• Published 23rd Sep 2021
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The Only Mark That Matters - CocktailOlive



The story of Radish Root, a pony with obscene cutie marks.

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17. The Dreamer

It was unusual for a guard to be called into Celestia's office. Most palace personnel never see the inside of it. Radish had been called. He took a deep breath and knocked on its door.

“Enter,” came Celestia's response from within. Radish pushed through the large doors and entered. The office was massive and lined in bookshelves, with a wide mahogany desk in front of ceiling-to-floor windows. Princess Celestia was seated on a sofa off to the left side of the room, reading a stack of papers in her aura. She put them on a coffee table before her.

“Princess, you wished to see me?”

“Yes. Come, sit,” she said, motioning to the space on the sofa beside her. Radish sat next to her.

“Radish, I’d like to thank you for helping Luna practice her dream power. She’s overjoyed that she can help see ponies through nightmares again. She’s like a whole new mare.”

“I’m glad to help.”

"She speaks very highly of you."

"It's my honor to serve."

"A bit too highly, in my opinion."

"What do you mean?"

Celestia seized Radish by the shoulders and pushed him down onto the couch.

“Princess!?”

"You are mine, Radish. Not hers. Or do you need to be reminded of that?"

"But- mmmph!"

She jammed her lips against his, shoving her tongue into his mouth. Radish's eyes went wide.

Her horn glowed with a golden light. Radish’s armor and Celestia’s regalia vanished. She broke the kiss, grinning. She drew her bare hoof across his cheek.

"I've been looking forward to this. Take me, Radish. Take me like in your cutie marks. I want to make that face.”

"Celestia..."

He wrapped his hooves around her and kissed her. She moaned deep in her throat.

A sound like a crack of thunder burst to their side. Princess Luna stepped through a starlit portal into the office.

“Radish Root! We have entered thy dream so that we may...”

She saw Radish and Celestia, entwined upon the couch. Luna froze. Radish froze. Celestia grinned wickedly.

"Too late, Little Lulu," she said, putting her cheek to Radish's. "I've had my claim staked on this one for a long time. Why don't you go find a butler to play with?"

“Princess Luna!" gasped Radish. "I’m sorry! I'm-”

Luna turned and walked back into the portal. She vanished.

The dream Celestia snorted. "Forget about her. She wouldn't know what to do with you. Now, where were we?”

Radish woke in his bunk. His mane and pillow were damp with sweat. His jaw was clenched. His guts were twisted. He stared at the darkness above his bed, too afraid to close his eyes.


Radish stood silently at attention in Luna’s hallway. He hadn’t heard a single noise coming from her bedroom since his shift began an hour ago. He felt like he had been leaning sideways all night.

He screwed up his courage, then approached her door, against protocol and against his better judgement. He knocked. There was no response.

“Princess Luna? It’s Lieutenant Root. I’ve come to beg your forgiveness.”

The door creaked open by itself.

"Come in," said Luna's voice from somewhere in the darkness.

Radish entered the bedroom. Luna was at her breakfast table, holding a mug of coffee in her hooves.

"Please," she said, "sit down."

Radish took the seat opposite her.

"Princess..."

She held up a hoof to silence him.

"Lieutenant Root... we apologize. We should not have entered thy dream. We only did so because we detected distress from thee. We thought thou were having a nightmare. We came to help."

"Oh... I see."

"It seems we are so out of practice with dreams, we could not tell a... pleasant fantasy... from a nightmare."

"No, it's not your fault. It's just that... with me, they're the same thing."

"What dost thou mean?"

"I think I got my cutie marks fantasizing about... her. But I don't know why. I don't know what they mean. So dreams about her are just reminders that I don't understand myself. That I'll wake up without answers... and without her."

Luna's ears drooped.

"Radish Root... we are sorry. That is a very complicated nightmare."

"It is?"

"In our day, ponies had nightmares of threats to life and limb. Monsters and marauders. But that has changed?"

"Well, ponies have nightmares about all kinds of problems nowadays- money, relationships, jobs, family... public speaking is a big one..."

"Art thou saying that modern nightmares are born not out of fearing death... but of fearing life?"

"I suppose that's how you'd say it."

"But this is a disaster! We are not qualified to assist ponies in such matters! We have always joined ponies' nightmares to fight alongside them in battle! But we cannot simply blast away their problems with money. Radish Root, we have regained our ability to see ponies through nightmares, only to learn that we are useless in this regard!"

"You're not useless! I haven't spoken to anyone about my cutie marks like this in ages. It feels good to open up about them again."

"Then, we may still help ponies by... talking with them?"

"That could work. I think a lot of ponies could just use a sympathetic ear."

"It is a monumental task, to take on the sorrows of so many."

"Well, you don't have to do it all at once. Maybe you can just start on a small scale."

"With children, you mean?"

"Oh... uh, I suppose."

"Do modern foals have simpler nightmares?"

"Before I got my cutie marks, I mostly had nightmares about flunking exams."

"Then thou should have been more devoted to thy studies."

"See? You're giving good advice already."

Luna looked down at her coffee, considering this.

"Radish Root... thy counsel is appreciated. We thank thee."

"You're welcome."

"Please, do not feel chagrin over thy intimate dreams. They are normal and healthy."

"Oh... thanks. But..."

"We do not begrudge dreams of Celestia. She is a common fantasy. Common to the point of cliché."

"But then... how come no one else ever got a cutie mark like mine? Why am I different?"

"We are sorry, Radish Root. We do not know. Achieving a cutie mark during sleep is not unusual. Sometimes dreams allow one to imagine possible futures, and decide on one."

"I don't remember the dream I had that night. I just woke up with a vague memory of Celestia. Then... I saw my marks."

"Had we been witness to that dream, we could provide insight. But we cannot view a dream that has already been dreamt. We are sorry. We have no answers for thee."

"It's okay. Don't worry about it."

"Lieutenant... dost thou resent Celestia for spurning thee?"

"Well, it was always a longshot. A pipe dream."

"But dreams should be enjoyed. We wish thine did not distress thee so. We do not know what cosmic ties bind you and Celestia together, but we are confident you will someday find the answers you seek. Perhaps further dreams of her will provide the clarity you are missing."

"Huh. I never thought of it like that. Thank you."

"You are welcome." She stood up. "But now we must return to our duties."

"I understand. There's a whole world of dreaming ponies out there who need you," Radish said, standing up.

"Unfortunately, now that we will be patrolling the dream ream all night, we will have very little time to socialize. You and I will see much less of each other from now on."

"Well, if you ever need anything, I'm right outside your door."

"Thank you, Radish Root."

They nodded to each other. Radish saluted Luna and left the room. Luna walked over to her balcony, gazing out at the world. She closed her eyes, and her horn glowed softly.

She stood still for a few minutes. Suddenly, she shuddered and opened her eyes. She frowned, looking up at the moon.

"So... they live, after all."

She looked back at her door. She smiled.

"If I ever need anything..."

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