• Published 28th Oct 2012
  • 2,662 Views, 108 Comments

What The Night Remembers - TCSNxs



After a successful festival for Nightmare Night, Luna comes to terms with a pony she feels a longing for, both in the past and in the present. What happens when she realizes she isn't just waxing nostalgia?

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8. A Moonlit Night

What The Night Remembers
By: TCSNxs

Chapter Eight
A Moonlit Night

It has often been said the truth shall set a pony free.
While it is true to some extent, the journey to arrive
at that destination is often difficult when filled with doubt
that those we cherish will understand those hidden truths
of ourselves. But when everything you see is inert, when
the reality you have feels like nothing but a continual painting,
eventually you would bleed just to know you're alive.
~ Excerpt from Labordeaux's "The Canticle: How To Live"

The next few hours passed by without much incident. Applejack fumbled about the telescope, turning the knobs and such to her satisfaction. Luna was furiously scribbling notes in her journal regarding her hypotheses. Though Celestia built the observatory to keep watch the the distant celestial bodies (and to keep an eye on her sister's "home" during her more morbid cycles during Luna's banishment), Luna adopted it as a place of repose and magical experimentation when she felt the need.

So it should go without saying that Starswirl's assumptions regarding the magic of earth ponies being directly linked to their spirit is indeed plausible, if not outright correct. The experiences and revelations my friend has unknowingly stumbled upon does bring to light some interesting questions. To date, only alicorns and unicorns were thought to be inclined to willful manifestations of the arcane. But what if, given the right conditions, earth ponies could perform similar feats?

Luna looked over to Applejack, who was peering through the eye piece. The farmer's hoof was turning a knob, adjusting the length of the finely honed lenses. Luna shook her head. It took her weeks to get the adjustments perfect for a visual image of the Terran system and odds are she turned it towards Ponyville.

"Having fun, dear Applejack?" Luna called out to the studious farmer.

"Uh huh," Applejack answered, her tongue sticking out slightly as she reached for another knob. In the space of time since she began playing with it, the farmer had a rough idea of how the magnifying device worked.

"Find any signs of life on other worlds?"

"Nope," Applejack answered absently, her head rolling back ever so slightly with the eye piece.

"You've pointed it towards Ponyville, haven't you," Luna stated more then asked.

"Mmm hmm," the farmer seemed to be studying a few points of the distant town intensely.

"What is it you are hoping to find then?" Luna asked.

"Evidence."

"Of what?" Luna said as set her quill down.

"Blackmail," Applejack absently replied.

"Well, should you find some, would you be kind enough to let me know?"

"Eeyup," the farmer peaked through the finderscope before resuming her surveillance.

Luna expression remained blank, but her eyes sparkled none the less. Luna called forth her magic again and continued scratching out her thoughts into the journal. The pleather outfit was chaffing a bit, but she persevered.

The study and science of magic is interesting because mistakes have often led to the greatest discoveries in the arcane. Given my latest accident and the discovery regarding a link between earth ponies and Astral manipulations, it does seem possible my accident could open up new avenues in magical research. Assuming that my friend is a willing participant, of course. It also remains to be seen whether or not time is a critical factor.

Applejack sighed as she turned the telescope upward towards the heavens. Luna assumed her friends would be free of extortion for now as the farmer adjusted the length of the device again. The Lunar Regent grinned a bit as she willed her magic into being. The telescope had been enchanted to peer upon the sun or moon when either was at rest should either alicorn wish it. The telescope itself took on a silver glow as Applejack pulled her head back from the eye piece in a start. The farmer blinked again and resumed her studies with interest when as Luna continued jotting down her thoughts.

The remaining questions should sort themselves out with time. There are, as yet, too many variables to factor out before coming to any conclusion. But if my hunch holds true, this maybe a discover that could hold profound implications for how we term "magically inclined".

"Luna," Applejack asked, drawing her eye away from the eye piece of the large telescope.

"Yes?" Luna asked, looking up from the journal of magical notes she was writing.

"Why's the moon winking at me?"

