Twilight's Nightmare

by Nightsclaw

CH 31.1 Luna's Night

Luna was still feeling the fatigue of draining herself when she had chosen Candice. 

The doors to her office opened. Three of her Nightguards entered. Upon the back of one was a sealed cylinder marked with warning runes and enspelled to drastically slow time for anything within it. The other two were stabilizing the container on the back of the first.

They were almost acting as if it might explode with the slightest knock. Given what it was, it might just do that.

“Well done,” Luna said, her eyes fixed on her prize. Getting her Nightguard to acquire this from the RGIS impounded materials storage, was just another training mission for them. For Luna, this was her salvation.

The lethal dose of caffeine, for a mortal anyways, hit her like an Ursa Major. Luna’s eyes shot wide. She had to steady herself as a tremble went through her body. 

Luna was awake.

She looked at the magical potion that Pinkie Pie had created. She would need to imbue some of it with her moonlight and see what it did. 

A long calming breath allowed her to steady herself. If she could stand against all the torments and pleasures the dream realm could offer and still present her cold mask to her Night Court, she could control herself though this... 

Her three guards were watching her in awe. Of all the feats she had achieved, still standing after drinking Pinkies concoction is what made them look at her in awe like that. Luna let out a laugh. Ok … perhaps it was the crazed look on her face that was making them look at her like that and maybe it was not awe and was instead not an insignificant amount of worry.

She poured a small amount of the divine beverage into a cup and burst out of the room. Perhaps she should have used the door instead of the wall… oh well, she had ponies to fix things like that.

“TIA! YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS!” She shouted in the full Canterlot Voice.

It had taken a stern talk from her sister, an hour and about a hundred laps flying around the Canterhorn, to burn off the extra energy enough so that she could be mostly sane and able to hold her Night Court. It still amazed her that an earthpony had managed to make such a potent brew. She had already given her Nightguard the mission to get the recipe, or if that was not possible, to offer a royal commission and a pardon for Pinkie to make some more. 

Despite her exertions, she still felt the urge to move, but it was controllable. Sitting upon her throne, she stealthily tensed one muscle after another instead of fidgeting. 

Luna felt her heart drop upon seeing that the first petitioner was one of Blueeblood’s servants, sent to her on his authority and so was able to skip the queue. The cowered did not even attend himself… this had better be an apology.

The servant approached and went through all the obayances that would be expected in her sister’s more formal court. Luna would have been more than happy with a simple bow and the respect to not waste time.

“Speak your master’s words.” Luna snapped in irritation. Great… the coffee is still making me impulsive.

The servant hastily straightened and opened a scroll and began to read “His Royal Highness Prince Blue…”

Luna tapped her hoof on the ground with enough force to echo. “Get to the point.”

The servant rapidly scanned the text mumbling to himself. That meant Luna had to put up with every word of Blueblood’s petition, but at least like this it was over far quicker.

The servant gulped. “Prince Blueblood requests you reimburse him for one count of dry cleansing, two bottles of medicinal wine and costs, due to the interruptions to his open-air party that your flying practices around the city caused.”

“You may relax… I will not strike the messenger for the words of their master. ‘You’ have offered me no disrespect.” Luna said.

The servant bowed, looking relieved.

Luna reached through the darkness she was so attuned to, calling a scroll to her. She lifted it from her own shadow and began writing upon it with a quill fashioned from one of her own feathers. She let a hint of a feral grin grace her face as she finished writing with a flourish. She sealed the scroll with her horn, then used her aura to present it to the servant.

“It would please us if you were to present my response to your master,” Luna said. She could feel the slight fear her intense gaze caused in the pony before her. “You are dismissed.”

The servant scampered off, rushing through the ridiculous bowing and scraping as he left. With that as the start of her night, she was not expecting the events in the physical word to get any more entertaining.

“Next,” Luna shouted.

As soon as she felt Candice enter the dream realm, Luna knew something was wrong. Shifting her attention to her bastion, she looked up. Candice’s star was a swirling mass of dark lonely emotions. Luna flew up to it and touched it, entering her dream.

