• Published 11th Jul 2013
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Nightmare's Dream - Tinyweasels

Nightmare Moon didn't die the night she was defeated by the Elements of Harmony and thanks to Celestia she has even been given the chance to really live for the first time, if the experience doesn't kill her first.

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Chapter 8-A Startling Revelation

A Warm Welcome and a Startling Revelation

The trip to Hoofington was a long one, but at last they could see as they approached the town that the circus was still there, packing up and getting ready to move.
Nightmare Moon could see Trixie growing more excited the closer they got, but anxiety was also in her eyes.

As they pulled into the circus encampment the ponies all fell silent and just stared. Nightmare Moon could hear some of them whisper Trixie's name. They approached a cart very similar to the one she pulled—standing out front was a middle aged unicorn colt of very similar colors to Trixie, wearing a black cape and hat; his cutie mark was a mirror surrounded by a cloud of smoke. He gave a momentary look of astonishment but covered it quickly as he took a dramatic pose and his cape and mane flapped in the non-existent wind.
Trixie said nothing, getting off the cart and walking up to him until they were nearly face to face. They studied each other for a few moments.

"For what reason does the Great and Powerful Trixie condescend to be among the likes of a mere circus performer like the Awesome and Mighty Presto?" the older unicorn said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

Nightmare Moon saw Trixie lower her head and then tears began running down her cheeks. The colt's harsh look immediately softened.

"Tears, my little angel? You know I could never stay mad at you," he said kindly and pulled her into a hug.

"Daddy," she said softly, then remembered that everyone was watching and wiped her eyes and they both toughened up.

"Yes, the Awesome and Mighty Presto welcomes you to the Greatest Show on Equestria!"

"The Great and Powerful Trixie has been away far too long, Father."

"Trixie!" a light blue unicorn mare exclaimed in unrestrained delight and rushed up to her. Her cutie mark was a top hat with a rabbit sticking out of it.

"Mama!" Trixie said, rushing up to her and hugging her.

Shortly two other similarly colored unicorns appeared, but stayed back a bit. One was a teenaged colt and the other a little filly, both wearing hats and capes like their father.

Nightmare Moon watched the teary reunion, not sure what to make of it all. She knew mortals shed tears of pain—she herself had experienced that, along with tears of sorrow and grief—but tears of joy were something she had never witnessed.

As she studied the group, Nightmare Moon couldn't help notice that the eyes of the teenaged colt were more on her than the reunion. She glared at him and he gave a smile in return, his eyebrows moving up and down in a strange gesture she was sure was meant to imply something.

Trixie gave each of her siblings a hug; the colt's aloofness faded at the hug and he smiled and closed his eyes, even shedding some tears of his own. The filly was another matter, almost afraid of Trixie.

"I've been away so long," Trixie said to the filly as she tearfully hugged her, "you were little more than a foal the last time I saw you."

Trixie's mother noticed the newcomer for the first time.

"Oh my, where are our manners? I'm Delores Cadabra, dear. And your name is?"

"I am Nightmare Moon," she replied, then wished she hadn't. Everyone was startled, in particular the little filly who gave a cry of fear and bolted from the area.

"Abbie!" Delores said, rushing off after her.

Presto put a hoof over his face and sighed while her brother just started laughing.

"It's no laughing matter, boy," Presto said. "Invoking that name is bad luck."

"You're not Nightmare Moon. Their lead singer's a guy!" the colt said.

"What's that about?" Trixie asked.

"She's been reading those old books of yours, Trix."

"Ever since the day of the Summer Sun Celebration she's been having nightmares about Nightmare Moon's return," Presto added.

"I see," Trixie said, giving a harsh glare at Nightmare Moon. "This is my friend *Night*, she's been my assistant," Trixie said—the emphasis on "Night" made it clear that's what she expected her to be addressed as. "Night, this is my father Presto, that was my mother Delores, my little sister Abbie and this is my brother Changeo,"

"Greetings, mor-" Nightmare Moon began and decided to drop the 'mortal' title when referring to them.

"Uh, greetings more to you too," Presto said, giving a courtly bow to her.

"And my name is Mobius now, sis, not Changeo," her brother replied.


"The Amazing and All Knowing Mobius!"

"Why the change?"

"I've finally gotten my cutie mark!"

"Great, I know being a blank flank bothered you for so long. What is it?"

With pride he dramatically whipped back his cloak to reveal a black sphere, with a white sphere inside it and in it was the symbol of infinity, a loop twisting in on itself like a figure eight.

