Chapter 139: A Stranger in Pink 

The sun was setting as the forest got darker. The sky slowly turned pink and purple as the stars began to shine brightly. Skyview and Starfire were in the deepest part of the forest with very little light left.
Starfire stood surrounded by three large wooden buckets with handles on each side. Each bucket had what was left of the pink berries. All that was left were a few berries giving the inside a pink tint to them. Skyview was standing at the last bucket. He scooped up the last hoof full of berries and stuck it on Starfire's back leg. He rubbed the berries all over his fur until there wasn't any black fur in sight.
Skyview stood and looked at Starfire smiling. "Now no one will recognize you."
Starfire was pink all over with pink and blue hair. There wasn't a spot of black to be seen except for his wings.
"Ok, what about my wings?" Starfire asked.
"I got that all covered too," Skyview turned and took a large dark blue cloak that sat folded next to a tree. He held it up, "You will wear this and don't ever take it off." Skyview set it down next to the tree, then he turned towards Starfire, "Now flap your wings to dry the pink berries."
"This plan of yours had better work!" Starfire began flapping his wings. Skyview stood feeling the wind Starfire created. He stood by the tree watching as Starfire's coat started drying. Once Starfire felt he was dry he stopped flapping his wings and folded them against his sides.
Skyview walked up to Starfire and felt his fur to be sure he was completely dry.
"Now you need a name," Skyview said.
"Cherry?" Starfire suggested.
"That will do nicely. Now, do you know what to do?" Skyview asked as he walked to the tree and picked up the cloak.
"I find a family and make friends with them. Then I asked them questions about the queen."
"And..?" Skyview asked.
"And about us," Starfire added.
"Oh, I'm a traveler and my name is Cherry."
"Good, now don't forget, you come back here after midnight. Star Cluster thinks we're out scouting Ponyland, so we have to be back at the castle by morning. I will be following you in case there's any trouble," Skyview explained as he threw the cloak over Starfire and making sure his wings were covered.
"Ok, I guess I'll be on my way then," Starfire turned and left while Skyview turned into a cloud and hid in the shadows.

Starfire walked through the forest hoping to find a house or a pony but he saw nothing only more trees. Suddenly he heard a pony yelling. Starfire looked up at a small cliff side and saw a white male pony with red hair slide down the dirt and rocks. He slide to the bottom and rammed into Starfire's right leg. The pony was smaller than Starfire had thought, he was defiantly smaller than the Princess.
"Ribbon!" yelled a voice.
The little pony looked up and stared at Starfire.
"Ribbon!" cried a voice.
Starfire looked up and saw a light peach pegasus pony with red and pink hair. Around her neck was a yellow bag. She jumped off the cliff and flew to the ground in front of Starfire.
"Ribbon!" The pony yelled.
"Sorry, momma," Ribbon replied.
"Your lucky the cliff was small!" the pony exclaimed. She looked up at Starfire who looked all pink to her. "I'm sorry about this."
"It's ok," Starfire smiled. This was perfect timing for him. "I was wondering, what Kingdom is this?"
"You don't know?" The pony asked almost laughing.
"I'm a traveler. I've been traveling from kingdom to kingdom till I got lost in the forest."
"Oh, I see. This is Ponyland and if I might ask, where are you sleeping tonight?"
"In the forest somewhere," replied Starfire.
"Why don't you stay with me and my family for the night?" the pegasus asked.
"I'm Peachberry and that's my son, Ribbon. We don't live far. If we hurry, we might get home before the sun goes completely down."
Peachberry lead them through the forest to a wooden cabin in a small clearing. Peachberry took them inside through the wooden door and into the living room. The floor was wooden with a large green and white square rug laid out on the floor. On the rug were a set of chairs and a couch sitting in front of a fire place. On each side of the fireplace were two doors and on the opposite side of the room were two more doors. Past the living room was the kitchen. It was warm in the house as Starfire stepped inside.
In the livingroom were two male ponies. One was light mint green with purple and white hair and the other was light yellow with green and white hair.
"Everyone, meet Cherry," Peachberry pointed at the pony next to her, "he'll be staying with us till tomorrow. I Hope you don't mind, he's a traveler and I couldn't let him travel at night."
The mint pony smiled, "of course we don't mind."
"Cherry," Peachberry began to say, "This is my husband, Shadow," she pointed at the mint green pony, "and the other is Windfall," she turned and pointed at the yellow pony. "Windfall is my brother in-law, Shadow's younger brother. Please, make yourself at home. You can take your cloak off and hang it up on the coat rack by the door."
"No, I'd rather keep it on, if you don't mind," Starfire quickly said.
They stared at him giving him suspicious looks.
"It's uhhh...all I have with me. It's important to me," Starfire explained.
"Oh, well, that's ok," Shadow kindly said. "Have a seat while my wife gets dinner ready."
Starfire sat down in a chair, relaxing and thinking about Skyview's plan.

