“This is just, just a dream! It’s not real!” Luna had suddenly found herself the unintended target of a fabricated nightmare in my Equestria dreamscape. link What had started out as another session of spell extraction from Applebloom’s dream fabric had turned against her.
A small part of Luna’s mind realized that she should terminate this session immediately and break off contact with Applebloom’s dream fabric. Once free she could quickly force the little filly out of her sleep state. It would not be pretty or neat but it would be for the best. However when Luna attempted this she realized that she was so scared that she could not concentrate enough to disengage from the nightmare. This unfortunately reinforced the effect of the nightmare causing the terror in Luna’s mind to grow. Like pony sinking in quicksand the more she struggled the faster she seemed to sink into it.
Nightmare Moon was now standing just inches away from Luna. Her cat-like jade green eyes glowed with cold light. A smile spread slowly across Nightmare’s face; long canine-like fangs sparkled in the night. For several seconds the dark legend of Equestria just stared at Luna. Then she whispered.
“ I’m back my little pony. Did you miss me? I know certain troublesome parties abruptly cut my last visit short, but this time I have made sure that there will be no interference. Now you’ll be able to truly appreciate what my reign holds for this world.” Nightmare Moon nuzzled Luna’s neck playfully; Nightmare Moon’s muzzle was as cold as ice and Luna jumped back in revulsion of its touch.
“You exist no more!” Screamed Luna. “ Your reign is over! You have no say in my future or Equestria’s! The Elements of Harmony defeated you and now you are just a bad memory in our past! Leave us alone!!!”
Nightmare Moon seemed unfazed by Luna’s declaration. “Oh you silly little filly. Did you honestly believe that I could be brushed aside in such a casually fashion? Really, did you truly believe such foolish fantasies?”
Nightmare Moon’s mane suddenly lashed out like a constricting serpent around Luna’s neck. Luna felt like she had been plunged into an icy winter lake. Cold so intense it burned. She clenched her teeth, refusing to scream in front of this monster. She would not give it that satisfaction! Nightmare Moon casually watched her suffer. Then she spoke again.
“I had a thousand years gain control of the Princess of the Night. I cannot just be banished with of some gaudy carnival trinkets. Luna belongs to me. Even if I have to wait another thousand years I will have her for my own again. I have made her what she is and she can NEVER escape that fact. Her destiny and mine are one and the same! The quicker you accept that fact about your princess little filly the faster your suffering will end. Understand?”
These words crashed down on Luna with the weight of a mountain. Suddenly she remembered the dream that she’d witnessed in Applebloom’s dream fabric. The Cutie Mark Crusaders clubhouse, the butchered foals and Applebloom licking the blood from the knife. The phantom Applebloom’s word suddenly came boiling back out.
" I will always be with you in your mind. You can never escape what I have turned you into. Never."
A dark, unwanted thought burst into Luna’s mind. Had she been truly freed from Nightmare Moon’s influence, after all she had been the one who had let it possess her in the first place. She had let herself succumb to Nightmare Moon’s whispered promises and visions. In time would not these same character flaws and weaknesses in her result in her failing again? Would she just betray her sister and all those that served her once more? Hadn’t she told Zecora that she still had cravings for when she’d been under Nightmare Moon’s sway? Tears began to well up in eyes.
At this point Luna’s mind was so conflicted that she could no longer maintain the containment barrier between her and Applebloom’s dream fabric. The barrier failed and came crashing down.
Applebloom was running and laughing through a field of clover near her home. The day was bright and sunny with just enough cute fluffy clouds to make the sky interesting. She was just starting to head back to the farm when she heard a deep rumbling sound coming up from behind. Turning around she saw an immense black tidal wave racing toward her. She closed her eyes braced for its impact but she was not swept away by it. When she opened her eyes it was nighttime and she was standing in the main square of Ponyville. Scattered party favors and banners spoke of a ruined Nightmare Night. After a couple seconds she remembered she was asleep.
“Okay I’m dreaming.” Said the little filly. “Focus on your breathing. Control your body, and you control your mind.”
Applebloom closed her eyes again and slowly inhaled and exhaled ten times as Luna had taught her. Then opened her eyes and tried to make sense of the setting. Immediately she noticed Luna and Nightmare Moon standing about thirty ponies away. Nightmare Moon had her mane wrapped like some magical lasso around Luna’s neck and as the little filly watched Luna’s leg buckled and she collapsed to the ground. Nightmare Moon laughed in glee at Luna’s plight.
“Yes foolish little pony! Accept what I say to be the truth and resist it no more! You know in your heart what I say is true, don’t you?” Nightmare Moon released her hold on Luna. For several seconds she just stared at her with contempt in her eyes. Luna was curled up like a small scared filly. “I spare your life you silly little filly not because I am sympathetic to plight, but because I can find a use for something even as worthless as you.” A wicked grin suddenly flashed across Nightmare Moon’s face. “Besides you’re too much fun to play with. If I kill you then the fun is all over. For me that is.”
As Applebloom watched this unfold before her she felt of anger for this monster and sympathy for Princess Luna. The Princess was trying to help her with a problem that Applebloom had brought on herself in a moment of poor judgment. The Princess had taken pity in her plight and this was how she was to be rewarded for her compassion! No Applebloom would not stand for this! The butter cream filly charged the phantom Nightmare Moon.
