• Published 27th Dec 2014
  • 2,818 Views, 87 Comments

Antaboga. - Reptilicus

Spike struggles to adjust to a new home and a new life.

  • ...

Tremble with temporal hoodoo.

Three bells chimed, echoing throughout the striped gold and purple tower. They chimed again, producing a different set of notes, as they had been enchanted to perform. Only two living ponies knew the ancient hymn they played, one of which was annoyed she had made the tune into a doorbell. Luna sighed as she dragged herself out of her bed, the dark blue bedsheets stitched with plaid clouds flopping to the floor in piles, followed by the mare herself. She took a quick glance at her sundial. Celestia had been telling her to get a proper clock, but Luna found their incessant ticking to be excruciating. It wasn't pleasant like the chirp of crickets, or the hoot of an owl, and seemed only to remind those around them of the passing time. The sundial worked well enough and was utterly silent. Never needed to be wound up either. She stretched her wings, the indigo feathers looking almost black in the blinding rays of the sun as it streamed through her window, and sauntered to the marble device. It wasn't even noon yet.

Luna sighed with annoyance. Had she not made it known amongst the peons and bourgeoisie that if they wished to meet for business or dream-related royal matters that they were to show up no earlier than 8pm and no later than 8am? Was it not well known that the Princess of the Night needed rest during the day because she was a nocturnal creature? Was she going to have to give some pony a stern talking to? A small blip of black magic squeezed from the tip of her horn, flying down the stairs and outside of her watchtower with a whistle and smashing into those infernal ringing bells. Even from the top of the tower she could hear them clang to the ground. She felt her light blue mane start to flow and swell like the sea as her celestial powers awoke along with the rest of her weary body. Soon her mane was a blanket of midnight blue featuring the cosmos, stars, galaxies, and planets whirling through it. With a grunt she strutted wearily over to the other window and peered down at the visitor at the foot of the tower.

Ah, it was Twilight Sparkle. Despite being at the same rank as Cadence and Luna, the young alicorn was still too polite to try and communicate with either of them using her naturally gifted clairvoyance. Luna smiled as Twilight stood stiffly near the doorway, the former doorbells now lying in a small pile at the scholar's feet. Twilight was such a sheepish and stuffy young mare. Luna could probably have dropped the moon itself on her and Twilight would have politely thanked the elder alicorn while being squashed. Oh well, she'd been expecting this visit soon, anyway.

"Good morn, Princess of Magic! It's a very early morning that has brought you to my door. A very early morning, indeed." Luna bellowed from the window, her voice loud enough to shatter titanium. "Is this our fabled meeting that Lady Rarity has been trying to propose?"

"I... guess so?" Twilight meagerly offered, still feeling insignificant in Luna's esteemed and somewhat scary presence. "Celestia said you had nothing to do today so I thought it'd be better to talk with you about my problem instead of her. It seems more your forte."

"You seek my guidance? Very well!"

Nothing to do today. Of course Celestia would say that. Luna let out a heavy sigh and shook her head. She knew Twilight would come visit eventually. The young sovereign and her scribe had been having poor dreams as of late. And the world of dreams was Luna's specialty. But Celestia could easily have told the bookish girl to come back at a later, more proper hour. Luna quickly made plans to hide hot pepper sauce in Celestia's tea next time the two of them dined. Nothing to do today, indeed! The nerve of that mare. Luna spoke an incantation and fired a small black cloud of magic from her long twisted horn which formed into the shape of a gelatinous key. It flew down to the door and into the lock, admitting Twilight within.

Twilight entered the bedchamber after ascending the spiral stairs, to find Luna sitting sitting in an old chair, looking solemn and sober and she often did. Luna had always been such an imposing figure. A tall, elegant, scrawny mare with dark blue and black hair from the tip of her snout to the end of her tail. Black spots and a white crescent moon shape adorning her backside. At one time in history, Luna had been a powerful tyrant, trying to rule Equestria and plunge it into eternal night, even going so far as to nearly kill her sister in the process. She had lost the war she had started and been banished to the moon for thousands of years. When she had finally escaped, and once again tried to seize Equestria, it had been Twilight Sparkle herself who had defeated Luna and rid her of the jealousy and nightmares that had been controlling her for eons. From then on, Luna had lived in Canterlot with her sister and felt she owed Twilight a great debt.

"Your room is lovely." Twilight mumbled with a nervous smile, looking around the bedchamber.

