This dream was very chunky so I have split it into two postings. Luna's visit to Sweet Apple Acres had left the princess with a torrent of mixed emotions. With a brilliant flash she materialized in one the main libraries in the palace at Canterlot. She had intended to begin researching a solution to Applebloom's condition immediately, but quickly she realized that she was so emotionally worked up over what she had discovered that time spent in library now would not yield useful results. She needed to talk to some pony. A specific pony.
When Luna had returned from her banishment to the moon it had taken a while for mane and tail to regain their original splendor and luster. The whole ordeal with Nightmare Moon had greatly weakened her magic potential. However in a relatively short time it once again started to exhibit it's signature beauty and magic. One aspect of it's magical nature was that if one looked intently at Luna's mane and tail not only did it sparkle with stars but one could see constellations, nebulas, auroras and even shooting stars dance across the surfaces. Legend said depending upon Luna's mood one would see different things reflect in it. Palace staff and courtiers had heard these rumors and legends to and had been spending the last year or so trying to decipher this code.
However tonight their was no doubt in palace staff's mind to what mood Luna was in. Meteor showers cascaded through her mane and tail stars and comets plunged through it with reckless abandon . As she trotted through the corridors of the palace servants, courtiers and Royal Guard members hastily cleared a path for the black maelstrom that stalked the halls that night. Nobody knew what had her so angry and now didn't seem like the time to ask her.
Have enjoyed her dinner and having no social obligations tonight, Celestia had retired to her quarters for the evening and planned to spend it reading a book that caught her fancy awhile ago. She'd been looking forward to reading it for some time now but matters of the State had constantly conspired to deny her the time, but tonight things were quiet tonight in the palace. After dining she had requested that tea and a light dessert be sent to her room. Having jettisoned the trappings of her office, Celestia was now relaxing on a large lavender divan letting the stresses of day fall from her. The recently delivered tea and biscuits were definitely helping set the mood.
Celestia had only just started reading the forward in the book when gradually she became aware of an growing sound making its way through the palace. Like a distant approaching freight train it slowly grew in volume. At first Celestia could not identify specific speakers or words but as its grew the Princess of the Sun began to place names with voices. The main voice, and the loudest, was her sister. The other voices seemed to be several courtiers, and guard ponies who were trying to speak with Luna. Eventually Celestia was able to make out fragments of the conversation. Although Luna's use of the Royal Canterlot Voice had made her part of dialogue much easier to pick up. As this little bit of drama approached her doors she could now clearly understand what was being said.
Some pony. "Um, good evening Princess Luna. Can I be of any assistance?"
Luna. "YOU ARE NOT MY SISTER, SO NO, YOU CAN BE OF NO ASSISTANCE TO ME AT THIS TIME!"
Another pony. "Princess Celestia has retired to her quarter for the evening and did...."
Luna cutting off the other pony in mid-sentence. "GOOD THEN I AM GOING TO THE RIGHT PLACE!"
First pony's voice. "Well, ah let me go ahead and inform her that you are coming."
Luna. "UNLESS MY SISTER IS DEAD I AM CERTAIN SHE KNOWS BY NOW THAT I AM COMING TO HER ROOM!"
Second and now very frazzled pony. "At least let me open the door and…."
Luna. "I KNOW HOW THE DOORS IN THE PALACE WORK!"
Celestia felt a powerful magical force grab the double doors and fling them open.
"Good thing I had not locked them yet." Thought the Princess of the Sun.
Standing in the doorway with her eyes a glow was her little sister. Behind her was a cluster of flustered, terrified, and confused servants and courtiers. The two Royal Guard ponies stationed on either side of the door had apparently decided that pretending to be statues was probably their best chance of surviving the next ten seconds and had remained motionless on either side of the door through all of this.
Celestia gave her sister a quick look and then spoke to the other ponies in the hall. "It is all right. Everypony please leave and give us our privacy." Celestia thought for a second. "Guards please take up positions at the end of hallway now. Please" Without saying a word or making eye contact with Celestia the two unicorn stallion in plate armor nodded their heads and followed the rest of the staff down the hall.
