Shylight - Chapter Five - Survivor's Guilt
"Look, she's waking up," Pinkie Pie said.
"Good... Ah was kinda worried about her," Applejack said.
Shylight began to open her eyes. She was in Twlight Sparkle's bed back in Ponyville. Aside from hurting a little, she didn't feel any different than before the separation spell was attempted. That made her panic. "Oh no... oh no... I'm still me... what happened?" she cried.
"Our friends are gone forever because of you!" Pinkie yelled to the shaken filly, her faded body showing all the outward signs of rage. "FORRRREVVVVERRRR!!!"
"It... It's not my fault..." Shylight cried. "It's not my... my fault the spell failed..."
"Don't care," a visibly faded Rainbow Dash said from the corner. "You lied. You led us all to believe you had the book when you were created. Not like it matters, though..." She was clutching a small cloud protectively. "I didn't need Twilight or Fluttershy anyway. I have Cloudsdayle."
"Good riddance!" Rarity said as she was occupied with a very large rock. It was almost as though she was speaking to it instead of her friend. "That's just one less mean pony to try to steal you away from me..."
"Don't listen to them," Applejack said. "Ah'm not mad at you. Ah'm just glad you're safe." She then curled her lip and looked away as she revealed an axe to Shylight. "Yep... ain't mad at all..."
Shylight screamed as Applejack swung the axe at her head.
She woke up screaming in Princess Luna's bed in Canterlot. She was sweating and the panic in her eyes was so clearly visible it could be seen by a blind pony.
"Applebloom!" Applejack cried. "She's been havin' another one'a them dreams! Get a potion from Zecora's bag!"
"Oh no, not again... Ah'm on it, sis," Applebloom said from the next room over.
"Shhh... shhh... go back to sleep, Shylight... you ain't outta the woods yet," Applejack said as she wiped the sweat from Shylight's face.
"You..." Shylight said, still partially in the nightmare. Her sensations were being twisted into delusions. All she could see was the lying corruption of her friend created months earlier by the malevolent Discord. "You... you tried to kill me... why?"
"Wha?" Applejack said, stunned. "Girl, Ah ain't tried to do anythin'a the sort..."
"Get... off of me!" Shylight yelled. She somehow summoned the strength to buck Applejack away from her, then tried to get out of bed. "It's not my fault! I didn't lie!"
Applebloom came running in. "Ah got the potion, sis!" she said.
Princess Celestia was right behind her. "I heard you call your sister," she said quickly. "Is she having another nightmare?"
"Dang girl tried to buck my head clean off! "Applejack said as she rubbed her jaw. "It's gettin' worse. Ah don't think Ah can handle her."
"It's not my fault!" Shylight repeated, now screaming. She was lost within one of Fluttershy's rage states, but backed by the magic of Twilight Sparkle's rage transformations. Instead of changing outwardly like Twilight however, it gave her a surge of strength not unlike a high-potency shot of adrenaline.
"I have her," Celestia said as she wrapped Shylight in a field of magic to immobilize her body. "Quickly, Applebloom... the potion!"
Applebloom quickly maneuvered up to Shylight's face and poured the potion down her mouth.
"I... I didn't... lie..." Shylight said, struggling as the potion quickly kicked in and she returned to sleep.
Celestia gently lowered her into bed. "Perhaps I should take over watch," she offered.
"Ah still don't know what she was on about," Applejack said. "Nopony's at fault..."
"C'mon, sis" Applebloom said as she left. Applejack held onto her for support.
"I'm not sure either," Celestia said as she kept watch on the ailing Shylight.
Shylight's friends and Princess Luna were gathered in one of the Royal Palace's smaller kitchens. At most times it would be used by Celestia's aides, but they had commandeered it due to its proximity to Luna's room.
"You? Killing her? That's rich! You break down into tears if you kill a worm by accident in your apple orchard!" Rainbow Dash said, laughing so hard that she almost spilled her tea.
"Nopony's s'posed to know 'bout that!" Applejack shouted as she held a small bag of ice to her jaw. "Don't change the fact she said it though... Ah don't get it."