Luna felt an explosion of butterflies in her stomach as she rose. Somehow, her dark cyan fur grew paler as she trotted over to the large telescope. Looking through the finderscope, she saw her moon as plain as she knew it. A glimpse through the eye piece saw the focus square upon the outline. Where ponies knew the vague outline of the lunar body as a canvas for her whimsical notions of the moment, the shadows were moving a bit. A few circular holes were seen on horn and one of the eyes of the outline had indeed seemingly winked. Luna dreaded the thought, but given all that had transpired, she would not take chances. On pure instinct, she began calling forth her magic.

Had the Lunar Regent remained a split second more at the eye piece, she could have seen such was a trick of shadows and craters. But given the implications of earlier actions a few years ago and the connection a certain earth pony had, Luna was relying on pure, primal intuition.

"Fair Applejack," Luna said, "I shall apologize for this later."

Before the farmer could inquiry as to what was happening, her vision of the observatory was stolen by a burst of silver light. Applejack quickly closed her eyes while a wave of sensation seemingly burst over her, seemingly hitting every nerve about her body. Where the farmer had feared for second she would go back to dreamland, she instead felt herself very much awake and very much convulsing due to the feeling of titillation coursing through her body.

The farmer felt herself suspended as her body jerked as the tickling energy coursed over and through her, exciting her nerves. As the light died away, the farmer found herself recovering her breath while the Lunar Regent's horn still glowed. Luna's neck craned down as she eyed the farmer, muscles taut and magic at the ready.

"What...what was that for?" Applejack asked between breaths, glaring at the princess.

"I needed to be sure of something," Luna said softly, willing her horn to die away. The pleather dress groaned against the shifting of her body to a more relaxed posture. Applejack found her footing again as the princess let her down.

"Of what?" Applejack asked, adjusting her Stetson and her dignity.

"That your connection to the moon was still active," was all Luna offered.

"You know Ah can tell when your lying, right?" Applejack said, her eyes steady from underneath the worn hat.

"...Yes," Luna said after a moment.

"Then ya better get to talking," Applejack remarked. She worked her away around the desk to where Luna dropped her quill. Seizing it in her teeth, she locked onto the princess with her eyes, honing in as she stalked the alicorn deliberately. The farmer distinctly remember the kernel of truth regarding felling alicorns with feathers and decided to put it to the test.

"Applejack...please, don't do this," Luna backed away a few steps. Of course, Luna knew she could fly up or simple transport away from the apparently vindictive farmer, but something within the mind of the alicorn did not present those options. She had little chance anyway, As she stepped back, one of the red heels on her rear hoofs caught the edge of the couch. The alicorn was tripped backwards with a great flourish. Applejack seized upon her opening and pounced the alicorn as her dog Winona would a rabbit.

~(o)~

Silverhawk and Storm Wind were making rounds throughout the castle prior to assuming post. The two were friends and hung together quite a bit while off duty. Of course, Storm Wind was always the quiet type, which suited the talkative Silverhawk fine. In a lot of ways, they were perfectly suited as hetero lifemates. While on duty and in the presence of their charges, they were the living embodiment of Equestrian Military protocol. Off duty, there was a enough cider had between the two to serve a Las Pegasus party.

While turning a corner, a Private from the Royal Guard approached the two leaders of the Lunar Guard in a near panic. As the Private approached, he was out of breath, but minded his rank as he snapped a salute towards the grizzled Lieutenant and Sergeant Major, respectively.

"Sirs," the newly minted Royal Guard spoke, "I believe Princess...Luna is...under attack!"

"How so, Private," Silverhawk immediately bellowed, his eyes blazing with intensity, "Speak!"

"I observed...Lady Applejack and...Princess Luna...entering into observatory...and..."

"Resume your post, Private," Silverhawk interrupted as if in dismissal, "and disregard what you may have seen or heard."

"But Sir, Princess Luna was screaming for help!" the Private spoke with as much defiance as he could muster, the unexpected nature of the superior officers response snapping him from his need of breath.

"Are you deaf, Private?" the veteran Silverhawk tore into the Private, "Or has the Royal Guard lowered their standard to fulfill an imbecile quota? Are we an Equal Opportunity Military now?"

"No Sir!" the Private answered as a second.

"Then perhaps you have problems following orders," Silverhawk yelled, never breaking his gaze, "Did mommy and daddy not give you enough love as a foal? Are you acting out of some sense of rebellion?"

"No Sir!"

