• Published 31st May 2015
  • 2,063 Views, 85 Comments

Shadow's Flare - MrAlterad



Trixie works to break a curse of eternal slumber cast over Equestria, with some unexpected help from a former enemy.

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2. Waning Sleep

Chrysalis was quite thankful that Trixie was asleep, it spared her from having to deal with any teasing and complaining that would have come of their current situation.

As far as she's concerned, I carried her with my magic! Chrysalis thought as she looked ahead, spotting the barely illuminated forms of Ponyville's buildings, with an unconscious Trixie tied to her back.

“I can see Ponyville,” Chrysalis stated as she turned to her royal guard, “return to Canterlot and continue the search for Page and Sunset's dragon. And don't return unless you've found something.”

“Yes, Your Highness, stay safe!”

“Same to you, now go!” she replied as she adopted a small smile, and with a salute, her guard left her side, disappearing into the night. Just what are those two little ones doing? She wondered as she eyed the full moon, letting out a sigh before glancing at her sleeping passenger. Luna, I really hope you were right about your students. After everything we've been through, I just- Chrysalis paused, then shook her head to rid herself of her growing gloom, No! None of that! I'm done moping! Everything will be fine, I'll make sure of it! She affirmed to herself as she cast her eyes to the small town in the distance.

~~~~~~~~~~

Trixie's steps echoed off the stone floor as she looked through the window. Eyeing the horizon, she noticed a small glow of red illuminating the clouds in the distance, but besides that everything was as it was before she entered Tell Tale's dream. Moving from the window, she looked around to appraise the home that had formed around her.

“So, how does Trixie reach her friends from here?” She asked to nopony in particular, Let's see, I think there was a lesson on this. ...Oh horseapples. She thought as her ears fell. Guess I should have payed attention to that one. Her brow furrowed as Chrysalis's suggestion to find Twilight first came to mind. Well, no matter, this shouldn't be all that hard to figure out. She thought with a nod as she looked to the cutiemark emblem on the floor's center.

If I recall, a pony is always connected to the Realm of Dreams, even while awake. So, this home must be some sort of representation of Tell Tale's connection. I guess everypony must have something like this, a dream home. She figured, feeling as if the assumption wasn't wrong. Is it supposed to be all cracked and broken up like this? She wondered as she ran her hoof over the cracks of an ivy covered pillar, then pulled away as small pieces of stone fell off if at her touch.

“S-Sorry Tell Tale!” She let out as she stepped back, unsure if the stallion received the apology, or if she had actually caused any harm to him. Okay, let's just assume that Tell Tale's dream home is normally sturdier than this. She thought as she moved away from the pillar, her eyes being drawn to the large and detailed pictures on the walls.

Lining the walls in an orderly fashion, the pictures detailed events, what Trixie assumed were memories from Tell Tale's life, and some of them even moved, to her wonder. Though the frames were cracked, the contents for them were well preserved.

Because of the orderly arrangement, Trixie guessed that some pictures were missing, as a silhouette was left on the walls of where several had formerly been. At a certain point she started picking out events she recognized, which was pretty easy, considering she was in them. Adopting a reminiscing smile, she continued on until she started to notice that something was missing from the memories.

Luna and Page were nowhere to be seen. Realizing this, Trixie's brow furrowed as she started looking to the portraits. They were kept together on a single wall, also nicely organized and grouped into tiers, and the portraits were in an even worse state then the memories. The portraits were framed in a format that Trixie's seen before, sporting a cutiemark of the pony on a plaque above the picture, and their name and title below.

Near the top of the wall was a particular patch of portraits, three pictures for three ponies important to Tell Tale. One was just a shattered frame, the remnants of the portrait being nothing more than bits of wood and a small piece of the owner's cutiemark, Princess Luna. Next to it was an empty space where a portrait should have been, that Trixie assumed was Page's portrait.

Did the missing portrait cause the nightmare? Trixie wondered as she eyed the blank spot, before letting her eyes fall to the intact portrait next to it, Page's mother.

Out of all the portraits on the wall, it was the only one in perfect condition. Yet, it was still set apart from the others, as it was also the only picture lacking color. Trixie needn't guess as to why that was, as she paused a moment, lowering her head in respect, her heart aching slightly for Tell Tale and his daughter.

As the moment gradually passed, Trixie's eyes fell to the row below, a small smile melting the passing sadness as she saw portraits of Twilight, Sunset and Cadance lined up together. There was also a fourth portrait that was covered by a white sheet, which Trixie assumed was her own.

She eyed that cloth, her brow furrowing. Why is mine covered up? She wondered as she reached out to remove the offending article. As her hoof got closer to the portrait, she felt a building sense of vertigo swelling up within her, making her take a step back before she could reach the cloth. As the sensation died down, she looked to the cloth in a concerned light.

