Remnant of a Nightmare

by Rainedash

Of lists and doubts

“Oh dear Celestia, what happened last night?”

I could remember their voices, the feeling of hunger as they were getting closer, and then... Nothing. I couldn't have harmed those little fillies, right? Right, I would never do that. Even if I was losing control of myself, I would never hurt a foal. I may have in the past cast a want-it-need-it spell on them and... And no. I didn't do it. Why then, do I have this odd taste in my mouth? It was bitter, and tasted like copper, but it was so good. My spine shivered at that last thought. I was not naive enough to doubt what that taste was, but I refused to say it. The more I thought of this, the more that bit of doubt in myself began to grow. They were getting closer and I was getting hungrier, but please; I don't want to be a foal killer. Anything but that. I'm not a monster. Please Celestia, anything but that.

I paced back and forth in my room as the thoughts continued. Pacing had always felt like the right thing to do when I was troubled and it had long been a habit of mine. At least I haven't completely lost myself if my bad habits are still around. I felt doubt, reassurance, doubt, reassurance, et cetera ad infinitum. Every time I tried to convince myself otherwise, the doubt kept coming back. To make matters worse, my left eye started twitching, seemingly in time with each of the doubts as they forced themselves into the forefront of my mind. Though having my nervous tick was somewhat comforting right now. I'm a good pony so I couldn't have killed them. That wasn't completely true. At least, not anymore. I certainly had gotten this taste in my mouth from somewhere. Maybe there wasn't enough of it to really hurt somepony. No, it had to be enough to sustain me. I was back to full strength, so whatever I fed off of, it had more than enough of what I needed. Aha! That's the proof. A filly probably wouldn't be enough, but there were three of them. Three cute, innocent fillies that had their whole lives ahead of them. No, I'm not a monster. I don't want to be a monster. This was horrible. I'd lose the element of magic. Celestia would imprison me, and rightly so. I would be a danger to everypony I knew. I had to find a solution to this, and I had to do it alone. If I could do this, figure out what had happened; I would make it all better before anypony truly knew what was going on. If they did find out, I would still make amends somehow. I could find out what that light did to me and reverse it. I could bring the cutie mark crusaders back to life, and that should be easy because they aren't dead. Stupid eye twitch.

I just needed information, but where to begin? I could look through the entire list of transformation and mind manipulations spells. However, this spell might have been something completely rare. What am I saying? Of course it was rare. It wasn’t like anypony could just see a random shield and illusion spell hybrid that just happened to have a light orb that attacks unicorns while walking down the street. Does it just attack unicorns? Maybe it wouldn't have reacted had a pony without magic walked in. No, this wouldn't be the way to find what it was and what happened to me. If this spell was as old as I thought, maybe there have been others affected by it. There'd surely be stories about them. Maybe if I looked up my symptoms I could find stories or doctor reports. I created a list of symptoms in my head – I didn't want to leave paper trail – starting with my new desire to drink.

My thoughts came to a sudden halt when I heard the front door open. Only then had I realized how frantic my breathing had become. It was almost to the point of hyperventilating. My heart was in the same condition, going much faster than it should. Who could it be? Why would somepony just be walking in- Right. Library. It was just someone coming to check out a book or return it. Spike will take care of this. Nothing to worry about. Unless it was somepony that saw me last night and was coming to ask Spike why I had been feeding on fillies, which didn't happen. There was always that possibility.

I lit up my horn, creating a spot on my door to amplify sounds coming from the main room. Whatever it was that I fed on last night had also, thankfully, restored my magic. Well, not so thankfully if somepony had been hurt.

“Howdy Spike, got a moment?” It was Applejack. Of course it'd be her.

“Sure thing Applejack. What's up?” asked Spike.

Please, please, please let it be nothing about Apple Bloom. Maybe it's about a book. Sure, this is a library after all, it'd have to be about a book. “Well, Spike, ah was wonderin' if ah could hang this in the library.” There was the sound of paper shuffling. Hang? This wasn't going to be good.

“Oh, she's missing?” asked Spike. My eye twitched.

No. It can't be. I had to get out of there. With a flash, I teleported outside, right behind the library. Bright light. Bright light! I tightly closed my eyes and held a foreleg over them. I guess it had been awhile since I've been out during the day, but it had never felt like this. I shook it off, peaked into the day's light, and gave my eyes a moment to adjust. Everything still seemed too bright, but it didn’t hurt anymore. Another side-effect? I didn’t want to jump to conclusions just then, so it went on the list of ‘maybe-symptoms’. I knew the chances of it being related were high, but I couldn't allow red herrings to skew my analysis.

Applejack would have to wait for her answer. I had to figure this out for myself before I talked to her, or anyone else about what’s happened. I would find a way to make it up to her, I swore I would, but I couldn't let anypony interfere with my research. They would just slow me down. My eye started twitching again.