"Then resume your post!" Silverhawk glared into the Private's eyes as if mocking his entire existence, "Now!"

The Private held his position for only a second more before snapping another salute and moving to return to his post by the observatory. Silverhawk and Storm Wind resumed their stroll down the halls on the far side of the castle from Luna's private abode. The Sergeant Major turned to his partner, giving him an inquisitive look.

"What?" Silverhawk looked to Storm Wind, "You got the memo."

Storm Wind paused. Silverhawk advanced a few more steps before stopping himself. He craned his neck behind, to see his partner grinning broadly, a hoof extended out in waiting.

"I'm not doing it," Silverhawk looked to his friend. Seeing the Sergeant Major nodding with a cheesy grin on his face. Sighing, Silverhawk looked around to be sure they were on their own before putting his own hoof out to meet his friend's.

"Snootches," the Head of the Lunar Guard said, "Now, can we go?"

Their hooffalls echoed down the corridors while various Lunar Guards set about relieving the Royal Guard at the various posts throughout the castle. The Lieutenant promised himself to limit their Neighties movie marathons while off duty.

~(o)~

Luna was absolutely certain the scene would be surreal should anypony have seen it. She bellowed, cried out for help, pleaded and threatened the rampaging farmer, but it seemed Applejack was haybent on her course. The alicorn was, all her goddess-like qualities, a creature of physical sensations. As such, when Applejack found her ribs and hips were especially sensitive areas, it ended of the alicorn's defiance.

The assault lasted for many minutes. The two somehow managed to move to the couch where the farmer kept Luna pinned while her head shook ever so softly along the Lunar Regent's ribcage. The pleather dress somehow became scrunched around Luna's abdomen, tangling with the chains in the process. The feathered end of the writing device pushed just deep enough past the fur to hit Luna's skin, sending titillating jolts to the alicorn's brain. The lunar alicorn's legs kicked involuntarily while she squirmed as her chortles echoed from the observatory and across the castle grounds.

"Talk!" Applejack said through gritted teeth, pausing only long enough to speak.

Luna, to her credit, lasted another few minutes before surrendering, "Alright!"

Applejack, as satisfied as with any victory she had ever achieved, maneuvered off the desperately recovering alicorn. Finding her Stetson that had long since been discarded, she propped it back upon her head with a little more bravado than she typical exhibited. Luna moved herself off the couch and stood slightly off-balance thanks to the one remaining heel. Her dress was still wrapped about her stomach. The Lunar Regent blew bit of her auroral mane away from her face.

~(o)~

"So you banished ol' Queen Cheese-Legs?" Applejack asked as the two were sharing a dinner. Luna intended to go over the story in short detail, but the exercise in brevity became a long dissertation as Applejack pressed the princess for details. Luna even went so far as the demonstrate with a tater tot and a few plates the gruesome thrashing she inflicted upon the Chrysalis.

"Perhaps 'banish' is the wrong word," Luna said while measuring her words carefully, "Such things imply the possibility of an unwillful return, as in my case. Imprisoned would be more appropriate."

"Possibility?"

"It should suffice to say that, should Chrysalis return, it will be by design. She will be by herself." Luna's face took on a very even look, "And it shall be as a practice dummy."

Applejack shuddered involuntarily. The entire tale reminded her of the sheer power her companion possessed.

"Then why did ya blast me with that magic?" The farmer asked after a moment.

"It was a Dispel spell. No pony under any magical guise could hold their form within its confines."

"And if Ah was Chrysalis?" the farmer asked.

"We would not be having this conversation and your consciousness would be floating in some rock orbiting Celestia's Sun," Luna said, the confidence clear in her voice.

The farmer was beginning to understand. Given Celestia moved the moon while Luna was imprisoned within it and Luna didn't escape until the prophecy governing her return was fulfilled, she figured there was more to celestial banishment then Luna would let on. But given the highly unique nature of Applejack's relationship with the body and how it came about, the farmer couldn't logically blame the princess for her actions.

Luna seemed to be digesting more then food while Applejack queried the moon, asking it who it was. The mental image of a cartoonish rabbit sporting a maniacal grin while pulling various levers and pushing buttons at an oversized console told Applejack all she needed to know. It was indeed comforting, if such confirmations ever had that effect. It made the mare smile all the same.

