• Published 8th May 2015
  • 3,853 Views, 31 Comments

One Day - ArgonMatrix



Princess Luna pays Twilight a visit.

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(Alone Alone Alone Alone)

Princess Luna glided into her landing, trotting to a stop just outside the Golden Oak Library. She looked the tree over—all of the windows were obscured save for one in the tree’s upper reaches. Quite an unusual sight in the midday clear of Ponyville, and it only deepened Luna’s sense of dread—a sense that had to do with the letter she’d received not one hour earlier.

In a blink of magic, Luna summoned the letter in front of her. Somber lines drew across her face as she eyed the shaky handwriting evident in each word. She read the letter over quickly.

Princess Luna,

Sorry to disturb you on such short notice, but something rather really really troubling has cropped up just recently, and I would appreciate it if you could make the time to come discuss it with me. I’d rather talk about it in person, so the most I’ll say here is that it’s a dream-related issue. No rush, but please respond when you can.

Sincerely,
Twilight Sparkle

P.S.: I know she said there’s no rush, but could you try to come soon? Twilight would kill me if she knew I was writing this, but something is seriously wrong. We need your help ASAP.

—Spike

Luna’s frown went crooked. She banished the letter away and rapped her hoof on the door. A heavy boom sounded within, followed by a strange scuttling noise. Luna recoiled a step, her stance going rigid without her realizing it. “Twilight Sparkle?” she called.

The door creaked open by a fraction, and Spike poked his head out. He wore a tiny, strained smile and said, “Oh, Princess Luna! It’s you! We, uh… We didn’t expect you so soon. Thanks for coming, though!”

“But of course,” Luna said. She tried to see past Spike into the library, but the inside was too dim to make out anything. “The letter you sent was rather unsettling, so I arrived with the utmost urgency. May I come inside?”

“Yeah, yeah, absolutely! Just, uh…” He peeked back inside for a moment. “Could you gimme a second to tidy up first? Okay thanks!” Without even the notion of a reply, Spike darted inside and closed the door. Luna heard him scramble away from the door with speed, and silence struck. She waited, the tension in her heart growing ever thicker.

“Sorry about that,” Spike said as he swung the door open. “Come on in.”

Luna crossed the threshold into a muggy, dense world that swamped her like molasses. Heat and moisture and the smell of rotting foliage permeated the library, and Luna could instantly see why. A large cauldron sat in the center of the room, boiling and gargling atop a magically-tended flame. A blanket lay slumped to the wayside. “Pray tell,” Luna said, gesturing to the brew, “what is that?”

“Twilight wasn’t feeling well,” Spike said, “so I was making her some soup.”

“And why prepare it in a large vat in the midst of your living quarters rather than the comfort of your kitchen?”

Spike’s face went blank. “Uh…” He scratched the back of his head. “Our stove is broken?”

“Hmm,” Luna hummed. “Very well. At any rate, that matter is well beside the point of my visit. Where is Twilight Sparkle? I should like to speak with her immediately.”

“That’s the other thing.” Spike walked over and offered Luna a foggy white gem. Every colour of the rainbow flowed across its surface in unfocused bursts. “With Twilight being… sick, she didn’t want to speak with you face to face. Heh, you know her and her precautions!”

Luna quirked an eyebrow as she lifted the gemstone in her magic. “Very thoughtful. Although, how exactly does this allow me to communicate with her?”

Spike shrugged. “Got me. She just said it would work.”

Staring into the gem’s pulsing core, Luna made to speak, but a high-pitched warble cut her off. “Pri… una?” said Twilight’s voice, garbled by a sound like crackling fire. “Can y… hear…?”

“I believe I understand what you’re attempting, Twilight Sparkle. I will use my own magic to assist you.” Luna spun the gem in her magic, and a few blue tendrils seeped through the surface and vanished. When the stone ceased moving, Luna said, “Speak.”

“Oh,” Twilight’s voice said, “you sound much clearer now. Thank you, Princess. I was having some, er, trouble with the magic on my end.”

Meanwhile, Spike was gawking up at the gem. “Whoa, cool!”

“It is indeed quite an expert innovation, Twilight Sparkle,” Luna said. “Systems such as this on a greater scale would revolutionize communication in Equestria.”

“Thanks!” Twilight said. “I’ve been working on it for a little while, and it only works over small distances so far.”

