Preread, Edited, and Reviewed By
Batty Gloom, Cloudhammer, Ken Pick, El Oso, Kirk Heller,
Wraithguard, Rainbowdash 64, Deagle Dued, Bongoro
Part of a side-story miniseries known as "In The Family" for the story Past Sins
- The stories of the miniseries -
Trinkets - Nightmare or Nyx? - Winter Bells
Spike closed his eyes and shielded his face as a murder of crows took flight in front of him. They had been stirred by the tolling bell, driven into a bleak night sky. His eyes followed the crows, and he noticed just how pitch black it was. No stars, no clouds, the only light came from the moon, and even it seemed faded, as if it was hiding from something.
He was standing in the streets of Ponyville, though they were oddly deserted. There were no ponies, there were no animals, and the only sound came from the wind gusting and moaning between buildings and trees. The chill in the air was creeping up his spine. Out of instinct, he reached around to hold his tail in his claws.
“Spike, what are you doing out here?”
Twilight’s voice was a welcomed sound, and, with a wide smile, Spike turned to look at her. She was standing in an intersection half a block away. She was holding a lantern high in her magic, and its warm, flickering light seemed to burn with the strength of a lighthouse on a dark shore.
“I… I don’t know,” Spike said as he began to walk towards her. “I don’t even remember coming outside.”
“You must have been sleepwalking,” Twilight said as she drew closer. “Come on, let’s get back in—”
Twilight’s lantern flickered, and her eyes widened. She breathed out, and the air from her lungs became a misty cloud in the suddenly cold air. The darkness behind her seemed to loom. It rose up, and from its depth a dark laugh echoed. The darkness then came crashing down, like a tidal wave upon the shore, consuming Twilight whole.
The shadows crashed against Spike, sending him tumbling back down the street. He heard Twilight’s lantern crashing to the ground and witnessed its light fade from existence. Twilight screamed, “Let go!" but her voice was already distant, as if she was being whisked away in a flying chariot.
Spike scrambled to his claws and began to run after Twilight. He could see the glint from her horn. She was trying to free herself, but the darkness held strong. It was carrying her westward, and the moon was racing in the same direction. It began to set and, as it did, its pale light revealed tall, threatening spires and thick battlements.
Spike’s heart skipped a beat. Twilight was being taken to the castle built by the Children of Nightmare for their queen, Nightmare Moon!
“No… NO!” Spike shouted. He ran as fast as his claws would carry him, but the castle didn’t seem to get any closer. It stayed on the horizon, constantly out of reach, as if he was trying to run and catch the moon itself.
“Where are you going Spike?”
Skidding to a stop, Spike turned to look down a nearby alleyway. There, looking at him with curious, innocent, yet somehow threatening eyes, was Nyx. She stepped out of the darkness of the alley, revealing that she didn’t have her headband, glasses, or vest on. There was nothing there to hide her alicorn nature or the diamond shaped pupils of her eyes.
“I’m going to save Twilight!” he shouted at her. “Something took her, and—”
Once more the tolling of bells filled the air, drawing Spike’s attention back to the castle on the horizon. The spires of the castle bent back, creaking and groaning as they formed something of a stage with the top of the castle’s outer walls. There, in the center of it all, he saw Twilight’s silhouette against the moon, and she was standing beneath a hangmare’s noose.
The blood in Spike’s veins turned to ice, and he could only watch as another silhouette stepped into view. It was a tall, slender alicorn similar to Princess Celestia, but, at the same time, it was infinitely more terrifying.
“No!” Spike shouted again. He tried to run forward, tried to resume his panicked sprint towards the castle. Something, however, stepped into the path ahead of him, blocking his way.
“Where are you going, Spike? Don’t you want to play?” Nyx asked, her mouth twisting into a manic grin.
“Nyx, get out of the way!” Spike bellowed, but Nyx did not comply. Instead, her eyes flashed and her body began to grow. She grew tall, slender, and her mane changed to look like a bleak night sky speckled with only the faintest stars. The flat teeth in her mouth became fangs, and armor grew from her skin.
“Is that any way to speak to your queen!?” Nyx bellowed as she continued to grow. She became as tall as a tower, dwarfing the nearby buildings and making Spike as small as a bug in comparison to her stature. And, like he truly was a bug, Nightmare Moon lifted a hoof and, with a loud cackle, drove it back down, trying to stomp Spike into oblivion.
He dove clear at the last moment and quickly scrambled back to his feet. He broke into a run, sprinting towards the distant castle as Nightmare Moon pursued him and shouted, “Don't run away, Spike! Don't you want to play?”
Spike continued to run, trying to flee. He looked for someplace to hide, but all of Ponyville seemed to have disappeared into darkness. The only thing that remained visible was the silhouette of the castle against the moon. Twilight was still there. The hangmare’s noose had only just been fitted around her neck. He could save her. He could do it. He just had to!
The castle’s bell tolled, and Spike felt his foot catch on a rock. He tumbled forward, hitting the ground hard. The wind was knocked from his chest, and he turned over onto his back to catch his breath. Yet, when he tried to take that first deep gasp, he instead found more air was squeezed from his lungs. Nightmare Moon, once more her normal size, had put her hoof down on his chest. She was pressing down, applying more and more pressure to his rib cage.
Spike looked to the castle and found himself on the verge of tears. The silhouette besides Twilight was rearing back and looked as if it was about to buck her off the wall. She was going to fall! The noose was going to take her away from him. Nightmare Moon was going to take Twilight away from him.
Twilight was bucked. She began to fall, and, no matter how he struggled, Spike couldn’t free himself from Nightmare Moon’s hoof. He clawed at her, blew fire, but he could not escape. He couldn’t save her. All he could do was scream with all the strength his lungs could manage as Nightmare Moon laughed in triumph.
Spike sat up in his bed, panting heavily as beads of sweat ran down his head. He looked around in a panic, looking for Nightmare Moon and the silhouetted castle. All he found, however, was the library bedroom. The clock in the room had just finished chiming, announcing that it was ten in the morning.
“Spike, are you okay?”
He couldn’t help but flinch and quickly look to his side. Nyx was standing beside his basket, looking concerned. Like in his dream, she wasn’t wearing her glasses, headband, or vest, but she also wasn’t giving off the creepy, threatening aura that had been a part of his nightmare.
“Y-yeah… just had a bad dream,” he said as he began to calm down.
“Twilight has me tell her about my bad dreams,” Nyx commented as she watched Spike pull himself out of his basket. “She says it can help to talk to somepony about them. Do you want to tell me about it?”
“No, I don’t,” Spike answered. He groaned, pulled himself out of bed, and began to walk towards the stairs. “Now come on, it’s time for breakfast.”
Nyx glanced at the clock. “Isn’t it a little late for breakfast?”
