CHAPTER 1:The Storm
The sky was dark with heavy clouds that seemed to barely miss
the treetops of the forest. A strong wind blew the curtain of
rain to one side, trying and succeeding at times to blow the
large leaves off the branches.
In a cave were two identical ponies, riding out the storm. But
with the bad light, they could be hardly seen, and their black
coats didn't help much with their visibility either.
"Why do we have to go to Ferris Castle anyway?" the
"You know why, Starfire!" the other answered. "They
haven't made any attempt to sign an alliance with king Star-Cluster!"
"Why bother asking?" Starfire replied grouchy. "We
know what the answer will be! They were as loyal to the Queen
as any other kingdom!"
"This will only be their first warning -" the other
answered. "Next time we will come with a small army. And
if they still refuse, we know how to change their minds!"
Starfire snorted. "I think this is a waste of time!"
he replied irritated.
"Greenland changed their minds, didn't they?" the other
said. "Usually it is you who is the optimist!"
They were silent for a while, looking at the lightning streaking
across the sky.
"Don't worry, little brother!" the other suddenly said
with a smile. "The storm looks already if it is coming to
Starfire sighed and laid his head on his hooves. "You know
me too good, Stardust!" he said, turning his blue eyes towards
Stardust laughed. "We're triplets!" he said.
Starfire cracked a smile, then suddenly lifted his head again.
"Talking about triplets ..." he said "I wonder
how Skyview is doing! We didn't hear anything form him last time
the full moon had been shining!"
Stardust stared into the distance. "Hopefully much better
than you did; I hope we'll hear something from him next week."
He trailed off. "I'm tired of king Star-Cluster always asking
about the princess."
"I thought you were tired of hearing Pretty-Boy's voice!"
Starfire smiled, but suddenly his smile faded.
"Who?" Stardust asked with a slight chuckle, raising
one eyebrow. He vaguely remembered talking about 'Pretty-Boy'
but he couldn't place it. And yet it still seemed new to him.
"I ... I mean KING Star-Cluster!" Starfire replied,
but in a tone much deeper than his normal voice, filled with
mockery. Then he became serious. "You won't tell him I said
that, will you? We have captured ponies for saying less!"
"No I won't ..." Stardust replied. "You are my
younger brother! But watch your tongue; you don't want to say
it when others are close by!"
"I won't!" Starfire assured him, laying his head back
They watched as the downpour calmed down to a softer, almost
misty rain. Lightning still streaked across the sky at intervals,
but they were much less and further in between than a few moments
"Looks like night is falling!" Stardust remarked. He
looked down at Starfire. "We should spend the night ..."
Starfire was already asleep.
"...here!" Stardust sighed, and lowered his head as
Early the next morning, some distance away of the cave but still
within the same forest, a small thick bush started to shake.
A cold, wet pony stepped forth from his shelter, and shook the
worst of the water from its coat. He was quite a sight to see:
Pitch black, but with a yellowish off-white colour mane and tail!
On his side he had a symbol of two rings that formed a very thin
dark-gray sickle moon; the two horns of which just didn't meet.
He had wings that shared his strange coloring, with most of it
being black, except (of course) his primary feathers which was
the same off-white!
"I should have found a better spot! That was a bad storm!"
he commented to himself, as he stretched his wings before flapping
them quickly to get rid of the most water. Even the thick hairs
on his feet got a good shake. He glanced at the bush under which
he had hid. "I thought it was much larger yesterday!"
He looked around with dark green eyes and realized that he was
"What happened to the road?" he asked, frowning, trying
to remember which way he was going. "The storm wasn't THAT
bad! Was it?"
He noticed the barely risen sun.
"So if that is east..." he said to himself turning
around "Then Skywood Forest should be this way -"
For a moment he thought of taking flight, but his feathers was
still to wet. He sighed sadly and started walking through the
thick foliage, hoping to find a trail he can follow.
CHAPTER 2: The Stranger
Stardust stood up and walked out of the cave before stretching.
He was completely black, except for a little dark blue in his
mane and tail.
"Starfire!" he called, but his brother was still asleep.
Stardust sighed and walked back into the cave, shaking the sleeping
pony until he woke up.
"Mm?" he asked sleepily, squinting his eyes against
the light that shone into the cave.
"Time to get moving on!" Stardust answered, shaking
his brother again just to make sure he got the message.
"Okay, okay! I'm up!" Starfire quickly said and yawned
before standing up. He joined his bother outside, also stretching
to wake up properly. He flapped his wings a few times quickly,
before folding them flat against his sides. They almost disappeared
completely against his black fur ... almost. One really did have
to glance quickly to miss them! He yawned again.
"Lets go!" Stardust said. They walked off into the
As they followed the dirt path through the forest, Starfire was
talking about the town in which the princess was hiding. Stardust
was listening. He was curious about this other world. He had
been there only once before, for a few fleeting minutes!
"I really think you are going to be more successful with
finding the princess then I was!" Starfire suddenly said.
"Don't you think Skyview will find her?" Stardust asked.
"I've got wings, Skyview a horn!" Starfire said. "These
characteristics aren't really that common over there! You, on
the other hoof, are an earth-pony! You can come and go more easily!"
"Remember, she has both!" Stardust replied. "She
has to hide as much as you do!"
"I know, but someone had to have looked after her ... after
all we did capture Queen R-" the words died in his throat
as Stardust stopped in his tracks.
Coming out from the leaves just in front of them was another
black pony, with sharply contrasting white mane and tail ...
and (shockingly) primary fathers!
"Who are you?" Stardust demanded, caught off guard.
The strange pony looked at them with an expression of relief
on his face, another strange thing.
"Oh, hi there!" he said. "I'm Eklip! I heard your
voices a distance off!"
"I thought we were the only black ponies!" Starfire
whispered to Stardust, and quickly added "I thought I was
the only male pegasus!"
"Can you maybe help me ... I seem to be a bit lost ..."
Eklip was saying, still unafraid of the two brothers.
"You are in the kingdom of Ponyland!" Stardust said.
"Well that is obvious!" Eklip said. "You are both
black ..." Eklip suddenly noticed Starfire's wings. "Ah,
and you're a pegasus! Can you please tell me which way Skywood
"Why do you want to go there?" Starfire asked. He didn't
like Skywood forest ... or more accurately he didn't like its
"Where are you from?" Stardust asked.
"I'll give you one guess!" Eklip replied with a smile,
twitching his one wing as a hint.
"I don't have time for guessing games!" Stardust frowned,
looking at Starfire. "Catch him!"
Starfire frowned as well, and his eyes stared coldly at the strange
pegasus. Eklip suddenly realised he might be in trouble as they
both started walking forward at him.
"I think I'll find my own way home, thank you!" he
said as he spun around.
He ran through the forest as fast as he could, zigzagging between
trees and the odd rock and jumping over fallen trunks. His hopes
to lose the two behind him quickly faded as he turned his head
and seeing Stardust catching up quickly.
Stardust silently wished that Eklip had stayed on the path, where
he could easily run after him at full speed! Unknown to him,
Eklip was wishing the same thing, only so that he could've taken
off. He felt he had a better chance against the pegasus. After
all, he had
As if their wishes were granted, they ran into a large clearing
between the trees. Eklip quickly took his chance and with a flap
of his wings he took off. Stardust, having gained speed, jumped
to catch Eklip by the tail. He didn't get a good grip however,
and pulled a few strands of hair from the stranger's tail.
As he sat in the grass, spitting the white hairs out of his mouth,
Stardust saw Starfire come into the clearing and taking off after
CHAPTER 3: Air Battle
Eklip yelled as he felt his hair being pulled out, but he would
rather prefer that than being dragged to the ground by that pony!
If he needed to, he would've kicked at the black pony. He glanced
back, remembering about his companion and sure enough he saw
the pegasus taking off.
Eklip started to gain speed, hoping to outfly his pursuer. He
had regularly exercised with his grandfather - when he was still
alive - and knew how to lose even the fastest of pegasi!
Starfire noticed Eklip picking up speed, and smiled to himself.
"Finally, someone fast enough for me!" he thought to
himself. As all the other pegasi were female, Starfire had no
trouble catching them on the wing and had secretly longed for
a challenge. "This might actually be fun!"
As they sped away, Starfire did slowly catch up to Eklip. Eklip
glanced back once more, and noticing that he won't get away easily,
started to do air tricks to try and confuse his pursuer. One
moment he would dash straight, the next he would cut to one side
or the other. One moment he would climb in the air, the next
he would dive to just above the treetops.
It slowed his speed down drastically, but it did help to confuse
Starfire. He liked doing air tricks, but was soon feeling frustrated
that he couldn't get close enough to Eklip to grab him.
"Just hold on!" he thought to calm himself. "He
must tire soon!"
And indeed, just then Eklip was again glancing over his shoulder.
"I have to lose him .. but he's like Grandfather: I cannot
hope to outfly him!" he said to himself. He knew what he
had to do, but deep down he was scared. He had trained it many
times, but the gryphons from the south-west had been quiet lately
after they had recaptured White Pearl Castle; and he never had
to use the techniques he had learned! And never before had anyone
have to use it against another pony! He wasn't armed either,
but at least it wasn't a gryphon...
He closed his eyes for only a moment and, gathering all his courage,
he committed himself.
What happened next absolutely astounded Starfire. It was the
last thing he expected. Eklip seemed to tire out, allowing Starfire
to catch up, but just as Starfire was about to grab him, Eklip
turned onto his back and kicked Starfire in he chest with his
The sudden attack caught Starfire by surprise, and he dropped
a few meters before recovering. Eklip took his chance to escape,
but failed again.
Starfire flew after him, furious. His chest hurt with each flap
of his wings, but he was determined to catch the stranger!
Eklip saw the pegasus coming for him, and turned into a tight
circle. Starfire followed, but after a few turns he found the
young pegasus on his tail! He knew another knock was coming,
and ducked in time to miss a blow to the head.
Stardust was trying to follow the two pegasi on the ground, but
almost lost them several times through the leafy canopy. He looked
up again through a break and gasped when he saw that the two
were actually fighting each other in mid-air.
"Wow!" he thought loudly. "That looks amazing!"
Eklip darted in and out of the fight with trained skill, but
lacked the fighting experience Starfire had.
Starfire managed to avoid most hits. Though more then a decade
older than the stranger, he was still in his prime. He was an
excellent flier and he knew better than most ponies how to fight.
But it was the first time he had to fly and fight at the same
time! Something Eklip seems to have some experience with.
They wheeled and turned, both doing air tricks Starfire had never
dreamed of before, just to avoid each other's hooves. Then with
sheer luck Starfire managed to plant his first hit to Eklip's
Eklip dropped a few meters, feeling dizzy. He forced himself
to concentrate, only to see the other pegasus ramming into his
side, knocking his wind out.
Eklip recovered before he fell through the canopy and made a
dash for safety.
"This won't work either!" he realized and tried to
think of something he could do. Then he had a thought: It was
something only he and his late grandfather could do; The only
thing he could do better than any pegasus around, even his grandfather;
Something his grandfather had taught him, saying he had learned
it from another pegasus when he was young; Something his grandfather
made him practice regularly, almost obsessively as if he knew
this day would come...
Now Eklip was glad he had listened to his grandfather - it was
his only chance! His pursuer was almost on top of him!
Eklip flared his wings, looking for a moment like a black dot
with a white ring around it. It slowed him down to almost a stop
in midair. Starfire, seeing Eklip slow down so drastically, cut
to one side to avoid the inevitable attack. But when he glanced
back at Eklip, he saw that he was diving fast towards the forest
"He won't!" Starfire gasped, turning into a dive as
well, hoping to keep Eklip in sight.
Eklip crashed at an alarming speed through the leaves and started
to fly through the trees. Starfire felt he had no choice but
Stardust had by now completely lost the two pegasi, but he continued
to run in the direction he had last seen them go. He was still
playing the scene of the pegasi fight over in his head, imagining
several hundreds of them when he heard a loud crash that echoed
through the forest.
Stardust stopped for a moment, wondering what that could have
been, before changing course slightly in the direction of the
bang. He had lost Starfire ... he might as well check it out!
Stardust walked carefully through the shrubs, looking for anything
suspicious. Then he noticed something black out of the corner
of his eye. He turned his head and gasped when he recognized
Starfire, lying unconscious on the ground.
Stardust ran to him.
"Starfire!" he called worriedly. But Starfire didn't
Stardust quickly checked his brother. He had slight difficulty
breathing, but would be fine. He had no broken bones or open
wounds, but was already developing a thick red band over his
one shoulder where he had flown into the tree. He might have
cracked a few ribs though; It will hurt for a few days as well,
but knowing his brother he will not let it keep him grounded
for long! A few feathers lay scattered around the area, but Starfire
had grown them back already.
Stardust shook Starfire again, calling his name. Slowly Starfire
started to wake up.
"Wh...What happened?" he asked, still a bit dizzy and
finding it hard to focus.
"I was going to ask you that!" Stardust replied, glad
that his brother was awake. "How do you feel?"
Starfire tried to sit up, but quickly lay down again. "Painfully
dizzy, thank you!" he replied. "But I'll live, I think!"
"I think we should camp for the day..." Stardust decided.
"You're in no condition to travel further today!"
CHAPTER 4: Unbelievable Truth.
Just within sight of them, but sitting high up in a tree was
a dark figure. He was out of hearing distance, but it didn't
really matter to him what they were saying. He just wanted to
make sure he will be safe from them for a while longer.
He was still shaking slightly, tensed up from the fight. He sighed
softly, forcing himself to calm down.
When he was sure he won't be followed, he silently slipped to
the ground and once again took a glance in the direction of the
other two black ponies. They seemed familiar though, but he couldn't
really place them. He shook the thought and disappeared into
"Thanks granddad!" he thought to himself. "If
you hadn't made me exercise flying through the woods ..."
He didn't want to complete the thought!
As he carefully walked through the bush, he realized that he
was now even more lost. When he woke up that morning he had an
idea where Treetop lay, but now ...
"That was incredible!" he heard a voice behind him
Eklip froze very momentarily with fright, but instantly recovered
and spun around, staring at the pony in front of him.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you ..." she apologised.
She was bright blue with dark red hair. "But as far as I
know, no one has ever escaped from any of the Black Ponies without
help! But you are also black though ..."
"Family trade..." Eklip smiled.
"Are they family of yours?" the blue pony asked nervously.
"I don't remember them, but they do look kinda familiar
..." Eklip replied. "Should be long forgotten cousins
... or something ... who are you anyway?"
"Oh sorry! How rude of me!" the blue pony apologised,
still unsure if she could trust the pegasus before her. "My
name is Shady."
"Originally was ... but the 's' got lost somewhere along
the way!" Eklip smiled. "Can you maybe tell me which
way Skywood forest is?"
"Skywood forest!" Shady gasped. "Why do you want
to go there?"
"Because that is where the town of Treetop is, and where
I live ..." Eklip replied. "Nearly all male pegasi
comes from Treetop!"
"But the Apetons has their kingdom there ..."
"Apetons?" Eklip gasped. "Have they finally returned?"
"Returned? They've been there from since I can remember!"
"No -" Eklip said. "They disappeared completely
almost a hundred years ago! No one knows what happened to them:
Some say they were blown away by a strong wind, others said they
turned into trees." Eklip suddenly laughed. "You can
still see the tree with the old king's crown in it!"
"A Hundred years ago?"
"In the time of the puppet-king!" Eklip tried to help.
"Puppet-king?" Shady asked, knowing she was missing
whatever Eklip was trying to say.
"Star-Cluster!" Eklip replied, also feeling he was
missing something. "What do they teach at your school?"
"Or your parents..." Eklip sighed. How could this pony
not know what school is? "Fallon was the real invader back
then, not Star-Cluster! Anyway: Later, after the volcano-war
Starfire married another pegasus called Snowflake and when bandits
started to infest Skywood forest he was ordered to intervene.
He became the first duke of Skywood and he founded the town of
Treetop there, where most of his descendants still live!"
Shady glanced at him, not sure if she understood what Eklip just
told her. It was hard to believe what he was saying, but then
he was another male pegasus which was in itself almost unbelievable!
"Do you know who was just chasing you?" she asked.
Eklip gasped. "Starfire!" he repeated. "As in:
From Dreamcastle? Youngest of the first three Black-ponies? First
With each question, Shady just nodded.
"Th-that is impossible!" Eklip said, shaking his head.
"That Starfire is my grandfather! He died last winter..."
For a moment Eklip was silent. "He does look like him, though
much younger...but still!"
"If you don't believe me, you can go ask Banner!" Shady
replied. "He's at ..."
"Moonlight Castle!" Eklip said. If it was his grandfather
that had just chased him, he must be in the time of the puppet-king!
And remembering what he had learned in history, Banner held out
against the puppet-king at Moonlight Castle. During his stay
there, Banner became known as one of the greatest captains of
all time, the cut in his ear almost his trademark!
Banner's history and deeds had always fascinated Eklip! When
he was very young, he had wished he could have met Banner...
But Banner died almost seventy-three years ago - if he is currently
defending Moonlight Castle, then he really had gone back in time!
"Moonlight Castle can use your help, you know ..."
Shady added hesitantly.
"Okay!" Eklip finally said. "Take me to Banner!"
CHAPTER 5: Converging Paths.
Eklip and Shady had been traveling first north and then east
for a few days now, going in a wide arch to try and avoid towns
and other ponies as much as possible. If Eklip really is from
the future, then he wanted to have as little to do with the current
affairs as possible; he shuddered when he tried to imagine what
might happen if he caused the history to play out differently.
But then again, maybe he had to have come back to this time ...
it would explain his grandfather's obsession with flying through
the wood! If he was captured a few days ago before he could do
what had to be done...
He shuddered again.
