• 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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Nighty Night

A full moon shined above as I entered the Everfree Forest. I didn't want to return, but it was either this or to snatch more livestock. I'd rather not deal with that again. The memories from earlier were still fresh on my mind. I thanked my lucky stars that no one heard my stomach's reaction to the sight of Charlotte. It wasn't the body itself that made me hungry, it was the thought of feeding.

I stuck to hiding in the underbrush around the bases of the trees and moved slowly to avoid making any sound. This came naturally to me, as if a hunting instinct had been forced into me. Sadly, it probably was. At this point, nothing new should come as a surprise to me, but it still did.

I stopped and waited for any sign of prey. Outside of the sounds of insects – crickets mostly – there weren't any noises. I sniffed the air. Aha, there was something around. The scent of fresh blood tugged at my nose, begging me to follow. Sticking to what my instincts told me, I held myself back from going into a sprint, and silently skulked amongst the brush of the forest floor.

I came to small clearing roughly a hundred paces from where I was, but this prey was already taken. Standing over a fallen deer was a monstrous manticore. The towering beast had ripped open its victim, carelessly leaving blood every. The scent nearly overwhelmed me, and it was tempting – oh so tempting – to try to steal its prey. However, I didn't trust my magic when I was hungry, and I'd rather not have that mountain of muscle and claws coming after me. I pried myself from the scene, heading back into the denser parts of the forest.

I caught the scent of a new prey, dead ahead. Crouching low, I got closer, and could start making out the sounds of a squirrel. I saw it when I peeked around a tree. The creature was digging at the ground, either burying a nut or retrieving one. It was hard to tell from this angle. While I wouldn't have trusted my magic against a manticore, I knew it could handle a rodent. I focused on it and grabbed it, surrounding the squirrel in my spell.

It squeaked loudly in fear, flailing about, trying to escape, but it was already too late. I reeled in my catch, bringing it to within an inch of me. “Dear Celestia, please forgive me for this,” I mumbled before sinking my fangs into it, and was rewarded with the taste of its life blood. It was like sweet nectar to me.

It felt like every doubt I had about feeding faded as I reveled in its taste. The squirrel's movement stopped, and soon, so did its flow of blood. This wasn't enough. Not even close.

***

After ending the lives of a few more innocent woodland critters, I started heading back for Ponyville. This hunting trip had been a bust. Not a single one prey I caught – a couple more squirrels and a gopher – had enough blood to satisfy me. At this rate, I would have to live off little snacks and hope I didn’t snap from hunger... again. On a different note, when did I start calling animals prey? Technically, I suppose that's an accurate description, but it still feels unusual to actually use it that way. Ugh, I'm still hungry.

Hm, maybe going back to deal with that beast would be for the best. My magic should be reliable enough now. Still, one mess up and I'll end up as the snack. It probably isn't really worth the risk. I don't know what I'm going to do about feeding at this rate–

Cluck.

What was that? I stood perfectly still, except for my ears that moved to and fro, scanning for any sounds...

Cluck.

It was closer this time. I dove into some nearby brush, and did my best to stay hidden. The chicken clucked a few more times, each was closer than the last. This still wouldn't be that big of a meal, but it would easily be bigger than any of my earlier snacks. If nothing else, this would buy me a bit more more time to find a steady supply.

Subduing it was simple enough. As it passed by, I jumped out and pinned the fat bird to the ground, wasting no time before biting into it. It clucked a few more times, each getting more pitiful before its life ended.

“Elizabeak?” came a small, whimpering voice.

No. This is exactly what I was trying to avoid! I let go and hid again. Sure enough a yellow and pink pony soon came into sight, hovering a foot or so above the ground.

“Elizabeak?” she called out again. Her eyes landed on the bird, and went wide. “Elizabeak!” She fluttered up to the chicken, and nudged it. “Oh no. Please, don't be...” Tears fell from her eyes, and soon after, they started falling from mine. It was all I could do to not just walk up to her and tell her what happened. I am so sorry Fluttershy. If I knew it was one of yours, I wouldn't have dreamed of doing this.

She looked closer and gasped, likely finding my bite mark. Damn. Could this get any worse?

Crack.

She took off in a blur, screaming her head off. I lifted my hoof and looked at the culprit: a twig. After what happened to Charlotte, if they weren’t wary before, they would be now. I could just see the type of panic the town would go into. A new terror from the Everfree Forest is attacking pets. Will ponies be next? The horror. The Horror!