“If that’s what you think then, hey, more for me,” Spike said as he began to descend the library’s staircase.
Eyes wide with panic, Nyx scrambled after Spike. “I take it back! I want breakfast too!”
Spike sat at the table, munching on a cheap gemstone as Nyx ate a bowl of cereal. The library was oddly quiet considering it was so late in the morning, but that was because Twilight wasn’t there. She was in Canterlot, filling out some paperwork so she would have documented proof she had been given legal custody of Nyx by the princesses. Twilight was also taking the opportunity to visit her parents. It was a chance to show them she was all right and try to convince them that she had taken Nyx on as an adoptive daughter by choice.
They were understandably scared she was being brainwashed.
That meant Spike was left to take care of the library and Nyx until Twilight came back, something he wasn’t keen on. It was a lot of extra work. He had to clean the shelves and help ponies find books by himself. It was easier when Twilight was around. She could reach the books on the high shelves with her magic; he had to climb the ladder.
He also wasn’t so sure he wanted to foalsit Nyx. He had smiled and laughed right along with Twilight the day Nyx came back to the library and discovered she had her cutie mark. He had been happy, because things seemed to have gone back to normal. Things were the way they were supposed to be, the way they were before Princess Celestia came to the library to take Nyx away.
But… Nyx wasn’t the same. She had a temper now. She had thrown two tantrums about not being able to pick a book up with her magic. It would have likely been three if Twilight hadn’t let Nyx have her old toy, Smarty Pants. The prospect of a being allowed to keep the toy had calmed and distracted Nyx for a few days.
Taking another bite out his gem like he was eating an apple, Spike just sat and watched Nyx. She was trying to lift her spoon with her magic and was meeting with only minor success. She was able to lift the spoon, a small triumph in its own right. The spoon, however, didn’t stay in place. It floated and waved in the air, and seemed to be actively trying to avoid Nyx's mouth.
“You know you can just eat out of the bowl,” Spike commented.
“No, I got it,” Nyx said as she kept her eyes focused on her spoon. She stood up in her seat and put a hoof on the table. She stretched out her whole body, trying to reach the wayward spoon. She stuck her tongue out and manage to rest it on the rim of the spoon. Another inch, and she would have it and the food it held in her mouth. That moment, however, was when her hoof lost its grip on the table. She slipped and crashed face first into her bowl of cereal.
Spike held up his claws, shielding himself from the resulting spray of milk. When he dared to look again, he saw bits of soggy cereal splattered across the table. Nyx lifted her face out of her bowl of cereal, milk dripping from her coat. She was sniffling, and she lifted a hoof to hold her sore nose.
“Nice nose dive, Nyx,” Spike joked, a small laugh escaping his throat.
The tears that had been pulling at Nyx’s eyes evaporated, and her pupils narrowed into threatening slits. She slammed her hooves against the table, spread her wings, and, with a flare of her horn, she picked up her bowl in her magic. Spike ducked as the bowl was sent flying at his head, accompanied by Nyx’s scream of, “I didn’t do it on purpose!”
“H-hey!” Spike said. He was trying to be firm, but he was struggling to quell the tremor in his voice. “You’re making a mess! Stop it!”
Nyx’s anger faded as fast as it had swept over her. She quickly lifted her hooves to her mouth, frightened by her own outburst. “I-I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to!”
“Y-yeah, well, ‘sorry’ won’t clean this up,” Spike said as he got down from his seat at the table. “And I’m not cleaning it either. Twilight made me clean up the ink you spilt when you got angry and threw that book. Now it’s your turn.”
“B-but I can’t do it by myself. I can’t reach the sink to get the water.”
Spike glared at Nyx before turning his back to her and stepping over to the kitchen closet. He rummaged in the closet for just a moment before pulling out a stepstool. He set it in front of the sink and then began to walk towards the door. “There, now you can. Have fun.”
With that, Spike slipped out the kitchen door and shut it behind him. Only then did he allow himself to shiver. He reached for his tail and held it in his claws as he leaned against the kitchen door. In that moment of rage, when Nyx had screamed and thrown her bowl, he hadn’t seen the innocent filly she was supposed to be.
No, the thing he had seen sitting across from him was a young Nightmare Moon, in all her terrible anger.
“I’m sure it isn’t as bad as you say, Spike.”
“You didn’t see her, Rarity,” Spike said. He stood beside her, holding a spool of fabric as a number of pins protruded from the thick scales on his back. A few hours had passed since Nyx finished cleaning up the kitchen, and she was now off with her friends at Sweet Apple Acres, where Big Macintosh was keeping an eye on them. That meant he had an afternoon to himself, and he had chosen to spend it at one of his favorite places in the world: at Rarity’s side.
“Nyx throwing a bowl doesn’t mean she’s turning evil again,” Rarity lectured as she took a pin from his back and used it to secure a hem. “And, if you’ll pardon me for saying this, it sounds like you provoked her.”
“I just made a joke! She had just face planted into a bowl of cereal. What would you have done?”
Rarity took another pin from Spike’s back. She tilted her head to the side, examining the fabric flower she was about to secure to a hat. “I think you're mistaking me for Rainbow Dash, Spike. I would have asked if she was okay and helped her get cleaned up. Rainbow's the one that would have made a joke, and I’d like to think she would have made sure Nyx was okay afterward.”
“I would have asked, but she didn’t give me a chance. She just exploded!” Spike said, trying to defend himself. “And why are you making it sound like I’m the bad guy!?” He set down the spool of fabric he had been holding, then stepped between Rarity and the outfit she was working on. “I’m not the one that attacked Canterlot. I’m not the one that hurt the princesses. I’m not the one that almost got Twilight killed! It was her!”
“Spike, calm down!” Rarity said. She set down the pin and fabric she was holding, lifted a hoof, and rested it on Spike’s shoulder. “I’m not saying you're the bad guy.”
Spike turned away from Rarity and crossed his arms. “It sure sounds that way.”
Rarity smiled as she scrunched up her nose and pinched Spike’s cheek with her magic. “Oh, Spikey-Wikey, how could I think a cutsy-wootsy little dragon like you could be a bad guy?”
Spike giggled and held his cheek as he began to rock back and forth on his feet. “Oh Rarity, stop it. I’m not cutsy-wootsy!”
“You’re right,” Rarity said as she began to resume her work. “You’re a handsome young dragon I consider to be a dear friend.”
“You do?” Spike said, his heart fluttering in his chest.
“Yes, I do,” Rarity confirmed before she glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. “You're my friend, even if you did carry me half way up a mountain on a greed-driven rampage.”
“W-what?” Spike said, a look of confusion spreading on his face as his emotions boomeranged from smitten joy to confusion and disbelief. “T-that wasn’t my fault!”