"We need to hide your wings when we go through Woodlock
-" Shady suddenly said.
"That is easy: Just throw a cloak over my back!" Eklip
said absentmindedly, thinking of his history lessons and his
grandfather's stories, trying to pinpoint the exact time it may
be. It could be anytime in a thirteen year period! "Hiding
my black fur is going to be more difficult!"
Suddenly he stopped as he realized what he had said. "How
are we going to hide my black fur?"
"I never even thought about that!" Shady agreed.
For a moment, the 'Cherry'-story his grandfather had told him
crossed his mind, but he was not sure if he should use it. It
might interfere with his grandfather's future - his past! Anyway,
the berries probably weren't ripe yet!
"We'll have to travel through town during the night!"
"Or maybe we'll be able to think of something before tomorrow
"Maybe ..." Eklip smiled still thinking of his grandfather's
Stardust and Starfire walked out of Dream Castle. Although Starfire
still felt a little pain, he was almost fully healed.
"I told you King Wispy won't join King Star-Cluster!"
"I didn't argue with you!" Stardust agreed. "And
having met him, I don't think he will ever change sides!"
"King Star-Cluster ordered us to bring back his heir!"
Starfire replied. "That's serious ... Are you sure he won't
"No! It might actually tip him into war against us..."
Stardust answered, matter-of-fact. But Starfire knew he was worried
... Ferris Castle was the strongest of the other pony kingdoms!
Stardust looked towards the eastern horizon where the moon was
already starting to rise. "But we'll do that when we return
from Mooney Mountain."
"Why are we going there?" Starfire asked.
"It's almost full moon!" Stardust answered. "We
must meet with Skyview if he returns to the Gate!"
"We aren't going to start traveling there now, are we?"
Starfire asked shocked. He had hoped to sleep in his own bed
after the trip. "The sun is about to set!"
"If we want to reach the Mooney Mountain Gate in time, we
have to hurry up! If we start now, we still have about an hour's
traveling left." Stardust said. He looked over to Starfire.
"Do you think you'll be alright?"
"Sleeping in a bed tonight would've been better ..."
"I mean walking to Mooney Mountain!" Stardust said.
"Walking isn't the problem!" Starfire sighed, longing
to fly again for longer than a few painful minutes. He was still
furious with that strange pegasus; Eclipse. "If we ever
capture him ... We haven't told King Star-Cluster about him yet!"
"I don't want to give him another reason to be angry at
us!" Stardust replied. "I still cannot believe that
pegasus actually tried to fly in between the trees! He must have
been desperate ..."
"He didn't try; he succeeded!" Starfire groaned. He
had already decided to try and learn it himself - as soon as
he has regained his full strength!
They walked through the castle gates and started heading east.
"Do you think Skyview had captured the princess." Starfire
"Hopefully we'll find out tomorrow night."
CHAPTER 6: Proof of the Impossible.
Eklip walked through the deserted streets of Woodlock. He had
a dark blue cloak on, with the hood drawn over his head. It hid
his white mane and tail ... and feathers! Shady walked beside
him. Most of the houses had lights on, as everybody was at home.
Shady felt uncomfortable, fearing someone might look out the
window and see the two of them walking in the street.
But Eklip figured that, despite the full moon, his black fur
would hide him from view in the dark, and thus if anybody would
see them, they would only notice Shady. Anyway, he was in a hurry
to reach Moonlight Castle and see if Banner really was defending
the famous building.
Shady jumped again when she thought she heard a sound behind
"Will you relax?" Eklip asked. "Your jumpiness
is making me nervous!"
"Sorry." Shady answered. "I hope we get through
Not very far away, Stardust walked uphill, heading towards the
gate. Starfire was just behind him. The pain was now completely
gone, and he walked the steep path with ease. He was even confident
that he could fly all the way to Dream Castle again.
Suddenly they saw Skyview walking their way, with a soft cloud-ball
"What is he doing here?" Starfire asked irritated,
not having noticed the cloud-ball. "He can't be fed up already
- I've spent years in the other world! We're supposed to meet
him on the other side..."
Eklip and Shady had made it through town seemingly unnoticed,
and had just started uphill. Suddenly Shady stopped.
"What now?" Eklip asked.
"I thought I saw something ..." she said, walking off
the path. Eklip sighed and followed her.
"This better be goo-"
Eklip never finished his sentence, for there in a large meadow
sat all three triplets. They were arguing about something, apparently
over the bright white pony with light green hair.
However, the strange pony was glowing...
"Why is that female glowing?" Shady asked.
"It must be the archaeologist!" Eklip said to himself,
not remembering a name - it wasn't something he had learned in
school. "Oh, by the way; It is actually a he!"
"He? But he doesn't have hairy feet!" Shady objected.
"It's a bit hard to explain;" Eklip replied with a
frown. "In fact, it would be best that you forget what you
are seeing here!"
"Why?" Shady asked, not taking her eyes off the glowing
Suddenly the black unicorn's horn lit up and a cloud appeared,
wrapping itself around the archaeologist before turning into
"Oh!" Eklip gasped, remembering his grandfather's unicorn
brother had command over clouds.
"What?" Shady asked. But before Eklip could reply a
group of five solders appeared from the thick forest on the other
side of the meadow.
"Take the prisoner!" Stardust yelled as the solders
closed on them. Skyview started running, with the cloud-ball
"Oh no!" Shady gasped as she realised Skyview was heading
straight for them. They dived out of the way and lay beneath
the bushes as Skyview ran past. He had been looking back at his
brothers, and didn't notice the two trying to get out of the
But just as he thought he was clear, two other solders appeared
from nowhere, running into him.
As Skyview fought the two new arrivals, the ball dissolved and
the glowing pony fell through the clearing mist. For a moment
he just sat there, stunned, staring at the battle around him
before he finally snapped out of it and fled.
But Skyview noticed him escaping. He hit the light blue solder
hard, sending him into his mint-green companion, and then took
his change to chase down the escaping prisoner.
The two fallen solders didn't waste time on the ground, but quickly
jumped up and ran after him.
"Buster and Charades..." Eklip whispered to himself.
He just wasn't sure which one was which, for they were the unsung
heroes of these times.
"Who?" Shady asked.
"We need to get out of here!" Eklip said, and hurried
into the forest again.
"But Banner is right there ..."
"I know I've been in a hurry to meet him, but now is not
a great time!" Eklip picked up speed as he walked through
the bushes, trying to keep as quiet as possible. "My most
urgent question has been answered, but I have new ones which
I must think about first before meeting Banner!"
Shady frowned, looking over her shoulder to the fighting that
was taking place. Some of the solders were already laying on
the ground. She sighed and hurried after the pegasus. She will
probably never understand him!
CHAPTER 7: Finding a Safe Spot
Banner stood and watched as Charades and Buster walked through
the gate. They walked on towards Lunarstar, where she sat in
the grass, looking up at the stars. He could still see them through
the stone archway, but the image was distorted like looking at
something at the bottom of a shallow pond. Charades and Buster
sat down next to her. She was really upset, but he knew he did
the right thing.
He sighed a sigh of relieve now that she was save again. They
couldn't afford to lose her to Star-Cluster. At least they knew
all three the black ponies were in this world ...
"You two ..." he told two of the solders close to him
"I want you to guard the gate tonight, until I send someone
to relieve you!"
"Yes, sir!" they answered, dutifully taking position
on either side of the gate.
"Be careful! The black ponies will want to send one of them
through the Gate tonight!"
"Why not go through the gate at Dream Castle?" another
solder behind Banner asked.
"It is too far away for them to reach before the sun rises,"
Banner answered. "But it is my guess that they will prefer
this gate to the other on the full moons simply because it nearly
looks out onto the princess's adopted town!"
The yellow captain sighed tiredly. He felt bad for asking those
two solders to stay up even longer, but he had no choice. At
least he'll make sure they won't have to stay up till sunrise!
"Let's return to the castle!" he said as he turned
around. But suddenly he stopped, and looked again over the handful
of ponies with him.
"Where's Masquerade?" he asked.
"He said he saw two strange ponies close to the battle,
and is following them." another answered. "Didn't you
"No, I didn't!" Banner replied worriedly. He had lost
many ponies escaping from Dream Castle, and many more to the
black ponies. He didn't want to lose any more!
"Which way did he go?"
Eklip hurried to the base of the mountain on the far side of
town. He hoped to find a cave where they can stay while he decided
what to do.
"Running away from Moonlight Castle makes you look like
your on their side!" Shady argued.
"They are family, you know!" Eklip snapped back, not
slowing down. "That aught to be condemning enough, don't
"At least go talk to Banner!"
Eklip suddenly stopped and turned around to face Shady. "You
know I am from the future, right!"
"Y-yes!" Shady hesitated. It was still hard to believe,
but nothing else made sense.
"Now, one of two possibilities is the right one." Eklip
continued. "ONE: I am not supposed to be here which means
that anything I do, no matter how small, will change the course
of hist... the future!"
"TWO: I am supposed to be here, sent to do something specific
on which the future depends."
Eklip stared hard at Shady, seeing realisation set in.
"So now I ask you: Which one is it?" Eklip whispered,
sounding almost threatening.
"I ... I understand now!" Shady stammered.
"I need to be alone to think this over!" Eklip sighed
as he turned around.
"Okay, so where do we camp tonight?" Shady asked.
"Haven't you heard me?" Eklip asked. "I have to
"I have, but think of it this way ... you've already changed
my future, so it is too late to save the situation. But you might
need my help! So whether you like it or not - I'm staying with
you a little while longer."
Eklip sighed, knowing she was right. "Why don't you go back
to your life?"
"After my father was killed by bandits, my elder brother
decided to search for the queen, hoping she will be able to stand
up against Star-Cluster. He blames him for the dangerous conditions
on the outer roads, you see. But he was caught by Stardust a
few days ago. Now I'm trying to get as many ponies to join Moonlight
Castle in the hopes that one day my brother will be freed!"
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that!" Eklip said softly.
Shady didn't reply. For a moment she thought of asking Eklip
if Star-Cluster will ever be defeated. But then, Starfire is
supposed to become duke of Skywood Forest...
"Thank you!" Eklip interrupted her thoughts, and actually
felt a heavy burden lift off his back.
"So while we decide what to do, let's take a rest in that
small cave there!" Shady proposed.
"Cave?" Eklip asked, looking to where Shady was pointing.
He could barely see the opening in the small rock face. "Oh,
there! It looks like a good idea!"
Carefully they climbed into the hole and made themselves as comfortable
as they could in the small space.
"Okay, so it is more of an overhang than a cave ..."
"But it is the best we'll find for a while!" Eklip
replied. "And it does provide what we need!"
After they had lay down, they quickly fell asleep.
CHAPTER 8: Meeting Banner
"Wake up!" someone said.
Eklip felt someone shaking him, but it felt as if he had barely
fallen asleep - he didn't want to wake up yet.
"Eklip, please wake up!" Shady repeated.
Eklip opened one eye slightly.
"It is still dark!" he complained.
"We're in a bit of trouble!" Shady continued.
Eklip yawned and lifted his heavy head. "What kind of ..."
he started to ask, but then snapped wide awake. Never before
in his life had he woken up that quickly!
Barely a few inches from his face he could see the iron tip of
a spear pointed at him.
Eklip gasped, and quickly sat up straight, staring at the solder
in front of him. Turning his head, he saw a scared Shady was
also confronted with a spear. He noticed there were more solders
cornering them in their cave.
"You have trouble waking up, pegasus!" a voice said
softly. Eklip looked around, not knowing who spoke.
"Family trade!" Eklip replied, trying to sound brave.
"Who are you?"
A yellow pony stepped forward. His hair was blue and purple that
made his yellow fur seem even brighter. He looked at Eklip with
a serious expression on his face, that told that they were in
trouble. But at least his eyes weren't cold as Starfire's had
been nearly a week ago!
"I am ..." he started to speak, but then Eklip interrupted
"Banner!" he gasped, and started to scoot himself deeper
into the cave. However he just bumped against the back of the
cave, bringing dirt crumbling down onto him.
"Er, he came from west of Dream Castle to see you - "
Shady started to say, but quickly fell silent when Banner looked
"Then why didn't you two come to see me after the battle?
- Yes, I know you were there!"
"He ... er ... he isn't ..." Shady stammered, but Eklip
have recovered his pose. Standing up proudly in the cave entrance,
he addressed Banner, locking his eyes on him.
"My name is Eklip, youngest son of Greenleaf!" he said,
ignoring the spear at his chest and speaking like the pony Shady
had come to know. "Before I came to you, I wanted to clear
up some questions so that I won't waste your time on them!"
"I know that you claim to be from the future; Which is a
very unlikely story!" Banner suddenly said, glancing at
one of the solders behind him. "But I also know that you
claim to be family of the Black ponies! And that I can easily
"My father, Greenleaf, is the eldest son of Starfire!"
Eklip admitted without blinking. He was still scared, but managed
to ignore the fear, for he knew it will serve no purpose. It
is too late for any kind of action now!
"That makes you ..." Banner replied in a questioning
voice, lifting an eyebrow.
"His grandson!" Eklip replied.
"But your ... what? Twenty years old?" Banner asked.
"Starfire is not that old!"
"Eighteen to be exact!" Eklip replied defiantly. "You
said you knew I am from the future!"
"If that is so, then will I ever win this war and recapture
Dream Castle? Will Queen Royal Heart ever rule again?" Eklip
could hear Banner didn't really believe him.
Out of the corner of his eye, Eklip could see Shady looking at
him. It was clear she wanted to ask those same questions, but
could never bring herself to ask.
"Will you ever win this war?" Eklip repeated the question,
knowing that he has to pick his words carefully. "No!"
There was an audible gasp from everyone around, except Shady
who had expected such an answer.
"The battle that will turn this war will not be fought by
hundreds or thousands of ponies clashing on the open plains of
Dream Valley!" Eklip said. "It will not be fought with
blood and steel! It will not even be fought in this world!"
Seeing Banner's reaction to the mention of the other world, Eklip
cursed himself inside, but continued: "You are already doing
as much as you can, there is nothing left you can do! You see,
it is out of your hooves!"
"Okay, but that doesn't really answer my question!"
Banner replied. "It still doesn't say if Queen Royal-Heart
will ever rule again!"
"Exactly!" Eklip smiled. "I'm going to stay as
far away from making a prophecy as possible!"
"Why?" Shady asked.
"Why?" Eklip repeated the question with a deep sigh.
"Banner: If you were to know that Dream Castle would be
attacked when it was, what would you have done?"
"I would've been ready for them!" Banner exclaimed.
"Dream Castle wouldn't have fallen!"
"Wrong!" Eklip replied matter-of-fact. "You would've
been ready, true, but when the castle fell even fewer solders
would've escaped. Star-Cluster's solders would've secured the
Gate before the queen and the princess could escape through it.
And all hope would've been lost!"
Banner stared at him, shocked. He had never thought of knowing
about the attack could have left him being off worse!
"But didn't Star-Cluster's solders secure the castle gates
early in the fight?" Shady asked, but she was ignored.
"It is something you have said yourself shortly after the
recapt..." Eklip stopped in mid-sentence, clearly biting
"...The recapture of Dream Castle?" Banner completed
his sentence, knowing in his heart that was what the pegasus
wanted to say. "You did say before: 'The battle that would
TURN this war...'"
"But how can Starfire become the Duke of Skywood if Star-Cluster
falls?" Shady asked.
Eklip sighed. "Knowledge of future events is not a blessing,
it is a curse!" He turned his head away from Banner, staring
into the dark forest. "I have already said too much ...
I will say no more!"
"Your friend does have a point ..." Banner started
to say, but Eklip ignored him. Banner squinted his eyes, staring
hard at the pegasus and sighed. It was clear that he is planning
to do as he had threatened.
Banner shook his head. Did he actually believe the story of Eklip
coming from the future?
Or was it a trap of Star-Cluster to get a spy inside Moonlight
King Sea-Mist will have to make the decision as to what to do
with this pegasus.
"Whether you are from the future or not -" Banner said
suddenly "you will accompany us to Moonlight Castle!"
CHAPTER 9: Moonlight Castle
Eklip lay on a dark gray blanket, looking at the blue sky through
the bars of his cell. He had fallen asleep shortly after being
taken to the dungeon. Next to his cell he could hear Shady shuffling
about in the gloom. He could hear Shady didn't have much of a
"Don't worry, it's just a dungeon!" Eklip said.
"JUST a dungeon?" Shady asked, clearly sounding on
"Gryphons eat ponies, you know!" the pegasus replied
"Gryphons?" Shady asked again. Eklip's remark didn't
help at all. "What are gryphons?"
"Winged lion-eagles ..." Eklip started to explain,
but became quiet. "Never mind, forget it! You'll never meet
"Lion-Ea...Eagles?" Shady asked, trying to imagine
such a monster. "Sounds dangerous!"
"What is this about lion-eagles?" a familiar voice
asked. Eklip looked up and saw Banner at the cell door.
"Gryphons!" Eklip corrected him. "They are also
from the future, and thank goodness none had returned with me
to this time!"
Banner looked hard at the pegasus. He was equally prepared to
believe to his stories of the future than these flying monsters.
He shook his head and turned to Shady's cell.
"King Sea-Mist wants to talk to you!" Banner said.
Dutifully, Shady left her cell and followed Banner down the hall.
They were gone for a long time. A small slither of sun had found
a way through the window that was high up in the wall. Eklip
lay in it, warming his body. The blanket helped little against
the damp cold, and the little bit of sun was welcoming. But the
sun won't last long, so he had to use every opportunity to warm
Banner returned Shady to her cell, and walked on to Eklip's door.
"It is your turn now!" he said.
