• Published 1st Jan 2020
  • 13,020 Views, 179 Comments

Time & a Half, What a Nightmare - Carmine Craft



After a semi-productive day of job hunting and FIM watching, our protagonist takes a nap on their couch. They find themselves in a wonderful dream in the land of Equestira, and it all seems so real! Except, your not supposed to feel pain in dreams...

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Chapter 1: A Dream is What You Make of it.

Chapter 1: A Dream is What You Make of it.

The distinct sound of a phone buzzing slowly brought him out of his light sleep. The man opened his eyes and checked the phone that had stirred his slumber. On the screen was an alarm, stating that it was eleven forty-three, with a message.
Go to sleep, ya dummy.

He yawned and took in their surroundings. He had, once again, fallen asleep in front of his PC. On screen was a paused video, episode four of the third season of My Little Pony. He scratched at the scroll wheel till he had found where he last remembered in the video and minimized the tab, then quickly closed the fan wiki tabs that were also open. No need to look at that tomorrow, after all. Content with the state of his computer, he leaned back in his chair and yawned, blinking away some of the sleep from his eyes, stretching in his leather desk chair. "It's not as good the last two seasons so far, but the guys on the site say it gets better. Maybe I should surf through some Fics for a while?"

His random musings were put on hold, however, when his phone began to vibrate again. He glanced down at the phone again, and stared at the screen with apathy. A second alarm had been set for eleven fifty, bearing another message.
I know what you're thinking, and it can wait till morning. Go to bed.

"Well, I guess I can't really argue with that. Good night past-me." He switched off the desktop, and began going up the stairs. He tripped on the way up, falling back to the hallway below.

"Right then, I'll sleep on the couch tonight," he muttered to his empty house, mentally cursing the darkness. Instead, he went over to the living room and flopped down onto the couch. He pulled up the spare blanket. Once comfortable, he opened up his phone and checked through emails for a few minutes. Then, naturally one final alarm went off.
Turn it off and go to sleep, you've got a lot of things to do tomorrow.

"I must be psychic, and it's getting annoying." He sighed and switched off his phone, hooking it up to a nearby charger before setting it down on the coffee table. As he waited for sleep, his eyes slowly shifted to stare up at the moon through the adjacent window. The silvery, crater-covered landscape was the last sight he saw before drifting off to sleep.

▪=//=▪

He shifted on uncomfortable bedding, several small and rigid somethings poking into their stomach and thighs.

'Mmmugh, did I eat pretzels on the couch again?'

Blearily, he opened his eyes and yawned. "Good mor...ning... eh? What in the wo*yawn*~rld? Wow, I have a nice contralto this morning."

Fully awakened by the odd sound of his own voice, he began to look around. The light was strange, strangely silvery and bright; despite the brightness, the walls and ceilings were shadowed, made of bare stone and built to great heights. Shards of metal and stone littered the floor, glinting, and here and there, gaps in the ceiling let in the light of the full moon. He blinked, stunned to see the dilapidated room remain.

"Uhh?" He craned his head back. A midnight-black spire, of such strange geometries as to seem of no specific distance, blocked the sight of the night sky through the hole-riddled roof. "Huh," he said, turning his gaze to a door, and the black spire moved- "Oh, hang on." He peered up at his forehead, and the "black spire" appeared to originate from his skull. Gingerly, he reached up to poke it, and a slender, black, fingerless appendage performed the action. "Well, we're getting more interesting." He looked down to his shoulder, which was a fair distance farther than he remembered it being. Beneath his ruined red shirt was silky black fur. He let his arm drop to the ground, palm down, and was greeted with a muffled *Clop!* noise.

"Horn, hoof, black fur... An interesting direction were going in so far," he mused aloud. He turned his head to look over his back. Sprawled out on the floor was a pair of black feathery wings extending from his spine. "Oookay, so Alicorn. Little pretentious, but it's a dream." He sighed and shook his head. Stars danced at the edges of his vision. He stopped, suddenly, as he realized those stars weren't from a bout of dizziness, but were actually there.

He looked back over his shoulder once more, looking past the twitching wings. Where black fur ended, a cloud of night sky billowed far too dramatically in the barely existent draft.

