Chapter 63: Winterfall Castle

The mist had disappeared the minute the sun's light hit the valley. Stardust shook his brothers awake with his large hairy hoof, then he woke up Luna and Blizzard. Stardust looked around the room at the blankets scattered on the floor. "I thinks it's best if we packed the blankets and pillows against the wall for now."
Starfire yawned and stretched his legs then he flapped his wings a few times. Everyone rolled up their blankets and sat them against the wall with their pillows.
Footsteps echoed through the wooden floor, they could hear someone coming. They stood and waited knowing it could only be Raindrop since she and her daughter are the only ones living in the house.
Raindrop entered the room, "I see you're all up in time for breakfast. The food is waiting in the dinning room."
They followed Raindrop down the short hallway, past two closed doors and into an open room. It was long and open spaced with a doorway ahead of them. On one end of the room it had a square table with chairs and open windows all around. Non of the windows were glass, letting the morning breeze freely flow through the room. The other end of the room was the kitchen where Whispers was making her own breakfast.
They all sat down and began eating.

It wasn't long till they had all finished their breakfast. Whispers left the house as usually leaving her mother with the guests.
"Where is she going?" Luna asked watching her walk into the forest.
"To...play with her friends I guess," Raindrop answered as she put the plates into the kitchen. She turned to her guests who were still sitting at the table. "I got to tend to my garden. You're all welcome to come till I can take you on that tour through the valley."
Starfire stood up smiling, "I'll go with you." Raindrop smiled greatly, there was just something about him she liked.
"I guess I'll go too," Luna said.
"I'll go as well," Blizzard added.
"I'll wait here," Stardust said.
"I'll wait here too," added Skyview.
Raindrop walked to the dinning room and took her light green bag. She hung it around her neck. "Shall we go?" She turned and walked from the dinning room to the doorway and down the steps. Starfire, Luna and Blizzard followed her. Stardust and Skyview went down the hall to the large room and then they stood on the porch staring in the distance.

Raindrop led them up a slight hill and past several trees to an open field. There were rows of dirt in square patches, some of the patches had something growing in them.
"This doesn't looks like a flower garden," Luna said.
Raindrop laughed, "No, it sure isn't. This is my vegetable garden." She walked forward and led then through a narrow path between the square patches. Raindrop examine each square.
"Oh no," Raindrop exclaimed. She stopped and looked at a square patch that had lots of weeds growing in it. "Those weeds will have to come up. Could you guys help me pull them up?"
"Sure," Starfire quickly answered.
"Sure," Luna replied.
"I have nothing better to do," Blizzard answered.
They gathered around the square patch and began pulling the weeds.
"No, not like that," Raindrop exclaimed. "Grab the base of the weed and pull it, that way you'll take the roots out with it and the weed won't grow back."
"Oh," they all replied.
Blizzard sat on the grass pulling up weeds one by one. He found it quite interesting as each root came up from the ground. He occasionally looked around, there were houses in the distance. Ponies on the stony road would stare as they walked by. Blizzard looked at them which caused them to turn away quickly and leave. Then he noticed something, in the distance but not to far, sat a tall white building.
"Is that a castle?" Blizzard asked, pointing ahead of him.
Raindrop stopped what she was doing and looked. "Yes it is."
"So who are the rulers of this valley?" Starfire asked curiously.
"No one," Raindrop replied staring at the ground. "No one lives there."
"Why?" Starfire asked, "Where are they?"
"No one has ruled this land for..." Raindrop paused, "several centuries now. That's all there is to it."
"And no one rules this land in that long of time?" Starfire asked curiously.
Raindrop looked at him sadly and yet there was a hint of anger in her eyes. "Ponies in this land has lived this long without them. We have our rules and one of them is never to go near that castle. Now please just drop it."
"Why?" Luna asked.
"No one lives there and no one is aloud near it. That is the rules now please don't ask anymore questions about it," Raindrop exclaimed. She stood up and looked away. Starfire, Luna and Blizzard watched her wondering what got her so upset. After standing in silence for a while she let out a deep breath and turned to her worried and confused guests. "I'm sorry. I...get a little touchy about the castle."
"The castle is pretty," Luna commented, "It almost looks like glass."
Raindrop smiled briefly, "It's made of white rocks that surrounds this valley so the castle often looks like glass or ice from a distance."
"What's the castle called?" Blizzard asked.
Raindrop looked at Blizzard for several minutes as if she was studying him. "It's called Winterfall Castle." She turned and looked at the castle again then she examine the rest of her garden, "If you three don't mind, I'm going to work on pulling the rest of the weeds in the other patches." She left them and went to a few squares down.

The afternoon seemed to have flew by quickly, Raindrop finished picking some of her vegetable that she thought were ripped, the rest wasn't ripe enough. Raindrop stood up with an arm full of vegetables and walked to Starfire, Luna and Blizzard who were looking around for more weeds. "We should be getting back home. It'll be dinner soon."
Starfire, Luna and Blizzard stood up and followed Raindrop. They walked past the trees to her house. Skyview was resting on the grass while Stardust sat next to him looking around.
Luna left Starfire and hurried to her father with Blizzard behind her. Starfire followed Raindrop to the house still wanting to help her.
"Luna, did you enjoy yourself?" Stardust asked smiling at her.
"Not really, We spent all day picking weeds," Luna answered.
"Stardust, there's a castle in this valley," Blizzard told him suddenly.
"We noticed," Skyview replied.
"It's called Winterfall Castle," Blizzard told them.
"Winterfall Castle?" Stardust asked.
"So who rules this valley?" Skyview asked.
"No one. That castle has been empty for several centuries," Blizzard answered.
Stardust looked at the white castle peeking over the tree tops. "That makes no sense. Someone should be living there. Someone high as a king or close to him can rule if there's no living relative. Why would they simply leave the castle empty for so long?"
"Dad," Luna said, "No one is aloud near that castle."
Stardust and Skyview looked at her. Then they looked at each other.
"No one lives there and no one is aloud near that castle. That's very interesting," Stardust muttered.
"What happened to the rulers of this valley?" Skyview asked.
"She didn't say," Luna answered.
"Raindrop got upset just talking about it," Blizzard replied, "me, Starfire and Luna thought it was best not to ask her again."
Stardust stood up and studied the castle, then he looked at Luna and Blizzard, "If no one rules this valley then who made the rule that no one is aloud near that castle? Why haven't they appointed a ruler for this valley?" Stardust looked at Skyview, "Skyview something doesn't make sense. I want you to see what you can find out about that castle. Find out all you can about this valley."
Skyview stood up ad nodded.
Whisper came out of the house and approached Stardust, Skyview, Blizzard and Luna. "Dinner will be ready soon."
"Thanks," Stardust told her.
Whisper smiled and went into the house.
"Luna, find out what you can from Whisper as well," Stardust told her. "I can not believe this valley is so great and peacefully for this long without someone to rule over the ponies and guide them."
They turned and slowly heading into the house.