I walked along a back street, not really caring where I went. I noticed that everything around me: the buildings, the landscape, and the ponies all felt alien to me. Everything was just... Off. I wasn’t sure how else to describe it. Another item for the mental list of ‘maybe-symptoms’.

After a few twist and turns, I ended up at the market. Ponies bustled from one stand to another as merchants called out about how great their deals were.

“Best celery this side of Canterlot,” called one.

 “You won't find a better deal than this,” said another as he pushed a tray of pears towards a confused looking, wall-eyed pegasus. There were always little things that needed to be picked up for home, and maybe a bit of shopping would help calm me down.

“Oh, there you are?” I turned back and spotted Rarity surrounded by a few stallions carrying bags, her's I would assume. She trotted up and hugged me. “It's certainly nice to see you out and about again. How are you feeling?”

“Better,” I lied. Technically it wasn't a complete lie. I really did feel better physically, however the reason behind that improvement was slowly but surely driving me insane. “Still a bit worn down though.”

“Oh you poor thing,” she said. “We simply must fix that. You should come with Fluttershy and I to the spa.”

Spend time with Rarity? After last night? This was bad. Really bad. If I spent time with her, we'll start talking. If we talked, she'll bring up her home life, which of course included her family. Family meant Sweetie Belle. Wait. Something doesn't add up here. Why wasn't she worried about Sweetie Belle? Doesn’t she know?

“Twilight, you're doing that thing where you blankly stare off into space again. Are you working on some new magic spell?” she asked. “If that's the case, you certainly have to come. Nothing clears up the mind like a day relaxing at the spa.”

Really? Well, if it does help in the process of problem solving then it could be useful after all, and what Rarity doesn't know she won't bring up. Ha! This was perfect. “Maybe being at the spa is exactly what I need. Thank you Rarity.”

“Oh, don't mention it, darling. We'll go back to my place for a bit of tea and then go get Fluttershy.” She turned and started leading me back to The Carousel Boutique. “Oh, did you actually need to pick something up while we're here?”

I waved off her concern. “Just a few little things, nothing important. It can wait.”

“Right then. Oh, and boys, make sure not to drop anything.”

“Right Miss Rarity,” they said, practically in unison.

I must have been crazy for doing this. I knew I should have been back at the library working on a possible cure. But, if I went back there, I'd surely see that missing poster. I could have always teleported back to my room and made Spike fetch all the books I needed, but if this really did help me think clearer, like Rarity suggested, it could be well worth the missing time.

We spent the better part of an hour back at her home and I'll be the first to admit, the hot tea was nice, even if it didn’t seem as satisfying as it should have. She wrote down the brand name for me, so Spike would know what to look for the next time he went shopping. The stallions had not only followed her home but also put everything away for her. It will never cease to amaze me what Rarity can get boys to do with just a few bats of her eyes and that pleading look. She's told me before that I could do it too if I tried, but it’d be with cuteness rather than the supermodel pouty look that she used; her words not mine.

“So darling, how have you been today? I do hope that you haven't tried to do any work in the library or research in your condition,” she said. “You gave us quite a scare with your disappearing act and I certainly wouldn't want you to strain yourself after that nasty business in the forest.”

“No, I spent most of the morning in my room.” I left out the pacing back and forth, freaking out, and worrying about becoming a monster. “Spike has taken care of everything for me.”

“Well that's good to hear. Oh, look at the time. I'm surprised Fluttershy isn't here yet. Hm, perhaps she's busy with a sick animal. It can't be helped. We will simply have to go get her first, then head to the spa. I hope that won't be too much walking for you.”

I assured her that it wouldn't.

“Alright, but if you feel tired at any moment during the trek, you just let me know.”

The trip to get Fluttershy was uneventful. Thankfully Rarity led the way, so I could just follow her and not have to rely on my own sense of direction. It seemed worse for ware ever since that night. We knocked a few times before she answered. Various animal sounds were coming from within.

“Flutershy, it's time for our spa trip,” Rarity called out. When the door finally opened, it revealed Fluttershy and a pair of bats hanging from her wings. One had a bandaged wing and the other had a thermometer hanging from its mouth and a runny nose. Rarity backed away with a look of utter disgust. “Darling, why would you keep those things around?”

I felt like the bats were staring at me.

“Well, Mr. Fluffylumpkins and his wife had a run of bad luck, and I'm looking after the poor dears. Isn't that right?” she asked the bats, getting a nod and a sneeze in response. Fluttershy comforted the bats by nuzzling them. “Just give me a second, if that's ok.”

“That's perfectly fine, we'll wait out here, away from those.” Fluttershy turned and walked into another room. “Ugh. I admire her way with animals, but some just aren't meant to be in a home or around any sane pony. Certainly not those.” I can't say that I was surprised by Rarity's aversion to bats. I had the feeling that she wasn't a fan of any rodent, flying or otherwise.