"Black fur and night sky hair, that can really only be one character, huh?" he got up from their relaxed position and wobbled over to the shattered window. "One step at a time, and I won't fall to the floor..." he muttered, and before he knew it, he had made their way across the room, smacked into the wall, and fell to the ground. "Right, I got long legs," he sighed as he rubbed his nose ineffectively with a hoof. "Mmkay, let's get a look at me."

The window did not do a very good job at reflecting his image. It did, however, pick up on the glowing teal slitted eyes. "I got cat eyes, neat, but freaky. And, that also means I'm Nightmare, shame, I'm really more of an Octavia kinda guy." The dark Alicorn mused. "Wonder if I'm alone in here... Hey, Luna, are you there?"
...
...
"Okay, so I'm probably alone in here, that's good." The mare sighed in relief. "Wait, mare?" he stuck his head between his forelegs, a certain piece of anatomy, present or not, was obscured by their tattered jeans. Balancing carefully on three legs, he felt around manually for something he suspected wasn't there. "Frick... Only in a dream would this crap happen..." Groaning in defeat, she sat down on her haunches, only to feel something sharp and irritating.

She stood back up and flicked heir tail at the irritant. something small and shiny bounced away. "Neat, it works in its own! now, what're you?" She lowered her head to the ground, peering at the tiny sliver of blue metal, less than an inch from her face. She poked it with a hoof. "Metal, Is this a fragment of Nightmare's armor? That could be magic as fuck! Wait! I'm Nightmare, I'm magic as fuck!" She gasped in realization, and excitedly sat back down on her haunches and clapped her forehooves, with her wings flapping happily of their own volition, As a side effect, this finished ripping the poor old shirt off her body."Aww, that was my favourite... I guess it was already ruined. Silver lining, I get to fly in this dream!" Getting back to the task at hand, or hoof, as it were, she looked for a suitable target to magic, found a palm sized rock, and focused on it.

Nothing happened. "Maybe, imagine picking it up with a hand?" The stone refused to move. "Uhh, okay, come at it like a gamer perhaps? Imagine picking it up by holding A?" She mentally pressed the button on the controller. A few useless sparks lit up around the base of her horn. "Ooh? A reaction that time, right track at least." She repeated her actions, but focused harder. Sparks, followed by her horn suddenly being engulfed in dark blue light. The rock was wrapped in a dark blue aura, shook twice, and then just- reduced. Surprised, her concentration broke, and the condensed stone exploded into dust. "A... A bit too much power there..."

The next rock she touched only snapped in half. "Uhh, progress?" The dark Alicorn kept this up until she cold simply hold something, without it exploding. Next, she went for a test of strength. "If I can dustify small rocks, what's the heaviest thing I can pick up?" A collapsed pillar was the target. Surprisingly, she found she was able to lift it, a total of three feet off the ground with no strain, but found it very difficult to move around.

"So then, I'm a powerhouse, but I have no fine control. Now then, back to you." She gently picked up the fragment of metal in their magic. "You are likely super magical, so you're coming with me," she decided. She was then struck by the thought that this might not be the only piece clinging to them. She looked down at her barrel, and the scraps of cloth that hung from it. "Mm, yeah, the clothes have to go, Ponies don't wear clothes anyway." After struggling with her torn jeans, she shook out her ruined apparel, and was rewarded with ten more similarly sized splintered pieces of metal.

She laid out all the pieces she had in a neat line, counting up their meager amount. "This... can't be all of it, can it?" An odd idea passed through their mind, and she went with it. The Alicorn of darkness shook like a wet dog and waited for the sound of the metal dancing across stone. When all was said and done, she had enough of the fragments to fill a twenty ounce bottle. "I hope I can find a use for this stuff, be a shame if I was wasting valuable dream time." She laughed at her own joke, slightly off-put by her change in pitch. "And I should probably get used to the fact that I'll be a mare for the rest of the night. Might as well embrace it for now, it'll make for a funny story in the morning." She piled the fragments on a patch of shirt cloth, and tied it closed, then she put that into the mostly intact pant leg, and tied it around her neck. She found that tying knots without fingers and poor magic skill was hell.

