• Published 14th Aug 2017
  • 5,757 Views, 86 Comments

Ghosts of A Different Kind - TerraeAntiqua



Celestia watched as an injured colt was rushed to the hospital wing of the castle, clinging to life by a thread. Luna battles her demons as she tries to help the colt heal from his, all so that he may continue to live.

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Light the Paths We Tread

Year 7, Return Of Luna
14th of Discordia
Half Candle after Moon Rise

Her Divine Highness. Matron of the Arts. Muse of Astronomy, Dance, and the Tragedy side of Drama. Selene, the Goddess of Darkness, which her moon had been named after. Artemis, the Huntress. Nott, the Protector of Dreams. These were only a few names and titles that Luna bore over the years. Celestia and Cadence have their fair share of names and titles, and even Twilight was now gaining a few. More so, the dark coated alicorn knew, for her deeds in protecting the realm time and again within such a few short years, than with age and centuries worth of life.

Still, her young friend was worthy of every single one of them. Hekate, Goddess of Magic. Sekhmet, Minor goddess of warfare and fire (likely due to her association with Celestia). And her personal favorite, if Luna could have one, Athena, Goddess of Wisdom. Named so by the minotaurs who she'd settled a dispute with between their countries. In that week she'd prevented war, and in that week proved to said minotaurs that there was more to her than just her status as a former bearer of Magic and being Celestia's former protege.

The alicorn of the night arrived, not even a few heartbeats after casting the teleport, just few paces outside of the hallway that was the hospital wing. In between her and her goal, the room that the injured colt resided in, stood a wise and experienced doctor by the name of Treasured Heart. The unicorn was only just now gaining some grey and silver in her hair and coat, which were light red and deep maroon respectively. The mark emblazoned on her hips was that of an opened treasure chest with the outline of two halves of a stylized heart surrounding it.

"Good night, your highness. Our patient is in surgery at the moment." The mare did not move from her spot in front of two double doors despite the warm greeting, "If you'd like to see him, it should only be another candle at most."

Luna felt a wave of relief rush over her, "How is his condition, Treasured Heart?" Her sister teleported in not two hooves to her right.

"He is stable now," The doctor replied, "And good night to you as well, your highness."

With the pleasantries over and the colt's survival, at the moment, assured, Luna hoped to get her business done here swiftly, "I am to see him as soon as possible."

The lunar goddess left no room for argument but was placated for now by the news of the colt's body healing well. She had only just managed to bring his lost, young, yet complex mind out of the dark places in the Dreaming to where it had wandered. Those places of the Dreaming where even she was hesitant to tread.

She could still hear his mind crying out in a language that felt so alien to her ears that she almost shrunk back and away at the sound. Something in that mental voice echoed far beyond the Dreaming and into her very soul, searching for something and yet not finding it. It had left a yearning in her heart to seek out the three fillies from Ponyville that she'd grown to care for. A yearning to hold her sister close and never let go. A longing for the health, safety, and happiness of those that she cared for, that rang through her being like a bell.

The colt's mind had been a maze when she approached it. A maze of stairs and hallways, corridors and rooms that at any moment could twist on her. It was an ever shifting landscape. Gravity had a mind of its own here, and everything within it had to comply[1].

Discord would love it.

Celestia rested a wing across her withers and back, leading her to the side of the hallway closest to the doors and sat down beside her with all the grace and poise of a swan.

"What have you seen?"

Four simple words. Luna found herself struggling to form a reply. What could she even say? That the colt didn't speak, and likely did not understand Equish? That something about his mind set her on edge at the same time as it set her at ease? That she felt a familiarity, wandering through that Nightmare which was not a fabrication but was a memory, perhaps even a collection of memories, that had been twisted to cause him further pain? That said familiarity stemmed from her own experience with the Tantabus?

Should she tell her sister that she had failed in her task as the Protector of Dreams?

Should she tell her sister that this colt had, once upon a memory, faced down a being not unlike Discord in the ancient days? Or Sombra before the Empire had been sealed in time, if she were to be more accurate. A being of considerable power nonetheless, at least ten times his own strength and yet the colt, that little one dwarfed in size and power, stood in the face of his fear and fought anyway. That twisted, black magic using, one-eyed, fear mongering, tyrannical, foul creature should be glad that he is now dead twice over. For if Luna were to ever see him she'd make him wish for a thing as peaceful as death.

Not very harmonious of her, but Honesty and Loyalty had at one time chosen her to be their bearers. Not Kindness, whom had chosen her sister.

That had been what his nightmare had been about, at first. Him fighting this twisted ruler, and not only failing, but doing so in a way that he saw his home go up in flames. Something about the dream, perhaps some instinctual knowledge within the dark dream, told her that this is not what truly happened, since as stated One-eye was no more, but it was a fear this colt could not shake. Either he failed, and failed spectacularly, or he won only to still lose that which he had been fighting for.

Lose those he cared for in once fell swoop.

An all too familiar scream hit her ears like an earth tribe pony crashing into her at full speed. Both she and Celestia winced in pain before all at once realizing where that sound had come from.

"Somepony get me that sedative now!"

"How is he awake?! He shouldn't be awake yet!"

"Stop panicking and do your Celestia damned job!"

