Chapter 20: Trouble in the clearing

The sky was dark, the stars twinkled through the thin drifting clouds. The moon hid behind the thick fluffy clouds. The wind was softly blowing through the forest. leaves swayed, rustling themselves together. Stardust laid sounds asleep with Royal Heart laying next to him. Her face was buried in his black fur, her feet tucked under her. Luna laid next to her trying to keep warm.
Starfire laid across from him with Skyview next to Starfire. Starfire twitched his back leg and moved his head a little as he dreamt. He suddenly jerked his foot and rammed it into Stardust's face. Stardust woke up suddenly looking at Starfire angrily. He was just about to grab his foot when he heard a snapping sound from behind him. Stardust turned his head and looked but saw nothing. Then he heard it again, snapping of twigs and light thundering hoof beats as if who ever was there, was running.
"He's been getting pretty close each night," Skyview told him with his head still laying on the ground.
Stardust looked at Skyview, "He was so close I heard him. Did you see him?"
"No but I'm guessing he was at the edge of the forest hiding in the darkness," Skyview answered.
"Who ever it is, is getting braver. I wonder what they want and why is it they haven't shown themselves yet?" Stardust wondered out loud.
"Well, I don't think he'll be back tonight," Skyview yawned.
"Get Starfire to turn over, I don't want another kick in the face," Stardust told him, then he laid his head down and fell asleep.
Skyview stood up and shook Starfire, "Turn over."
Starfire was half asleep he wasn't aware of anything nor did he care why he had to turn over. As soon as he rolled over, he fell fast asleep.

The next morning, they woke up and began walking as Stardust told Royal Heart what happened last night.
"Stardust, what are we going to do?" Royal Heart asked.
"We'll have to be on our guard at all times," Stardust replied.
"So dad, you didn't see who it was?" Luna asked.
"No Luna. I didn't," Stardust answered, he looked at Starfire, "the next time I find your feet in my face I'll tie them together."
"I'm sorry I have no control over my feet when I'm sleeping," Starfire replied.
"It's no wonder you like to sleep, all that moving at night must wear you out," Skyview smiled at him.
Starfire glared at him, "Just keep it up, grouch."
The two glared annoyingly at each other.
"Give it a brake you two, we have more important things to worry about," Stardust told them.
"There's nothing we can do until our follow shows himself," Skyview replied.
Stardust was worried, he knew Skyview was right and he didn't like the thought someone he hadn't seen yet was following them. He glanced at Royal Heart and was more worried about her and the baby. Royal Heart nuzzled him and smiled. She trusted him to keep her safe.

Morning had past and Royal Heart's feet was hurting her.
"I got to stop, Stardust," Royal Heart exclaimed.
"The castle is just ahead, we'll..."
"Stardust my feet are killing me. The castle isn't going anywhere," Royal Heart told him.
"Ok, as soon as we get to that clearing ahead," Stardust replied. He could see the sun shining brightly in the cleaning, not a tree in site. The grass was taller as well.
As soon as they left the forest and walked into the clearing, the sun hit their faces and the armor on the soldiers was almost to blinding to look at.
Royal Heart sat down, feeling relieved to be off her feet, "It's so pretty here."
"It certainly is," Stardust replied smiling.
They sat and rest for sometime till they heard a noise.
"He's coming," Skyview whispered to him.
Stardust stood up, then the soldiers all stood up watching the forest. Skyview and Starfire stood next to Royal Heart and Luna.
As the stranger came closer, they began to see an outline of him. He was as tall as Stardust. Skyview looked at Blizzard who was gasping and taking a few steps back.
"What is it?" Skyview asked him.
"It's..it's..him," Blizzard muttered.
Blizzard knew immediately who it was but the other ponies didn't. It wasn't till the stranger came out of the forest and into the sunlight that they suddenly realized who he was.

