Night Mares and Daydreams

by Dreams of Ponies

Chapter Four: Nature


I passed just beneath a tree branch, the bark brushing my mane.

Where? Where is he?

Flapping hard, I carefully scanned the trees for anything that might give me a clue.

“I know you’re around here somewhere,” I called out, hoping for… “Gotcha!” Something big moved out from behind a cluster of trees, loud pounding steps echoing out into the Everfree. “Oh no you don’t!”

There was a groan as I turned, and then spiraled downward. The tips of my wings curved as I dove, already in hot pursuit of my target. The big, blue backside of an ursa minor came into view as trees soared past me.

“I’m gonna getcha, Teddy!” He turned his head just slightly, pupils shrinking as I came into view. I winked at him, smiling as I crept ever closer. Then he turned hard to the left, and I was forced to dodge around a particularly large maple tree as I followed.

“Hey!” I whined, my wings burning as I strained to keep up. There was a series of low grunts. “You think that’s funny, fuzzy-butt?”

He pounded ahead of me, heading for a large opening in the hillside. The dark opening of the cave was nearly pitch-black, and I had to narrow my eyes to follow Teddy’s shape inside it. A wave of warmth pressed against my fur as the light of the moon disappeared. The steady drip of water played cadence to the heavy thumps of Teddy’s paws.

Following in the near-dark, I suddenly lost track of my prey as he turned sharply to the right. The luminescence of the moss that grew along the walls was enough to gauge just where to follow. I took a hard right, and was greeted by the sight of a split path, and no Teddy to be seen.

“Aw, that’s not fair!” I cried, my voice echoing around me. I smirked, unable to help it. “Echooo!” I waited, then held my hoof to my ear, grinning like a mad bat.


With a little giggle, I took the path to the right, wings beating hard to make up for lost time. Sweat started trickling down my forehead, the air thickening with hot moisture. My head turned left, then right, but found nothing but a simmering pool of water that popped and sizzled beneath me.

I screwed up my face in frustration just as a strange hissing came from beneath me. Then, without warning, I was blasted upwards as a wave of heat caught in my wings. A huge geyser of water sent me flying upwards, and as I turned my eyes towards the ceiling, I found a small passage leading up.

I didn’t beat my wings, instead holding them still as the rush of heat carried me faster and faster into the sky. Then a rush of cool air washed over me as the night sky came into view. I blinked as I stared up at the full moon, the strange shadow of a mare adorning one side. I’d asked Daddy about it before, but…

I’ll tell you when you’re a little older, Moony.”

“I hate it when he does that,” I said to nopony. I turned, the tops of the trees spread out before me, all swaying in a loving breeze. As I tilted downwards, my eyes homed in on a blue blur moving out from directly beneath me.

There’s no escape!


I dove, wings tucked in as I darted downwards like a falling star. My eyes narrowed as wind rushed past me, my fangs bared as I soared towards a now-startled ursa named Teddy. He immediately took off, but I was moving far too fast. Dodging and weaving between trees, I was on top of him in moments. I thumped down against him, and his legs fell out beneath him, his chest skidding across the leaves as my hooves gripped into his fur.

After we came to a stop, I jumped and twirled, then landed in front of him and pressed my hoof to his nose.


He grumbled, rolling his eyes as he stood up. “I win again!” Teddy groaned grumpily as he walked, still breathing heavily from the chase. I hopped up and onto his back, facing towards the sky with my wings splayed out. Each step Teddy took was like being gently rocked to sleep, and soon, as I watched the stars twinkle down at me, I dozed off for a little nap.

Mmmm, mango trees, as far as the eye can see…

Then something stopped and I hit the ground.

“Owie…” I turned to see Teddy sitting before a long, rickety bridge. “Oh. Where are we?”

Teddy started to move away, but I stared on, seeing the tops of some strange rocks a bit past the shadowy trees on the other side.

“Come on, Teddy. I want to see what’s over there!” He didn’t look thrilled at all, and when the bridge groaned dangerously at the weight of his paw, he moved back and shook his head. “Well, fine then, scaredy-bear, you just wait here then.”

There was a grumble, and then Teddy turned around in a circle, stomping the leaves and ground before settling down with a comfy flop. I smiled and took to the air, landing on the other side of the bridge and giving a small wave before I continued.

The back of my neck itched as I passed chunks of square stone, crushed trees, and strange craters in the ground.

What happened here?

Eventually, I found myself standing before a huge, looming structure. Dark rocks stacked higher than the trees rose before me, the tops of several columns ending in pointed tips. An arch just past me crossed above what I guess was the opening. As I stepped towards it, an icy shiver crept down my spine, my fur standing on end.

