Twilight's Nightmare

by Nightsclaw

CH 13 Luna's Suspicions

Luna paced in her chambers. “What are you up to now, sister?” Something clearly had happened, she would not leave an illusion to manage court unless it was necessary, despite how much she might want to.

The nobles always managed to sneak things past her sister’s Mask when it was unsupervised. One day of this will take years to fix, Tia. She thought darkly.

She lit her horn, reaching out with her magic. It took but a moment for the spell to complete. No, her sister was not in the city.

The one advantage from her banishment was she felt like she could be far more liberal with casting her magic. Without the colossal store of magic she was used to, she could restore her magic to full in days instead of years for only a small fraction of it. 

It currently only took an hours rest to recover the magic used for not sleeping for a week. Despite the fact she was weaker than before her time on the moon, she felt young, powerful and very much alive. The citywide detection spell would only take minutes to recover from.

This ‘advantage’ let her do far more to help her ponies, and have more than enough left to have her fun. Unlike her sister, where every expenditure of magic had to be weighed against how long it would take to recover and how much it would delay increasing the total stockpile.

Each hour the illusion was active would take her sister at least a week to recover from. That her sister was spending her magic so comparatively freely now had Luna worried.

Luna only just sensed the slightest presence in the room with her. Three of them each bearing a hint of her power. A smile crossed her muzzle. They are getting better. Luna thought with satisfaction. 

She turned to regard them, each of them perfect in her eyes, each a creature of her night.

“Sovereign.” Her three Nightguard captains saluted.  

Luna turned first to her Nightchosen-Unicorn. “Report,” Luna commanded.

“Yes, my Sovereign. There are traces of Alicorn tier Invisibility magic following a route from the Solar Princesses' breakroom to the third-floor balcony. It is believed she left via her own wing power. She limited her speed, so no magic traces could be followed to her destination.”

Next, Luna turned to look at the Nightchosen-Threstral. “Report,”

“Yes, my Sovereign. We questioned all the Ponies that interacted with her until the point we can confirm the illusion was placed. The only thing of note is there was a special delivery from the Solar agents. The Solar Princess immediately teleported the report away and called a break only two minutes later. As we are not allowed to question the Solar Agents directly, we investigated the method that the report got to the Palace. We are confident the report came from Ponyville.”

Luna turned her eyes to a too-large shadow in the corner, where she could sense her Nightchosen-Earthpony hid. “We have a detachment in place?” She asked expectantly. 

“Yes, my Sovereign, they are in place. Watching with enchanted spy glasses from long-range to avoid detection.”

“Good, keep me informed,” Luna said, dismissing them all with a wave of her hoof.

“Sovereign,” They spoke as one. There was a teleport flash, the motion of wings and a shift in the shadows. Luna was alone once again. 

“I shall make more of you, my children.” Luna smiled, she most certainly liked being able to spend her magic more freely. It just took a small fraction of her Alicorn magic to allow her to mix Threstral traits in the other tribes. The rite was elaborate and forever tied the blessed ponies to her. For her Threstrals, she added a bit more Alicorn magic empowering what they already had.

Just being able to feel them at the edge of her mind somewhat made up for how lonely it was in her mental bastion. Her only attempt to get around the seal Celestia had placed on her, had produced the Tantabus. It was more of a pet than an eternal companion, useful but not what she longed for. At least I still have the dreams to tend to.

“Tia, what are you doing?” Luna was tempted to go to Ponyville. If she did, her sister would detect her, and there would be questions. Better to let my Nightchosen be my eyes.

She was too worried to shapeshift and go out seeking a tempting stallion or mare to pass the time with. She let out a frustrated growl. 

Shining Armour and Cadance are here for their protection… Hmm, perhaps I can do something productive and have some sport as well. She thought.

It took a moment to recast the detection spell with the new targets. It was simplicity itself to channel her Therstal magic and step into and becoming one with the shadows.

Looking out from the shadows, Luna observed Shining Armour and Cadance enjoying a simple lunch. As she would not be interrupting anything too personal Luna emerged from the shadows.

Immediately a powerful dome shield sprang into existence around the married couple. Shinings sword was drawn before Cadance jumped to her hooves startled.

The light it radiated nearly blinding to her shadow-adapted eyes, closing them for a moment. She let them shift back to the disagreeable, day-adapted ones. Luna dipped her head. “My compliments on your reflexes Prince Consort.”

Shining bowed his head in response, returning his blade to its sheath. 

“Aunty, don’t scare us like that. You had me thinking we were under attack.”

“That was the point, dear Niece. If this were an attack, if not for your consort you would be mine for the taking,” Luna said, advancing licking her lips.

Cadance backed up, her wings spread ready to take flight. “Aunty Luna…”

Shining coughed politely. “Princess Luna, any news on my sister?”

Luna looked to Shining. “Not yet, there are leads that my Nightguards are looking in to… Celestia is off Stars knows where. So I can only assume she is chasing her own leads,” she said. And telling me nothing, again. Luna did not add out loud.