W-What was that just now? She thought, briefly considering trying again. Nodding to herself, and taking a deep breath, she instead tried to remove the veil with her magic. The second she grasped it, the sense of vertigo returned, only now it was more prominent, as Trixie's breath caught in her throat. She stared at the veil, still in her grasp, and she was filled with an overwhelming premonition. She felt as if she would literally fall if she removed the veil, and despite how irrational the sensation was, it still held power over her.

She let go of the cloth, taking another step back as she did. The sense of vertigo lingered, and it took a minute for Trixie to regain her composure as she stared at the cloth covering her own portrait, coming to an unsavory conclusion. That- That must have something to do with the black magic Chrysalis used. Will I fall back to sleep if I see my own portrait? She wondered in an attempt to distract herself from the fact that she'd been unnerved by an unassuming piece of fabric.

Fortunately, something else caught her attention, making her quickly move on from her portrait as she took a closer look at Sunset's and Cadance's, for their cutiemarks were different from all the other ponies on the wall. They were simpler, and were made of crystal instead of wood. Sunset's cutiemark looked exactly as her Element of Harmony, and looking to Cadance, Trixie had to assume the same for her, as it was just a single pink crystal heart. Both gave off a small glimmer of light and a sense of integrity. Twilight's cutiemark looked as it normally did, and Trixie suspected that was the case for hers as well. She also noted that the crystal cutiemarks were completely unblemished, which couldn't be said about the rest of the portraits themselves.

Sunset's portrait was barely recognizable, as most of it was charred, and the frame was warped. Twilight's looked like it was ripped into pieces, then glued back together by a foal.

In fact, there were very few portraits that were intact. Of Trixie's friends, Cadance's portrait was the only one that was mostly intact, with several cracks in the frame and a slight tear in the picture. As Trixie looked to it, she felt a small compulsion, and reached out to it. As her hoof got closer, she felt a slight pulling sensation, as if the portrait was offering to take her somewhere, and Trixie almost indulged in the offer. Pulling her hoof back, she considered all this for a moment, looking between the pictures of her friends, nodding to herself as she looked back between Sunset and Cadance.

Twilight and I haven't earned our elements yet, so I guess when that happens, our cutiemarks in the Realm of Dreams will change? Would be nice if they looked like that right now. Finding the fifth and sixth would be so much easier like that! Trixie thought as she nodded to herself. But, I guess Luna would know who they were if it were that easy. Her eyes then widened as an idea came to mind. I don't know about the Element of Magic, but Twilight explained that Honesty and Kindness didn't need their color returned, and finding their bearers should be easier than us going through what Sunset did to awaken Loyalty. Maybe the bearer of Honesty's cutiemark is sort of like Cadance and Sunset's. She guessed, If that's the case, then I should keep an eye out! Her brow then furrowed as she let out a sigh. Or, maybe that's not the case, cause Luna would have found that pony. Trixie then sat down, rubbing her chin, Then again, there are a lot of ponies in Equestria, maybe too many for Luna to look through. She then nodded to herself again, Either way, I should keep an eye out, and pay attention to the portraits as I come across them. She concluded, not doubting for a moment that she'd end up seeing more dream homes than Tell Tale's.

“Well well well.” And unfamiliar voice let out, making Trixie's thoughts come to a halt as she hopped to her hooves, turning to the front door. “What an unexpected oddity I've stumbled upon.” The female voice said in an amused tone as Trixie took in somepony she immediately recognized, making her take up a defensive stance.

It was a walking shadow, in the shape of an alicorn mare. Where her hooves met the ground spawned dark tendrils that lazily lingered around her. Because of the dark nature of the mare, it was almost impossible to make out her facial features, but Trixie was certain that she was smiling at her. Trixie glared at the shadow, anger born at recalling its intentions of possessing Sunset, and basking Equestria in eternal day.

Shadow Flare!

“So, how'd it feel to end a nightmare?” She asked snidely, making Trixie's scowl deepen.

“Trixie see's no reason to answer that, you two-bit schemer! What did you do to Equestria!?” Trixie asked, and she felt as if Shadow Flare was caught off guard by the question, as the shadow seemed to hesitate for a moment. Ah! An opening! Trixie thought, getting the jump on Shadow Flare as Trixie's horn glowed, and with empowering ease she summoned a thick brass bell, making it appear over Flare, encasing the shadow within. Trixie blinked as she realized what she'd just done, and for a moment, was distracted by the possibilities.