“I’m not saying that, Spike. Everypony in Ponyville, including myself, understand that you couldn’t control the way you were behaving that day.” Rarity placed a final pin, finishing the hem placement of the outfit she was working on. “We’ve all forgiven you for that.”
“Then why did you bring it up?”
“I brought it up, Spike, because was Nyx's situation so different from your own?”
Spike stood dumbstruck for a moment. His mind turned over Rarity’s words, and, as it failed to comprehend what she meant, he began to get angry. He clenched his fists, gritted his teeth.
“It’s not the same!” he bellowed. “It’s totally different! I didn't know what I was doing! She did! She did it all on purpose! It’s her fault!”
“I don’t want to hear it!” He turned, and began to stomp towards the door. “You and Twilight… Nyx has you both wrapped around her little hoof, and you don’t even realize it.”
“Spike… Spike!” Rarity called out. He, however, didn’t turn back. He marched out the front door of the boutique and slammed the door shut behind him.
Spike kicked at a stone as he walked down a dirt path outside of Ponyville. A poor night's sleep, Nyx’s temper tantrum that morning, and his first argument with Rarity had officially put him in a bad mood. He was walking without a destination. He didn’t want to go back to Carousel Boutique or the library. He didn’t want to go anywhere. He just wanted to walk, fume, and try to understand why Rarity and Twilight couldn’t see what he did. Nyx wasn’t the same. She was still dangerous. She was one bad tantrum away from changing her name back to Nightmare Moon.
Kicking the rock again, Spike watched it bounce down the path before it struck against fresh cut stone. His eyes moved up, and looked upon the high battlements and towering spires that cast long shadows, like a claw reaching across the land.
It was Night Stone Castle.
The frown on his face deepened as he looked across the castle, the seat of Nightmare Moon’s reign over Equestria. It was worthy of the name Night Stone. Every brick and slab had been carved by Diamond Dogs from the dark rock of their old mines. Its architecture personified the feelings of fear and dominance that its queen was meant to embody. It was, in every way, the perfect castle for Nightmare Moon.
Spike placed a claw on the stone, and began to slowly walk the castle's perimeter. The stonework was still clean and crisp. Weather and time hadn't had a chance to smooth the stones. It was very different in comparison to the stonework of Canterlot. The palace –the whole city of Canterlot– was like a smooth stone one found at the beach. It had been polished into something more beautiful by nature and the ponies who called it home. Night Stone Castle, conversely, was like a freshly sharpened sword.
Continuing along the outside wall, Spike walked until he reached the castle's gatehouse. The gates had been barred and sealed when the last of the refugees left. Yes, closed gates meant nothing to pegasi who could just fly over the walls. The town’s greater concern, however, was keeping school-age ponies, including young pegasi who couldn’t fly yet, from exploring or defacing the castle.
Moving up to the castle gates, Spike placed his hand on the wooden timbers that formed the outer doors. He remembered something he had heard ponies talking about while he had been walking Nyx to Sweet Apple Acres earlier that day. There was a standing disagreement in Ponyville of what to do with the castle. Proposals had been made to turn it into a school, a museum, a tourist trap, a summer home for the princesses, and some had even argued that they wanted to see it demolished.
Spike counted himself among the last group. The castle needed to be leveled.
He tapped his claw against the gates. He wasn't suppose to go inside; that was why the gates were closed, after all. Still, Spike found himself contemplating how he would get in. With his claws it would be easy enough to climb the walls, but anypony looking the direction of the castle would see him and then he'd get in trouble. No, he needed a way in that nopony would notice.
Smiling, Spike stepped back and got down on all fours. He felt the soft, fine gravel of the gemstone quarries beneath his claws. He toyed with the dirt a moment before digging into the earth with impressive speed. He went a couple feet down, a couple feet forward, and then a couple feet straight back up. He hit daylight and poked his head out of his tunnel with a triumphant smile. He had dug under the gate, and was now in the castle’s outer courtyard.
"Don't know why Twilight is so worried the mayor is going to tear this place down," Spike commented. He pulled himself out of the hole and brushed the dirt off his claws. "I bet I could build a better castle if I had a cult of ponies worshipping me." He raised his claws up in front of his face, framing his view. "Yeah, my castle would have a moat with water jets and a big statue of Rarity about… there! And then I'd have a big water slide from my bedroom to the royal gemstone treasury. Yeah, the treasury where I would have all the fire rubies and ice sapphires I could eat."
Spike lowered his claws and placed them on his stomach, which gave a small growl. The thought of jewels had made him realize he was hungry, which, in turn, made him glare at his own belly. He was annoyed he would have to go back to Ponyville to get something to eat within minutes of sneaking into Night Stone Castle.
Then again, he knew of some gemstones nopony would miss.
"Come on," Spike grumbled. He picked up the stone he had brought in from outside the castle, arched his arm, and hurled it upward. It soared through the air, and clattered against the ceiling. Spike's objective were the many gemstones mounted above him as a part of the throne room’s mural. It was a veritable buffet, and he had his eye on the largest of the gems, a singular diamond which was the moon in the jewel studded depiction of the night sky.
The rock struck the large diamond, as it had several times, but the gem remained firmly attached to the ceiling. The stone dropped to the floor again, and, as he had done before, Spike went to pick it up and try again. He was beginning to see the folly in his efforts, and the grumbling in his stomach had only worsened with the exertion of throwing the stone.
"Maybe I should just go back," Spike mumbled to himself as he picked up the stone. It was only then he noticed where it had fallen and where he was standing. He was mere inches from the throne, which towered over him as Nightmare Moon had in his dreams. He recognized the look and even the smell of the wood it was carved from. It was from a tree he had seen in the gardens of Celestia's school, a tree that mimicked the appearance of being burnt and was naturally resistant to fire.
Dropping the stone, Spike placed a claw on the throne and hauled himself up. He plopped down onto the soft cushion and leaned back in the throne as he looked out across the empty room. "Not a bad seat," he commented before he crossed his arms and puffed out his chest. "I am Nightmare Moon and I demand all the Nightmare Night candy. What, there isn't any candy! Well, then I guess I'm going to have to eat all of you! Nom nom nom nom."
Startled, Spike belched a burst of fire and threw his weight into the back of the throne. The chair teetered, and, despite Spike's best efforts to right it, it toppled over backward. He rolled out of it after it fell and ended up crashing against the wall beneath the throne room's blown-out windows. He groaned and rubbed a spot on his back. It was sore, but it wasn't too bad. At worse, he would have a small bruise.
After touching the tender spot for a few more moments, Spike pulled himself up off the floor. He placed a claw on the wall, and looked through the blown-out windows to see a cascading, circular rainbow over Ponyville.