Candice was standing upon a desolate plane, paying no attention to her surroundings. Everything was deadly silent. Slowly, so as to not startle her, Luna let her become aware of her presence.

Luna asked with a tender tone, “What happened?” 

The silence lasted for a little while. "She threw me away," Candice said, her voice quiet and almost emotionless. The deceptive calm of her tone did nothing to hide the pure hurt dominating her emotions. After a pause, she added. "Threw us away." 

In the Dream Realm, little things like distance or movement were minor concerns. Luna was suddenly there, sweeping up Candice in a comforting hug. She gently nuzzled Candice and stroked her mane.

If anypony was to leave Candice broken tonight, it was meant to be Luna herself with the harsh training she had planned. Her day time with Twilight was meant to bring them closer together, she was expecting them to be happy, to have enjoyed each other, not for Candice to be a wreck.

“What happened?” She asked as she comforted her. Luna’s voice was soft, radiating reassurance. She knew she was using her powers over the dream realm to manipulate Candice. Still, it was her duty to tend to the spirits of all her ponies, and this one before her was hurting. 

“Twilight, she threw us away. Rather than talk, she just teleported us out. We are sleeping on a cloud over Ponyville right now.” Candice said, her voice nearly monotone.

“May I see?” Luna asked in a soft voice, placing her horn next to Candice's forehead.

Candice just nodded silently, another indication of how much pain she was in. It was as if most of her character, her personality had decided to take the night off.

With permission granted, she touched her horn to Candice’s forehead. The images, sounds and scents of the past hours of Candice’s life rushed through Luna’s mind. The chain of events laid themselves out before her. This was not good.

Refocusing on the ‘reality’ around her, Luna could see that the numbness of the stunned, nearly broken mare seemed to be evaporating, anger rapidly building to replace it. She could feel the mare in her embrace shaking in rage.

Candice began in low tones that steadily rose as she spoke. "I know she had to save her, but what right did she have to leave anything out? 'Oh you don't need romantic attachments, you don't need to worry about lust or romantic love. These aren't things you need to be my tool.' WHAT RIGHT DID YOU HAVE, YOU BUTCHER, TO MAKE THOSE DECISIONS FOR HER!?" She finished with a scream out into the void of the dream realm, aiming her hurt not at Luna, but at Celestia.

Luna could feel her eyes change to glowing slits, her body stilled, her expression becoming frozen as if ice. Long practice controlling her emotions to prevent her magic lashing out, being the only thing allowing her to seem calm. Taking in and letting out a few deep breaths, Luna tightened her embrace. “I broke my sister jaw when I found out,” Luna spoke into Candice’s ear.

There was no real reaction to that, the slightest twitch of the ears being the only thing that let Luna know that Candice had heard at all. 

Self-doubt filled Candice’s voice. "What was the point of saving our lives and manipulating our emotions with the dreams if you didn't let us save her then? Why have us fall in love with a mare that doesn't exist? WHY COULDN'T YOU HAVE JUST LET US DIE IF YOU WERE GOING TO DO THIS TO US?" 

Candice was in turmoil, emotions that were currently undirected were turning against her. She had a lot to work through. Luna knew that Candice could recover from this if she could get her to focus on something. The question was what? 

“Because fate still has a role for you to play,” Luna said bitterly, nuzzling, stroking and just being there for Candice. Providing the much needed physical comfort of a caring embrace. She started to groom Candice. Seeing those she cared about like this always brought out her more maternal side.

"Is something like this what caused Nightmare Moon? Did Celestia do something like that to you too?" Candice said. She seemed to be calming, her more rational mind taking over. So this would likely mean this would be a dangerous conversation.

“I don't remember,” Luna said, considering her next words carefully. She needed something else for her to think on. Luna chose her next words and prepared for the reaction they would cause. “She took most of my memories of that time.”

"So she butchered your memories so you wouldn't be mad at her?" Candice asked, utterly horrified.