"I have the knowledge of the cosmos, the wisdom of the ages! I can answer any question."

"Impressive brother, congratulations," Trixie said with a smile.

"So what brought you back, Trixie?" Presto asked. "When you left it seemed like you'd never set hoof in a circus again."

"I realized that there are unicorns far more powerful than the Great and Powerful Trixie could ever hope to be and she might not be lucky enough to walk away from the encounter the next time. Also, I missed you all. I was foalish to run off like I did. What if something happened? I wouldn't want my last words to be what I said before. I love you all so much. I was just too dumb to realize how good I had it here."

Presto hugged his daughter again and smiled.

"You're always welcome here, my little Angel. All's forgiven and forgotten. All that matters is that you've come back to us. So is this just a visit or have you come back to the circus?"

"I've returned, if they'll take me back. After what I said to Lady Queenlion when I left, I'm surprised she hasn't had one of the strong colts throw me out of here already."

As if on cue, a shadow crossed over them and the ground shook as a massive griffin landed in front of them. She was easily three times the size of a normal pony and she was clearly not in a good mood.

"Why wouldn't I welcome you back with open wings? You only called me a shameless self-promoter who exploited gullible rubs with a show full of charlatans and posers, and how there wasn't a bit of real magic or talent in the whole show. Now that you were shown up as being a talentless poser yourself, you have the nerve to come crawling back here?" she snarled.

Trixie hung her head as her words were thrown back in her face.

Presto stepped defiantly in front of the griffin.

"Lady Queenlion, I will kindly remind you that you are addressing my daughter," he said calmly, looking up to meet her glare.

"Presto, for the fondness I have for you and your family I will allow her to stay, but do not presume to impose too much on that friendship. Keep her out of my path."

"Thank you, Lady Queenlion," he said and bowed to her.

The griffin made a deep feline growl as she turned and launched herself into the air.

"See, one big happy family, just like the old days," Presto said with a laugh. "We'll have to work on a new act, Trixie. Your mother is good, but she doesn't have your flare for the theatrical."

At the back of her mind since Trixie had first mentioned the circus, Nightmare Moon had a suspicion of where this was all heading.

"Is Ponyville the next destination for the circus?" Nightmare Moon asked.

"Yes, it is," Presto said. "We're pretty excited. There's even a rumor that Princess's Celestia and Luna will both be in attendance. This could be the show of a lifetime!"

Nightmare Moon turned to Trixie, who had gone pale as a ghost, and shook her head. "Do you still believe that this is all chance, Trixie? This was meant to happen according to her plan."

"Whose plan for what?" Presto asked.

"It is…a private matter between Trixie and I."

Together the ponies walked back to the family camp where Delores and little Abbie sat by a campfire. The child still looked uneasy and her eyes grew wide when she saw Nightmare Moon and huddled against her mother's side.

"Mother, Abbie," Trixie said. "This is my friend Night."

"Hello, dearie. Nice to see you again," her mother said. "Though I do question your choice of names. Uh, she-who-will-not-be-named isn't something you should go around calling yourself, scaring children and all that. Say hello to Trixie's friend Night, Abbie."

Abbie just whimpered and buried her face in her mother's side. Trixie sat down beside her mother and picked up her little sister, taking her onto her lap and holding her. Abbie calmed down a bit, but still kept a wary pony eye on Nightmare Moon.

"Trixie, I can't tell you how delighted I am that you're back," Delores said. "Every day I've worried about you. We all have."

Trixie produced one of her brushes and starting stroking Abbie's mane.

"I am sorry, mother. I've made a mountain of mistakes since I left and decided to come home and begin trying to put the pieces back together."

"You know we'll help you all we can."

"I know. That is a great comfort to me."

"Now, tell me all about your adventures!" Delores said.

Trixie began telling her story and Nightmare Moon listened just as intently as little Abbie did. Nightmare Moon couldn't help but notice that Mobius continued to watch her intently the entire time and she couldn't understand why.

Trixie told of her adventures, but both the good and bad, including the details of her disastrous encounter in Ponyville.

"Oh dear," Delores said. "You really tried up upstage Celestia's favorite?"

"Do you still want to go with us?" Presto asked.

"Yes," Trixie said. "No more running. The Great and Powerful Trixie is no one's debtor. I will go and face whatever is awaiting me."

"I'm proud of you, Trixie," Presto said with a smile. "We Cadabras may get a bit full of ourselves at times, but we always do the right thing."

"Eventually," Delores added with a smile.

