• Published 10th Apr 2013
  • 1,724 Views, 174 Comments

Libera Mé - EZTP



Set just after the events of season 3, Twilight Sparkle and her friends must rise to a challenging beast the likes of which will test her not only as an alicorn, but as the Princess of Friendship.

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08 Dream

08

Princess Luna passed through the dreamscape of the monster once again. Tonight there was an unexpected guest with it. She never believed in coincidence, it was fate these two found themselves here together on this night. The Apple family would be restored now, once and for all. This beast would be the one to do it, she could feel it.

She needed to stop its dream now and trigger that memory, something to encourage it. So she did.

The creature is flying with large wings under a night sky bathed in moonlight. soaring and happy. It sees a large shadow behind, burning embers from its mouth as it draws close to impact it suddenly disappears. Now it was sitting in that room again. It tried to wake yet it could not. It knew where it was, what was happening, this dream never faded. Its claw was grasping that of another. Unlike this creature this one was smaller, less severe in appearance. It is a bright day and the sunlight washes into the room. Luna could only watch on silently nearly brought tears having to witness this again, it needed to be done, for Applejack.

The small claw in its relaxed and the creature hung its head, holding tighter onto it. Luna decided that was enough and the scape faded to darkness with only her and the creature. She let its senses slowly return and upon seeing her she felt the anger in it boil.

“I thought I told you to stay out!”

“Please listen” she pleaded, the creature tried to reach for her but its claw passed through.

“Like before?! I have learned, it is clear you have not!” the creature soothed its tone and gained a delightfully wicked grin. “Perhaps M’lady would care for a repeat performance of the overture.” It closed its eyes forcing the most sadistic thoughts to the surface, luna begins to hear animals wailing, growling, fighting, voices screaming, some of them children.

“I beg of thee, for the sake of the one in thine company!” the horrors faded and the creature looked to her expectantly.

“Are we in danger now? Am I currently...walking?”

“No. The matter is more...sensitive.”

“Sensitive! That wasn’t sensitive enough for you!? Leave me be you terror,” anger rising again.

“Thou knowest of what I speak, hast thou not felt her pain? Does thine heart not weep for consoling from loves no longer there?”

“How dare you invade my sanctum!” it thundered throwing all the rage to Luna in a swift strike. To her shock it connected and she flew back with a stinging on her side. Luna was stunned she could not understand why it hurt, it should not have, not in this realm. It marched to her ready to bear its wrath down. “This will be most satisfying...M’lady.”

Luna rolled to her hooves, she would not let it intimidate her, she was granted an opportunity now to fix one of her most grievous mistakes. “I shall not leave monster. I care too much for her well being to leave. Thine burden is that of hers, this night does it threaten to engulf her.” The creature halted to her relief.

“Why do you think I care? Let her grieve! It will make her strong.”

“Thou carest enough to speak to me. Tis the longest I’ve held thine attentions.” She was relieved that it was listening and nothing else came on her. Its hesitation and resentment made her smile as the trembling fist held back the desires it harbored.

This wretched blue thing has invaded my sanctum once more. The desire to be left alone once more shattered. I do not understand why these creatures cannot leave me in peace. This is that wolfs fault! Next time she can go jump, I’m not following again.

“The pony with whom you rest, Applejack, she can be saved tonight. She needst thine help.” Playing on my guilt over what happened to her, clever. The poor kid was so terrified, I could hear her heartbeat, she barely breathed. I regret having to put her through that experience, more so she was endangered by that little lapse. She shares my pain apparently. What would you do if you were here?

If the monster agreed Luna would show it the nightmare of Applejack, for no words would be enough.

“I am listening.” The wings disappeared and it stood on an unseen surface. The moon sky backdrop returned and provided some perspective in the dream. Luna planted her hooves on a surface and paused to consider before speaking.

“There is much that must be said between us.” It looked on and folded the arms waiting her next words. “I ask for one night, for tonight. Please help me.”

“What is the help I can provide that a being of your invasiveness fails to?” Luna was not expecting such a quick answer.

“Thou ist resilient, the pain thine shoulders bear-”

“Don’t you presume to empathise with me!” Luna was startled for a moment but pushed on.

“Applejack suffers as thou does. She suffers by a pain deep in her. It has endured since she was young. I cannot guide her through this grief, not anymore. It is thou that must bear her burden.” hearing this the creature reflects a moment.

