• Published 11th Feb 2012
  • 5,155 Views, 124 Comments

Phases of the Moon - Laurence Brown

Sequel to Moonbeam

  • ...

Half -- Chapter 2

After finding the asteroid in the middle of Mare Orientale, Nightmare Moon was a bit stumped on what to do with it. While it was emanating power, she wasn’t sure how to access the energy, let alone use it. She carefully examined the meteorite, closely looking at every ridge and crack of the thing, and even tried tasting it just to see if something would happen.


Annoyed, she flew up and out of the hole and landed on its edge so she could look down on the meteorite. She hoped that examining her problem from a new angle would help give her some sort of epiphany. Perhaps if she took in not just the rock, but its surroundings too, maybe she would notice a clue she had missed before.


Aggravated, she glided back down. Her horn aglow, she reached out and probed the rock with her magic, hoping to stumble upon or even unlock the energies within. She lifted it into the air with her levitation, spun it around, and put it back on the floor of the caldera. She tried letting her magic seep through the stone, hoping to unlock its mysteries by either brute force or lucky happenstance.

Still nothing.

Now angry, she gave the meteorite a swift, solid kick out of sheer frustration. Several flakes fell off the rock, but other than that it appeared unaffected. With an inarticulate roar of rage at her impotence in figuring out how to solve the puzzle in front of her, Nightmare Moon turned and gave the meteorite the strongest buck she could.

Her fiery wrath was instantly chilled when she heard a slow, continuous cracking sound come from the rock. Silently cursing herself for letting her emotions get the better of her, she watched in fascinated horror as the crack slowly spread around the meteorite, steadily covering its entire surface with a network of fissures. She reached out with her magic, hoping to somehow halt the spread of the cracks, but found herself incapable of slowing down the damage her hooves had inflicted.

Finally, the entire surface of the meteorite was nothing but a giant cobweb of cracks. Then, to her horror, the rock started to shake. Tiny fragments fell off one by one until, as if directed by some unspoken cue, the meteorite simply collapsed into a pile of rubble to reveal a small, glowing core at its center.

Afraid of what might happen if she made a misstep, Nightmare Moon slowly circled the ruined remains of the meteorite and examined what her hasty actions had fortuitously revealed. The stone reminded her of gems used in jewelry in ancient times; smooth, polished, and elliptical in shape. Tentatively reaching out with her magic, she raised the jewel so that it floated in front of her. Freed of its stony prison, what had only been a faint sensation before was now a powerful pulsation of energy. Intrigued, Nightmare Moon walked slowly away from the detritus of the meteorite, intent on examining her find more closely.

Over the next few days, Nightmare Moon’s studies eventually started to bear fruit. While the energy that the stone emanated wasn’t completely compatible with her magic, she found she could use it to enhance her own energies in an unexpected manner. She had hoped that the green jewel would be able to boost her magical strength directly, possibly to the point where she could free herself from the moon once again. However, her own magic simply wasn’t able to tap straight into the energies of the stone. What she had learned was that she could use the jewel’s energies to help carry her own magic farther. While she had been hoping to somehow gain in raw power, she was still intrigued by what a boost to her range would enable her to accomplish.

With that discovery, the stone now sat upon her helmet, magically locked to the faceplate just underneath her horn. Doing so allowed her to carry it around without having to levitate it constantly. She thought it also added a little bit of needed flair to her headpiece as well. She flew out of the crater and headed away from the center of Mare Orientale and back towards the Equestrian side of the moon. As she steadily flapped her wings, her mind raced, thinking of various ways that she might be able to utilize her new found tool.

Eventually fatigue overcame her, and she found herself forced to walk across the barren lunar landscape instead of flying over it. Still, looking up, she could see the lush world she had once covered with eternal night start to slowly rise above the horizon. When the blue and green orb was fully in view, she came to a halt and rested, mulling over what to try first. While the thought of randomly shooting bolts of dark energies down towards the ponies below amused her, she felt sure that she wouldn’t be able to do that even with the help of the gem. Such attacks were draining even over short distances, and she still wasn’t certain how far the stone would carry the spell.