“Understandable,” Luna said, “but I don’t believe this will be necessary today. It’s a tax on both of our magicks, and I would prefer to speak with you in person regardless. I shall cast a health bubble and meet you upstairs.”

“No!” Twilight shrieked. The crackling noise shot back through the gem but quickly subsided. “I mean, um, sorry, Princess. I just don’t want to take any chances. Plus it’s a great opportunity to test my spell, don’t you think?”

Luna’s frown deepened. “While this is impressive, Twilight Sparkle, it’s hardly the ideal moment. Your letter spoke volumes to the gravity of your situation. Speaking face to face would be much more advantageous for the both of us, I believe.”

“I just—” Her voice cut out, but not before Luna heard the slight tremble in it. The gem whirred back to life. “I really don’t think it’s a good idea, Princess. Can we please just do it this way?”

“Why, exactly?” Luna asked. A weighty silence answered her.

Spike groaned. “Come on, Twi! Enough’s enough. I told you this was ridiculous right from the start! Princess Luna’s here to help you. Why don’t you actually let her?”

“Not helping, Spike,” Twilight grumbled. “I’m more comfortable doing things this way, and I can tell Princess Luna everything she needs to know just as I am now. Is that so much to ask?”

Spike made to say something else, but Luna held him back. She narrowed her stare at the gemstone and said, “Twilight Sparkle, are you attempting to conceal something from me?”

Twilight barely hesitated. “Of course not, Princess. I would never try to keep anything important from you.”

“I trust as much.” Luna turned her stare on Spike. “And you, young Spike? Do you have any information you wish to divulge?”

Spike crossed his arms and stared down at the floorboards. With his shoulders hunched and his foot tapping, he flicked his gaze to the gem and said, “This is for your own good, Twilight.” He sighed. “Princess, the truth is—”

Don’t you dare, Spike!” Twilight shrieked. Her voice had taken a razor-like sharpness, yet it held a haunting shiver too. “If you so much as think about finishing that sentence, you can forget about going gem-hunting with Rarity today. Or ever again, for that matter.”

Spike blanched as though he were looking death itself in the eyes. “Wha… Twilight, you can’t do that! You can’t! Rarity’s counting on me to—”

“I can and will if you betray my trust again. I confided in you for a reason, Spike. Don’t make me second guess myself, or we’ll both end up regretting it. Understand?”

Spike recoiled like he’d been struck. He blinked a few times and said, “I… I… What in Equestria has gotten into you, Twi?! I’m just trying to help you! Why can’t—”

“I don’t need your help!” A harsh whine sliced the air. The gem pulsed frantically, and a tiny fracture appeared on its face before things quieted. Steadily, Twilight said, “I don’t need your help right now, Spike. So why don’t you take your help and your attitude and go find somepony who cares. Princess Luna came to see me and me alone. All you’re doing is making things worse. So get out.”

Tears openly streamed down Spike’s face. Luna gave him a slackjaw frown, but she said nothing. Eventually Spike managed to whisper, “I don’t—”

"Out, Spike!” Twilight boomed. A sob wrenched itself from Spike, and the baby dragon fled from the library. He failed to close the door in his wake.

For a time after that, no one said a word. Silence reigned over the library as a patient and brutal arbiter. Luna stared at the door, her wide eyes speaking volumes to the empty room.

“I’m sorry you had to see that, Princess,” Twilight finally muttered. “He’s usually not so defiant.”

With a near inaudible sigh, Luna closed her eyes. “That was needlessly cruel, Twilight Sparkle.”

“Cruel?” Twilight repeated. “Princess, I apologize, but that hardly—”

“I am not the one to whom you need apologize,” Luna shot, glaring into the gemstone. “From what I understand, that dragon is an assistant of impeccable worth, your longest, most loyal friend, and, most importantly, a child. To scold him in such a manner for what was, at worst, a minor breach of trust is despicable. I believed such a reprehensible act well beyond your moral character. I am appalled.”

When Twilight made no reply, Luna softened her tone and continued, “And that is precisely why I fear the seriousness of your situation now more than ever. I do not know what you are trying to hide, Twilight Sparkle. Moreover, I do not know what you wish to achieve by hiding it. But whatever has happened has clearly had a toxic effect on your state of mind. So I beseech you: do us both a favour and be forthright with your concerns. I understand the consequences of bottled emotions more than anyone.”