"Dang it, Rainbow Dash! Don't scare me like that!" Spike shouted out the window as he shook his fist in the air. He, however, quickly regretted his words. The rainbow contrail that flowed out from the Sonic Rainboom was turning in his direction.
Spike ducked down and, in a panic, looked around the throne room. He needed a place to hide. He needed to get out of the castle. He needed—
"Spike, what are you doing in here?"
Wincing, Spike looked up to see Rainbow Dash hovering in the air above him. She had her head cocked to one side and an eyebrow arched. Her arrival was faster than he would have normally expected, but at the same time she had just done a sonic rainboom. Traveling at supersonic speeds made it real easy to get any place quickly.
Standing up straight, Spike put his claws behind his back and leaned back. He forced an innocent smile. "Nothing. What are you doing?"
"Practicing for what?" Spike asked.
"Well," Rainbow Dash began as she landed by Spike. "I was practicing a routine for the mayor. She wants to throw a party for when the town's done being rebuilt, and she wants me to do an airshow. I think she should just hire the Wonderbolts, but she says that the town can't afford them right now.'"
"Wow, that's a drag," Spike said. He took a single sideways step, putting himself closer to the door. "I mean, I know how much you like the Wonderbolts.”
“Yeah, but I guess I can’t be too bummed out. My first full airshow, and the mayor even asked an old flying ace, a guy who used to be on the Wonderbolts, to help me plan my routine. There are going to be barrel rolls and corkscrews and triple-axel—”
“Wow, sure sounds like a great air show,” Spike said as he turned to leave. “Still, sounds like you’ve got a lot of practicing to do. So, I'm going to just—"
Rainbow placed a hoof on Spike's tail, keeping him from walking away. "Nice try, but you forgot who taught you that trick."
Rainbow took her hoof off Spike's tail, letting him turn back around as she spoke. “Well, okay, yeah, but I was the one that taught her. Yep, that was my best trick for getting away from my teachers at flight school.” Rainbow Dash laughed a little as she trotted forward, looking around the throne room. “So, what'cha doing in here?”
“Nothing really,” Spike admitted as he followed Rainbow. He watched her pick up the toppled throne. She then jumped into and sat back in the regal chair with her hooves kicked up against the backrest. “Kind of had an argument with Rarity and didn't want to go back to the library. Just needed to… you know…”
“Yeah, I get ya,” Rainbow said as she looked at the gemstone-studded mural on the ceiling. “You just need to get out and go someplace. Used to do that when my parents got on my nerves. Lots of places to fly to in Cloudsdale.”
“So… you're not mad I'm in here?” Spike asked. He walked to the side of the throne and rested his claws on the edge. “You're not going to tell Twilight?”
Rainbow laughed and placed a hoof on Spike's head before giving him a playful noogie. “Nah. You're not hurting anypony. In fact…” Rainbow sat up in the seat, a smile spreading on her lips. “How about we check this place out? I didn't get to see much of it before ponies started moving back to town. The mayor had me flying everywhere.”
“Sure,” Spike said, more than eager to join in the impromptu exploration. “Where should we go first?”
Rainbow tapped a hoof to her chin, pondering the thought for a moment before smiling. “I know just the place.”
“Wow, didn't think these would be all the way down here,” Rainbow commented as she and Spike reached the bottom of a long, spiraling staircase. Before them was the dungeon corridor. Cells with iron bars lined each side of the passage, and it was dimly lit by the occasional placed glowing gemstone.
“Rainbow, can't we go someplace else? This place is creepy.”
“What's the matter, Spike?” Rainbow asked as she began to walk forward. “You think Nightmare Moon's going to get ya?”
“N-no!” Spike stuttered as he jogged to catch up with Rainbow. “It's just, what if there are traps?”
Rainbow blew a raspberry. “Pffft, please, I'm like a blue Daring Do. I can dodge any trap those 'Foals of Nightmare' could have come up with.” She spread her wings and jumped into the air. “Check out these moves!”
With that, Rainbow Dash sprinted forward. She ran to the right hand wall, then used her wings to keep her hooves on stone as she ran up the wall itself. She galloped along the ceiling, then jumped to the left wall. She leapt off again, did a backflip in the air, and then let herself drop back to the ground. Two final cartwheels and then Rainbow skidded to a stop with a triumphant smile, as if she had just beaten the most complex trap in the world.
“—d-dah?!” Rainbow quickly strode forward, panic filling her eyes as she put her hooves on the cell door that had just slammed shut behind.
“I told you to be careful,” Spike lectured as he came jogging up.
“Well I didn't know these doors could close on their own!' Rainbow shouted from behind the bars. “Daring Do never had to deal with cells that could close on their own! This has to be some kind of cheating! Now get me out of here!”
“Really, are you sure you want my help?” Spike asked. “Daring Do could probably get out on her own.”
“Spike, let me OUT!” Rainbow bellowed as she gripped and tried to shake the cell bars with her hooves.
“Okay, okay, just hold on a second,” Spike said as he glanced around. He then smiled and trotted back in the direction of the door. Rainbow pressed her face against the bars, trying to see where Spike was going, and eventually saw him trot back into view carrying a set of keys.
“Here we go,” Spike said as he unlocked the cell. He pulled open the door, and Rainbow Dash eagerly leapt out.
“Thanks, Spike. The last thing I need is Applejack knowing I let myself get caught in a trap. She'd never let me live it down.” Rainbow turned and pointed a hoof at Spike. “This stays between us, got it?”
“Yeah, I got it,” Spike said with a small laugh as he began to twirl the keyring on a claw.
“Where did you find the keys anyway?”
Spike pointed over his shoulder with his free claw. “They were hanging on a hook over there.”
“Really, they just left them hanging there? Why didn't Twilight get herself out then? She should have just picked them up with her magic.”
“She had an anti-magic collar on,” Spike said. “It's a metal neck brace that stops a unicorn from using their magic.”
“I didn't know they made those kinds of things.”
“They have to, otherwise there'd be no way to stop unicorns who break the law.”
“Huh, never thought of that,” Rainbow said as she began to trot away. “Anyway, let's get out of here and see if we can't find a secret treasure room or something.”
“Yeah, sure, right behind…”
Rainbow didn’t notice Spike trail off. She continued to trot towards the dungeon steps, and only when she was about to begin ascending them did she notice she was by herself. “Spike?” she called out. She looked over the empty hallway. “Where did you go?”
Spike did not answer, but Dash did hear the sound of the cell keys hitting the stone floor. She quickly trotted back to the cell that had slammed shut on her and looked inside. Spike had moved in through the door, letting the keys drop to the floor as he went. He was resting his claw on an interior wall of the cell, a wall stained with a sizable smear of dark, aged blood.
