Summer has ended, and now every young pony, zebra, dragon, buffalo, changeling, griffon, and more prepare for the new school year. Grabbing their saddlebags, books, and getting cleans up by their parents, the little ones rush out and towards the school as the bells begin to ring.
It seems like this is going to be a peaceful day like any other, and nothing could be any different about it. However, high up in the golden castle at the very heart of the city and island, the Royal Family is ready to wake up and begin with the most important jobs of all: Running this very kingdom and making sure all is well.
The Tambelon Royal Guard begin their usual patrolling of the castle, both inside and out. Their units are made up of Unicorns, Pegasai, and Earth Ponies...both mares and stallions. They wear silver armor with gold lining, are trained by the best, and sworn to protect the Royals with their lives. All seems to be quiet and safe for now.
A young sandy-coated mare, Oath Sworn, makes her way to the bedroom of the young princess, Starlight. Charged with the responsibility of protecting and watching over the young filly, the mare knocks on the bedroom door gently.
"Princess Starlight? Are you awake?" she calls out softly, but does not get a reply. The young unicorn guard knocks again but still does not get an answer. Fearing the worst, Oath pushes the door open.
The mare enters Starlight's room and looks around for the filly she hopes is safe and sound. "Starlight! Where are you?!" Oath calls out to the filly, wherever she is.
The royal bedroom, filled with many nice toys and books, appears to be quiet...until...
"BOO!!!" A voice shouts out from behind Oath...causing her to jump from the fright, "I scared you, didn't I~"
"Oh Starlight..." Oath sighs and pants a little, "You sure did..."
The little pink filly comes out from behind the door and smiles at one of the few friends she has.
Oath smiles and pats her head gently, "Oh Starlight. I loved how you surprised me, but you worried me when you didn't answer. I almost thought..."
Starlight understands and apologizes, "I'm sorry, Oath. I didn't mean to worry you or anything..."
The young unicorn guard smiles and shakes her head, "Don't worry, kiddo. All that matters is you're safe...and still full of surprises," She admits, hoping it will brighten the spirit of the filly who has been like a little sister to her.
Starlight smiles and hugs her best friend and big sister figure, "Thank you, Oath. I promise I won't worry you like that again."
Oath hugs the little princess and smiles once more, "Thank you, Starlight."
After the hug comes to an end, the sworn protector of the little princess turns to the door and suggests, "Shall we go get you some breakfast?"
Starlight smiles and runs passed Oath, "I'll race ya!"
The young guard giggles and follows behind her, "You're on!"
The two run down the hallway, with Starlight in the lead; Oath runs slower since she is bigger than the princess, and faster. The two run passed all the guards and towards the kitchen, where they can have a nice meal to start their day.
Arriving into the kitchen first, Starlight bounces around in victory, "I Win! I Win!! I Win!!!"
Oath catches up and pants a little, "You sure did..." She smiles and knows that someday the two will have an official race to see who truly is the fastest. But for now, the unicorn mare is happy letting Starlight win most of the time.
As Starlight sits at the table ready for some breakfast, Oath grabs the bowl and a box of "Chimi Cherry Changas" for her to eat. She pours her a bowl with her magic and sets it before the Princess, "There ya go, kiddo."
Starlight squees and digs right into this delicious, if not sweet, cereal that was created right here in the Kingdom by a local mare who makes sweets and treats for everypony to enjoy.
As Starlight eats and Oath stands nearby, the little pony looks out the window and can barely see the citizens of the city all moving about; They are all heading off to their jobs, while the younger ones race to school. Seeing them out there, having fun and all, causes Starlight to cease eating and sigh sadly.
"What's wrong, Starlight?" Oath asks when she notices the sad expression on the princess's face.
Starlight sighs once more and feels her mind wandering...dreaming of what is out there beyond the palace walls. All her life, she has been cooped up in the castle and has never once been allowed to take a step outside; Her parents have never allowed her to leave, and they never explain why.
"Well..." Starlight mutters.
The little princess is about to answer when she sees two ponies enter the kitchen that brings a smile to her face once again, "Mommy! Daddy!"
Oath gasps and quickly turns around to kneel before the Prince and Princess, "Your Majesties!"
Princess Twilight Sparkle and Prince Courageous Heart walk over to their daughter and give her a big morning hug, to which she returns it happily.
"Good morning, my little Starlight," Princess Twilight whispers as she hugs her precious little filly.
"It is so good to see you up and about this early, sweetie," Prince Courageous expresses to his daughter as he finishes hugging her, "I hope you are ready for what today has in store."
"What do you mean, daddy?" Starlight asks her brown-coated father.
