• Published 1st Jan 2020
  • 13,047 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...

  • ...
11
 179
 13,047

Chapter 2: A Dream is Worth a 1000 Words (If you read them all)

"I know it was around here somewhere…" Nightmare was poking around in the bushes. She had found her way back to the tree, or at least, she thought she did. It was a tree in a forest, after all. She had taken an indirect path back, fearing that the winged spider things had recovered, and was almost certain she was lost.

"Maybe I should just make my way back to Flint's cave," she thought aloud. She sighed heavily, and walked through the bush, intent on her new goal. "It would probably be easier than trying to find a secret entrance to--" Suddenly, the dirt beneath her hooves gave way, leading her to tumble ungracefully down into the hole she was seeking not moments before. Her fall down the less-than-gentle slope finally came to a halt after multi-meter slide and her face in the dirt.

With an exasperated groan, she pulled her muzzle from the earth, spitting out a goodly amount of loose soil. She scraped her tongue on her teeth to further rid herself of the taste as she ran a hoof through her mane to dislodge any dirt that might have accumulated, but none came. Now, with but a twinge of earthy flavour that she could ignore, she began the walk back to her cave.

"Well, that took a little longer than I thought it would, but I still have a few rooms to check, and I wanna know what they were writing in those books." Nightmare slunk back into the main chamber, with a measure of likely unneeded caution, what with all she found in the tunnel.

Her midnight blue aura gently brushed aside the decayed slime over the next entryway, and she stepped inside. Once past the curtain, she saw a large, weirdly octagonal room. Spread throughout the room on mats in various states of decay, was a seemingly random jumble of items. On one, piled half as high as she was, were hats. Headwear of all kinds, from simple baseball caps to stovepipe tophats, from obnoxiously large and feathery hats that a certain white unicorn would no doubt enjoy, to hoods and bandanas. Next to that one was a pile of kid’s toys, jumbled together with little rhyme or reason, including even deflated balloons. And in the pile next to that, hammers. Just hammers, sledge to ball pin, and one jack hammer leaned against the pile, with a sticky note with a large question mark attached to it.

"Uhh, you and me both buddy… so, this is the room of… stuff? Prop storage? Pony item research?" Nightmare thought aloud as she scanned through a pile of saddlebags, empty of course. She picked out one that was both the least degraded of the bunch, and was able to adjust up to her size. It was a simple set, black dyed faux-leather, with sturdy bindings of the same material. "And now I have pockets."

She wandered the piles, getting a strange sense of being in a convenience store. She then stumbled across a pile that made her gasp. This mound of treasure was separate from the rest, differing in the fact that instead of a mat, it was in a rounded dip in the chamber floor. There was also the fact that it shimmered like gold. That would be because it was gold, gold bits to be exact, and it was easily taller than herself.

"Well, I'm rich. Now if only this was something I could take with me when I wake up, then I'd be living the dream." She sighed. The mountain of equestrian currency stretched back into the recessed wall, and she couldn't gauge the depth. She looked between her newly acquired fortune and her saddle bags floating beside her. "Thats, disappointing." She grumbled, and carefully picked her way back out of the room, careful not to disturb any of the more precarious piles.

"Well, so far so good, what's behind door number seven?"

Husks, two empty husks of changelings, that's what. Their dry carapace had cracked under its own weight, they stood on either side of an actual door, with dull spears that seemed to be made of chitin lying in their hooves. "So this place was obviously important then, and I found the money stash already, so what warrants guards?" Nightmare pressed a hoof up to the aged wood of the door, and pushed gently, the door swung freely on oiled hinges.

Inside was a slightly raised platform with more decayed changeling goo. What once might have been curtains hung like spider silk from the ceiling around it. A full body mirror stood at one end of the room. Another flat surface of shaped chitin desk that she could comfortably sit at. "That, looks suspiciously like a bed, scaled to my size. So, officers quarters? Or maybe royal chambers? Someone big and important stayed here, or it was at least built so they could."

Nightmare walked up to the stone base, and brushed off the rotted remnants of the goo based bed with a pulse of magic. She then turned to stand in front of the large mirror, getting a good look at herself for the first time. Her black muzzle was set in a neutral expression, and her mane, as to be expected, looked like a chunk of the night sky, happily waving in the absent breeze. She dragged a hoof through her mane, marveling at the strange texture of it.

She smiled at her reflection, and winced at the sharp teeth. She tried again without teeth, and found the look to be far less intimidating. "So, first impressions, no teeth, got it."

Once done inspecting her appearance, she skipped back to the library. She scanned the shelves, ignoring the books on dating and other "love" related matters, of which their were quite a few. Eventually she found a promising book entitled "'10 useful everyday spells for unicorns.'"