"Yes, eventually. There may be some running and screaming involved, but we'll do it. Trixie, if you'd like, I could go on ahead and talk to them first and see if I can smooth things over."

"No. This is a mess I made. I will clean it up myself," Trixie said. "Now, tell me about how the circus has done in my absence."

Nightmare Moon found just listening to the lives of ordinary people to be fascinating. She'd never had much reason to get to know people on a personal level and it was strange to think of mortals as intelligent and feeling beings.

"Mother, is Madam Sunset Dawn still here?" Trixie asked.

"Yes. She's in her cart. She's not doing well. It's good that you returned when you did, Trixie."

"Night, come with me. We should speak to her," she said, gesturing for Nightmare Moon to follow.

"For what reason?" Nightmare Moon asked.

"Just trust me."

Trust was a word virtually unknown to Nightmare Moon. She knew of the word, but to trust another was almost unthinkable. How could she ever trust any mortal? But this was different. This was Trixie, her friend—her mind had thought the word before she could stop it from presenting itself. A friend. One who had nothing to gain from her association with Nightmare Moon, one who didn't even believe her to be Nightmare Moon. She considered her to be a normal pony, not some embodiment of evil. Trixie had even introduced her to her family as a friend. Why did this make her feel good inside? Trust was a weakness, an exploitable vulnerability. She knew she'd pay dearly in her dream world for this revelation, but at that moment she actually didn't care. She even managed to smile.

"What is wrong with your brother, Trixie?" Nightmare Moon asked as they walked.

Trixie turned toward her. "What do you mean?"

"For some reason he couldn't take his eyes off me the whole time by the fire."
Trixie smiled and chuckled.

"What is so amusing?"

"He's smitten with you, Night. From the moment he saw you. Wasn't it obvious?"
Nightmare Moon stopped in her tracks at the implication. A mortal who dared think himself worthy of the affections of Nightmare Moon? What affections? Was Nightmare Moon even capable of such feelings? And what was the strange feeling coming over her as she thought about these things, she wondered.

"Oh my goodness, you're actually blushing!" Trixie said, trying to stifle her giggling with her hoof.

"I-I…" Nightmare Moon stammered, bringing up her hooves to her cheeks.

"It's okay, Night. He's a bit of a goof, but really a sweet guy. Oh, here we are."
They approached a cart, one bigger and much more stylized in its decoration than the others. Nightmare Moon could even feel something different about this place and it made her uneasy.

Trixie knocked on the door of the cart.

"Madam Sunset? It is the Great and—it's Trixie. Trixie Cadabra."

There was silence for more than a minute and then they heard a feeble voice. "Trixie? Which Trixie, the past, present or future? What year is it? Is Luna still queen? No, silly old girl. I remember a Trixie," she said, her voice growing stronger and more certain. The fondness was evident in her voice as the door opened and a wizened old mare in a shawl and a pair of glasses on her nose smiled and hugged Trixie.

"Forgive my ramblings, child. My powers are still strong, but as I have gotten older it becomes harder and harder to find the present. It is so good to see you back, Trixie. I knew you would return someday, but the others would not believe," she said with a knowing smile. "Who is…oh my, even without my powers I can tell there is something strange about your friend."

Nightmare Moon couldn't define it, but part of her was afraid of this mare for some reason. She steeled herself and stepped forward. "I am Night," she said, recalling what Trixie had told her earlier.

"Welcome, Night. You want me to do a reading of her, don't you, Trixie?" she asked.

"Yes," Trixie said. "There is indeed an issue with her. She has terrible nightmares every night. Could you possibly see if something could be done to help her?"

Madam Sunset walked around Nightmare Moon, studying her closely. Nightmare Moon noticed that the old mare's cutie mark was an hourglass with the sands flowing in both directions.

"Your parents have asked me the same thing for your sister's nightmares, but I am at a loss as to what the cause of the problem is. I do not know if I can help you," she said, but the pleading look in Trixie's eyes finally won her over. "Step inside my cart."

Inside, Nightmare Moon had expected to see all the paraphernalia of a carnival fortune teller, but instead it was rather modest with a few old paintings of the sunrise and books in no way related to her apparent trade. Madam Sunset led them to some cushions on the floor and gestured for them to sit. She and Nightmare Moon sat facing each other.

"No crystal ball? No cards or tea leaves to read?" Nightmare Moon asked skeptically.

"In addition to my other powers, I can foresee the past, present and future," Madam Sunset said. "It is my gift. I am no performer. I need no props to put on a show."