Several heavy moments passed before anything happened. Eventually, the light faded from within the gemstone. A door upstairs squealed open, and Luna looked up just in time to see a flickering magenta aura vanish from the doorframe. “You can come up,” Twilight called. Her voice was defeated. “No health bubble necessary. Just… Just please don’t freak out when you see me.”

Setting the gemstone aside, Luna trotted to the stairs. Each of her hooffalls creaked on the wooden steps. Her heartbeat quickened. The upstairs landing seemed so far away yet too close all at once. At last, though, Luna reached the landing. She steadied herself, took a breath, and turned into Twilight’s bedroom.

She gasped.

Twilight Sparkle sat on the edge of her bed, her head down and her wings halfway folded at her sides. But what caught Luna’s attention most was Twilight’s horn. It spiraled out from her head in three mangled, twisted coils. They were jagged in places and curved in others, and bits of them were charred black. Luna thought of a tree struck by lightning, and the pit of her stomach fell out. The room around Twilight told an equally striking story. Various holes and scorch marks littered the floor like the wake of some untold battle. A mutilated casualty of wood and fabric sat at the foot of Twilight’s bed.

Luna gawked at Twilight, unable to pull her eyes from the eldritch tentacles that had once composed her horn. “Twilight Sparkle…” she said, stepping slowly nearer. “I have never… What has… Are you alright?”

Limply, Twilight shook her head. “No. No, I’m really not,” she croaked.

“What in all the cosmos happened to cause… this?” Luna stepped over a wide hole and sat next to Twilight. From up close she could see Twilight’s frazzled mane, the bags under her eyes, and the true extent of her horn’s damage.

Twilight clenched her eyes shut and sighed. “Spike and I went to talk to Rarity this morning. This… It happened when I got home…”

***

Pushing her bedroom door open, Twilight slumped inside. She rubbed one of her eyes—it was still puffy and sore from all the crying she’d done. A dull throb persisted behind her horn, and she looked at her bed hungrily.

Spike’s words popped to mind. Don’t forget to pen that letter to Princess Luna! he had said. Twilight shook her head. “This is so stupid,” she mumbled. “You don’t need to write a princess just because of one silly nightmare and a tiny little existential crisis, Twilight. Just get some sleep, and you’ll feel better.”

She lumbered closer to her bed. Despite the exhaustion filling her every vein, she couldn’t help the lump forming in her throat. Images flashed in her mind—the shattered Elements of Harmony, the angry, sad, fearful faces of her friends, and the smile she herself had worn in the nightmare. A chill crept through her, but she shook it off. “Don’t be an idiot.”

Twilight crawled into bed. She savoured the instant softness of her blankets and pillow, and unconsciousness lulled her away before any more thoughts could manifest.

When her eyes next opened, Twilight stood alone in the streets of Ponyville.

She shouldn’t have been alone. She knew that. Why was she alone?

She looked around and noticed it was nighttime. All the stars in the sky had been painted away by the black overcast, so there was no chance of stargazing tonight. The weather schedule had stated clear skies all week long, though. Had Rainbow Dash changed it at the last second?

No, Rainbow Dash hadn’t done anything of the sort. Twilight snapped to her senses and wheeled around, taking in the scene. Carousel Boutique was aflame, and the black overcast was really smoke billowing from its windows. She looked up and saw the moon peeking through the murk. The Mare in the Moon was emblazoned on its surface.

Twilight shook her head. “This isn’t real,” she said. She reached up and felt the Element of Magic resting behind her horn, humming quietly. She knocked it away and shouted, “This isn’t real!” Even as memories of her own rampant destruction assaulted her mind, Twilight glared up at the sky and exclaimed, “This is a dream! I didn’t do any of this! I wouldn’t do any of it!” She set her sights on the blazing Carousel Boutique and galloped for the building.

A loud screech deafened her. Pressure gripped her head and tore her vision away. Twilight shrieked as she felt her horn catch fire. Sudden wind bowled her sideways, slamming her against the ground and holding her there. Crippling pain struck her entire body—like her insides were being ravaged by fire ants—and she writhed in the street. She tried to summon her magic, to do anything, but the agony tore her to shreds.

Twilight sat bolt upright in her bed. Her breaths came in harsh bursts, and her horn still felt fit to explode. She crossed her eyes upward and screamed at what she saw.

A great globe of magic engulfed her horn. It sparked and crackled, growing larger by the second. Arcs of purple lightning jumped from it like demented snakes and left scorch marks all across the floorboards. Twilight could feel her forehead being singed as more and more magic ripped from her horn.