The first chapter of the book focused on TK, but at a higher reading level, and went into finer uses for the spell, such as manipulation of multiple objects at the same time. "Heh, Mul-TK-tasking~ I can feel the groans." She chuckled to herself briefly, then turned the page and delved back into the book.

▪=//=▪

Applejack was a hard-working pony, always has been. That's why she went straight into the orchards and began bucking trees to make up for the day she spent with her friends, tracking down an author that Twilight and Rainbow were just crazy about. So far, she was making good progress, with twenty-trees cleared in the first five minutes. But at some point she caught sight of her sister with her friends slowly walking away from the treeline of the wicked Everfree forest. Every three steps, the fillies would glance back at the forest, talking quietly amongst themselves.

She shrugged it off, figuring that they were just coming back from a visit to Zecora's, and turned to the next tree that needed harvesting.

Another five trees down. "Hey, uhh, sis?" Apple Bloom suddenly asked from behind her. Applejack turned around and gave the three of them a smile, and winced slightly at the sight of them. Now that she could get a closer look, she could see the multitude of bites that were slowly fading.

"Heya Apple Bloom, girls, did a swarm of flyders move into the path to Zecora's? Is she okay?"

"No, not on the path, we kinda… went on an adventure?" Scootaloo hesitantly informed.

"Ya mean yall have been wanderin around the forest by yourselves? What if yall got lost?" She gave the group a stern look, and the fillies looked anywhere but her eyes.

"We did, for a while, but then somepony came and found us, shooed away the flyders, and brought us back to town," Sweetie Belle said, but AJ couldn't help but feel that she was leaving out a few details.

"Well,there's gonna be consequences for goin out there alone, but I'm glad y'all made it home safe, where is this pony? They deserve a thankin."

"That's the thing…" Scootaloo began.

"Apparently they live in the forest too, so she went home?" Apple Bloom finished when Scootaloo trailed off.

Applejack pondered this for a second. "Zecora got a neighbor? Well, couldja give me their name then, so I can thank em when they come into town next time?"

"It was… uhh...somepony you've met before." Sweetie Belle laughed awkwardly.

"We think it was, well, maybe, possibly, Nightmare Moon?"

"I still think it was the shadow pony." Scootaloo added.

The farm mare narrowed her eyes. "Girls, it ain't kind to go 'round callin Princess Luna, Nightmare."

"But it wasn't her! It really was Nightmare Moon, honest! But she was, nice?"

Applejack looked at the three nodding fillies. "Ah'm, gonna go talk ta Twi'."

▪=//=▪

"Okay, now I just think about placing it on my shelf and…" slowly, the test book Nightmare had been using, turned into little white flakes and pulled together before disappearing. In her mind's eye, what she imagined to be a computer file management system, an item was added to the first slot. With a minor application of magic, the item disappeared and reappeared on the table in front of her. Gently, she picked it up in one hoof, something she had figured out at some point, and held it underneath her wing. Once more, it disappeared, with far fewer special effects.

"Hammer space pocket, check! And if I use 'the motions of putting something away' there is no horn flash." She quickly pumped a hoof into the air, and turned back to the spell book she was reading from. "Lets see, 'the size of one's hammer space pocket is proportionate to ones magic pool,' so, because I'm am alicorn I can probably hold a small house, or a large house." In the next two minutes, Nightmare cleared shelf after shelf of books, papers, tablets, and scrolls, leaving the library empty. "And I still don't feel like I'm straining, guess I estimated about right then! Now I can, oh. Ohoh, ohohohahahaha!" She zipped out of the barren library with a mad gleam in her eyes, making a bee line for the room she had mentally labeled "the stuff room." Various items disappeared from the piles as she passed by, seeking her true goal. With a dim glow from her horn the gleaming mountain of coins began dissolving from top to bottom, she didn't leave a bit behind.

The walking bank cackled with glee, staring into the middle distance while looking at the number displayed in her head. "Five thousand, six hundred and eighty nine bits, and I feel none of the weight! Screw saddlebags, I can lift school busses and keep freight trains in my pockets!" She giggled with manic glee, her horn glowing brighter as the piles of items disappeared from the world.

Gradually, she reeled in her emotions, although a jittery giggle escaped her lips every so often. She wandered back out into the main chamber with a spring in her step. Her eyes were glazed over as she managed the influx of items, labeling some with importance, and filing away others as trash.

She poked her head back through the illusory wall of her cave, spotting her improvised carrying bundle. With a flick of her horn The binding was undone, the metal glinted in the glow of her magic. The shards floated gently over to her, coming to rest in an open jar, before being sealed. She taped a label to its lid before gently moving it into her subspace pocket.