She could feel the anger at her sister starting to rise rapidly again. If it were possible for a mortal pony to go 'Nightmare', then it felt like Candice was on the cusp of it right now. It was a good thing that Candice was not aspected with one of the destructive elements. Twilight would have burnt her by now.

“Peace,” was her one-word response, “You can't change the past. If I had my memories, I would still be a monster.”

After several seconds of thought, Candice spoke. "I can't help but wonder if you think that because she wants you too."

“How would I know?” Luna laughed amused. She had to be amused or else she knew she would risk falling into darker thoughts, and that was something that was not needed at the moment.

Candice fell into silence. As the minutes passed, the anger subsided, after a couple more minutes and Candice and Insight were both just breaking down into tears and sobbing.

Luna looked to where Insight had unconsciously manifested laying on the floor, also sobbing doing nothing to draw attention to herself. The unicorn mare was still a little unsure about having a body even if it was only a dream avatar.

Shadows formed as soft as silken pillows and pulled Insight into the embrace with Candice. Luna placed a kiss on each of their foreheads. “Let me offer a ray of hope.”

Both of the sisters were now listening as each of them twitched an ear to her in exactly the same way. It was cute but now was not the time to mention such things. 

“Twilight did not throw you away... She got you clear. Right now, she is having a war with herself... And that may not be entirely a metaphor.” Luna said, checking to see she had both of their attention. She did, they were both looking up at her.

Luna continued, “The Twilight you seek is there... But she is one voice amongst many. I imagine you will find her sleeping in a different room come morning. I doubt anything in her original room will have survived.”

"How could Celestia have left her that vulnerable, to being damaged that badly, by whatever happened after Manehatten?” Asked Candice.

Luna shrugged. “She was expecting a few more centuries to fix her.”

"She supposedly knows ponies so well. How could she possibly make an oversight like that? To put her back together and deliberately leave out core parts of what it is to be a pony?" Insight spoke up.

“My sister… She is a pony who wishes she didn't have such feelings at times.  I do believe she honestly thought it would better prepare Twilight to be an immortal.”

"By denying the Princess of Friendship the ability to feel the deepest form of Friendship?" Candice said with a tone that could freeze the ground if there were magic behind it.

"She wished to shield her from the deepest of hurts. Let her watch mortal ponies pass with serenity." Luna waved a hoof. "She views Cadance and Shining as a mistake that could end up with a Nightmare of lost love."

“So what, Alicorns aren't supposed to love?” Insight asked indignantly.

“If you ask my sister... No... Unless it is with another immortal…” Luna let her embrace become more tender and loving “That is something I strongly disagree with.” 

Luna was caught a little off guard as Candice and Insight both just leaned into it and cried. Luna could tell that mainly, they hurt for Twilight. They both wanted her to be whole and happy. Neither seemed to be able to see how Twilight could be, with what Celestia did to her.

"I don't know how to fix this. I feel like I'm missing major pieces to the puzzle. What am I missing Luna?" Candice asked with tears and desperation in her voice. 

The dreams Candice held for a future with Twilight were holding on by a thread. Luna knew that her answer to this question would either lead to Candice reconciling with Twilight or the thought of this night would bring nothing but loathing and nightmares for her.

Having Cadance here would have been so very useful. Luna guessed that if the bond Candice felt towards Twilight was going to have a chance of being repaired to what it was before, she was going to have to tell her at least a little of what was going on.

Luna pulled back from the embrace a little, “You understand that Alicorns are not like mortal ponies. We have abilities that go beyond simply having all of the combined powers of the different tribes.”

They both just nodded.

“These strengths, these… differences also extend to the mental.”

The twins were curious, Luan could see the barest glimmer of hope for understanding.

“Taking my sister as an example. She has crafted herself two fragments. The first, her Mask, can ensure her words and demeanour is exactly as intended. Celestia is also known to leave it in control of her body should court get too dull for her liking.”

“That sounds like not doing your job.” Candice snarked.

Luna could not help the laugh that escaped her. “She would call it delegating.”

“She gets away with it because the others don’t know about it? I would imagine there have been problems because of that.” Insight asked. 