“If this is not about Twilight, why are you here, Aunty?” Cadance asked, her composure now restored.

“One Alicorn is missing, possibly worse.” Luna gazed hardened, looking straight at Cadance. “And by how you reacted to my arrival, you would be an easy target.”

Shining’s only reaction was his eyes narrowing slightly. Cadance, on the other hoof, looked like she might cry.
Luna started to circle the Princess of Love. “I intend to train you. Shining Armour will not always be by your side, dear Cadance.”

“I will not leave her side until we know things are safe.” Shining declared. Misunderstanding what Luna meant. The sadness in Cadance’s eyes let Luna know she took it to mean that he was a mortal.

“I know my sister neglected some important things in Twilight’s training and yet she sent her into battle. How much more did she miss in training her diplomat?” Luna said.

Luna directed her thoughts to Cadance’s mind. Have you at least been through your trial?

“So we should start with basic defence and what options you have as an Alicorn,” Luna said out loud.

Cadance discreetly nodded so Shining would not notice. She responded mentally. The Trial of the Path or that’s how Aunty Celestia explained it afterwards.

“I am sure Shining could train me,” Cadance answered Luna’s spoken question.

Luna raised an eyebrow. Mentally she messaged. Indeed? Well, you must have the luck of the Stars, few survive without preparation. Aloud she said, “He is not an Alicorn, else he would be Tia’s Prince,” She ended teasingly.

As Shining shifted, uncomfortably, the mental conversation continued.

I think she was going to leave it until Shining passed… Cadance responded with sadness in her eyes. 

Does he know? Luna’s eyes flicked to Shining.

Cadance shook her head so slightly it was imperceptible to anypony without enhanced senses. It was one of Queen Chrysalis assassins. Celestia covered it all up and told me to tell nopony, not even Shining.

Did you know Twilight has been though her Trial as well?

No, I was unaware, she never told me.

She had terrible nightmares about it and was scared of my sister for a time.

Shining interrupted them. “So if this is happening, how is it being done? I will not have you beating my wife bloody like you do your guards.”

He is so cute. Luna sent, cutting off the mental connection. “My training works and those that pass are far stronger for it.” She said to Shining.

“I will be fine,” Cadance responded before Shining could say anything.

Luna directed her full attention to Shining, channelling a little Alicorn power. “If you wish to be useful, see if you can get any information from the Solarguard about where my sister is and her objectives.”

“If there might be a lead about Twily then you can bet they will tell me.” He said before heading out the room.

“Did you have to influence him like that Aunty?”

“It was more efficient. This way, he gets to feel useful, instead of crying every time I make you bleed.”

Cadance gulped. “Is there no way I can talk you out of this?”

“Yes, but I know you would not agree.” Luna’s eyes became slited and full of lust.

A stunning bolt hit Luna between the eyes. She blinked a few times, clearing her vision. 

“No, bad Aunty,” Cadance said a rolled newspaper held in her aura.

Luna laughed a massive grin on her face. “Top marks on the speed of that flash-cast stun spell, only just a passing grade on its power.” her expression returned to neutral. “You need a better weapon than a newspaper. I will find you one.” The smile returned. “You do know we are not actually related, right?” She did not even blink when the improvised paper weapon smashed into her muzzle.

Yes, this was the right choice, this is going to be so much fun.

The shadows in the room leapt towards the two mares as Luna teleported them to her selected training field.

Luna circled Cadance watching the most recent gashes in her flank close. “Doing something immediately is always better than doing the perfect thing a moment too late,” she instructed.

It had taken hours to get to the stage where Cadance would reliably notice attacks from her sides or her rear. Strangely she had no trouble detecting attacks from above or below. She let her eyes drift to the blood coating the stone floor of the windowless chamber as she considered her student's abilities.

Cadance was an acceptable combatant if it was not for two unforgivable flaws. The first was she would not fully commit to an attack with intent to harm, the second, she did not deal well with the unexpected. Against a conventional attack, she could see coming, she could nail it with a stun bolt or raise a shield in the blink of an eye. She excelled at flash-casting low-powered spells.

“Twilight would have blasted me or teleported away. You stopped to think.” Luna complained.

“For Star’s sake, you are an Alicorn. If something unexpected jumps out at you just strike it. Or jump aside if you feel like checking to see if it is truly a threat before committing to an attack.”

“Are you ready to try attacking me, dear Cadance?” Luna asked

Cadance nodded, her horn lit and wings spread.

“You know the one rule, yes?”

“No striking with my horn.”

“Good, then when you are ready,”

She leapt with such force the stone cratered under her hooves. With a mighty flap of her wings, Cadance claimed her rightful place in the air. A deliberate shock wave of air magic concealed everything in a cloud of powdered stone.

Luna left a copy standing where she was as she retreated into the shadow to watch. 