Teriney stared calmly at the ponies. Then he looked at Blizzard who hadn't taken his eyes off of him.
Teriney smiled which was the first time Blizzard seen him do that, "I see you haven't forgotten me."
"How...how could I. I'll never forget what you've done!...Never!" Blizzard yelled.
Teriney smile quickly faded, "I'm always going to be one big nightmare to you."
"Why have you been following us?!" Stardust exclaimed angrily.
Teriney looked at the soldiers who drew the swords and stood ready for anything.
"You do have a reason for following," Skyview remarked.
"Of corse I do. I wanted to wait for the right time," Teriney told him, he looked at Royal Heart curiously, "You wouldn't happened to be...pregnant would you?"
Stardust and his brother stood close to her touching her side by side.
Teriney smiled, "I thought so. How interesting."
"Don't you dare touch her!" Stardust exclaimed.
"You maybe the King but you have no rule over me," Teriney told him.
"I'm not telling you as a King, I'm telling you as her husband!" Stardust yelled angrily.
Teriney glared angrily at him.
"What do you want with us?" Skyview asked, "We have nothing you could possibly be interested in."
"You're quite right. You have nothing I desire but..." Teriney looked at Blizzard, "There is something I want from you though."
"Your not getting him!" Luna told him angrily.
Teriney glared at her, "Well, well...Kesia still that spirited little dragon trying to protect someone. It didn't seem to help you last time."
"What...do you mean?" Luna asked him surprisingly.
"Last time if I remember right I fought you and killed you," Teriney answered.
Luna gasped, "You...That was you?"
Teriney smiled, "Yes, my father was the first to be killed. Him and Fallon wanted the Pearl but I didn't. There was something even better. So I waited till you got rid of both of them, then I attacked you and killed you. You were so surprised that it was easy to over take you...but then you were reborn which I had not dreamed would happen."
Luna was still trying to get over the shock that Teriney was the one that killed her on Drakon Island.
"I was very young so you probably don't recognize me now," Teriney added.
The soldiers had no idea what they were talking about.
"What is it you want?!" Stardust asked impatiently, "I'm tired of your guessing games."
"Blizzard's necklace," Teriney flatly answered.
"My...my necklace?" Blizzard asked holding his golden necklace with his hooves.
"Yes, I killed your parents for it only to find out you had it!" Teriney yelled, "Hand it over!"
Blizzard looked at him angrily, "No!...you'll never get a hold of it...never!"
Teriney looked at him angrily, "Feisty like your father. Alright then I'll kill you for it!"
Stardust nodded his head at Banner who suddenly ordered the soldiers to attack.

Soldiers race towards Teriney while the royal family ran towards the forest.
"You can't go yet," Teriney exclaimed.
Fire appeared from his body, swallowing him till not a fur or hair could be seen. The flames grew taller than the trees and then the flames dissolved. There stood a tall red, white and green dragons. Two sharp fangs stuck out from his mouth. The stripes on it's back was white, his feet and plated belly was red. He had to four long sharp alicorn horns with five pointed spikes on his head. Two small spikes on his jew and long fins on his neck. From his shoulder to half way past his tail were spikes. At the end of his tail were four sharp spikes. His large leathery green wings hung at his sides.
Teriney reached with his front claws for Royal Heart who gasped in fear when she saw his claws above her. Teriney was about to grab her when he felt a sharp pain at his foot, he roared and looked at his foot only to find Buster stabbing his foot with a sword. Teriney flung Buster and took out the sword in his foot. Buster rolled on the ground and hit his head on a tree trunk, he laid on the grass unconscious. Luna gasped worriedly at Buster.
Teriney reached for Buster angrily and was about to grab him when Blizzard blew icy dart at him only angering him more.
Luna winked to Buster while Blizzard and the soldiers kept Teriney busy. Stardust was worried for Luna but he couldn't leave Royal Heart either. Before he could decide what to do, Teriney used his tail and threw all the soldiers back including Blizzard.
Teriney noticed Luna and went to grab her but she winked out and ran. Teriney swung his tail at her but she winked out and ran the other direction. Teriney was getting furious, smoke began to seep out of his nose. He swung his tail in all direction till he managed to hit her. She rolled back and just as she was about to get on her feet, Teriney grabbed her and held her in his claws.
"Luna!" Royal Heart cried worriedly.
Stardust felt bad for not leaving to help her.
"Let my daughter go!" Stardust yelled.
Teriney just smiled at Luna, "Well I have Kesia in my clutches again. Should I just kill her again? No I better not, you might be reborn again, I'll have to think of something else for you."
Luna was scared, she tied her best not to shake but the tight hold on her was making it hard for her to shake anyways. Her back feet hung from his grip, her wings was crushed against her sides. He front legs hung over his claws as she tried to wiggle free.
"It's no use, the more you struggle the tighter I hold you," Teriney warned her.
Luna stopped and looked at him angrily. Power began surging through her body to the tip of her horn. Her eyes changed green to a dragon eyes.
Teriney squeezed her, "Don't even think of trying anything with me Kesia."
Her wings pressed tightly against her sides, her shoulders felt as if they were being sat on. She found it hard to take deep breaths. Her eye changed back to purple again
"Stop it!" Stardust yelled seeing his daughter was in pain.
Teriney ignored him and continued to squeeze Luna till she could no longer utter a sound. Her head felt dizzy and her breathing became short breaths. Luna hung her head on his claws.
"Stop!" Blizzard yelled angrily.
Teriney stopped and allowed Luna to take some breaths. He lowered his head towards Blizzard who took a few steps back and fell laying on his back.
"Just how much do you love her?" Teriney asked, "Do you love her enough to give up your necklace?"
Blizzard held his necklace with his hooves and looked at Luna. She was more important to him than his necklace.
Teriney squeezed her again till Luna couldn't utter a sound.
Blizzard stood up, "Stop!...I'll trade then. Let her go and I'll give you my necklace."
"I don't think so boy. Give me the necklace first," Teriney told him, he held his claws to the ground with his palm facing the sky.
"I must have your word that you'll let her go," Blizzard exclaimed.
"As long as she stay out of my way then. Now give me that necklace!"
Blizzard took off his necklace and laid it in Teriney's claws. Teriney held his claws up and took a close look to be sure it was the real thing, then he dropped Luna. Skyview made a cloud appear to catch her and completely cover her for safety.
"Finally...after all these centuries. Now for the others," Teriney spread his leathery wings and flew from the ground turning back into a pony. Blizzard watched as he flew north.

