• Published 23rd Dec 2012
  • 3,491 Views, 69 Comments

Remnant of a Nightmare - Rainedash



Twilight learns that some secrets of the past are best left undisturbed.

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Hello me, it's me again.

Vampires.

I must confess that I haven't ever given them much thought, despite their popularity among some. The supernatural in general has never been an interest of mine, not when there were far more thrilling real things to study. Now, that may come back to haunt me. I would go on to spend most of that evening studying the reference guide, and some of the famous stories it mentioned.

As for the legends and stories, it seemed like no one could figure out what vampires were actually supposed to be. Depending on the author or culture, they could be anything from brooding intellectuals, to bloodthirsty savages, or self-hating, cursed ponies. Their habits – how they fed, how much blood they needed, their reactions to daylight, and ability to transform – were also highly disputed. It felt as though you could read a hundred stories and get a hundred different answers of what a vampire was. Then, of course, there were the methods of one being turned, assuming you weren't born as one. Mine was rare. Sure, the occasional author would use magic as some contrived plot device to turn the unsuspecting protagonist into a creature of the night, but from what I've read, the most common way for vampirism to spread was through biting. Once in awhile it would also be through biting and forcing the victim to drink a bit of their own or the vampire's blood.

Beyond all the differences, there were two major motifs that stretched across all the stories; neither of which settled well with me. The first was that, no matter how hard they may try to disprove it, a vampire was not a regular pony, and would always be alienated from others. Part of me already knew this. I felt it when I spent the day with Rarity, that invisible wall between us. The one I could not cross simply because I would never be able to be fully honest with her, or my other friends. That was not an option right now as far as I was concerned. Even if I could tell them, this was something they couldn't understand without experiencing it first hoof, and I wasn't going to test my supposedly infected bite just to have company. Even at my worst, I'm better than that.

The second of the two true rules of vampirism was the one that forced me to hold back a tear, and it was the one to make me stop reading for the night: vampires had to feed, no exceptions. To no surprise, the result of not feeding was something that no two stories agreed upon, but I didn't need a story to tell what would happen. The memory of that night – or rather the lack of memory – was enough of a lesson. I wasn't going to let that happen again.

My eye twitched at the thought. It had never been this easy to make it do that before. I growled and held it shut, going so far as to put my hoof over it to stop any movement.

“Twilight?”

“What?!?” I turned around and faced Spike, who was now backing away timidly. Good job Twilight, yell at the one person that knew, and was trying to help. I sighed and counted backwards, a trick that Shining had taught me when I was young. “Spike, I'm sorry.” I made sure not to let any of my worry or tension slip through this time, though I doubted that he bought the facade. “Now, what is it?”

“Twilight, you've been looking over those books for hours without saying anything.”

“How long?”

“6 hours.”

Funny, it only felt like two. I looked out my window, seeing that the sun had long since gone down. All the light in here was coming from candles that Spike lit.

“Maybe you should get some rest.”

A yawn escaped me on the word rest.

“See. You do need to rest.”

He was right. “I can't.” Just because he was right, didn't mean I was going to stop now. “I’ve only just begun to understand vampirism, but it still doesn't answer any of my questions on how I got to be this way.” All the spells mentioned in these books were done directly, not just some old trap waiting to be sprung. It did make me question why the pony behind this would choose a vampire as the end result of their spell, but I doubted they'd still be around to ask.

“No excuses. Trust me, I've seen you do this a million times. When you get yourself worked up, you don't think straight, and it always leads to trouble.”

His point was well made, but... I was just going to keep making excuses, wasn't I? Had I learned nothing from the spa trip? “Alright Spike. Could you pull out any books on transformation spells while I'm asleep?”

He rolled his eyes. “More busy work...”

“Spike, I'm serious. Those books better be waiting for me when I wake up.”

“Don't worry about it. Since when have I ever let you down?”

In truth, he hasn't; at least not when it was something important. I yawned again, and headed upstairs to bed. There was finally a word to go with what I had become, and with that was a small lead. With any luck, the end of my nightmare could be coming soon.

