In the year that had passed, Star and Morningleaf had grown farther and farther apart. They used to sleep side by side, but now Morningleaf spent all her free time with Brackentail. And every night that Star and Morningleaf were supposed to spend together, he cried. He felt like all the world wanted to do was crush his spirits. He had lost ao many pegasi. His mother, Lightfeather. His mentor, Grasswing. His adoptive parents, Thundersky and Silverlake. His new member, Darkleaf, who never made it to River Herd. The countless pegasi in all the battles of his past. One of his best friends. He was going to lose half the Herd, including the rest of his friends. And now the world had taken Morningleaf and Brackentail away from him. Star grazed alone now, looking at Morningleaf and Brackentail whisper into each other's ears and laughing and nickering. Not once they had bothered to ask Star how he was feeling. Star dipped his head and pretended to munch on grass, trying to evesdrop on his two "friends", though he knew he shouldn't be. They flew away, leaving him grazing alone in the middle of the day. He thought and thought. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a thought slammed him so hard he staggered sideways and toppled over. He didn't love Morningleaf as a Milk Sister; no, it was more than that. He loved her as a lifelong partner. He groaned as he uprighted himself, propping his body against a spruce tree. Then he made the decision. He was going to ask Morningleaf to be his mate. Officially. Tears streaked down his face as he remembered all the fun times they had had. He whinnied and reared, stamping the soil. He and Morningleaf had drifted apart. He thought this would never happen. He thought he and Morningleaf wouldn't have let it happen. If he didn't act, they're relationship could be lost forever. Yes, he would do it. All he needed to do beforewing was think of what to say, when to say it, and how to get Morningleaf and Brackentail apart so he could talk to her alone.
Shadowmoon had begun to understand the basic techniques of how to fly, land, walk, drink, eat, and even use the fire. He practised the starfire on trees and animals, burning both alike to ash. He had even figured out how to use the shield. He didn't know when he was going to face Star, but visions of his father kept him going. Right when he felt he was going to give up, Nightwing would appear in his mind's eye. "Be strong, Shadowmoon." He would have said. "You have the starfire, and Star does not. You can beat him. The time is nigh." This had kept Shadowmoon fueled. His father's words of motivation was like his source of survival; he could not live without it. He trained hard, knowing each day lead to the destruction of Star. He could not waste these days. But he wondered whether or not his parents missed him. Every night, he looked to the stars, wondering if his parents, now up in the Golden Meadow, where gazing up at the same beautiful painted sky.