It was pretty clear the room was very old. As old as the Canterlot Palace itself, and only been slightly updated over the last few thousand years. Ancient maps, globes, books, and tools lay around the room on old rococo furnishings. The ceiling was decorated with an oil painting of the night sky, featuring alicorns of many hues traveling across the cosmos, their wakes leaving a trail vaguely reminiscent of a rainbow. It was old as well, and peeling.

"It is adequate." Luna replied. "I really must take steps to restore and modernize it."

Twilight grinned before falling silent, Luna's bright cerulean eyes piercing into her.

"Your dreams are very dark, my little pony. As are the dreams of your young ward." Luna continued, looking Twilight over as small ghostly sheets of black magic floated from her horn, bobbing around the room like paper caught in the wind. "Dreams of memories. Dreams of Tirek. Dreams of abandonment. Dreams of death. Very unpleasant. It is little wonder you have gotten so little sleep. Lady Rarity did well to inform me."

"How... did... Rarity... " Twilight began, only to be quickly cut off.

"She and I share a correspondence, within the realm of our minds. She is the only other pony to know what it is like to be a Nightmare. It is a special connection. Additionally, she is very polite and respectful of my sleeping habits." Luna responded, giving Twilight a mincing glare.

"S-sorry... I.... I know it's early b-but.... I... " Twilight stuttered, looking ready to faint.

Luna laughed aloud at the display, making Twilight rear back in surprise at the sudden change in mood.

"Dear Twilight you are much too easy to frighten! You need not fear me. Come, sit, make merry!" Luna lit her horn as a teapot floated over and poured tea into an old glass adorned with moon shapes and levitated it to Twilight. "It is a rare thing, to see my liberator and Celestia's protege come to visit me. I only wish it were in the eve, and not only when you have issues sleeping!"

Twilight nodded, feeling slightly numb. Sometimes it felt like the only reason Luna did not smite her from the planet was because Twilight entertained her so much.

"Do you mind if I take a glimpse into your memories, Twilight Sparkle?" Luna asked, as she downed her own cup of tea. "I feel I may be able to help you further if I see everything that has happened to you over these last months. Then I can make a prognosis."

Twilight nodded again, unsure how to respond. Luna leaped gracefully from her chair and strutted forward. She gave Twilight a light tap on the forehead with her horn then drew back, sitting in her chair again. A nearly invisible string of silver extended between Luna's horn and where she had touched Twilight. It appeared to be made out of particles of dust, shimmering in the low light.

"Are those... memories?" Twilight asked, holding very still, afraid she might break the chain.

"They are, yes." Luna mumbled, seeming deep in concentration. "Always growing longer."

"Could I.... learn how to do that?" Twilight asked, always eager to further her education in magic.

"Even if I could teach you how, you could not perform this charm. It is an ancient talent, handed down from alicorns pure of blood in the past. My father, Hyperion, taught it to me when I was very young. And he learned it from his mother, and she from hers, and back and back. And should I ever be blessed to have a child, I shall teach it to them." Luna wrinkled her brow. "But because you were a unicorn once, the charm cannot be cast by you. But my sister believes you to be the most powerful magician we've ever had born in this land. So perhaps one day you shall make an even better charm."

Twilight nodded gently as Luna continued concentrating. Twilight could see that the particles floating through the air from her forehead all seemed to have tiny bits of color to them, and were all moving towards Luna very slowly, entering her horn. After a few minutes, Luna let out a snort and shook her head, and the silvery string vanished.

"And the Inscriptionum Hortor is complete." Luna announced with a nod, noting Twilight's odd look. "Yes, 'tis a very old spell. Celestia has been encouraging me to establish a modern equestrian terminology for it. I have been leaning towards 'The Dream Stream'."

"That seems like a good name for it, I guess. What's the next step?" Twilight asked, rubbing her forehead where the dream stream had been.

"There is no next step, Twilight Sparkle." Luna began, smiling warmly. "I have seen all I must see. Thoughts are much like constellations. They connect, they split, they make great shapes that define a pony's personality. Sometimes they go off on their own, tangents, and become new things. New ideas, new urges, new feelings, fractals that go on forever. I have seen all of yours in a mere moments."

Luna leaped from her chair again, and tentatively approached Twilight before leaning down and wrapping the young alicorn up in a warm hug.

"Uh... "

"I apologize, Twilight, for how powerless I was on the day Tirek came. Celestia, Cadence, and I, we put you through so much. You did not deserve to see the things you saw. To feel the losses you felt. To know as we know, the power hatred can build. No pony at your age should have had to endure such terrors. And you would not have, perhaps, if the rest of us had been more prepared. Tirek, and the trauma he has caused you, will be a dark constellation in your stars forever. It will always define a small part of you and your friends. And for that, again, I am very sorry."