“Why me?” The question Luna was most disconcerted with.

“I have seen thine terrors, the horrors thou hast endured. I ask now not why I have chosen you, but why thou hast not abandoned her?”

“You know of that? Why didn’t you help!?”

“I have seen the memory in Applejack. Were I present I would have aided you.”

The creature was silent for a long time. In this realm time could stretch into eons but that did not make the wait any less bearable. It rubbed the chin in thought to itself, mumbling inaudibly to itself. As its pace slowed Luna knew it had made the decision and she prepared for what would be done.

This is a trap. It has to be. Her little trick will leave me comatose. Still...she did save me after that escape. That makes this choice more easy I suppose. I am bound to honour that action regardless of the consequence. Chivalry...how I hate thee.

“The debt to you is repaid tonight.” Luna was shocked.

“What dost thou-?”

“I was not asleep when you scared them off. I was not asleep when you tended to me. I was not asleep when you led her to me. Thou wast a fooleth to aid thyne enemy.” Its poor attempt to mimic her was laughable, however humour had no place here. Luna was embarrassed now, the things she said to it while it was supposedly unaware.

“If thou was not asleep, why did thine anger not bear against me?”

“M’lady many things happened on that night. I have decided to respect your actions and am bound to repay your kindness.”

“Tis not an answer.”

“Not the one you seek. No. Now, how may I ease her pain?” Luna could not meet the eyes with hers.

“Thou must bear witness to truly see...”

It is a trap, has to be. Why can’t she look at me. This little dance of hers is growing old. Look at her, she plays everything to perfection. The shallow slow breathing, the bent posture, her shuffling big eyes refusing meet mine, that wretched face showing such convincing sadness. I hate chivalry. Why would you lie? What motivations could you have to keep me alive only to end me later. I cannot explain it, but I honestly believe her. I will have to help, at the least I can say if she is being honest the risk is too great to walk away. I hate chivalry.

“Very well.” Luna looked up, a sad solemn expression on her face. She closed her eyes and the dreamscape was engulfed in darkness, only she and the monster remained standing. She could feel it growing more uneasy with every passing moment, Its focus intensely on Luna, ready for something. Her horn glowed and a new dreamscape came into view. It is a forest unfamiliar to the monster. It looked at luna, she could still not look on it.

“Wolf, wolf, wolf!” it whirled around to see a young pony run though the undergrowth, crying with fear as she raced past it through bushes and trees. The familiar padded steps sounded on their approach and it watched to see a pack of menacing wolves charge through after the frightened foal. The monster instinctively charged forwards sending a mighty blow to the midsection of one of them, stumbling to fall over as the claw passed through. It stared at Luna confused as she merely let her gaze linger on the ground silently. The creature remained silent, the cries grew fainter as did the dreamscape, fading. The monster understood why and raced in pursuit of the figures leaving Luna to wait. It passed through the trees and bushes as a ghost, the crying drawing it closer. It was to face the monsters in her dream to rid her of the nightmare. A spell task. Running through the dense undergrowth it broke to a clearing to see the foal Applejack surrounded, pressed against an incline as the wolves trapped her. There were only three of them, but nonetheless formidable. The monster leapt upon them swinging wildly channelling all it had to face the apparitions. The claw merely passed though again.

Think, bear her burden. See it for yourself. Saw her memory. This is a memory. She has to live now, what does this have to do with burdens? Its logic; she’s alive now so she will survive this encounter. I wonder how she’ll do it? These wolves look familiar. How long can one live I wonder.

The thoughts were shattered by a voice.

“Applejack!” The wolves snarled at the new sound in the distance.

“Applejack!” Another voice cried out, this time a male one. “Hang on sis!”

A sickening fear gripped the monster, it stumbles back and placed its claw on the stomach, wincing in pain. It refused to hear that twisted thought and watched on ready to prove itself wrong.

Suddenly three ponies came crashing down on the wolves, there was the large red one it had seen on the farm, the other two it did not recognise. From the way they fought it knew instantly who they were to Applejack. Such strength and determination it had only witnessed once before. The wolves were beaten back but they did not retreat and circled in that familiar pattern the monster had seen. These were the wolves it knew now, their tactics unchanging all these years. All the monster could do was watch and learn. The irony sickening to it.

The three ponies surround the frightened foal against the steep face, protecting her. She calls faintly to them, the female one reassured her as they stand defiantly down at the wolves, their bravery is impressive. This is more than bravery, love.