Peachberry turned and walked into the kitchen with her bag while the boys sat and talk.
"So Cherry, where are you from?" Windfall asked.
"I'm...from the north, quite far too," Starfire lied.
"So, your wife tells me this is...uh..," Starfire pretend to forget Kingdom's name.
"Ponyland!" Ribbon exclaimed with a smile as he sat on the floor next to Windfall.
"Yes, Ponyland," Starfire replied with a smile.
"Have you ever been in Ponyland before?" Shadow asked.
"No," Starfire lied hoping this was his chance to ask some questions.
"So you don't know about the King and his followers?" Windfall asked.
"King and his...followers?" Starfire asked.
"Wow!" Windfall exclaimed surprisingly, "You must have lived far far away from Ponyland for you not to know."
"Everyone knows King Star Cluster," Ribbon suddenly said.
"Ribbon!" Shadow yelled.
Ribbon lowered his head, "Sorry Daddy."
"Go help your mother in the kitchen," Shadow ordered him.
Ribbon stood up and left, walking into the kitchen.
"I'm sorry. Ribbon is a bit excited to have a visitor here," Shadow explained.
Starfire smiled at him.
"Well, Ribbon is right. King Star Cluster rules Ponyland but he's not the original ruler," Windfall continued.
"He isn't?" Starfire asked, pretending to be surprised.
"No. There was a big battle 13 years ago. King Star Cluster took over Ponyland," Windfall explained.
"Queen Royal Heart used to rule Ponyland but ever since the battle, no one has seen or heard from her. There are rumors going around about her but don't believe them unless you hear it from the source," Shadow added.
"Queen Royal Heart?" Starfire asked, it was just the one subject he wanted to talk about, "What is she like?"
"She's a Pegasus and a kind ruler. She cared for the all ponies in her land," Windfall answered.
"A friend of mine told me he's seen her fly out at night. He says she flies a lot at night and seems to enjoy it. He was going to invite me over for the night to watch her but that was before the big battle," Shadow said looking down sadly at the floor.
"So you never got a chance to see her?" Starfire asked.
"No. I'm hoping the Kingdom will return the way it was and the Queen will rule once more so I can see her fly," Shadow answered.
"So what was the King like?" Starfire asked.
"King? You mean King Star Cluster?" Windfall asked.
"No, I mean Queen Royal Heart's husband."
"Oh," the two exclaimed.
"She never had a husband," Shadow answered.
"There never was a King of Ponyland," Windfall added.
"There has to be a King. She had to have been married in order for her to be Queen," Starfire pointed out.
The two sat with confused looks on their faces. Did they not know she had to be married to be Queen?
"I...I," Shadow stuttered, "I never thought of that."
They sat quietly thinking about what Starfire had just told them.
"So how did she become Queen if there was no King of Ponyland?" Starfire asked, he could tell the looks on their faces that they didn't know.
"I'm sorry, Cherry. Your asking very good questions. Questions which no one thought of," Shadow finally answered.
"Oh," Starfire figured it wouldn't do any good to keep asking questions about the Queen since they don't seem to know much about her.

Peachberry walked in the living room, "Dinner is ready!"
Starfire looked out the window and realized it was dark outside. It seemed like he was there talking for ten minutes when a few hours had gone by. Shadow and Windfall stood up. They walked to the kitchen with Starfire behind them. The kitchen was big with a counter all around the walls. On the other end of the kitchen was a long wooden table with six chairs. Starfire sat on the end next to Windfall. Across from Starfire was Ribbon sitting next to his mother and then Shadow.
On the table sat bowels full of all kinds of vegetables, fruit and bread. Starfire and others filled their plates with food and began eating.
"So who are the followers of the King?" Starfire asked.
"They're the black ponies," Shadow answered.
"Black ponies?" Starfire asked.
"They're quite something to see," Peachberry replied.
"They're triplets and all three of them are pure black, except for a bit of blue in their hair. There's never been black ponies till now. They are the first anyone has seen," Shadow explained.
"One is an earth pony, and second is a unicorn and the third is a pegasus. They're all boys which is quite amazing," Windfall added.
"Boys?" Starfire asked, trying to sound dumb.
"Yes, boys. Like I said, it's amazing. No one has ever seen a boy unicorn or a boy pegasus," Windfall replied.
"Their brother, the earth pony isn't as normal as he may look. They say he's fast, really fast and now there's rumors about him being super strong too," Shadow added.
"Their names are Stardust, Skyview and Starfire," Windfall added.
Starfire felt strange to hear his name from a pony he didn't know.
"They're cool!" Ribbon said excitedly.
Starfire couldn't help but smile.
"Well, I wouldn't call them cool," Shadow quickly said to Starfire, "They are indeed something to see but everyone is afraid when they're around."
"Why?" Starfire asked.
"Because of King Star Cluster. He's caught many ponies and other creatures. Most of the ponies around here are afraid to upset the black ponies, fearing they'll be next. Once their prisoners enter Dream Castle they never come out," Shadow explained.
"It's to bad they're on King Star Cluster's side," Windfall commented.
"That's reminds me," Peachberry exclaimed excitedly, "While I was in town today, I stopped by the postal box and I received a letter from my sister. Shadow, you remember her, don't you?"
"Yes, she lives near Mooney Mountain."
"Well, she was in town one day and saw the black ponies arguing over a little pony."
"A little pony?" Shadow and Windfall asked.
"Apparently she was with Stardust. My sister said she never seen a pony so scared. The black ponies argued over her and the next thing my sister knew, Stardust hit his two brothers."
Starfire didn't want to be reminded of that time. He could still feel the kick Stardust gave him. It was not as painful now as it was then.
"Stardust and the little pony ran off up to Moonlight Castle. My sister heard Stardust joined Banner."
"Are you serious?" Windfall asked.
"He really did that?" Shadow asked.
"Yes, my sister was there watching the whole thing," Peachberry answered.
"So Stardust is no longer working for King Star Cluster?" Windfall asked.
"Who was the little pony?" Shadow asked.
That was the one question Starfire and Skyview wanted to know but never found out.
"She doesn't know. No one knows. Oh, she also said the Princess is living at Moonlight castle."
"Who?" Starfire asked.
"Oh, we forgot to tell you," Shadow replied, "Queen Royal Heart had a baby girl or so the rumor says. No one believed it until a few claimed to have seen her."
"A lot of ponies says she a white flying unicorn," Windfall added.
"A flying unicorn?" Starfire asked hoping to learn more from them.
"I've never seen her though," Shadow replied.
"What's she like?" Starfire asked.
"We don't know. No one does," Shadow replied.
"She's older than me," Ribbon replied.
"That is obvious, Ribbon," Peachberry remarked.
Once they finish eating dinner, they helped put the plates away and walked into the living room.
"Well, it's getting late. We're going to bed. Cherry, if you don't mind you can stay out here on the couch," Shadow proposed.
"I don't mind at all," Starfire smiled. It would make it easier to sneak out.
"Well, goodnight," Shadow said yawning.
Peachberry walked Ribbon to bed on the opposite side of the room then she turned and followed Shadow to her room next to the fire place.
Starfire climbed on the couch and laid down thinking about what they had told him as he waited for them to fall asleep.