Instead, she decided to go with something she had been able to do with some success before; enter the dream realm and pull somepony else there to her. She had tried to do so after her most recent banishment, but the link that she had shared with Luna was no longer there, and with it the easy access she had enjoyed meant that she could no longer play mind games with her more pathetic half. Would she be able to torment Luna again, now that she had found a means to boost her abilities? Closing her eyes, she let herself drift into sleep, anxious to find out.

Once in the dream realm, she looked up at Equestria. Reaching out with her senses, and amplifying them with her stone, she found herself able to see the realm above in a whole new manner. Where before she could only sense Luna, now there were dozens of points of light she could see; ponies who were asleep. She paused, puzzled as to why she was unable to pick out more. After all, it was full night in parts of the world, there should be thousands upon thousands of ponies asleep at the moment. she reasoned.

Focusing on one light, she was able to discern that it was a mare who had fallen asleep outside, on top of a small hill. Another revealed a stallion who was napping on a bench on the deck on his home. A third was a palace guard, asleep on his feet in the middle of a long, uneventful watch. Nightmare Moon paused, and quickly concluded that all of the ponies she could sense were outside. Perhaps, she reasoned, only ponies who the moon shined down on were visible to her? Uncertain, but unable to come up with any other reason, she scanned the world some more, until her scrying brought her to a familiar looking pony.

She hadn’t expected to come across any ponies she might recognize, but the pink earth pony mare she now looked upon brought a wicked smile to her face. It may not be Luna or an Element of Harmony, she thought, but I’ll gladly take the opportunity to test out my new magics on one of the simpering princess’s friends!

But could she? Hoping that the stone would let her do as she wanted, she reached out, like she had done so many times before with Luna, and pulled. To her relief and glee, she felt the sleeping pony’s dream self come racing towards her, until it stood in front of her, looking around in amazement. Nightmare Moon chuckled as her victim looked around and away from the world that was visible above the horizon behind her. “Hmm, no Equestria above me. For a moment, I thought I was dreaming that I was on the moon.”

“Oh, but you are!” Nightmare Moon said, her voice filled with malice as she slowly strode towards the stunned pony in front of her. A memory of her, staring at her defiantly as she tried to block her path to Princess Celestia also brought her name to mind. Feather Down, she thought, as she recalled memories that Luna had of her.

“But you’re wrong about one thing,” she said. “This isn’t a dream, this is a nightmare!” Prepared to gloat and taunt the other pony some more, she was brought up short when Feather Down started to laugh.

“Hey, that’s a good one,” she said, getting over her initial shock and seeming to take her current predicament in stride. “So, what else am I going to find here, I wonder?”

Scowling, Nightmare Moon reached out with a spell and wrapped the surprised pony in a cocoon of dark energy. “Oh, how about pain and suffering?” she said.

Feather Down squealed in pain. “What are you doing to me?” she cried out, her voice filled with equal parts of surprise and anguish. “What’s going on?”

“I don’t know,” admitted Nightmare Moon. “This is new to me. I honestly don’t know what I might be capable of doing.” Walking over and staring at her prey right in the eyes, she said, “Let’s find out together.”

Dewdrop looked around the kitchen of the house she shared with Feather Down. The dishes were all cleaned and put away, and the table had been tidied. Not feeling ready to go to sleep yet, she entered the main room of the house and sat down on a cushion. Horn glowing, she picked a book up off the shelf and floated it over to her, one she had been slowly working through over the last week, she opened it with a spell to where her bookmark rested between pages and began to read. She knew she was a bit older than the audience that the Harry Trotter books were aimed for, but her below average strength with her spells made following the protagonist's adventures all the more fun. I wonder what it would have been like, she wondered, if I could have gained entry to a special magic school like Harry.

After a few pages of escapism her reading was interrupted by sounds from upstairs. Had her roommate awakened and somehow fallen out of bed? Listening carefully, she heard the noises continue. Unsure of what was going on she marked her spot in the book, put it down, and cautiously made her way over to the stairs and paused at the bottom. From there, she heard the sounds more clearly, and while she couldn’t place what the sounds indicated, a nervous knot in her stomach compelled her to race up the staircase two steps at a time.