Her breath failing, Twilight concentrated and attempted to contain the magic, but it seemed beyond her power. The more she focused on stopping it, the wilder the magic went. It felt feral and unnatural against her mind.

More and more magic screamed out and punched holes in the floor. One arc leapt at Spike’s bed and annihilated it without mercy. “Stop!” Twilight cried. “Stop, stop stop!” The magic responded by growing more chaotic, lashing out and tearing the room apart with redoubled vigour. A bloodthirsty beast drunk on adrenaline.

Twilight sensed the magic reaching a tipping point. Her horn felt ready to go supernova. With tears welling up in her eyes and her heartbeat approaching dangerous speeds, she inhaled a deep breath. She focused hard on bringing all of the magic back into her horn. The orb shrank a little, but then it warped and pulsed and grew ever-brighter. Twilight twitched and grunted as the magic tugged away from her.

An eternity later, the magic collapsed in on itself and funneled into Twilight’s horn. Unbridled wrath whipped through her mind once before she could no longer contain it. All of the magic released, and Twilight felt her skull splitting open. A horrific, ear-splitting bang ruptured the air and muffled Twilight’s scream in her own ears. She collapsed forward onto her bed, and everything went still.

Sharp pain radiated from her forehead down the rest of her body. With a shaky hoof, Twilight reached up to feel her horn. Instead of touching her horn’s smooth, familiar surface, she touched a sprawling appendage of some kind. It bent slightly at her touch, sending a pang of fire through her body. She winced and darted her hoof back.

She would have crumpled into a ball and wept right there, but her agonized, exhausted body refused. She settled for one gargled sob as the bedroom door came open.

***

“That’s about when Spike found me,” Twilight finished. Her eyes had not left the floor once in her entire tale.

Luna nodded slowly. A thousand thoughts were vying for her attention—concerned at best, outright terrified at worst—but she steadied herself and focused on Twilight’s distressed figure. She had managed to shift her focus from Twilight’s manglehorn to her sleepless grey eyes. “And what has occurred since your incident?” Luna asked, failing to keep a trickling strain out of her voice.

“First, Spike panicked.” Twilight let loose a few rapid-fire blinks. “He panicked a lot. I-I couldn’t even tell him how it happened because he was too scared to listen. So I told him to pen you a letter and fetch Zecora, and that calmed him down a bit. Being useful helps him cope, I think.”

“He truly has your best interests at heart,” Luna noted.

Twilight’s head jerked. It could have been a nod. “So Zecora came and started brewing a potion—that’s what the cauldron downstairs is for. She says it should mend my horn in six weeks or so.” This should have been a difficult fact for Twilight to acknowledge, Luna imagined, given how much she identified herself through her magic. Yet Twilight had said it almost clinically—a profound absence in her words.

“And what did Zecora make of your tribulations?” Luna asked. For the first time, Twilight looked at her. She gave her a look reminiscent of someone being asked to divulge their darkest secrets before an audience of hundreds.

“I didn’t tell her what really happened!” Twilight said. “I could barely tell you. As far as she knows, I had a nasty run-in with an ursa minor this morning. That’s all she needs to know.” Twilight lowered her voice. “That’s all anyone needs to know.”

Luna frowned. Her mouth opened and she almost asked, Then why tell me the truth?, but she paused and chose a different line of questioning. “You said that you were returning from visiting a friend this morning. It also sounds like this is not the first time you’ve had this nightmare. You are not telling the whole truth, are you, Twilight Sparkle?”

Twilight hesitated. For a moment her eyes flared with moisture—water balloons, full to bursting. She closed her eyes and breathed a sigh. “I guess it’s not much use trying to hide anything now. You’d find out anyway, the way you snoop through dreams.”

Luna took small offense to that but dialed herself back. She is not in her right mind. And she needs help to get back. Just listen for now.

And listen Luna did. She listened intently as Twilight recounted, with no small difficulty, her original nightmare. She spat out every detail she could recall, and Luna took them in like a psychological sponge. When she had suffered through that, Twilight told her of the visit she and Spike had made to Rarity’s home. But throughout the entire discourse, Luna noticed that Twilight spoke oddly slowly. Methodically. As if testing for weaknesses in a well-spun web.

“And when I left Rarity’s and came home… you know the rest.” Twilight hung her head.

Luna nodded. “I can understand your exhaustion. Such an emotional morning combined with an interrupted slumber would tire any pony. Not to mention such a disturbing nightmare.”

