• Published 4th Sep 2012
  • 8,618 Views, 132 Comments

Gobbling and Other Traditional Pursuits - LadyMoondancer

Nightmare Moon was once considered an "old pony's tale." But what exactly did those old s

  • ...

Geode and the Nightmare

Author's Note: This is not meant to be a story of something that "really happened" in Equestria. Rather, it's one of the stories the Equestrians of old might tell when everypony was gathered around the hearth. :)

Geode and the Nightmare

Once upon a time, there lived a poor rock farmer and her daughter. The farmer scraped and struggled and managed to fill her belly and her daughter's besides. But one day the young filly—Geode was her name—knocked over the chicken coop while she played.

The chickens ran to and fro, clucking, and the ponies ran to and fro, shouting, and finally all the birds were captured again—all except the fine white rooster, which ran straight into the deep, dark forest, where the cold winds blow ever free.

The Headmare of the village was angry, for the rooster was meant for Nightmare Night, and now it had escaped into the woods where any weasel, stoat, or fox could eat it.

"Nightmare Moon will come and she will gobble us up," the Headmare said, "unless somepony goes into the wild woods. If we send her sweet pastries, perhaps that will satisfy her. You, Geode, will take them to her."

And all the rich, powerful ponies of the village nodded in agreement, despite the protests of Geode's mother. "She knocked over the chicken coop," the rich ponies said, "so she must go."

Of course Geode saw right away that the Headmare and the others expected her to be gobbled up along with the sweets, but what could she do? She set off, with a bag full of pastries, into the deep, dark woods.

She walked for a long time or a short time, until she reached the Moon. Its walls were cold silver and it was thatched with comets. But its doorway was a mere sliver of a crescent—far too narrow for a little pony, even a small filly, to walk through.

The little pony sang:

"Moon, Moon, lazy Moon,
The Sun watches, but you slumber.
The Sun rises, but you sleep."

As she sang, the eye above the lintel slitted open, narrowed and angry, and the sliver of doorway opened until it was wide enough for a filly to fit through, if she squeezed. Geode bravely crept into the Moon.

The Nightmare was inside, filling up the whole hut. She was twenty feet tall, dark as the void, and the stars tossed in her mane as she eyed the little pony. Silver coins paved the floor and bones clattered together as they hung from the ceiling. Eyes of all colors and sizes were sunk into the walls, watching.

"Well, well, what is this? A sweet little foal for my supper!" Nightmare Moon smacked her lips loudly, showing her sharp fangs.

But Geode quickly opened the sack.

"An earth pony am I,
My veins are quartz,
My marrow marble,
My heart a gem,
And these pastries are far sweeter than I."

Nightmare Moon immediately grabbed the bag and rudely stuck her head into it, stuffing herself like the greediest pig who ever had a trough. The Moon waxed until it was half full—now a full grown mare could have fit through the doorway.

"Very well," said the Nightmare when she finally emerged, wiping her face and spitting crumbs as she spoke. "Tonight you shall live. Sleep on the cot, little one, and dream your dreams."

So Geode crawled onto the cot in the corner. But instead of sleeping, she cunningly made snoring sounds while she watched the Nightmare through her eyelashes. When midnight came, Nightmare Moon sang:

"Tonight a pastry, tomorrow a foal,
The next day sweet berries for my supper."

When the dawn spread over the horizon, Nightmare Moon yawned wide and fell asleep. Geode waited until the eyes in the walls had all closed before she took the sack and snuck out into the dark, wild woods.

Plants did not grow here in a natural way, in neat rows, but were instead spread higgledy-piggledy under the tangled hedges and fallen trees. Geode had to search all day to find enough tiny, wild strawberries and fat, juicy blackberries to fill her sack. She mixed hard pebbles among the berries and arrived back at the hut just as the sunset faded away.

"Aha!" cried Nightmare Moon, waking up. "Now I shall gobble you up, little foal!"

But Geode opened the sack.

"An earth pony am I,
My veins are quartz,
My marrow marble,
My heart a gem,
And these berries are far sweeter than I."

The last words were hardly out of her mouth before Nightmare Moon snatched the bag from her.

"Wild berries!" she cried. "A toothsome dinner—and you, little foal, shall be the dessert!"

And with that she began to gorge herself on berries, shoveling them into her mouth so fast she didn't even notice the stones mixed among them. The Moon waxed to gibbous, three-quarters full, and the doorway was now large enough that five grown mares could have walked through side by side. The eyes in the wall watched to see if Nightmare Moon would gobble up the little foal. But she was feeling rather peculiar now as the stones settled heavily in her stomach.