I stood just beneath the archway, staring into the shadow that seemed to move and heave before my eyes.

“Hello?” I asked the darkness. No response. “Hellooooooo?” I asked again, straining my ears. Then, there was the faintest whistle. I thought it was coming from inside, my neck stretching forward in search for the source. Then I heard it again, though this time I got a fix on the direction—back towards the bridge, and in a pattern of high, then low, then high again.

“Daddy,” I whispered. Then I took off, leaving the structure behind. I quickly found myself back at the bridge, waving at Teddy as I flew past. “Let’s go, Teddy. Daddy needs me!”

The whistle came again, high, low, and high. Daddy had taught me a few different patterns so we could communicate across the forest.

“High, low, high…” That meant… I screwed my eyes up in thought, then they shot wide. “Come quick, Little Flower, I need help as quick as a shadow.”

I twirled between a pair of trees, heavy steps bounding from behind me as Teddy now struggled to keep up with me. I flapped hard to get above a large patch of bright blue flowers, then turned and headed towards the eastern end of the forest.

Placing the tips of my hooves at the either end of my mouth, I blew hard, giving two whistles as a return signal. I kept flying as fast as I could, ears perked for any response. Then I heard it, three short whistles relaying his answer: Understood.

There was a rustling as I watched a wooden creature, shaped with four legs and vicious, splintering teeth. It raced alongside me, and just before it leapt at me, I beat my wings hard and rose above it.

“Sorry, Mr. Timberwolf. I don’t have time to play right now.”

There was a heavy crunch as Teddy ran over it, paying the wolf no more mind than a stray twig on the forest floor. A couple minutes later, I found Daddy standing a cautious distance from a large manticore, the lion head watching him warily as its scorpion tail waited, poised for attack.

Daddy turned slowly, his leaf-filled mane shifting as he smiled at me. He kept one eye on the manticore before him, which was resting in a large pile of twigs, leaves and grass.

“Sweetheart,” he said slowly, “there’s a very irritable manticore between me and a very rare plant.”

“Okay…” I said, watching the beast carefully, and getting the stink eye in return.

“And she’s pregnant.”

I blinked several times. “What does that mean?”

“It means she’s going to be a mommy.” Daddy didn’t take his eyes off the beast’s tail, watching her intensely.

“What can I do to help?” I fluttered my wings as I looked behind the manticore. There, on a little ledge just above it, was a shining golden flower with bright orange petals. “Ooh, that’s pretty. What’s it called?”

“It’s called Breath of Celestia, and I need it to make a very expensive mixture. Now, when I distract it, scoop up the flower. And be careful.”

“I will, Daddy. She won’t get me.”

“I mean with the flower!” I turned and scowled at Daddy, and he stuck his tongue out at me. We laughed despite the danger, and I flapped to get myself above the manticore.

“Alright, three… two… one… go!” Then Daddy moved forward, the Manticore thrusting her tail at him. At the last second, he moved to the side, catching the tail between his hooves. With a firm pull, the beast was spun around and dragged backwards, and I flew up to the ledge. Carefully, I dug the plant up from beneath the roots, then turned and glided back down.

“I got it!”

Daddy let go, and the beast turned back around to face us. Fortunately, we had already backed away from the nest, giving it plenty of room before we looked away and ran.

“Amazing as always, Moony,” Daddy said as he scooped me up and nuzzled me.

“Hey! Don’t squish the flower!” I cried, giggling.

We both laughed as he plopped me onto his back, then set off towards home.

Crossing the stream near our house, I was suddenly flung forward as Daddy tripped. I opened my wings and glided down before turning to see his face buried in the mud.

“Daddy, it’s not time for a nap!”

He blinked up at me wearily. “Oh, it’s okay, little bat. I’ll just… doze off for a bit.”

I giggled before reaching down to pull at his mane with my teeth. Then I saw the blood. My eyes went wide as I saw purple fluid oozing from a single puncture wound.

“Daddy? Oh, no…” I looked around, my pupils dilating as my brain reeled. “Just… stay here, okay?”

A low moan was all the answer I needed as I took off towards home as fast as my wings could carry me. My eyes darted around, looking for anything that I could use when they fell upon an open book on the table before me: The Deadly Beauty of the Everfree. My Daddy’s hoofwriting was etched out before me, the page already open to Manticores and how to deal with them.

Oh, Daddy. Why didn’t you just make it ahead of time? I smiled sweetly before jumping for ingredients.