“Get away from her!” Screamed the littlest of the Apple Family. She slid to halt between the Princess and Luna’s bane. Applebloom was trembling but she held her ground and refused to retreat in the face of this nightmare. “You leave her alone ya turd! Push off ya monster! Scram!”
The phantom Nightmare Moon seemed to be confused with the presence of another pony in this little dream play. It stood silently as it tried to determine what to do. Deciding that it was not immediate threat Applebloom turned her attention to Luna.
Luna was curled up in a fetal-like position on the ground. Her eyes were clenched shut and she shivering uncontrollably. “It tis not your problem little one, leave us be.” Whimpered Luna. “It tis our own problem little bloom, not yours.”
“Well my problem is my own to, but you’ve been helping me so I’m not about to turn tail and run from yours!” Applebloom glared down at the Princess. Don’t ya go believing all the garbage this thing says! Yer not worthless! Yer not a failure! We all need ya Princess. Yer big sister needs you. Equestria needs ya! I need ya!”
Luna looked down at her hoofs. She felt ashamed but she could not look the little filly in the eyes. In a timid voice she spoke. “But what if it is right. Can I truly be sure that I will not just become Nightmare Moon again? Am I truly free from its sway? Is it just bidding its time, waiting for the right moment to possess me again? If it does will the events in this dream become reality? Was Nightmare Moon really some phantom or was it to an illusion created from my own dark desires and wishes?” Tears trickled down Luna’s muzzle. “Maybe Nightmare Moon is the pony I want to be but I am too scared to accept?”
Applebloom stomped her front hoofs on the ground in frustration. “Enough with the stinky talk already! If ya were such a nasty pony would ya even bothered to help me in the first place? Would ya even care about my problem?”
Applebloom grabbed Luna’s face with her front hoofs. Protocol and fancy stuff be damned! The little filly lifted Luna’s head and forced the co-ruler of Equestria to look her in the eyes. The earth pony’s caramel brown eyes stared into the alicorn’s jade green.
Ya ain’t weak! Ya ain’t a failure! Ya ain’t Nightmare Moon! Ya got that? Yer Luna! YOU, ARE, LUNA!” Applebloom shook the princess head violently as she screamed the last words.
The dreamscape exploded and Applebloom found herself awake back in her bedroom. She raised her head from the pillow just in time to see Luna stagger and collapse to the floor. Bolting out of bed Applebloom raced to the Princess’s side.
“Princess Luna! Are ya alright?” Luna looked up at little filly in confusion as she got her bearings. Then slowly the deep blue alicorns face scrunched up and she threw her front hoofs around Applebloom pulling filly down with her. The Princess was bawling like a little filly. For several seconds Applebloom laid there alongside Luna uncertain what to do. Then suddenly a thought dawned in her head; slowly she started stroking Luna’s mane.
“It’s okay. “ Cooed the little filly. “Yer with good ponies again.” Applebloom looked at Luna for a moment. “That nightmare is your greatest fear isn’t it Princess? That in spite of what everypony has done to help ya, you’re still afraid you’ll change into her again. Ain’t that so Princess? That someday despite your best efforts you’ll once again betray us.” The little filly hugged Luna then looked her in the eyes.
“You said you’d walk the path of redemption with me. Well ya made that promise to me and in return I will help ya to.” She smiled at the Princess. “If ya wander off the path or get turn around I promise to help ya get going in the right direction again. Okay.”
Luna just stared at Applebloom in amazement. From such a little filly came such strength. Then she remembered Celestia’s comment from a while ago.
“Luna I believe we and Applebloom can triumph over this challenge. In spite of that monster’s best efforts. I believe that little filly will prove far stronger than that abomination’s perverse imagination could’ve ever imagined!”link
Luna nodded and slowly rose to her hoofs. She looked physically exhausted. Applebloom steered the Princess over and helped her on to the bed, then climbed in herself.
Then they talked about whatever was on their minds. What their hopes and dreams were, and what scared them the most. Happy things, silly things, they told each other funny stories and made each other laugh. They talked long into the night. Luna found herself saying things to this little filly that she had not even shared with her sister. It was like a great weight coming off her back. Here was a pony that truly did understand her situation.
Applejack stood in front of the door to Applebloom’s room. Luna’s sessions with Applebloom had never gone this long and the Princess made it a habit of giving AJ a post session talk afterwards. That had not happened tonight and it was after one in the morning. AJ had heard some talking from little Bloom’s room an hour or so ago but it had been quiet ever since.
“Better check on things.” Thought the yellow-orange mare. Golden light from a lamp leaked out underneath the door. As quiet as possible she pushed open the bedroom door with her muzzle. The most amazing sight greeted her.
Luna was lying fast asleep on Applebloom’s bed. The Princess of the Night had one wing draped across Applejack’s little sister. Luna did not stir but Applebloom awoke and looked at her big sis. Silently she raised a front hoof and made the “hush” sign. Then she silently mouthed the words.
“The Princess needs to sleep don’t wake her.”
Applejack was a bit confused but she nodded her head and closed the door as quietly as she’d opened it. Applebloom waited until after her big sis left then she stretched out a front hoof and extinguished the oil lamp on her nightstand. Applebloom snuggled against Luna and whispered softly.
“Rest tonight my Princess. You’ve got a loyal subject here to keep ya safe.”
Then the little filly drifted off to sleep.
To be continued.