Entering the bedroom, she came to a stop in utter shock. Feather Down was thrashing violently in her sleep, and now in the same room, Dewdrop could also hear whimpers of pain escape from the sleeping pony’s mouth. “Wake up!” Dewdrop yelled, but as soon as the words had left her mouth she knew they would have no effect. Feather Down was nearly impossible to wake on the best of days. For her to be experiencing whatever kind of dream she was having, to make her toss and turn like she was now and still not wake up, Dewdrop knew her voice wouldn’t be able to help. Her horn glowing orange, Dewdrop tried to hold her friend down, hoping that would wake Feather Down where words were unable. However, she found trying to get a magical grasp on her difficult, and afraid that she might hurt her friend, she quickly gave up.

So what could she do? Dewdrop looked around the room in a panic, searching for something that could, if not aid her, at least give her some inspiration. Seeing nothing, not even a glass of water to throw in her friend’s face, she raced down the stairs and outside. Maybe she couldn’t do anything, but surely somepony else would be able to lend a hoof! She looked around, for anyone who might still be out and about. But with the night sky above, she quickly realized that most ponies were either already in bed themselves, or getting ready to go to sleep.

Ready to yell out in frustration, Dewdrop heard voices faintly in the distance. Wasting no time, she galloped off towards them. Rounding a corner, she saw Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash side by side, walking towards the library discussing a party they had just left. “Twilight!” Dewdrop yelled, not caring if she woke anypony else nearby. “Twilight! Help!”

The two ponies stopped and turned around, surprised to see anypony else out at the current hour. Seeing the terrified look on Dewdrop’s face, Twilight asked, “What’s wrong, Dewdrop?”

“It’s Feather Down! I can’t get her to wake up!”

“There’s a surprise,” Rainbow Dash said, rolling her eyes.

“But she’s having a nightmare!” Dewdrop said.

Twilight frowned. “Maybe I’m missing something here, but aren’t you overreacting just a little bit?”

Dewdrop stomped a hoof in frustration. “You don’t understand! She’s never had one before!”

“Wait, never?” Rainbow Dash asked in surprise. “Everypony has bad dreams. Even I have them now and then.”

“Not Feather Down! Her special talent is sleeping. She can fall asleep at the drop of a hat, she can’t be woken up unless she wants to, and she never has bad dreams! I remember when our teacher tried explaining Nightmare Night to us in class. She had to take fifteen minutes in order to explain what a nightmare was to Feather Down, and even then I don’t think she got it through to her fully. I’m afraid she’s going to hurt herself, and I can’t help her, and...” Dewdrop trailed off, not knowing what else to say to convince them.

Twilight put a comforting hoof on Dewdrop’s shoulder. “You helped me get through a tough night of my own not too long ago,” she said with a comforting smile. “Of course I’ll help you out. You want to come with us, Rainbow Dash?” she asked the pegasus at her side.

“Might as well,” she said with a shrug. “I admit I’m curious. Let’s go.”

Dewdrop led the way, galloping as fast as she could. She opened the door to her house and led the way up the stairs. Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash came up short at the sight of Feather Down, who was now twisting around so violently that she seemed certain to toss herself onto the floor at any moment.

Twilight quickly caught Feather Down with her telekinesis, and frowned at the struggle the sleeping pony was putting up. “I don’t care if it is her special talent or not, she should have woken up by now. I don’t know how long I can hold her without hurting her.”

Rainbow Dash flew up next to her and starting screaming into her ear. “Hey! Sleepy head! Wake up, you’re scaring your friends! Do you hear me?! WAKE UP!”

With Dewdrop fretting behind her, Twilight looked around the room, her eyes narrowed in thought. “Something isn’t right here, but I don't know what...” Glancing outside through the open window, she gasped. “It’s a long shot,” she muttered, “but it won’t hurt to try it. Rainbow Dash! Close the window!”

Giving her friend a questioning look, but convinced by the confident tone in Twilight’s voice, she flew over and closed the shutters, quickly darkening the room.

Nightmare Moon paused in performing her experiments. She had found a way to trap the other pony’s dream self, and deny it the chance to escape, but beyond causing her some pain, she hadn’t really found much else she could do.

Not that she had been trying too hard, to be honest. Looking back on the past month or so, she was forced to admit that the complete solitude, after being able to watch Luna for the months before that, had come close to breaking her. She didn’t need friends the way her other half apparently did, of course not! But after being able to experience even just the mere presence of others, only to have it all stripped away again and to be as alone as conceivably possible, had driven her mind to depths that had frightened her.