Eklip sighed and stood up. The one solder unlocked his cell door
and stood aside for him to leave. Two more guards took up position
on either side of him as he walked down the dark aisle. He glanced
at Shady as he passed his friend's cell. The blue pony lay curled
on her blanket, frightened but all right. Eklip thought of asking
for Shady's release, but decided against it: it might just make
He was lead up the stairs and down the corridor to the king's
"The king has sent for us!" Banner replied as he stopped
before the guards. One of them disappeared through the doors,
returning after a while.
"You may go in!" he said, and glancing at Eklip, opened
the door for them. The small group stepped through and walked
to the center of the room. Banner and the solders bowed their
heads, while Eklip just nodded his head in the typical manner
of a noble showing respect to a foreign king - something the
blue king noted immediately.
"I understand you are Eclipse, son of Greenleaf?" king
Sea-Mist asked, and added with a raised eyebrow "Son of
"That is correct, king Sea-Mist!" Eklip replied.
"The black ponies are beyond normal," Banner said.
"Skyview can control clouds, Stardust is incredibly fast,
as is Starfire. Since you claim to be family of theirs, what
is your ... what shall I call it? Ability?"
"Ability is the right word!" Eklip smiled. "I've
got lightning reflexes! Hence I can fly through a forest ..."
"Your friend claims you come from the future?" his
"Apparently so, queen Snow-Fall!" Eklip replied, glancing
at Banner. "I know Banner died fifty-five years before I
was born, and yet he stands beside me now."
"Do you have any real proof that you come from the future?"
the king asked.
"Not really -" he said, wondering if he should risk
a prophecy. "Nothing big is supposed to happen for a few
months" Eklip eventually replied. "Skyview and Starfire
will join Stardust in the other world in three month's time;"
"All three black ponies are in this world!" Banner
"Actually, Stardust slipped through the gate last night,
before your guards could take their positions again!" Eklip
"Star-Cluster won't send Stardust to the other world; he
is the leader of the three black ponies, and is needed here!"
"And yet you won't see him for another five full moons!"
"Five?" Banner asked.
They talked for a while, but Eklip didn't reveal much more. Banner
returned him to his cell, before joining the king in the throne
"What do you think, Banner?" king Sea-Mist asked. "Your
advice had been of great value in the past."
"I really don't know what to think!" Banner replied.
"He is a black pony, and doesn't even try to hide the fact
that he is family of Starfire - but his stories seem ... unbelievable.
In fact, the cornerstone to his explanations doesn't add up!"
"What do you mean?" queen Snow-Fall asked. She was
inclined to trust him, but she didn't clearly know why. "His
friend did say he was almost captured by Starfire!"
"He admits that Star-Cluster will be defeated! But some
time after that Starfire will become duke ... or remain duke
of Skywood Forest!"
"That suggests again that Star-Cluster will not be defeated!"
king Sea-Mist thought loudly.
"I think this important contradiction gives him away!"
Banner finally said. "He and his friend should remain in
"I agree with you!" king Sea-Mist replied. "Thank
Banner bowed and left the throne room.
CHAPTER 10: Life Goes On
Starfire flew through the morning sky. He glanced around, making
sure that there was no one around, before he turned into a dive.
He crashed through the leafy canopy of the forest below at a
good speed. It wasn't as fast as that first time when he tried
to catch Eclipse, and the forest was much more open, but he still
had trouble to concentrate on the trees and branches that flashed
Small twigs and leaves fell to the ground as he crashed through
the foliage. Then he underestimated the strength of one branch...
He stood up from the ground, shaking his wings in frustration.
Looking up at the branch into which he had flown, he shook his
head. If he had flown his full speed and hit that little twig
only a glancing blow, it would've snapped his wing! There's a
reason why pegasi don't fly through the forest!
But how did Eclipse do it? Eclipse had done it in the forests
north of Dream Castle ... some of the thickest forests around!
Where did he learn it? And how long is it going to be before
Starfire will be able to do the same ... even at this slow speed
and on such an 'open' forest as this?
"Something definitely happened while I was gone!" he
heard a familiar voice behind him. Starfire jumped when he heard
"How long had you been standing there?" Starfire asked
without looking around. He ran his hoof over his black fur to
try and get it to lie flat again.
"Long enough!" Skyview replied with a smile. "I
never thought I'd see you up and active this early!"
"It's not that early!" Starfire replied. "And
there is no one around to care either!"
"It's early enough! And I'm here!" Skyview said, standing
next to Starfire. "What happened to get you this worked
"I've told you of the strange pegasus?" Starfire asked.
"The one that gave you the slip? What was his name again?"
Skyview asked with a chuckle. It was good to have found something
to tease his younger brother with for a change.
"Yea -" Starfire agreed quickly, staring into the forest.
"He flew into the forest to escape!"
"He did what?" Skyview asked, still chuckling. He had
only known the strange pegasus escaped his two brothers.
"You heard me! He flew between the trees until I inevitably
rammed into one! I've never seen it done before," Starfire
finally turned to the unicorn "and when he tries that again
I'll be ready for him!"
"Well, you can practice dodging branches later." Skyview
replied, becoming serious again. "King Star-Cluster has
ordered us to secure Ferris Castle's alliance."
"Again?" Starfire sighed. "You know Stardust thinks
this is the wrong approach?"
"You've told me that already! But it doesn't matter what
we think, we must obey Star-Cluster!"
"I know!" Starfire replied, and followed his brother
to Dream Castle.
Eklip lay on the dark gray blanket, looking at the sky turning
from orange to purple. He didn't like being trapped in the cell;
He was a pegasus that needed the open skies!
But a part of him was rather glad that he was here locked up!
The worries he had of interfering with the past while he roamed
freely outside was itself now a thing of the past.
Shady had calmed down, when she realised that this won't be the
end of her.
"Excuse me ..." a voice said. Eklip looked towards
the door and recognised the tan unicorn with red hair. "I've
brought the pegasus' dinner."
"What about us?" one solder asked as the other quickly
scanned through the tray, before allowing her into Eklip's cell.
"You'll get yours soon enough!" a pink pony, that brought
Shady's dinner, answered.
"Thank you, Flury!" Eklip said as he stood up and walked
to the tray. He had heard her name many times from the guards.
Flury quickly sat the tray down and quickly left the cell. She
didn't feel threatened by the black pony, but she didn't want
to make friends with him nonetheless! She had heard that he is
a bit odd...
Eklip lifted the covering and found he had gotten soup and a
few bread rolls. He sat down and started eating. He had only
taken a few bites, when he noticed the guards staring at him.
"M-m" he said as he took a bite of bread. "This
is really good!"
"Very funny!" one of the solders replied sarcastically.
"You know we are also hungry!"
"It is you who want to watch me eat!" Eklip laughed.
"Don't worry guys, your food is on its way!"
And sure enough, they could see the two servants return with
two extra platters.
CHAPTER 11: Banner is Confused
Banner walked into the castle and headed towards the throne room.
He was deeply troubled, thinking of Eclipse in the dungeon. And
especially what he had said to him in the throne room.
Stardust was gone.
No one had seen him anywhere for several weeks now. And yet,
both Starfire and Skyview were busy in the western kingdoms,
doing Star-Cluster's bidding without question.
Eclipse had said that Stardust had gone through the gate before
his guards could retake their positions, and apparently he was
What is more, he had predicted that his two brothers will soon
join him in the other world.
Banner was already wondering if he should reinforce Charades
and Buster. Should he send reinforcements for Charades, or should
he not? The two of them aught to be able to handle Stardust alone,
but what if Eclipse was right and his two brothers will join
Still thinking to himself, he turned down the passageway that
lead to the kitchen, but turned left at the last door. If Eclipse
was working for Star-Cluster, he would play right into their
hoofs and weaken the castle defenses...
But Charades will not be able to fend off all three of them!
It might not be such a bad idea to have a few ready to go through
the Gate if Eclipse was right. But then, what would the pegasus
have to say about it?
Eklip was stretching his wings after he had flapped them in quick
succession. Then he jumped a little into the air, still spreading
his wings wide, trying to slow his descent to the cell floor.
He looked like a young eagle chick trying to learn how to fly!
"What are you doing?" Banner asked him.
Eklip snapped his wings shut and spun around with a surprised
look on his face.
"I'm trying to exercise my wings!" he answered. "I
cannot go outside to fly around, you know!"
"I see-" Banner replied. "Make sense!"
"I guess you didn't come here for a friendly chat;"
"Stardust is missing!" Banner said flatly.
"He is searching for the princess!" Eklip answered.
"I told you so!"
"And his brothers will join him soon?" Banner added.
"Why shouldn't I send some extra solders to help guard the
"That wont be a good idea!" Eklip replied quickly.
"Why not?" Banner asked curiously. He had actually
expected the pegasus to encourage him to weaken the castles defenses.
"More ponies around her might give her secret away prematurely!"
Eklip answered, then suddenly added angrily: "Why ask me?
You suddenly believe I'm from the future?"
"No! I'm just wondering if this isn't a really good ploy
of yours to make me trust you!"
"Whatever!" Eklip sighed and lay down on his straw
bed. "I just hoped I could go flying"
"If you want to fly so desperately, then tell me, if Star-Cluster
will fall, why can Starfire became duke of Skywood forest after
the Apetons will abandon it?"
"I cannot tell you that!" Eklip answered.
"At best, you will not believe me until it does happen,"
Eklip replied "and at worst, it might destroy your chances
to defeat Star-Cluster."
"On who's side are you on?"
"No one's! I just want the present to play out as it should!"
Eklip said and turned his head away from Banner.
Banner decided that Eclipse won't say anymore, and turned around.
As he walked up the stairs, he felt as confused as he had been
before he had decided to go and speak to Eclipse.
Banner stood on the wall, thinking. Something Eclipse said bothered
him, but he didn't know what. He looked in the direction of the
Gate, wondering how Charades was coping with Stardust ... that
is if Stardust was actually with them! However, there hadn't
been any trouble when the Gate was last open - nothing he knew
A call suddenly brought him back from his thoughts.
"Please open up!" a light brown unicorn with dark yellow
hair was calling. She was clearly scared of something, continuously
glancing back over her shoulder.
"Who are you?" Banner called down. "What do you
"I'm Caramel, and I must speak to the king!"
CHAPTER 12: Whispers from the Future
Banner stood by the doors to the throne room. He could see no
reason why he should be present when Caramel told her story,
whatever it could be. His thoughts returned to Charades and Buster.
He wondered what exactly they did for a living there. Maybe he
should go through the gate one night to check up on them. He
had always wanted to have a look at the town where the princess
He quickly shook the thought away; he doesn't even know where
to look for them!
Suddenly one of the guards appeared from inside the throne room.
"The king requests your presence, Banner!" he said
with a nod to his companion.
Banner frowned worriedly and followed the guard through the doors.
Caramel had collapsed to the ground, where she was sobbing loudly.
Queen Snowfall was trying to comfort her.
"Banner," the king spoke softly, motioning him to come
closer to him. "Star-Cluster has either revealed his most
dangerous allays, or all the pony kingdoms are in grave danger!"
"What has happened?" Banner gasped, glancing at Caramel.
The unicorn had seemed in fine just a minute ago.
"This unicorn and her spouse were walking in the woods just
south-west of here ..." the king said, also glancing at
her. "Then they were attacked by some kind of creature ...
she managed to wink out to safety, but her husband was apparently
caught ... Banner, I want you to take a group of solders and
try get to the bottom of this."
"What did this creature look like?" Banner asked.
"I'm not sure ..." the king replied, worriedly. "She
has seen it only from behind after it had separated her from
her husband; She says that it was a lion."
"We cannot ask her where this had happened, yet!" Banner
replied, looking sadly at Caramel. She had stopped crying, but
was still sniffing. "Lions are dangerous, but not that bad;
I'll get rid of this..."
"Banner, she has also mentioned wings ..."
"Wings?" Somewhere deep inside he knew it was familiar,
but couldn't place it. "What kind of lion has wings?"
"I don't know, that is why I want you to investigate it."
the king said. "The unicorn should stay here until she has
recovered from the shock, but after that we must decide what
to do about this creature! How are we going to get rid of it?"
"Very well, your Majesty!" Banner said. "I'll
get to the bottom of this!"
"Banner!" King sea-Mist called as Banner turned to
leave. When Banner looked around he continued: "Be careful!
I have a bad feeling about this!"
Banner left the throne room, deeply disturbed. He had never before
heard of lions with wings, he could hardly imagine one!
Some ponies do have wings though, and he knew what they looked
like. So he tried to apply the same principle...
He shook his head. He didn't know what was worse: Lions with
wings that were catching ponies; or that it was familiar to him
and yet he couldn't tell from where!
He quickly rounded up a few solders, telling them what had happened
and that they will be going to investigate it the next day -
the sun was already setting and it will only be foolishness to
hunt a winged lion down in the darkness.
"Everybody, get a good night's rest!" Banner dismissed
the solders. "We are leaving at first light!"
That night in the castle's barracks, Banner had a nightmare.
He was dreaming of an orange male pony with green, blue and pink
hair. He had his sword drawn and was pointing it in all directions
around him as if he was expecting an attack but didn't know from
which direction it will come.
Suddenly he heard a noise behind him. As he turned around a large
lion, almost twice the pony's size, with a dark brown, almost
black, mane jumped on him, knocking him over and sending his
sword through the air.
The pony yelled in surprise and fear, but quickly became silent.
The lion stood there with the limp body, before suddenly growing
a set of large tan wings which he flapped with great power.
"Gryphons eat ponies!" he heard a voice say as the
monster flew away. The voice was familiar, but he didn't know
to whom it belonged. As the lion flew away, it started to change
into something that resembled an eagle more than a lion. First
its head, and then chest and finally its forepaws morphed into
those of the birds of prey, but the lion haunches still remained...
"Gryphons eat ponies!" the voice said again, but much
"Cameroun!" Banner yelled as he woke up. He looked
around, bewildered before he realised it was just a dream.
"Are you all right, sir?" a solder asked.
"I'm fine, thanks!" he replied. "I just had a
He lay his head down, thinking of his dream.
"Gryphons eat ponies ..." he mumbled, trying to remember
who had said it.
"Excuse me sir?" the solder, who was about to leave
Banner's room, asked.
"Gryphons eat ponies!" Banner answered him.
"What is gryphons, sir?" the solder asked.
Banner thought for a moment. He knew he knew, but he wasn't sure
what it was.
"Lion-Eagles!" Banner suddenly remembered, smiling
at Eclipse's story. Then suddenly he could feel his body turn
cold as realisation set in!
"That doesn't sound very good, sir!" the solder replied,
not sure if Banner was serious or not.
"Lion-Eagles!" Banner gasped again. He suddenly jumped
up and ran out of the barracks, into the castle.
CHAPTER 13: Nightly Visit
Eklip was sleeping peacefully. The waxing moon just shone in
through the narrow window of his cell. He was dreaming of home:
The huts of the small town was clustered around most of the tree
trunks, stacked three high though there were also trees with
just one building hanging around the trunk. It was designed very
much like the old Apeton city that had once decorated its own
trees by the clearing not to far away, though Treetop was built
much lower than those mean monkeys would have cared for.
Rope bridges with wooden planks for walkways connected the hut-clusters
to neighboring trees and a few of the thicker trunks had a set
of wooden stairs that was set into the trunks and spiraled lazily
down to the ground where there were even more buildings, or up
to a second much higher town level (This level was about same
height as the original Apeton city!) where the pegasi families
had built their private huts.
There were about only six full-sized huts at this level...
Pegasi and the odd flutter pony flew up and down the two levels,
and between trees. There were a few unicorns and earth-ponies
on the bridges or climbing up and down the staircases.
He was lying on the walkway around his house, watching everybody
come and go when a black pegasus with bright green hair landed
next to him. He had a symbol of a leafy ivy branch that curled
across his side.
"Wake up!" Greenleaf said. Eklip looked up at him,
"Wake up!" Banner called through the bars of Eklip's
door. Eklip was still asleep.
"Family trade!" Banner muttered under his breath, then
turned to the on guard. "Let me in!" he ordered.
"What is going on?" Shady asked sleepily.
"I've got no idea!" the other solder replied as his
companion opened Eklip's door. Banner walked in and shook Eklip
until he was awake.
"It's still dark!" he complained. He had had a nice
"You've mentioned Gryphons before ..." Banner said.
At the mention of gryphons, Eklip sat up.
"Yes, what about them?" he asked, rubbing his eyes.
"What are they, exactly?" Banner asked.
"They are lion-eagles that eat ponies!" Eklip replied
with a yawn. He was still sleepy.
"What do they look like?" Banner asked. "I need
a better explanation than lion-eagles!"
"They are monsters that looks like a child cut parts of
animals up and pasted them randomly together!" Eklip said.
"They have the head and wings of eagles, but the body of
"So from behind ..."
"They will look like a lion with wings!" Eklip replied.
All the questions of gryphons were worrying him, and he forced
himself to wake up more quickly. "Their front paws also
looks like the talons of an eagle!"
"Have you ever seen one?" Banner asked.
"Yes I have, many times! After they had surprised all the
pony kingdoms and even captured White Pearl Castle, they threatened
Treetop for nearly a decade before Dream Castle could retake
White Pearl Castle!" Eklip said. "You see, gryphons
were unheard of when they appeared for seemingly no reason at
all from the south-west! But Treetop was almost built with attacks
of such a nature in mind and was successfully evacuated many
times when I was young. But since it doesn't have a stronghold,
the gryphons never stayed long!"
Eklip was silent for a while. Banner ran what he said over in
his mind, then suddenly turned and headed back down the corridor.
"Why did you ask?!" Eklip demanded, sounding much more
awake. "Has a gryphon been spotted?"