It was after midnight and Starfire had fallen asleep on the couch. Ribbon snuck out of his room and quietly walked to the kitchen. Skyview stood outside waiting for Starfire and was getting impatient.
"I bet he fell asleep," Skyview muttered.
Skyview walked towards the house and peeked in through the window. He would have missed Starfire if it weren't for his moving around on the couch.
"That has to be him," Skyview thought.
Skyview's horn lit up and suddenly, a gray cloud appeared in from of Starfire, it shook Starfire awake.
Starfire woke up and saw a cloud in front if him. Suddenly it disappeared. Starfire sat up and yawned. He stood up and was about to take a step when he heard a noise coming from the kitchen.
Starfire turned and walked into the kitchen, he saw Ribbon on a stool trying to reach a cup in the cupboards.
"Ribbon?" Starfire asked.
Ribbon turned and saw Starfire standing there, "Cherry."
"What are you doing?" Starfire asked.
"Trying to get a cup of water but I can't reach the cups."
Starfire walked over to him and stood on his hind legs. As he reached up to grab a cup from the cupboard. Ribbon caught a peek of a black feather from under his cloak. Ribbon was curious as to what it could be.
"Got it," Starfire replied.
Ribbon looked up at him and smiled.
Starfire poured water into the cup from the faucet and then gave the cup to Ribbon who wasted no time drinking it. When Ribbon was done Starfire set the cup on the counter and then left the kitchen.
Ribbon followed him out of the kitchen.
"Where are you going?" Ribbon asked noticing Starfire heading to the door.
"I'm leaving," Starfire replied.
"But it's in the middle of the night," Ribbon whispered.
"I have to go, now please go on to bed."
Ribbon turned towards his door and then he stopped, "Cherry?" Ribbon turned and faced him. "May I ask you something?"
"Sure," Starfire answered as he held the door open.
"What's under your cloak?"
Starfire smiled, "That is for me to know, and I'm afraid you'll never know. Now I must go. Goodnight Ribbon."
Starfire didn't leave till he was sure Ribbon was heading to bed.
Starfire shut the door and left the house. Ribbon stopped and turned, he quickly went to the window and peeked in the corner of the curtains. He watched at Starfire walked from the house but gasped when he saw Skyview appear from a cloud.

"Well?" Skyview asked.
"They're as clueless as we are. They don't know much about us or Queen Royal Heart but there are a few things you might find interesting," Starfire replied.
Ribbon stared surprisingly at Skyview. He was even more surprised at what happened next. Starfire unfolded his black wings and flapped a few time, "Ah, that feels better."
"You weren't suppose to fall asleep."
"I got tired waiting for them to fall asleep. What can I say?" Starfire asked, " When you're tired, you go to sleep. Lets hurry and get this pink stuff off of me."
Skyview smiled, "I know just how to do it too."

Ribbon stared at Starfire. Was he Starfire? If so how did he turn himself pink? He stood and continued watching till Starfire and Skyview were no longer in sight.