***

I was back in the Everfree Forest, looking into that shield spell again. The cold air hung heavily around me with no trace of wind. No stars shined above, nor moon for that matter. The forest around me was dark, silent, and empty. Rather than the perfect illusion it was before, I saw waves of energy rippling through the shield, and an ethereal blue aura radiated from it. Without it there wouldn't have been any light at all.

After a moment, all the ripples and waves converged on a single spot directly in front of me, from which I saw a head emerging from the magical barrier. At first, only the muzzle poked through, showing that she was a mare. I tried to move, to run, to do anything, but my hooves were sealed to the ground below me. No matter how much I pulled at them they wouldn't move from their spot. I looked back at the mare and found myself growing more afraid of her by the second. Something about her presence terrified me to my core. I desperately tried to pull at my hooves again, but it was in vain. More of the phantom mare came through. Her pupils were slits, and despite the dim light, I could see the ends of her fangs poking out of her mouth. Most disturbingly – the part that made me stop struggling, I was too shocked to move – was her pale, purple fur and triple toned mane, just like mine. Finally, my doppelganger broke free of the spell, and took her first step towards me.

This couldn't be real, she couldn't be real.

“Oh, can't I?” In contrast to the monster's appearance, she spoke in a tone that one would use with a friend over lunch. There was no harshness to her voice. “And yes, I know what you're thinking.”

“W-what are you?”

The monster mare continued to come closer. “So, I'm a monster am I? Is that what you really think of yourself?”

“Myself? You aren't me. You're a monster pretending to be me.”

“You're that blind that you can't see the truth staring you in the face. Yes, I am you. I'm the part that you fear, but in time you'll learn to embrace me.” She was close now, right in front of me, looking me in the eyes. The monster reached out, placing her hoof on my stomach, and the second it made contact my stomach growled in hunger. In that moment, the desire to feed came back in full force. I caught myself licking my lips at the idea of getting more blood.

“That pig won't last us forever, and you know what will happen if you try not to feed again.”

Tears rolled down my eyes. “Why are you doing this?”

“The question is, why are you doing this to yourself?”

“You're not me. I'm not a monster.”

“You can lie to Spike, you can lie to your friends, but you can't lie to yourself. Go ahead, admit what you are – who you are.”

Tap!

My eyes snapped open, and the ceiling came into focus. A dream. It was just a dream. I brought my hoof to my cheeks and felt my tears. Afterward, my stomach growled again. That monster had been right about one thing – I would need to feed again soon. Charlotte had only sustained me for a day or so, though I couldn't be certain how much I drank from her. I would need to keep track of the exact amount next time, and what species it was from.

My thoughts stopped in a sudden horrible realization: I was thinking about feeding in a purely clinical sense now. There wasn't any real emotion – most importantly, not disgust – in the thought of drinking another's blood. Was I going to become like her?

Tap, tap, tap.

I looked over to my window, seeing an impatient Rainbow Dash tapping at it. What now? After drying my eyes with the blanket, I hopped down off my bed and meandered to the window, having neither the energy nor desire to go faster.

“Come on Twilight, open the window already.”

“I have a door, you know.” I flipped the lock, and cracked open the window. She flung it open the rest of the way and shot in, hovering maybe an inch from my face.

“Wow Twilight, you look horrible.”

“Bad dream. So, what's up Rainbow?” I rasped, my throat a bit dry from just waking up.

“Well, Applejack found her missing pig.”

I gulped, and that small twitch returned to my eye. “Oh?” This could be bad. This was bad. If I had left any evidence, the others might be able to link it back to me.

She started looking around out the window, and spoke quickly, “Yeah, and she wanted me to grab you and Fluttershy. Said that there was something weird about it, and she figured you guys might be able to help her sort it out.”

Twitch. “Weird? Um, did she give any details.”

“No.” She rapidly tapped her hoof on the floor. “Twilight, I want to find out what it is too, so could we hurry this up?”

“Can I at least have a moment to freshen up?” I needed a second to collect myself after that dream before going out.

“Fine, I'll get Fluttershy and be back here in about five minutes. Be ready.”