“Manticore poison… I… I need… red lotus petals.” I scooped up a pouch of small crimson leaves. “And… Moonmoss,” I said, grabbing the green jar of ooze. “Annnd crushed lightning dust.”

I dug around erratically, bottles and jars shifting as I looked for the final item. It took far longer than I was comfortable with, finding it on the top of a now formerly locked cabinet. It was a container of shimmering, blue powder.

I grabbed the cooking pot, placed all the jars and a striking rock inside it, then took to the air. The last ingredient was already there.

Daddy still lay where I had left him, and I had to bend down to press my ear to his chest to listen to his heartbeat. It was faint, and not quite keeping time.

“Don’t worry, Daddy. I-I’m gonna make you better.”

Sticks were gathered, a fire was started, and water was collected. Soon I was mixing ingredients together into the pot and letting them simmer. With a stray leaf, which I wet with boiling water, I collected trace amounts of poison from Daddy’s wound and transferred it to the pot. The mixture turned a bright purple, then I removed it from the flame.

As I let it cool, I bent over and kissed Daddy’s forehead. “I-I need you to drink this, okay?” There was a low moan as I lowered the pot, teasing his jaw open with a wing, and then poured half the contents into his mouth. In anticipation, I held his mouth and nose shut, tilting his head upwards so he didn’t spit it back out.

There was a hard swallow, a shudder, and then another groan.

I let him lie there for a while, tending the fire and watching him carefully. Eventually, I heard a soft pounding from behind me, and turned to see Teddy plop down beside me. The ground shook a little as I looked up at him and smiled.

“Hey, Teddy.” Then I pointed to Daddy. “He’s not feeling too good, but I gave him something that’ll fix him up.”

Teddy snorted as he watched us, maybe remembering the last time all three of us had been at the stream like this.

There was a groan, and then the scuffing of hooves against the dirt. I turned to see Daddy struggling to sit up, eyes opened only just.

“Moon Flower…”

“I’m here.” I trotted over and sat against him, supporting him in more ways than one.

“What… what happened?”

“You got stung, remember?” I smiled as he put his hoof around me. “By momma manticore?”

Daddy closed his eyes and exhaled deeply. “I couldn’t even make it home. Dang.”

“You knew you were stung… didn’t you?” I asked, my eyes narrowing slightly.

He paused before he spoke, “Yeah, you got me, Moony. I… I just didn’t want to worry you.”

I fluttered my wings and twirled around to whack him on the head.

“Don’t you ever do that again!” I growled at him, my face burning up. “Don’t scare me like that, stupid Daddy.”

His eyes dropped shamefully, then he snorted. “Did you just call me stupid?’

“Yes, Stupid!” I bonked him again. “Stupid, stupid, stupid—”

He held his hoof up to block my attacks, but then reached out and snagged me out of the air.

“Eep!” I said as he dragged me into a firm hug.

“You’re the best daughter I could have ever asked for.” A small trickle of water made me glance up to see Daddy looking down at me, crying and smiling at the same time.

“A-are you crying, Daddy?” I teased, knocking a hoof against his chest. “I thought stallions don’t cry?”

“It’s from the poison,” he claimed, looking away and out at the pink horizon, where the sun was just beginning to rise. We both fell over into snuggles and giggles.

It had been a while since we made it home. We’d stoked the fire and gathered whatever materials we hadn’t used, along with the leftover antidote I had brewed. Daddy had been almost glowing as we walked inside, though if that was just his mood or the lightning dust in the concoction, I didn’t know.

“I really don’t know what I’d do without you, Moony.”

I smiled as I put bottles away, but then a thought crossed my mind.

“Well... if you want to make it up to me.”

Daddy stopped, then looked at me worriedly. “Uh-oh.”

I frowned at him. “What’s that supposed to mean?” I whined.

He shook his head, smiling and closing his eyes. “What did you find?”

“I, uh…” I blinked. “How did you know?”

Daddy laughed and reached over to ruffle my mane. “I didn’t.” A cool breeze brushed past us. “But there’s always something in this forest, right?”

I facehoofed, scowling for a moment, but then gave in and let Daddy rub my ears. “Teddy and I found this cool stone house deep in the forest, just across an old bridge.”

Daddy raised an eyebrow. “Finally found the old castle, did you?”

I blinked, then nodded slowly. “Can we go explore it?”

“Hmm…” Daddy said, touching his hoof to his chin.

“Pleeeeeease,” I begged.

Then he grinned and booped me on the snout. “Alright, Moony. You’ve earned it.”