"Well, summer is over...so it is time for you to begin your next school year," Courageous reveals, "Your tutor will be here tomorrow, so you will need to gather the books you will be needing so you can get to your studies as soon as possible."
Twilight nuzzles her daughter's cheek, "That's right. You and I can do some studying in the Royal Library today. Does that sound like fun?"
Starlight was usually happy to spend time reading with her mother, but she didnt feel too thrilled. Not wanting to disappoint her mother, Starlight answers with a, "Sure, mommy."
Twilight kisses her daughter's cheek and smiles, "Alright, sweetie. Finish your breakfast, then we'll do some studying together."
Starlight nods and resumes eating her Chimi Cherry Changas as her parents prepare a nice hot meal for themselves. Usually, the Royal Cook makes their food, but they are in the mood to do it themselves this time. Twilight and Courageous make themselves a nice fruit salad together.
Starlight decides to finish quickly and leave early, especially when she sees her parents kissing. As a little filly, she finds that stuff to be gross. "Ewwwww...." she says in her head, so they dont hear her. She got in trouble once for making a comment like that.
Oath Sworn bows before the Royals and follows Starlight as she heads down the hallway to the Library.
Upon arriving at the library, Oath follows Starlight inside and feels the need to ask, "Forgive me, Starlight...but what is there something troubling you?"
Starlight just walks over to the window and sits down, "I...I dont know if I want to talk about it..."
The unicorn guard understands and turns, "Alright. Well, I should get going...since I'm sure your mother, the Princess, would like to spend some time with you reading."
Starlight nods and turns to her best friend, "I'll see you later, Oath."
The protective sister-figure bows before the little princess and leaves the library...and will be as nearby as she can; Her duty to protect the daughter of Tambelon's rulers is a role she will never forget nor forsake. Oath stands outside the doors, while Starlight resumes staring out the window...into a world she may never know.
"Starlight, dear?" Princess Twilight Sparkle calls to her daughter as she enters the library, where so many books from across the world are stored, "Starlight?"
The little princess is lost in thought, staring out the window...watching the ponies and others play and walk around. From the look of things, they are having so much fun...whereas she is trapped inside.
"Starlight?!" Twilight tries harder to get her daughters attention as she walks up to her.
She snaps out of her train of thought and turns to the beautiful mare before her, "Oh...mommy. I...uh..."
"Something on your mind, dear?" Twilight asks as she embraces her little filly.
Starlight hugs her mother, showing that she loves her very much as she does to her. Yet, what she sees beyond the window of the library, makes her wish even more so that she was out there...playing with other fillies and colts, "Mommy?"
"Can I...go out and play..." She looks up at her mother with pleading eyes,"...please?"
Twilight looks out the window and is beginning to understand what her daughter is thinking. However, she cannot grant that to her...because of the dangers that may lie out there, even in this paradise of theirs.
Twilight then decides that maybe her daughter would enjoy reading a story with her...and maybe putting off any studying for now; Perhaps that will help take her mind off the outside world. "Well...why don't we read a story together...then maybe I'll let you go join your father," Twilight makes her a deal and promise, "I think he is spending some time outside in the gardens."
Starlight likes that idea, and runs over to the shelves to grab one of her favorite books. Unfortunately, the one she seeks is too high up. The little alicorn tries to use her magic...but it is still not fully developed yet. She tries harder, but nothing happens.
The little princess tries flapping her wings to reach the higher shelf. She manages to get up to the sixth highest and grab the book with her mouth. However, she loses balance from the weight of the book and is about to fall, but feels herself being levitated by her mother's magic.
"Careful there~" Twilight playfully says as she helps her daughter back down. The beautiful alicorn mare places her precious daughter on her back and then walks over to the couch where they can read, "Found what you want to read, sweetie?"
"Yes, mommy," Starlight hugs her mother's head from behind and whispers, "I love you, mommy."
"I love you too, my little Starlight." She expresses softly as she sits upon the comfy couch, "So...what shall we read today, my dear?"
"This one!" Starlight lets her mother take hold of the book so that she may see what book she has chosen.
Twilight smiles when she sees the book is titled Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Stone. She recognizing this great book made by an author who is also the main character, "I remember reading this a lot time ago..."
"Can we read it together?"
"Of course we can, sweetie." Twilight approves and lets her daughter snuggle beside her as she opens the book and holds it open with her magic.
Starlight snuggles close to the mother she loves and lets her start first, and will go next after the first page. This becomes a fun and perfect way for the little filly to improve her reading skills, while spending quality time with her mommy, Twilight Sparkle.