"Very well, you may live another night," Nightmare Moon said regally, as though she was sparing the filly due to mercy rather than stomachache. "Sleep on the cot, little one, and dream your dreams."

But again Geode fooled the Nightmare, pretending to sleep while she watched closely. At midnight, Nightmare Moon sang:

"Tonight wild berries, tomorrow a foal,
The next day sweet honey for my supper."

When the sun rose and the Nightmare fell asleep, Geode once more snuck out of the hut with the sack. The animals of the forest did not behave as animals should, but ignored her or fled from her or tried to eat her. In fact, the little filly had to flee from a particularly determined and hungry manticore several times.

But finally she found a wild bees' nest hidden in the stump of an old tree. She approached it in the slow, steady way that her mother had taught her and thanked them politely as she pried off a piece of honeycomb. They let her take it without stinging or fussing, for bees are the same everywhere, wild or tame, and they respect those who know how to address them properly.

The honeycomb dripped with golden honey, thick and sweet. But Geode found some trees heavy with tarry, sticky tree sap and mixed the sap in with the honey before returning to the hut. She snuck in just as the sun was sinking.

The Nightmare awoke and looked hungrily at Geode, who was surreptitiously wiping the sap off her hooves on the coin-paved floor. "At last! It's time to gobble up a little foal for my supper!"

But Geode opened her sack.

"An earth pony am I,
My veins are quartz,
My marrow marble,
My heart a gem,
And this golden honey is far sweeter than I."

Nightmare Moon looked like Hearth's Warming Day had come early, she was so gleeful.

"Honey!" She actually clapped her hooves together. "Sweet honey for dinner, and a foal for dessert!"

She pulled the sack away from Geode so fast that the filly fell forward onto her nose. The Nightmare stuck her head in the sack and chewed and sucked on the honeycomb so fast that it was a wonder she could even taste it. The Moon waxed to full, and now an army could have fit through the doorway. The eyes in the walls all stared wide to see if she would finally gobble the filly. But the Nightmare felt odd as the viscous sap sat in a hard lump in her stomach. Somehow she did not fancy gobbling up a little foal right at that moment.

"Very well, you may live another night," she said, trying not to show how ill she was feeling. "Sleep on the cot, little one, and dream your dreams."

Geode laid down on the cot, pretending to sleep, as she had the previous two nights. But this time, long before midnight, Nightmare Moon raised her head and sang,

"A little foal lies awake under the moonlight.
She fools the Sun, she fools the Stars,
But she doesn't fool me."

She shook a star from her mane and blew it in Geode's face, and the filly fell asleep at once. All night she ran away from the Nightmare in her dreams, and when she woke up in the morning she felt nearly as tired as when she'd fallen asleep.

The filly slowly got to her hooves. She had not heard the Nightmare's midnight rhyme, and although she could flee through the wide-open door, Nightmare Moon would run out and catch her come nightfall. As she paced, Geode's hoof-falls clinked on the coin-covered floor. That gave her an idea. She picked up a knife from the table and began to pry the coins loose. She filled her bag with silver until she could barely carry it and then walked back to her village.

Only her mother was happy to see her. The other ponies, and particularly the Headmare, panicked when they saw her walking out of the forest.

"She will bring the Nightmare down on the village!" they shouted fearfully, and they wanted to drive her back into the woods. But they changed their tune quickly enough when Geode opened her sack and let the silver coins spill out.

"Thank you for sending me into the woods, Headmare," said the filly. "See the bounty provided by Nightmare Moon!"

"Silver!" cried a greedy mare, who had never seen so much of it in one place before.

"Impossible!" gasped a particularly fat stallion, his eyes bulging out of his head. "Such wealth! From Nightmare Moon?"

"Tell us how you came by such a fortune, or we will drive you into the forest," threatened the Headmare.

"It was quite easy," said Geode. "Nightmare Moon is very hospitable. But you must not meet her eyes when you first enter the Moon—she will think you're rude and gobble you up. Myself, I put this bag over my body when I went in."

Then all the wealthy and important ponies rushed off to buy all the burlap sacking they could find. With the sacking bundled on their backs, they demanded that Geode lead them into the woods to find the Nightmare. This she agreed to do, first leaving her sack of silver with her mother.

After a long time or a short time, they reached the Moon, its silver walls gleaming coldly and its roof thatched with comets. Strange lights occasionally flashed inside and thunder rumbled above it, for the Nightmare was in a very bad mood. She had just woken up to find someone had pried up half her floor.