So my 'magic' doesn't have any limitations here!? Incredi- A shadow tendril pierced through the bell, wrapping itself around Trixie before she could react, tossing her like a doll across the room. Trixie winced as she quickly rolled to her hooves, dodging another tendril as it tried to catch her again. Focus Trixie! Being thrown is not fun! She then imagined her telekinesis being incredibly strong, and grabbed Shadow Flare with it as the brass bell was consumed by shadows. Trixie's brow then furrowed when nothing happened, and instead worked towards keeping Shadow Flare away from her by creating a bunch of furniture and throwing them at her. As Trixie dodged more of Flare's efforts to grab her, Trixie noticed that the furniture, and just about anything else she imagined, turned into shadow and vanished when it touched her foe.

“Stay still so I can keep you from moving!” Shadow Flare shouted in annoyance, making Trixie grin as she clouded the room with smoke.

Now, how do I fight her if what I create can't touch her? Trixie thought as she cast herself in a cloak of invisibility. Maybe I can-

“Thank you!” Shadow Flare said, from right behind Trixie, to Trixie's surprise. She tried to teleport away, but found herself unable, once again grabbed by Shadow Flare.

I can't teleport while she's got me!? Trixie thought as Flare picked her up and turned her around to face her.

“Can we settle this later?” She asked, making Trixie stop struggling in surprise as Shadow Flare put her down, letting her go. “Look here, Littlemoon, Nightmare will be here soon, and we don't want to be here when it does!”

Littlemoon? Nightmare!?

“It's Lulamoon- It's The Great and Powerful Trixie to you! And what was that about Nightmare? Aren't you Nightmare?” Trixie asked warily as the smoke disappeared, revealing to her that the dream home had suffered some damage from her actions. A realization that made her ears fall.

“Am I Nightmare?” Shadow Flare asked incredulously, “Me? I lost that name ages ago! No, I'm just Shadow Flare now. But enough of me, what's Luna's little shadow doing here?”

“Trixie is nopony's shadow but her own! And she's here to see what happened to Equestria!” Trixie declared as she took a valiant step forward, “What'd you think she'd come for, a vacation!?” She asked in a condescending tone. Her words failed to antagonize Shadow Flare, who seemed to find her statements amusing.

“Let me guess. The changeling queen, she woke you up.” Shadow Flare stated, making Trixie blink before letting out a scoff.

“The Great and Powerful Trixie awoke of her own will!” Trixie confidently replied. How'd she know about Chrysalis-

“I see, so this is the best that overgrown bug can offer.” Shadow Flare replied in a disappointed tone, making Trixie flush at Flare seeing through her ruse.

“She's not a bug! And she's got more than Trixie in mind! Trixie isn't doing this alone-”

“Yes, you are. The others won't awaken.” She stated confidently, “Honestly, it's a miracle she was even able to awaken you.”

“W-what?”

“Look, Luna's shadow, besides here, everypony in Equestria was drawn into Nightmare. There's no way to pull them out of...” Flare's words gave out as her gaze looked past Trixie. Following Flare's stare, Trixie saw the portraits of her friends, and she was under the impression that Flare was looking at Cadance in particular. “It's been fixed?” Flare asked to nopony in particular, then looked to Trixie. “Littlemoon, how did you end Tell Tale's dream?” She asked in a curious tone.

“That's Trixie!” Trixie replied with a huff as she looked back to Flare. Everywhere but Tell Tale's? She briefly thought as she gave her opponent a glare. “And Trixie still doesn't see why she should tell you anything!”

“If you want to free Equestria, you'll talk.” Shadow Flare said coldly, making Trixie hesitate as she looked over the apparition.

Is she actually the way Celestia and Sunset described her? That she actually cares about Equestria?

“Look, before Trixie tells you anything, she wants to know, why do you want to help?” Trixie asked with a determined look, and Shadow Flare appraised her for a long moment before looking away.

“Because I have friends who live in Equestria, what of it?”

That's 'friends' with an 's'. So she found somepony else besides Celestia... Trixie thought, feeling as if giving Flare a chance would be best, despite her dislike of her. She then nodded to herself, Something's off. She opened up hostile, but changed when I said I wanted to help Equestria. She has answers, and she's doing this for her friends. So, I guess that's good enough for me.

“Alright, Trixie will trust you, for now.” Trixie stated as she glanced to the side, “Trixie ended the nightmare by helping Tell Tale remember his daughter.” She explained, making Flare contemplate over her words for a moment.

“I see, I guess the changeling queen might actually have something here. So, there's reason for hope.” Flare admitted as she glanced back to Trixie. “You should wake up, now. Nightmare will be here soon.”

“Wait just a second! Trixie has questions too, don't try and end our talk now! Where's Luna, and how do you fit in all this!?” Trixie asked, casting a brief looking around for Nightmare and seeing nothing out of place.

