Stella watched the night sky from the rocky cliff, only a few miles from the kingdom. The moon was full, and its light reflected on the water behind hazy clouds surrounded by stars.
"Why are you here, your highness?"
Stella turned and saw a great big lion, wearing a collar with the kingdom's colors on it walking toward her.
"Leo!" she smiled. The lion had always been her best friend and guardian, since she could remember.
He walked up to her, and she stroked his mane.
"You know the king and queen don't want you out here at night." Leo said, staring right at her.
Stella laughed and stared back at his crystal blue eyes.
"They know I won't go far." She said, scratching under the lion's chin. "Besides, Luna knows where I am."
"It was Luna who told me where you were." the lion said sternly. "You know that you must be careful." Stella could see the entire kingdom. The starlit stream, and the Yue forest.
She sighed. "It's only for a little while." She stared at the sky and turned away from him.
"Look at the stars Leo." Stella said. Leo stood behind her and she reached up to scratch his chin again.
"Each star is far away, but we can admire them from here, just outside the palace."
As she said this, the night sparks came out, one by one, and danced through the sky, mimicking the stars.
"The stars guide us" Leo said, and Stella could hear the smile in his voice. "As long as we protect the Lunar Kingdom, The Stellar Alliance will remain a peaceful cluster of stars and moons."
"But our visitors today. . . " Stella said. She remembered the cold eyes and strange customs of the Dark Lunar guests. Although they announced that they wanted to join the Alliance, Stella didn't like the look in their eyes. The gaunt looking king and queen and their servants didn't comfort Stella as her sister Luna, prepared to run the kingdom on her own.
"Leo," Stella said, "Do you believe my sister will make a great queen?"
"Of course." Leo answered without hesitation.
"We'll have to protect her if something happens." Stella said, her thoughts drifting to the dinner party earlier that evening, and the warning bells ringing in her head.
"I will always be there for your sister," Leo said, "and I'll always protect you Stella."
Stella smiled and watched the night sparks follow the river through the Yue forest.
"Thanks Leo." she whispered, "I'll protect you too."