• Published 11th Sep 2019
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Twilight's Nightmare - Nightsclaw



Twilight in her most desperate of moments issues a cry for help, she was not expecting the Nightmare to be her saviour.

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CH 8 Book Forts and Stuffed Toys


Cocooned in the loving wings of somepony larger, Twilight felt safe. Here, neither burning fire nor stinging blades could reach her. The now-familiar scents of the crisp night air, clean feathers and the unique smell of an Alicorn reached her instead. She knew it was not Celestia, no, it was better. It was her saviour.

She could feel her saviour’s body moving with slow steady breaths. Twilight’s own breathing peacefully settled into the same rhythm.

She remembered the truth now. The injury report was hers, the pain had been real at one point. Her mind had been trying to protect itself, to hide from the pain. All it had accomplished was to cause a larger panic attack later.

Lazily, she considered her situation. Was she even alive anymore? The horn of an Alicorn could be used to kill one, so was this the last fleeting moments of a dying mind? If so, at least it was nice, thought Twilight as she nuzzled the larger Alicorn.

"You have nothing to fear now, my Little Star, you are safe," her saviour said, and Twilight knew it to be true, and the rest simply did not matter.

The larger Alicorn leant closer, placing a motherly kiss below her horn. Her saviour's enchanting voice started singing the Lullaby again. Twilight snuggled contently and let herself fall into a blissful sleep.


Awareness returned to Twilight, the soothing tune of the Lullaby greeting her first. Yet there were no words this time, just music played by an enthralling mix of woodwind and string instruments. Twilight lay there trying to deny she was awake, only finally giving in because she started humming along.

Slowly she let her humming end and took a deep breath. The smell of blood, burnt hair and an overtaxed horn assaulted her nose. Her heart rate spiked as her body got ready to flee. Panic started to rear its ugly head. Her eyes tried and failed to open. Despite the adrenaline now in her blood, she felt too weak to even open her eyes. The panic deepened. Was she too injured to even be able to feel pain?

“You are safe," her saviour seemed to whisper in her ear.

Yes, she was safe, those few words breaking the feedback loop of panic. She let the music help her be calm. Reciting the Lullaby in her head with as much dedication as she would a new spell formula, her heart rate returned to normal.

With every breath, she could feel her strength slowly returning. After a few minutes, she determined that it would be an hour before she could stand and twice that before she could use her horn for anything. The sensation of her wellspring – something normally overwhelming enough to give nearby unicorns hornache – was down to a tiny slowly building ember.

With nothing better to do, she let her mind wander. While she hoped that all the pain had been a nightmare, she was fairly certain that it was real. Was it part of a test? Another trial to prepare her for the hardships of being an immortal? If it was, she would forgive Celestia if only she could see her friends again.

Her mind skipped. If she was thinking that this was another trial, then what were the other ones and why could she not remember them? Did she pass? And why would she need to forgive Celestia? She felt scared, a sinking feeling creeping into her thoughts. Her mind was hiding something else.

As if in response to her worry, something shifted under her wing. Twilight managed to just crack a single eye open, but all she could see for the moment before it closed was blurs of lavender and white.

Obviously vision was still out, so she focused on her sense of touch. She was pressed against something warm, something under her wing. She could feel she had both her legs and wings wrapped around It. Something that seemed to expand and contract in a predictable pattern, most likely breathing.

It, no, they felt soft, with the familiar textures of a soft coat and feathers. Their build felt female, so the likely conclusion was that she was snuggled up with either Rainbow or Fluttershy. No, she was larger now, so the only pony that would feel so large against her would be another Alicorn, and she was a similar size to her so perhaps it was Cadance?

Whoever this mystery Alicorn was, the scents of burnt hair and blood were clearly coming from them. Ok, so whoever they were, they were likely hurt. She had to do something. She forced her eyes open, the blurs taking far longer than they should have to resolve.

Looking at who was under her wing, it seemed that she was curled protectively around a heavy bandaged clone of herself. Examining her copy, who she decided to label Sparkle-Two for now, she had clearly been gravely injured. Her body was horribly burnt. The horn was blackened with cracks running along its length, clearly from channelling too much power. Strangely her mane was undamaged, indicating the mane was in either an ethereal or elemental state when the burns on the rest of Sparkle-two’s body were inflicted.

“A changeling?” Twilight wondered out loud, her voice slurring.

Overall, Sparkle-two looked fitter, and, disregarding the injuries, in a better state of health. Standing a little taller and looking stronger. Like Twilight herself could look if she had taken Rainbow up on that physical training.

She pushed the barest portion of her magic to her horn. There was an unhappy sounding fizzle. “Ouch.” She would have to wait longer to make use of her spells.