“Hmph, fine. Luna's gone. She's been absorbed by Nightmare, both in mind and body. If you want to save your precious princess, you'll need to rip her out of it!”

“W-What-”

“As for me, I could care less about that mare. She may be Celestia's beloved sister, but there's no love lost between Luna and I. And regarding Nightmare, it needs to be stopped. I hold no influence over that mass, and I never will. Now stop wasting our time, you need to wake up, now!”

“Not that she intends to,” Trixie began as she gave Flare another hard glare, “but how would Trixie go about waking up?” She asked, doubting pinching herself would help. Her question caught Shadow Flare off-guard, making the shadow almost physically falter in surprise.

“Chrysalis didn't give you a means?”

“That was something she could do?” Trixie asked as she adopted an incredulous look, That would be nice to have!

“I see, perhaps I was giving her too much credit.” Flare responded as she let out an annoyed sigh.

There was a sudden flash of blinding light, but the boom that came with it was never heard, in its place was a throbbing pain as Trixie cradled her head. She could smell burning wood, and could feel heavy things hitting the ground near her. She laid still for several moments before managing to regain a sense of her surroundings. Getting on her hooves, her eyes widened as she took in the destruction.

An entire half of the dream home was now a charred wreck. The front half of the building was completely gone, and burning bits of wood, plants and debris fell from parts of the second floor, as if to punctuate the scene. Now with no wall to bar her vision, Trixie could make out that the red hue on the horizon was now significantly more pronounced, with lightning arcing from it. It was coming closer at a noticeable pace, and the clouds touched by that light looked almost as if they were screaming in anger. There was a rapidly growing sense of dread growing in the air, and the clouds seemed to thicken in anticipation as the red glow grew closer.

“Tr-Trixie would like to wake up now!” She let out as she looked to see Shadow Flare, completely unphased, looking over the damaged building. “Is Tell Tale alright!?”

“The damage is superficial, nothing more.” Flare calmly replied, getting a relieved sigh from Trixie, who briefly glanced at the coming Nightmare with unease. “The stallion is in a point between sleep and waking up, what happens to the dream home has no effect on him now, and the building will be repaired the next time he falls asleep. That aside,” Shadow Flare stated as she swiftly grabbed Trixie, to the blue mare's surprise, “Since you can't wake yourself up, you'll just have to run.”

“Trixie isn't running! She simply needs to make a tactical relocation, that's all!” Trixie assured with a slightly confident grin as she looked back towards Nightmare. Her grin melted as she did. It felt as if the very air around them was starting to turn red, and though Trixie couldn't make out their coming foe, the sense of dread was quickly growing. The ground almost seemed to be quivering in anticipation. “Where are we going!?” Trixie quickly asked as she looked back to Flare.

You're going someplace Nightmare can't follow.” Flare responded nonchalantly as she tossed Trixie towards the portrait of Cadance, which was now resting on the floor.

Trixie braced for a landing that didn't come, for as she reached the portrait, it seemed to grow into the size of a corridor. Tell Tale's dream home, as well as Shadow Flare, disappeared as Trixie was sent falling through the hall, which was lined with Cadance's colors.

I-I fell into the portrait!? She thought as she tried to direct her fall into a less disorienting direction. And Shadow Flare isn't coming? Well, good riddance, I guess... She thought as she looked down, seeing a bright point of light that was quickly growing, becoming so bright that Trixie had to shield her eyes. She then let out a 'oomph' when she unexpectedly landed on something soft and puffy.

“That foul mare! Tossing The Great and Powerful Trixie like she was some sort of doll!” She let out indignantly as she got on her hooves, and paused when she realized that she was standing on a cloud. Glad that the cloud was kind enough to not let her fall through, Trixie started looking for the edge to get a better look around.

Okay, so, Nightmare has Luna. How am I suppose to get her away from it? She thought as she briefly shivered at the thought of actually encountering Nightmare. She then looked up to where she fell from, seeing no apparent entrance or exit, just grey skies. Shadow Flare said it can't follow, but can it still find me? Her brow then furrowed, Why do I get the feeling I'm gonna need her help to get through all this? She thought as she lightly kicked the cloud. If she wants to help Equestria, she's probably got a plan, I'll need to get more answers from her next time. Her thinking came to an abrupt end as she found the edge, and after pausing for a moment, she took a peek at the fall beyond.

She couldn't make out ground of any kind, and briefly wondered if that was because this was a pegasus' dream. What she did make out, was a bunch of clouds that were tethered together with what Trixie could only assume were spider webs, making her gut sink slightly as she let out a sigh.

