• Published 29th Sep 2019
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Troubled Dreams - Syke Jr



Princess Luna hates the dreams she can't change.

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The Dreamtime

The dreams Princess Luna hates most are the ones she cannot change.

Cannot in the sense of, well, should not, that is. The realm of the dreamtime is hers, and if she so chooses, her will is manifest. Over the centuries, however, Luna has learned that some dreams are… intimately tied to a pony’s psyche. The unconscious realm is where ponies work through their traumas. When this results in a simple nightmare, Luna intervenes.

In other cases, though…

Luna walks along in the blackness without taking a step. Her eyes sweep across realms unknowable, windows into the minds of those in the dreamtime. She sees nothing, but knows all that she needs to all the same. The minds of her little ponies are open to her, here.

It is a power that was once horribly and unforgivably abused.

But let us not speak of that.

Further and further into the mire of the dreamtime the princess wanders, feeling the dreams as she passes. A spell here, a soothing breath there, quells the sparse forming nightmares Luna comes across.

Some nights, this is how she passes, as a ghost, as a whisperer in the dark, not even an observer. Some nights, she has no need to enter a dream personally at all.

Tonight, the princess feels something.

It is a… tension. A strange sense of longing, and sadness, and… something else. Something buried. Denied.

The dream presents itself to Princess Luna. She peers inward and sees nothing but a young pony, one she can identify as the dreamer, in what might be an empty white expanse and might be a small room in a house. The dream is not yet formed. And yet, there is something wrong.

Time, it seems, to observe.

Senses restored, the princess finds herself in a small, long living room, beside two unicorn stallions. One has a coat of silver and mane of black. The other is a much darker grey, and much older, with a short silvery mane. This one wears glasses. He is speaking, but it is impossible to hear what is said.

The pony does not know she’s there. Neither unicorn reacts to her presence, because really, she has none. Luna is there to observe, so observe she does.

All the while, the awful sense of tension weighs in the air in the little room.

It tastes like tin, or sweat.

The older stallion stops talking, looks at the young one expectantly, with a small grin. It seems a response is expected, but Luna knows it will not be forthcoming: if she understood nothing, the young dreamer didn’t either.

Instead he regards the grey unicorn with a searching look, a look full of regret, and takes a breath. Luna feels what might be a crack in the dam, a sense that what lurks behind this simple dream is more than even she might expect.

The young unicorn speaks:

“This… is a dream. And you’re dead.”

The older unicorn turns away at that, looks instead to the writing desk in the corner. He looks confused, irritated. “Is that so?”

The silver one nods.

“When would that be, then?”

“Yesterday.” The pony gulps. Suddenly everything is loud, everything is suffused with that same frantic repression Luna has felt since she entered this dream. “You had an… accident. They couldn’t save you.”

For a moment the older unicorn is quiet, but then he turns back to the dreamer with a snarl. The entire dreamscape shifts, the room is gone, there is nothing here but the two ponies and the silent, invisible observer.

The young unicorn takes several steps back with an anguished yell.

The thing that is now nothing more than a formless apparition screams incoherently and the world shakes with it. Now the sensations, the emotions, assault Luna: the anger, the disbelief, the sadness, and above all the overwhelming denial in the mind of the dreaming unicorn rip at her heart so that she nearly cries out.

It spurs her to action.

Luna reaches out—when she touches the pony, she instantly learns his name—and he instantly wheels to face her, eyes wide in panic. The spark of recognition she sees there centres Luna; she knows now what to do.

“Silver Star,” Luna begins, “Let not this nightmare be your—”

But then, a familiar sensation, that of falling. Luna looks down instinctively and sees nothing. She looks back into the eyes of the silver unicorn for the split second before the dream ends and she finds herself, not in the ethereal expanse of the dreamtime, but in her own study.

***

“And then you… went to see him in person?” Celestia sips her tea with a raised eyebrow. “Is that something you normally do?”

“I didn’t say that, exactly,” Luna answers, annoyed. “I had no intention of speaking to him as Princess of Equestria. I just… visited, in disguise, to ensure his waking self was coping normally with the grief of having lost somepony.”

“And?”

“And, I’m speaking to you about it now, so what do you think?”

Celestia nods. “Point taken. Please go on; I will not interrupt.”

“Thank you.” Luna clears her throat. “Silver Star lost his father to an accident when working on a royal guard airship. The details are fuzzy. Something to do with a volatile wind enchantment. He fell a very long way.” She pauses. “The family is, understandably, in shock. But, while the others are grieving for their lost family member, his son Silver is… not.

“He is acting quite sad, of course. I even saw him cry, briefly. But his soul is deeply conflicted, Sister. I have never seen anything like it. He is desperately, desperately heartbroken, but so in denial that he refuses to let himself feel anything for anything more than a moment.

“I have… covertly cast a number of spells in the hope of easing his pain, but none have been effective. I defer to your judgement.”

Luna nods her head as Celestia considers. A moment passes. Then,

“Leave him be, Luna.”

Luna gapes. “That is your true word on the matter?”

“It is.” Celestia sets her teacup down with a quiet clink. “Ponies are sometimes very odd when it comes to—”

“Do you know what I heard him say?”

Celestia shakes her head.

“He said, ‘I’m proud of him. I can’t be sad because he hated his life, and I hate mine, and I hope for what he got one day. He got out suddenly and accidentally. That’s all we can hope for.’”

“Hmm.” Celestia blinks slowly. “It seems… more worrisome, when you add that to it.”

“Indeed,” says Luna darkly.

“His dream was deeply rooted in all of this, it seems,” Celestia says. “His father, his grief, his denial. I suggest you wait for the next dream, and use it to help in the way that only you can.”

“It has been… a very long while since I tried to help a pony with this level of psychic conflict,” Luna says warily. “I do not feel that I can promise any more than warding away the nightmares.”

“Sometimes,” Celestia says, “I think warding away the nightmares does more good than even you imagine, little sister.”

Perhaps she is right. Perhaps the silver unicorn simply needs what Luna has always been, and nothing more. A sentinel in the night, a helping hoof when things grow dark.

Without her, at least, he would be far worse off.

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