Twilight raised her head slowly, peering round, taking in her surroundings. She was in a book fort, the biggest book fort in the history of book forts. The walls were made from spell books on defensive magic and shields, even her BBBFF’s one.

Scattered around her lay a large collection of open medical books, both magical and mundane. They were open to sections on burns, lacerations, horn inflicted stab wounds, magic fatigue, and horn fractures.

Sparkle-Two shifted, revealing she was cradling something in her forelegs. It was a pony plushie, a life-sized one of a unicorn foal, a foal that looked very much like Twilight wearing a burnt looking pith helm with a stethoscope around its neck. The cutie mark was only missing the smaller stars. Did ponies make stuffed toys of her, and were they in enough demand for them to be faked?

Twilight looked at the button eyes of the plushie and it was if it looked right back at her. She could not turn her eyes away, something about it was just so familiar. Something she had lost.

“Little Star?” that beautiful voice said softly from outside the fort.

“Umm... what, hello?” Twilight quietly responded, not wanting to wake Sparkle-Two.

“Good, you’re awake. Would you care to join me for some tea served with some answers?”

“Tea sounds lovely, thank you, but I don’t think I can get out on my own.”

A blue equine head raised up over the wall, looking down into the fort. It had a long horn, with a long flowing ethereal silver mane and graced with the most beautiful smile Twilight had ever seen. Her saviour’s bright laughter brought a smile to Twilight’s muzzle, there was no way it could not.

“It seems a little too small for me to come in,” her saviour said with a mirthful smile.

The larger Alicorn lit her horn, silver magic carefully lifting Twilight over the wall of books. She also wrapped the copy in a night-black blanket before turning her attention back to Twilight, levitating her in front of her.

“Thank you for saving me, Princess.”

“I am no Princess. My name is Sweet Dreams, and you are welcome, my Little Star.”

Sweet Dreams floated her closer and nuzzled her. Twilight felt herself smile upon hearing that name. Like when Celestia use to call her ’Her Faithful Student’. Why would she be calling her Little Star? Twilight glanced at her cutie mark. Is that why she calls me Little Star? Why does it make me feel so happy?

“My... my name's Twilight.”

“I know, but I think Little Star sounds cute.”

Twilight blushed, and Dreams softly laughed. “I will stop if that is what you wish.”

“I don’t know,” Twilight mumbled.

Dreams stretched a wing around Twilight and pulled her into a hug. Twilight's world was all warmth and feathers once more. She let out a content sigh and rested her head on Dreams' chest once again.

“Am I dead?” Twilight asked, voice calm despite the subject.

Taken aback by the sudden change of topic, Dreams answered, “No more than you have been since your Trial of Thorns.”

“Trial of Thorns?”

Dreams tilted her head, looking down at Twilight, eyes intense. “You truly don't remember?”

“No…“ Twilight shuddered. “why do I feel so scared of something I can’t even remember?”

“We are going to get some tea before we speak another word about such things”, Dream picked up Shining Armor’s spellbook and offered it to Twilight.

Twilight gripped the book and held it tightly to her chest, looking at the cutie mark on the cover with need. Dreams held her, softly singing her ancient Lullaby. Twilight let Dreams’ scent, warmth and the song wash over her.


Leaving the storeroom that held the book fort, Twilight could see that she was in a huge tree. It was similar to her old home, but about ten times the size. With multiple levels and so many books, she could not stop herself from drooling.

Still held in the silver glow of Dreams’ magic, she was levitated along as Dreams jumped the railing and glided down to the ground floor.

Landing on her hind legs, Dreams spun around with forehooves raised and wings spread. “Welcome to the Grand Golden Oaks Library!” she happily declared.

“It's huge,” Twilight whispered, “so many new books!”

Dreams let out her beautiful laugh again and moved the both of them to a reading nook, soft cushions and a tea set already laid out.

Twilight looked around eagerly. The ground floor had relatively few bookshelves. Instead, most of the wall space was taken up with doorways. Sweet Dreams followed Twilight's gaze, explaining what she was looking at.

The first things to catch her attention were five doors, each with one of her friends' cutie marks on them. Oh, how she missed them.

“There you have the sections dedicated to your close friends, the other Elements of Harmony. A part of them will always be with you here.”

Two doorways were almost overflowing with Celestia’s magic. Radiating power and clearly with strong Solar, Astral and Fire affinities. One doorway was missing its door and instead was barricaded with crisscrossing golden chains with razor edges. The chains were stained with blood in places, some old while some others were still wet. The second looked like a cell door and blocked the way down into the basement.

“Celestia's seals. It contains some of the answers you seek. We will talk about her work here once you have some background as to what is going on.”