Luna could sense her imagining what it would be like to be trapped in Candice’s mind if she had been like Celestia. That would be another nightmare she would have to keep watch for.

“There is only a problem because of how tightly she controls her Mask. She has to follow all of Celestia’s rules. It seems like she has reduced her fragment to nothing more than a glorified abacus, the beads click back and forth based on an arcane legal tome.”

Insight shivered but remained quiet. Candice held out a wing to comfort her.

Luna continued, despite Insight’s distress. “The second of my sister’s fragments is her Warmind. She is cold, calculating and ruthlessly efficient. She is kept on a much tighter leash than the Mask. If you face my sister in battle, you would also be facing the Warmind. If my sister needs to do something she finds… distasteful, she will often task the Warmind with it and mentally step back and let it happen while retreating from the world if it is too much for her to watch.”

“What could she wind up needing to do that she would retreat?” Insight asked. 

“She never had the stomach for mass slaughter, or to harm those she cares about,” Luna calmly answered.

Insight just looked down in contemplation. Candice asked, “When would she have to harm one she cares about? Like when you came back?” Candice was still young and naive to a degree, she thought that Celestia wielding mind magic to improve the lives of others was an attack. 

Luna spent a moment looking thoughtful, making sure to show no signs of her dark humour. “Fortunately, the Elements worked, so she did not need to try and kill me. If they had failed, then yes, her Warmind would have been the one facing me.”

“That just sounds wrong. How can somepony not let compassion guide their actions in something like that?” Insight asked.

“If the stakes are high enough, easily. Compassion would be selfish, trying to make oneself feel better instead of doing what is necessary. My sister's ability to render a whole continent into molten glass is the only reason wars are uncommon. Plenty of creatures hid from her light, and if it was not for that threat, ponies would be nothing but a food option on their menus.”

Candice seemed to remember a piece of her past, “I know how that feels, being hunted like that. Being seen as food, or at best, a toy.” Her mood took a turn for the dower again.

“I said I would offer you a ray of hope,” Luna said nuzzling Candice. “Twilight is an Alicorn too, one who has yet to master what that truly means.”

"There's more than one of her in there? Like there is myself and Insight?"  Candice asked with curiosity. Dreams and nightmares were warring within her. She wanted hope, she hated the fact that her feelings towards Twilight had been shattered. She seemed to want to rebuild that. All that and she feared that what she had seen was the true Twilight. Feared that the rest of her life she would be nothing more than being a toy, a plaything only to be discarded.

“Yes…” Luna said, hesitating. She still was unsure how much she needed to comfort Candice. She had to be careful. Tia would already be unhappy with how much she had revealed to a ‘mere’ guard.

Candice looked up at Luna, her eyes pleading for more information. She seemed to hold no judgment towards Luna or Twilight.

Luna rolled her dice and hoped Fate would approve instead of being angered. “You have the Twilight you dream of. My sister’s hoof work, now wounded, weakened and I thought healing. You have two cast-offs from my sister’s craft, the parts removed, now as full ponies. Finally, you have a part of me gifted to Twilight by the Elements. Each has their own thoughts, their own will…”

"Part of you?" She thought for a moment. "The only time the Elements interacted between you and Twilight was when you got back. Something transferred. You were released from Nightmare Moon. If that's the case, then the Elements had a plan for it. Was Nightmare Moon transferred to Twilight?" She asked, still no judgment.

“Your mind is by far your most dangerous weapon…” Luna rubbed her own forehead under her horn with a hoof. “I have been asked to give her a chance... She has spent years learning from Twilight. It is my understanding that before the Manehatten incident, Twilight didn't even know she was there... She was merely her prison.”

“So how did she get out?” Candice asked. Surprisingly, she still harboured no judgment.

“She saved Twilight,” Luna said.

Candice cocked her head, showing her curiosity.

Luna concentrated for a moment, recalling the battle at the Temple of the Hidden Path. She extended her control of the dream realm and formed the scene. Twilight standing tall and imperious, decked out in blood-red armour before a ring of dark mages. This Twilight looked like she was dripping with confidence and lethality. Luna did like how Twilight looked in armour, and apparently, so did Candice.