“Of course, Cadance is scared of spiders. It just had to be spiders!” She said as she tried spotting some sign of her friend in the mess of webs. Well, first, I'll need to fly. Oh! I know! She thought excitedly as she pictured one of her favorite performances. With a thought, her slightly whitened cape shimmered with magic, and Trixie felt her hooves leave the cloud as she gained flight. Ha! I bet Sunset would be green with envy is she saw me using WonderMare's Cape of Flight!

Trixie then eyed the patch of webbing below her with a determined look. However, before she plummeted into that thicket, there was something she had to get off her chest. With a sudden burst of speed, she flew off, letting out an energetic yell as she did a slightly sloppy double-spiral-loopty-turn-of-doom. She spent the better part of a minute enjoying her new found flight, before giving her mirth direction and plummeting down into the dark clouds and webbing. This is awesome! What other things can I do in a dream! Oh! How about a pony tracker that shows me- Her smile then deepened as blue arrow appeared a pace ahead of her, matching her speed as it pointed towards Cadance. “I'm coming Cadance!” Trixie let out, all traces of her former doom and gloom gone.

She soared through the clouds, weaving around webs at a breakneck pace. The farther she got, the darker the clouds became, and it wasn't long before she started spotting the web-makers. They were bigger than a pony, with long and skinny legs and a bulbous abdomen. They were fast too, and were incredibly capable jumpers.

The arachnids were intimidating, but that didn't bother Trixie in the least, for she was in an athletic high, and from it spawned a confidence that wasn't shaken by ponysized spiders. It also helped that she knew that this was just a dream, and it also helped that every spider she saw quickly disappeared under a fairly large roll of newspaper, thanks to hers truly.

Zipping past all the webs and spiders, she saw a web covered floating chunk of earth that had a homely cottage on it, and Trixie shot for it, ready to save her friend from her worst fears. Just as she was about to land, she felt as if she had crossed some unseen threshold, and as she did, the tracking arrow disappeared, and so did her ability to fly. Caught off guard by her sudden lack of flight, she failed to react in time, and crashed onto the small island, leaving a nice ponysized skid on the ground that led right to the cottage's front door.

“What was that about?” Trixie asked indignantly as she got on her hooves, the fall only harming her pride. Maybe it has something to do with the way my illusion left my control back in Tell Tale's dream. She wondered as she cleaned herself off with a simple spell. Well, it's not my dream, after all, so maybe when I'm close to the dreamer, what I can do becomes limited. She guessed, then flinched as a strand of webbing caught the door behind her, drawing her eyes to the horde of upset spiders she had sped past. Her ears fell as she realized that she had managed to tick off a horde of spiders, and was no longer able to fly around the problem. With haste that would impress a Shadowbolt, Trixie turned to the door and tried to open it. Not budging in the least, she instead ran to a nearby window, seeing that it was boarded up. Well, that makes sense! Trixie affirmed as several spiders landed uncomfortably close.

Throwing caution to the wind, she used her magic to remove one of the boards on the window, forcibly. The board smashed and broke, as well as the window, granting Trixie a view inside the home right as she felt herself being caught with webbing. With a thought, she teleported inside, and let out a sigh of relief-

One of the spiders shot after her, through the broken window, catching Trixie. As it started pulling her close, she saw several legs work through the broken barricade, working to tear it apart. Her heart pounding fiercely, her eyes wide open, Trixie tried to end the encounter with another barrage of unrealistically large rolls of newspaper, and ended up getting realistically sized ones instead. She could almost feel the spiders smiling at her as she teleported out of their hold again. It just had to be spiders!! Trixie thought as she summoned a bucket of chili sauce, and splattered its contents all over her attackers, making them reel back from the unexpected seasoning.

Using the opportunity, she began to board up the window; but before she could, a pink blur flew past her, flying through and smashing into the spiders, sending several flying away. The window now clear, Trixie moved to it, looking outside to affirm what she had just seen. Cadance was standing in the midst of the dispersed spiders, who were regathering after the pegasus's unexpected barrage. Cadance's eyes met Trixie's, and a brief look of surprise flashed across her face.

“Trixie? S-Stay put, it's safer there! I'll keep them away!” Cadance assured, making Trixie's eyebrow twitch slightly.

“Trixie came here to save you, so get it right!” She replied as she teleported to Cadance's side, eyeing the spiders warily as they both shared a look.

“Oh?” Cadance asked as she zipped around Trixie, ramming a spider that was about to pounce on the distracted unicorn. “Oh! Well, by all means, save me!” Cadance said as she gave Trixie a sly smile, “Just don't mind if I end up saving you too!”