"Now then, what should I do now? I'm kinda curious how this version of Ponyville would greet me... no I'm not, they would definitely run around like headless chickens, since I'm an antagonist... I can't stay here, Ponies come here all the time, despite the Everfree. I guess I could go find a cave?" Finding no better option, she walked out the door, and wandered the long abandoned hallways till she found a suitably sized hole in the wall.

Once she was outside the castle walls, she trotted through the woods, looking for rocky terrain. Like in any dream, when you go looking for something, it either never appears, or it appears in ten seconds. She smiled as the ladder made itself known. "Now then, to find one that is empty... way to jinx yourself." She stopped at the mouth of the cave and sighed.

"Well, I am Nightmare, maybe whatever I find will be afraid of me? That, or I'm sure I can use my Alicorn strength TK to defend myself." She braced herself and entered the lightless cave anyway. The cave wasn't very deep, and had a massive pool at its center. Not suitable to live in, but it did have an assortment of gems embedded in the walls. She grasped one of them in her magic and pulled, but instead of the wall releasing it's prize, it powderized. "Damn, can't magic them out, apparently. What else could I do?"

The mare sat before a wall covered in the valuable stones, tapping her hoof to her chin in thought. She went through her memories, looking through Nightmare Moon's debut for any tricks the fictional character had performed that she might replicate. "Well... she did crush the elements with her hooves, and Alicorns are supposed to be super strong, maybe I can just punch them out? That sounds so stupid..." She looked between her bare hooves and the wall. Several seconds of indecision passed. "Fuck it, it's a dream!" She threw a left hook at the wall and squeezed her eyes shut.
Cra-a-a-ackk!
The alicorn looked at the wall in shock. Her limb had sunk a good three inches into the now spiderweb cracked stone. "I am somewhat amazed that worked... oh well." She shrugged the detail off as dream logic, and threw another punch.

Once she had fully unearthed the stones, she put them between her wings and walked out of the cave.

In the next earthen hole over, all she came across was a flat wall just beyond the mouth of the cave. "That's... not what I was expecting." The next cave yielded similar dead end results. The one after that was inhabited by a family of snakes. "Thank God they’re all asleep," She whispered to herself as she crept back out into the forest.

The seventh cave she came across was similarly inhabited, but by a much larger reptile. And the owner of the cave did not seem too happy to see her, as it glared down at her from atop it's horde. "A-ah, pardon the intrusion, I didn't know anyone lived here, I'll just leave you to your horde... with a gift." she added after the great dragons gaze narrowed. She carefully reached back and grabbed one of the gems in her jaws, then placed it down and rolled it over to him. He nodded at her, and she let out a sigh of relief. Then an idea struck.

"One other thing, a handsome dragon such as yourself must know the area. Would you happen to know of any nearby caves that are, unoccupied?" She asked as she put three more gems down. The dragon scratched his chin in thought then snapped his arm sized fingers. "I do believe I know just such a location..." The dragon was surprisingly well spoken. The reason the cave was currently empty was that it was quite close by to his, and he did not want any creature trying to move into his territory. "But, for a generous Pony such as you, whom had the good manners to apologize for waking me, I believe I can make an exception."

"Why, thank you good sir, you honor me. Might I ask your name?"

"Flint, m'lady."

"Thank you Sir Flint, I promise to try and be a respectful neighbor." She gave him a half bow, which he returned. Just to be kind, she gave away two more crystals before leaving Flint's cave, then allowed herself a little victory jig.

"Okay, new home found. Yay!" It was a good twenty minute walk from Flint's to the abandoned cave that she planned to take up residence in, and by the time she had finally gotten there, the sun was on the rise. She stepped into the cave, and was about to use her horn for light, when she realized she could see perfectly fine. "Oh, right, night vision. Handy!" She went all the way into the back of the L shaped cavern. It was spacious, but only enough so for a single person. Well, one of her size, anyway.

She sighed. "I was hoping for something a bit better, since I paid for it and all. But I'm in a friendly dragons territory, couldn't really ask for better protection, I suppose." She removed her makeshift carrying sling and put it down on the cave floor, and then lay down beside it. She then went back to practicing magic to pass the time.