"She battled her way past the dark cult and escaped," Luna explained. "For Nightmare to have slipped her bonds, Twilight had to have been completely out of magic, helpless, defenceless, and... Yes... This seems to all be the Element’s plan... Giving her a daughter that loved her… finally defeated Nightmare Moon."

“Thank you. That explains a lot. She has moments where she's acting more like you. That's Nightmare?” Candice asked simply.

“Yes... I am sorry for hiding this from you... One of my sister’s rules…” Luna said. 

Insight looked down and to the side quickly, a snort coming from her. "Another thing she's done that just causes pain.”

“Though I guess in this case it’s understandable. Keep information about Alicorns secret so it can't be used against you.” Candice said.

Luna could tell both mares had calmed down considerably. Hope had been restored, Luna just hoped she had not paid too much for it. “Would you be happy being ruled by us knowing what you now know? That for us, multiple personalities is normal, and if we don't form them, we do go insane?”

“I would seek to understand. Knowing this, I can at least try to help. First I need to thank Nightmare and reconcile with Twilight. Though when she said ‘Who are you to dictate to me?’ Which one was that?” Candice inquired.

“I don't know. I think I would have been more coy. With the fiery mane, I think it would be one of the cast-offs, either on her own or driving Twilight.”

“I see. Thank you, my love. I think I need to process this some more. Shall we start the training?”

“I first need to ask you to not talk about what you have learned about Alicorns with any but one. And order you never to allow my sister to discover that the Nightmare is no longer imprisoned.”

Candice just looked into Luna’s eyes and said, “You have nothing to worry about with that order. She is a part of both you and Twilight. I wouldn’t do anything that would harm either of you, let alone both of you.” To make her point, she leaned up and kissed Luna with a passion that bespoke of the truth of her words. Insight moved to hug Luna as well, showing that she would not violate the order either.

Luna returned the kiss, stroking a wingtip along Insight, sharing the moment. “This way, you also have some protection against things that could force you to reveal the information. Now… shall we see about your training or would you like the night off?”

Luna could sense the nightmares had mostly receded. The hopes she never has to worry about her love for Luna being shattered like that. The dreams for a happy life with Twilight were returning. Now that they know, they can understand. With understanding, they can love again. I hope Celestia does not find out.

Candice nodded her head. There was still an anger there, directed at Celestia. It might be a good idea to let her burn some of that off in training. It was trivial to add Celestia to the training dream.

Candice disappeared into the training dream. Luna looked at Insight, “So what are we going to do with you?”

“You could still marry us,” Insight joked, trying to lighten the mood.

“I can give you a dream of it, if you like?” Luna said with a hint of playfulness.

“Actually spending time with you is far better than some pleasant dream that I have had before.” Insight said as she cuddled up to Luna.

Luna lent down and kissed Insight, “I am the mare of dreams, so that is only natural.” Luna said smugly.

Partly motivated by love, partly by needing a release from the night’s emotional turmoil, Insight started her energetic but ammature seductions. “I could use a different type of training.” Luna let out a pleased sigh and began a completely different type of lesson than Candice’s. 

In the Dreamscape, she was still enjoying her time with Insight and overseeing Candice’s training. In the physical world, she was presiding over her Night Court. She praised her long years of practice dealing with all sorts of dream encounters while doing other things. 

Without any fragments, she could not splinter her mind. She had one intellect to oversee everything and to feel  everything. Her wing muscles felt a little tense, but they stayed obediently by her side. Insight was proving a quick study. 

Luna was listening to a dry report from a tired supply clerk. At the same time, one of her Nightguards was beside her unseen, whispering his report into her ear.

“My sovereign, the guards in Ponyville have spotted something strange. A black creature similar in form to an Alicorn has been seen leaving Twilight's castle. They attempted to track it, but lost it when it headed into the Everfree.”