Right next to each other, almost touching, were two doorways. One with Luna’s mark, the other with Nightmare Moon's symbol atop Twilights own mark. Twilight stared at the combined mark.

The last doorway was too small for adults to go through. The mark on it was like Twilight's but missing the surrounding starts, just like the plushie Sparkle-Two held.


Dreams set Twilight down and took her own cushion. As she started to serve the tea, Twilight asked a question.

“Where are we?”

A soft laugh came in reply. “This is your Grand Golden Oaks Library, your mental bastion.”

“So am I dreaming?”

“It's more than that. Being an immortal Alicorn, your mind is larger than those of mortals. It becomes its own plane of existence. Like your pockets, you carry things in it. Your mind is a space that needs its own protections.”

“That's amazing.” Twilight’s eyes lit up with wonder.

“I have so many questions, so many experiments. Can I bring others here? What would happen if…” Dream’s hoof against Twight’s muzzle ending the potentially endless stream of questions.

“There are other things we need to discuss first.”

“Like the Trial of Thorns?”

“Yes, see that seal?” Dreams asked, a wing guiding Twilight's gaze. “That is where things are kept when Celestia decides you should no longer know of them.”

“She would never… she’s Princess Celestia, she…”

“Grey, if you would?” Dream called out.

From the other side of the seal movement could be seen. Twilight stared as a greyscale version of herself as a unicorn came into view. Grey's face was completely blank, frozen in its non expression. Her eyes, though, they seethed – they were filled with years of contempt and bitterness.

Upon Grey's neck was a barbed golden collar. Twilight immediately recognized the spellwork, it was more of Celestia’s.

Grey reached through the chains, holding out a scroll, ignoring the cuts and scrapes, depositing even more blood upon them. Twilight was still focused on Grey. She looked so similar to when Discord had twisted her mind.

Dreams floated the scroll to herself. “This is your memory of the Trial.”

Twilight looked at the scroll. “My memory? Like the last scroll, the one from when I lost my horn?”

Dreams nodded somberly. “Yes, it seems that you have learnt to place things you don’t want to remember on the other side of Celestia's seal”

“Oh…”

Dreams offered the scroll to Twilight. “Would you like to see it, or shall I just tell you what happened?”

“If… I think you can just tell me for now, I can always look at it myself later,” Twilight said.

Putting the scroll aside, Dreams continued. “The short of it is that Celestia decided you needed your full immortal powers available if you were to take on your role in her plan.”

“That doesn't sound so bad…”

“It is the how and the why that makes all the difference, my Little Star,” Dreams said.

Fear and comfort warred in Twilight's mind. “Go on.”

“The how is that after all the ritual preparations, she drove a sword through you, piercing your heart” – anger flared in Dreams’ eyes – “looking down at you impassively, holding you still as you begged and apologised for whatever you did wrong, pleading for your life, for forgiveness.”

Twilight felt like she could not breath, this had to be a lie, it could be nothing else. Or at least, that's what she thought until she met Dreams’ eyes. Those tearful, caring eyes full of anger for what had been inflicted upon Twilight.

“Wh...why... why would she do that… how… how could she do that to me...” Twilight asked.

“She wished for you to be immortal. She had a use for a piece on her chessboard as powerful as you. The younger you were when she performed the rite, the higher the chances of you surviving. That is the one kindness she did you in this, improving your odds of survival.”

Twilight put a hoof to her chest and slowly breathed in and out a few times, calming her nerves. I need facts, freakout later.

Dreams continued “Celestia had to know if she needed to train a replacement, if her meddling with your mind had left you, somehow incomplete—”

“Incomplete?” Twilight interrupted.

“I will start at the very beginning of this sad affair.” Dream's horn flashed and a little stuffed toy version of Twilight appeared in the air.

“Once, there was a little filly who was good at magic, so good in fact that the Sun Princess took her on as her own.”
Another flash and a toy Celestia was added, the toy Twilight made to bounce around happily.

“For a time, everything was perfect, until one day the filly found a book.” A small red book appeared next to the toy Twilight.

“It had been hidden in the filly's room with powerful magics, but they were no match for her magic and the determination that drove it. Now why would this been hidden here? the filly thought. It must be a test, a secret test, a secret test from the Sun Princess just for her.

“The filly studied like she had never studied before, and mastered every spell, no matter how strange they seemed: 'The Princess must have a reason for her to learn these spells,' she told herself. She studied and studied and eventually she was done.

“She rushed to show the Princess, expecting nothing but praise.” Toy Twilight bounced around offering the book up to Celestia. Celestia’s Mane went ablaze and the book burst into flames.

“Scorn and burns was what she received, but that was not all. She knew too much now, and something had to be done.” Toy Celestia raised a hoof to Twilight’s ear and pulled the red book from it. The book was wrapped with golden chains before being returned.