"This is getting boring..." She thought aloud as she lifted up the rock, and flicked it at the wall for the fortieth time. It clattered off to the side, as she tracked it with her eyes. She picked it up again, rotated it, and launched it once more. "Wonder if I should go out and get some food?"

zip, Clack!

"With the amount of force I can pull off, I'm sure I could fire any pebble or twig like a bullet."

zip, Clack!

"Or maybe I should sneak over to Sweet Apple Acres, try some of the best apples in the world."

zip, Clack!

"Then again, This is a dream, eating and drinking have no value here."

zip...

"Hmm?" She flicked her ears forward, and waited for the sound of the rock hitting the cave floor, but it never came. curious, she picked up another rock, and launched it in the same direction. Zip... Tick,tack,tic-tktc. "That's odd... the cave doesn't go that far." She got to her hooves and approached the cave wall cautiously. She peered at the stone surface with a scrutinizing gaze, searching for any holes that might lead to a second chamber. She found none, but those rocks had to have gone somewhere. Ever so slowly, She poked the wall with a forehoof, And felt some resistance. Not the amount one would expect from a solid stone wall, more like a taut sheet of cloth as it shimmered.

She pushed her limb through the barrier, and fell through the wall as a result. After regaining balance and dusting herself off, she looked up and froze. The cavern around her was covered in patches of hardened black material, around the room was globs of green goo, and broken cocoons affixed to the walls and ceiling.

"This is either an alien hive, or a changeling outpost. Which begs the question, when in the timeline am I?" She wondered aloud as she crept into the main chamber. From the middle of the room she could see seven perfectly round holes, of varying sizes, each presumably leading to a different room, some had degraded changeling resin over them, and one of them was glowing a strangely eerie shade of pink. Deciding to start with the most exciting one, she pressed herself against the wall and peeked around the corner. On the roof were a couple dozen burst pods, their contents now pooled on the chamber floor, creating an enormous pool of liquid love. "Where the hell did he get all of this?!" She gaped as she stepped fully into the chamber and stared out at the picturesque view. She stayed for a few minutes, then turned and left.

She went with the next closest aperture, it was wide enough for three creatures of her size to go through side by side. She was greeted with the sight of a very large cavern, the floor smoothed out with cut stone and hardened changeling resin. Several scars ran across the cavern floors and walls. Some of them appeared to have been carved with heavy swings of weaponry. A few of them were darker, and the surrounding rock surface was slightly melted, likely magical in nature. A few Pony shaped indents in the far wall had a solid mat black substance that seemed to follow basic equine anatomy embedded in them. "Uhh, combat training room? I'll uhh, clean it up later?"

She went across the main chamber, to a hole that clearly was not for one of her stature, as she had to squeeze through. This room contained some sparsely populated shelves of books. She skimmed the titles, which were written in a language strangely identical to English. "A brief history of Ponyville and it's Traditions, Caring for Your Newborn, Local Legends; The Everfree and it's wonders, Pegasus Weather Patrol Guidelines, and Ten Steps to Land the Pony of Your Dreams? Changeling libraries are weird, these aren't even in any kind of order!"

She grabbed one at random, with her mouth, to avoid total destruction, and set it on a raised surface that might be a changeling desk or table. When she pulled away from it to read the title, she winced at the indentations left on the cover. "Sharp teeth, gotta be careful with those... Anyway, Thirteen Signs Your Crush Likes You Back ... no, Im trying again." She grumbled as she kicked the tome aside, and went back to the shelves. "My First Spell, a guide to training your filly or colt in the ways of magic. Why not?"

She carefully manipulated the hard back cover open with a hoof, and began reading. "Why would the changelings even have this?" The first chapter was dedicated to TK, and it's finer control. After struggling through those pages her using hooves, mouth, and her horn as a blunt instrument, she was finally able to use her magic to turn the pages without fear of destroying the book. The one she had brought over before did not care nearly as well when used as practice.