After a few hours of reading with her mother, Starlight is later given permission to go spend time with her father in the gardens. Oath walks her through the castle, and down into the courtyard. Once they arrive, the unicorn guard remains by the door while the little filly runs up to greet the best dad in the world.
"Daddy!" Starlight calls out as she runs to him.
Courageous turns and kneels down, embracing his little girl once she arrives, "Hello, my little Starlight. What brings you out here?"
Starlight breaks the hug gently and answers, "Mommy says I could spend some time with you in the gardens."
Courageous stands back up and nods, "That sounds like a wonderful idea, sweetie. What would you like to do?"
Starlight smiles then mutters something, "Can we...do...well..."
"What was that, Starlight?"
"Can we...go explore...the city?" He looks up at her father, hoping he will take her for a ride on his back, around the kingdom in the air, "Please?"
Courageous Heart sighs sadly and shakes his head, "I am sorry, my dear...but we cannot."
"But...But why not?"
Courageous holds up his hoof, "Please, Starlight...do not argue."
Starlight feels her spirit drop, and ceases talking about it; She knows not to argue with her parents, who love and protect her with all their heart, "Yes, Daddy..."
He rubs her little head gently and smiles, "Don't feel sad. There is plenty to do here in the garden."
"Like...what?" She questions.
Courageous smiles and says, "Follow me."
Starlight walks beside her father as they way through the gardens together.
After a little while of walking, enjoying the flowers and small trees, they soon come to a beautiful glowing tree that rests in the center. It is so lovely and majestic, Starlight wonders what it is; She has seen it before, but never told of it.
"Daddy, what is that tree?" The little filly asks.
"That, my dear Starlight, is the Tree of Harmony." Courageous explains the history of this wonder of the world, "The Light works in mysterious ways. It is said that when a Tree of Harmony appears in a certain place in the world, it marks that area as a place where friendship and peace will rise someday."
"Yes, my dear," Courageous proudly admits, "There are very few in the world: One of them resides here...while another one is deep within Equestria. The Light chose our island as the beacon of hope eons ago...and it later became a home for all creatures to live in peace. Until that day...when the Darkness came to take it all away; It feared this place as a danger, and succeeded in removing all harmony. The tree remained, but it no longer glowed...so long as the presence of evil remained as well. But luckily, the citizens of this island were able to take a small piece of the tree with them...and later use it to help forge the Elements of Harmony, and use them to defeat the Darkness...in a great battle that I took part in."
Courageous continues on about how long after the battle ended and the six great species went their separate ways, the Elements eventually disappeared and found their way to the uninhabited continent of Equestria, where they rested within the next Tree of Harmony that resided within. They remained until Equestria was founded, and its ruler Princess Celestia, discovered the tree...as well as the Elements.
The rest...was history.
Starlight sits next to her father, and finds this story interesting, "What happened next?"
Courageous continues, "Well, Tambelon remained in Darkness for a very long time...until your mother and I freed it some time ago; Not too long before you were born in fact. Now, with the island restored and the tree glowing brightly with the Light once more...peace and harmony will continue to shine forever within our home."
Starlight is moved by this story and smiles, "Wow..."
Courageous is happy to have taught is daughter a great lesson in history, "I am happy you enjoyed that story, sweetie. Now, when you start your studies tomorrow, you will know this for when you get to the section on Tambelon History."
Starlight's smile goes away when the mention of "studying" comes up. She does loves to study, but spending another year inside the castle with a private tutor instead of going to school like all the other fillies and colts, make her feel sad...and trapped.
"Come on, Starlight. Let us explore another part of the garden while we still have time."
The little princess nods and follows her father close...while thoughts of the outside still remain strong within her mind.
Later that evening, as the sun slowly begins to set, the Royal Family sits at the dinner table ready for a good meal before bed. Prince Courageous and his wife, Princess Twilight, sit together, while their daughter sits nearby.
The chef and servants bring the family a nice hot plate of soup...made from the freshest vegetables on the island. Next, they had some warm rolls and a nice slice of hot apple pie. Such a wonderful meal for the beloved Royal Family of Tambelon.
As the servants leave, the Prince and Princess begin to eat. However, as they enjoy the delicious soup, they notice Starlight has not so much as taken a bite. This worries them a bit.
"Starlight, dear? Why are you not eating?" Twilight asks her daughter, "Is there something wrong with your food?"
The little filly shakes her head, "No..."
"No? Then what is troubling you, dear?" Courageous asks, hoping to help his precious daughter.
Starlight wants to answer, but she knows her parents will no doubt refuse what she wishes to ask them for. She hangs her head and hops up out of her chair, "I'm just...not hungry..."
"Starlight..." Twilight tries to get her daughter's attention gently.