"You aught to know!" Banner replied. "You're from
"I've never learned about myself in school, nor about gryphons
before they attacked White Pearl Castle!"
At the mention of school, Banner looked back at him with a surprised
look on his face.
"If there is a gryphon out there, we must kill it!"
The next morning Banner walked to the throne room.
"I must speak to the king!" he said. "It is urgent!"
"The king is preparing for breakfast!" the solder replied.
"I know, and I'm sorry, but it is urgent!"
The solder disappeared for a while. Banner paced around while
he waited for an answer.
"Is it really THAT important?" the other solder asked,
looking at Banner.
"I thought of calling upon the king last night ..."
Banner agreed. Just then the first guard reappeared.
"You may go through!" he said.
Banner followed the guard into the throne room. King Sea-Mist
walked up to meet him.
"What is wrong?" he asked worriedly. "Is it about
the winged lion?"
"Yes, king Sea-Mist!" Banner replied. "I had planned
to have left already, but I want to request that you release
the pegasus Eclipse into my service!"
"Eclipse?" King Sea-Mist asked shocked. "I thought
we should keep in the dungeon ..."
"He has predicted that Stardust will be on the other side
of the gate ..." Banner hesitated.
"But that could be a trick from Star-Cluster!" the
king voiced Banner's doubt. "Or even Stardust; you know
how smart he is!"
"I agree, your Majesty!" Banner continued "but
he has also talked about this monster; Even before the unicorn
came to us! He calls them Gryphons!"
"He has?" king Sea-Mist asked.
"I didn't take him seriously, your Majesty." Banner
replied. "I am sorry!"
"And you believe he might be able to help you?" king
"Yes sir! When he got the idea that there might be a gryphon
out there, he wanted to have it killed." Banner said.
"He might want to use it to kill you -" king Sea-Mist
"That is if these gryphons are on Star-Cluster's side!"
Banner said. "But if he kills it, it will prove either that
he isn't working for Star-Cluster, or might even give credit
to his story that he is from the future! Either way, I don't
want a gryphon, from the future or not, on Moonlight Castle's
King Sea-mist was quiet for a while, thinking it over.
"It will be as dangerous as going alone -" Banner added.
"What about his friend?" King Sea-Mist asked.
"I think she should remain where she is!" Banner said.
"At least until Eclipse had shown where his loyalties lie!"
"Very well then!" king Sea-Mist agreed. "But be
careful! Even more than ever!"
"I will, your Majesty!" Banner bowed. "Thank you!"
CHAPTER 14: The Hunt Begins
Eklip stood still for a while as he stepped out of the castle.
He had forgotten the smell of fresh air, the feeling of the breeze
against his face, the warmth of more then just a slither of sun
on his black fur.
"Come on, we don't have all day!" Banner urged him
"Sorry!" Eklip apologised. He quickly walked down the
steps towards the group of solders that stood waiting for Banner.
"You walk out in front of me!" Banner said.
The castle gates opened and the small party walked through it.
They walked in silence for a while. Eklip enjoyed his limited
freedom: He hadn't realised just how much he had missed the smells
and sounds of the forest. But he still longed to fly...
However, he soon started to think about the gryphon. It was clear
to him that the monster had come with him from the future - most
likely during that same stormy night! How could it have survived
so long without anyone noticing it?
'Probably hunted forest animals.' he decided. Gryphons didn't
just eat ponies!
"Where was this gryphon seen?" Eklip asked.
"Somewhere in the forest south-west of here." Banner
replied. "Between the castle and the swamp. We are heading
"You know gryphons can fly between White Pearl Castle and
Dream Castle in a day?" Eklip asked. "It will be long
gone by now ... unless it has found a cave in those mountains;
one large enough to stay in!"
Eklip eyed the mountains just south of Mooney Mountain.
"You suggest that we go look there?" Banner asked,
keeping in mind king Sea-Mist's warning.
"No!" Eklip replied. "I want to see the spot where
the gryphon was spotted; make sure there is only one!"
"Could there be more?" a light green solder asked.
"They usually stay in groups of three to seven, but have
been known to gather in large numbers especially if they plan
an attack! There had been about a hundred and fifty staying at
White Pearl Castle permanently during their occupation. And they
rarely go out alone!" Eklip answered, looking over his shoulder.
"I don't want to go into a cave, thinking to kill one and
end up with more of them!"
"That makes sense!" Banner said, thinking about it.
For the whole day the group walked around, searching for answers,
talking to other ponies, asking them if they had heard the story
and where it had happened. Some had heard about it, but didn't
believe it. Others did believe, and tried their best to help
them. The most, however didn't even know what they were talking
There were also rumors of a second pony being caught, which confused
the hunting solders even more...
Each time they would come close to other ponies, Eklip would
turn away with two solders. It was the only wish Banner allowed
him: He didn't wish to be seen by other ponies.
But at the end of the day they were no closer to finding out
more. They had found the site of the second sighting, but it
didn't reveal anything more to them, than footprints in the sand.
It was gryphons beyond any doubt, according to Eklip.
As the sun began to set, Banner called to Eklip. "Since
you are the gryphon expert, how do you propose we camp for the
night?" he asked.
"However you like!" Eklip replied. "Gryphons aren't
very active at night - it's as if they cannot see clearly! We
think it is because they have eagle eyes which is adapted for
Eklip smiled. "That was how we managed to recapture White
Pearl Castle!" he added.
"We'll make camp as usual." Banner decided, turning
to the solders. "You can take the first watch with me, and
you two the second!"
The next day, as they were walking along, Eklip suddenly stopped.
"What is it?" Banner asked.
Eklip stepped off the road and picked up a tan feather. It was
dirty and slightly messed up, So he started to brush it off,
aligning the tufts again to form a more recognizable feather
"A pegasus feather?" one of the solders asked as Banner
stepped closer to Eklip.
"No, it is too big!" another replied.
"It's a gryphon feather," Eklip said to Banner. "Look
at the fine darker lines it has ..."
"There's another feather!" a third solder replied,
picking up a gray feather.
"So there is at least two gryphons here!" Banner said.
Eklip, Banner and the solders looked around for more clues, but
the scene was too old to reveal anything else.
"We should go search the mountains next..." Eklip guessed.
"We've discovered as much as this place is going to tell
"You sure they will be somewhere in the mountains?"
"Yes, they need a secure place to overnight!" Eklip
said. "Remember they aren't very active during the night..."
Banner stood and thought for a moment. If Eklip really tried
to get the gryphons to kill him, he would have kept the fact
that there is more than one secret. Blowing it would have been
a fatal mistake! He was feeling he could trust this black pony
"Okay," he finally said. "But we should do that
in a few days' time!"
"Why not now?"
"I would like to be at the castle during the full moon in
case Charades came back with an update!"
They agreed and turned back to Moonlight Castle.
CHAPTER 15: Lunarstar's Second Visit
Eklip was sitting on the wall, looking at the mountains that
stretched south from Mooney Mountain. He wondered if he was right
that the gryphons will have found a cave there, or were they
just passing through? There had been a second pony caught ...
Either way, he knew he had to find them. The past doesn't have
space for gryphons yet!
He noticed the full moon in the sky.
"I wonder if the princess will be coming here tonight?"
he thought to himself. He knew during this conflict she visited
the castle twice before staying here, but he wasn't sure exactly
when that was supposed to happen. And that is ignoring the time
she had come to call Banner when the Archaeologist had been caught!
He smiled to himself. He could already hear the other ponies
teasing him about it: 'You're supposed to be from the future!'
"This place is incredible!" a familiar voice said.
Eklip glanced over his shoulder at Shady before he lay his head
on the wall, staring again at the mountains.
"I remember it bigger though!" he replied.
"Some time after Star-Cluster were defeated -" Eklip
started to explain. Now, he didn't bother trying to hide the
fact that Star-Cluster will fall - the secret was long out! "-
the king of Dream Castle will help king Sea-Mist to expand this
Castle, thus thanking him for helping Banner and his daughter
in this time of need."
"But ... Dream Castle didn't have a king ..." Shady
"So I've heard!" Eklip replied dryly.
They were still talking when three strange ponies came walking
out of the castle. Many of the solders stared at them as they
walked past. The larger two ignored the stares, but the younger
white one was still shy of the strangers.
But then the younger one noticed the black and white pony on
"Oh, that must be the one Banner told us about!" she
said, starting to walk towards Eklip.
"Lunarstar!" The mint-green pony next to her called.
"I want to meet him!" Lunarstar replied. "We're
inside Moonlight Castle, Charades! He won't do anything!"
"But still!" Charades said.
"I would also like to talk to him;" his companion said.
"Thanks Buster!" Lunarstar cried happily, starting
off again towards Eklip.
"Thanks Buster!" Charades said in a low voice.
"I would just like to hear what he has to say!" Buster
replied shyly as they followed Lunarstar. "We're not going
to make friends with him!"
Charades sighed. He had to admit, Buster did have a point; he
also would like to know what the black pony has to say.
"Hi there!" Lunarstar called as she climbed the steps,
startling both ponies on the wall. Unlike nearly all the solders,
they hadn't been paying attention to the castle.
"Princess!" Shady gasped as she saw her horn and wings.
"It is true then?"
"Lunarstar ..." the mint-green pony began to say.
"I'm Lunarstar, and this is Charades and Buster!" Lunarstar
introduced herself and the other two. "You must be Eclipse!"
Eklip smiled. "That is right! But everybody just calls me
Eklip pointed to Shady. "This is Shady!" he added.
"Banner says you say you're from the future!" Lunarstar
"Don't take him too seriously, Lunarstar!" Charades
warned, eyeing the black pony.
"Will I ever see my mom again?" Lunarstar asked, ignoring
"Yes, you will!" Eklip smiled.
"And my dad?"
"Lunarstar ..." Charades said seriously, but she interrupted
"I just want to know what he will say!" she said innocently.
She couldn't deny that she was curious about the black pony;
all the other black ponies (except maybe for Raspberry's baby
sister) tried to catch her, but this one seemed friendly enough.
"Yes, you will see him too!" Eklip replied, chuckling
to himself at her young curiosity. So she hadn't changed much
over the years!
"When?" She insisted.
"Sooner then you think, but not quite that soon!" He
replied with a smile.
"But that doesn't mean anything ..." Lunarstar complained.
"Exactly!" he winked his one eye.
"Who is her father then?" Buster asked, clearly not
"We only recall serving a queen, not a king!" Charades
"Now that is something I won't tell!" Eklip replied
with a 'naughty boy'-expression on his face. "You won't
believe me anyway! Remember, you only recall serving a queen!"
Buster sighed. He would like to stump the pony with a good question,
but he couldn't think of any.
"Lunarstar, it is time to go back." Charades said.
"Okay!" Lunarstar sighed. She turned to Eklip. "It
was nice meeting you!"
"It was good seeing you agai...I mean meeting you to!"
Buster glanced at Eklip, but Lunarstar didn't seem to have noticed
the slip of his tongue.
"This is the second time Lunarstar has visited Moonlight
Castle, right?" Eklip asked Charades as he turned to go.
"Just curious!" he replied. "Good Luck!"
Charades stared at Eklip, wondering what he meant by that. Then
he hurried after the other two.
Banner walked up to the black pegasus. For awhile he watched
the three walk through the castle gates. Eklip was right: Stardust
had gone through the Gate, and once almost caught the princess!
But Charades and Buster managed to beat him back, although he
almost broke Buster's leg in the process!
"Good luck?" he asked, making the pegasus jump again.
"I didn't notice you behind me!" Eklip complained as
he brushed his fur down.
"What did you mean with 'Good luck'?" Banner repeated
"Don't worry! The princess won't be caught!" Eklip
quickly said. "She will only have a close call this time!"
"Close call?" Banner asked, still worried.
"Stardust will chase her, but they both will fall down a
mine-shaft. They will spend some quality time together! When
they escape the mine, Stardust will surrender her to Charades
and Buster! So you see, everything will be fine; Anyway there
is nothing you can do about it..." Eklip gave Banner a queer
look. "Do you suddenly believe I'm from the future?"
"Of course not!" Banner replied sternly, but then suddenly
noticed Eklip's smile: he had asked that question just to get
"Very funny!" Banner replied and turned around.
"I agree!" Eklip laughed. Banner fumed, but inside
he realised that Eklip was right ... It was funny! And more disturbingly
... he is actually considering that Eklip was indeed from the
'But how can Starfire become duke...' he reminded himself, and
decided to ignore Eklip's remark.
"Sooner than you think," Shady asked when Banner had
left them again "But not that soon ... What does that mean?"
"When she will first see him, she will not think that he
is her father." Eklip smiled. "So she will see him
very soon, but only know who he is much later!"
"You are weird, do you know that?" Shady sighed. Eklip
CHAPTER 16: The Southern Mountains
Eklip, Banner and a few solders walked out of the castle gates
early the next morning. Every pony except for Banner and Eklip
wore a spear, a bow and a quiver of arrows. Banner had his usual
sword, but Eklip was unarmed.
Banner trusted him much more easily, but king Sea-Mist insisted
that he should remain unarmed.
It was Eklip that had suggested taking archers, and arming them
with spears as a backup weapon instead of swords.
"A pony's only real chance against a gryphon is safety in
numbers, or to keep out of reach of its talons and beak!"
Eklip had said. "It will be foolish to try and attack it
with a sword - though some ponies had managed to do so ... most
of them pegasi but then again the average, lighter male pegasus
is faster in the air as the average, heavier gryphon."
The only weapons they could use at a distance were spears and
They walked in silence through the woods, almost expecting a
gryphon to jump at them from behind the next bush.
"How will we be able to say if a cave is used by a gryphon?"
"Look for the usual signs you'd expect from a winged carnivore:
Shed feathers; Abandoned carcasses ..." Eklip replied.
"Will they all be there?" Banner asked.
"It depends how many of them there are and the size of the
cave they are using! I think they'll stay together for a while
though, considering they will be as unfamiliar with the times
as I am!"
Banner sighed at the hint of his origins!
"But I wouldn't attack their lair now, but ..."
"See how many gryphons there are, and then plan a proper
attack!" Banner said. When Eklip looked at him with a surprised
look he added: "I'm not a captain for nothing you know!"
Eklip admired his childhood hero once again: He had never before
faced such a dangerous enemy but still had a good idea of how
to take them on!
"Do you think we'll run into a gryphon?" a solder asked
"Maybe, maybe not!" Eklip replied. "I hope we
"Me to!" Banner agreed.
Skyview stood on the red carpet, next the the large square fountain
that stood in the throne room. He glanced at it, again wondering
exactly what its purpose was - it didn't look like it would do
anything but look pretty.
Maybe Queen Royal Heart was one of those ponies who liked the
sound of running water ...
It did help a lot with the several sea ponies he and his brothers
had already captured ...
Star-Cluster was pacing in front of the throne that was standing
left of the center of the room. He wore his favorite necklace
with a key hanging from the golden band. Skyview wondered which
door's key it was that he so rarely left alone. And why, if it
was so important, was the key not always with him?
And why couldn't he shake the thought that there should have
been a second throne.
"Stardust has failed as well!" Star-Cluster shouted.
"Give him time, sire!" Skyview tried to calm him down.
"If anyone can find the princess, it is Stardust!"
"Starfire has found her eight months ago!"
"Starfire has found the town where she hides, but not exactly
where she stays during the day!" Skyview added a little
hesitantly. "Give him some time -"
"That is not good enough!" Star-Cluster yelled.
"The Gate is closed now, there is nothing we can do about
it now!" Skyview exclaimed. To his surprise Star-Cluster
"How are you doing with those rebels at Moonlight Castle?"
"They are a terrible nuisance, but no real threat! Not as
long as no other kingdom will join their cause!" Skyview
replied. He dreaded what Star-Cluster was going to say next ...
it will only be a waste of time!
"But King Sea-Mist are aiding their cause!" king Star-Cluster
'Here it comes...' Skyview thought. He could understand why Stardust
couldn't stand Star-Cluster.
"I want you and Starfire to change their minds!"
"Yes, sire!" Skyview answered, trying hard not to let
his thoughts show. He bowed and quickly left the room.
As he walked out of the room, he saw Starfire just walking towards
the stairs - probably on his way to his room.
"Starfire!" he called. Starfire stopped and turned
"King Star-Cluster has ordered us to change Moonlight Castle's
mind about helping the rebels!"
"I was wondering when he would get that into his pretty
head!" Starfire groaned softly, so that the solders wouldn't
hear him. "They won't even let us get near the castle, how
does he expect us to do anything about it?"
"I don't know, but let us check the castle out either way."
The sun was already starting to dip low towards the horizon.
The small group of solders had reached the mountains an hour
ago, but Banner didn't want to start searching for the gryphons'
lair just yet, despite Eklip's enthusiasm.
"But if we find one, it will lead us to their cave!"
"We haven't seen one yet, and by now they already aught
to have returned to their lair!" Banner replied, his mind
made up. "We should find a secure place to camp for the
night instead of go looking for something we won't find around
"Yes, sir!" Eklip replied with a slight sigh. Banner
was the captain and probably knew what he was doing. Even though
Eklip had lived with the threat of gryphons, this would be his
first actual gryphon-hunt ... but he didn't want to tell Banner
"Anyway we have to be on the watch for Star-Cluster's solders;"
Banner added. "We're quite some distance from the safety
of the castle..."
Eklip just nodded. He had forgotten that gryphons aren't their
only worry. Suddenly he thought of the advantage the gryphons
had over the ponies of this time: These kingdoms are broken and
divided! It made him only more committed to remove this threat
to the course of the future!
They walked into a small clearing.
"That looks like a promising spot..." Banner said,
pointing to a piece of forest on a slight hill. "Good defense,
enough cover ..."
He was interrupted by a soft noise to his left. Though barely
a rustle, it did caught everybodys attention.