Their faces quickly fade to shock to a sight that fills them with dread. This dread is familiar as well.

Behind the three wolves in the darkness of the forest, eyes. So many eyes, gleaming and growing nearer. The two larger ponies look at each other. the red one up at them clearly worried and young Applejack sobbing behind them.

The realisation of what will now happen hits hard enough to stagger the monster. It calls to Luna. “I cannot see this!” despair weighing on the words, “Please, I cannot...” It hears the wolves simultaneous snarl, that sound enough to bring it back to that first night and relive that terror it felt. It turns to see the larger ponies face the red one.

“Mac, take your sister and get home now,” the female tells him.

“What?!” he says startled.

“Do as your mother says son,” the male commanded authoritatively.

The creature knew they were her family but hearing the words was s fresh sting.

“But-”

“Mac, you need to go now!” his mother ordered him, “We’ll clear a path, meet back at the barn alright?.”

“I cant leave you!” The creature now sees the wolves are though the brush, a stalking mass of more than a dozen sending a shiver up its spine. They creep over the foliage silently and grow closer.

“Macintosh, you look at your little sister now!” the male ordered. Mac did so, she is so afraid, so complete in her agony, “She needs you now Mac. She needs you to be a big brother! So you take her out of here now. We will see you at the barn!” Mac hesitates, his eyes wide with fear. “NOW!” the male yells. Mac whirls around and grabs Applejack, hoisting her on his back where she clings tightly to him. The male and female charge the wolves, their mass bearing down on them in response.

They give a simultaneous, immense kick that echoes across the plain like thunder to the largest one. It flies back with the force to impact those behind, sure enough clearing a path as they split to engage thee one to the sides. Mac rushes through the gap with Applejack and takes flight to the woods, darting left and right shaking any pursuers. There were none, the pack was only interested in the larger ones. This behaviour is unlike any pack the monster has seen, their behaviour doe not make sense to it. The younger and weaker should be the target, why risk injury against the strong?

The male and female stood to each others sides facing in opposite directions now while the remaining group encircled. The creature had tried to outrun these wolves, they are immeasurably fast. It knew what was happening and called to Luna once more unable to tear its eyes from what it was seeing, “I beg you, end this!” No answer comes.

The monster is angered at being unable to face these apparitions. It stands in awe at the scene. These wolves were a formidable force yet only two of these ponies had scattered their mass, many lay unmoving at their hooves, truly mighty opponents. The creatures heart sinks as it sees the stained patches on the mare, her loved one bleeding onto her, barely able to stand as she supports him. He stomps his hooves and roars forcing himself higher. The pack is regaining their confidence sensing his weakness. The two are laden with scars and wounds; the female is blinded in one eye and the males side bears a deep gash amongst may cuts. They do not weep but share an embrace, thundering forwards together as the pack advances.

Without warning the dreamscape faded into darkness once more and the creature stared blankly at the spot where the ponies once stood. The anguish seared into its soul, buckling its knees and bringing it to the surface that didn’t exist. It stared at the ground eyes shut tight, unable to maintain a straight back and bent over, forearms on the ground. It did not know if the blue mare was close but it spoke, the voice a trembling whisper.

“Why show me this? What purpose...?” it could not finish, engulfed by sadness. It could not understand why this had affected it in this manner, what tricks had been done to it.

Luna came to its side and rested her wing on the shoulder. It threw it off, pushing upwards and grabbing for her throat. The claw passed through, Luna had altered her state in that moment, expecting this reaction from the beast. The monster collapsed to its knees, she could feel the frustration. The despair with which it spoke to her carried great sadness, “Why do you not leave me in peace...” She reached out to it and pressed its head under hers, letting the wings wrap around. It did not fight this time.

The creature found its voice again, “And what can I do!?” it yelled angrily at her. luna remained silent and brought the image of the clearing back to it but the two ponies are no longer there, no wolves, no sound. It looked up at luna, her pain clearly trickling down. This was not appropriate for a princess, to touch this thing and show it such weakness. This monster could feel, she was happy it could feel something. All the lies of its memory were less farfetched now. She opened her wings and stepped back to allow it to soak in the area. It looked confused so she showed it her memory, witnessing life flow by her while banished on the moon. The trees around them grew fast into the sky, parts of the rock face falling in an instant, the seasons passing in moments until the growth slowed to a halt. It took a moment but the area was now familiar, it had been there this very night.