“Golden chains locked the red book, closing it forevermore”. The toys moved around each other, seeming to dance. “Once again things were good for a time.”

“The filly had never felt the bite of failure, the pain of being unable to complete a task the Princess had set for her. No mere mortal should be so successful, the Sun Princess decided, so a test would be performed, one so hard that it was said only an Alicorn could pass.” A book, this time golden, appeared before the Twilight.

“And like last time the filly studied. She would do anything for her Princess even if it seemed impossible,” Twilight rose into the air, glowing. In a flash of light it was gone, and in its place six new toys appeared."

Each toy bobbed forward in turn, making their introductions. First, a toy of Grey in robes with a staff, looking tall, noble, and important. “Grey the Lady Mage, holder of ambition, keen of mind and seeker most efficient.”

Next a white mare with fire for her mane and tail, draconic eyes, and fangs. “Nova the Passionate, passion and power incarnate as befitting her name.”

Then, a Midnight blue mare with spiky black mane, wearing a gothic black dress. “Rule Breaker the rebel, the undoubtable, the achiever of the impossible.”

It was followed by a tall dark purple mare with a supermodel figure. “Dancer the Sensual, the show off, the performer.”

Fifth, a filly Alicorn Twilight with a sun cutie mark. “Sunchaser the Dreamer, ever wanting to be like her Princess.”

Last, a small filly Twilight with a happy smile. “Star the Child, innocent and fun-loving.”

“They rushed to show the Princess, once again expecting nothing but praise.” The group pranced around, each in their own unique way. They circled Celestia, whose mane went ablaze once more and a blade of flame appeared.

“Blade and Fire was what they received, but that was not all. For she had become too much now and something had to be done. 'I will set things right,' declared the Sun Princess as she culled what she deemed unnecessary.”

The blade rose, the blade fell. One by one the toys were cut apart.

“The Sun Princess was disappointed with the filly, but something could still be saved, something could still be used.” Celestia sorted through to pieces of the six toys and with golden thread started sewing together a single filly.

“Distracted by her work, the Sun Princess did not notice two had survived.”

Grey, mostly intact, lay still as Celestia pulled off the left foreleg, the last piece needed to complete her new toy.
Nova lay broken, stuffing falling out, ignored.

“Sunchaser's wings she kept in case she had need of them, the rest swept aside.”

A box of gold appread, the lid open as all the stuffing and toy parts which remained were swept in with a golden glow. Nova growled, looking out from the box as the lid, styled to look like the door to the basement, closed.

“The patchwork filly was now nearly finished, needing only one final touch to make the Sun Princess happy. She made sure the filly would never be such a disappointment again.” The golden tome was pulled from behind the filly's ear. Celestia opened it adding a picture of the six broken toys.

“As golden chains started to seal the second book, Grey took her chance, casting a simple spell, but a spell on which rested her only hope.”

The little and now three-legged toy Grey flashed and disappeared, an image of her reappearing on the cover of the book just as it was hidden back behind the patchwork filly’s ear.

“And then for a time everything was good again, though it was built on lies.” Dreams ended her tale, lowering her head. A flash, and only the patchwork filly remained, now with Sunchaser’s wings.

Twilight knew they were just simple stuffed toys, and yet, if this was her past, could it be true? She had to know. Using a hoof to part her coat, she looked on in horror at the neat, glowing, golden stitches holding her left foreleg to her body. She looked back at her wings, and there was gold thread on them, too. She trembled.

“I’m… I’m –” Twilight grabbed the patchwork filly with flickering magic “– me.”

Twilight jumped at the unexpected hoof on her shoulder, her eyes following up the limb to find Dreams’ loving face. Wings and legs closed around her as Dreams hugged her tightly.

“You are safe here, my Little Star,” Dreams said.

“I know,” Twilight said as she returned the hug, “and thank you, Sweet Dreams.”

Twilight started to hum the lullaby. Dreams nuzzled her and started to sing, though the song seemed just a little bit darker than before. Twilight wanted answers, and she would get them, but for now she wanted to feel cared for. Protected and safe under Dreams’ wings, she did.

Author's Note:

Hello,

I just want to say thank you to everyone who has taken an interest in this story. I love hearing what you think about it both good and bad. I would also like to introduce my Editor the wonderful Yutah123 to you all. Thank you for all help it is very much appreciated.

All the best everyone.

Hello everyone! The Editor Yutah123 here! As my title would suggest, I'll be editing this story from now on. That being said, I'm a busy person with a hectic schedule who's not at all infallible, so I might not be able to edit in time, and I might miss the occasional mistake. In that case, I'd appreciate it if you can help out by catching those sneaky little things. Thanks, that's all! :twilightsmile:

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