After a little review of the basics, and learning how to properly limit the amount of power she was putting into a spell, she was starting to get bored of the book. But before she closed it, she took notice of all the imperfections in the book. On every other page, scratched in lines littered the margins. She looked closer at them, and recognized a sort of pattern, and how the markings were all in a dark, blue-green ink. "Is this changeling script? Dang dream, way to add in the details."

She went back to the shelves, every single book had little notes written in here and there in the foreign script. "Who knows what kinda stuff is written in here?" She thought aloud as she skimmed yet another odd scroll. This one pertained to patrol routes in English, and had circles and arrows drawn all over it, pointing out key details.

As she placed it back, a newer book caught her eye, at the very end of the shelf was a book entitled, "Glamour spells, Cosmetic perfection and an actors best friend." The tome was overstuffed with extra paper, each page filled with blue green ink in an unreadable language. "Oh-ho-ho-ho~ So he were comparing unicorn magic to their own? makes sense, now I really wanna know what this stuff says."

She scanned the room for anything that might be of value, and eventually found what appeared to be a bundle of flat Chitinous plates. Inscribed on them was the English alphabet, and above it, presumably the changeling alphabet. "Jackpot!" She cheered with a hoof pump. Nightmare's replacement giddily bounced back to the desk, and set the bundle down. "I'll save you for later~" She cooed, then walked out of the library. "Gotta make sure I'm actually alone in here."

Finally off of the research tangent she had accidentally indulged in, she snuck over to the next hole. This one had the appearance of an armory, one that had been ransacked anyway. Helmets, swords, and other implements of offence and defence littered the floor. Only one of the pony shaped mannequins actually had armor on it, three legs and a chestplate, the rest was scattered.

"Someone left in a hurry, but the question would be why? Am I passed the wedding?" The empty room said nothing in reply. She picked up a helmet and set it on the display, studying it all the while. It looked like nothing more than a small unicorn guard’s helmet; too small for her. Nothing else was of any particular interest; everything was "one size fits all," and she did not fit that size. There were some tools for maintenance of the equipment, so she arrayed them on a counter for later perusal.

The following chamber also proved devoid of occupants. There was old, decayed changeling goo covering the entrance, and the floor was covered in a soft green moss, but was otherwise empty. Barracks or storage, perhaps.

The next hole she passed through opened up into a long, curving tunnel. She spent a few minutes trotting down the path, following the dark, smooth walls. Every now and then, the uneven structure would shrink, and she would have to lower herself to fit through, but the path then continued on, wide enough for changelings to march two abreast (or four, if some took the ceiling). Eventually, she found a fork in the path. One end was caved in, with cracked, black, chitinous legs littering the ground beneath the collapse.

"I guess I know what happened to the occupants of my new home then." Nightmare mused."I probably shouldn't use that name..." Shrugging to herself, she turned and followed the second path, which began to gradually slope upwards. Eventually, she found herself popping up behind a bush, within the forest once more. "Escape tunnel, cool, I'll have to hide it better later."

She looked around for landmarks, finding an old, grey tree amidst the smooth brown bushes, dead brown leaves and rough brown trees of the forest. And memorizing its location in relation to the hole. "Lets see what's around here the-" A high-pitched, dog deafening scream rang out to her left. She startled, before sighing and turning in the direction of the noise and running.

What she came across, was not quite what she was expecting. A massive green cloud of insects buzzing away over a saddle bag filled with food; what food exactly, she couldn't tell, as it and much of the surrounding area was thick with webbing. She paused at the edge of the presumably massive spider's nest, and watched the swirling cloud of buzzing wings. Her assumptions were then thrown out the window when a single flying insect spat out a glob of spider silk more than ten times it's body mass, covering the hollow of a nearby tree.

"Flying spiders, that swarm… spider bees? WTF dream, that's like, all the badness." Nightmare shook her head to banish her creeping arachnophobia, and searched the small clearing for the source of the noise. On the opposite side of the arachibees' influence was a cave mouth, and if she strained her ears, she could just make out the irritated grumblings of people over the din of thousands of insect wings.