On that line of thought, why were Elizabeak and Fluttershy so deep in the forest? Unless... I had done something extremely stupid. I ran in the same direction that Fluttershy flew off in, and within minutes, I came the edge of the forest, and the beginning of Fluttershy's yard. At some point during my hunt, I had gotten turned around and headed towards Fluttershy's house. If that's what happened, then I'd bet some of my other prey were her animals too. Actually, knowing my luck, I could guarantee that they were.

The tears came back, growing in quantity by the second, followed by whimpering, as I collapsed to the ground, crying into my hooves. Why couldn't anything go right for me? I tried to do this the right way and hunt away from everypony. I did this to protect them. Yet, it still went wrong. Of course it'd go wrong. Ever since that night, I couldn’t have anything work out for me.

I just want to be normal again.

***

I lied alone in my room, my face buried in a pillow. Part of me wished I could just stay that way forever, by myself where I wouldn't hurt anypony. Applejack might have forgiven me, if she ever found out. Fluttershy, not so much. To her, her animals were family. I might as well have killed her little sister.

A knock came from the door. “Spike, I said I didn't feel like talking about it.”

I heard it crack open, but I didn't bother looking up. “Twilight, are you sure? I have a suggestion.”

“If that suggestion isn't an easy way of getting food, then I don't care right now.” My stomach gurgled a bit. Animal blood just wasn't enough, especially from such small ones. If they weren't enough, then... I really didn't want to finish that thought.

“I think you should tell someone else about this. Maybe someone that could really help.” Even though the door had opened, I didn't hear him actually come into the room. Can't say I blame him for keeping his distance. I hadn't washed my face yet and I wouldn't be shocked if I had some evidence of my activities around my mouth.

“Who could I tell that would be able to help and isn't Princess Celestia?” I raised up from my stupor and turned to him. “Oh! And wouldn't freak out and try to put a stake in my heart!” I knew I shouldn't yell at him, but I wasn't exactly in a good mood at the moment.

“Well, there's Princess Cadance. She'd never try to hurt you, and has that giant library in the Crystal Empire to help with your research.”

I tilted my head to the side, and twitched my ear in confusion. “Ca-dance?”

He took a step back. “Twilight, that's not ok to joke about.”

Great. This day apparently wasn't already bad enough, now I was going to have another piece of evidence showing that my mind was slipping away. “Spike, I don't remember that name.”

“Pink alicorn, long mane, a bit taller than you. Ring any bells?”

I shook my head. “How bad is it that I don't.”

“Twilight, she was like a big sister to you when you were growing up. In fact, Cadance is your sister now that she's married to your brother.”

“Shining got married?” Bad bad bad bad. I started hyperventilating. “Just how much have I forgotten...” I whimpered before burying my head back into the pillow again. I was losing my mind, that's all there was to it. Nothing felt right anymore. I was thinking differently, acting differently, and now I was completely forgetting ponies that were supposed to be important in my life.

I felt the bed shift as Spike hopped up onto it and hugged me as I sobbed into the pillow. “Spike, I don't know how much longer I can go on like this. It's getting worse everyday. It's only a matter of time before I attack somepony.” The doppelganger in my dream was right, I am nothing but a monster now.

“We'll figure something out. Just, try to relax. Maybe you should stay in today and try not to think about it.”

I took a moment to calm down. It wasn’t by much, but I was able to stop the tears. “Fine. If anyone shows up, could you tell them that I'm not feeling well?”

He nodded. “Though first, we should probably get you cleaned up a bit.”

“Is it that bad?”

“Actually, not really. Just that your hooves are really dirty and we probably don't want people thinking you've been somewhere.”

Got to give him credit, that was a smart bit of thinking.

***

I was just starting to get calm when I heard the door downstairs open up. After a moment, I there was a gasp and a pony running up the stairs, followed by a knock at the door. I gave you one job Spike, one job.

“Twilight?” came a small voice. Of course it was Fluttershy. Who else would it be? Though, at least I didn’t forget her too. Good job brain, you didn't forget another pony that I'm close to.

With a grunt I reached out with my magic and opened the door. “Hi Fluttershy.”

She rushed into the room to my side and started rubbing my back. “You poor thing. Spike told me that you were sick. It isn't because of what happened in the forest is it?” she asked.

Yes. “I don't know.” How can she be doing this? She just had to deal with a scary monster during the night. “Are you ok?”

“Oh...” She backed up a bit. “I did have to deal with something scary last night. Elizabeak got loose again and...” She sniffled. “I think the same predator that got Charlotte got her too. I told Applejack about it and she said she'd talk to Dash. The two of them will talk to the other ponies and warn them to be extra careful around the forest from now on.” She sniffled again. “But then I came here to talk to you and Spike told me that you're sick. I-I'll stay to help you, alright?”