“Tell me about it.” Twilight rubbed an eye. “And I knew that I would have the nightmare again if I fell asleep—I could just feel it—but I couldn’t help it. I was so tired. This, though…” She gestured to her disfigured horn as though it were a passing conversation piece. “I wasn’t quite prepared for that.”

Luna hid a shudder. “I imagine nopony would be adequately prepared for that.” She considered her words and pressed on. “Something strikes me as odd about all of this, though.” Twilight said nothing, but her pupils dashed sideways to look at Luna. “Why keep everything such a guarded secret? Surely you know how deeply all of your friends care for you. They deserve the full truth if they are to support you through such a dire time.”

Twilight’s face crumpled. “I—” Fresh tears grouped in Twilight’s eyes, and she tried to sniffle them away. “I don’t want to lie to them. I don’t want to lie to anypony. Right now I feel like I could use all the support in the world—that’s partly why I’m telling you. But I’m just… I’m scared.”

“Of what?”

“The nightmare. And what all of my friends will think of me if I tell them about it.” Twilight swung her body to face Luna completely, an act which stunned Luna for a moment. “You know dreams and nightmares better than anypony,” Twilight said, her voice wavering on the edge of conviction. “They’re supposed to be fantastical. Things that wouldn’t be possible in a million years, right?”

“In general, yes,” Luna said. “The world of dreams is an absurd one, woven with discord.”

“Then why did my nightmare seem so… achievable? Believable?” Twilight swallowed thickly and set her eyes back on the floor. “Possible?”

Luna gawked. “Beg pardon, Twilight Sparkle, but are you claiming that your nightmare was not ridiculous? The destruction of our most powerful magical artifacts. Sealing away both myself and my sister. Defeating Discord, terrorizing your friends, and conquering Equestria. All by yourself. Surely such things are terrifying prospects in the moment, but you cannot possibly believe them doable upon reflection.”

“I do.” Her reply was instant. “Now more than ever. And that’s what scares me more than anything.”

Both of Luna’s eyebrows raised. A thread of ice wove through her body. “Pardon?”

More tears crowded Twilight’s eyes, and a hitch caught in her voice. “See this?” She again pointed to her thornbush horn. “Do you know how much power that takes? How much magic you need to rupture a horn specifically designed to conduct magic? I… What if… And that was in my sleep!” She spoke this as if only realizing it herself, and she cupped her mouth with a hoof. She looked at Luna, and Luna saw not Equestria’s newest princess, but a filly terrified out of her wits.

“Calm down, Twilight Sparkle,” Luna tried.

Evidently, Twilight didn’t hear it. “What if it wasn’t a dream, Princess? What if it was a vision? What I could do? What I’m going to do! It… I—I shouldn’t have that much power! No one should! That’s what I’m scared of! Myself! And everyone else will be too when they find out! I… I can’t tell them! But… But…”

Before she even realized it, Luna had wrapped herself around Twilight. Twilight returned the hug fully. In that moment, Twilight didn’t need a princess or a therapist or a confidant. She needed a friend.

“Why is this happening, Luna?” Twilight said, muffled by Luna’s shoulder. “I’m not a bad pony. I shouldn’t be having these thoughts.”

“Of course you’re not a bad pony, Twilight.” Luna pulled away. She held Twilight at arm’s length and smiled. “You are a frightened pony. One who’s had a very bad dream. A dream, nothing more.”

“But why?” Twilight looked up at Luna. She drew her foreleg across her eyes. “Why now? And why am I so scared if it’s just a dream?”

A pause, and Luna lowered her eyes. “I don’t think it’s necessarily the dream you’re scared of.” In a slow, deliberate motion, Luna brushed Twilight’s wing. Twilight jerked away. She looked down at herself and rustled her wings. When she looked up into Luna’s eyes again, Luna nodded.

Twilight’s ragged form deflated further, like a decrepit building being sucked down by fresh mud. “Great. Just what Equestria needs. A princess who’s scared of being a princess.” She shook her head. “I’m so pathetic.”

“No you are not, Twilight Sparkle. You are very strong. In fact, I would be far more concerned for you if this situation hadn’t happened.”

At that, Twilight’s eyes shifted up.