Luna released Twilight and backed up several steps before sitting upon the floor, giving Twilight a look of utmost pity.

"But all wounds heal with time, Twilight. They never truly go away, not even for a pony as old as I, but the pain does diminish. One day you may even be able to look back upon the calamity of Tirek and smile, knowing everything you and your friends have accomplished."

"Does this mean you can't fix my dreams?" Twilight asked, disappointment entering her voice, her ears folding flat against her head. "Or Spike's dreams?"

"Normally when young ponies are afflicted by nightmares such as these, I show them what will occur when they do not face their fears. But you are a special case, as you faced and defeated your fear in battle, with the help of your friends. But still, it haunts you. It is a scar on your mind. With most ponies, I would not alter their aura for more pleasant dreams. But you are special to me, Twilight."

"I... I am?" Twilight asked, sheepishly.

"You are. It is because of you that I am free. Free to complain about ponies waking me too early. Free to live with my sister again. Free to enjoy many splendors of life, such as this tea, that I had not been able to indulge in for many many centuries. I feel altering your dreams is a small piece of repayment in the great debt I owe you."

With those words, Luna took a deep breath. The room dimmed and for a brief moment it appeared to be night outside, with the stars twinkling. A cloud of white and black ghostly wisps emerged from Luna's horn. They formed vaguely into a spherical shape in front of her muzzle. The ancient alicorn of the night mumbled a few words into it, before huffing at it as if she were blowing out a birthday candle. A light exited her lips, appearing like a shooting star, striking the sphere of colors. The wisps blew apart and disappeared and the daylight quickly returned. Luna sat back into her chair, looking satisfied.

"Is... is that it?" Twilight asked, looking around the room for the wisps.

"That is all. You and Spike should now slumber with quiet serenity. That is one problem corrected. Now for the second one." Luna began, her tone lowering. "There is a more serious reason you came to me and not my sister, is there not, Princess of Magic? I know on any other day, you would seek her guidance due to familiarity."

Twilight looked down at the carpet, feeling guilty.

"Spike represents a connection between you and Celestia, does he not? Had he not been born, you may never have been honored to become Celestia's star pupil and experience all that you have. And you would not have known the joy of having raised him. I have seen many happy memories involving the three of you. Both from your mind and from my sister's mind as well." Luna poured another cup of tea. "But now you feel ashamed. You feel you might have shattered that special connection between you and your little drake. And you did not wish Celestia to know."

Twilight teared up, choking on her words. "Celestia was always so good with Spike. She always gave us both so much love. Whenever we were sad or frustrated, she was there. I've only been on my own for a short while and I've already hurt Spike! And I don't know how to make it up to him."

"May I pose a question to you, Twilight?" Luna asked. "When you were under Celestia's tutelage, when did you feel the most happy? Or perhaps content?"

Twilight stared at the floor for a few moments. How could she generalize almost an entire lifetime? A lifetime of learning, of seeing her own family and Celestia's royal family come together. A lifetime of old books and old fun. Of ceremonies and sermons. Of cultures and cults. What moments had stood out the most? What moments had made Twilight feel the most whole? Even on days where things went wrong. It slowly dawned on the young mare, like a cloth sweeping away the dust, revealing a shining surface one could see a reflection in.

"It was the days where Celestia would send me home with my marks. I always got straight A++ scores on everything. I would go home and show them to my parents and they were always just.... so proud of me. So proud of what I could do. We would go out and celebrate. They would take me and Shining and sometimes Spike out and we would go to the park or my favorite restaurants. They would hang my scores on the fridge, and brag about my accomplishments to friends."

"When was the last time you told Spike you were proud of him? Bragged about his endeavors to your friends and family?" Luna asked gently. "Or told him that you loved him?"

Twilight spluttered a few garbled words, looking at the floor in panic as she thought hard.

"If you can't answer right away... I am sure the answer is too long." Luna continued, sniffing. "I too, used to teach and care for children, much like Celestia does now. Positive reinforcement, Twilight, is a necessity in a child's life. Even if they feel they are too old for it. Contentedness in the long term is more important that brief joy."

"I can't remember! I'm a terrible pony!" Twilight squeaked, tears dripping down to the tile floor. "And a terrible mother!"

"Say not such things..." Luna stepped from her chair and held Twilight again. "You are not terrible, Twilight. No pony is prepared for the rigors of raising a young one. You were very very young when you and your family took in Spike. You could never have known how close the two of you would become. And in my view you have done splendidly. He seems to be very well mannered and polite, particularly for a dragon."