She looked at Feather Down again, still being held aloft by her dark magic. The captive mare had stopped her screams a while ago, but still seemed to be trying to escape her bonds by constantly struggling against them. Walking over to look her prisoner in the eye, Nightmare Moon asked, “So, what should I try next? Maybe I can control your actions down below? Make you sleep walk? Or perhaps I can try peering into your mind, and see what kind of secrets I can uncover?”

“I’ll never let you possess me!” Feather Down spat out, her voice colored by pain.

Nightmare Moon tilted her head back and laughed. “Oh, trust me, I have no desire to be a passenger in somepony else’s body again. Even if I were to do so, I certainly wouldn’t choose for it to be an earth pony shell. If I couldn’t get an alicorn, I suppose I could settle for a powerful unicorn. But to inhabit a body without magic? Never!

“No, I think I’ll try with using you as a puppet. That could lead to some fun misunderstandings down on Equestria, don’t you think? Maybe I’ll-” Nightmare Moon came to a stop as she felt her link to Feather Down suddenly sever, and watched as the pink earth pony faded quickly from view. Hastily scanning with her magic, she found she could still detect other ponies across Equestria, but was unable to find Feather Down again.

Frowning, Nightmare Moon willed herself awake and started moving from where she had been resting. While she didn’t think it would be possible for somepony else to track her back to where she had been, she decided it would be best to lay low for awhile. She didn’t feel comfortable enough with her new abilities to risk encountering Celestia or Luna yet, so she decided to make her future experiments more low profile in nature. She certainly wouldn’t be taking any more chances tonight. She wanted to think over what she had been able to accomplish, and about what other things she might be able to do.

With a loud gasp, Feather Down’s eyes flew wide open and her struggles ceased. Twilight slowly lowered her back onto the bed, and then released her from her telekinesis spell. Dewdrop jumped onto the bed to give her roommate a closer look, and Rainbow Dash flew back over next to Twilight.

“Are you okay? What happened?” Dewdrop asked worriedly.

“It was terrible!” Feather Down said softly, her voice barely above a whisper. “I, I think I was on the moon, and... I just don’t remember, I’m not sure I want to remember, but not being able to remember scares me too!” She wrapped her forehooves around Dewdrop’s neck and held her tight, burying her face in her friend’s mane.

Dewdrop did her best to comfort her, and looked questioningly at Twilight. “How did you know closing the window would wake her up?” she asked.

“Yeah, I was wondering that too,” Rainbow Dash added. “It didn’t make any sense to me, but I figured trying it wouldn’t hurt.”

Twilight smiled triumphantly. “I remember reading in a old book that after Princess Luna had been banished, all sorts of things that were bad came to be blamed on the moon. Ponies who went crazy were said to be moonstruck, or lunatics. Feather Down seemed to be acting all out of sorts from what she is normally like, from what you two were saying, and while I doubt that there is any truth behind those tales, it was at least something that could be tried, to keep the moon from shining on her.”

Dewdrop frowned. “I can’t see Luna doing anything like that at all, though! It’s so unlike her, I... I just can’t fathom it.”

Twilight waved a hoof in front of her. “No, you misunderstand me. I’m just saying it was those stories that led me to think about the moon shining in. I don’t think Princess Luna had anything to do with it either. More likely than not, the moonlight just got in her eyes and triggered something in her head that made her dream turn into a nightmare, somehow.”

Dewdrop slowly nodded. “Well, however you came upon it, it sure worked. Thank you very much, both of you, for coming to help.”

“Are you going to be okay?” Rainbow Dash asked Feather Down, looking concerned. “That looked a lot worse than any dream I’ve ever had.”

Slowly pulling herself away from Dewdrop, Feather Down nodded slowly. “I think so. I, I think I’m going to need some time before I lie down again though.”

Rainbow Dash chuckled. “Of course you will! Whenever I have a bad dream, I’ll go fly around the area for a little while until I get tired enough to fall asleep again. Maybe you could just go for a jog or something? Get your mind off of whatever it was you were dreaming of.”

“That’s not really the problem,” Feather Down said getting off of the bed. “I honestly can’t recall anything from the nightmare. Is that normal? I know things are hit and miss and it comes to being able to remember what you dream about, but it just feels like I should be able to remember something that terrible easily enough!”

