Legend tells of a ginormous and mysterious cloud in the sky. It was so high up that many winged creatures who tried to even touch the cloud fainted from having little air. For the few who succeeded in getting near the cloud, they found that the airy mass had an invisible barrier around it. Why was this so? What could the cloud be protecting? For that matter, what was even in the cloud to begin with?
Ever since its appearance centuries ago, many children disappeared and reappeared in unexplained ways. That is, unexplained in the eyes of mares and stallions. The children who were found in places both familiar and new told stories of a vast and strange world. Some children even said that this world was on a cloud! With stories of this "cloud land" circulating amongst towns far from each other, the adults knew that this was more than mere fantasy.
One mare named Crystal Skies had been to the cloud land as a child. She decided to make it her lifelong mission to track down the cloud and study everything about it. She drew everything she remembered about being in the strange world, which she then named Paraddock. Part of the name was taken from the word "paddock"; as for "para", it's widely debated whether it's from the word "paradise" or the word "paradox". Perhaps it's both. After all, Paraddock was said to be a world filled with beauty and strangeness.
Anyway, Crystal tried to find Paraddock for many months, but when she was about to give up, she had an unbelievable stroke of luck. When she stayed at an inn one night, the moonlight suddenly disappeared. She peered out the window and saw a giant cloud covering the moon. She knew that the Pegasi had not scheduled a cloudy night, so her heart leapt when she realized that she found Paraddock again after all those years! She was then astonished to find that while most of the townsponies slept, the cloud shot out blue rays of light into windows. Children then floated out of the windows and up the beams, transfixed on what was pulling them up. Crystal then remembered that there was a bright light beckoning her before she woke up in a field dotted with flowers both beautiful and odd.
After the encounter she had in the village, she continued her research until she could no longer travel. During her travels, she found that Paraddock would usually appear at night and vanish without a trace the next morning. As for the numerous children who were taken up to Paraddock, most of those children were brought back to their parents while others were taken to safer places. As for why children were being taken up to the cloud, Crystal Skies surmised that it was because their lives were in danger, whether at home or not. She remembered the time her family was under threat and Paraddock's beams brought her to safety until the danger had passed.
She also learned of stories about places in Paraddock she had never seen during her short time there as a child. One story in particular intrigued her for the rest of her days. The colt who told her the story said that he dared to venture perilous forests and bizarre jungles to reach the castle of Paraddock's creator, rumored to be vile if disturbed. The young pony had dared to step a few feet inside the castle before he saw a very tall and very long shadow. This frightened the poor colt enough to run from the castle and never look back. When Crystal heard his story, however, she became interested about what the creature was like. She knew she would never be able to find out because she couldn't return to Paraddock. Even though she was eternally grateful for all she learned about the famous cloud land…
"…she regretted not meeting its creator when she had the chance as a filly," Sunburst finished, closing the Legends of Magic book Star Swirl the Bearded had written when the great wizard was around. He turned to his 8-year-old daughter - who was all snuggled up in her bed - and asked, "Well, would you say that was a good story?"
Nova Rose sat up and smiled, "Definitely! I would love to go to Paraddock someday!"
Sunburst chuckled, "I just hope that it'll be when you're not in danger."
"Oh, Daddy. You know the Crystal Heart protects the Empire from bad stuff and so do Flurry's mommy and daddy."
Sunburst asked in a mock whiny voice, "Hey! What about your mommy and daddy? We work very hard to protect the Empire, too!"
When he tickled her, Nova heartily laughed until she said, "Okay, okay! You win! You and Mommy protect the Empire, too."
He explained in his normal voice, "You know, it's not easy being the royal wizard. I mean, I got the know-how, but your mom's got the magic. Together, we're a powerful team."
"Is it because Mommy is related to Star Swirl the Bearded?"
"Powerful magic does run in the family. I think you have it, too."
Nova asked hopefully, "Does that mean I'm stronger than Blaze?"
"Well, Blaze has got pretty powerful magic, too. His mother and grandmother are very gifted, not to mention his aunt Twilight Sparkle."
She retorted, "Star Swirl was gifted, too!" She then sighed, "I wish he was still here so I could meet him."
Sunburst said as he tucked his daughter in, "I know, but that's the way things are. If you ask me, being a relative to Star Swirl is really lucky." He then kissed her and said, "Goodnight, Rosie."
After Sunburst left the guest bedroom, Blaze stepped in and teased, "If you ask me, being a relative to Star Swirl is not enough when it comes to magical prowess."
Nova grumbled, "Leave me alone, Blaze." She really wished that he hadn't come to the Empire on the day Flurry Heart and Nova were having a sleepover at the palace.
Blaze slyly smiled, "Come on. You know you love me…"
Nova sat up and grimaced, "Ew! No! You may be a prince, but you're the meanest colt I've ever met in my life!"
Blaze seemed to be undaunted by that remark and simply shrugged, "Oh, well. Guess I'll have to take your book, then."
As he inched closer to the bed, Nova warned, "No…No…No…If you touch that…"
He smirked, "I'm not touching it." Suddenly, the book began to float in a green aura and he raced out shouting, "Try to catch me if you can!"
Nova gawked before she jumped out of bed. She shouted as she raced out of the room, "Prince Blaze Lupinus Spruce, you better give that back right now!"
Author's Note: CartoonNerd12 was a huge help in creating the prologue and the beginning of the next chapter. When I asked for her suggestion, she told me to take a storybook-like approach akin to the beginning of the show. The comic series Legends of Magic was also a big help for the prologue.
CN12 also came up with the name "Crystal Skies". I'm really happy with it.