“There, all done,” said Fluttershy when she got back. “Oh Twilight, are you ok?” Ok? I doubted that I'd be anywhere near ok for long time.

“Uh, yeah,” I lied again. I really hoped I didn't have to make a habit of that. “Why do you ask?”

She gave me a look of genuine concern. “Well, your tail is down and just hanging. Oh, and you seem fidgety. That happens a lot when something's really bothering you.” Right. The one who looked after animals all the time would be an expert in body language. Why didn’t I think this through?

“I'll be fine,” I said. “I'm still just feeling worn down, is all.”

“Well I guess relaxing at a spa would help, but afterwards you should head straight back to bed, alright? And no more long walks.”

I nodded and assured her that I would. We turned away from Fluttershy's home and headed towards the spa, Rarity took the lead again.

Things were still too bright and the light was straining my eyes, so whatever was causing this was a persistent problem. That greatly increased the chances of this being a real symptom of my change, and I'd have to shift what list it was on if it continued into tomorrow. It's too bad I didn't remember more from last night, then I would know if my vision in the dark had also been affected.

We had made it to the spa and walked in. Rarity spoke with a pony, who we then followed into a back room. In the center of the floor, there was a large tub filled hot, steamy water.

“Guaranteed to relax ze mind and ze body,” said the blue and pink mare. Rarity went right in, showing no hesitation. Her nose scrunched up for a moment, a sign of minor discomfort I guessed, but it soon faded to a content sigh as she rested her chin along the edge.

Fluttershy, to no surprise, was far more hesitant. She dipped a hoof into the water. “Eek,” she squeaked and drew back.

“Fluttershy, I know it's hot at first but trust me, you'll love it,” said Rarity. One of the spa workers came in and set to work filing her horn.

Rather than waiting for Fluttershy to get in first, I took the lead and dipped a hoof into the water. Wow. It really was hot. Well, here goes nothing. I stepped down into the tub, the water going up to my neck. The warmth felt unbelievable as it pervaded my body, through my fur and muscles, all the way to the bone. I drew in a deep breath, filling my lungs with the steamy air and held it for a moment before slowly exhaling. I leaned back, into the water, allowing myself to sink until only the tip of my muzzle stuck out. For the first time since that night in the forest, my mind slowed down and my thoughts weren't so hectic. The same went for my body. No quick breaths, no sped up heart, no tenseness, and no aching.

In this warmth induced clarity, a new realization popped into my mind: I needed help. The only reason I got this moment of reprieve was thanks to Rarity. Without her, I'd still be stuck trying to reassure myself that nothing happened last night. Now came the important part, who to tell. I imagined a list forming inside my head, with the names of those closest to me written on it. Celestia? She'd be my best bet for an answer but what if she considers me to be a threat Equestria? I could be the one to replace Discord in the garden, or worse. Also, I didn’t want her to see me like this. I not only crossed her off the list, but I ripped off that part of the page. Rarity, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash were out of the question, for obvious reasons. If they knew what I might have done, and I could not stress the might part of that enough, then they'd never forgive me. Fluttershy? I cracked open an eye and saw her talking with Rarity. I couldn’t hear what they were saying due to the water around my ears. Fluttershy was far too delicate to handle the idea that one of her friends might be a monster. Pinkie? This route had some potential. She would never turn away a friend. Even if one of us turned out to be a changeling, she would likely still embrace us wholeheartedly. Not to mention her expertise in keeping secrets. However, she'd also probably be a hindrance to my research. I could just picture it now, me looking through a reference guide to pony transmutation while she's saying it could be the boogeyman or some other bugbear.

As I double checked the names, my thoughts continued to slow and forcing them felt harder and harder. By now, my body had grown accustomed to the heat of the water, and with my eyes closed it felt like I was floating in an empty, soothing void. My mind faded away, giving into the void's call.

After what only felt like a moment or two, I was pulled up from the water. “Oh, you really mustn't fall asleep in the tub. What if you nose went under?” I fell asleep? They certainly weren't kidding when they said it'd relax the mind and body.

“Did you not get enough sleep last night?” asked Rarity.

“No,” I mumbled. “I guess I didn't.”

Rarity reached out the brushed my wet mane out of my face. “I certainly hope you'll get some tonight then.”

I pulled her into a hug and nuzzled into her shoulder. “Thank you Rarity.” I wanted to go on. I wanted to tell her exactly how much this may have helped but I couldn't. Not yet, anyways. No matter what happens from here on out, this change in me will not destroy our friendship. I mentally promised her that. Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.

She patted me on the back.

“You're welcome, darling. We should probably get going though, unless you want to end up as a giant prune. You even have the right color for one.” With that, we each got out of the tub. Spa personnel swooped in with towels and dried us off. Rarity and Fluttershy headed to The Carousel Boutique while I went home.