Luna nodded subtly to her guard. Before responding in a tone beyond non-thestral hearing. “Leave it be, it is most likely Twilight spreading her wings to calm herself… she has had a stressful night. Inform me immediately should she start to cause trouble within Ponyville itself. Beyond that, if she decides to destroy half the forest, just make sure to keep the ponies clear.”

“Yes, my sovereign.” Was his only response before fading back into the shadows.

Oh joy, the clerk has moved on to how many spare bed sheets the guards have.

In Candice’s Dreamscape, Luna looked out from the eyes of her sister's body. Candice had needed somepony to unleash her anger, her rage, her emotional turmoil upon. Much better it be in a dream instead of the hateful magic building up until something unfortunate happened. 

Mortal ponies did not have the advantage of that part just breaking off, leaving the main personality whole. When a mortal pony broke like that… well, the effects could be permanent, their magic becoming a driving force for evil. For powerful ponies, this was a problem. King Sombra being one of the most notable examples.

It would have been easy to defeat Candice with even a fraction of her sister’s power, but that was not the point of it. Candice, driven by her emotions, seemed unable to use her magic to anywhere close to the level she displayed during her test. Then again, she seemed more interested in smashing her sister’s face with her bare hooves.

Luna pushed her, letting her see Tia’s annoying smirk. The cold eyes of the Warmind and the too-perfect manors of the Mask. Switching between the three of them to perfectly taunt and drive Candice. 

Candice let out an inequine sound as she nearly broke her hoof slamming it into Luna’s dream form’s face. The technique was good, if a little rushed due to the current situation. Luna struck out with a white wing, sending Candice tumbling away. Letting her eyes burn with solar fire and glaring at Candice. She spoke in a sadistic mockery of Tia’s voice. “Is that the best you can do ‘My Little Pony’?”

Candice slowly got to her hooves and seemed to calm, taking deep ragged-breaths. If this had been real, she would have pushed herself past her body’s breaking point. She stood there for a few minutes before she managed to get the air back in her lungs to speak. With each breath, Candice purged a bit more of the residual anger, and she centered herself a little more. 

“Hardly, but it’s all I need to do. I think I've burned myself out emotionally, so thank you, Luna. That was quite cathartic,” Candice said in a much calmer and even appreciative tone. 

“So can you look at my form and not try and attack me now?” Luna made her sister’s body ask.

“Yes, though I don’t think I would have been that stupid in the real world. I just wouldn’t have been able to hide my anger, most likely.” Candice replied, her voice was even now.

“You would not have intended to be that stupid. If you kept the anger festering long enough, either you or it would have acted,” Luna said, letting her sisters form drop from her. The alabaster feathers and coat falling like leaves on an autumn wind, dancing away on the breeze.

Candice calmly walked towards Luna, her eyes fixed upon her own. The hug was not unexpected, the kiss was greatly desired. The action was more loving and less lustful than Luna was used to, but that did not detract from it. Luna returned the slower, more tender kiss.

“I know, that’s why…”

Luna silenced Candice with another kiss, she was more than happy to abort the conversation. Luna pulled the smaller mare to her, enveloping her every sense in a warm embrace of feathers and her night blue coat. Letting the dream dissolve around them, she returned with Candice to the plane outside the wall of her bastion.

Candice nuzzled into Luna’s coat and spoke. “So do you want a massage, ley line cleaning, both? I figured out a new technique for upping the power of the cleaning I’m capable of.”

A class C mage hoarding power for hours or days just for the pleasure of one Alicorn. Celestia would throw a fit at the waste. Luna felt her feral grin. "Oh, we are keeping you."

Candice offered a grateful smile in return. “Only if I get to keep you too." Candice used a hoof to pull Luna’s muzzle down for a kiss. Her outsized wings caressing Luna’s body in a caring and borderline sensual way. This gave Luna ideas, wonderful ideas, she was still enjoying Insight’s attention in the other dream, and her court was excruciatingly dull tonight.

Luna's affection was anything but borderline, her actions making Candice’s body dance to her touch. "For as long as you will have me," Luna purred.

