Sorry this is another long post but this and next post were part of another very intense dream.
Twilight slowly regained consciousness in my Equestria dreamscape. As her brain built up a head of steam she did a mental checklist. Her eyes were closed. She was lying in bed. She hurt all over. She hurt in places she didn't know she had. It was quiet, the only sound being the distant ticking of a clock somewhere. Was she dead? No she hurt too much to be dead. Having put it off as long as possible she opened her eyes.
Twilight found that she was lying on her side in bed facing toward a window with closed curtains. She did not immediately recognize the room, but based on the architecture and decor she had to be in one of the guest bedrooms at Sweet Apple Acres. Although the curtains were closed the room had a soft warm glow to it as if someone had left a lantern lit in the room behind her. How did she get here? The last thing she remembered was Applejack freeing Applebloom from the Deception and then collapsing beside her little sister. Then she blacked out.
"AJ! Applebloom!" Were they okay?! She tried rise up out of bed but a fresh wave pain washed over her; surrendering to the pain she collapse back into bed with a groan. A voice behind her spoke for the first time. A warm voice, a voice that had guided Twilight for almost a decade.
"I would not try getting out of bed soon. You pushed yourself to the limit out there yesterday and the doctor had to restitch your sutures. Never mind what that concoction of Zecora's did to you. I have done much to help, but please just take it easy Twilight. You have been relieved of you duties."
Slowly Twilight rolled over bed, now she understood where the source of the light was coming from. A smile spread across her face.
Applebloom was not certain exactly when she actual awoke, she just knew that at some point she became aware that she was staring at the alarm clock ticking on her nightstand. That and she had the worst headache in all of a Equestria. Why the last time she had a headache this bad was when that horrible thing burst from her head in the Everfree Forest and the Deception took control of her and. [link]
Suddenly Applebloom sat upright in her bed. That thing it wanted to kill Twilight and the Royal Sisters! It was going the destroy Equestria. She had to stopped it before. Her train of thought didn't get any further than that. The pain in her head became a searing white iron piercing her skull. The room spun and she felt as if she was going to vomit. With one front hoof she reached up and touched her forehead. For the first time she became aware that a large compress bandage covered it.
"Little Bloom! Try not to move so soon." The little filly realized for the first time that Zecora was lying on a bench next to her bed. The zebra alchemist looked weary but smiled gently at the little filly. "The thing that tormented you is no more but you have a long path of recovery ahead of you."
Zecora leaned over and grabbed the handle of a bag made of rough, brown homespun fabric from the floor with her teeth. Lifting it up on the bench beside her she removed a cup of carved dark wood and a gourd painted with intricate geometric patterns. A cord of dark red twine served as a strap for the gourd, and a plug of red wax covered the top as a stopper. The gourd sloshed as she pulled the plug out. Taking the cup in hoof she poured a ounce or two of liquid from the gourd and replaced the stopper. Then she passed it to Applebloom.
"Drink little one. It will put your pain at ease and will settle your stomach a bit."
Applebloom looked at cup from a second silently then slowly took in her hooves and drank it. It tasted horrible but at the moment the little filly felt like she deserved nothing better. She'd betrayed her family, her friends, her rulers. They were probably just making certain she was well enough to be put her on trial before they locked her in a dungeon for the rest of her life. She finished the bitter herbal brew then passed the cup back to Zecora.
"Thank you." She said with a small voice. She kept her head bowed so she didn't have to look into Zecora's eyes again. She laid back down in bed with her back to Zecora. The zebra stared at her for a second then rose from the bench.
"Rest little one. I am going to go and get a bite to eat. If you need anything give a call. Someone will be close by if you need anything."
Zecora pulled Applebloom's blankets up and tucked them in, then she quietly stepped out of the room and closed the door behind her. Applebloom laid in bed and stared at nothing. Exhaustion slowly overtook her and she was pulled down into unconsciousness again. As she drifted off to sleep tears slowly trickled down her cheeks.
Applebloom awoke at some point later in the day. For several seconds she just stared blankly up at the ceiling. After a second or two she realized a different pony was sitting on the bench by her bed. It was a black unicorn stallion she vaguely recognized him from a few visits to her home. The stallion was reading a journal, she watched him silently for couple minutes. Finally the unicorn looked up from his journal and noticed she was awake.