Caught off guard by Cadance's actions, Trixie coughed into her hoof as she gave a small nod, and seeing that, Cadance flew off to continue her attack. Trixie then teleported as another spider tried to catch her, and just like that, the two of them were involved in a bout of tag against the arachnids.

I knew she could fight, but I wasn't expecting this! Trixie thought as Cadance weaved through the battle. Trixie herself dodged and teleported from the spiders, all while using all manner of simple spells to send them running. More chili sauce, pepper, blinding flashes of light, and bombardments of her double A+ fireworks did wonders at driving them away.

“Not that I'm not enjoying spending time together-” Cadance let out as she sent a spider sprawling off of the floating island. “But there doesn't seem to be an end to them!”

“Just you wait! They'll be fleeing in no time~! After all, you've got The Great and Powerful Trixie on your side!” She proclaimed, then adopted a surprised look when a spider caught the white part of her cape with its web. Then, almost as swiftly as it connected, the web vanished as it was washed with light, evaporating before Trixie's eyes. Seeing that, an idea came to the mare, and she let a spider get uncomfortably close to her before hitting it with her cape. When the white cloth connected with the spider, it vanished in a flash as well.

Screaming a little thank you to Tell Tale in her heart, Trixie changed her approach to the fight, and the flow of the battle almost immediately shifted in their favor. Now, it was the spiders that were avoiding her. With the combined assault of her cape and Cadance's flank-kickery, it wasn't long before the spiders fled, leaving as Trixie laughed at their fleeing backs. She then looked to Cadance, noticing her shiver slightly as she shook her head. Cadance then looked to Trixie, and adopted a big smile.

“I didn't think we'd actually send them running.” Cadance let out energetically, before her smile then shifted to concern, “Now. Trixie, what are you doing here!? You could have gotten hurt!”

“Hah! Like an army of spiders could harm Trixie! Who, she might add, came here to save you. Why else would she dive into such a hive of foul creatures?” Trixie asked nonchalantly, briefly eyeing their surrounds warily to ensure no spiders were daring to make a return.

“Well, they're gone now, and it was kind of fun fighting together. So, good job!” She said as she glanced to the cottage, suddenly making Trixie aware of the fact that the spiders were probably leaving the home alone until she came blazing in. “Let's get inside and board up, they'll be back if we linger out here.”

“Shouldn't we leave?”

“You know the way out?” Cadance asked as she gestured to the fact that, from the cottage, it looked like a maze of clouds and webbing from all sides.

“Well, sort of. Trixie guesses we can do that inside the cottage too.” She admitted, getting a confused look from Cadance as Trixie teleported into the home. After Cadance flew in, they both worked to board up the broken window, making the interior of the home darken. After creating a small lamp, Trixie appraised Cadance. Besides looking a little tired, a notion that Trixie found confusing, Cadance looked perfectly fine.

“Alright, not that I'm happy to see you, I truly am, but how'd you get here?” Cadance asked, “How'd you make it past the skyders?”

Skyders? As is sky spiders?” Trixie asked incredulously, getting a nod from the pegasus.

“They don't normally get that big...” Cadance explained.

“Well, Trixie flew past them.”

“You can fly? How?” Cadance asked, a little impressed.

“Trixie enchanted her cape. It's pretty easy since we're in a dream.” She stated, causing Cadance to blink as Trixie felt something about the dream shift.

“You can fly? How?” Cadance repeated, getting a confused look from Trixie.

“Trixie just said that she enchanted her cape.”

“Heh, is there anything your magic can't do?” Cadance replied, “So, I guess you know how to get out of this skyder maze?”

“Like Trixie said, this is a dream, so we just need to wake you-” Trixie felt that slight shift again as Cadance stared at her.

“So, I guess you know how to get out of this skyder maze?”

What, I can't tell her she's dreaming? Is she more entrapped by Nightmare then Tell Tale was? Trixie thought as she adopted a contemplative look.

“Um, yeah. To get out of the maze, we need to break your fear of spiders.” Trixie replied hesitantly. She then let out a small sigh when she didn't feel Cadance's dream backpedal.

“Spiders? You think so? I mean, I feel like I've been here for days, and yes, I was terrified at first.” Cadance admitted as her ears fell, “But, I guess after dealing with them for so long, they don't bother me much anymore. I mean, they still spook me, but a solid kick gets rid of them.” She admitted, making Trixie appraise her.

“Really? You're sure? I mean-” Trixie began, then paused, recalling that Tell Tale's nightmare wasn't immediately apparent. Is there something else Cadance is scared of? Is this whole skyder thing just a distraction? She wondered as Cadance gave her a smile.

“I'm glad that you're back though. I, well, didn't think you'd return after our argument.”

“Argument?” Trixie asked.