"Nightmares... they don't often make sense to those of us who are awake," Luna said, staring out a window. "But to her, they're as real as everything out here... but nowhere near as nice."
"What's that mean, Princess?" Pinkie said as she poked her head out of the icebox. Her face was covered with icing.
"It means she still has a lot of issues to work through," Luna clarified. "My guess is she feels guilty because the separation spell didn't work."
"Didn't think of it that way," Applejack sighed. "She's prolly holdin' herself responsible for Twi an' Fluttershy not bein' back."
"But we don't blame her... right?" Pinkie said, half-muffled by the cake she was devouring. She still felt drained from bouncing around Ponyville trying to find Applebloom.
"Ah sure don't," Applejack said. "Ah don't even blame her for buckin' me in the jaw. She don't know what she's doin' right now."
"How long did Zecora say she might be feeling the effects of that potion again?" Dash asked.
"She didn't even know, Dash" Luna sighed, continuing to face the window. "She'd never made one like it before."
"If only we would have known," Rarity said, stirring a cup of tea with her magic. "The poor thing wouldn't have to be going through this."
"Yeah... if only..." Dash said. Part of her felt she should have pressed Shylight harder for the truth. The other part was scared she wouldn't have tried at all if she had...
It was a few days later. Pinkie Pie was watching over Shylight. She had been talking to Shylight the entire time, hoping that even in her fitful sleep, she'd know her friends wanted her to get better. Even after Shylight inadvertently gave her a black eye, she refused to leave her fallen friend's side.
Suddenly, Shylight began to stir. It didn't seem like a nightmare this time. It was much more peaceful.
"Shylight?" Pinkie asked softly. "Are you okay?"
"...Did... did somepony get the number of that piano that hit me?" Shylight weakly asked as she opened her eyes.
"Nope," Pinkie said in mock disappointment. "It was a safe!"
"That explains it..." Shylight said as she turned to look out the window. "We... we're in Canterlot..." she meekly observed.
"Yep..." Pinkie said, softly. The tone soon turned to a shout. "Princess! Guys! She's awaaaaaake!"
Shylight hid under her blanket, shocked by Pinkie's loud shout.
Soon, Princess Celestia and Rainbow Dash galloped in. Applejack wasn't far behind, though still slightly wobbly from earlier.
"Come on out of there, your friends want to see you!" Pinkie said as she pulled the blanket away.
Nothing was underneath... nothing that could be seen, anyway. Shylight's presence was betrayed by an indentation in the sheets.
"Shylight... knock it off, okay?" Dash said.
"At least her magic works," Celestia joked as Shylight ceased her invisibility spell.
As soon as Shylight was visible, Rainbow Dash snatched her up into a hug. "We were worried about you," she said. "Do you feel okay?"
"You... you were worried about... about me?" Shylight asked as her eyes began to puff up with tears.
"We sure were, silly filly!" Pinkie said as she joined in the hug. "You're our friend! That's what friends do when one isn't okay."
"She's right, Shylight," Applejack said. "We even kept watch on you to make sure you didn't go and get worse on us. Ah got the wounds to show for it," she said as she pointed to the bruise on her jaw.
"Oooh, yeah, I got one too!" Pinkie said as she proudly showed off her black eye.
"I... I did that? Now I know I'm... I'm not worthy of being your friend," Shylight cried. "I'm still... still here and the others... the others are gone... because of me... and I hurt you too?"
"That's not true, Shylight," Dash said. "It's partially my fault also."
Luna walked into the room.
"But... but I didn't say anything when you asked about the book," Shylight said through tears.
"I didn't push hard enough," Dash said. "I was scared. You're so fragile... even more so than Fluttershy is, and I was scared if I pushed the issue, you'd never trust any of us..."
Luna turned right back around and left.
"I... Dash... I don't think I'm the one you should apologize to..." Shylight said. She was the only one who had seen Luna walk in and out of the room. "Luna didn't look okay..."
"I'll go talk to my sister," Celestia said as she went off after Luna.
"Princess... wait!" Shylight shouted as best as her tiny voice would allow.
"Yes?" Celestia asked.
"She... she went the other way..." Shylight pointed out.