"Fair Applejack, this isn't something I wished known," Luna said in a soft voice as she looked down, "and I must apologize for doubting who you were."

There was an innocence to it, as if Luna were asking if her actions were okay. The moon itself fed the farmer feelings of doubt and confusion at the moment, with images of the Lunar Regent, sitting on a cloud underneath the threshold of the sky. The Lunar Regent's auroral mane seems less graceful while Applejack considered what she heard. Luna was asking for forgiveness for what she felt an awful transgression, both in the past and the present. The farmer knew that intrinsically

A part of her was stunned. Beyond that, the farmer wasn't sure she could rightly fault Luna. Where Chrysalis had bested Celestia, nearly taken over Canterlot, entrapped both Cadence and the Solar Regent, and intended to enslave the citizens of the realm as "batteries" for emotions, the farmer wasn't sure she would have done anything different. Not where family and friends were concerned.

"Sugarcube," Applejack moved from behind the table and slowly made her way towards her companion. Applejack put a hoof to her occasionally crazy friend's chin and pushed Luna's eyes even with hers, "Ya did what ya needed to do. Ain't nothin' wrong with that."

Luna kept her gaze even with the farmer as much passed between the two. Luna, for all her unbridled power over matters of law and magic, for all her eons of experience and accumulated knowledge, for everything she had ever accomplished, was helpless against the farmer's emerald eyes. In those silent moments, Luna's heart swelled with a warmth that was all too common when in the company of the farmer and nopony else. Luna never answered to anypony, except perhaps her sister. But here she was, asking forgiveness for actions she wasn't entirely sure were wrong.

Luna wondered if perhaps Applejack was working some form of magic. Luna opened up her arcane senses just then, hoping to detect something. There was nothing. Just the honesty of feelings she had almost forgotten. For all the frivolities of their time together, the Lunar Regent knew she cared more for the farmer then almost all other ponies. But she never understood the one question she had: Why?

It wasn't out of memory for Applejack's namesake, nor loyalty to the name itself. It wasn't because due to a lack of pretense she had with the farmer. It wasn't because of some misplaced sense of honor and duty to protect the Elements. All of it hit like a lightning strike on an apple tree.

She loved Applejack.

Luna finally managed to blink while she attempted to digest the revelation. Applejack pulled away a bit with a soft smile on her face. For the farmer, she was comforting a friend. For Luna, it was world breaking. It was then that Applejack's face burst with a sudden change from smile to dumbfounded expression.

"Luna," the farmer said softly.

"Y...yes," Luna answer, hopeful and fearful at the same time.

"Unless its pullin' my leg, Ah think its time to raise the moon," the farmer spoke. The image of an alarm clock ringing and dancing forced itself into her head. If celestial bodies could grin, Applejack could swear the moon was doing just that.

~(o)~

The two made their way to Luna's bedroom at a steady pace. Applejack offered a few lines of conversation, but with none of the usual playfulness coming from the Lunar Regent, the farmer let it go. The farmer thought she understood why. When she didn't to return to Ponyville after failing to make any bits to repair Town Hall, Applejack was solemn after the secret came to light. Granted, it wasn't exactly on par with Luna's, but sometimes a pony simply needed time to digest things.

The duo approached the double doors to Luna's abode where the Lunar Guard awaited them. Silverhawk and Storm Wind bowed silently as they approached. Where Luna was off in her own little world, Applejack smiled politely to the two guards as they passed. The doors closed behind them once they stepped through the doorway and moved directly to the balcony. Applejack fidgeted with her mental shield while the moon continued to ramble in visual incoherency. The farmer finally found an acceptable level of intrusion when they strode onto the balcony.

The chill air broke itself on the faces of the two while Canterlot's Weather Teams cleared the sky. The two held their pose for a moment like statues. Where the farmer expected some sort of aura or at least an acknowledgement of concentration, she only found the blank look on the Lunar Regent's face.

The farmer considered her options for a moment. Given the Lunar Regent's lack of response from her vocal cues, Applejack decided she needed to resort to drastic measures. There was still a job to do. It was was then that she removed her trademark Stetson with a forehoof. After backing up a step, the farmer tossed the hat spinning upwards. The farmer then reared up and caught it between her raised forehooves before giving it a mighty swing as a soldier would a sword. The leather edge connected solidly on Luna's haunch with enough force to make the chains jangle.