With surprising speed and strength, the old mare leaned forward and grabbed Nightmare Moon's head in her hooves and looked into her eyes. To Nightmare Moon it felt like the old woman was staring into her very soul.

"Show me what you really are!" the old woman commanded.

A swirling mass of darkness appeared in the cart and the three of them all gave a cry of alarm and drew back. The thing before them seemed to radiate malice, then the form began to change and took the shape of Queen Nightmare Moon before it shattered like glass then reformed into a ghostly form of Queen Nightmare Moon again, but inside there was a normal sized pony seemingly trapped inside. Just as abruptly it all vanished, leaving Trixie and the old woman both staring at her, slack jawed. Trixie turned and bolted from the cart.

Nightmare Moon lowered her head and sighed. The old woman had opened a door in her mind, knocking down the last of the barriers to her memory. She wasn't Luna. She never was. She was a parasite, a creature that fed off of the negative emotions of mortal beings. Those lives she saw weren't her own, but her hosts' lives—those she had afflicted and ruined in order to feed. Yet there was no emotional connection to any of it, like watching it all as an observer.

The phantom had been right; she was able to disconnect herself from those before Queen Luna, but her own self-awareness didn't begin until she had managed to infect her. She wasn't aware she was alive until that point.

The immensity of what had just happened nearly smothered her and the only person that mattered to her had fled in terror at her true face. She struggled to move, despair washing over her.

"What has Celestia wrought?" the old mare finally asked, staring at Nightmare Moon.

Nightmare Moon got up and ran out the door. She had to find Trixie. Even the horror of her self-revelations did not fill her with the fear that the thought of Trixie fearing her did. She galloped around the circus, looking for her, fear and anxiety filling her—it was strange, just days ago she wanted everyone including Trixie to fear her. Now she dreaded the thought.

She wandered in the darkness amid the carts, feeling so weary. Was mortality ever anything more than just a miasma of physical and emotional pain?

"Night?" Mobius asked, stepping out from between some carts nearby.

"What do you want?" she asked, not looking up.

"Come on. Why so down, Night?"

"Everything in my life is falling apart, but it is none of your affair."

"Go on. Ask me any question. Let me give you a glimpse into the future."

"I really have no wish to play your games now, boy."

Mobius sighed, his voice sincere.

"Look, in this job I don't get to help people very often. Let me try to help, please."
Night sighed too and looked at him. "Very well. Is there any hope for me?"

"Are things really that bad?" he asked, surprised at the seriousness of the question.

"My world is falling apart."

"Okay, I'll do my best. He closed his eyes and concentrated. "And the answer is—" He looked uneasy, opening his eyes and meeting hers. He struggled with himself for a few moments and forced a smile. "Yes, definitely. You definitely have hope."

"You aren't a very good liar. What was the real answer?"

Mobius looked back, apologetic.

"My senses told me that the answer was unclear and that you'd have to ask again later."

"For me there may be no 'later'. Now excuse me." Night rushed past him, desperately trying to find Trixie. She saw a unicorn shaped silhouette on a small hill overlooking the circus and began running toward it. When she got there, Trixie's horn began to glow threateningly.

"You really are Nightmare Moon," Trixie said, her eyes wide with fear at her approach.

"I told you I was the day we met," she pleaded.

"What have you done to Abbie?" She demanded angrily.

"Nothing! I only met her today. I have no power over anyone or anything anymore. I'm nothing now, just a shadow of Nightmare Moon. A vessel for the memories of what she was."

"You would have covered the world in eternal night. You would have destroyed us all."

"I'm not—I'm not Nightmare Moon anymore, Trixie. I'm your friend, Night," she stammered.

Trixie didn't respond. Instead she turned and ran from her.

"Trixie, please don't run! You're my only friend in the world!" she called out desperately as she watched Trixie go.

Nightmare Moon—or was it Night—now sat on the hill overlooking the circus the way Trixie had, contemplating the sick revenge Celestia had inflicted on her. She didn't understand this mortal world or the sea of emotions attached to it. She'd had a deep ache in her heart when she watched Trixie flee in fear from her. Why did that hurt, when she had savored the fear in the eyes of the ponies when she had returned to Ponyville?
Celestia had said she'd know hurt and loss. She knew there must be something to the magic of friendship, because of the pain of losing it was devastating.

The black pony sat and watched as the circus packed up and began to move, and soon they had cleared out completely, leaving an empty field. She felt her weariness overcoming her. Dread gripped her, knowing tonight would make the other nights seem pleasant by comparison. She closed her eyes, letting sleep take her, not even bothering to fight.