Was she afraid to go home? Or was she focusing on me as a way to ignore what happened? Well, if it'll make her feel better... “If that's what you want. I haven't eaten yet, and Spike is busy doing an errand for me. Isn't that right Spike?” He nodded.

“Some nice hot soup would be perfect for you,” she said.

“While you're taking care of Twilight, I have some library type stuff to do for her.” With that, he was off, scurrying down the stairs. Not exactly the greatest excuse I've ever heard, but Fluttershy bought it. She followed him downstairs, leaving me alone again.

It was only minutes later when Fluttershy returned with the promised bowl of hot, steamy soup. Not sure what it was, but it smelled good enough. “Thanks.”

“Is there anything else you need? Anything at all?” There was a slight pleading quality to her voice.

I sat up and hovered the soup over to me. “Hey Fluttershy, did you see the monster last night?”

She shook her head, and hid behind her mane. “No. I didn't see whatever it was, I only heard it. The really scary part was that it was right near me. Do you think it's dangerous to ponies?”

“I wish I knew.” I quickly went through the meal Fluttershy made for me. It may not of been filling, but the warmth of it was soothing. “Hey Fluttershy?” She perked up, coming out from behind her mane. “Listen, you should probably check on how Rainbow and Applejack are doing. You know how Rainbow can get, and she might start scaring ponies, making this monster sound worse than it is.”

“What about you?”

“I'll be fine. I just need to stay in bed for the day, maybe catch up on some reading.”

“Oh, alright. I'll come back later to check on you again.”

I nodded in response.

She grabbed the bowl before leaving my room, and it didn't take long to hear her leave the library. That was far more awkward than I would have liked, but at least I got her out of my mane for now. I shook off some of the feelings of guilt and hopped down from my bed. I needed to get Spike to help me collect some more books for my research.

I headed downstairs just in time to see a green flash. I stopped, frozen in shock. That was his fire, it had to be. Who would he sending a letter to... Oh no. No no no. I bounded down the rest of the steps, skipping most of them as I leap down from the staircase, my hooves hitting the floor with a heavy clop.

How could he? He promised not to tell anyone. He lied to me. And yes, I recognize the hypocrisy, but I thought I could trust him.

I skidded around the the corner into the main room to see him standing there – now staring at me with large, worried eyes. I lowered myself into a predatory stance, and drew closer. “Spike,” I growled. “What was in that letter and who did you send it to?” My voice sounded a good bit lower than normal, and likely far more intimidating.

“Twilight, wait, hear me out. Please.” He backed up, before tripping over his tail and landing on his back. In an instant I was on top of him, my front hooves by his shoulders, and I stared down at him.

“Spike! Tell. Me. Now.”

“Princess Luna!” he cried out, covering his face.

“Luna?”

“You... you remember her right?”

“Yes, I remember who Luna is.”

“Ok, well, I figured that she had the same access to private parts of the royal archives as Celestia, and she knows what it's like to –“

“Be a monster?”

“I wasn't going to say it like that.”

“But it's what you were thinking. Spike, how could you?” I punctuated that question with another growl. It felt like my fangs were fully showing, though I couldn't be sure, I still haven't gotten used to the feeling of them.

“Because look at you. You're changing Twilight. You need help. The Twilight I know wouldn't be growling at me, and she would never forget Cadance. Twilight, you need help or you're going to do something really bad.”

I took a moment to stop and focus on my breathing, pushing out my anger with each exhale. I concentrated: in and out, in and out. “...sorry,” I mumbled before stepping away and helping up the baby dragon. “Y-you're right. I do need help, but what if she decides to lock me up or something? What if she tells Celestia? What if... What if a lot of things.” There was so much that could go wrong here, granted a lot has already gone wrong.

“I'm sure she won't do anything rash. Princess Luna is your friend, and she isn't going to try to hurt you.”

“I'll try to re–“ I was cut off by Spike's belch, and out popped a scroll. He quickly unrolled it and looked it over, then he turned it towards me.

Luna always had a love for proper aesthetics. She was regal, mysterious, and had a flair for all things macabre, which is what one would expect from the ruler of the night. However, the writing on this note had none of her normal grace, nor did it even have her signature. If it wasn't from her official stationary, I probably wouldn't even be able to tell who it was. Scratched onto the scroll in large print, obviously hurriedly written was:

Go to sleep!

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