"What was that?" a solder asked.
"I don't know..." another said.
"Maybe some ponies?" a third added.
"Probably-" Banner replied. "We better check it
out before camping! Eklip, and Sunray you come with me; The rest
wait for us between those trees!"
Everybody, except for Eklip and a bright yellow solder with white
hair left and disappeared into the trees.
"Okay, let's go!" Banner ordered. "Quietly!"
Starfire was flying high over the trees, with a gray cloud following
him closely. They had decided to approach the castle from a different
angle, from the South, and arrive at the building just after
sunset. And up to now, everything had been quiet. The real question
was just what would they do when they reach the castle?
Suddenly something through a break in the trees caught Starfire's
eye. Looking down he could see several ponies heading between
the trees. Three of them, however, took a different rout. Normally
they would have demanded very little attention, but one of the
three ponies was black.
'Except for me, Skyview and Stardust, there is only one other
black pony I know of!' he thought to himself. 'Skyview is behind
me, and Stardust is in the other world...'
"I'm going to land!" he called to the cloud and dived
to another clearing, as small as the one he had seen the ponies
He landed and turned around just in time to see Skyview turn
back into himself.
"Why are you landing?" the unicorn asked. "You
cannot be tired already!"
"I saw Eclipse!" Starfire replied. "Just south
of us, heading this way with two other ponies."
CHAPTER 17: Skyview and the Gryphon
Eklip was carefully walking through the foliage, doing his best
not to step on any dry twigs. Behind him, Banner and Sunray followed
him, doing the same.
"Do you think it is a gryphon?" Sunray asked softly.
"The sun is already setting! It has to have returned to
a lair already, so no!" Banner replied. "Anyway, it
is a bit soft for a creature as large as described ..."
They froze for a moment when they heard the bushes rustle again
in front of them. When it was quiet again, they walked on, though
even more carefully.
Eklip stopped and looked around at Banner. "I have a bad
feeling about this!" Eklip whispered.
"Me too!" Banner agreed.
Eklip was about to turn his attention back to the forest in front
of him when he saw Banner and Sunray also stop. At first he thought
it was because he had stopped, but then he saw Sunray's jaw drop.
He snapped his head around, and stared at the face of an eagle
just a few meters from him.
"Well, well!" the gryphon said. "I was wondering
how long it will be before the starfirians will show up!"
"RUN!" Eklip shouted just as the gryphon pounced at
them. Sunray turned completely around, running back the way they
came whereas Banner dived to his left. The gryphon apparently
aimed for Eklip, who was closer to him. But Eklip saw it coming
and dived forward, escaping underneath the gryphon's belly.
When the gryphon touched the ground again, all three ponies were
gone. It spun around and chased in the direction he had seen
the starfirian escape; it didn't want more of those winged ponies
around! They were a terrible irritation back in the time the
gryphons had had control of Snowy Castle! The gryphons had tried
many times to destroy the town they had some way to the north-east
of the castle, but each time they would find the town deserted!
Crashing through the foliage, it could hear the pony fleeing
- good thing the trees were too thick here for the pony to try
and take off! That was another irritation with the starfirians
... they were much quicker than the gryphons!
The gryphon followed the sound of the fleeing pony.
Eklip was running as hard as he can. He could hear the gryphon
behind him, and he was scared. At least on the bright side it
didn't try to catch Banner - THAT would be a disaster!
Eklip burst from the forest onto the banks of a small stream.
Though it wasn't a clearing, there wasn't any undergrowth so
he could run more easily. He thought of trying to take off -
he could fly through the trees easily here! But the though sliced
through his mind only for a split second before it was interrupted
by a sight that shocked him!
Before him, he saw Starfire and Skyview, both of them surprised
to see him running at them. If the gryphon caught one of them
... it could be even more disastrous than if it caught Banner!
For Eklip, it applied especially to Starfire!
Skyview quickly gathered himself and after Eklip had swerved
away from them, his horn started to glow. Eklip saw the cloud
appear in front of him and he stopped just before he ran into
it. He cut to one side, but the cloud formed a net that came
flying at him. Again, thanks to his reflexes, he managed to duck
below the net.
When the cloud flew over him, he jumped up again running again
for the thick undergrowth but the net came for him again! This
time, Skyview was ready for him and stretched his net so that
Eklip couldn't escape him again.
This all happened within only a few seconds!
The soft cotton-like net folded itself around Eklip and unable
to run, he stumbled and fell to the ground.
"See, Starfire, that is how you catch a pegasus!" Skyview
smirked at Starfire. His brother gave him an angry look.
"You missed him twice!" he pointed out, but it was
of little comfort. Skyview did catch him!
"We better get going, someone was chasing him!" Skyview
said. Just then Banner burst from the forest as well, surprising
both ponies. He gasped when he saw Skyview had captured Eklip.
"RUN!" Eklip yelled. The two ponies though he meant
run from them, but then the gryphon also appeared.
"What the ...?" Starfire gasped, but the gryphon pounced
at them. Without thinking, Skyview switched his attention to
the gryphon. The net around Eklip dissolved and reappeared before
the gryphon. The surprised creature flared its wings, trying
to avoid the cloud that had appeared from nowhere, but its momentum
sent it straight into Skyview's trap.
"KILL IT!" Eklip shouted at anybody who cared to listen.
He was still lying on his side, busy standing up.
Sunray appeared from seemingly nowhere, and seeing the gryphon
trapped he gripped his spear.
"KILL IT!" Eklip repeated, but Sunray didn't need any
encouragement. He quickly thrust his spear through the holes
in the net, driving the iron tip deep. The gryphon screeched
in pain; a horrible high-pitched call that felt like it could
cut through bone!
Banner, having drawn his sword, rushed to Sunray's side to finish
When they were sure the gryphon was dead, Skyview allowed his
net to dissolve. It was only when the net disappeared when Sunray
realised that it was a cloud-net. He turned around and gasped
when he saw Skyview and Starfire standing there.
"What in the world was THAT?" Skyview asked, staring
at the monster.
"You don't know?" Banner asked.
Sunray had managed to pull his spear from the gryphon and was
pointing it at the two brothers.
"Watch out for its companion!" Eklip warned. "Gryphons
don't travel alone, and the other one would've heard that cry!"
But his words might as well have fallen on deaf ears.
"You're Banner, right?" Skyview asked. He remembered
the pony from years ago when he had slipped into Moonlight Castle,
though it wasn't the first time he saw him up close after that!
"King Star-Cluster would be very happy to see him!"
"Forget it!" Eklip snapped, startling everyone around.
"Don't you get it? There is a whole nest of these creatures
out there ... we don't have the luxury to fight each other!"
"How many of those things are there still?" Starfire
asked, worriedly. He didn't know what he would do if one of those
things found him alone...
"At least one more..." Sunray replied.
"No, two!" Banner corrected him.
"We know of a tan one, and a gray one;" Eklip explained,
looking nervously down at the corpse. "This one was beige!"
"You said it would have a companion around." Skyview
asked. "Where is it?"
"I don't know; It should have shown itself by now!"
Skyview thought for a moment. This young pegasus had a point:
They couldn't afford to fight each other and the ... gryphons!
"Okay." he suddenly said. "I'll let you guys go
this time, but only because we need to get rid of these creatures!"
"But what about king Star-Cluster?" Starfire asked
as Skyview turned around. "He won't be happy!"
"Then we don't tell him!" Skyview replied as he disappeared
into the forest. "Anyway, you haven't told him about Eclipse,
"You okay?" Banner asked when the black ponies had
gone. He could still not believe what had just happened!
"I think so!" Eklip replied softly. "I'll probably
start crying later!"
Banner looked at him, thinking he was joking, but his face said
he was serious.
CHAPTER 18: The Missing Gryphon
As the last three ponies disappeared, a dark-brown gryphon appeared
from the foliage. He looked sadly at what was left of his friend,
and then glared in the direction the last group had disappeared.
Though the other two from pink castle were a bigger threat, he
felt for some reason that the black and white starfirian was
the real danger. Probably because he seemed to know gryphons
better then the other ponies
'King Star-Cluster?' he thought to himself. 'Must be the pony
in control of Cotton-Candy Castle ... that pink one west of here
... what do they call it again? Dream Castle?'
The common life, history and politics of the ponies never really
bothered him much, as was the case with the other gryphons. But
now, one thing did catch his attention: The ponies on this side
of Cotton-Candy Castle didn't get along as well as those on the
'That might suit us fine!'
He looked in the direction of Cotton-Candy Castle. He knew that
old unicorn Skyview could have controlled clouds, but this younger
one seems to share that same ability! They have to be careful
of him as well!
He sighed again as he looked at his fallen comrade. They really
have to be careful! Since that bad storm a few weeks ago, they
couldn't find another gryphon. And now there were only three
of them left!
Sunlight sat in the dust, looking to the west. The sun was almost
gone and she was worried about Chocolate. Misty walked up to
"Waiting for Chocolate?" she asked.
Sunlight snapped at her. Misty jumped back just in time to miss
the sharp beak. "What if I am?" she asked angrily.
Just then they could see a dot appear above the trees in the
"Who is that?" Sunlight asked, squinting her eyes.
The weakening light was already making it hard to see. But soon
their answer was answered as a dark-brown gryphon landed by their
side. He lay a captured doe down in the dust and started to eat.
The other two joined him.
"Where is Dustcloud?" Misty asked with a beak full
"He's dead!" Chocolate said without looking up.
The two females bowed their heads sadly, thinking about the gryphon
they had said goodbye to only this morning. But it was only for
a moment before they continued to eat.
Gryphons lives with death around them, and doesn't know what
to do with sorrow when one of them falls. They tend to only move
on after a short remembrance.
"How?" Sunlight asked when they started to eat again.
"Two starfirians showed up!" Chocolate said, swallowing
a rip of meat. "And a unicorn with the same capability as
"It wasn't Skyview self, was it?" Sunlight asked.
"No, this one was much younger!" he replied. "And
Skyview had died last year, remember? It is only the eldest brother
that is still alive!"
"I thought we left the starfirians back in Treetop!"
"Well, apparently there is two around here as well!"
Chocolate replied, swallowing some more food. "But there
is some kind of tension between the ponies on this side of Cotton-Candy
Castle; even the starfirians as well! We'll have to be careful,
but if we play it out right, we might make ourselves a good stronghold
which will attract the other gryphons, wherever they are!"
"Like those first few gryphons that had followed that gray
pony to Snowy Castle?" Misty asked with a mouthful of food.
Banner was lying on the cool grass, looking at the ponies around
him. They were all asleep. Even Eklip finally went to sleep.
Banner sighed as he thought of Eklip. That was a strange pony:
He is trying to be brave, but he was really scared a while ago.
It was probably his first time he had truly faced a gryphon.
And then he met Skyviews cloud-net as well!
But he was still determent to go through with the hunt. Almost
Banner really didn't know what to think of him anymore. He was
clearly not on Star-Cluster's side, but actually believed that
he was from the future! And that he wasn't prepared to accept
Maybe, the young pegasus has a psychological problem? It was
the only believable option left!
Banner sighed and stood up. He wasn't sure if it was the gryphon,
or Skyview, or even both of them that had almost caught him that
roughed him up so much: He did almost cry.
Banner heard a rustle, and looking around saw Eklip turning onto
his other side. He was still awake! Banner walked over to him.
"Are you sure you are okay?" he asked worriedly.
"Much better than earlier tonight!" he answered with
a weak smile. "The sleep did help!"
"Sorry to have woken you..." Banner whispered.
"It wasn't you!" he replied, staring off into the forest.
They were silent for a while, listening to the crickets chirping
in the grass and sometimes the hoot of an owl somewhere in the
"What is a Star-Fir-Ian?" Banner suddenly asked, remembering
the gryphon saying something like that. It was still a shock
to him that these creatures could talk, even more than finally
having seen one himself. "It sounds like a tree-"
"Starfirian!" Eklip laughed. "It's a small kommando
of male pegasi ... I was training to become one! The gryphons
called them starfirians because every member is a descendant
of Starfire! It didn't take long before the name had caught on
amongst ponies as well!"
"You're not a ... starfirian?" Banner asked. "Are
"No, not yet." Eklip sighed. "I was on my way
home from Flutter Valley for the final year of training when
I got ... side-tracked!"
"I think you'll make a great starfirian!" Banner smiled.
"But now, you should try to sleep. Tomorrow is going to
"Yes, sir!" Eklip replied, laying his head down again.
Banner walked back to his spot. He didn't know if he could believe
the story of starfirians ... but then the gryphon had mentioned
it as well! It was, however, a nice fantasy. As he thought of
a small group of pegasi helping him to attack Dream Castle, he
drifted to sleep.
CHAPTER 19: Star-Cluster's Anger
"What!" king Star-Cluster shouted, gripping his staff
tightly. His favorite necklace was probably in his room, as he
wasn't wearing it around his neck. He was pacing back and forth
in front of the single throne.
"We are in a state of war with Moonlight Castle-" Skyview
said. "They aren't going to just let us in, and the castle
itself is too well defended to sneak in! Starfire and I had taken
a look at it yesterday!" He decided not to mention the time
Stardust had sent him into the very same castle he now claims
he cannot get into!
"You didn't try hard enough to get in!" king Star-Cluster
"Sire, if we attack Moonlight Castle now, even though they
are openly resisting us, the stronger kingdoms that hadn't changed
their minds might take pity on them and give them aid."
Skyview said nervously, hoping king Star-Cluster will listen
to him. "As it is now, Moonlight Castle is much too weak
on its own to attack us in open combat! They cannot even guard
their Gate properly from us!"
King Star-Cluster was silent for a while, pondering what Skyview
had said. Though he was regularly upset with them, he knew he
should sometimes listen to what they have to say ... after all
they had once been -
"I'll give it some thought!" king Star-Cluster replied,
loosening his grip on his staff. "Now, leave me alone!"
Skyview bowed and left the throne room.
"What do you think?" king Star-Cluster asked into the
empty throne room, to no one in particular.
"You know what I think!" a deep voice replied from
"I mean about Moonlight Castle!" king Star-Cluster
sighed, sitting back down on the throne. "Those three had
turned out to be of great value, don't you think?" king
Star-Cluster smiled. He enjoyed ordering the three black ponies
"They are more dangerous to you than any kingdom around,
especially Moonlight Castle! Their pillows are still waiting,
you know..." the voice reminded him. "You've only filled
one of the five!"
"As soon as my reign is secure, I'll put them where they
Outside Skyview gave a sigh of relieve. If king Star-Cluster
was not obsessed with the princess, it was the other kingdoms;
who is next? It will definitely not be a good idea to tell him
about the gryphon he and Starfire had seen. Nor about Eklip who
seems to be connected to those monsters in some way!
He suddenly looked up when he heard someone approach him from
"How did it go?" Starfire asked.
"Fine!" Skyview answered. "I think we're off Moonlight
Castle's case for the while!" He suddenly smiled. "You
can go fly yourself into trees again!" he added.
Starfire glared at him, but deep inside he was glad Skyview had
found something to lighten him up. It was, however, still a tender
point for Starfire.
"What are you going to do?" he asked.
"With you off somewhere, I have some quiet time!" he
smiled broadly as his horn started to glow. "I give you
one guess..." and he winked out in a misty cloud.
CHAPTER 20:The Prophecy Returns
Banner was standing in the courtyard of the Castle, looking up
at the full moon. He was expecting a report from Charades when
the Gate opens.
But he must admit to himself that something else was bothering
him the past few days: When king Sea-Mist had asked Eclipse for
proof that he is from the future, he had said that the other
two black ponies will join Stardust in the other world in three
That was three months ago...
Banner shook the thought again. He trusted Eclipse, but not THAT
much! He was expecting a report from Charades, that's all! He
did warn the guards at the Gate to be extra careful, but he didn't
reinforce them with backup.
He looked to the south. As said before, he trusted Eclipse much
more than when he had first met him. Now, Eclipse was still searching
for the gryphons' den, but with strict orders not to engage them.
He is only acting as a scout for Banner.
"We need to talk to Banner!" a voice suddenly called
from outside the castle gates.
"It is urgent!" a second voice added.
Frowning, Banner started to walk towards the gates. It sounded
like the guards at the Gate! But what would they be doing here?
The gates opened and Banner gasped as he recognised the two guards!
"Skyview had appeared at the Gate!" The one said.
"We think he has slipped through..." the other added.
"How?" Banner asked shocked.
"He trapped us in cloud-balls, and then when it dissolved
he was nowhere to be seen!"
"Have you seen Starfire?" Banner asked.
"No...We only saw a faint blue glow, and then noticed Skyview..."
But Banner knew that Starfire was with Skyview ... and they had
gone through the Gate.
Eclipse was right!
"We think Starfire was with him!" the one solder added,
noticing Banner's worried looks.
"Thank you for reporting it to me!" Banner said. "Now
return to your posts in case they want to return to our world!"
"Yes, sir!" they said and turning around headed back
to the Gate.
Banner watched the castle gates close, then turned around and
walked into the castle.
"You're sure of this?" king Sea-Mist asked, surprised.
"Yes, sir! They had definitely gone through the gate."
Banner replied. "Most likely to go help Stardust with catching
"We should have her return here!" king Sea-Mist replied.
"She won't be safe in the other world with all three black
ponies searching for her!"
"I disagree;" Banner said. "As long as her big
secret remains ... secret, she will be safe! And what about the
life she had up to now ... she cannot just leave her adopted
parents, her home, her school!"
King Sea-Mist looked up when Banner mentioned school. It was
still a strange thought to him.
"And if Lunarstar the earth-pony disappeared along with
Lunarstar the winged-unicorn ... it will blow her secret!"