Luna straightened herself. “Regrettably, it is perfectly natural for every princess, upon becoming a princess, to be confronted by their darkest fears. It manifests differently for each of us, and we all handle it however we can. Some better than others.” Luna’s eyes flickered away. For a split second her frown was not for Twilight. “But I assure you, Twilight Sparkle, you are not alone in this.”

Twilight’s head lifted. Something lit in her eyes—faint and blurred by sleepless emotions, but the spark was there. She sniffled. “You mean… You? Cadance? Celestia? This happened to all of you?”

“Not in this exact way, perhaps.” Luna’s eyes jumped to Twilight’s horn. Bits of each tendril were peeling and flaking at the edges, glimmering with latent energy. She suppressed a shiver and forced herself to look Twilight in the eye. “But yes, we’ve all had our fears. Our doubts. In your case, it seems a fear of your newfound power.” And perhaps rightly so, Luna thought, but didn’t say. Her focus strayed to Twilight’s horn again.

“Why didn’t any of you tell me?” Twilight said. “Even just to prepare me. Help me through it. It’s terrifying.”

“Exactly. Consider that you struggle with confiding this torment in your dearest friends. It’s something you do not wish to relive, recount, or even acknowledge. Why should the rest of us be any different?”

Twilight frowned. “Sorry,” she said, her voice frail.

“Don’t be,” Luna said. “I am very impressed by how competently you handled this. Telling me or anypony else about this must have taken a great deal of courage.”

“I have… good friends.” Twilight smiled, but only with her mouth. Her eyes still rippled with anything but happiness. There was the faintest of pauses before Twilight said, “So what happens now?”

Luna got to her hooves. Twilight made to follow suit, but Luna stayed her with a gentle press. “For now, you need rest.”

Twilight’s body tensed against Luna’s hoof. “But—”

“You needn’t worry. I will watch over your sleep and prevent the nightmare for recurring. But once you’re well rested, I would suggest taking whatever remedy Zecora offers you. And before you go to sleep each night, apply a magic capacitor to the base of your horn. I assume you have one.”

As if ashamed, Twilight shrunk back and nodded demurely. “I had to wear one as a filly for a while after I got my cutie mark.”

“Very good. Wear it at night so as to prevent further damage to your horn.” Luna’s horn briefly flared, and a tiny vial appeared in thin air. Corked within was a blue flame, flickering calmly. “Have Spike consume this flame. It will allow him to send messages directly to me rather than requiring them to go through my sister first. We will use this system to schedule our meetings.”

Twilight clasped the vial awkwardly between her hooves—an odd sight for a capable unicorn. She looked at Luna. “Meetings?”

A curt nod. “I wish to help you through this, Twilight Sparkle. We can meet wherever and whenever as frequently as you like, and we will discuss your emotions, your nightmares, and your fears. They will be difficult conversations, I realize, but this is important. And as your friend, I will do my very best to help.”

Twilight’s eyes were still enchanted by the flame. They widened and shone a little with Luna’s words. When she spoke, her words were packed with air, like a gasp caught between each syllable. “That’s so kind of you, Luna.” A ghost of a smile danced across her face. “Thank you.”

Allowing her posture to slouch a little, Luna rested a hoof on Twilight’s shoulder and smiled. Twilight’s eyes came up to meet hers. “Everything will be fine, Twilight Sparkle. Now rest. You have much on your mind.” Luna held her stare for a moment, hoping Twilight might smile. When she didn’t, though, Luna said, “We will speak again soon.” She turned away.

“Princess?” Twilight said. “I have one more question.”

Briefly, Luna bit her lip. She looked over her shoulder and said, “Yes?”

There was a hesitation, then Twilight said, “Could you… find Spike and bring him home? I need to apologize.”

Luna released a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding. “Yes. Of course.”

“Thank you.”

Luna left the library with a quicker step than she’d entered it. A chill had built in the pit of her stomach, and she was only vaguely sure why.

***

“Is Twilight alright?” were the first words out of Celestia’s mouth once Luna was in hearing distance. She hadn’t even landed yet.

Luna swooped into a hover and lowered herself next to Celestia, touching down on the balcony. “It is… difficult to say.” Luna looked sideways at the ground. “The way she described her nightmare seemed simply like her fears manifesting as we had assumed, but…”

“But?”

Her hooves adjusted a little, and Luna said, “Apparently the nightmare caused her horn to overload with magic, and it ruptured.”

Celestia retreated a step, as if distancing herself from the words. “Oh, Twilight. Oh my goodness. How was she taking it?”

