• Published 3rd Feb 2013
  • 5,725 Views, 166 Comments

On the Line - TheBigBob

When Luna inhabits the dreams of a young filly in a coma, she takes it upon herself to save the child's life.

  • ...

A Cup of Tea

All across Equestria, ponies lay in their beds while images of anything and everything popped into their minds. Many ponies dreamed of love, riches, or adventure. However, some ponies found themselves locked in dark worlds of their own creation, where their innermost fears came to life. These worlds, from which there was no escape until sunrise, were called “nightmares."

However, one pony did not fear the night. Deep in the halls of Canterlot, an alicorn sat in the middle of a rug in her room. Her eyes were shut tight, and her horn glowed brightly. A blue aura surrounded her, and the energy from her magic caused her blue hair to continuously flow. In an instant, her horn stopped glowing, the aura faded, and her eyes opened.

The princess looked around her room. No matter how many times she cast the spell, she could never get used to the transition between the dream world and the real one. Moments ago, she was standing in the middle of an infinite-stretching road out in the forest, but now she was back in her home at Canterlot. She looked at the queen-sized bed against the wall. After spending a thousand cold years on the moon, the coziness of a bed seemed strange and unfamiliar to her. Not only that, but she had gotten used to having nothing around; aside from her bed, a mirror, a dresser, and the circular red rug she used to meditate, her room was completely bare.

Luna stood up, stretched her wings, and walked out of her room into the halls of Canterlot. The moonlight shone in through the windows, and her hoofsteps echoed in the empty hallway. At that time, most ponies would be preparing to go about their daily routine, including Luna's sister, Princess Celestia. Luna took a short walk to the kitchen, where she was sure her sister would be preparing the two of them some tea. As she walked, Luna pondered the strange beeping noise she heard just moments before. She thought it sounded familiar, but nothing came to mind. She pushed the idea to the back of her mind and entered the kitchen, where she saw her sister boiling some water on the stove.

“Good morning, Celestia!” Luna said. “Did you sleep well?”

Princess Celestia turned around and gave Luna a glare that would have turned most ponies to stone. Luna had learned a long time ago that her sister was not a morning pony, but considering how kind and patient she was during the day, it was easy to forget about this side of her. Celestia's normally beautiful pink and light-blue mane was a tangled mess. The feathers on her wings were ruffled from being slept on for the past several hours, and her white fur was in desperate need of grooming. Before Celestia could head out for her royal duties that day, a team of stylists would have to make her presentable. At the moment, she was only concerned about a single thing.

“Morning,” Celestia grumbled, turning back to the stove. Her squinting eyes watched the tea kettle as if her burning gaze would cause it to heat up faster.

“Isn't it, um, almost time for us to start raising the sun?” Luna asked with an awkward smile as she sat down next to the kitchen table.

“Don't rush me.”

After a moment, the teakettle finally whistled, and Celestia wasted no time in pouring herself a drink. With a glow of her horn, the tea kettle hovered over to the table, along with an extra cup for Luna. Celestia sat down opposite her sister and began dropping the teabag into her cup.

“I had an interesting dreamwalk last night,” Luna said, pouring her own cup of tea.

“Is that so.” Celestia's response was less of a question, and more of a statement. Her eyes stared at the teabag as she steeped it into her cup in a rigid, mechanical motion.

Luna decided not to let her sister's mood bother her. “I met this young filly who was waiting on the side of a road in the rain for her mother.” Luna hovered a teabag and began steeping her cup as well. “Had I not shown up, I imagined she would have stood there all night and never seen her.”

“Sounds pretty lonely.” Celestia took a sniff of her drink. She sighed in relaxation as the aroma drifted off the table. “I'm guessing you cheered her up by the end?”

“It seemed that way,” Luna pondered, looking to the side in thought. “Normally at this point I would move on to help another child. However...”

“Hmm?” Celestia raised an eyebrow.

“I heard this strange noise as the child began to wake up,” Luna explained, frowning. “Normally when dreams end, there shouldn't be anything left for me to see or hear.”

“What kind of noise was it?” Celestia dropped a sugar cube into her cup.

“It was a sort of... beeping.” Luna told her.

Her sister raised an eyebrow as she stirred her drink. “A beep? Like an alarm clock?”

Luna's eyes opened a little. “That could be it...”

Celestia had a small laugh and shook her head. “You had me worried there for a second.” She closed her eyes and nonchalantly continued stirring. “Haven't you ever heard anything else at the end of a dream? Like a mother calling to her child, or a rooster call?”

A lightbulb went off above Luna's head. “You're right! I completely forgot!” she said, laughing. “It must have been an alarm clock!”

Celestia grinned and closed her eyes. “You overthink things, Luna. I know you see a lot of strange things in those dreams, but remember that most ponies still manage to get through their lives just fine.” Celestia hovered the teacup to her mouth and took a sip. “Aah, just what I needed. Ready to start the day?”

“Of course,” Luna said.