“This clearing...” it now knew instantly where they were, the place it trapped Applejack. Luna now faced it, wiping her eyes. She could only look at the image of the moon for comfort, letting its light bathe her.

“I was banished for a thousand years for my arrogance. All those years ago. If I were not...” The monster stood silently, “Her tale is but one of many that weigh upon me. Brought unto them by my absence. I ask you now, share the secret of thine fortitude with her.”

The monster rose slowly to stand, “You lied.” Luna found the strength to look at those cruel, tired eyes, “What she feels...much more than me. I understand..now get out.”

The dreamscape faded and they returned to the backdrop of the moonlight sky in the clouds. Luna remained a moment longer daring to hear it speak again. It saw this, speaking softly to her, “You have my word...M’lady. Now get out.” With that Luna nodded and the monster woke.

The fire remained strong, the fuel burned bright and steady. To the monsters surprise Applejack was now much closer. She had moved and was leaning on its side. The shock of the touch was stifled by how warm she felt in contrast to the hard rock it was leaning against. The wolf had moved closer again cradling Applejack from the cold. The monster could see the pony was distraught, still caught in that nightmare. She mumbled and pressed her face in its fur, the blanket wrapped around her messily from the moving. The creature wondered how it could remain sleeping as she came closer. It felt for the knife and found It was still there.

That was too close for comfort. It is difficult to stay awake after a brisk run for a few miles. You cannot fall asleep. Have to remain in control. The only way she couldn’t have woken me is if it came again. She is very lucky.

The large wolf noticed it moving and raised is head yawning. The monster fought back a yawn if its own, a realisation hitting home seeing the large wolf now, “It was you wasn’t it. You were there...” The wolfs sad eyes met the monsters, “No...your pack was.”

The large beast lowered its head to her front paws with a whimper. All the stalking made sense. Why she had chosen to do it now. This wolf was considerably more intelligent than the creature realised, leading it to question if it was not a pet of the one who plagued its dreams, guiding it to this one leaning on it now. The dream. It had a debt to repay.

It placed its free claw on the sleeping ponies shoulder and gently shook her. She stirred and looked up at the monster. It could feel her heart beating quickly with the fear of her dream. Her shocked expression turned to embarrassment and she pushed herself off it knocking the wind out.

“Sorry to disturb your sleep Miss.” She cleared her throat turning away from it, speaking quietly.

“Sorry about that, nightmares you know.”

“Would you mind indulging me a moment, I need to go check on that trap again.”

“What about your friends?”

“They will not be around anymore. Circulation is part of their routine. They will patrol the territory, must be long gone by now.”

“Can’t I just stay here? You need me to hold your hoof or something?” she laughed.

The monster did not smile, “This little lady here needs to accompany me. If you are left alone then you are more of a target for predators. You have bled after all.” It could see she was nervous, “Don’t worry, they are no match for us.” The creature secretly wished that was true.

It pushed itself off the rock to stand up with a crackling of bones, the wolf doing the same, and walked towards the clearing again rehearsing what would happen.

Applejack did not understand why she had shifted on top of the monster. She felt as though she was betraying her friends. The comfort felt though resting next to it was indescribable, the monster of her nightmares now there to ease her nerves. She had that nightmare again, relieved to have been woken by the claw.

It was not clear why it wanted her to accompany it yet there was no issue she could see in doing so. It was a preferable option in comparison to dreaming again. She was happy to walk with it to the clearing, learn how it hunted or something as interesting about these animals.

“I wonder what strange things happen when I’m not around here.”

“I don’t catch you.”

“Just thinking about what has passed through, what happens when we’re not around.”

“Natural stuff I guess.” The monster looked up at the sky, partly clouded.

“I could use some light here M’lady.” Applejack was confused at the comment but on cue the clouds parted and the moon shone proudly down on the landscape. The clearing they were in was brightly illuminated lighting each tree and rock. There was an odd felling about this place but she couldn’t put her hoof on it.

“How did yo do that?”

“You know maybe we need a change of perspective. Come.” She followed it to stand facing away from the rock face. It pointed out to the tree line. She did not know how to respond so she looked out. Nothing special about it.

“Look I don’t know what you’re afte-”

“Lower your height maybe.” She obliged, looking outwards an awful instinct began to set in. She felt trapped and confined, small. The clearing was not like the one in her dream but it was scarily close. The more she wondered the more she feared that she had been talking in her sleep again. That the monster had heard some of her ramblings. The stones around her were placed in a familiar way. It hit...this was the clearing.