"Ow!" Luna blurted as her eyes formed perfect circles, her daze broken.

"Moon. Raise. Good," Applejack remarked as she set her Stetson back upon her head before coming down to all fours.

"Oh," Luna said with a cheesy grin. She quietly closed her eyes as her horn lit a few seconds later. The farmer watched it all as the moon seemingly approved of her actions. After a few moments, the moon peaked up while the sun seemed to gently work its way to slumber.

"Ya alright, sugarcube? Applejack asked as Luna opened her eyes, "Ya seemed checked out for a while there."

"I am," Luna answered, "I was just distracted."

"Ya don't say?"

"Fair Applejack, why do you mock me so?" Luna said, pursing her lips once again. It seemed that Luna was pasted her secret as her eyes resumed their usual luster.

"For two reasons. One: Like what that getup is advertising, you're easy," Applejack said as she turned back through the open balcony, "and two: it's fun."

"You like my dress and you know it," Luna said, strutting back into the room in such a way as to make her haunch sway like a boat caught in a gale.

"It might be better to say, you like it," Applejack said, parking herself in front of the fireplace and looking to the Lunar Regent, "Ah just went along with it."

"Many courts have found accomplices guilty for lesser words," Luna retorted as she willed her magic forth. A burst of flame licked at the wood as the fire took hold, "and in the eyes of the law, such things equate to condoning."

"Then why don't ya burn me at the stake?"

"Because, fair Applejack, you would be no more and I would be bored," Luna said while working her way free of the outfit, "And I'm not sure I could live with myself."

"Ah knew ya cared about me!" Applejack triumphantly said. She closed her eyes and pumped her hoof a bit as if in victory.

"I mean that I shall not suffer years of boredom for five minutes of pleasure," the regent said as she rolled her eyes, "Though I am sure Smoked Apple would fetch quite a price in the Griffon Kingdom."

"Ah hope Ah'd be expensive," Applejack said through a smile.

"Most delicacies are," Luna said with her eyes twinkling, "though they say common food has its own tastes that can never be replaced."

~(o)~

Applejack was as practiced a card player as anypony in Ponyville. Between the weekly games of Yokelahoma Hold 'Em and the occasional games of Go Fish with Apple Bloom and the rest of the Crusaders, she learned to hold her expression when it mattered the most. In fact, poker games between her and Macintosh were the source of legendary amounts of apathy. As such, when the telltale sign happened, she held her expression.

Through everything she had done and everything she had experienced, somethings she still had considered beyond the realm of possibilities. Since gaining control of the Element of Honesty, she had come to understand the degrees to which ponies forfeited the truth. Whenever she and Luna exchanged quips, those little signals in her mind fluctuated to any given degree. Even given some of the outright fibs, such as Luna only wanting Applejack's "fearful devotion" when they were making hay fries, had given a certain signals that the farmer knew as playful jest.

However, when Luna spoke of suffering years of boredom being her only reason for not roasting the farmer atop a pyre, the mental signals screamed at Applejack in a different light. The farmer held her composure with enough practiced control to give even the most grizzled veteran of the Royal Guard a run for their bits. The signal in her head was tantamount one of Pinkie's physical cues for "a whopper".

Applejack excused herself and hoofed over to the bathroom, more to think then need to find physical relief. The farmer looked into the mirror while water ran from the basin. She opened herself up more to the moon's connection. As those blocks lowered, the giggling at the edges of her mind grew more intense.

'Ya know something,' Applejack fed her thoughts to the lunar body, 'what is it?'

The moon itself fed back no images and no other emotions. Instead, the farmer felt her core grow warm and tingly. The farmer shook her head a bit and willed the connection to near closure. Something gnawed at Applejack. She looked into the tall mirror overlooking the ornate sink. Given everything that had happened to now, what would the night bring? Applejack and Luna agreed it were best that the farmer stay with Luna from there on out, if only to avoid more accusations of recreational drug use from Celestia.

Applejack splashed some water over her face and rubbed her eyes and cheeks gingerly. The farmer found herself looking for answers, but found only more questions.

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