On a cold, windy day in autumn, two mares faced off with sword in hoof, battling for dominance.
The seas around them tossed and turned about in graceful display, perfectly framing the two ships that crossed its waters. On this day, the crew of these two ships clashed violently with one another over the Griffin Kingdom's stolen wages, wages that would be necessary to continue to fund the current government.
One of those two figures: a young heroine named Julienne Fry stood on the losing end of the battle as she fought for the Griffin Kingdom, with both ships crews shouting, cheering, and jeering wildly. Yet, determination remained in Julianne's eyes. She pushed forward, managing to cause the pirate captain to lose her balance and flail towards the side of the vessel, teetering on its edge,"Surrender the griffin's gold! Tis rightfully ours!"
"Surrender? Me," the proud pirate captain replied, landing on her butt, just centimeters from falling off. Starlight landed with an "Oof" as she felt the edge beneath her hit her butt hard. That was going to leave a bruise!
Julienne Fry pointed her sword at the proud captain with a grin," Give up, Starlight! Ye be runnin out of both ship and time and I be running out of patience!"
Starlight smiled, looking to her own crew, got on her side, and rolled along the wall, hopping back to her feet with a determination and fire all her own," A cap'n ne'er surrenders! I'm the queen o the sea and yer on et! Ye be tresspassin here, lass!" Her crew laughed joyfully as she did, bringing her schimitar up once more to point it at the supposed hero. "Now, I believe ye best be walkin, miss..."
Julienne's grin quickly turned into a frown as the gave the pirate captain a deathly stare, angry with her now. Holding ready her weapon, she attacked, bringing her sword to meet the captain's once more. This time it was without mercy.
The captain blocked, just in the nick of time, but then her enemy swung around, kicking her legs out from under her and knocking her off her feet and the ship! With this, the captain's enemies gave a joyful cheer, but the fight wasn't over just yet! The captain didn't lock up in fear of the waters below. She quickly grabbed the side of the ship, catching herself before the fall. She brought herself around and heaved her weight, swinging it back and forth until she brought herself around and upwards, back on the wall.
Her enemies were already celebrating, trying to force her crew to surrender when the captain charged towards Miss Fry, poised to strike her from behind.
"LUMINA STARLIGHT, YOU GET OFF THE TOP OF THE MONKEY BARS THIS INSTANT," shouted an angry mare, hurrying towards them. This was Ponyville's School teacher, Miss Fine Line and she was FURIOUS. So many times, she had warned the children not to play on top of the equipment and Starlight made light of the very real danger, drawing other fillies and colts into exciting illusions of her design. Oh and the parents? THE PARENTS were always furious to find out how their children had been playing along. PTA was a nightmare. The school teacher was usually inside, taking a break as she occasionally took a look to make sure the children weren't up too anything to extreme. Lo and behold, Starlight was usually at the helm of such troubles and would send her running to stop the fillies and colts before anyone could get hurt.
Instantly, the illusion of ships and the high seas shattered, revealing some very shocked and disappointed children. "Thanks a lot, Starlight! You got us in trouble again," some of them would say, throwing angry glares at her as they climbed off the monkey bars and walked back to the school house with the teacher and the rest of the class. A sad Starlight humbly obeyed and climbed down to join them when she overheard some of the fillies in the distance talking," Momma says she's a bad influence... that her parents are never there..." "That makes her an orphan, right? How sad..." "No. Her parents are still alive. I've seen them, they're just... never around. She says they're always working." "I just think they're bad parents." "Who just leaves their filly?" "Maybe somepony who doesn't want them..."
Maybe somepony who doesn't want them... Lumi's ears lowered and her heart dropped. She instantly stopped, letting the words play around in her delicate mind. Doesn't want them... Doesn't want them... No. It wasn't true. Starlight knew her parents loved her, but the fillies parents, the teacher, the children... eventually most of them would end up saying the same thing. Some even went so far as to call Starlight feral and wild. She stepped back and lowered her head, quietly, letting the others go inside.
"Starlight," the teacher shouted, ready at the door," It's time to come inside." The last student besides herself had just gone in and she was ready to close the door and start class once more.
The little filly flinched, not really wanting to go back inside where the fillies who talked so cruelly about her were, but obeyed, and slowly... with her head lowered, walked inside. The rest of the school day, Starlight's mind was on that discussion. She couldn't concentrate, so she kept her gaze forward, towards the chalkboard, so it would at least look like she was paying attention.