“Spike, what are you doing?” Rainbow asked again. She stepped slowly into the cell, keeping an eye on the door as she did.
Spike ran a claw across the dried blood, his eyes transfixed on the stain. “What did she do to you, Twilight?”
“Why didn't you tell me she did this to you?”
“Why would you keep this a secret?”
“Hello, Spike? Equestria to Spike?”
He shook his head, finally being drawn from his thoughts. “W-what? Rainbow, what is it?”
“That's what I asked. You zoned out on me.”
“Sorry, I just—” Spike glanced back at the wall as he took his claw off of it. There were some smudges of redish-brown on his palm. “—got distracted.”
“Well, how about you get ‘distracted’ when we're out of here?” Rainbow asked as she picked the keys up with her mouth, “Now come on, let’s go check out the library. I’d bet my left hoof there’s a bookcase in there that will swing open. Yeah, it will reveal a secret passage, and, when we follow that passage, we’ll find some big secret treasure room. I bet we'll find enough money that I can hire the Wonderbolts to be my personal trainers. Then, I’d get on the team for sure.”
Spike nodded half-heartedly, and followed Rainbow out of the cell. “Yeah… sure.”
After spending an hour trying to find a secret treasure room in Night Stone Castle, Rainbow and Spike admitted defeat and returned to Ponyville. Their first destination was Sugarcube Corner, where they got ice cream. It was a substantially less valuable reward than the hidden hoard of gold and jewels they had hoped to find, but the cool treat was a good consolation prize for their efforts.
Ice cream in claw and wing, they took a seat at a table on one side of the room. The normally bustling shop was oddly quiet. Pinkie Pie was out throwing a party someplace else, Mr. Cake was sweeping behind the counter, Mrs. Cake was back in the kitchen, and the twins were likely taking a nap upstairs.
Rainbow took a large bite from the ice cream in her bowl, smiling contently with her cheeks puffed out. Spike was less eager. He picked up the spoon and examined the rainbow sprinkles that dotted the dairy treat. They were a poor replacement for the crushed gemstone he really wanted on his ice cream, but they were better than nothing.
“Spike? Spike? Spppiiiikkkeeee?”
He glanced up from his ice cream, shaking his head a little as his mind came back to reality. “W-what?”
“Yikes, you’re a space-case today,” Rainbow said with a teasing grin. “I just wanted to know what you and Rarity were fighting about?’”
“Who says we were fighting?”
“You did, when I found you in the castle.”
“Oh yeah.” Spike sighed, deposited the spoonful of ice cream in his mouth, and dug the spoon back into the bowl. “It was about Nyx. She face planted into a bowl of cereal this morning—”
“Wait, like full on face plant? Her whole head, in the bowl?”
Spike nodded. “Yeah.”
A snort escaped Rainbow Dash’s nose as she tried to contain her laughter. “That sounds hilarious!”
“That’s what I thought, I even made a joke, but then Nyx got mad and threw her bowl at me. I told Rarity, and then she started scolding me, like I was the one that did something wrong.” Spike stuffed another spoonful of ice cream in his mouth and chewed as he spoke. “She and Twilight just don’t want to see it.”
Spike swallowed and heaped another big spoonful of ice cream into his mouth. “That Nyx is just one bad tantrum away from calling herself Nightmare Moon again. You should have seen her this morning. She’s scary when she’s mad.”
“Pfft, that little squirt’s not scary, Spike. She couldn’t scare Fluttershy’s chickens,” Rainbow snickered. “Those chickens would probably chase her if she tried to scare them.”
“But what about when she gets bigger, huh?” Spike asked. “She’s still Nightmare Moon, even if she’s had an attitude adjustment, and she could turn evil again.”
“Come on, Spike, you can’t really be worried about that happening.”
“You wouldn’t say that if it was your family that almost got hung,” Spike mumbled before stuffing his mouth with more ice cream.
The smile on Rainbow’s face faded and the cheerful tone in her voice weakened. “You’re not joking around, are you?”
Spike glared at Rainbow over his bowl. “What was your first clue?” he deadpanned.
Rainbow winced and rubbed the back of her neck nervously. “Oh… yikes… uh… where’s Fluttershy when you need her?” she whispered before looking back at Spike. “Uh… listen, you know… um… it’s like… no, wait… it’s more like… no, that doesn’t make sense either.”
Rainbow put her hooves to her face and drug them down, stretching out her eyelids and cheeks. “Why is this so hard?”
“It’s okay, Rainbow, you don’t have to say anything,” Spike said. He got up from his seat, leaving his ice cream half-eaten, and began to walk towards the door. “I know you probably don’t believe me anyway. Nopony does.”
Rainbow quickly got up from her seat and flew to catch up with Spike. “Now, wait, I didn’t mean that, it’s just… I’m not good at this kind of stuff, you know?”
Spike nodded his head. He let Rainbow lead him back to their table and ice cream. “Yeah, I know… probably the same reason I haven’t really talked to Twilight about it.”
“But I thought you said she wouldn't listen,” Rainbow commented as she climbed back into her seat. “I mean, how can you know for sure if you haven’t talked to her about it?”
Spike picked up his spoon again and sank it into the ice cream, which was beginning to melt and run. “She won’t. I know she won’t. She’s doesn’t want to think Nyx is the same as when she was ruling Equestria. She wants to think she’s back to the little filly she found in the forest.”
“Well, isn’t she kind of both?”
Spike glanced up from his ice cream and arched an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
“Nyx, she’s the one that Twilight found in the forest and the one that took over Equestria.”
“Well, no duh, Rainbow,” Spike said. “Who else would it be?”
Rainbow ruffled her mane, frustrated by her inability to articulate herself. “No, what I mean is that you make it sound like there’s a different Nyx. There’s the one we have now, and she’s the one that took over Equestria and the one that Twilight found. But you're acting like she’s a different Nyx from the Nyx that Twilight found. And you make it sound like Twilight thinks this Nyx is the same Nyx that she found in the forest but not the same Nyx that took over Equestria.
“Wait, did I say that right?” Rainbow crossed her eyes and rubbed her forehead. “Uh… wait, I think I messed that up. It’s like—”
“It’s okay, Rainbow Dash, I get it,” Spike said, a bit of annoyance in his tone.
“Are you sure? Cause I think I could say it right this time.”
Spike shook his head. He put one last spoonful of ice cream into his mouth before he got up from his chair. “No, it’s okay. I need to go pick up Nyx anyway. I’ll see you around,” he said half-heartedly.
Rainbow smiled, nodded, and waved goodbye to Spike. She then leaned back in her seat and kicked her rear hooves up onto the table while putting her forehooves behind her head. “Twilight and Fluttershy aren’t the only ones that can do this.”