“Shockingly well. She was far more concerned with the nightmare than her horn.”

For whatever reason, this news did nothing to shift the tension in Celestia’s chest. Nevertheless she said, “Really? Well, I suppose that’s a relief. Will her horn heal?”

“In due time, of course.” Luna’s words were rushed. Balancing on the edge of panic and slipping. “But, sister, I worry for her. Neither dreams nor nightmares have ever been known to trigger such powerful magicks. I fear there may be something else at play here. Something sinister.”

Celestia’s lips curled down. “You may be right, Luna, but we must wait and see. I have known Twilight for a long while. Her magic is very powerful, and her emotions are often unstable. Considering the new pressures of becoming a princess, not to mention the increase in power, I’m sorry to say that a horn rupture may have been entirely possible, even in her sleep.” She looked over the balcony rail. The sun was well above the horizon, but the day was still in its childhood. “Keep an eye on her.”

“I will, sister. Absolutely. And I pray that you’re right.” Luna followed Celestia’s gaze. She watched the horizon for a moment too, but quickly said, “She will be falling asleep shortly. I must be off to protect her from the nightmare. Farewell, sister.”

“Farewell, Luna. And thank you.” Luna nodded, raised her horn high, and vanished in a swirling mist. Slithering tongues of magic danced in the air, then they vanished and Luna was gone.

Alone once more, Celestia bolted back into her room. A look that had not appeared on her face in two hundred years or more gripped her. A look of pure, undiluted terror.

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Comments ( 31 )

This series keeps getting better and better... and darker.

Dreams may be fantastical, this is true. But they can also reflect real fears and emotions. That's what makes nightmares like the one Twilight is suffering through so, potent. :ajsleepy:

I gotta say, this "One" series is a great, compelling analysis on Equestrian princehood. This really feels like an actual dilemma Twilight would find herself facing. Her magical prowess has been increased tenfold, if not more. Of course having that much power would be a daunting thought. We know she'd never use her magic in such a way, but the fact remains that she could. That's what frightens her. And that, my friend, is how you write Twilight transitioning into her new role as an alicorn princess without being pretentious. :raritywink:

Masterfully done, as always. :moustache:

5956113
THIS IS IN A SERIES?

Why haven't you combined these stories into one? I mean, they aren't one shots.

The entire of the series certainly has been engaging, Arg, but I fear you may have shot yourself in the foot by releasing it episodically like this. The narrative begs to be told in one story. In any case, it certainly holds up to your usual high standard of grammar and mechanics. I'm a little sad that we didn't get to hear Twilight's apology to Spike but you know my bias.

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Truth be told, I think you're right. I'm just not quite sure how to go about fixing it. One Night started out as a one-shot, and One Morning was a natural follow-up for me, but a grander narrative struck me at some point after that. I couldn't figure out how to reconcile it all into a single story, so I started doing it episodically like this. I'm not quite sure how I'd go about meshing it all together in one story now, especially given the dissonant narrative styles (One Morning being first-person present tense, One Friend being all-dialogue, and the other two being more traditional third-person). All in all, I've pretty much created a problem that I have no idea how to fix. Glad you're enjoying the story regardless, though!

I rarely get a bad feeling in my gut when reading a story, but this one does the trick. The whole thing is eerie and twisted and dark... but the final lines with Celestia's reaction is what sealed it. Very well done.
Looking forward to more, episode or whole story wise.
I don't think it would be a problem to have chapters told from different narrative perspectives by the way. Adds its own dynamic if the switches are done methodically.

5958791 The problem's not the perspective, switching perspectives is common, but they're written in different tenses, and one of them is dialogue-only, that's the problem.

These seem more like chapters of one story than stand-alone one shots to me. If I hadn't read the other ones already I would have no idea what was going on, and they seem to have a pretty consistent progression of events.

So Cadence is drowning in blood in her dreams, powerless, and Twilight lies in the ashes of a home she burned down herself because she has too much power. And now Luna, the world's foremost expert on dreams, says there's something sinister going on. That line where she said something like "Dreams are full of discord," caught my eye too. Is he really as reformed as we think in this world?

Why do I get the feeling that something is going to go wrong when Luna tries to stop the nightmare?

But what caught Luna’s attention most was Twilight’s horn. It spiraled out from her head in three mangled, twisted coils. They were jagged at points and curved at others, and bits of them were charred bright black.

Aaargh, body horror.

Anyone else feel bad for Spike? Just me... Alright.