A rapid onslaught of stun bolts flew from Cadance’s horn. Darts of crystal formed along her feathers during the upstroke of her wings only to be sent flying at Luna’s copy on the overpowered downstroke. She rolled in the air, evading an expected counter-attack. She raised a bubble shield around her self hovering in place, waiting for the dust to settle.

The stone floor was shattered and singed, ten’s of meter-long crystal darts pierced halfway into the ground. Luna’s copy was standing there unimpressed. 

Luna stomped her hooves in approval. “Now that was more like it,” Luna said with relish. 

Cadance looked at her. “Celestia taught me never to use things like that, and you make it sound like a good thing.”

“I can understand her teaching you restraint. But to leave you vulnerable, it is almost as if she was leaving you weak just so she could test Twilight.” Luna looked at the broken ground, considering if that could be true. “No matter, you have got to be able to do better than that. Now continue.”

After receiving more than a few painful cuts for hesitating, Cadance acted immediately. Her horn flared with a second corona, she reached out pressing her hooves against her shield.

Interesting. Luna thought.

Cadance’s shield turned to solid crystal and fell from the air. Arks of energy danced over its surface, reaching out finding the darts.

What is this? Luna tried to puzzle out what was going on.

Each dart exploded into a fine powder, scattering to fill the room. Then there was a bright flash.

Luna woke up, that was odd, she did not remember going to sleep. She reached out to her moon. Four seconds. She thought. She had been unaware of her surrounds for four seconds. 

Slowly her senses started to make sense of things. She was splayed out on the ground as if dropped there. Her ears were bleeding, her body was restoring itself from both heat and a considerable impact. Her eyes were still healing, so she could not see. So she reached out to a nearby shadow and scryed from it.

Something pressed against her neck, looking from the shadow she could see a blade of crystal in Cadance’s aura resting against her neck.

She could still not hear, but she could speak. “Well done Cadance, well done.” She smiled as she directed more of her Alicorn magic to heal her sense of hearing first.

“... alright?” She only caught the end of what Cadance said.

“How did you make that explosion with so little magic?” Luna asked with sincere interest.

“A trick I picked up from foal sitting Twilight.”

“What sort of foal sitting has to deal with things like that?” Luna was incredulous. 

Cadance laughed, removing the blade from Luna’s neck now the training seemed over. “It was from her reading and experiments. Apparently, anything rendered into a fine powder can be made to explode. It is a common risk with storing flour, and I can use it to my advantage with magically charged crystals.”

Luna got her hooves under her and stood, blinking her newly healed eyes. “It seems I may have underestimated you.” Luna offered a shallow bow to Cadance. “My apologies.”

Cadance pulled Luna into a hug. “I know you did this because you care, and it has been useful.”

Luna returned the hug. “You could use a bath.”

“We both could.”

“Are you offering something?”


“Give it a few hundred years...”

“In your dreams.”

“Now that's an idea,”

“You would not.”

“No, I take my duty seriously. I would only do such a thing with your expressed consent,” Luna said somberly before her tone shifted to playful. “But it is fun to tease you.”

Luna Teleported them both to the Royal baths.

When Shining Armour caught up to them, they were both relaxing, happily chatting. Cadance styling both their manes and tails. 

“Did you discover anything Prince Consort?”

“Only that Celestia has sent a lot of messages to her agents.”

“So nothing of any real note, as far as my guards have seen she has been going around Ponyville talking to ponies. Other than one case of her galloping like her tail was on fire, nothing else happened.”

“Do you think she saw a chicken?” Cadance asked giggling.

“Perhaps that would explain her reaction,” Luna said.

“So we know nothing, and you two have been relaxing all day?”

Cadance’s gaze darkened but before she could speak, Luna did. “Yes, there is nothing like sparring with blade and magic followed by a nice relaxing bath,”

“It is good to see you are gentler on my wife than your guards.”

Luna laughed loud and hard. “Tis your wife, who is the brutal one.”

Shining’s unimpressed expression did not seem to believe her. “Whatever you say, Princess.”

Luna looked between the pair. “Would you two be willing to, out of your own concerns for Twilight’s friends, be willing to pay them a visit, and see what you find in Ponyville?”

“That sounds like a plan,” Cadance said, smiling.

“If Twilight is there, we will find her,” Shining promised.

“By arranging this when my sister is away, she can not deny you,” Luna smiled.

“We will head out before sunrise tomorrow,” Cadance decreed.

“We should pack then and get an early night,” Shining said.

They both said their farewells and left. Luna barely noticed, she had a lot to think about. Will this move of mine help Twilight?

“Tia, what is it with you and leaving our younger kin underprepared?” She spoke into the silent room. 

Dear sister, why did you not want me teaching either of them? It only took a few hours to drastically improve Cadence's skills. The things I could have done with years to hone Twilight?

She closed her eyes once again, trying to find Twilight in the Dream Realm. Where are you hiding?