The wealthy and important ponies quailed at the thunder, but it also made them long to get inside; they were used to sitting in their snug houses during a storm, not having their manes plastered over their eyes and their skin soaked through. Immediately they began to argue about who should be allowed the honor of entering first, until a particularly sly unicorn pulled her burlap sack over herself and tiptoed in while the others shouted back and forth.

"What foolishness is this?" demanded Nightmare Moon, thunder rumbling as she snapped her tail. Probably if the mare had seen her expression she would've tiptoed right back out. But instead she said, "Greetings, great Nightmare Moon—"

And that is as far as she got before Nightmare Moon stuck her head in the sack and gobbled her up.

Soon a second pony came into the hut, and then a third, and then four who jostled in together. And each of them had barely started to greet her before the Nightmare gobbled them.

After the third pony, Nightmare Moon began to feel full and sleepy, and after the fourth pony her head began to nod heavily. The Moon waned each time she gobbled and the eye above the lintel drooped half-shut. Soon the entrance was just a crescent—big enough for a filly to squeeze through, but not a grown mare. Outside, the Headmare—who had reasoned that being last made her look more important than the rest—was furious.

"See what you've done, you fool of a filly! How is Nightmare Moon to lavish silver on me when I'm stuck outside? Now the others shall get rich and I shall get nothing!"

"Everything has its purpose," Geode said. "I shall enter the Moon and introduce you as a special guest. Sing this song and she shall honor you above all others." And she leaned up and whispered the song in the Headmare's ear.

"Very well," said the Headmare haughtily. "But remember, I will drive you from the village if I do not get my just reward."

"No fear of that!" said the filly, and she entered the hut.

The Nightmare was sprawled on the floor, trying to crack the marrow from a bone, like a dog. Sleepy though she was, she leapt to her hooves when she saw Geode.

"You!" she raged. "YOU tore up my silver floor! Prepare to be gobbled!"

"Oh Great Nightmare, I admit that I tore up your silver floor, but I bring you news. A stranger lurks on your doorstep."

"Another one?" The Nightmare was surprised; her hut had been an unusually popular destination all night. She waddled across the room to take a look, sticking her head out the door. But before the Headmare even had a chance to open her mouth, Nightmare Moon drew her head back in, snorting. "Fah, another plump mare! I'm too full for something HER size. I think I'd rather have a tiny, sweet filly as a midnight snack."

But Geode said, "You should ask her why she's here at least, Great One. Imagine what everypony will say otherwise—that Nightmare Moon lacks even the most basic social graces. To leave a guest on the doorstep—what a disgrace! What an embarrassment!"

Nightmare Moon shifted from hoof to hoof. All she really wanted to do was to lie down and sleep off her gigantic meal. But she was enormously vain and conceited, and the thought of everypony gossiping about her was more than her pride could bear.

"Naturally I was about to do that," she huffed, "before you interrupted me." She stuck her head through the doorway again.

The Headmare gulped to see the Nightmare's head poking through the narrow opening, her starry mane tossing. But the silver highlights gleaming on the Nightmare’s coat reminded the Headmare of the gleaming silver coins she hoped to gain, so she drew herself up proudly and sang loud and clear:

"A fine pony am I,
My veins rich with honey,
My marrow marshmallow,
My heart hard candy,
Surely no pony is sweeter than I!"

Nightmare Moon began drooling as soon as she heard the word "honey", and as the last word passed the Headmare's lips, she lost all self-control. Her neck shot forward like that of an angry goose and she began to gobble the Headmare in a gluttonous frenzy, starting with her head and ending with her heels. And as she grew fuller and fuller the doorway of the Moon grew thinner and thinner, so that Geode barely managed to dodge outside while there was still room.

The Nightmare sucked up the last strands of the Headmare’s tail like spaghetti and spat out her horseshoes, one, two, three, four.

"And now for you, little thief!" she said. She felt truly ill by now, but she was determined to have her revenge on the filly, even if she only chewed her up and spat her out.

But suddenly the Nightmare screamed, and screamed again. Her neck was caught tight in the doorway. There was no room to pull her head in and certainly no room to force her body out. She howled and raged and tossed her head, bucking her legs until the bones in her hut all clattered, but it was no use—she was stuck fast. And there she remains to this day, trapped in the Moon, as any pony can see.

But as for Geode, the filly returned home and found that her mother had already been elected as the new Headmare—for the villagers all agreed that a pony foolish enough to seek silver in the woods, as though it grew on trees, was no fit leader. And the coins from the Nightmare's floor was used to buy agate seeds and to dig a new well and for many other useful things besides, and there they lived happily for the rest of their days.