King Sea-Mist knew he was right. Now, she still had her secret
to fall back on! They cannot put that into danger! And he had
trusted Banner's advice for years; Why doubt him now?
"What about sending more solders after Skyview and Starfire?"
the king asked.
"That won't be good either-" Banner replied. "A
lot of pony solders following Lunarstar around..."
"I see your point!" the king replied. "But we
should at least send a messenger through to warn Charades!"
"I agree!" Banner said. "I'll go get one ready
... but he'll probably have to stay in the other world for a
"We don't know exactly where Lunarstar lives, nor Charades
They talked for a long time, discussing other options, but could
find no real solution.
"Send the messenger!" the king finally decided. "Warn
him that he will be staying there for a month because we don't
know where to find them! We have no other choice!"
Banner was about to turn around when a guard from the door entered
"Announcing the arrival of Charades!" he said in a
loud voice. "He wishes to speak to Banner!"
"Show him in!" the king ordered.
"Maybe we don't have to send a messenger..." Banner
The guard showed Charades in. He walked towards the two ponies,
and bowed to the king before turning to Banner.
"Hallo, King Sea-Mist, Banner!" he said. "We may
have a slight problem!"
"So her secret is out?" the king asked, worriedly.
"Only her friends know about it!" Charades said. "Booster
thinks we can trust them though."
"But they might accidentally let a hint slip without noticing
it;" Banner thought out loudly.
He was worried. Very worried. Things were moving very fast and
he was afraid they might lose the princess if they weren't careful.
One misstep is all that the black ponies needed!
A fleeting smile crossed his face - It might have been interesting
to ask Eclipse, but he was not here. And anyway he knew he would
probably not tell them anything anyway.
"And Starfire and Skyview had gone through the Gate to join
Stardust!" Banner told Charades. Charades gasped when he
heard the news.
"But there isn't enough time to go back and bring her here!"
Charades exclaimed. "And we cannot hope to fight all three
"The king and I have decided that it might be more dangerous
for princess Lunarstar if she is brought here than to leave the
situation as it is ... for now!" Banner explained. "The
black ponies don't know she can change her appearance, but they
may figure it out if she is brought here!"
"I understand!" Charades replied. "Buster and
I will do our best!"
Banner and Charades walked outside. There was a slight breeze
in the night air, which chilled everything it touched.
"How is the princess doing?" Banner suddenly asked.
"Fine!" Charades replied. "A bit upset because
we ... Her adopted father, Buster and me ... were angry with
her for not listening to us! But with Skyview and Starfire also
in our world, it might have been a blessing in disguise!"
Banner looked at him questioningly.
"She is going to need all the friends she can get!"
Charades looked around at the courtyard. "Where is that
black pegasus you had here last time? The one who claims to be
from the future..."
"He's out looking for someone for us!" Banner replied.
"Why? Don't you trust him?"
"He is a black pony..." Charades mentioned "But
it is something he said to me last time I saw him that is bothering
"What?" Banner asked. He suddenly remembered there
was something, but he couldn't place it right away.
"He wished me 'Good Luck'!" Charades replied. "I
wanted to know what he meant by that..."
"Oh, yes!" Banner remembered. "I asked him that
myself. He told me that Stardust and the princess will be trapped
in a mine for a while, but that Stardust will hand her over to
you once they escaped! I thought he was making stuff up!"
Banner looked at Charades, remembering his prophecy of the two
brothers that would go through the Gate. "Why do you ask?
Did something happen?"
"Stardust was waiting for us on the other side of the Gate
that night!" Charades said, sounding slightly dumbfounded.
"He and the princess disappeared for two days... we eventually
found them coming out of an old abandoned mine..."
"That is the second thing he said will happen that had come
true!" Banner gasped, as surprised as Charades.
"What else did he say will still happen?" Charades
"Um...We'll recapture Dream Castle; ... Something will happen
to the Apetons; And oh, this doesn't make sense! Starfire will
become duke of Skywood forest after the Apetons disappeared!"
"How is that possible if we will recapture Dream Castle?"
Charades asked. "Will Star-Cluster escape and set up another
kingdom close by?"
"You know, that makes sense!" Banner said. "And
that is something he will want to keep secret, since his future
will depend on it!"
"But is he on our side?" Charades asked as the neared
the castle gates.
"For Starfire to become duke of Skywood, like you said,
Star-Cluster must be chased out of Dream Castle, so yes! He actually
is!" Banner replied with a soft chuckle. "He did say
he just wants the present to play out as it should!"
The gates opened and the two ponies said their goodbyes before
Charades continued on alone.
CHAPTER 21: Talk of the Future
Banner and the group of solders walked through the forest, heading
to a large lake close to the swamp that was located some distance
south-west of Moonlight Castle. They stepped into the clearing
around the pool and noticed Eklip and the other two solders Banner
had left with him lying on the grass next to the lake.
"Hi, Eklip!" Banner called. Eklip looked up and smiled.
"Hi, Banner!" he replied.
"Hallo, Banner!" the two solders greeted him as well.
"I think we're going to camp here tonight ..." Banner
said. "It is too late to walk any further today!"
"Any luck with finding the gryphons?" Banner asked
Eklip as the solders started to relax a bit.
"No-" Eklip replied, looking at the other ponies bending
down to drink water. "How did it go back at the castle?"
Eklip asked when he and Banner was relatively alone.
"You should know-" Banner replied with a smile. "You're
from the future..."
"Then it all went fine, I guess!" Eklip said with a
slight frown. He was getting tired of hearing it all the time.
"I've lost complete track of time! Anyway, do you suddenly
believe I'm from the future?"
"Yes, I think I do!" Banner replied.
"You do?" Eklip asked surprised. It was the last thing
he expected Banner to say!
"Starfire and Skyview had gone through the Gate ..."
Banner said. "Like you said they would three months ago!"
"So I have..." Eklip replied, slightly worried. "Did
"What would you say?"
"They were supposed to have-" Eklip replied, sensing
that they had.
"Will they catch the princess?" Banner asked, nervously.
He wanted to know what Eklip would say.
"Now what makes you think I'm going to tell you?" Eklip
replied with a smile. "What is, is what must be! In the
end it will turn out alright!"
"But Starfire will become duke of Skywood?" Banner
added, hoping to confirm Charades's suspicions. "After he
has conquered the Apetons?"
"He never conquered the Apetons: They were blown away! Like
dry leaves in the autumn wind!" Eklip looked at Banner.
"Or that is how the legend goes ... no one knows what happened
"Where did you learn all of this?" Banner asked.
"Most of it from school-" Eklip replied. "The
rest, such as the Gate I remembered from my granddad's stories.
I used to love to listen to him and his brothers tell us stories
by the fire -"
"School?" Banner asked, thinking of Lunarstar's school.
No one in this world knows of the concept of a school.
"Star-... er ...Dream-Valley built a school shortly before
the volcano war! And from there it spread throughout the whole
of Ponyland and beyond!"
Banner noticed the slip of the tongue! "Star-Cluster?"
"Er ... Star-Cluster is not your real enemy ..." Eklip
started to say, but Banner interrupted him.
"I've heard your friend talk about this volcano war... and
of someone called Fallon?" Banner said, making Eklip gasp.
"Who is Fallon?"
"Someone you cannot defeat ..." Eklip suddenly said
after a short pause. "You need the help of Kesia!"
"An old predecessor of the princess. Don't worry, she'll
suddenly show up when Fallon makes himself seen!"
"She'll just show up?" Banner asked, lifting his one
eyebrow. He couldn't understand what Eklip was talking about,
nor did want to trust someone so important to 'just show up'!
"You can say she is watching over Luna-...-star!" Eklip
sighed. "Please, dont tell anyone about Kesia, especially
the royal family they cannot know yet!"
"She has a guardian of her own?" Banner asked surprised.
"It's complicated!" Eklip sighed. "The next few
full moons are ... complicated! Don't ask me more about it, please!"
The sun was quickly setting. The solders was on their way to
the forest where they planned to camp for the night. With all
three black ponies away things were safer, but Star-Cluster had
many other servants they had to be wary of.
"What happened to Shady?" Eklip suddenly asked.
"She wanted to get as many ponies to join us at Moonlight
Castle!" Banner replied. "Therefore the king had granted
her her wish!"
The sky had turned a dark purple by now, and most of the solders
weren't to be seen.
"Time to go to sleep!" Banner said as he stood up.
"Tomorrow will be a hard day!"
CHAPTER 22: The Cave
The sun was shining brightly down upon the group of ponies as
they climbed yet another steep hill. In these mountains the forests
weren't very thick, and the group was very tired and hot. Close
to the top, they found themselves some shady trees, and sat down
to rest and drink water out of water bottles they had carried
with them. A few biscuits were handed out and they ate in silence.
"We've been searching for this lair for weeks now!"
"These hills are vast!" Banner said. "And you
don't want to do only half a job searching for this cave, do
"No!" Eklip sighed. "But we're running out of
time! You've already left twice to return to Moonlight Castle!"
"The time for preparing the final battle for Dream Castle
is approaching fast!" Eklip said absentmindedly. "That
means we only have until this full moon! We cannot have you and
the solders worn out before that!"
As they quickly finished their biscuits, Banner thought of what
Eklip just said. 'So it won't be long now?' he wondered, realising
Eklip hadn't noticed what he had just said.
"I think we should continue on before we take a break for
lunch!" he said and stood up. The other ponies followed
his example and they walked the last stretch to the top. When
they reached the top, they gasped.
Before them lay another steep hill. And still no sign of a cave...
Eklip grunted softly in frustration. Banner glanced at him, noticing
that he is worried they won't find anything.
"We'll take lunch in the bottom of the valley!" Banner
decided and the group started down hill.
They never reached the bottom of the valley.
"Sir, what is that?" one of the solders asked. Everybody
looked, expecting to see a cave, but instead they saw a bone.
A single white bone lying in the grass.
Banner walked towards it to have a closer look. "It's a
deer bone, it doesn't help us much..." he said, looking
up. But then he gasped. "There's more!"
The others also looked, and saw lots of bones, lying strewn in
a wide area.
"It's a bone-pile!" Eklip said surprised, and a little
"I can see that..." Banner said.
"No, no! I mean this is it!" Eklip said, now clearly
excited. "Their cave must be close by!"
"Spread out in groups of two!" Banner ordered. "I
want that cave found!"
It wasn't long until someone shouted from higher up the hill.
Everybody rushed to the cave. It was big ... and slightly smelling
of old meat! Feathers lay strewn everywhere amongst some more
bones. To one side was what remained of a day old meal. It might
have been a stag...
Banner picked up a feather. It was gray, and the faint darker
gray lines could easily be seen.
"Another gray gryphon feather!" he said, showing the
feather to Eklip.
"Same one as we had found that first time!" Eklip guessed.
"The tan one is also here!"
"There is at least one other we haven't seen yet!"
Banner replied, picking a dark brown feather up. "Probably
the beige one's companion?"
"And that beige one we've killed weeks ago!" a solder
replied, picking another feather up. The beige feathers were
not very common in the dust around the cave. They kept looking,
but could only find the four colours.
"So we are dealing with four gryphons?" Banner asked.
"Which leaves three left!"
"Definitely!" Eklip agreed. "This cave can house
six of them!"
"Are they still staying here?" a solder asked, eyeing
the day old meat. "There seems to be no one at home right
"Most likely!" Banner agreed. "You cannot divide
three into groups so that everyone has a companion. We can wait
for them when they return tonight!" He turned to Eklip.
"They cannot see clearly during the night, right!"
"Right!" he said. "And we will want to ..."
Eklip was suddenly interrupted by a yell. Everybody turned to
the cave entrance, and saw one of the solders running for his
life away from the shadows. Then everyone gasped when a gray
gryphon appeared from the shadows where she had been hiding.
With a slash, she caught the terrified pony beneath her talons.
"Shoot it!" Banner yelled, and several arrows found
their target before she could bend her head down to kill the
She screeched like the beige one had, and leaving the wounded
solder in the dust she lunged at one of the other ponies. The
terrified solder in her way managed to lift his spear in time
to impale the monster flying towards him. But her momentum was
enough to knock him off his feet.
Another solder ran up past his friend, and drove his own spear
When they were sure the gryphon was dead, Banner rushed to the
"Are you okay?" he called.
"I don't know ..." he grunted. There were deep gashes
across his doughnuts-symbol which was bleeding heavily.
"Band-Aid!" Banner called to a white pony with bright
red hair, who was already rushing forward.
"Here!" Band-Aid called, and knelt next to Banner.
"Secure that cave!" Banner called as Band-Aid started
to take care of the wounded pony. "I don't want any other
"If there was any," Eklip said "we would've known
about them by now! But make sure anyway!"
Three ponies carefully entered the cave, but soon afterwards
returned. "All clear!"
"I thought you said they don't travel alone?" Banner
said to Eklip when the solders returned from the cave.
"This one wasn't traveling ..." Eklip replied, clearly
as surprised as Banner. "I think they thought the cave would
be save enough."
The wounded pony was carried off to a safe spot, and Band-Aid
had given him something to ease the pain. He was sleeping now
while Band-Aid was taking a look at the pony who was knocked
over by the gryphon. He had a few scratches but nothing serious.
"We can make it two gryphons left!" Eklip said to Banner
as he watched the ponies dragging the dead gryphon into the cave.
"Why take her back to the cave?"
"The other two will know something is wrong if they come
back and see her there!" Banner replied. "Or missing
"I was hoping to trap them in the cave-" Eklip added.
"That would have been a good idea!" Banner agreed.
"But now we will have to think of something else..."
"Or maybe we might get lucky!"
CHAPTER 23: Battle at Night
Chocolate was flying through the darkening sky, carrying some
small creature in his talons. Sunlight was just behind him, complaining
all the way.
"We should have returned to the cave sooner!" she said.
"It will be dark soon!"
"I though you wanted some fresh meat?" Chocolate snapped
back. "That stag we brought back yesterday morning won't
"That won't last long either!" Sunlight pointed at
Chocolate's prey. "I wish we could get another pony! They
have a nice..."
"It will last long enough!" Chocolate interrupted her.
After the third pony they had caught, they had trouble finding
more. They seemed to have become more wary of the new predators
- like it was back to the west of Cottton-Candy Castle. But there
a gryphon could still find ponies because more ponies were around
there, unlike here!
When they neared the cave, they became silent. The sun had just
disappeared when they landed in front of the cave. Chocolate
dropped his prey next to the old stag, and looked around.
"Where is Misty?" he asked.
"Probably still in the cave!" Sunlight replied, walking
into the cave. "You know her..."
Chocolate looked at Sunlight as she was walking into the cave.
Something was wrong, but he couldn't say what. He glanced around,
trying to figure out what ... except Misty being missing ...
was wrong! A hoof imprint in the ground close to the old stag
caught his eye. He walked closer, noticing it was a pony track.
"Misty's dead!" Sunlight suddenly yelled form the cave.
"Get out of there!" he called back, opening his wings
to take off into the night. Suddenly several arrows flew from
the darkness. Only one caught him in the back leg, and he took
off into the dark sky. Several more arrows followed him, but
his dark-brown coat was lost in the black sky.
Sunlight wasn't so lucky; when she came running out of the cave
she saw Chocolate taking off and several ponies running out from
between the rocks and low scrubs. She yelled, also trying to
take off, but she was now a closer target for the archers than
Chocolate had been and several arrows found their mark.
As she fell, two ponies ran over to her with their spears ready...
Chocolate landed in the darkness close to the cave. He could
hear Sunlight being killed. He bowed his head for a moment. It
was now completely dark, and he could barely see the rocks in
front of him.
He was scared, for the first time in his life he was really scared.
He knew he was basically blind, wounded, alone, and was hunted
by at least ten ponies! Usually, he was the one with the advantage!
"Where is the last one!" he heard a voice call. Chocolate
looked up, recognising the starfirian with the white mane!
"Should have known!" he grumbled.
"Where is the last one!" Eklip called, looking around
at the ponies around him!
"He got away!" a solder replied. "But he is wounded
- he won't get far..."
"How seriously?" Banner asked.
"I think at least a few arrows had hit him!"
"We have to find him!" Eklip said, sounding slightly
hysterical. "Starfire will return soon!"
"The gryphon is wounded!" Banner said, grabbing a hold
of Eklip to calm him down! "It won't be able to do anything
to your grandfather!"
"Look here!" Banner said, shaking Eklip slightly. "We've
killed two more, and we know there is one more - one that is
wounded seriously as well! It won't be able to do something serious
to the future anymore."
Banner let Eklip go once he had calmed down and regained his
"It will be full moon soon, and you know I want to be at
the castle in case Charades comes to me! And we need to get Sugarcane
back home as well!"
"I'm sorry!" Eklip said, hanging his head low. "I
was just really hoping to end it tonight!"
"Fighting is never sure!" Banner smiled. The young
pegasus actually reminded him of himself when he was young ...
young and dreaming of becoming a solder! "It is one of the
first things you learn as a solder! You can never say it will
end today, unless you know the future ..."
"I didn't mean it like that!" Banner quickly added
when Eklip glared at him.
Eklip smiled. "I'm just scared he bumps into Starfire someday-
The future won't be the same, you know?"
"I know!" Banner smiled. "Let's go back to Moonlight
Not to far away, hidden in the darkness, Chocolate was listening
in on the two ponies.
"Let's go back to Moonlight Castle!" the one pony said.
It sounded like he was the leader.
'Well, well!' Chocolate thought to himself. He remembered the
black unicorn that could control clouds like old Skyview. And
the starfirian that was with him ... he had looked like old Starfire
himself as well!
And now, this young black and white starfirian claimed to be
from the future ... a lot of things now started to make sense!
'If I could find this time's Starfire ...' Chocolate though to
himself 'Treetop won't be anymore, nor would that irritating
starfirians!' He had completely forgotten about that gray one
the gryphons had first met...