"Would forever be long enough?" Candice replied in a desiring tone.

Luna let out an honest laugh, but could not keep an edge of melancholy from her eyes, "We can give it a try."

"I'll need to bring up some research ideas with Twilight then…” Candice stopped, noticing something. “Are you ok?" She asked with a little worry for Luna in her voice.

Luna let out a gentle sigh and schooled her expression to that of the friendly lover that many ponies dreamt of. "My apologies, merely ghosts of old, paying a visit."

Candice looked wryly at her. There was an edge of judgement or distaste at Luna’s change in demeanour. “Are these ghosts something you would like chased away, or are they memories you cherish?”

"Perhaps a bit of both, depending on my mood," Luna answered, letting her tired wistfulness show.

Candice looked much happier with her honesty. “Then whatever you wish, I will endeavour to provide.”

"An immortal can have a lot of companions they miss," Luna said nuzzling into Candice’s mane. “One day you will be nothing but memories and a painting in my hall.” She whispered mournfully.

“I can imagine. It doesn't make me feel any less special though. And if what I think is possible turns out to actually be possible, you won't have to worry about losing me to old age at least.” Candice said, her voice clear with hope.

Luna shifted to look into Candice’s eyes, interest and a hint of mischief now dominating them. "Just as long as you don't become an undead. I would not mind feeding you souls to keep you here, but they tend to be less interested in some leisure activities," Luna said, offering a suggestive, fanged smile.

Candice looked up into Luna’s eyes, “No worries on that, but I'm starting data gathering for my wellspring degradation. If I can figure out what causes a mortal wellspring to degrade, then I might be able to figure out how to stop it. If I can accomplish that, then you won't need to worry about losing me, and Cadance can hang onto Shining Armor.”

“I think Twilight would be very happy with that too…” Luna looked thoughtful for a moment, resting her head upon the top of Candice’s. “Then I think I might have a course of study for Insight to attend. One of my... Duties is to care for those who will never wake.”

Insight's voice cut in. "What would you have of me, My Love?"

Luna had forgotten, now that Candice was out of the training, the twin’s link was no longer suppressed. So they were sharing information again.

Luna reached out with her ethereal mane and pulled Insight from the sky and into the hug. Insight melted into this new hug easily, as if falling from the sky and into an Alicorn’s embrace, was nothing worth mentioning. Looking into her eyes with a somber gaze, she spoke. “Would you be willing to be a friend to those who dream their last? To help ease both old souls, and those claimed tragically young, into the afterlife?”

Candice looked like she was taken by her own memories for a moment. 

“Yes, I've done that twice before, but they were not sleeping. Candice and I mentally connected to the dying young. We soothed their pain. It was all we could do. Candice foal cast the spell both times,” Insight answered, her tone a quite, saddened whisper.

Luna lovingly crushed the twins in a hug with a pleased and sad smile. “Taking another’s pain shows a lot of compassion.” Luna looked thoughtful “Then if you both accept, Candice, I will train you as my Champion. Insight, I will teach you to be my Shepherd.”

Candice and Insight both moved at the same time and nuzzled her with enthusiastic confirmation of their choice.

Luna looked to her Champion in training. “It will be hard, there will be pain, suffering and torment. The training will break you, but so long as you live, I will be here to put you back together.”

Candice nodded in understanding with a look of determination on her face.

Next, she looked at Insight. “Your training will be both kinder and far more traumatic. You will see secrets you can tell nopony, not even your sister. The lives of our ponies, their very souls will be yours to tend to. You will be their confidant, the keeper of their secrets, the tender to their wills and their last companion in any way they require. You will learn to fight Nightmares, the demons of the blackest dreams and battle horrors that are impossible, that simply are too evil to exist in reality. Are you willing to face all of this in my name?”

Candice looked to Insight with a look of pride in her sister, apparently already knowing the answer. Insight nodded solemnly, determination evident in her eyes and compassion clear in her heart.

“Then so be it…” Luna’s voice seemed to shake reality as she started both of them towards their new fates.