• Published 14th Jul 2019
  • 178 Views, 4 Comments

Dreamers and the Moon - Krixwell



Life as a unicorn raised in Cloudsdale isn't always easy.

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Dreamwalking 101

As she flew slowly through her namesake, Moon Dream felt the fabric of unreality change around her. Through her. Everything was different in the blue mist on the other side.

The realm between dreams was comforting, but it felt… neutral. Aggressively so. Moon Dream's dreamscape was also comforting, because it felt like home, but in this realm, it came from a sense of profoundly natural neutrality. It was a place devoid of identity, she thought, on a fundamental level.

Well, it did have its own identity, in a way – it had its own distinct look and feel. But that feel seemed to be one of absence, of a disconnect from the identities that defined the dreamscapes of individual ponies. Even the waking world wasn't this fundamentally neutral to the whims of ponies' dreams.

For a world with such a pervasive atmosphere of indistinction, it was amazing how quickly these impressions came to mind within seconds – or what seemed like seconds to her – of entering the realm between dreams for the first time. She wondered, not for the first time, how visiting somepony else's dream was going to feel.

The Princess of the Night followed behind her and landed on… something. It hadn't even occurred to Moon Dream that there might be something solid in this realm. Even the floating white orbs, which were the only things she could see around them in the blue mist, seemed like they might poof if she touched them.

As the portal behind Princess Luna shrank into a white orb just like the rest, Moon Dream realized what they were.

"...they're dreams," she whispered as she gently landed on the invisible floor, staring in sudden awe at the multitude of orbs. Despite the mist that swirled around her in every direction, she could see hundreds, maybe thousands of them, dotting the blue void like stars on the night sky.

"Yes," Princess Luna spoke. "Welcome to the realm between dreams, Moon Dream."

Something about hearing those words from the princess' mouth made the reality of the situation hit Moon Dream all at once. She was actually about to visit somepony's dream in person!

"Thank you, your– Luna." Moon Dream's respect and admiration made her want to address the ancient alicorn as "your highness", but the princess had made it absolutely clear that she preferred that Moon Dream called her Luna.

Princess Luna nodded in response. "Let us not dawdle. I– we have work to do."

As she sat down and held up her front hooves, the closest dream orb slowly floated into her grasp. It didn't poof. She watched the orb as its white surface turned colorful, seemingly displaying an image of what was happening in the dream.

Moon Dream stepped closer so she could see, and Princess Luna shifted to let her. The orb displayed an orange stallion in Manehattan police officer garb receiving a medal. The meaning of such a dream was very blatant, speaking of deep-seated feelings of being underappreciated by his peers. That, or a desire to become a police officer if he wasn't one already.

"Ordinarily I would not enter this dream, as it is not a nightmare," Princess Luna said, "but if you are to join me in visiting ponies' dreams, it may be best that we start simple. Nightmares can be tumultuous. It will be better if you understand what entering a normal dream is like first."

"I understand," Moon Dream said. It made sense.

Princess Luna's horn lit up and the dream orb started expanding along two axes. It didn't look any less solid than before, but Moon Dream knew that if she were to touch it now, even while it was expanding, her hoof would go straight through.

Princess Luna began flapping her wings before she passed through the fully expanded portal. Moon Dream followed her example. She was glad she did when she realized they had entered the stallion's dream the same way they had left hers – through the moon.

Once again, the atmosphere changed. No, the world changed. Where her own dreams felt like home to her, and the realm between dreams felt like… nothing (but in a way that was distinct from not feeling like anything), this stallion's dream carried a pervasive feeling of confidence and contagious happiness. Being here felt good on a fundamental level.

Princess Luna seemed to be affected by it as well. A slight, confident smile had taken over her typically grim features.

The two of them flew down to the medal ceremony and found seats in the back of a crowd consisting mostly of faceless earth ponies in muted colors. It seemed the ceremony was happening indoors, judging by the floor and furnishings of the hall, but the building didn't have a roof or walls. On a stage in the front, the orange stallion stood – now that they were actually in the dream, Moon Dream could see that his orange coat had white markings and his cutie mark was a traffic cone – beaming at the crowd's cheering, clearly grateful for the medal that had been placed on the chest of his police uniform.

"You should know that not every dreamscape feels this good to be in," Princess Luna said. "Your dreamscape is soft and caring, and this stallion's is confident and jovial. But there are those whose dreamscapes are hostile or… turbulent, whose minds tear at your very being when you enter them."

"You mean nightmares?" Moon Dream asked.