Thunk… Thunk… Thunk… Thunk…
The stick in Spike’s claw bounced against the posts of the fence, striking with a wooden thunk as it hit each post. He was walking down a dirt road, leaving the city limits of Ponyville on his way to Sweet Apple Acres. He wasn’t in any rush and wasn’t even paying attention to the road. His eyes, instead, were wandering across the horizon and the lazy clouds above him.
Thunk… Thunk… Thunk… Thunk…
Rainbow’s words were rattling around in his head like bolts in a tin can; they just wouldn’t stay quiet. He hadn’t forgotten about who Nyx used to be. That was the problem; he did remember. He remembered how she acted back before school ended at the start of summer, and she was different now. Nyx’s new temper aside, there was just something wrong. He felt like he couldn’t trust her. He felt it in his gut, just like Twilight knew something was wrong during her brother’s wedding.
Thunk… Thunk… Thunk… Thwak…
Spike was snapped out of his thoughts by the yelp, and he quickly looked to his side. Parked along the side of the road was a wooden cart he hadn’t noticed, the Apple family’s market cart. The yelp had come from Applejack, who had been working to quickly mend some part of the cart when Spike’s stick had whacked her in the side of the head.
“Whoa, sorry, I didn’t see you,” Spike said, quickly discarding the stick.
Applejack rubbed the side of her head before adjusting her hat. “For the sake of everypony, Spike, could ya try keepin’ eyes on where you’re walkin’? The last thing we need is more ponies and dragons barreling around like Rainbow.” Applejack rubbed her head again and then walked towards the front of the cart. She began reconnecting the hitch of the wagon, which had been tied together with rope.
“I am so sorry, Applejack.”
She sighed and put on a smile. “I know, and ya’ll didn’t do no harm, just caught me off guard. Serves me right, I suppose. I should have noticed ya walkin’ up, but I was fixin’ this darn cart again.”
“What happened?” Spike asked as he looked over the roughly fixed hitch.
“Hit a bump in the road and one of the supports snapped clean off. Cart still rolls fine, but without this fix, I’d have to push it back to the farm or pull it with my teeth.” She slipped into the hitch, rolling her shoulders to ensure a good fit. “Personally, neither of those options were really invitin’, so I decided to just get this fixed up right quick. It’s not a fix that will last, but it’ll get me back to the farm.
“Speakin’ of, what are you doin’ out this way?” Applejack asked. She put her weight into the hitch. The cart began to roll and Spike walked along side, keeping pace.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, did Nyx leave something at the farm or did you need some apples?”
“I haven’t picked Nyx up yet, I’m going to get her right now,” Spike answered.
“But you were supposed to pick her up two hours ago. Where have you been?”
“I… got caught up doing something with Rainbow. Besides, I’m sure Nyx doesn’t mind. She probably hasn’t even noticed.”
“But Spike, you know what Twilight said. She don’t want Nyx being anywhere without somepony keepin’ an eye on her.”
Spike rolled his eyes. “Twilight’s just being paranoid. Besides, Nyx is with your brother.”
“No she ain’t,” Applejack said, starting to pick up her pace.
“What do you mean?”
“Spike, there is a reason we wanted ya to pick Nyx up when we did. Big Mac has to haul a load of apples to the next town over. He had to leave an hour and a half ago, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to get back home before nightfall.”
“So… did he leave Nyx alone?” Spike asked, a twinge of worry in his voice.
Applejack shook her head as she tried to pull the wagon faster without breaking the hitch again. “No, I reckon’ he got Granny Smith to keep an eye on her and Apple Bloom.”
“Then what’s the problem?” Spike asked.
“Granny Smith don’t exactly have the best opinion of Nyx right now,” Applejack said, a very serious tone in her voice.
“Come on, Granny Smith is the kindest old mare I’ve ever met. She couldn’t hate anypony.”
“Yeah, she’s as sweet as the day is long when yer on her good side, but when you ain’t—” Applejack shuddered. “—she’s spitfire, vinegar, and rusty nails all rolled up into one. We haven’t been able to mention Nyx’s name in the house since the town’s reconstruction started.”
“Is she really that bad?” Spike asked.
“Pinkie Pie once accidentally ate a slice from a pie Granny Smith was savin’ for her friends when they came over to play bridge. After that, and after the chewin’ Granny gave her, Pinkie Pie baked a fresh pie for Granny every morning for a month just to get back on her good side. And, to this day, Pinkie Pie doesn’t eat anything in our kitchen without askin’ Grannie’s permission first.”
Knowing Pinkie Pie and her tendency to eat any sweets in sight, Spike was beginning to see why Applejack was so concerned. They picked up their pace, trying to get back to Sweet Apple Acres as fast as possible.
Applejack and Spike entered the front yard of Sweet Apple Acres to find the situation worse than they had imagined. Granny Smith was standing in front of the barn, shouting out and glaring down a police stallion from the Ponyville Police Department. The blue coated stallion was being a proper professional, writing down everything Granny Smith said with his unicorn magic, but the tone in his voice made it clear that his own patience was running short.
“Now, ma’am, I’ve explained, I cannot arrest the filly unless she’s perpetrated a crime.”
“What about takin’ over Equestria? What about kidnappin’ my granddaughter? Ain’t them crimes good enough for ya?”
“Ma’am, please,” the officer stallion began, “I’ve told you, the filly known as Nyx has already been tried and punished by the princesses for those crimes. She cannot be arrested for them a second time. If you feel she has committed a new crime, then I’ll gladly help you file a report and ensure it is looked into. Otherwise, there’s nothing I can do.”
“Nothin’ you can do my creaky knee!” Granny snapped back at the officer. “You police ain’t good for nothin’ no-more. No, all y’all just twiddle your hooves and get fat on donuts. What’s next? We goin’ ta be keepin’ timber wolves for pets, or maybe ya’d like to go and get yourself one of them Lupus Majors. Sure, that’s what every colt needs: a pet that can bite his head off faster than ya can blink.”
“Granny!” Applejack scolded. She unhitched herself from the wagon, and quickly put herself between her grandmother and the police officer. “What are ya doin’?”
“What you and that Twilight Sparkle don’t have enough sense ta do.”
“Granny, we’ll talk about this later,” Applejack said firmly before turning to the police stallion. She began to apologize as profusely as she could. She even removed her hat and held it to her chest. At the same time, Spike went over towards the farmhouse, where Apple Bloom was sitting on top of an upside down apple basket.
“What happened?” Spike asked once he was close to Apple Bloom. “Did Nyx eat her pie or something?”
“I didn’t do anything.”
Spike arched an eyebrow and then lowered his head to the upside down basket. He peered through one of the cracks and saw that Nyx was lying down inside.
“Why are you under a basket?” Spike asked Nyx before looking up at Apple Bloom. “And why are you sitting on the basket?”