Right there, in the front door hung the paper Applejack left. I readied myself, knowing that it was time to face the music. The word missing was up the very top, followed by a name: Charlotte. Charlotte? Who, in Celestia's name, was Charlotte? Under the name, it read: Sweet Apple Acres is missing one of its sows, Charlotte. Went missing just recently. Her husband, our prized show pig Wilbur., is awfully upset. If you have any information, please contact the Apple family as soon as possible.

My laugh started low, a mere titter, but it got louder and louder. At the same time, tears were rolling down my cheeks. If anypony saw me, they'd probably think I had gone mad with the way I cackled and cried at the same time. This whole time! This whole time it was nothing but a pig? I didn't hurt them. Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, they're perfectly safe and I was freaking out for no reason. I'm not heartless. I knew I had still done something bad, but it could have been so much worse. I sighed in relief and put Rarity, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash back on the list of potential ponies to tell. Before entering the library, I took a second to compose myself and dry my eyes. I walked inside to see Spike organizing the shelves. Spike? Spike! Of course. I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner. He has complete loyalty to me and is my research assistant, most of the time anyways. He's the perfect one to talk to.

“There you are,” he said, when he finally took notice of my presence. “Why didn't you tell me you were going out?”


“Yeah, yeah. Just let me know from now on, ok? You shouldn't be alone until you get better.”

Well, he was right. “I couldn't agree with you more Spike, which is...” Great, I didn't know where to begin. “Spike, There's something I need to tell you, but first, you gotta promise not to tell anyone. Ever. I'm serious here, what we talk about stays just between the two of us.”

“Geez, I get it. I promise not to tell anyone, so what is it?”

“I... I think I did something bad last night. Not as bad as it could have been, but still bad.”

“How bad?”

“You know that pig that Applejack is missing?”

“Yeah...” I could hear the suspicion in his voice. “Did you use a spell on it by mistake or something? If you come clean, I'm sure Applejack will forgive you and you can undo whatever it was.”

“I don't think I can undo this. Spike, last night something weird happened to me. I got this crazy craving for...” I was going to have to say it, wasn't I? Say what it was that I wanted so badly. “For blood.”

He rolled his eyes. “Oh hardy har. You had me going there for a second. Did Pinkie put you up to this?”

I slammed my hoof down. “Spike! This isn't a joke.”

“Wait, you're serious, aren't you?” He took a step back, eyeing me carefully. I couldn’t say I blamed him.

I turned away. I didn't have it in me to look him in the eyes when I said the next part. “Yes, I'm serious. In fact, when it first hit me, I even tried to get some from you.” There was silence. I couldn't hear any reaction from him and once more, tears started flowing from my eyes. “I almost hurt you Spike, but I regained control just long enough to get away from here. Away from you. But then, when I found a spot to try to collect myself, I started to hear voices.”

“What kind of voices?” he asked, his voice was unsteady.

“Scootaloo's, Apple Bloom's, and Sweetie Belle's voices.” I shivered as I relived the memory, thinking about just how close to disaster I came. “They were getting closer.”

“But Applejack was here earlier after taking Apple Bloom to school. She's fine.”

I groaned. If I would have just stayed, I could have set my mind at ease right away. Figures. “I didn't hurt them.” I can't begin to say how great it felt to say that and actually mean it. “But I thought I did all day. You see, when they got close, I blacked out and then woke up in my room. I had the taste of blood in my mouth.”

“So, you did end up hurting someone?”

“Yes, I did. I took the blood from something and now Applejack's pig is missing. I think I'm the reason it's missing.” In truth, I didn't just think it, I knew it. This was too big of a coincidence for me to believe it was unrelated. I jerked when his claws touched my back, but I calmed down when he hugged me. “Spike, I'm so sorry for almost hurting you. I'll do anything to make it up to you.”

“Just give me an extra gem in the morning from now on and we'll call it even,” said Spike. Leave it to him to try to lighten the mood with a joke. I was grateful for it and more so that he didn't run out screaming about me being a monster. “Twilight, I think I might have an idea for what's wrong with you. I want you to hear me out before you dismiss it.” My ears perked up. How could Spike actually know what's wrong with me? He took off, looking through the books. What for, I didn't have the slightest idea. He returned, carrying with him a large reference guide that he placed on the floor. Folklore and Legends of Equestria and Beyond, read the title. He quickly glanced at the table of contents and then flipped through the book, stopping about halfway through, and pointing to a picture of two pegasi. They both had bat like wings, but were very different in demeanor. The one on the left had her wings flared out, she was crouching and bearing her fangs like a wild beast. The one on the right had on an expensive suit, and his hair was brushed back in a very neat style. He even had the perfect grin that one would expect from a gentlepony. Under the picture, it read: Common Themes and Tropes of the Vampire.