“About how you did more than enough for a thankless mare like me?” Cadance hesitantly put in, looking at Trixie in confusion.

It must have been some dream version of me. Wait, maybe that's tied to her deeper fear! She thought as she took a step towards Cadance.

“Was it just Trixie that you argued with?”

“What? I mean, no, I guess not.” She then adopted a slightly pained expression that she tried to hide, “There was Twilight and Sunset too, they left saying I was a burden to everything they aspired for.”

“Th-That's terrible!”

“It's okay, they were probably right, I mean, why else would they say it?”

“Cadance, we'd never say something so cruel to you! You're our friend. Sunset would buck herself if she even thought of saying something like that to you!” Trixie adamantly affirmed, getting a small smile from Cadance. Trixie then staggered slightly, suddenly hit with a wave of fatigue, getting a concerned look from Cadance.

“Are you alright? The skyders didn't bite you, did they?” Cadance asked with great concern, helping Trixie to her hooves.

“Trixie suddenly felt tired, is all.” She assured, unsure of what that meant. If I'm tired in a dream, does falling asleep here mean waking up outside? She briefly wondered as she was hit by another wave of fatigue, making her fall through Cadance as Trixie became transparent. H-Huh!? She thought as she crawled out of Cadance's space, seeing the pegasus still holding Trixie, another Trixie, whose cape was its complete original color.

Trixie looked at her other self wide-eyed as she felt herself slipping further away. She fought against the urge to fall asleep, as she saw the other unicorn that looked like her adopt a scowl.

“Let go! The Great and Powerful Trixie wasn't bitten by skyders!” The false Trixie proclaimed as she separated herself from Cadance, getting a surprised look from the pegasus. “That's just like you, trying to change the subject while pretending to care! That's what Trixie can't stand about you!” She shouted, making Cadance step back as the real Trixie understood what was going on.

The dream's playing back into her fears! A nightmare! Why now!? She wondered, immediately grasping the answer, Is it because I'm trying to free her from it!?

“You take that back!” Trixie shouted to her double, “You're not great enough to be Trixie, you copy-cat!” She goaded, getting no response from anypony as the false Trixie gave Cadance a snide smile.

“That's why everypony abandons you!” She declared, “Your real parents, and your friends! You should just stay in this rotten cottage and leave everypony else alone!”

Trixie staggered to her hooves, lumber to her other self, swinging at the mare, her hoof passing through harmlessly. She yelled to Cadance, telling her that it wasn't true. That her friends wouldn't abandon her, all for naught. Trixie glared at her situation, a fading observer who had been the spark of all this.

“W-Why would you say that?” Cadance asked, “After just reassuring me-”

“Because I'm Trixie, why else!? Nopony needs you, and Trixie wanted to get that across! Did it work? Did The Great and Powerful Trixie's little trick work!?”

“Trixie, I'm sorry.” Cadance said as she stepped back, looking to the side, “I didn't mean to offend you. You're right, I, I just-”

“You just want us to be with you? How greedy can you be!” The false Trixie then let out an exasperated sigh as she stopped the ground. “Why does Trixie even bother!?” She shouted as her horn began to glow, “Trixie hopes you never bother her again! Good riddance!” She stated, and in a flash of light, was gone. Cadance stood there, reaching out towards where the false Trixie had been a moment before, tears welling in her eyes.

“P-please, don't abandon me. I can help. I'm sorry, I-, I-...” Everything was fading away from Trixie as she saw her friend cry, and she wasn't going to let their parting end like this. Grabbing onto a glimmer of hope, Trixie willed her cape off, still translucent as she was, and placed it upon her crying friend.

When the white patch touched Cadance, the translucent cape became solid again, and Cadance's eyes shot open as she noticed the cape, resting on her shoulders as if it were a shield to keep her from her fears. As she adopted a smile, everything seemed to freeze, and the growing fatigue left Trixie, surprising her as she stood tall, looking around in confusion.

“Just what are you doing!?” The false Trixie asked, appearing in a flash after having asked the question. She was glaring at Trixie, and she got a glare back for her efforts.

“Waking up my friend, you imposter!”

“Friend? Imposter!?” The fake replied, looking over Trixie as if she was an insect. “Wait, you've awakened. How?” She asked, then shook her head, “It doesn't matter, return from whence you came, I have this completely under cont-”

“Get out of my friend's dream!!” Trixie shouted as she tacked her other self, catching the double completely offguard as they both tumbled next to Cadance. As Trixie stood over her fake, she grabbed her cape, intending to end this farce. However, her fake's horn glowed a sinister purple, her eyes shifting green as she adopted a smile.