“Because Granny Smith told us to,” the two fillies answered in unison.
“Well, cause you weren’t here to pick Nyx up,” Apple Bloom answered him. “Big Mac had to ask Granny Smith to keep an eye on her. He and I were expectin’ Granny to start shoutin’ right then, since we hadn’t told her Nyx was on the farm, but she was right nice about it to start with. But then, once my big brother was gone, she told Nyx to get under the basket and told me to sit on it and not let her out. She then called that police officer and they’ve been arguin’ for the past hour.”
“She’s been going at this for an hour?” Spike asked.
“Yes,” Apple Bloom and Nyx said in unison.
“Whoa, surprised she hasn’t yelled herself hoarse.”
“It’s not funny, Spike,” Nyx whined. “ If you had been here on time, none of this would have happened. Why didn’t you come to pick me up?”
Spike winced, and rubbed the back of his neck. “Look, Nyx… I’m sorry, but I got tied up doing something with Rainbow Dash. I just lost track of time.”
“Can we at least go home now?”
Spike nodded. “Yes, let’s just get you out from under this basket.” He motioned for Apple Bloom to jump off, and, as she did, he placed his claws on the side of the basket. He lifted it up just enough for Nyx to crawl out before letting it fall back to the ground.
“Hey! Hey! Don’t you be lettin’ her out! She’s goin’ straight to jail once I talk sense into this rock head!” Granny Smith snapped as she began to hobble over towards Spike and the fillies.
“Granny Smith, that’s enough,” Applejack said firmly.
“Now don’t you be takin’ that tone, missy! You ain’t too big ta get a spankin from me!” Granny Smith shouted back.
“Granny, please, Nyx is my friend,” Apple Bloom pleaded. “Why can’t you be nice? You didn’t used to treat her like this before.”
“That’s cause she hadn’t locked you up before.” Granny Smith lifted a shaky hoof and pointed it at Nyx, who had ducked behind Spike. “That’s cause we didn’t know she was Nightmare Moon before. You can’t trust Nightmare Moon. She’s the most backstabbin’ mare that’s ever lived, betrayin’ her sister like that, and I won’t let her lock you up again.”
“Granny, Apple Bloom has forgiven Nyx for that. Shoot, even the princesses have forgiven her for what she did.”
“Don’t matter, cause I haven’t!” Granny Smith snapped firmly. “Once an apple gone bad, it’s gone bad, there ain’t no goin’ good again. Ya got ta throw it out before it spoils the whole barrel, and that’s what we need to do ta her. I don’t trust her, and I don’t want her near any of you kids, especially Apple Bloom. My gut says she’s bad, and my gut never lied to me before. Why, it’s my gut that keeps them bad apples out of cider every year.”
“That’s enough, Granny,” Applejack said firmly before looking at Apple Bloom. “Take Granny inside and get her sat into her chair. I’ll be right behind ya.” She then looked to Spike. “And you’d best take Nyx home too, Spike, and next time, try to be on time.”
“Yeah, okay,” Spike said, quickly ushering Nyx away as Apple Bloom tried to very gently show Granny Smith inside. This left Applejack to turn back to the police officer and once again apologize for her grandmother’s behavior.
Spike stared into the bathroom mirror that evening, brushing his teeth before bed. The rest of the evening had been uneventful. They had gotten back to the library, had dinner when they were supposed to, and Nyx had gone to bed without any fuss. She hadn’t even wanted a bedtime story. She had just wanted to go to sleep.
He was pretty tired himself and was intending to hit the hay as soon as he finished in the bathroom. Still, as he stared at himself in the bathroom mirror, his mouth full of toothpaste foam, he couldn’t help but glance at another part of the mirror’s reflection, the bathroom door. It was cracked, ever so slightly, letting him see into the dark bedroom.
Setting down his toothbrush and rinsing his mouth, Spike got down from his stool near the sink and crept up to the door. He cracked it open a little further and peered into the darkened bedroom. His eyes adjusted slowly. At first he couldn’t see anything, but then rough shapes began to form. He saw the beds, the shelves, he saw—
Spike’s heart jumped in his chest, and he retreated back into the bathroom, gasping as a rush of adrenaline pumped through his system. He grabbed his tail out of instinct and tried to calm himself down, even as he heard his heartbeat pounding in his ears.
No, he couldn’t have seen… it was impossible.
Swallowing nervously, Spike peered through the crack in the door again, focusing on the spot in the room that had just scared him so badly. His breathing then began to calm. He had thought, for a moment, he had seen Nightmare Moon, towering in the back of the room, but it wasn’t her. It was something far less dangerous, a shadow formed by the window curtains and one of the library’s many unicorn busts.
It had been nothing but a shadow, but its sight alone made him shift his gaze to Nyx. She was sleeping soundly in her bed, innocent and unaware of Spike’s watchful stare. And, as he watched her, his mind began to echo with the familiar voices of Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Granny Smith.
“Nyx throwing a bowl doesn’t mean she’s turning evil again.”
“My gut says she’s bad, and my gut never lied to me before.”
“She couldn’t scare Fluttershy’s chickens.”
“Once an apple gone bad, it’s gone bad, there ain’t no goin’ good again. Ya got ta throw it out before it spoils the whole barrel, and that’s what we need to do ta her.”
“Was Nyx's situation so different from your own?”
“You can’t trust Nightmare Moon. She’s the most backstabbin’ mare that’s ever lived.”
Spike groaned, stepped away from the door, and looked up at the bathroom mirror. He didn’t even know what to think anymore. Rainbow and Rarity weren’t scared of Nyx, but Granny Smith was. Did that mean Granny was being overly paranoid or were Rarity and Rainbow Dash not being paranoid enough? And what about him? He had started the day somewhere in the middle, but now he just didn’t know. He was still scared, but he didn’t know whether that fear was well founded or not. He didn’t know if it was right to be scared.
“But I thought you said she wouldn't listen. I mean, how can you know for sure if you haven’t talked to her about it?”
For a brief moment, Rainbow Dash’s words echoed above the clutter of the others. It was a rare moment when she had something so sagely to say, but at the moment, they were the words Spike needed.
“Oh, it’s good to be back,” Twilight said as she trotted towards the library. She had been on the evening train from Canterlot, which put her into Ponyville well after sunset. Normally, staying up so late wouldn’t be a problem for her, but, after a long weekend, she was looking forward to a good night’s sleep.
Stifling a yawn, Twilight reached for the door, but noticed the light coming out the windows. “Huh, Spike must have left a lantern on,” she said to herself as she pushed open the door and slipped inside. Yet, she found the lights had not been left on. Spike was still awake, sitting on the steps that led up to the bedroom as he held a picture frame in his claws.