As the bell rang, the young filly left her seat. She started to head home, but that feeling stopped her. Bad parents... Maybe somepony doesn't want them... Those words really hurt her. She headed back towards the playground instead of home, but a group of parents waited by the school yard, speaking with miss Fine Line. They looked... angry. They were probably saying the same things they said every time, things the young filly didn't want to hear right now. She just wanted... to crawl in a hole... To hide... to run away...
In fact, she started to! Her pace quickened from a walk to a canter, to a full-on run. She could feel the student parents angry glares follow her and just as she hit top speed, she could feel the pressure of another filly as she collided with them, both falling backwards. Starlight rubbed her head, which, right now was spinning and slowly opened her eyes," Oww... Uh... Sorry. Are you o-" "Shut up," the other filly said, crying. This voice was familiar. Wait.
"Juli," Lumi replied, recognizing Julienne's lisp and squeaky voice.
Julienne turned her gaze and ran," I'm not allowed to play with you any more. Go away..."
Starlight froze once more, her spirit feeling like it could break. Julienne Fry, a filly she considered her best friend in the whole of Equestria was saying these things. She let that sink in as Fry ran away and began to shiver against the cold autumn breeze. In truth, however, the true reason Starlight shivered was because, for once, she felt truly alone. And where were her parents to comfort her? Right. They were away, working, leaving her with a friend. Juli had been that friend. That meant there was nowhere to go. Surely Juli's parents would want her gone. Bad parents... Now the Fry family would be saying it too. Starlight had to get away. She couldn't stand the pressure any more, so she took up running again, pushing herself just as fast as she could go.
There was no stopping to say goodbye or gather things. There was just escape now. Escaping... Running. Starlight ran until she couldn't anymore... Until she was too tired to keep moving on. There, where she tuckered out, she cried, letting her voice fill her surroundings without realizing where she was at first," THEY'RE NOT BAD PARENTS!!! THEY'RE NOT... They're just busy... They work so hard... I can't even see them every day. IT'S NOT FAIR..." She whimpered, off her feet now and sprawled out, burying her face in her arms. Her voice echoed.
The air here was colder and after what felt like hours of crying and sleeping, the young filly awoke to find she was in a forest of sorts. It was amazing! Had she truly come this far? She must have gone really fast! She looked around, curiously. Sure enough, she was in the forest. Hold on! The Everfree Forest? That really dangerous place everyone was always warning about, where adults told fillies and colts never to go and where dangerous creatures surely lurked, ready to attack unsuspecting visitors?! YIKES!
Starlight suddenly became scared and ran around, looking frantically for a way out. After several hours none was to be found. It was dark now and the forest was growing ever colder. "H-hello," she shouted, shivering as she wandered through the trees," Is anyone there?"
No answer was received and Starlight began to REALLY worry. "If no one finds me...," she murmured," I'll be lost forever. I could d-"
Maybe somepony doesn't want them... That thought came back with the murmur and with it the pain from just hours ago. It was so dark outside now, it was hard to see.
"Right...," Starlight whispered under her breath," Those others didn't want me... Maybe I'm better off..." Tears found their way back to the young filly's eyes are she continued through the dark. She looked around once more. No luck. The light of the moon was shifting as clouds slowly drifted overhead, causing the ground to grow blindingly dark. That was when Lumina heard a series of bellowing howls. TIMBERWOLVES! Starlight knew she had to get out of there, but she wasn't quite sure how. No one was here to protect her. No one was here to save her.
She was going to die alone and that thought frightened her. "I'm alone... Right..." She hurried, but slipped in a mad patch, and found herself tumbling down a hill. She only stopped when she felt the impact of hitting a stone rockface. A cliff rose above her. The light remaining began to shrink. Starlight remembered she never liked being alone for too long. She couldn't stand an empty house and would almost always go outside and play when she was home.
Right about now, she missed it: the company of a friend, the warm and loving embrace of her mom and dad. She wondered what they'd think of her, being so reckless as this. She missed her mom and her dad and began to curl up as darkness surrounded her. She felt like the darkness would swallow her up and let out a whimper when...
"What was that...," a feint voice asked, sounding not too far away.