He felt the single arrow in his flank, and reaching back he broke
the shaft off. He'll worry about the arrow later - first he must
'It might even save Snowy Castle!' he smiled.
CHAPTER 24: The Hidden Prophecy
Banner stood on the wall of the castle, staring in the direction
of the Gate. The sun was busy setting, and he knew the Gate would
be open soon. It was full moon tonight! But he was disturbed;
ever since they had returned from the gryphons' cave! King Sea-Mist
was pleased that they had killed two more of the gryphons, but
still worried about the last surviving gryphon.
Banner shook his head. No, it is not the last of the gryphons
that was worrying him so much. They knew he was wounded (they
had found his blood close to the cave) and he won't go very far
from the cave.
Banner's thoughts turned back to Sugarcane. The poor pony was
in pain, but would be all right! He had gone to see him just
a few minutes ago! Banner couldn't help but smile ... Sugarcane's
symbol is going to look funny when he is healed properly ...
Three doughnuts with four parallel stripes through them. At least
the picture will still align properly!
Banner shook his head again. No, he was worried about Sugarcane
ever since they had attacked the gryphons, but it was not what
was bothering him now!
He turned around and started to walk down the steps towards the
castle. The more he thought about it, the more he was sure that
he had this feeling for months now, slowly increasing like an
hourglass with its sand trickling away.
He saw Eklip lying under a tree, staring at the fountain in the
middle of the courtyard. He smiled when he remembered how upset
the young pegasus was when the one gryphon got away!
Banner stopped suddenly, thinking of the incident again.
'Starfire will return soon!' Eklip had said. Is Starfire going
to come through the Gate? He had also said something like: 'The
time for the final battle is approaching fast! We only have until
this full moon!'
Banner thought of asking Eklip, but decided against it. He walked
on, thinking of Starfire coming back through the Gate. Why?
Banner walked into the castle, and down the hallway towards the
library. He was so deep in thought that he never saw king Sea-Mist
walking up to him.
"Something wrong?" king Sea-Mist asked.
"Oh, I didn't see you, your majesty!" Banner said.
"That can easily be forgiven - I've noticed you're in deep
thought!" king Sea-Mist replied with a smile. "If you've
been thinking any deeper, you'd be walking along the cracks between
the tiles on the floor! What is bothering you?"
"Eklip let something slip while we were at the gryphons'
cave ..." Banner said. "I haven't thought about it
"He said that Starfire will return soon!" Banner said.
"I don't think he was aware that he had said it!"
"He did?" king Sea-Mist asked, also thinking. "Didn't
he mention something of Stardust being away for five months?"
"That first night!" Banner remember. "So, Stardust
is coming home, as is Starfire. We might as well add Skyview
"Why would they come home?" king Sea-Mist asked worriedly.
"Do you think something big happened in the other world?"
"Must have, but what?" Banner agreed. They both walked
into the library and sat down.
"You don't think they had captured the princess?" king
"I hope not-" Banner replied. "And asking Eklip
won't help either ... he just won't tell us."
"Why do you say that?"
"Remember he had once said that he just wants the present
to play out as it should!"
"So he will allow the black ponies to catch her if he thinks
that is what should happen?" the king gasped. He didn't
like the idea, and could see Banner didn't either!
"How should he know exactly when the princess is supposed
to be..." Banner replied, and then gasped as he remembered
"I once asked him what should keep me from sending more
solders through the Gate-" Banner remembered loudly. "He
told me that it would give away her secret prematurely!"
"You've told me the same thing." king Sea-Mist pointed
out, but then suddenly asked: "How does he know about her
"But he said the word 'PREMATURELY'!" Banner said,
not hearing the last question. "That means that her secret
will be discovered!"
"Her friends knows of her secret..." the king started
"But the solders wouldn't have given them a hint as to her
true identity!" Banner said. "I think he did talk about
the black ponies..." For a moment Banner thought of what
Eklip called the 'Final Battle'; If the princess was captured,
throwing everything they had into a make-or-break battle would
be their only hope ...
"Then we must have her brought here!" king Sea-Mist
decided. "We cannot allow her to be captured!"
Banner was furious at Eclipse. How could he allow something like
this to happen? How could he try to keep it from them? He had
"Take a group of solders, and bring her safely here!"
king Sea-Mist ordered.
"Yes sir!" Banner replied, standing up.
"Where is Eclipse!" king Sea-Mist asked one of the
guards that was with him.
"He is outside!" Banner replied. "I'll send someone
to put him in the dungeon! We can deal with him later!"
Banner bowed and left the library, fuming. He felt Eclipse had
betrayed his trust. He walked through the doors and into the
courtyard. Eclipse was exactly were he had seen him last, relaxing
with his head on his two front hoofs.
"Eclipse!" Banner called.
Eklip looked up, noticing the usually missing 's' of his name.
Banner hadn't used it in a long time! Something was going on.
Banner walked up to him. "Tell me something! And I want
a straight answer! Will the princess be captured tonight!"
Eklip took a step back, something Banner quickly picked up. "Th-the
princess?" he tried to stall for time, trying to think of
something to do! "The princess of Dream Castle will return
'That aught to be vague enough!' he thought.
"Yes or No!" Banner demanded. Eklip could see that
he was angry, and figured he probably knew ... but how? He was
very careful not to let anything slip!
"Yes..." Eklip answered in a small voice. He heard
the ponies around him gasp, shocked.
"When were you planning to tell us?" Banner asked.
"Never!" Eklip replied, again in his typical stubborn
way, but still in a small voice. "This is the most important
event of this time! Don't interfere with it!"
"I will not just sit around and let the three black ponies
carry our last royal member away to Dream Castle!" Banner
answered, almost shouting. "You two, take Eclipse to the
dungeon! We will deal with you later! You lot, we're going to
"She should already have been caught!" Eklip shouted
after Banner. He knew the fragile way they had to walk on, and
was worried something wrong might happen! "Banner: What
is, is what must be!"
The castle gates opened, and Banner and the solders hurried outside.
The two solders that were supposed to take him to the dungeon
closed in on Eklip. They were just as angry at him as Banner
was. Eklip took a step back, worried. He couldn't allow Banner
to make a mistake ... and there was that last gryphon ... he
couldn't afford to go back to the dungeon!
Then suddenly Eklip pounced on the two solders in front of him,
knocking one down quickly and throwing the other over his shoulder,
sending him flying. He quickly took off before the first could
stand up again and flew over the castle walls.
"Eclipse is escaping!" someone shouted. Banner heard
and saw Eclipse just clearing the castle walls.
"You do what you must!" he called to Banner, flying
higher and higher. "I'll do what I must!"
"Bring him down!" Banner shouted, but Eklip was gone,
a black dot in a black sky. Even the whites of his feathers were
"Hurry to the Gate!" Banner said, still fuming. "The
black ponies will have to go through it! We don't want them ..."
His sentence was cut in half when they saw Starfire and Skyview
running uphill towards them, each carrying a glowing pony on
The two brothers only slowed down slightly, before turning into
the dirt path that lead down to Woodlock.
"After them!" Banner called.
CHAPTER 25: The Final Hunt
Eklip flew as fast as he could, circling over the forest. He
had seen the building built over the Gate years from now many
times, but he couldn't remember exactly where it had been. And
the Gate itself was hidden from view.
Suddenly his eye caught something white much lower down the mountain.
Something moving fast downhill! He swooped down silently, wondering
what it could be. It was heading to a small cliff, much too fast
for him to reach it in time!
Then just as it fell over the edge, it stopped. Mane hung low
and wings flared open limply. Eklip gasped as he recognised the
princess, but then he noticed the dark figure holding onto her
Eklip smiled when he recognised Stardust dragging her back onto
the grass and uphill to a safer spot.
"Good!" he said loudly to himself and turned south
towards the mountains. "The end has begun!"
He glanced back, just to make sure they were okay, but he couldn't
see them. But in his heart he knew that they were. He smiled.
"So Stardust did actually drop her!"
The sun was about to start rising when Eklip climbed out of his
bush, dragging a makeshift spear with him. He shook his head,
forcing himself to wake up. He still didn't like waking up this
early, but living with Banner had made him slightly used to it.
He looked around him. He hadn't flown a long way from Moonlight
Castle, and still had to be wary of king Sea-Mist's solders!
Or any solders he might add! He stretched his legs and flapped
his wings, looking at the mountains in not too far away.
Banner had assured him that the gryphon will not leave the vicinity
of the cave, since it was wounded. Eklip hoped he was right!
He flapped his wings and took off, heading south again. He felt
bad that Banner was upset with him, but he knew that it had to
be so. Once he has taken care of that Gryphon, he will return
to Moonlight Castle and face the consequences! He will have to
someday ... the chance that he'll ever return to his time felt
like the mist in the forest below him, fading in the morning
Eklip neared the cave and landed close by. He didn't want to
be in the sky to close to the cave ... it might warn the gryphon
of his approach, or eve worse, the gryphon might sneak up from
behind and attack him! He walked carefully, making sure he didn't
make a sound. He quickly checked out the cave, but could easily
tell that the last gryphon hadn't been there since probably the
The old, half-eaten stag as well as the small creature the gryphons
had brought that night had been dragged a little away from the
cave and eaten by what Eklip finally decided must be wolves ...
as he examined the tracks that now covered the dusty entrance
of the cave. However, the wolves hadn't stayed at the cave and
have moved on.
Eklip sighed a sigh of relieve. He was slightly glad not to have
found the gryphon here; but also worried that he might not find
him soon enough! On one hoof he was afraid to meet the gryphon,
and the other he knew he had to find him!
He took another quick glance over his shoulder at the cave, remembering
the gray gryphon catching the solder - Sugarcane. It looked like
she had barely touched him, and still he was seriously wounded!
He shook his head to clear his thoughts and, gathering his courage,
turned away from the cave. He had to find that gryphon!
He started to look around the area, remembering how long they
had searched for the gryphon's cave. Again he wished he had grabbed
a sword, or preferably a proper spear when he had escaped Moonlight
Castle! But there is no turning back now...
Eklip searched the whole area around the cave but didn't find
anything. He decided to take a chance and search a wider area
around the cave from the air. He searched until the sun began
to set and the light became too bad for him to see by clearly.
He flew a short way to the west, and found himself a new bush
under which he could sleep.
Whilst traveling, he usually used a bush as cover unless he could
find a nice small cave to hide in; It was probably left over
from the time the gryphons had threatened Treetop, but now he
thought it might come in handy again! He was, after all hunting
He searched a wider area from the sky the next day, and a wider
area the next, and an even wider area the day after that until
was sure that Banner was wrong. The gryphon wasn't around here
After about four days searching around the cave, Eklip had still
not found any sign of a wounded gryphon, or any such creature.
Feeling disappointed, he returned to his bush he slept under
each night. As he curled up, he thought of the gryphon.
'What would I do if I was a wounded gryphon ... all alone ...?'
he wondered. 'Head back home?'
Eklip decided it was worth a shot; the gryphon wasn't around
here somewhere! Tomorrow, he'll fly west.
CHAPTER 26: The Future Threatened
Eklip was flying, heading west as fast as he could. He didn't
know where to start searching for the missing gryphon ... he
had the whole of Ponyland to cover! But he felt he was on to
something ... heading south-west. The direction the gryphons
had originally came from ... or would come from!
He suddenly had a thought: Maybe this gryphon was supposed to
lead the first gryphons against White Pearl Castle? but he shook
the thought - that was supposed to be several decades away still!
No, that couldn't be ...
He noticed a large pink and white building far ahead and to his
right, barely turning his head to look at it.
'Dream Castle!' he thought to himself. He had been there many
times, but now it was in the command of Star-Cluster! He had
to be careful not to be seen by the castle...
Eklip descended to a little lower, and even considered hiding
until night so that he was sure no one would spot him. But then
he might miss the gryphon, who wont be active during the
He was still considering this when a movement a little higher
and further to his right caught his eye. He turned and gasped
when he saw talons shining in the sun. The gryphon he was searching
for had found him instead!
With his lightning reflexes, he dropped even lower, descending
to just above the treetops. A lesser pegasus, male or female,
would've been captured there! Quickly he thanked his family's
abilities and glanced back up at the dark-brown gryphon. His
talons had found only air, and he was furiously searching for
the pegasus that had just escaped from him.
Eklip gripped his inadequate spear, gathering all his courage
again he flew straight at the gryphon. The gryphon saw him coming
and knocked the weak attack off. Eklip's spear was sent flying
wide and Eklip fell through the canopy. The gryphon dived after
him, but stopped and pulled himself up again before he also crashed
through the leaves.
He circled the area, looking for the starfirian.
"Come out!" he ordered, but Eklip was nowhere to be
seen. He circled again.
Eklip sat up, looking at the shadow that passed overhead. He
looked around for his spear, but couldn't find it quickly enough.
He knew he stood no real chance against the gryphon without some
kind of weapon! That one bump had left him with a long scratch
just below his wing. It was bleeding slightly, but wasn't serious.
"Come out, you coward!" the gryphon ordered again as
he flew past. Suddenly he started to laugh. "You cannot
win, starfirian!" he called. "Fight me or hide, you'll
lose either way!"
Eklip thought that the gryphon meant that he would find him either
way, but what was said next shocked Eklip to the core!
"I know the original Starfire lives in the pink castle to
the north of here ... And that he hasn't founded Treetop yet!"
the gryphon laughed, still searching. "All I have to do
to defeat you all is kill this one pegasus who doesn't know of
the danger he is in! Fight me now, or hide ... your dead either
way! Your future will end today!"
Eklip was shocked, staring up at the shadow as the gryphon passed
overhead again. For a moment he thought of just flying up and
attacking him with his bare hoofs ... and teeth need it be! But
the feeling quickly passed by as he remembered what Banner had
said to him once:
'You can never say it will end today...'
The gryphon passed overhead only once before heading north.
Eklip sighed. He stood up, thinking about the gryphon's threat.
It had made a serious error ... Eklip now knew what it was planning
to do! He needs to forget about the gryphon now and find Starfire
instead, and warn him of the danger he is in. Eklip started to
think of his granddad's stories; where would they be now? ...
Between Dream Castle and Skywood Forest?
He finally noticed his spear sticking out of a shrub nearby and
picked it up. The flimsy weapon gave him a little comfort as
he gripped it tightly. He walked on and found a small clearing
in the canopy where a tree had fallen over. Taking his chance,
he took off, flying west again.
He needs to get to Skywood Forest quickly, but while avoiding
Dream Castle: Now there was a gryphon there as well!
Suddenly a smile appeared fleetingly on his face. Skywood Forest!
Strange how everything is returning to where it all began!
CHAPTER 27: The Missing Apetons
Eklip saw the high trees of Skywood forest from a distance away.
They stood much higher than the rest of the forest surrounding
them. For a moment he wondered what the Apetons looked like ...
he had only heard stories of them.
He shook the curiosity quickly and turned back to Dream Castle.
Starfire and Skyview will be chasing Stardust around here ...
and Banner will be chasing Starfire and Skyview.
He also kept a watchful eye out for that gryphon ... he didn't
want to be caught in the air again!
Suddenly, something strange caught his eye. He turned and looked
at Skywood Forest. He looked hard at it, wondering what it was
he saw, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The forest looked
like he had always seen it!
Shrugging his shoulders, he turned around again and flew slowly,
low over the treetops. He hoped to find Starfire soon - especially
before that gryphon!
Then it dawned upon him: The forest looked as it always had to
him! Even the clearing where the largest trees were supposed
to have stood!
"That means that Stardust had already gone through Skywood
forest!" he shouted at himself, remembering his granddad's
He turned around and headed for the obvious clearing within the
trees. It took some time to reach it, but once there he quickly
landed, looking around. It was quite a sight to see in his time,
but now it was even more incredible, with the trees freshly broken
He cracked a smile when he saw the plain golden crown embedded
in one of the remaining trees.
"Well look who is here!" a familiar voice suddenly
Eklip spun around, and stared at Banner. The solders he had left
the castle with were still behind him. For a moment Eklip thought
of taking flight again, but then he noticed that Banner didn't
seem so angry at him anymore.
"Did you know that Stardust would've turned against Star-Cluster?"
Banner suddenly asked.
"Yes, but Stardust doesn't know it yet..." Eklip replied.
"So he isn't on our side either." Banner thought loudly
to himself. "Why did he betray Star-Cluster?"
"It has something to do with the capture of the princess!"
Eklip said, turning his attention back to the crown. "She
has managed to befriend him ..."
"The battle that would turn this war..." Banner remarked.
"You said the next few months are going to be complicated!"
"You have no idea!" Eklip agreed. Banner walked up
to him, also looking up at the old king's crown.
"You also did say that the apetons will be blown away..."
"Like dry leaves in the autumn wind!" Eklip laughed.
"It must have been one strong wind to have embedded the
crown THAT deep into the tree!"
"What exactly happened here?" Banner asked, looking
"Now that I will not tell you; you know that!" Eklip
Banner sighed. He knew that it would be futile to try and convince
the young pegasus otherwise! They were silent for a while.
"Is Stardust's treason the answer to the riddle?" Banner
suddenly asked. "How can Starfire become duke of Skywood
if Star-Cluster falls?"
"Kind of!" Eklip sighed. "After Stardust turned
sides, his two brothers joined him!" He looked up at Banner.
"But that will not be for a while - until then they will
still serve Star-Cluster loyally!" he warned.
"King Sea-Mist will want some answers!" Banner replied.
"Especially if the three black ponies comes over to our
side! He will probably also want to know more of what you know..."
"The future will come to him if he waits long enough!"
Eklip replied, and then started to laugh. "That sounded
funny! I mean ..."