▪=//=▪

A gentle hum carried through the cave, setting the pool of emotion in an adjacent room spinning in response to the positive emotions the sound carried. The Nightmare's starry mane swirled happily around her as her head bobbed to the music she made. Arrayed randomly on her bed of downy blankets, were books. Most of them were books on magic, a few were story books, and the one resting on her forelegs was the time on glamor spells. The section was currently open to coat color alterations. She ran the tip of her hoof along the lines and nodded to herself, finishing up her happy tune. The mirror on the far side of the room gently floated from the wall before her, and with a little concentration, her hoof shifted from black to a deep blue in a shimmering style. She waved her limb before the mirror, watching as sparkles of magic fell from the partial illusion.

"So, unicorn illusions aren't convincing in the least if they're in motion, according to this, as the image lags behind if you move too quickly. Further, partial coat alterations lose magic, due to the spell not being 'closed.'" She dropped the spell, and it drifted away like so many small stars. Satisfied with her progress in the section she flipped a few pages ahead. She hummed thoughtfully as she read the title. "'Aura colors, a unicorns light.' what're you~?"

"A unicorns aura color is a key identifying detail, virtually unchangeable..."

said the introduction. Noticing a bookmark later in, she flipped to it.

"but after much research, award winning actor, Golden Globe discovered a way to take glamor magic a step further. With the help of magical researcher, Gleaming Prism, he stumbled upon a deeper understanding of the Magical Light Spectrum, or MLS. With a simple understanding of MLS, he was able to alter the color of his aura from white to a dazzling blue, enabling him to really become the character he played in the drama 'Luna Bay Police.'"

She skimmed through the rest of the backstory, Gleaning all the necessary info. "Hm, hmm hmm, okay, so, it's a sorcery type of illusion. Well, those are rare here, so I can have my aura be any color in the visible spectrum? Cool!" She glanced over the page again, grinning, and then lifted the mirror once more in her midnight blue aura. In her mind she pulled up a simple color wheel, and dragged it from blue to orange. Her smile grew as she watched the glow developing the mirrors’ frame turn to a nice sunset hue. She put the mirror away and looked back down to the book on her arm. She flicked it closed in a green glow and put it away. With a smirk she closed the rest of the books, using every color in the rainbow, before shifting them into her hammerspace. "That's fun, for a party trick I guess."

She sighed and rolled her head around, her neck giving satisfying pops and clicks as she rose from her bed. "So, I've done magic, reading, playing at the role of a 'hero,' next on the list should be--" she glanced at her back and unfurled her wings, stretching them out to their full length. "--Flying, flying is always fun in dreams."


She sat in the main chamber of her humble abode, looming between the exit tunnel and the door to the training room. She sighed as she weighed her options. "On one hoof," she waved the appendage, smiling at the novelty the phrase currently held. "It would be amazing to fly around outside, feel the wind in my feathers while I got 'em. But on the other hoof, ponies know what I look like; it probably wouldn’t be that hard to see a patch of night sky flying around during the day, so it would probably be safer to stick to the high ceilings in the gym." She looked between her left and right forehooves, as if the decision could actually be weighed.

After some deliberation, she walked through the gymnasium entrance, and took up position in the middle. "Preflight checklist; wings," she stretched them out and found a comfortable position to hold them in. "Check. Forty eight pillows for the inevitable crash landing, ready to deploy. Workout music, sadly lacking. Stretches, I couldn't find a book on them, so skip!"

She widened her stance in anticipation, her wings raised and readied herself. "We're just gonna start with one, nice and even flap." She took in a deep breath, and brought her wings down.

▪=//=▪

Somewhere in Ponyville, a mare was tending to her garden. Three blocks away, Pinkie Pie was starting up a heart song, which would reach her in about half a minute. But all activity in the town ground to a halt when a distant boom rang out from the Everfree. Birds scattered, dogs barked, and Spike sent half a table to Canterlot.

In the following moment, ponies and dragons alike had one question: "What the buck was that?"

And throughout the town, ponies and one dragon were admonished for using such harsh language.

▪=//=▪

The cavern's ceiling was replete with cracks, large chunks of stone falling to the floor, where they then ruptured and covered to floor in gravel. Nightmare hung there, her wings and forelimbs drooping. The rest of her was embedded in the stone, where she coughed twice and sighed. She pressed her hooves into the stone and extracted her head, her coat was caked in dust, and her feathers were far from orderly, but other than that she was fine. Looking about her now thoroughly trashed practice area, she groaned in disappointment.

"Well, coulda been worse, if I was outside, I mighta hit escape velocity." She joked halfheartedly. "Now, what was the title of that book on magical repair, and the one on landscaping?"

▪=//=▪

Nightmare was standing in the one spot that was clean in the room, two books floating in a midnight blue aura around her. Orbiting further away, bits and pieces of rocks of all sizes came together and were then slotted into where they came from, seamlessly repairing small sections of ceiling.