"I broke his heart and made him feel unloved!" Twilight cried, burying her face in Luna's shoulder. "I've been doing it ever since we left Canterlot and I didn't even notice! How... how am I supposed to fix that? How do I apologize for that?"

"Shhh. Shhh now. You cannot change the past, Twilight Sparkle. Believe me, I have tried." Luna whispered, holding Twilight tightly. "When I was at last home, after centuries of destruction and hate, all it took was Celestia telling me how much she missed me and loved me, to make it feel as though I'd never left. But the guilt always remains. Celestia's pride in my efforts to change is what keeps me going on many days. Ponies can endure some of the most terrible things in life, simply from the desire to make their families proud. Has Spike made you proud of him, Twilight?"

"Every day." Twilight whimpered. "Every time I see him do his chores without me asking, or cleaning up messes I leave from studying all night. Every time I see him reading a new book, or trying to be polite to guests in the library, even when some of them are scared of him just because he's not a pony. Every time he cooks, or makes a joke, or accompanies me around town."

"Then tell him, Twilight." Luna broke the hug, staring firmly into Twilight's eyes. "You never know what the future may bring. You never know when and what new disaster could strike. Take the time NOW to tell those you love how you feel. Go to him. You cannot change the past, but you can change the present."

Luna motioned sadly towards an ancient rotting tapestry on the wall. It featured her, clearly younger but still on the cusp of adulthood. She was dressed in her viridian battle armor. The familiar crescent-shaped helm and spaulders upon her torso that had defined her appearance as the tyrant, Nightmare Moon. She looked darker in color as well, with slitted pupils like the eyes of a snake. But she was smiling in the painting, happy, surrounded by a small troop of dark grey ponies, all with wings like bats and wearing similar sapphire colored armor. Her personal guard and entourage from an age long in the past. It dawned on Twilight that these had been Luna's students, and this tapestry had been produced not long before Luna had attempted to seize Equestria for herself. The Princess of the Night had never seen these ponies, her friends, her students, ever again.

"Do you understand?"

"I do, Luna, yes." Twilight stood shakily, making her way to the door.

"Then go and be at peace, Twilight." Luna murmured. "And may your journey find... OH!"

There was a small flash of red light in the air followed with what sounded like the beating of old tribal drums. Voices chanted as the light continued to burst outward, forming strange runes in the air. Out of the flash fell a small wooden painted mask, clearly from the far lands of Zebrica. It clattered to the floor, the music and chanting fading away very quickly. Luna quickly retrieved the mask as Twilight stood in the doorway, confused about what she had just witnessed.

"What on earth is that?" Twilight asked as Luna gently pulled a piece of parchment out of one of the eye sockets of the mask.

"Yonder mage, Zecora, has sent me a message. It is not often that mages in Equestria write me letters, as they often do for Celestia." Luna giddily unrolled the parchment. "Though I do try encouraging them. I would like to help them if I can, as my sister does. Oh dear.... "

"What does it say?"

"It's actually for you." Luna nervously turned the parchment over to show it's contents to Twilight, knowing the reaction it would cause.

In very scrawled, hastily written ink, the note simply stated:

'luna - tell sparkle - spike has gone blind - at castle - getting zubairi - sala sentle, zecora '

Luna barely had time to wince, feeling the energy fill the room as Twilight spread her small wings. She could feel her mane stand up on end. The particles of dust covering all the old objects lifted, the air grew cold, and everything gleamed with bright purple magic. An explosive flare of raw magical energy rocked the tower, as Twilight shredded her way through the window in panic, taking several large bricks with her as she sped off. A few lavender feathers fluttered down onto the shocked nobles in Canterlot as they gazed into the sky. Twilight Sparkle, the nerdy assistant to Princess Celestia, who had only recently been crowned a princess herself, was hurtling through the air at speeds few had seen. She wasn't flying as fast as a professional pegasus, but it was still a rare sight to see anyone from any of the royal families move at such a clip. In seconds she had vanished, becoming a speck on the eastern horizon, a purple shimmering vapor trail, and the still smarting ears of the onlookers from her sonic boom being all that remained.

Luna peaked her head out of the new smoldering hole in her tower that had once been the window, annoyed that the ponies below began bowing in her presence instead of picking up the bricks all over the pavement. She grumbled again as she saw all the daylight now flooding her bedchamber. She wouldn't be able to sleep comfortably for some time with this mess. She dropped from the tower, plummeting several meters before opening her vast wings and soaring over the spires of the city of Canterlot. The note from Zecora sat clutched in her muzzle as she flew. Her destination was the main keep of the palace. A note this important seemed like something Celestia should know about.