The two of them bowed their heads and closed their eyes. Their horns glowed. Outside, over the horizon, the sun began to rise, and the moon disappeared. Morning had arrived.

Celestia got up from the table. “I have a long day ahead of me. Get some rest, alright Luna? You still look a little unsure to me.”

“I'll be okay.”

Celestia headed out the door, her cup floating in front of her. Luna stared down at her own cup of tea. Unlike her sister, Luna slept during the day. That meant that putting any cream or sugar into the cup would make it difficult to get to sleep. Luna raised her tea to her mouth, took a sip, and tasted its bitterness.

It was often difficult for Luna to keep herself busy in the early parts of the night. Most ponies were winding down for the day and did not need assistance, so it would be several hours before anypony would be in deep enough sleep to dream. After her encounter with Novella, she decided to use this time by checking out a Daring Do novel from the Canterlot library.

As she read the book on the rug in her room, she noticed several oddities in the story. The ruins within the tale seemed to have no purpose other than to provide a danger for the eponymous character. Not only that, but Do's methods of escape seemed impossible and illogical. Without magic, how could anypony toss a hat with enough force to pull a lever? However, Luna still found herself entertained by the story, and considered reading more of the series in the future. Upon finishing the last chapter, the princess set the book aside on her dresser. It was time to dreamwalk.

Luna sat on the rug in her room and closed her eyes. Her horn glowed, and the blue aura surrounded her once more. Soon, Luna was floating as a disembodied consciousness in the skies far above Canterlot. Off in the distance, she could see the mountains that bordered Equestria. In one direction, she could see Fillydelphia. In the other, Appleloosa. As Luna gazed upon the landscape all around her, millions of white glowing orbs floated up around the cities. Each orb represented a pony's dream.

Luna floated from city to city in the blink of an eye, looking for a dream to enter. While many orbs looked the same, each one gave off a different aura. An orb Luna inspected in Ponyville gave the impression of a sweet bunch of cotton candy. A different orb in Baltimare seemed to have orchestral music flowing from it. Of course, these weren't the dreams Luna was looking for. Many of the orbs were not white, but grey. When the princess approached one of these, she would feel fear, anxiety, and despair emanating from it. A nightmare.

Since it was impossible for Luna to enter every dream, she always felt indecisive when it came time to decide which dream to choose. For everypony she helped, dozens of others would cry out in need. However, what Celestia had said earlier was correct; most ponies lived their lives just fine, regardless of whether or not they got Luna's assistance. Some nights, it seemed like Luna was barely even helping. She often felt like an intruder, viewing dark secrets that the sleeper would never reveal to even their closest friends.

Luna was about to settle on a poor colt in the Crystal Empire, whose dark orb gave off the impression of millions of eight-legged creatures. However, she thought back to the filly she visited the previous night. The beeping she had heard... still bothered her. If it was an alarm clock, wouldn't the noise have been louder? Not only that, but it should have ended sooner, since the filly would have gotten up to turn it off. Luna felt like the noise was something she had heard before. Whatever it was, it made her feel uneasy, and she made the choice to abandon the colt, who was likely running from spiders in his own dreams.

Luna floated over to Manehatten, where she had found the filly the previous night. After looking around for a few minutes, the princess found an orb that seemed familiar. The dark grey orb looked no different than the others that floated nearby, but to Luna, it was like meeting a friend. However, rather than the cold, wet loneliness she felt from it the night before, this time the orb seemed panicked, almost desperate. With her target selected, Luna took a deep breath and floated inside.

The princess' hooves landed on solid concrete as she dropped into the dream. Luna shook her head and took a moment to reorient herself. It appeared as if she was standing on a street corner with tall buildings around, similar to the city she was floating over just moments ago. However, now the city was in disarray. Carriages were toppled over. Streetlights were busted. Off in the distance, Luna could see buildings on fire. She looked above her and saw dark clouds blocking the sky overhead, obscuring the tops of the skyscrapers. On the side of a nearby building, the message “the end has come” was written in red. The 'e' at the end seemed to trail off.

Luna jumped when she heard a trash can get knocked over around the corner of a building. She turned to face whoever was there, and heard a groan. The princess cautiously walked over to the edge and peeked around the side of the building. A pony with messy fur struggled to push himself back up from the garbage can he had just knocked over. Even though this pony was just a figment of a filly's imagination, Luna couldn't help but feel sympathy. She headed closer to get a good look at the pony, and saw that his side had a nasty bite taken out of it.

The pony heard Luna approach, and turned his head to face her. His eyes were undilated and looked unable to focus. However, he approached her nonetheless, dragging himself across the ground. From the stumbling pony came a low groan that echoed across the ruined city streets. Luna looked around, and soon saw other ponies emerge from inside buildings and behind broken rubble. Each of them had some sort of defect, whether it was a missing limb, a nasty wound, or rotting flesh. Everypony headed toward Luna, yelling and moaning, and moving as fast as their rotting limbs could carry them.

“Oh, great,” Luna grumbled, rolling her eyes. “Zombies.”