"No. Nightmares twist the positives and accentuate the negatives, but these are fundamental parts of a pony's psyche. If I were to enter your nightmare, it would still feel soft and caring, but it would be in a twisted, wrong way. Similarly, if a nightmare feels like a storm, there is a good chance the same pony's normal dreams feel windy. That, of course, has nothing to do with the weather in the dream."

"That makes sense," Moon Dream said, a little surprised to find that she meant it.

They sat in silence for a while, observing the dream around them.

It was a very straightforward dream. The police stallion on the stage continued receiving praises from both the faceless ponies, the more vibrant and detailed ponies in the front row – the stallion's friends, family and fellow officers, Moon Dream suspected – and the short blue stallion who had given him the medal. The specific words of the praise were mostly impossible to make out, but the tone was unmistakable.

Moon Dream thought the blue stallion might be a police captain or sergeant or something. She wasn't good at naming police ranks, having never lived in a city with police. Cloudsdale didn't have anything like that, and in Las Pegasus, they were known as street guards.

A particularly beautiful and detailed green unicorn mare appeared at the side of the stage. She was wearing a similar police uniform as the stallions on the stage, but with her in it, the uniform seemed as stunning as a ball gown.

Moon Dream saw that the mare hadn't disappeared from the crowd, so there were now two of her in the dream. Nopony else seemed to notice. Of course, the only other ponies that were actually here were Princess Luna and the police stallion. The crowd wouldn't take notice unless he did, and most ponies wouldn't realize that things didn't make sense until they woke.

Like everything about other ponies' dreams, she had never seen it in person before, but she knew what it meant that the unicorn mare was so beautiful despite her relatively plain appearance. There was no mistaking it, especially when she was also more vivid than anypony else in the crowd other than the two ponies who had to be the stallion's parents.

"He loves her," Moon Dream said. It was barely more than a whisper, but Princess Luna caught it.

"You think so?" she asked.

"No, I know. It's clear as–" She caught herself. Maybe that particular idiom wasn't the best thing to say to the Princess of the Night. "–as the moon."

Princess Luna laughed. It was a short, soft laugh. "Perhaps you are right. I cannot say I would have noticed it myself."

The unicorn mare approached the stallion and spoke the clearest praise yet. "Oh, Traffic Pattern, you're my hero!"

Moon Dream glanced at Princess Luna. Any moment now, the princess would see how right she had been.

Traffic Pattern faced the mare. He bent his forelegs so he was leaning forwards with one knee touching the stage floor, producing a horn ring from nowhere.

There it was.

"Yard Stepper, will you marry me?" Traffic Pattern asked, his tone as confident and happy as the world felt.

Then the stage became quicksand under his feet.

Yard Stepper, unaffected by the quicksand stage, laughed in Traffic Pattern's face as he sank into the wood. The captain joined in, laughing at the stallion until he sank completely into the floor. Then the stage disappeared and everything shifted. Faceless ponies, no longer in a neat crowd, now surrounded him, all pointing and laughing cruelly.

The world was arrogantly confident and mockingly jovial. It was a sickening combination.

One by one, the faceless ponies changed into copies of the ponies Traffic Pattern cared about, most frequently Yard Stepper. It was odd, seeing a scene like that from the outside of the circle.

Princess Luna was in the air. "It is becoming a nightmare! I must interfere."

Her horn lit up and a magical barrier popped into existence around Traffic Pattern, shielding him from the crowd around him. Moon Dream wasn't sure how much help that was going to be – she didn't think the crowd had wanted to harm him anyway, and he would still be able to see and hear their incessant jeering through the barrier.

Traffic Pattern looked scared, humiliated and confused, all in one expression. Moon Dream liked to dabble in drawing scenes from ponies' dreams in her off-time, but she didn't think she would be able to recreate such a complex expression on paper – maybe it was only possible to make it in a dream.

Princess Luna flapped gently as she passed through the magical barrier and landed next to Traffic Pattern.

"P-princess Luna?" he said, clearly surprised by her presence.

"Yes, it is I," she answered regally. "I have come to help you through your nightmare."

"Nightmare… this is just a dream?"

"There is no such thing as 'just' a dream, Traffic Pattern, but yes. This is a dream."

"Oh thank Ce– I mean, uh, thank you, your highness."

Moon Dream couldn't suppress a light chuckle at that, but thankfully she didn't think Princess Luna could hear it over the crowd, even in a dream.

"So you are afraid of miss Yard Stepper rejecting you, is that so?" Princess Luna asked.

Traffic Pattern nodded solemnly. "A mare like her could do so much better than a dumb sap like me."

