? She felt Sunfire’s wing tighten around her. She was grateful for his comfort, but she needed to talk to Star desperately.
Starpebble slipped out from under Sunfire’s wing and backed up until she was out of the crowd. She turned away and started to walk dazedly to the mountain, not seeing where she was going. It was so dark now that the Hundred Year Star was gone from the sky, leaving two smaller stars in its place.
She felt a warm tingling along her spine and turned. There was Ember trotting toward her, looking worried. “Where are you going?”
Starpebble smiled at him weakly. “To bed. I’m very tired, Ember, and I need to go to sleep.”
He put his wing on her folded wing. “Wait. Starpebble, why was I silver?”
She sighed. “I don’t know. But,” she added, “I’ll talk to someone who does.”
Ember arched his neck curiously. “Who?”
She was about to answer, but was cut off by Summersong cantering toward them, her eyes alight. “Ember!” she cried, skidding to a halt next to him. “Congratulations!”
He turned to her, and while he was distracted Starpebble slipped away, disappearing into the shadow of the mountain. She climbed toward her cave, feeling very alone. She let out a deep sigh.
“Why so sad?”
She whirled. It was Summersong. Peering over her shoulder, Starpebble, saw that Ember was talking to Cobrawing and Dustcloud, who both looked worried. But Summersong was there, demanding her attention.
Starpebble sighed again. “I guess I’m just a little lonely tonight, Summersong.”
Summersong reached out and hugged Starpebble. “Want me to sleep with you tonight?”
“Thanks, please do,” said Starpebble gratefully. Summersong had become a dear friend, and she thought maybe she should know about Star. But Starpebble wasn’t sure how good she was at keeping secrets.
They reached and entered the cave. Summersong walked to the back wall and lay down next to it, folding her wings. Starpebble slipped beside her, feeling the welcome warmth of another body. The nights were the loneliest time for her, as in the daytime she had Ember and Spark and Summersong to talk to, but at night…. She felt a surge of thanks for Summersong.
She closed her eyes and fell asleep to wait for Star.