“Care to try your blessing against my curse?” It asked in a not-so-Trixie voice as it pointed its horn to Trixie. Trixie, unsure of how to defend herself against black magic, brought her cape forward as a shield. The spell went off, striking her cloak, and there was a flash of light, and an unearthly scream. There were several moments of confusion as Trixie's head spun, and as she recollected herself, she found Cadance next to her, looking a little confused, and greatly concerned.

“Trixie, are you okay!?” Cadance asked as she put Trixie's cape back on her.

“Ow.” Trixie replied as she winced, feeling a little lightheaded as she rubbed her head. “Not so loud Cadance.” She added, making Cadance's ears fall as she looked away.

“I-I'm sorry, I didn't-”

“Cadance, Trixie likes you. You're a good friend.” Trixie interrupted. Stammering Cadance won't do! She thought as she gave Cadance one of her golden smiles.

“Huh?” Cadance replied, as if she hadn't heard Trixie right.

“Look, you've always helped out when you could. You even listened to our silly problems and helped Trixie with a few of her pranks. And, you're our friend.” Trixie insisted, causing Cadance to blush.

“Where's this coming from? What happened to this all being a trick?” She asked as she started to regain her composure.

“That was, a terrible prank. Trixie was coerced into it, and she didn't mean what she said. Trixie is very sorry, and she truly wants you to know, we'd never abandon you.” Trixie replied as she gave a determined look, “We'd fight tooth and nail to save our friends, and that includes you. You know that, right?” Trixie asked, her question being the final push, as comprehension dawned in her friend's eyes.

“Coerced into it?" Cadance asked as she blinked, "Who would do such a thing!? Was it Sombra?" She asked with a concerned look, and Trixie gave a hesitant nod, making Cadance's brow furrowed, before her eyes widened in realization. "Wait, why was I scared of being abandoned?" Cadance asked as she looked around, seeming to see the cottage in a new light. "Oh... It's because..." She let out, getting a concerned look from Trixie. "It's nothing, just an old, silly assumption." She said as she let out a tired sigh. "You're right. My friends wouldn't abandon me." She added with a small smile as she looked to Trixie. "This, this is all a dream. Isn't it?” She asked, getting a nod from Trixie.

“Yep. Just a bad dream. And Trixie'd like it if you woke up.” Trixie replied as she sat down, her legs feeling to heavy to bother with standing.

“I don't know if I can, but, I can at least say this much.” Cadance began as she turned to Trixie, a bright smile on her face, “I'll see you in the morning.”

“Count on it!” Trixie replied, getting an unexpected hug from Cadance, before the dream started fading. Trixie sat there, a silly grin on her face as the cottage changed and became more decorated, the boarded windows being traded out for open ones as the dream shifted into Cadance's dream home. As Cadance vanished, and Trixie's cape became a little whiter, Trixie adopted a look of surprise before cursing herself.

I should have asked Cadance where she and Sunset fell asleep! She thought as she let out an annoyed sigh. Her head then began to spin as she was hit with another wave of fatigue. That copy, what was that about a curse and a blessing... She thought as she lay on the ground, resting over a shining pink crystal heart emblem. Whatever it was, it really took … a lot, out of... She lazily thought as she feel asleep, her desire to resist cast away in the light of her success.

She lay there for several moments longer, before disappearing from the Realm of Dreams, having been pulled out the other side. As she vanished, a certain shadow watched, nodding to herself.

Materializing into the cottage, Shadow Flare looked around as she cast a wall of fog around the small home, hiding it from the ever searching eyes of Nightmare. Not one to trust such a simple barrier, she cast her eyes to the portraits on the wall, seeing that Sunset's picture was now repaired. Her eyes then fell to a portrait of a white and brown filly, and with care, she took the portrait from its holding, hiding it someplace where Nightmare would never find it, before moving on.

“This may very well work.” Shadow Flare said to nopony in particular, then let out a small laugh. “Well now, I guess I owe Chrysalis one, whether she intended it, or not.” She said in an amused tone as she looked to the one covered portrait on the wall, veiled by a white cloth, “Better hurry, Luna's little shadow. The longer you stay awake, the harder it'll be to return.” She stated, leaving behind the pink, kind glow coming from Cadance's cutiemark alone, as she vanished.

Author's Note:

Hrrrmmmmmmmmmm.
This chapter has a slow start, and I'm not sure if its a bad thing or not. I also have some doubts with the chapter's resolution, though I can't seem to pin them down.
Well, either way, thanks again for reading! I hope you enjoyed this chapter!
Wanna thank my friend OCisbestpony for his help as well. :twilightsmile:
Now, I'll leave you with this little tidbit:
Horns and or Wings will be dispensed to certain characters in the future. That is all.

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