She left in a blur, impatient as always. I took my moment alone to check myself in the bathroom mirror. My mane was a mess, which had to be expected. Thinking about the image of those vampires and that monster in my dream, I opened my mouth wide and sure enough there were a pair of fangs. They seemed smaller than the ones from my dream. Touching one with my hoof, it grew out to twice its former length. Small correction, they’re retractable fangs. With a bit of practice, I could probably control them. I groaned. “Great, one more thing that I have to hide,” I thought out loud to the empty room.

My thoughts went back to that other me in my dream, and the way she spoke about feeding. She talked about it as though it was the simplest thing to drink blood from another. There was almost happiness in her voice when she spoke about it. I might have to do some things that I won't be proud of, but I won't be like her. I won't take pleasure in it, or treat as if it were no big deal.

***

I was not even given the full five minutes before Dash had come back with Fluttershy. The three of us walked up the old dirt road to Sweet Apple Acres. Rainbow Dash took the lead while Fluttershy and I walked shoulder to shoulder behind her. Fluttershy was shivering, even though it wasn't cold out.

“Dash?” she asked.

“For the last time Fluttershy, I don't know why she wanted you and Twilight to come out here so badly. She just told me that she found her sow and to get you two quickly.”

“Is it really dead?”

“Well, here's AJ. You can ask her for yourself.”

Sure enough, Applejack was waiting for us in front of her home. The normally rowdy cowpony looked subdued, and it seemed like she had less color to her. “Oh, um, howdy you three. Glad you could come on such short notice.”

If we couldn't, Rainbow would have probably dragged us here anyways. “It's no problem Applejack, but I'm not sure what I could help you with.”

“Well, ya see, ah found these really weird bite marks on Charlotte. Ah've had timber wolves occasionally get one of our livestock. Same goes for other creatures wanderin' out from the Everfree Forest, but these marks ain't like anything ah've seen before. Ah was hoping you two could help me figure it out.”

Fluttershy, now hiding behind her mane, spoke up. Well, it was more of a whisper, “D-do we have to?”

“Ah know you don't want to sugarcube, but you know more about critters than the rest of us combined,” urged Applejack.

Rainbow gave Fluttershy a friendly pat on the shoulder. “Yeah. Between you and the egghead, we'll have this solved in no time.”

If I was actually helping, it'd already be solved. I had to think of a way to look like I was helping, without letting them know it was me. Why did this have to be so difficult?

“A-alright,” she agreed.

Fluttershy was going to know that those bites aren't from a wild animal. I knew she would. This was getting worse by the second, but there wasn't anything I could do that wouldn't draw attention.

“Ah'll show ya'll the way. Follow me.” She led us around back, and we began making our way through the orchard. Along the way, I started noticing a trail of bent grass, and broken flowers. Obviously, something was dragged through here, and it was heavy. I looked over to see that Fluttershy had spotted this as well.

Apparently, she must have noticed me looking at it too. “It's not uncommon for predators to carry their prey to a safer location, but to carry a full grown sow... This must have been a very – ” she gulped; “Big predator.”

We remained silent for the rest of the way, none of us had much to say. My eyes never left the trail that that was made. A big predator? I'm not sure how I could have drug her this far on my own, and with my magic at such a low strength. Desperation must have been enough to give me the strength I needed.

We turned a corner, and there she was, laying behind a tree on the edge of the orchard. Her body had no color to it, and there was an aroma of meat that had likely just started rotting.

“This doesn't make any sense,” said Fluttershy.

Right away she picked up on some noticeable tells that this wasn't a wild animal attack.

“There's, um, no blood.” Not a single drop was on the tree or the surrounding grass. She continued as I took a closer look at Charlotte.

“And it didn't eat any of her.”

Sure enough, there were a pair of holes in Charlotte's neck. It wouldn't take much for me to seal them shut, and make it look like they were never there, but Applejack had already seen them. If I did it now, it'd only look suspicious.

“Did you find anything, Twilight?”

“Um, yeah. Here's the bite marks.”

She came over and looked at them. “I haven't seen any bite marks like those before.”

As I continued looking at the corpse, my stomach growled again. There was no avoiding it, I'd need to feed again tonight.

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