"I think I know what you mean!" Banner said. He eyed
Eklip's spear. "What are you planning to do with that sharpened
"Kill a gryphon!" Eklip replied. Then he suddenly became
worried. "Banner, he knows he has gone back in time, and
is now hunting Starfire!"
"I've told you..." Banner started to say, but Eklip
"I've heard it from him myself! He is haunting Dream Castle
as we speak! Good thing the two brothers will be chasing Stardust
for a while..."
"What are you planning to do?" Banner asked.
"I've got to warn Starfire ... and then kill the gryphon
before it finds him!"
"But you'll be killed if you are going to fight a gryphon
alone!" Banner replied worriedly. Then he noticed the fine
red line of dried blood on Eklip's side. "Looks like you
already had a close call!"
"I can still die without endangering the future ... but
Starfire cannot!" Eklip exclaimed, ignoring the remark about
the scratch on his side. "It is like the gryphon had said:
'Fight or hide' I'll still die! And I won't die hiding!"
Banner sighed sadly. The young pegasus had become like one of
his solders to him. But he also knew Eklip was right. Starfire
had to be rescued and he couldn't afford to leave Stardust's
"Starfire and Skyview are a few days ahead of us, heading
"Towards Alfeo Castle?" Eklip asked.
"South-east!" Banner agreed, but not surprised. It
wasnt the exact direction, but this piece of information
might help him catch up to them ...
"Thanks!" Eklip said and was about to take off when
Banner stopped him.
"Take this!" he said, removing his belt and sword,
and handing it to Eklip. "That thing you call a spear is
going to break without roughing up the gryphon's feathers!"
"Thank you!" Eklip replied happily. With a real weapon,
even though it was a sword, he felt much surer of himself!
"Just return it to me when you've killed it!"
CHAPTER 28: Where it All Ends
Eklip was flying hard towards the south-east. Alfeo Castle was
still to far away to see; in fact he had barely left Banner.
If he looked back, he can still see the tall trees of Skywood
Forest but he knew he had to find Starfire! He felt his time
running out, and he didn't know exactly how much time he had
As he flew, he scanned the ground carefully but the leafy canopy
of the forest made it hard to distinguish anything below on the
forest floor. As far as he knew, he probably had passed them
The thought worried him, but he still pushed forward! Skyview
and Starfire were supposed to be a few days in front of Banner!
He was so busy looking at the ground that he never saw the dark
figure a bit higher then himself, swooping down on him.
As he was flying, he suddenly noticed his shadow in the leaves
below him. It fascinated him to see the shape jump between the
different levels of trees. However he didn't have time for fun
... he forced his attention back to searching for Starfire. But
as he looked away from the dark form he thought he saw something
close by it.
Looking back at it, he gasped when he noticed a second shadow
just above it! He glanced up in time to see the talons grab at
him ... even his quick reflexes didn't save him this time!
Chocolate's talons clasped down on the startled starfirian. He
felt the skin puncture and deep inside he was glad to have finally
caught him! Though it was not Starfire, this one had been a source
of trouble for so long! Chocolate opened his beak wide, ready
to bite down into the pony in his talons, to finish him for good.
But then suddenly the starfirian pulled a sword from seemingly
nowhere and slashed his legs with it. Chocolate screeched in
pain and let the starfirian go.
Eklip fell a few feet before his wings managed to grab the wind
again. His back was hurting, and blood was oozing out of the
punctures the gryphon had inflicted upon him. But despite the
looks it wasn't that bad - nor was the cut in the gryphon's leg...
He looked up at the gryphon. His talons and feet were bloody,
and Eklip knew it was from both his and the gryphon's blood.
The gryphon looked around furiously, and upon seeing Eklip turned
into a steep dive towards the pegasus.
But this time Eklip was ready for him. Waiting until the last
moment, he cut to one side, allowing the gryphon to rush past
him. A slash at the monster missed and Eklip quickly climbed
higher into the air.
Chocolate flared his wings to avoid crashing through into the
forest. He looked up and saw the starfirian, blade in one hoof,
quickly climbing higher. He squinted his eyes, searching for
any sign of a bow or a quiver of arrows, but could see none.
Most starfirians were good archers, and even a good number of
pegasus females in Treetop had learnt to use the bow effectively!
'Good thing he isn't an archer!' he thought as he followed him
Eklip had trouble flapping his wings. The punctures in his sides,
though luckily for him just flesh wounds, was still hurting the
higher he went; But he wanted to gain a little more height...
just a little more!
Then he saw the gryphon hot on his tail. He gasped, and hoped
he had enough height to do what he was planning to do!
Bending his wings into a sharp V, he turned into a tight spiral.
Chocolate saw the starfirian turn to avoid him. He followed the
poor pony, diving also into a tight turn. They turned a few times
in full circles, but the starfirian, being much more maneuverable
and lighter, managed to turn much more tightly than the gryphon.
Suddenly he lowered his wings to halt his fall.
Chocolate, unable to do the same, flashed on beneath the pegasus.
Eklip saw the gryphon flash just beneath him. The gryphon had
turned upside down in the air and tried to grab the him, but
Eklip quickly avoided the sharp talons again. Again he slashed
his sword at the gryphon, but missed a second time.
Eklip suddenly gasped as he glanced down at the forest ... he
didn't have enough height when he had turned into the dive!
Chocolate never saw the forest coming up so quickly!
They both crashed through the forest canopy at an alarming speed.
Eklip had to do his best to avoid the trees, but the ground was
also coming up quickly! Chocolate didn't miss the trees, but
crashed hard into a thick trunk.
Eklip also greeted the ground with a hard thud! He grunted as
he stood up, his one wing hanging limply down his bleeding flank.
Then he noticed the gryphon also having trouble standing up straight.
Eklip didn't waste time: Grabbing the sword that had fallen to
one side, he rushed up to the gryphon and plunged the blade in
Chocolate screeched again and knocked him away, sending him flying
limply through the air. He grabbed at the hilt of the sword that
was still embedded in him, but couldn't reach it. He became dizzy
and his vision became blurry. He also found it hard to keep his
balance and fell to the ground.
Eklip gasped as he landed. He could feel the deep cut in his
chest where the gryphon's talon had cut him. This time it was
He tried standing up twice before finally being able to turn
around. He was fully expecting the gryphon to come and kill him,
but to his surprise he noticed that the gryphon had fallen to
It was laying still.
His vision became blurry and he tried to focus on the gryphon,
to make sure it won't stand up again, but then everything became
Eklip also fell forward into the dust.
CHAPTER 29: Returning Home
Banner was following Starfire and Skyview's tracks, thinking
about what Eklip had said just a few hours ago. Stardust was
indeed acting against Star-Cluster's orders, but not aiding them
And for a change it was funny to watch his two brothers running
around after him!
But Eklip had said to him that Stardust himself doesn't know
he had turned against Star-Cluster ... Could he then trust the
feared black pony?
Skyview and Starfire are also supposed to turn against Star-Cluster,
but not for a while ... he wondered how will he know when to
Banner still didn't like the three of them, but he had to admit:
With their help he might actually recapture Dream Castle.
"Banner?" one of the solders interrupted his thoughts.
"What is that?"
Banner looked and saw something a fair distance from the path.
But it was hard to make out what it was through the foliage.
It might be something important; it might be only a rock!
"I don't know..." he said, wondering if it could be
Stardust. "Let's go check it out quickly!"
The small group left the path, and carefully walked towards the
dark lump. It was much further than they had thought, but as
they neared it, the solders gasped at what lay there. Most of
them had never seen a gryphon before, and the few who had (only
Banner and two others) were still surprised to see it here.
"Wh-what is that?" the one solder asked, drawing his
sword for comfort more than protection.
"A gryphon!" Banner replied, carefully inching closer
to the beast. He recognised it as the last of the gryphons.
"Is THAT what you've been hunting a few weeks ago?"
another gasped, also gripping the hilt of his sword tightly.
"Don't worry, this one is dead!" Banner said. He noticed
the hilt of his sword sticking out of the side of the gryphon,
just below the one wing.
"How did it die?" the first solder asked, replacing
his sword into his belt.
"Eklip must have killed it..." Banner said, frowning.
"His sword is still in it!" Why did Eklip leave his
sword in the gryphon? Banner reached and pulled it out. It came
loose with a little difficulty, but not too much!
"Sir..." another solder gasped, pointing to something
behind Banner. "Look there!"
Banner turned around and gasped when he recognised Eklip also
crumpled in a heap. He rushed over to him, fearing the worst.
Eklip had been bleeding heavily, but it seemed to have stopped.
Then he noticed the young pegasus was still breathing...
"Band-Aid!" Banner called to the familiar pony.
Band-Aid quickly rushed to Banner's side and checked on Eklip.
"He's one wing is dislocated ... he's got punctures on his
back, but it's not serious ... but this cut on his chest is!
Good thing we've found him."
"Will he be all right?" Banner asked.
"If we take care of him soon -" Band-Aid replied, gripping
Eklip's wing and yanking it back into place. Eklip cried out
in pain, and started to wake up.
"Are you okay?" Banner asked softly, but suddenly realised
it was a stupid thing to ask: Of course he was not okay! "Can
"I ... I think so..." Eklip said and painfully stood
"I think we should take him to White Pearl Castle ..."
"Where's the gryphon?" Eklip asked, looking around
at the ponies around him.
"You've killed it!" one of the solders answered in
"You've taken care of it!" Banner said handed Eklip
the still bloody sword. "Well done."
"It's your sword!" Eklip said, eyeing the blade.
"You can have it!" Banner smiled. He had come to like
the young pegasus. "I think you've deserved it! Think of
it as a sign that you are now truly a solder!" Banner chuckled
softly. "A starfirian!"
"Thank you!" Eklip exclaimed, taking the weapon. He
wanted to put it back into his belt, but it was still bloody.
"Now, we need to get you to a place where you can heal properly!"
Banner said as a soft wind started to pick up. He looked at a
solder standing close by. "Can you take him to White Pearl
Castle? I would've liked to come with you... but I still need
to chase Stardust!"
"Yes, sir!" the solder replied. "I'll return him
to Moonlight Castle as soon as he can make the distance."
"You better find some shelter first!" Band-Aid remarked,
looking up at the branches of the trees as they are starting
to sway in the strengthening wind. "Looks like a storm is
brewing from nowhere ..."
"Are you going to continue after the black ponies through
the storm?" Eklip asked, looking back to where the gryphon
Banner didn't answer.
"Banner?" Eklip asked, looking around. But he was alone.
The small group of ponies that had been there with him had disappeared.
Even the one that was supposed to take him to White Pearl Castle
"Eklip?" a voice suddenly asked. Eklip turned around
and stared at the pony walking towards him through the bushes.
"Where have you been? Father had everybo... What happened
Before him stood another male pegasus, dark gray with bright
"Suncloud?" Eklip asked surprised. "What happened
"Who?" Suncloud asked, looking around. For a moment
he looked at Eklip, as if he was remembering something and trying
his best to hide it. "There is no one here! Eklip what happened?
You look terrible!"
"I ... Met a gryphon ..." Eklip replied, pointing his
sword to the dead gryphon close by.
Suncloud turned and jumped back. There hadn't been a gryphon
this near the town since Dream Castle had recaptured White Pearl
"You killed it?" Suncloud asked, turning back to Eklip.
Again he felt a pang over the gryphon incident more than a decade
Where did you get that sword?"
Eklip looked at Banner's still wet sword. "Long story..."
he replied. "Long ... strange story!"
"Come... we need to get you back home..." Suncloud
said, worriedly. He walked up to Eklip, and supporting him, led
him back to Treetop.
"Home!" Eklip sighed, thinking of the soft bed he hadnt
seen for months. "I'd love to go home..."
Banner stared. Everybody there just stared. The wind that had
started to pick up died as quickly as it had started. But that
wasn't what shocked everybody.
"Where did he go?" the solder, who was supposed to
take Eklip to White Pearl Castle asked.
"He just ... faded away! Into nothing!" another gasped.
"The gryphon is also gone..." a third remarked. Everybody
looked and sure enough the monster was not there anymore.
"They must have gone back to the future!" Banner guessed,
as surprised as everybody else.
They stood around, looking at the spot where Eklip had stood
just moments ago, wondering if he was going to appear again.
But nothing happened. Had it not been for the patches of blood
in the dust, Eklip and the gryphon might as well never have existed!
"We better get going!" Banner replied. He could only
hope that Eklip was safe now! "Starfire and Skyview aren't
waiting for us!"
CHAPTER 30: Where it All Began
Starfire lay on the porch, watching the everyday life of the
pegasi in Treetop. A pony could see that he was once one of the
famous black ponies, but now his black fur had faint gray stripes
in them. The blue in his hair has become much lighter, but at
least it hadn't turned white yet!
Treetop was a funny town, with three levels to it: The middle
being the oldest, this is where the normal life took place: School,
a few shops, etc.
The Upper level was the homes of the pegasi, and the few ground
ponies brave enough to sleep high up in the trees.
And then the lower level: the youngest and yet biggest of the
levels. Here lived most of the ground ponies. A few vertigo sufferers
had shops on the ground level, but they weren't many.
And despite the three levels, Treetop was still one of the smallest
Behind him a female cried out. Starfire looked up worriedly.
"Calm down!" a familiar voice said. Starfire looked
around as Stardust climbed the last few steps to the top. "It's
not Snowflake that is having a baby!"
"I know!" Starfire replied, standing up. "But
still ... Thanks for coming!" He looked around. "Where
Just then a light gray cloud floated up to the platform and turned
into a pony.
"Here!" Skyview replied. "Thought I wasn't coming?"
"No, just curious if you got stuck on your way up here!"
Starfire replied, with a smile but suddenly looked around as
the female cried out again.
"It is her fourth, isn't it?" Skyview asked, the frown
on his face disappearing quickly. He was about to say something
back when he was interrupted.
The female cried out for a last time, and the three smiled broadly
as they heard the sound of a baby crying.
A dark blue pony exited the hut shortly thereafter.
"Moonlight is fine..." he said to Starfire, and then
blinked as he saw the other two as well. Though slightly turning
gray, and though there were more male pegasi and unicorns, they
were still a sight to see standing next to each other.
"Boy or girl, doctor?" Starfire asked.
"A pegasus boy!" the doctor replied with a smile. "And
quite a sight to see as well! Now if you'll excuse me..."
The doctor turned and started to climb down the staircase that
spiraled down the thick trunk.
"Another pegasus grandson!" Stardust replied. "Congratulations!"
Just then, a pegasus came walking out of the hut. He was black,
with bright green hair. In his arms, he carried something wrapped
in a soft light-blue blanket.
"Dad!" he called when he saw Starfire. "Look here!
Isn't he beautiful?"
The younger pegasus showed his son to his father and uncles.
The baby was also black, but had an almost white mane.
"What are you going to call him, Greenleaf?" Starfire
"Eclipse!" Greenleaf replied happily, folding the blanket
away. Eclipse's mane and tail was the same yellowish white colour.
His small black wings were tucked tightly to his sides, and the
tips of white feathers could be seen. One day, when he will be
older, he will have that same white coloured primary feathers!
The three black ponies gasped when they saw him. But Greenleaf
was too excited to notice!
"He is going to look like an eclipse in the sky when he
is flying!" Greenleaf continued.
Another young boy pegasus came running up the stairs. Despite
being almost twelve, he was just starting to learn how to fly.
He was dark gray with bright yellow hair. "I have another
baby brother?" he called excitedly. "With wings this
"Yes, Suncloud!" Greenleaf answered still beyond himself
with pride. He wrapped his newborn son again in his blanket,
and walked back into the hut with Suncloud following close behind.
"But now I think he should rest!"
"It's him!" Skyview whispered. "I don't believe
it! Old Banner was right!"
"My own grandson came to us from the future!" Starfire
replied also in a whisper. "But how is that possible?"
"I once asked the Moochick if something like that is even
possible..." Stardust replied, remembering the strange incident
Banner had told them of, as well as the one time he had even
seen the stranger from the future. "I didn't understand
it at the time, but I think I do now..."
"And?" Skyview asked.
"He said that it is possible. 'You see magic is a complex
natural force, two opposites that exist in a delicate balance.
And sometimes something can go wrong with this balance ... a
sudden magical spark if you can call it that! Nothing can come
of it, or it can threaten the existence of all! But if something
big happens, like the group of gryphons that had gone back in
time, then the natural balance will try to correct itself, by
selecting a champion to correct the mistake!' So, young Eclipse
will be the champion sent back to help Banner defeat the gryphons.
"Banner had said that the gryphons from the south-west had
threatened this town for years when Eclipse was young!"
Starfire said. "So the time has come?"
"Seems to be! But not for a while longer!" Stardust
said, looking at the door into which Eclipse had disappeared.
"What are you thinking of?" Skyview asked, seeing Stardust
staring at the door without really seeing it.
"When that young boy returns from the past, we can expect
great things of him!" he added with a sigh. "Great
Just inside the door, Suncloud stood listening at his granddad
and his brothers talking. He didn't understand any bit of it.
The name Banner sounded familiar, but: How can you go back in
time? What magic are they talking about? Who is the Moochick?
What is a gryphon?
He walked away from the door into his parents' room where Greenleaf
was just putting Eclipse back into his cot.
"Dad, what is a gryphon?" he asked.
Greenleaf frowned. He had been duke of Skywood forest for a long
time now, and he had never heard of such a thing. "I don't
know..." he replied. "Where did you hear of it?"
"Oh, just some children down on the forest floor!"
he lied, deciding to keep it to himself. When he is older, he'll
go search for some answers! If his new baby brother was going
to have to fight them, he'll be there for him! Hell find
out about these gryphons, even if he had to go find them in the
... where did his granddad say they came from? ... The south-west!