Nightmare sat there on her haunches, at a loss as for what she was supposed to do, until a single flying spider landed on her nose. They were tiny little creatures, green in colour, with red accents and four beady red eyes. The possessed a single pair of insect wings, and it buzzed them agitatedly at her, half a second before sinking it's fangs into her muzzle. The pain was not unlike a bee sting; make that a pair of bee stings. Nightmare let out a surprised whimper, reared back on her hooves and lit her horn. The winged arachnid went from annoying little pest to glob of smashed bug juices in less than a second in her aura.

The buzzing stopped sounding so random, and when she looked up to see why, her eyes shrank to pin pricks. Now instead of flying around their new territory, the swarm was all looking at her. She once again relied on instinct, and her magic flared. The larger mass of the swarm was compressed into a ball of exoskeleton bits and ichor, while the outer fingers of the cloud buzzed with anger. She found herself covered from head to tail an instant later. She squeezed her eyes shut and curled up into a ball, trying to ignore the multitude of angry welts being added to her entire body. Then, there was a pulse from her body, and the buzzing fell silent. She dared to open an eye.

The spiders were still alive, probably, they were simply now lying on the floor, twitching, with a nebulous blue swirling in their eyes.

"Th-the fuck did I do just now?" She whispered. One of the incapacitated creatures twitched from its position on her ear, and she bolted upright. She shook her entire body curiously till she was clean of the little monsters, then hurriedly strutted over to the cave, keeping an eye on the downed swarm. She kicked away the spider ball on her way over. She didn't turn around until she was sagely within the natural shelter.

"P-princess Luna?" The shaky voice of Sweetie Belle asked.

Nightmare jumped, then quickly calmed herself before speaking. "Not quite." She answered, turning her head to look at the fillies. The three of them took a good long look at her bug bite riddled form before beginning to tremble.

"N-N-N-Nigh-!!" The yellow earth filly, Apple bloom, stuttered, looking upon the mare with horror.

"The Shadow Pony?!" The little white unicorn, Sweetie Belle shivered in terror.

"Nightmare Moon!" The orange pegasus filly shouted, standing between Nightmare and her friends, shaking like a leaf.


"Oh none of that! I'm off work right now and I would appreciate it if we didn't act like I was on the clock!" The three of them froze, out of fear and confusion at her statement. Mentally, the mare was going over the words she had just blurted out and screaming in confusion.


Nightmare focused back on the three fillies, who still looked at her with fear, but who now looked equally confused.

"W-What?" Scootaloo croaked.

"You three are acting odd! I mean, the news definitely should have gone around by now, but you're acting like I'm going to eat you." She waved a hoof in the air dismissively.

"E-eat u-us?!"Sweetie bell shivered as she stared at the Alicorn’s mouth.

"Wait, you actually think I do that? Ew, no." Nightmare gagged.

"S-so, your not gonna eat us?" Scootaloo asked carefully.

"That was a joke, so no." The alicorn said with a raised eyebrow. "I am told my sense of humor is dark, I apologize. Now then, what are you doing out here, don't you fillies know it's dangerous?" The Nightmare chastised with a "Tsk, Tsk."

The CMC stared up at her with a mix of confusion, a hint of shame, and a spoonful of fear. "B-but... How are you even here? The Elements should have destroyed you!" Apple bloom came near to shouting.

Nightmare gave a long suffering sigh. "I told you, I'm off work right now." She looked around the edge of the clearing, until spotted Canterlot mountain. "Alright, since I don't trust the forest to simply let you be, I'm going to make sure you three get back to town safely, and avoid you getting turned into a chew toy. You've got two options: ride, or walk," she offered as she laid down next to them.

The three fillies shared a silent conversation, and politely shook their heads. "Th-that's alright, uhh, miss Nightmare, b-but we can make it back on our own."

"Walk it is then." The dark Alicorn noded, standing up and waiting for the fillies to start moving.

"Th-that's... not really what we mean-"

"My presence in this escort is non-negotiable, for everypony's safety. Relax, I'm the least of your problems at the moment, whether you believe me or not." She turned, walked a few steps, looked back at the still motionless ponies, and tilted her head in the direction of town.