Hearing this snapped Lumina out of her panic. Her ears perked up as she brought magic to her horn, using the dim light to lead her way as she followed the voice. More voices joined in. A very soft voice that almost sounded like a lullaby spoke up and replied to the first," Maybe a Timberwolf puppy... Didn't our moms say not to come out here?"
The clearer, more authoritative voice of a colt rang out in defiance," Don't look at me! It was Workhorse's idea to come out here and another thing... Why is it called EverFree if the place is so easy to get lost in? Shouldn't they call it Ever Lost?"
A final, third voice joined them, this time female," Hey! I dared you. I'm just as surprised you two took the bait and insisted I come along..."
"He does have a point about the forest, though," the soft voice added.
Starlight was so close, she could see them. She stopped her magic and dove into a bush, which the three heard rustle to the side.
The trio turned to their side, spotting it and held their flashlights up.
"What was that," the shocked, authoritative foal asked, stepping forward to see. A pair of cyan and purple eyes caught the light of his flashlight and before he could run. He dropped it. The dark figure leap from the bush, pouncing on him as the three let out a frightened scream!
Starlight's heart raced in excitement. She recognized these three as classmates and, at this point, was just happy to be with other ponies," OH MY GOSH! SWEET CELESTIA! OTHER PONIES!" She cried out in joy, not even stopping to think how awkward this moment was.
When the pegasus with the soft voice shined his light on the pair, he recognized Starlight," Relax. It's just a filly. Starlight, what are you doing out here?"
His voice was so soft, Starlight was just surprised she could hear it. This was Skittle.
The one currently beneath her, staring up in surprise was Joe. The filly behind Skittle was Work Horse. She had seen them together in class before and heard their voices, but they were usually off playing somewhere else, together. She didn't see them all the time.
Joe tilted his head, looking up," Wait. Aren't you that filly Miss Fine Line is always yelling at?"
Starlight got off the foal and back on her feet, rubbing her head in embarrassment," Hehe... Yeah. Sorry. I got lost..."
Joe raised his front hooves and shouted to Work Horse and Skittle," I SAID! I SAID THEY SHOULD CALL IT THE EVER LOST!"
Lumi started to giggle, but her a very clear growling behind her. Her eyes went wide and she could feel a magical breath on her neck as she tensed up. A towering shadow stretched beneath her and caused her to very carefully look up. Staring her right in the face was a monstrous wooden beast!
While Skittle and Work Horse recoiled in fear, Joe got back on his hooves and yanked Starlight along right as the creature's head came down to snatch her up in his jaws. It was a dangerously close call for her. She was certainly thankful not to be alone. That was scary!
Behind them, the four could hear heavy breathing and loud barks. The timberwolves were so close as they continued to run! A fall would mean certain death!
The children ran in a panic, screaming as they tried their best to keep away. Two of them had the timberwolves close on their heels. It was amazing how fast Skittle could fly in a panic. Work Horse was outrunning Joe, but stumbled on a tree root and cried out. Joe and Starlight quickly turned around, scrambling to pull her to her feet when they heard a loud whistle from up above.
Skittle was headed back and behind him, his mother flew with a sword in her hooves. She sped past Skittle, making swift work of the magical beasts that dare attack her child and his friends.
The Timberwolves began to break apart in the clash and once Skittle's mother was sure they would not recover quickly, she turned back to the four," Heavens, children! Why in Celestia's name are you here?!"
None of them could answer. The four panted, slowly catching their breath, but Starlight could not take her eyes off of the mare that rescued them. She was AMAZING!
After a rest, the mare knight began to lead the children back to town and safety.
Starlight was smiling and leaned over in curiosity to the white colt," WHO is that, Skittle?"
Skittle landed beside her and looked ahead," Oh. That's my mum..."
Starlight paused a moment, then jumped up in excitement, grabbing Skittle's shoulders," THAT'S YOUR MOM?!"
Skittle blinked in surprise and nodded," Uhuh..."
Skittle's mom was officially a badass! This blew Lumi's mind.
Starlight spun him around a couple of times, then let him go, shouting with glee," THAT. IS. SO. COOL!!!"
Skittle rubbed the back of his head as he flew back up, keeping near the others. Cool. Right... "Thanks, I guess..." Looking forward, towards his mum, the colt felt quite proud and perked up his poise with a grin, letting out a small, random hum: a tune of his own making.