Up to date on the whole series now, i feel like all of this should be one story, but this works i suppose. Anyways, this is great!

Can't wait for the next one!

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As I see it, the story really starts here anyway. This is where it goes from being simple nightmare spurred on by Twilight's (and I suppose Cadance's) ascensions and individual fears of losing all they love. Fear of being alone.

This story brings new light to what these dreams mean, so while it is indeed an interesting problem you've wrote yourself into, you can still go on with a longer narrative from here in one single story. At least, that's how I see it.

But I'll be behind this story no matter what you do, so do what you see fit.

I knew she wouldn't dismember her own horn. That's like someone cutting off their own hand; no one really wants to do that. But this confirms my suspicions that I've has over these stories. These nightmares are too . . . specific. They're beyond terrifying, and they play on certain fears that seem to be way overplayed for how truly terrifying the fears are. Sure, loving forever, being a princess, and being afraid of your own power are things that can spawn nightmares, but Twilight was planted with ideas that do not fit her character at all. Not in a million years should she think she's capable of doing such terrible things as banishing Luna and Celestia, killing Rarity, and destroying the Elements.

So the question now is who is causing this? And I'm pretty stumped at who it could be. This seems to be before Tirek, so maybe it's Tirek? I don't know, but I know we'll soon see.

This is, as Luna says, disturbing. One of Equestria's princesses is so terrified of her own power that she's suffering bed-wetting nightmares. She can't be a responsible ruler if she not only fails to believe in her ability to live up to the responsibility, but also fears she'll abuse it.

You should've cut about 90% of Spike's content. He's almost completely pointless, slows everything down, and distracts from the important things that were going on between Twilight and Luna.

Dangit, Argo! I don't follow many writers, but you've got me hooked here...I gotta see what happens next:facehoof:, have a follow.

Oh gosh, this was so nice! Twi, Luna and Spike were all wonderful here!

Alright. You have my attention...
May I suggest you put all of the pieces of this story into one, listing them as chapters? It'd certainly make it easier to track and follow along with. In the meantime, I'll be certainly watching for the next addition. It's very good. :twilightsmile:

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I'm currently in the process of doing exactly this, actually! I need to update the narrative styles of One Morning and One Friend first though because having one chapter randomly jump to first-person present tense or an all-dialogue narrative would be rather jarring.

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True that, but it's not all bad as is either. Nevertheless, I know it'll turn out good when you've got it pieced together. I'm really looking forward to the next chapter of this. :twilightsmile:

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I should probably read them, but I'm not gonna.

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Something you could do to keep the flow of each story going would be to wright each characters point of view in the same way they were in their one shots. So when Cadence is the point of reference have it all dialog and when Luna is have it 3rd person and so on. Just an idea If you wanted to keep true to the style of writing made.

Kind of wish you released these as a series of chapters.

Chilling... you definitely pulled off the "dark" trope without actual violence. Nice work!

Well, I'm bricking it right about now, I won't lie.

"So it might be that a pony wielding this kind of power might make these things come to be. So given such might they would be able to destroy Equestria. But it's not a random pony wielding it; it's you, Twilight Sparkle. Tell me one thing, if given a chance, would you make this dream come true?"
"...No! Of course not!"
"Then don't. And that's all that is needed. You are a good pony who would never do these kinds of things. You are the guiding power behind that power, so why, for whatever reason would you ever want to use it that way? This dream is ridiculous, not because technically these things are impossible, but because it suggests you, of all ponies would ever try to cause them. It's outright silly. You, the wonderful, loyal, faithful friend, turning on us? The idea is completely ludicrous."

This series is amazing, and I feel it uses fear really well. Twilight is afraid to talk about what she saw. Rarity is afraid to talk about how it affected her. Luna is afraid to tell her how much this really worries her, as is Celestia with Luna. Everyone is concerned about this, but none of them want to let on just how worried they are, because they don't want to make them more afraid then they already are.

Also, the dream itself feels concerning to me, it just doesn't feel right, Rarity being one of the most noticeable - if it really is just due to her being worried about her power and what she's capable of, then why is Rarity different from her other friends? On top of that, why is it that when things are different and she tries to take control of the dream that her magic overloads? That, combined with Celestia's reaction make's it hard to dismiss as a coincidence for me.

I'll definitely be interesting in seeing more of this and where things go from here.

5964162 What's the progress of the rewrite? Is the next chapter in the works yet?

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