▪=//=▪

The crusaders walked in fearful silence, but Nightmare would turn and check to make sure the cmc was still following behind every few steps. The forest was usually safer than everypony gave it credit for; going in was usually perfectly safe. Today, of course, they found everything that they could have been afraid of. Maybe leaving the path had something to do with it. The tension was palpable; even if they tested their luck by scattering, Nightmare would certainly be able to find them, and they had no idea what she wanted. Eventually, something had to break.

"Aahh, Mrs. Nightmare?” Apple Bloom inquired, “What do ya mean you're 'not at work'?"

"Apple bl-!" Scootaloo began, but to her surprise, the Nightmare did not get angry, responding matter-of-factly.

"It means what it means, I'm not at work right now. I was just sitting at home reading before I heard you shouting for help." Technically the truth.

"W-what's your job?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"Ah, well,” she stammered, seemingly embarrassed. “Currently... I'm unemployed... Although I am trying researching ancient and unknown languages," She provided happily.

"Then, what was your last job?" Scootaloo asked.

"..." The Nightmare paused for a moment, tilted her head to the side as she thought about how to word it. "I... haven’t actually been properly employed for years. My last job was as a grocery store clerk, but that was when I was a teenager. After that, I was a computer graphics student, and there weren’t any good jobs in the area, and I didn’t have a car, so I didn’t go further.” Nightmare paused. “I wish I’d gotten one, though, because I had to move back in with my parents, and most employers wanted more work experience.”

No one said anything for a while, after that odd answer. The dark Alicorn turned at the sight a large patch of blue flowers, leading the fillies around it.

"So, what do you like to do?" Sweetie asked after a while.

"I like calligraphy." The Nightmare replied.

"...Huh?"

"That and... umm, don't laugh." The Nightmare pleaded. "Okay I like... Collecting stamps." She admitted with a slight blush.

The CMC gaped at Nightmare. The Nightmare Moon, infamous evil alter ego of Luna, was embarrassed of her hobbies, and had once held normal-sounding jobs.

"That... was not what ah' was expecting." Apple Bloom admitted.

"I-in a good way or a bad way?" The alicorn inquired. The CMC continued to be baffled at the mare, not even being remotely shocked when the edge of the forest came into view.

Nightmare sighed, slowing down and realizing that they weren’t going to answer her question. "This looks like where we part ways, goodbye little fillies." She said, bowing to them respectfully as they came out into the open, while the Nightmare stayed within the treeline.

"Uhh, goodbye miss Nightmare?" Scootaloo offered.

"We, hope you find a job that you're happy with?" Sweetie Belle half asked.

"One where no one gets hurt, and lines up with your interests." Apple Bloom finished.

"Thank you,” Nightmare replied. “It’s refreshing to have a pleasant conversation once in a while. Before you three leave, though, what were you even doing out here?"

"Well, Applejack and everypony went off ta find the writer of the Daring Do books, and that got us thinkin’, so we were tryin' ta find our cutie marks, in exploring..." Apple Bloom looked off to the side, scuffing her hoof on the ground.

"You got lost almost immediately, didn't you?" Nightmare deadpanned.

"N-no, we were exploring! We just uhh, didn't know when the exploration was gonna end!" Scootaloo defended, exuberantly but unsurely.

"Riiiiiiight. Run along now, I'm heading home, and make sure you have a guide next time," Nightmare said, before turning and walking back into the forest.

"Are we... telling our sisters about this, or not?" Sweetie Belle asked her friends.

"Ah' think… ah think that it would be a good idea." Apple Bloom Decided.

"Even though we went into the Everfree, without adult supervision, and nearly got eaten by a swarm of flyders, and then got saved by Nightmare Moon?" Scootaloo asked.

The other two began sweating at the details of the story, but nodded. "We're still going to have to, even if we get grounded for it."

▪=//=▪

"There is no way anyone would believe them, and even if they did, I just have to wake up." Nightmare thought aloud, a habit she might just have to fix one day. "Now then, where was that tree..."

Author's Note:

Hello! This story exists because I am extreamly impressionable, I have about three chapters for it planned, I'm hoping by then the characters will steal it from me and write it themselves.

Special thanks to Alias_The_J, for being the editor of this story. If it weren't for them, this would have so many errors I wouldn't put it out for a long time, possibly ever.

Have a good day now.