• Published 12th Oct 2021
  • 195 Views, 1 Comments

Nights of Frights and Butterscotch - Rocket Lawn Chair



On the eve of Nightmare Night, Luna's budding friendship with a young journalist is tested by a terrible secret she's kept for years.

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Latte and Inquiries

"If I'm being honest, my dreams are more like visions. I can't control them."

It was one of those common softball questions Luna had received hundreds of times before. Of course she didn't blame ponies for being curious; it was only natural for them to wonder how the Princess of Dreams dreamt. Standard journalist faire. She smiled at the mare who had begun her interview, feeling fondness for her delicate demeanor and firey blush.

After some silence, Luna prompted the mare, "Did that answer your question? Or were you hoping for more, Miss Ink Blot?"

The mare's jet mane was tied into a tight bun behind her head. It bobbled as she shook her head. "Oh, umm, you can just call me Ink, your highness."

"Only if you just call me Luna. Deal?"

Ink anxiously panned her eyes down the pages of her notebook. She nodded, fixing her glasses on her snout.

“Uneasy. I'm intimidating her,” thought Luna, frowning. She'd hoped a public setting would make the pony feel more comfortable. She'd spared time for other journalists in the middle of the city square before. The Canterlot Chronicle had a whole contingent of journalists to sling at her, their noses and pens keen to capture the latest news. Ink Blot must be relatively new to the Chronicle, thought Luna.

A waitress floated by their booth to take their order on a small yellow notepad. "A latte," said Luna, then asked Ink if she wanted anything, which the mare timidly declined. Luna nodded. She didn't want to push her.

"You say your dreams are more like visions," said Ink. "I've heard of other ponies that are blessed with prophetic gifts. Do they come from you?"

Another one Luna had heard, to which she replied her typical "Yes, but also no."

"Could you please explain?"

Luna chuckled. "I could, but wasn't this interview meant to be about Nightmare Night?"

"Oh...sure. We should get back on topic..." Ink trailed into an uncomfortable silence.

"No, no, I'm sorry." Luna shook her head, forehoof against her forehead. She took a moment to distill her thoughts, mentally chiding her insensitivity. "I'm not the matron of prophetic visions. I don’t create them, but they pass through me. Does that help?"

Ink nodded. "A little." She scribbled notes with a pencil held between her teeth, which was a noteworthy feat on its own. Most of the field journalists the Chronicle sent were unicorns with the advantage of magic to take quick notes. "But back to Nightmare Night." She straightened up in her seat and cleared her throat.

Luna smiled, matching Ink's attentive adjustment with her own. "Ah, the topic du-jour. Ponies worried that Nightmare Night doesn't feel the same without the threat of Nightmare Moon, correct?"

"Sounds strange to want a villain back—oh!" Ink gasped, then attempted to retract her statement.

"No need to apologize, I take no offense." Luna thanked the waitress as her latte arrived. She took a first sip, raising her eyebrows at the sharp bitterness and heat. "It makes sense to me why ponies want to keep Nightmare Moon around. I can imagine the thrill behind the legend, the idea that a dark creature would come out of the moon to eat you."

"Unless you appeased her appetite with candy," added Ink.

Luna nodded over the rim of her paper coffee cup. "Brilliant solution. I love butterscotch by the way. There's a tip for next week."

Ink scratched "Thrilling legend" and "Butterscotch" onto her notepad. It would be a fun, lighthearted addition for the article, thought Luna.

Ink rolled her pencil between her teeth until it reached the corner of her mouth. "Do you worry what will happen to the holiday, now that Nightmare Moon is gone?"

"Not especially. It's a wonderful holiday. Ponies would hate to give it up. Plus..."

Luna trailed her thought. This wasn't the appropriate place to continue it. She knew what might happen if she admitted the truth about Nightmare Moon. To keep the secret tasted strongly of a lie, and Luna struggled to stomach it.

She buried her lips in her latte, ignoring the burn.

"Plus...what?"

Luna vented coffee heat through her pursed lips.

"Plus...it's too important to abandon. More than a holiday for ponies to dress up and eat sweets, it's an exhibition of how to properly combat darkness. Laughter. Joy. Butterscotch."

Her statement prompted a small giggle from Ink, which made Luna smile and let out a steady sigh.

Their interview continued for another few questions; what did she think Nightmare Moon would think of the celebration (Oh, she'd despise it!), and what was her favorite costume (Tricky, but probably a possum). Ink also saw fit to inform her that she had prepared a question about what her favorite candy was, but Luna had already answered that.

"What's your favorite candy?" asked Luna.

"Choco-Peanut Bites," said Ink. Her tone had lost its nervous hesitance, noted Luna pleasantly.

"What do you think about the outlook of Nightmare Night?"

"Honestly, I'm not the best pony to ask that. More of a Hearth's Warming fan." She shook her head, laughing wryly. "In fact, that's probably why the Chronicle wanted me to collect this scoop. They knew I didn't have a strong opinion about Nightmare Night."