Stardust ran to Luna as Skyview dissolved the cloud covering Luna but still holding her up. As soon as Stardust got to Luna he saw that she was taking quick deep breaths.
"Luna what's wrong?...are you alright?" Stardust asked.
Royal Heart approached her and stroked her mane, "Luna."
I think she's just trying to catch her breath. Teriney squeeze all her air out of her like a balloon," Skyview explained.
The soldiers stood and watched as Luna slowly began to catch her breath making it easier to breath.
Just then a group or soldiers ran out of the forest and into a clearing. They were defiantly not part of Stardust's soldiers. They wore armor but it had a different design on it. One of them wore a red and yellow cape.
Stardust's soldiers took out their swords and faced them.
"King Stardust?" the cyan pony soldier asked. His red and sky-blue hair shined in the sunlight, his coat was just as bright as the armor he wore.
"Yes and who are you?" Stardust asked.
"I am Turner, Captain of King Birming's soldiers. He heard and saw a large creature and sent us to check it out. He's been expecting you," the soldiers paused as he suddenly noticed Skyview's glowing horn and a floating cloud. Turner approached Stardust and gasped when he saw who was laying on it. She had grass stains all over and looked worn out, "Is she alright?"
Stardust looked at her, "I don't know." He carefully picked her up and held her. Luna moaned letting a few tears trickle out of her eyes.
"Luna are you ok?" Stardust asked her
"It hurts," Luna muttered.
"What does?" Royal Heart asked.
"All over," Luna answered.
skyview let the cloud resolve allowing Royal Heart pass through touch Luna's wings. Luna moaned and flinched at the touch of her side and wing.
"She could have broken something," Turner suggested.
"I want a doctor to look at her as soon as possible," Stardust told him.
The soldier nodded, "Of course."
Banner approached Stardust, "Your majesty, We're all ok except for Buster who hasn't woken up yet."
Banner led Stardust by a tree where Buster laid still unconscious.
"May I ask what happened here?" Turner asked.
"A dragon named Teriney showed up and squeezed Luna. He fought my soldiers and apparently knocked out Buster," Stardust explained.
"A dragon?" the soldier asked surprisingly, "But there hasn't been any dragons in a few centuries."
"This Dragon is large, very mean and very dangerous. He's also old and quite smart," Stardust told him. Stardust looked at Buster and saw something red on his head, "Is his head bleeding?"
"It's a scrape from the tree he hit," Banner explained pointing to the red spot on the tree, "He saved Queen Royal Heart which is why Teriney paused. Buster was stabbing his foot to get his attention."
"Wake him," Stardust told him.
"We tried," Banner replied.
Skyview approached Buster, "Throw water on him. That'll wake just about anyone."
Banner took his canteen that hung from his belt and poured it on Buster. Suddenly Buster coughed and held his head in pain.
"Are you alright?" Stardust asked him.
"My head hurts," Buster replied. He looked up at Stardust and saw Luna laying calmly in his arms, "Is the Princess alright?"
"No, she hurts too. I'm going to have a doctor look at you as well," Stardust answered, "Can you stand up?"
"I think so," Buster replied. He slowly stood on his feet, feeling dizzy at first then he was able to balance himself normally.
Stardust smiled, "Thank you for saving Royal Heart and her baby."
Buster smiled and nodded painfully.
"Baby?" Turner asked.
Royal Heart lifted her wings showing a bump on her stomach.
"Oh, well congratulations. I hope your alright," Turner replied smiling.
"Thank you and yes I'm fine thanks to Buster," Royal Heart replied.
"Speaking of saving, where's Blizzard?" Skyview asked.
They looked around and saw Blizzard standing behind them looking sad.
Stardust approached him, "Blizzard, Thank you for saving my daughter. I see that you truly do love her."
"She still got hurt though," Blizzard replied.
"Yes but she's alive and I thank you for that," Stardust turned and faced Turner, "Lets get to the castle as soon as possible."
Turner nodded, "of course. I'll show you the way." Turner began walking, leading them back into the forest towards the castle.