“Aw, Spike,” Twilight said as she set her bags down and closed the door behind her. “You didn’t have to wait up for me.”
Spike looked up from the picture, a flicker of a smile forming on his face. “Yeah, I guess… but I wanted to see you when you first got home. So, how did things go?”
“Well, I got the paperwork filed and signed as needed, and my visit with my parents went as well as I could have hoped. Shining Armor even came to Canterlot when he heard I was going to be there. It was so nice. I can’t remember the last time the four of us sat down to a family dinner like that. We just sat and talked about, well, everything… except Nyx.”
“Why not Nyx?” Spike asked. “Wasn’t she the whole reason you made the trip?”
“Yeah, but… Shining Armor just didn’t want to talk about it at all. I mean, my parents aren’t as worried anymore. Princess Luna was even kind enough to assure them I wasn’t brainwashed like the Children of Nightmare were. Still… Shining… he just didn’t want to talk about it.”
Twilight sighed but put on a smile as she trotted towards the staircase where Spike was sitting. “Still, I’m sure he’ll come around. Now, come on, let’s both get to bed before we fall asleep standing up.”
“Yeah, okay,” Spike said as Twilight walked past him on the stairs. He, however, didn’t stand up. He looked back down at the framed picture in his claws and then drew in a breath. “Actually, Twilight, can we talk about something?”
Twilight paused on the steps and looked back at Spike. “Talk about what?”
“It’s about Nyx.”
Twilight turned around and walked back down the staircase until she was standing next to Spike. She looked over his shoulder and saw him holding an old photo of him and her, a picture taken not long after he had been hatched. “What about her?” she asked. “Did something happen?”
“Well, there was something that happened at Applejack’s farm, but that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about. Twilight… I’m kind of still scared of Nyx.”
“Oh, Spike,” Twilight said with a small giggle and roll of her eyes. “Why would you be—”
“Cause she almost got you killed!” he snapped, his grip on the photo frame tightening. “And she hurt you, she hurt you bad.”
“What do you mean, Spike?” Twilight asked.
“I saw the blood! What did Nyx do to you? Did she cut you? Did she beat you up? What did she do!?”
“Easy, Spike,” Twilight said, trying to calm him down. “Just take a breath and start from the beginning. What blood are you talking about?”
“W-well,” Spike began, knowing he could be getting himself in trouble. “Yesterday, I ended up exploring Night Stone Castle with Rainbow Dash. I know I’m not supposed to go in there, but I had just fought with Rarity and… and, well…”
“It’s okay, Spike, just keep going.”
“W-well,” he stuttered. “While Rainbow and I were exploring, we found the castle’s dungeons. A-and, in one of the cells, there was this… this… this blood stain on one of the walls. It was so big, and… and except for Nyx’s friends, you were the only one down there a-and… a-and—”
“Shhhh,” Twilight said. She laid down on the step next to Spike, hooking her forelegs around him and resting her head against his. The baby dragon was on the verge of tears, but he was trying his hardest not to cry. “It’s okay, Spike. It’s okay.”
“But she hurt you, Twilight.”
Twilight held Spike a little tighter, both to comfort him and herself. “Spike, Nyx never laid a hoof on me. Yes, her guards beat me up a little, but Nyx never even touched me.”
“But then where did all that blood come from?” Spike asked as he leaned into Twilight’s embrace.
Twilight bit her lip a moment, then sighed and spoke quietly to Spike. “I think that blood you saw was from when I stabbed Nyx.”
Spike pulled away, his eyes widened in disbelief. “Y-you what?!”
“When Nyx was starting to act like herself again, after she freed her friends, Spell Nexus came to my cell.” Twilight lowered her head a little, guilt hanging heavily on her voice. “He ‘blessed’ me like the rest of the Children of Nightmare, and then ordered me to stab Nyx with a magical dagger the next time she visited my cell.”
“But why would he do that?!” Spike asked. “I mean, he was brainwashed like the rest, wasn’t he? He wanted to serve Nightmare Moon. Why would he want you to hurt her?”
“I don’t know for sure, he just said something about giving his queen what she needed instead of what she wanted.” Twilight paused and used her magic to lift the picture frame from Spike’s claws, looking at the image fondly for a moment before she continued. “Still, Spike, I promise that Nyx never hurt me.”
“Yeah, well, what about all the other stuff she did?” he asked. “We can’t just forget about all that.”
“I’m not saying we should, Spike,” Twilight clarified. “Nyx made mistakes, and she knows she made them. But we all make mistakes, Spike, some of which are bigger than others. Still, these mistakes help us learn. It’s like burning a hoof on the stove. Once you’ve done it once, you know what the consequences will be if you do it again.
“After all, I know a sweet little dragon who made the little mistake of being too greedy on his birthday,” Twilight said, trying to keep her tone as sweet and caring as possible as she put the picture frame back in Spike’s claws.
“But what if she makes those mistakes again?” he asked. “I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“Well, that’s why Nyx needs us to be here for her.” Twilight leaned in and nuzzled the side of his face. “When you make a mistake, one that you never want to make again, that’s when you want to turn to your friends and family. They can help you remember what happened, help keep you from making the same mistake again.”
Twilight leaned in, pointing a hoof at the picture in Spike’s claws. “Do you remember, back when you had just hatched, when you tried to eat the gems in Princess Celestia’s crown?”
A small blush formed on Spike’s cheeks as a smile formed on his lips. “Yeah, I remember. You were reading a book and I was hungry, and then the princess came in. She set her crown down for a moment, and when she put it back on, I was still trying to chew its jewel out of the gold.”
“And I never forgot to feed you dinner after that, at least until you were old enough to take care of yourself a little bit,” Twilight said before she leaned in and nuzzled Spike. “And right now, Nyx needs you and me to help her, to remind her about what happened should she ever start down that road again.”
Spike nodded his head a little and leaned into Twilight. He was still kind of scared, but... now he had something he could do. Nyx wasn’t evil now, and he could help make sure she stayed that way.
“Thanks, Twilight… this helped.”
“It was no problem, Spike,” she said as she stood up and turned to head upstairs. “Now come on, let’s go get some sleep.”
“Okay.” Spike began to climb the steps alongside Twilight. Soon, the lights around the library were dimmed and Spike settled into the warm embrace of his bed. His eyes began to slide shut, and he rolled over and looked across the bedroom. Nyx was still asleep in her bed, and Twilight had passed out on her pillow. All was peaceful, and, with a smile on his face, Spike drifted off to sleep.
He dreamed a good dream that night, a restful one that he would remember fondly in the morning.
It was a dream of Nyx getting chased by Fluttershy’s chickens.
To see how Past Sins and its side stories fit with Season 3 of MLP, check this blog post.
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I do not own the intellectual properties this fan-fiction is based on.