"Oh hello!" He said in a somewhat startled fashion. "Terribly sorry, I didn't notice you were awake. I am doctor Strong Heart, and I'm a neighbor of yours. So Applebloom how are you feeling?"
"I've got to pee." Said the little filly weakly, the doctor chuckled softly. "Well you've been in bed for almost a day so that is to be expected. Do you think you can walk to the bathroom yourself?"
Applebloom nodded, then slowly climbed out of her bed. She took a step forward an suddenly winced as the right hind leg she'd dislocated a couple months ago throbbed. After a second or two of hesitation she silently continued toward the bathroom. Strong Heart followed behind her watching her every move.
"I'm amazed you are as in as good of condition as you are." Said the doctor. "Considering the amount of force it took to evict that "Thing" from you I feared you'd be in far worst physical condition than you are. "
Applebloom slow painful journey had finally reached the bathroom. Doctor Strong Heart opened the door and closed it so the little filly could have her privacy. After a couple minutes later she made the slow painful journey back to her bedroom. The doctor changed the compress on her forehead, gave her some medication for her pain then helped her back into bed. While she'd been gone someone had left a tray with some hot broth and a couple of flaky biscuits. Although she was not really hungry she went through the mechanical process of consuming the food not really tasting any of it. Then she went to sleep again.
Applebloom woke again. The sun had obviously set and somepony had lit an oil lamp in her room. This time no pony was resting on the bench beside her bed. After several minutes the door opened and Zecora entered the room. She smiled at the little filly.
"Ah Little Bloom! So good to see you up. There is someone who wants to see you. Are you up to seeing someone?"
Slowly the little filly nodded. Everything felt distant. "Bathroom first, please." Zecora assisted her out of bed. Every part of her body ached and protested at any form of movement. After another painful visit to the bathroom she found herself being led down the hall by the zebra mare. Everything around her had this abstract, detached quality to it. Zecora opened a door and led her into a bedroom. Suddenly Applebloom realized she was in her big sister bedroom.
Applebloom came to a halt. She would've fled the room except that Zecora stood behind her blocking the path. Applejack was lying in bed with several pillows propped behind so she could sit up and talk to Big Mac and Granny Smith who were also in the room. All conversations came to a halt when Applebloom entered. Applebloom's eyes went wide and her heart suddenly started hammering in her chest as she looked upon her big sister. AJ had the blankets pulled up to her chest but the little filly could still see numerous dressing and bandages covering the face and torso and limbs of the yellow-orange mare's body. For several seconds they stared at each other in silence. AJ coughed once and spoke in a soft and somewhat raspy voice.
"Hey there sugar cube. I see you're up and moving about on all four hooves. How are you all feeling?"
Applebloom dropped her head and stared at wood plank floor, Suddenly she was short of breath. She could feel herself beginning to shiver uncontrollably. Her throat felt tight. She stood there staring at the floor afraid to look at anyone in the room. The mere thought of looking any of her family in the eyes again was too terrible to imagine. She wanted to be somewhere, anywhere but here. Why couldn't she have just died in that orchard along with that thing!
She heard the sound of her big sister slowly climbing out of bed and gingerly walking toward her. The sound of her big sisters hooves on the wooden floor was terrifying, but she was frozen to that place in the bedroom as firmly as if she'd taken root. Applebloom squeezed her eyes shut and clenched her teeth. As if bracing herself for some terrible blow. Tears began to run down her cheeks. The she knew her big sister was standing in front of her but she still remained head down, trembling and motionless in the room. After what seemed like an eternity for the little filly Applejack spoke gently.
"Sweetie, I want to help you. We all want to help you. We've been worried sick about you. Will you let us?"
Suddenly an uncontrollable wave emotions boiled up within Applebloom. In a voice that rattled the bedroom windows months of raw emotions came exploding out of her.
"HOW CAN SAY THAT?! HOW CAN MEAN THAT?! AFTER WHAT I BECAME! AFTER WHAT I DID! I'M, I'M A MONSTER! HOW CAN YOU LOVE A MONSTER LIKE ME?!" screamed the butter yellow filly as she collapsed to the floor in a sobbing ball. "How, how can anyone love me now!" She sobbed.