Moon Dream looked at the various copies of Yard Stepper in the crowd. Even with Traffic Pattern's perception of her making her seem more beautiful than she should naturally be, Moon Dream could tell she was rather plain in appearance – she wasn't ugly, but she was also not the kind of mare who would be considered "out of his league".

"I will not claim to know either of you," Princess Luna said, "but nevertheless you appear to be a standup stallion. I am sure Yard Stepper will see that if you let her."

"Maybe." Traffic Pattern looked thoughtful, but unconvinced.

Something was off about this whole exchange. But what?

…the stage.

Moon Dream took flight and glided over the crowd, then hovered next to the magical barrier. She didn't know whether or not she could fly through it like the princess had, but she didn't need to. She just needed Princess Luna to hear her.

"You're on the wrong track, Princess Luna," she said, speaking up to be sure she'd be heard.

"What?" Princess Luna said, looking up at Moon Dream.

"Who are you?" Traffic Pattern asked, looking confused at the presence of a second, less regal foreign element in his dream.

Moon Dream ignored the question. She had more important priorities than introductions. "Yard Stepper rejecting him isn't the core of the nightmare. He's worried about not deserving the recognition he wants. Isn't that right, Traffic Pattern?"

"I… yes…" Traffic Pattern took a moment to find his words. "I… kind of feel like everypony just sees me as the carefree optimist who doesn't really contribute anything to the squad, even though I do everything I can, you know? So I'd like to prove that I'm not useless. But sometimes I start wondering if… if maybe I really am useless…" Traffic Pattern stared at the ground. It was all dirt now, the wooden floor having disappeared at some point.

Princess Luna took that as her cue. "Nopony is useless. You just said it yourself – you do everything you can to contribute, and if everything you can is not enough for some ponies, then that is their problem."

The crowd surrounding them stopped laughing and lowered their hooves. They simply stood there, idle.

"But–"

"And do not discount the value of optimism. Every team needs a healthy dose of optimism to keep its spirits up. A team which cynically believes it will fail will fail, because it no longer sees reason to try. If you share your optimism with your teammates, you may be a significant factor in your collective success. Do you see, Traffic Pattern? Regardless of your performance of the job itself, you are a valuable addition to the team, and in time, you may get the recognition you truly do deserve for it."

The crowd started laughing again, but it was a very different kind of laughter. It was joyful, not spiteful. Collective, not targeted.

The fabric of unreality was slowly losing its arrogant, mocking edge.

Traffic Pattern looked up at the two visitors, with a slight smile. "Thank you, your highness. And, uh," he gestured to Moon Dream, "you. That means a lot to hear. More than you know."

Princess Luna simply gave him a warm smile in return.


"You handled that very well, Moon Dream," Princess Luna said as they left the confidence and joviality of Traffic Pattern's dreamscape behind for the aggressive neutrality of the realm between dreams.

"I handled it? But you did all the important things! I don't think I could ever talk somepony down from a nightmare like that."

"You should not discount understanding, any more than you should optimism. Resolving that nightmare would have been much more difficult had you not recognized what its true cause was and immediately informed me the way you did. This is exactly why I suggested our partnership."

Moon Dream thought about it. "I suppose you're right."

"Of course I am," Princess Luna said in a playful tone. "I am, after all, the Princess of Being Right." She could be playful?

"That's a terrible joke!" Moon Dream said, but her laughter betrayed her.

"Oh no," Princess Luna said, "I assure you it is no joke." She was clearly holding back a chuckle of her own. "All the ancient historians simply had a dreadful habit of getting it wrong."

"So we have the Princess of the Day, the Princess of Love and the Princess of Being Right. Truly a magnificent trio of rulers."

"Of course not."

"What?"

"Celestia is the Princess of the Gay. Why do you think there are so many ways to make rainbows in our world? My sister's work, all of them."

Moon Dream gave up on containing her laughter as she followed Luna through the portal back to her own dreams, into a world that felt like home.

Author's Note:

In which the word "dream" appears 73 times.

Traffic Pattern, Yard Stepper and police captain Strict Order were first introduced as minor characters in my other fic, Reflections in Black and Pink. This takes place much earlier in the show, though, than their appearances in Reflections.

Cadence is obviously the Princess of Gloves.

Comments ( 3 )

The Princess of Gay? I approve :raritywink:

I love this teamwork idea, but it's also kind of funny. Imagine something similar happening in the real world:
"Hello it is I, the queen of England, here to discuss your psychological distress and fears of inadequacy! Also, this is Penny. She's an intern."

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Ahaha! I mean, hey, if Queen Elizabeth showed up in your dreams with an intern, would you turn them away? I don't think I would.

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