“The pony mind is an amazing thing,” Twilight said. “It probably knows, subconsciously, that you aren’t ready to go through it again just yet, so it’s likely blocking it from you. Give yourself some time, and I bet in a few days you’ll be able to recall it if you want to.”

“That sounds logical,” Dewdrop said. “And we can ask Luna about it tomorrow if you want, I bet she might have some ideas, or know somepony who does.”

Rainbow Dash blinked in surprise. “You two know Princess Luna? How’d that happen?”

“It’s, um, a long story,” Feather Down replied, looking steadier as time passed. “I still find it weird, to be honest, but we’re good friends now. We get to go visit her every Sunday in Canterlot.”

“Oh! That would explain why I keep on seeing those chariots,” Rainbow Dash said. “That’s cool.”

“Well then, are you two are going to be okay?” Twilight asked, looking between Dewdrop and Feather Down with concern.

“I think so,” Dewdrop replied. “Thank you again oh so much, both of you!”

“Yes! I owe you both big time!” Feather Down chimed in.

“Ah, it wasn’t anything that big,” Rainbow Dash said with a wave of a hoof.

“Like I said before Dewdrop, you helped me out a while back, I’m more than happy to have been able to return the favor,” Twilight added with a warm smile. “If you don’t mind then, I need to be heading back home, it’s getting rather late.”

“Oh! Of course!” Dewdrop said, motioning with a hoof towards the stairs. “C’mon, Feather Down, maybe a small snack will help you calm your nerves?”

With that, the four ponies headed downstairs. Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash said their goodbyes and headed their separate ways home, while Dewdrop and Feather Down did their best to put the bad dream behind them.

Dewdrop woke up early the next morning to find that Feather Down wasn’t in her bed as she had been when they had finally gone back upstairs to go to sleep an hour or so after the other ponies had left. Frowning, she headed down to find Feather Down sitting on a cushion, and reading her Harry Trotter book.

Hearing her roommate enter the room, Feather Down looked up sheepishly. “Don’t worry, I won’t say anything about what happens, although I do feel like I’m missing out on a lot of stuff.”

Dewdrop put a hoof against her forehead. “That’s because that’s the third book in the series,” she said with a sigh. “Did you spend all night down here reading?”

“Yeah. I tried going back to sleep, but I just didn’t feel ready to. Sorry.”

Dewdrop shook her head. “That’s all right, I’m just worried about how you’ll do today in Canterlot. It’s going to be a busy day and all, especially with Pine Bough coming along too.”

Feather Down’s mouth dropped open in shock. “Oh my goodness! I had completely forgotten about that!”

“Well, maybe you’ll be able to take a nap on the way over like you usually do, and that’ll help,” Dewdrop said with a chuckle. “I’m going to make myself a quick breakfast, you want anything?”

“No thanks.”

Dewdrop had just finished eating a small plate of apple slices when there was a knock at the door. Hearing Feather Down get up to answer it, Dewdrop floated her plate over to the sink and then went to the main room to see Pine Needle and Pine Bough standing outside. “Are you two ready to head out to meet the chariots?” the stallion asked as his younger sister peered inside from behind him.

“Just give me a few seconds and I will be,” Dewdrop called out in reply. “Come on in, you two, I can show Pine Bough around the place in case the guards won't let you two come to Canterlot because of her.”

Dewdrop led the two siblings upstairs, and seeing that Feather Down had decided to settle back down on the cushion and resume her reading, she closed the bedroom door behind her. Seeing Pine Needle raise an eyebrow in askance, she said, “Feather Down had a nightmare last night. Her first one ever, so it really caught her off guard, and she didn’t get any sleep last night afterwards because of it.”

“Oh no!” Pine Needle said after a brief moment of shock. “Is she going to be okay?”

“I think so. She was really thrashing around, I had to get Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash to help wake her up. We’re going to ask Luna about it, see if she knows what might have caused it.”

“That sounds like a good plan to me. Anything you want us to do?”

Dewdrop shook her head. “Just don’t make a big deal out of it, I guess. I’m thinking that if we can convince her that it isn’t anything to be concerned about, she’ll be able to put it behind her that much easier.”

“Will do.”

Seeing Pine Bough nod her agreement, Dewdrop led them back downstairs. There they found Feather Down upright and stretching her legs. “I’m ready to go if you guys are,” she said. With that, the four of them left the house and went to meet the chariots.