The except for the ticking of clocks the entire house was suddenly dead silent. Only the sound of one tortured soul crying could be heard. For Applebloom the world seemed to vanish around her as she was once again plummeting into the endless blackness at the threshold between worlds. [link]
Slowly though she became aware of something warm and wet falling on her cheek. She opened her eyes and raised her head.
Applejack was looking down at her. Tears matching the little filly's poured from her big sister emerald green eyes. She laid down next to her and wrapped front hooves around her. Applebloom's big sister was warm and smelled like sweet hay, fresh tilled earth and apples. Beautiful sweet apples. Applebloom felt something tussle her mane, turning her head she realized that Big Mac was now lying alongside her. Like her big sister tears slowly rolled down his stoic face. Even Granny Smith had risen from her cushion and had come over to the little filly.
For next twenty minutes or so the Apple family began the delicate tasks of grafting a broken branch back on to their family tree. They held the littlest one as she cried. Slowly the tears changed from those of sadness of despair to tears of relief and joy. No pony said thing, words could not add anything to this moment. The same love the earth ponies had for the land they now conveyed to Applebloom. Finally AJ spoke with a fiery determination.
"You are not a monster Applebloom.You are my little sister and a member of the Apple family and we never abandon our kin! We will never give up on you or stop helping you. Do you understand?"
"Applebloom looked into her sister eyes and nodded. "But sis." Asked the little filly. "Will any other pony give me a second chance. Will anypony ever believe or trust me again? How can they understand what've been through"
"I will believe and trust you." Said a new voice in the room. There in the doorway stood Princess Luna.
"I believe you Applebloom, for I to have succumbed to dark forces in the past and now walk the path of acceptance and understanding myself. I will walk this path with you but understand it is path that you and I may have to walk for the rest of our days. In time many a pony will forgive and believe us, but our actions from now on will be scrutinized in more detail than those of an average pony." Luna stepped into the room and stared at the little filly with eyes sparkled like the heavens. "Will you join me little one on this journey?"
Applebloom stared silently at the princess then slowly rose to her hooves walked over until she stood in front of the Princess of the Moon. Slowly she bowed and after a few seconds little filly spoke.
"Thank you Princess, I accept."
At this point every pony became aware of another presence in the room. Standing silently in doorway was Winona. The farm dog was staring intently at the little filly. Applebloom ears drooped, she swallowed and slowly walked toward her.
"Winona, it's me. I'm sorry. I never meant to hurt you. Please can you forgive me?" Applebloom came to a stop about three feet from the her.
With slow deliberate steps Winona approached the filly. Ears back and tail low but stiff. Every pony remained silent as they watched this act unfold. The farm dog stopped a few inches from the filly. For the next minute or so she sniffed around Applebloom face and looked intently into the filly's eyes. Then slowly Winona began licking Applebloom's face. Her tail started wagging and as she made those soft whining noise as if she had discovered one of her missing pups. It was only then that the Apple family realized they had all been holding their breath. Princess Luna smiled approvingly then spoke.
"Now it is time for you all to sleep. Sleep is the greatest healer of all. Gently she led AJ, Applebloom, and Winona over to the bed and helped them all into the bed. Winona was usually not allowed on the bed but no pony raised fuss this time."
As Applebloom settled into bed she stared at her flanks and frowned. AJ noticed the filly's interest in her own posterior.
"Whatcha looking at there little one?" AJ inquired. Applebloom moaned and rested her head on a pillow.
"All that and I still didn't get a cutie mark!" Every other pony in the room laughed.
Luna's horn glowed a soft blue and she spoke with a voice that flowed like gentle stream under a crystal clear summer night.
"Sleep now my precious ponies. Sleep Applejack. Sleep Applebloom and sleep Winona to. Deep sleep, safe and secure from fears and doubts. Let your concerns melt away until the my sister's sun greets you warmly. Then face the world with renewed vigor and hope. Sleep."
Quickly the three of them dozed off in the bed. For a moment Luna looked at them, then she spoke to no pony in particular.
"Applebloom has finally come home. Now the healing can truly begin."
To be continued.