"Once again, no offence taken," said Luna, chuckling.

The pair shared pleasant smiles, having finally reached a social equilibrium in which neither had to seriously worry about what the other had said. It finally felt like they were connecting in a manner that transcended professionalism, which Luna felt was the most genuine way to handle interviews. Others would swarm her for a scoop, then immediately leave once they'd devoured the information they needed. Ink did not, which was why Luna took an immense liking to her.

Ink set her pencil and notebook aside. She placed her hooves on the table.

"Do you mind if I ask you more about your visions? Off the record, of course."

"Of course," echoed Luna. She sipped through the final quarter of her coffee. It had gone cold. "What would you like to know?"

"Anything, really. What kind of futures do you see? And whose futures?"

Luna blinked. It took her a moment to find an answer that wouldn't be a lie.

"I see mine. Mostly, it's the very far future. I see what I will become."

Ink hesitated. She felt she was approaching a line, and she wasn't wrong.

"So, this feels like kind of a silly question..."

"Go on, dear."

She gazed up at Luna, a wistful sort of regret magnified through the lense of her glasses.

"Do I...ever become a great violinist?"

The question surprised Luna. "I..."

"It's okay, you don't have to answer. It was a silly question."

"No! It's not that..." Luna laughed. She was relieved that Ink hadn't pressed to know more about what Luna's future was. "The visions I receive...they don't tell me who will be your true love, or how successful your career will be. In fact, they barely give me any distinct picture to work with." She paused to think of an illustration. "If the future was a loaf of bread, my visions are like the scent wafting from the bakery. I only get a sniff of what’s beyond the bakery door. As far as I know, this holds true for the visions other ponies receive."

"I see." Ink stiffened. Her expression seemed puzzled, conflicted.

Luna coughed. "So, a musician with a writer’s cutie mark? Tell me about that."

“I’m no musician,” said Ink sheepishly, blushing pink beneath her white coat. “Only a few lessons from my uncle when I was young. And I try to keep a consistent practice schedule, but work at the Chronicle is hectic.” She shrugged and exhaled a sigh. “But hey, my parents are happy I got the job, and I’m happy, too. I guess violin is more of an escape for me now.”

“You’ll have to play for me sometime,” said Luna. “I’m willing to wager you’re fairly adroit.”

At Luna’s words, Ink’s face flushed pink. She snorted.

“I...umm...haha, I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“My question—the violinist thing. I guess I want to know if it’s worth putting all that effort into it. You know, especially if journalism is what I’m meant to do. Got a cutie mark of a pen and notepad, don’t I? Seems pointless to practice anything else.”

That tone in her voice, the weary-yet-resolute slump in her shoulders. Luna could tell Ink was repeating arguments she’d played through her mind several times before. She had a hard time finding the right reply; re-discovering one’s purpose was more in the realm of her sister’s expertise.

“You don’t enjoy your work? Off the record, of course,” she added with a wink.

Ink chuckled. “No, I do. Been writing since I was a filly. I knew I wanted to write, and then my uncle showed me the violin, and I knew I wanted to do that, too.”

“No reason you can’t do both.”

Ink nodded, staring down at the table, hesitating over a question which Luna encouraged her to verbalize. She was somewhat relieved that the conversation had shifted away from visions and prophecies. She felt pleased that Ink seemed to be so comfortable sharing these thoughts with her, though she kept apologizing for her words. That was slightly troubling.

“Let me know if this question is too sensitive for you…”

Luna put the back of her hoof to her forehead. “I’m already fainting at the thought.”

They both chuckled. Ink cleared her throat and continued.

“So, I’m just curious, did you ever want to do anything besides raise the moon?”

Luna made a mock-gasp, then smiled.

“Yes, as a matter of fact. You might say I’m doing it right now, actually.”

“Being interviewed?”

“Not exactly.” Luna snorted and covered her muzzle with her hoof. “A thousand years without equine contact of any kind is...well, it’s unpleasant, first of all. Nopony to talk to but myself—and the conversation became stale very fast, believe me! Why, even if I hadn’t returned to a new millennium, I’d still struggle to relearn the basics of polite conversation. Ponies thought I was a myth for a long time, then poof! Suddenly I’m real!”

“I understand. And it hasn’t been easy for this myth to reconnect with her fellow ponies, correct?”

Luna nodded. “Something like that, yes.”

“Would you mind if I wrote this down?”

“Not at all.”

Luna watched Ink retrieve her pencil and scribble “lonely myth” on her notepad. She thought that phrase sounded remarkably appropriate, if somewhat haunting.

The interview lasted a little while longer, after Luna declared that this had been one of the most pleasant interviews she’d ever experienced, and that at their present pace a second latte might be in order. This time the journalist joined her, bashfully admitting that she didn’t drink coffee very often because it made her talkative.

Knowing this, Luna wished she had gotten Ink a coffee much sooner.

***