Luna sat rooted to the spot, eyes watering over yet refusing to let them fall. Celestia buried her face into the night alicorn's mane, able to bend her neck comfortably, somehow, despite the three hands height difference between them. She murmured words of comfort, though Luna didn't know whether they were meant for Luna or herself.

"Luna dammit, finally."

"How high of a dose was that?"

"Same as last time. Anything lower has no effect. We dealt with the side effects the first time and we can do it- why are you giving me that look?"

"...You do know Princess Luna's right outside, right?"

"Cele-"

"Along with her sister."

"What am I supposed to say, then?"

"How about "lets focus on making sure this colt recovers because if he doesn't we'll likely lose our lives, or worse, our jobs"? That seems like a good one."

Celestia gave a weak chuckle against her shoulder, "I should've known that you'd be an expression to."

Laughter. Trying to lighten the mood despite the situation. Harmony above and below why couldn't they just barge in there and liberally use all the healing spells they knew?

"That would mean compromising any energy his body has, using up stored calories and fat if need be, as well as making his immune system vulnerable to diseases that, while common and easy to treat for us, could very well kill him in spite of our help."

Oh, she'd said that out loud?

"You just had that look on your face, Lulu." Ah, that made sense.

"His mind is hurting." Luna said after a long moment, "His nightmares are memories, maybe recent ones. Actually, 'tis highly likely that they are. His language is foreign and-and we could not help him, Tia. We could not sooth his pain for the closer we got, the more that pain echoed within our mind and heart as if it were to become our own, should we let it."

Because that yearning and sadness and pain had been such that she could have brushed it aside. Its touch had been as light and gentle as a feather yet she had thought to let it dwell if it would allow her to better understand the young alicorn and his fears.

Well, she understood one of them now, at least.

"Foreign?"

"He speaks not Equish from what we gathered in his nightmares. We had thought, briefly, to give him our tongue but aside from not being the best pony for it, as we still cling to old accents and words, we know our country's modern laws. We know that magics affecting the mind are either banned or regulated heavily, aside from my dream walking." Luna snapped her muzzle shut before she slipped further into a monologue than she already had.

Celestia hummed, already thinking of possible solutions no doubt, "And his mind? What was it like?"

"Like Discord got to it and made it his playground. It's never the same from one moment to the next." At the solar alicorn's raise eyebrow she continued, "Yet we get the impression that when not in turmoil, it would be a peaceful place. There certainly has to be an...eye to the storm? Is that how the saying goes?"

Luna felt her sister shift, pulling her head back to nod once.

The silence that followed was definitely not awkward, with only the shuffling of hooves and medical equipment from the other side of the wall breaking it, aside from their labored breathing as the tenseness and worry bled out of them.

"It has been a long day, Tia. Should you not go and rest? We will be fine here. Night Court must begin soon anyways[2], so as much as we feel we must, we cannot stay long." Luna knew she had to start Night Court soon. It wasn't something that could be cancelled on impulse with, of course, the usual exception of emergencies. This, she knew, would not count as one and oh did Luna want to just sit there in that spot next to the door the entire night through if she was allowed.

But no, there were responsibilities. She'd already neglected her tending to Selene and the other thousand smaller celestial objects once that night.

"We could cancel Night Court tonight."

"Neigh. Our ponies must be worried from earlier. We must ease them and let them know there is no danger."

"We can do that in the morning." Why was Celestia trying to procrastinate? This wasn't like her. Usually she'd be on top of things as soon as she's made aware of them, but maybe this gnawing worry at the back of their minds clouded her judgement in this. Luna knew she was capable of the same and, given what she'd seen, was surprised that she had handled things as calmly as she had.

The moon goddess could thank her solar counterpart for that.

"And have our subjects create false images of what has transpired in the meantime? Surely, Tia you realize we cannot let that happen. There would be panic. We sense no other nightmares now, aside from the colt's, but even that is, for now, fading under the blanket of those...sedatives."

"If you are so sure. I have a spell placed on him to alert me if things were to, ah, take a turn in the wrong direction, as well as one for when he wakes up. Would you like me to key them to you as well?"

"Yes, thank you."

"Hey Lulu." Celestia got her attention after another beat of silence between them.

"Yeah?"

"Did you happen to catch the colt's name, by chance?" Luna had to think on that a while. She hadn't heard anything that might have been the young alicorn's name in his nightmares.

Wait.

They didn't know his name.

"We did not. What are we to tell our ponies, should they ask? What of where he came from? Tia, we cannot go in blindly-"

"I distinctly remember you doing just that when-"

"We are being serious, Tia." Luna did not know what about this situation called for Laughter, but whatever it might have been, she didn't see it.

"So am I. Lulu, you can handle this. I know you can. Just let them know that he hasn't been in any condition to speak to us yet, and that we are doing what we can to make him well." With a moment of near blinding golden warmth, the elder of the two sisters vanished from sight.

Better get this over with then. The faster she did this, Luna reasoned, the faster she could return here and focus on the colt who had fought a battle worthy of River Delta and Goligriff[3], won, barely, and now that she thought of it, the night alicorn never did tell her sister about what the colt's nightmare had been about.

Oh well. That can be left for another time.

Author's Note:

[1] - Think the stairs artwork from M.C. Escher, but on a larger scale, and 3D.
[2] - Day Court and Night Court start an hour/candle after sun or moon rise and ends at noon or midnight.
[3] - David and Goliath, for ponies