When she had gotten the one third of the room clear, she grew frustrated with how slow the process was. She began roughly packing various stones into holes, and summoned a third book. She flipped through the pages rapidly ‘till she found a suitable spell. She then cast a beam at one of the patched holes, welding the stone together. Now the cavern was stable, so she flipped back to the book on landscaping, and cast again. Shaving away excess stone in the walls to a smooth finish, she used the extra rock to fill in a few of the scars on the floor.

"Okay, finally fixed. That's not something I want to have to do again… and right now I don't think I could." She looked back at her disheveled wings, Her coat and feathers had been rendered a dull grey with all the rock dust they held. "Bath time?" She thought aloud as she exited the room. As she made her way to the exit tunnel, intent on finding a river, her eyes drifted to the glowing pink entrance of another room. She hesitated. "No, bad brain, I'm not going to go bathe in love, that's a stupid idea. Besides, who knows what that stuff does to ponies." She shook her head violently to rid herself of the thoughts.

She walked right out the entrance of the cave, following the gentle decline of the land in search of a river. She had a book in front of her, one on stealth spells. "I can’t keep making such a racket, I am not ready to deal with kill squads running around the forest for me yet," She mumbled to herself as she flipped through page after page of noise suppression charms.

The sound of running water caught her ears around the time she was nose deep in magic concealment enchantments. She flicked the book closed and approached the noise, finding a river that went up to her elbows, or knees of her forelegs. "Fore-knees?" She murmured. Nightmare shook away the questions on equine anatomy, and focused back on task, bathing.

The water looked clear enough, and flowed fast enough for it to not carry anything she might worry about. With a minor grumble she waded into the cool water and layed down. The water was cold, understandably, but that didn't stop her from disliking it. Minor discomfort aside, it was pleasant enough, and it was satisfying to watch all the grime wash away downstream. After acclimating to the water, she noticed that the flow of water was no longer sufficient. With a brief flare of her horn, a bubble of water floated out of the larger mass, she released the blob over her head. Her mane struggled to remain weightless in nature. Reaching into her mane, she withdrew a brush. "Yay, it worked!" She cheered quietly, then set about removing the remaining dirt from her body.

"goodness, Mrs. Bluejay, I hope we find you a good nesting tree soon, we've been out here for an awfully-" something eeep!-ed quietly from the bank of the river.

Nightmare paused, and slowly turned her head. Staring at her, shaking like a leaf, was a butter yellow pegasus, hiding her face behind her long pink mane. Nightmare tensed up immediately. Four trains of thought ran simultaneously through her head while she stared back at the shy pegasus.

'Crap, kids are one thing, but if a full grown adult says they saw Nightmare Moon, I really will be the subject of a witch hunt.'

'Is that Fluttershy? Oh no, an Element Bearer saying they saw Nightmare will get the rest of the bearers organized, and I do not want to find out what it feels like to be zapped by the elements.'

'Oh. My. God! She is so cute! I wanna give her a hug!"

'EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE'

The Nightmare voiced none of these. Very slowly, she backed out of the river, never letting the pegasus leave her sight. She kept low to the ground, backing away from the mare till she was on the other side of the river. "Terribly sorry," Fluttershy jumped and shook harder. "Didn't mean to scare you, sorry, sorry. I'll just leave you to your business, pretend like I wasn't here or anything." She spoke softly and in what were hopefully soothing tones till she was sagely behind a copse of trees. She then resummoned the book on stealth spells, and cast as many as she could.

▪=//=▪

"Applejack, are you sure that your sister is telling the truth?" Twilight asked. Applejack had shown up around fifteen minutes prior.

"Are ya calling us liars?"

"No, I'm not, but are you sure she's sure she saw Nightmare Moon? What if it was just a dark coated unicorn?"

"Who's as tall as the Princess?" The farm mare quirked an eyebrow.

"They were scared, they might not even remember what they saw correctly."

"Well, I suppose you could be right, the way she was talkin about 'em don't sound anything like the Nightmare we dealt with."

Twilight gave her friend a sympathetic smile. She really didn't want to have to send a letter to the princess right now, not after having to apologize for the table landing in the middle of her afternoon tea. Besides, she had a research project she wanted to get back to. She always had time for her friends, but sometimes, a mare just has to push the bounds of science and-

"You guys!" Rainbow Dash suddenly landed at the door.

"Dash? What's the-"

"It's Fluttershy!" She cried, eliciting a round of gasps from the room. "She came barreling out of the Everfree, scared out of her mind. She says Luna's gone crazy again!"

"What?"

"I told ya Apple Bloom saw her!"

"Rainbow dash, gather the girls, I'll write Princess Celestia and find out what's going on. Spike!"

"Ready!" The dragon was standing by, parchment and quill at the ready.

▪=//=▪

Author's Note:

Here is a chapter. For future reference, I will try and put up a chapter of one of my stories once a week!

Round of applause for Alias_The_J, for being awesome and helping me with this story!