"I'm...I'm sorry, mommy. I just...I just wanna go to bed..." She sniffs as she leaves the dining room, with her ears and her head down low.
As she walks off to her bedroom, Twilight and Courageous sense that something is troubling their daughter. But, they get the feeling they already know the answer: Starlight wishes to explore the island outside the castle...and meet new friends.
Courageous tries to talk to his wife about it, but gets a quick reply back:
"Courageous...you know we can't do that..." Twilight answers sadly. She has to remain true to the vow she made to keep her daughter safe.
The stallion prince comes to his wife's side and holds her close in his warm, loving embrace, "I know...but...is it really fair to our little Starlight?"
Twilight sighs and shakes her head, "No..." She looks up at her husband and looks so sad, "I just...I fear something bad may happen if we let her out there..."
Courageous hugs her gently, hoping to put her fears to rest, "I feel the same, my love. But...we have not see the witch in years. Plus...well...just look at her..." Courageous reveals what he as seen, "She wants to see what is out there; To go to school like all the other fillies and colts. She no doubt...wants to make some friends."
Twilight Sparkle feels that her husband speaks the truth. She also feels the irony in all this, "It's funny: When I was young, I never thought I needed any friends, except for my brother. Yet our daughter, really desires to have some friends in her life...even at such a younger age than me."
Courageous smiles as he agrees, "Yeah. I honestly felt the same way when I was young too. Only difference was, I could leave and seek out friends whenever I wished. Starlight however...well..."
"We are keeping her inside the palace, with no plans to let her leave...at least not now anyway," Twilight confesses. She knows she has done everything right raising her filly: Giving her a good life, education, toys, some ponies within their family to be her best friends. Yet, she now realizes that what Starlight really needs...are friends her own age. "You're right, my love..."
The beautiful alicorn princess nods her head, admitting what she should have a long time ago, "I think it's time I renew a promise I once made...to my very best friends."
Courageous smiles and embraces his wife once more, "I think it is also time to make a quick trip to the Tambelon Elementary School..."
The two kiss for a moment, then they leave the kitchen to get started making preparations for tomorrow...which they plan to surprise Starlight with before she goes to bed tonight.
As night arrives, little Starlight blows out her candle and climbs into bed with her favorite doll: Smarty Pants. She feels bad leaving the table like that, and possibly upsetting her parents. She sits on her bed, and almost feels like crying.
"Oh, Smarty Pants..." Starlight sniffs as she hugs her doll, "I wish...I wish...I wish I had...some friends," She whispers, hoping that her wish will be answered.
Suddenly, there is a knock on her door and she answers, "Yes?"
The door opens and her parents stand there, "Hello, Starlight."
"Hi, Mommy. Hi, Daddy." She smiles a little.
"We, uh, came to tuck you in..." Twilight carries a slice of apple pie with her, "...and bring you dessert, so you dont go hungry." She sets the plate beside her bed on her nightstand, along with a glass of warm milk.
"Thank you, Mommy."
Courageous sits on the bed with his wife and says, "Starlight..."
"Yes, Daddy?" The little filly answers as she eats her pie.
Courageous and Twilight decide to wait until their daughter finishes, then they tell her the surprise that they have finished preparing her for.
"I'm...I'm going to school?!!" Starlight cannot believe what she just heard, and has to ask again, "Y-Y-You really m-m-mean it?"
Twilight smiles and nods, "Yes, my dear. After your father and I talked it over, we decided that it is time you got to attend a real school...and meet some new friends."
"That's right," Courageous agrees then confesses, "We have been keeping you inside the palace too long...and we saw that it was making you unhappy; That is the last thing we would ever want, sweetie. Now, we wish to give you this wonderful opportunity to be with other ponies your age...and learn what friendship is all about."
Starlight is so overcome with joy in her heart, tears pour down her eyes. Her wish has come true...and it was her parents that made it possible. She quickly throws her arms around both of them as best she can, and cries out, "THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I LOVE YOU MOMMY! I LOVE YOU DADDY!!"
The two proud parents of this wonderful little filly hugs her back and they both reply softly together, "We love you too, Starlight."
They remain embracing each other for a while, knowing everything is going to be alright.
After tucking their daughter in, making sure she has her Smarty Pants with her, and kissing her goodnight...Twilight Sparkle and Courageous Heart wish Starlight sweet dreams. They close her door and head to bed.
As Starlight lays in her bed, with her doll keeping her company, her thoughts wander on all that she will encounter on her first day at school tomorrow; Plus, all the friends she could make. It is all so exciting to think about...but for now, sleep is calling her.
She closes her eyes, and dreams sweetly until the morning arrives
TO BE CONTINUED...