Luna stomped into Celestia's quarters while her older sister magically closed the doors again with much less force than they had been opened. Luna having entered the room was now silently stomping around Celestia's quarters. Celestia let her patrol around for a few a seconds before addressing her.
"Can I assume that Applebloom's situation is worse than we expected?"
"YES!" Exploded Luna still in the Royal Canterlot voice. " IT TIS A GOOD THING THAT APPLEJACK HAD ALREADY DEALT WITH THAT FIEND BEFORE WE ARRIVED, FOR HAD I MET IT FACE TO FACE I FEAR I WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO CONTAIN MY RAGE AND DISGUST! I HAVE MIGHT DONE SOMETHING I WOULD'VE LATER REGRETTED!" Several star in Luna's mane and burst into brilliance like flash bulbs as tiny supernovas sporadically appeared in her mane and tail.
"So you've discovered the reason for this most recent and graphic of nightmares?" Asked her older sister.
"YES!" Boomed Luna in a voice that made the windows rattle. "WHAT THAT FOUL BEING DID TO THAT POOR LITTLE FILLY DEFIES BELIEF!"
Celestia sighed, and gave Luna a worldly stare. "Luna I'm standing not more than ten hoofs away. Yelling like this is unnecessary and counterproductive. Please try to remember you are princess and start acting like one."
Luna spun around as if to yell at her older sister but then stopped. Slowly like a balloon deflating she settled down on one of the large throw rugs that were scattered over the floor. Her features softened and after a moment she spoke in her normal voice.
"You're right Celly, this is no way for me to act. I just, feel so frustrated and offended by what I have discovered. Even when I was." Luna paused and then continued. "Even when I was possessed by "It" I never dreamed or did anything as terrible as what has been inflicted on Applebloom. To think that one of littlest of our subjects has been subjected to such deliberate torture makes me feel as if, as if, as if."
"As if we have let her down. As if we failed to defend those we've sworn to protect?" Said Celestia finishing Luna's sentence. Luna nodded her head and continued .
"If we had not let ourselves be distracted by things in the North. If we had returned sooner. Then…"
" Then hundreds if not thousands of ponies would've perished." Celestia rose from her divan and slowly walked over to her sister. "If we had not stayed with our forces then the situation would be far worst. The dragons might've pushed down as far as Trottingham before the lines could be reestablished. Whole villages, hamlets and towns would've been incinerated. " Celestia looked down at Luna and slowly shook her head. "Remember we discussed this when Twilight's letters started to take on such an ominous tone, but we decided that the lives of many thousands outweighed one. We were dealt a poor selection of cards and have played them as best as we could."
Celestia slowly strolled away from Luna and went over to the windows. Staring out over the palace and past the glow of Canterlot's streets and houses she could make out in the distance the tiny twinkling lights that came from the homes and farms of Ponyville. She could almost make where Sweet Apple Acres should be. There a family was still living through a slowly unfolding nightmare. She turned around looked at her younger sister.
"How bad is it really Luna. "
Over the next hour Luna gave Celestia a report on her initial venture into Applebloom's dream fabric and what she'd found planted there.
"They're planted methodically across her dream fabric Celly. What is worse is they look like they'll regenerate again and again unless I can find a way to extract them, but I'm afraid that some are so big and powerful that I will not be able to protect her from their effect."
"What will happen if you can't shield her from them?" Asked Celestia. Luna looked at her older sister and horn suddenly flared. "This." She said.
Celestia suddenly felt the world around her vanish and the nightmare that Luna had observed unfolded before her eyes.
Just as suddenly Celestia found herself again in her quarters. She was cold and panting heavily. As she looked down at her legs she realized that she shivering slightly. Even for a being as powerful as she the spell had left an lasting impression on her. Celestia closed her eyes and shook her head as if trying to dislodge something from her mind, but the Deceptions words continued to echo in her head.
" I will always be with you in your mind. You can never escape what I have turned you into. Never."
"By the sun." Whispered Celestia. "That thing was a monster in the truest sense. We must stop this once and for all."
To be continued.