Her heart stopped and she fell back with the shock. She tried to speak but nothing would come. This was the place she dreaded, she nearly lost her life here twice now.

Her mouth was dry but she managed to force something, “H-how-” She felt the digits rest on her shoulder, the coldness of them dwarfing the chilled night itself. She knew it was going to do something. Expecting some half hearted consoling. She tried to shrug off the extremity but it squeezed gently, almost massaging the muscle. It sickened her how good if felt for something to touch her, something strange enough to send a tingling feeling where it held.

The monster breathed deeply, “I have more than earned your kinds hatred, hostility and retribution. Tonight though we cannot be enemies, not when there is a higher conflict to resolve.” She awaited a ridiculous, strained wisdom to come forward as the monster cleared its throat. It would be as hollow as all the ones she had heard before it and grew more angered at its presumption to understand her. “Of all the beautiful things life brings to us, loss is the most painful. Especially when it is something so precious. We all have loss my little one. It is how we confront it that makes us strong.” The creature took a deep inhale. “Knowing what I do now, you are very strong, Miss Applejack.”

Her legs buckled and she fell. She could not stand, she was numb. The creature kneeled beside her, that pain inside. She wanted it to go but there was only one way it could now. Her efforts to push it back were failing. Nopony had ever called her strong on the inside. All this time it was still there kept away but this monster had made her feel it again. She wanted to let it out but fought it back. With all she had she fought it. The claw slowly and gently caressed her back. Those pointed digits trekked lines in her coat, tickling the skin underneath. “Tonight, nothing is here to see you my little one. Be free, please.”

Her resistance fell and she wept, the pain flowing out of her. She did not care about the shame, the weakness, she wanted it all gone, forever gone. She could not tell the right way up, whether she was awake or not. It all flowed out, numbing her, mind and body. The creature patted her and quietly stood to walk away to her privacy.

She saw herself grab it, pulling it down and closer to bury her face in the stomach. she pressed against the soft hide, the hard muscle, she held tight and let it all loose. Everything. While her pain was eased an arm came behind her back and pulled her close to it. The warm frame was welcoming from the cold night, it squeezed tighter as it took her weight into it. She felt completely ashamed, like a newborn filly but the pain was significantly duller. It was all going and her relief at its departure was truly bliss.

As she cried she felt something on the back of her head, she could not care less for rain. Let it rain, it could not harm her. The creature did not move, it supported her, leaning into her. Both claws were now holding onto her. It did not rain that night, the moonlight shone bright over the scene glimmering in the night sky. Applejack looked up at the sky, the creatures silhouetted head above her. There were no clouds, no rain. She could not see the eyes, but she knew then where those drops were coming from. Maybe it was the turmoil in her heart, the sickening nausea in her stomach coupled with the throbbing of her leg, but she no longer saw a monster holding her.

The creature accepted the pain. It sat silently with her in its lap, tying to avoid movement or speech. She could not understand why its eyes watered. Unless it knew what she felt, it was a safe assumption. The depth of that loss not being there anymore. She pushed harder against the warm belly and savoured the strokes of its digits. The tears were still flowing but she found she enjoyed it, it was liberating, all these years and a complete oddity such as this was the one in whom she had chosen to confide. Who was it going to tell after all.

The warmth was unbelievably welcoming to her, wiping her tears on the torn garments it wore, barely intact now. The smell was pleasant, it was from an old flower she recognised, like Zecoras home. The sadness she felt was empty now, as though that huge weight was gone and she could soar again. She pushed herself closer and nuzzled her nose under the creatures other arm to lay under it. She could not understand this, nor did she want to. They were there now and she needed somepony to hold now. More than she needed air to breathe she needed it to hold her.

Almost on cue the digits ran over her head and through her mane. She breathed deeply to regain composure from the exhaustion she felt. It was difficult to explain how it felt to have those claws caress her. It was gentle enough to make want to sleep where her head lay. Such a bizarre day and it was to be concluded here. She let her weight fall into the creatures. It reached around and stroked the head of the large wolf that was seated behind it. She did not notice how dazzling the glints were, and she thought of Rarity. To her friends she had never dared speak of this. It was confusing why this creature had become her choice.

Her head grew heavy and she let it lay in the lap now. Completely content her eyes closed and she sniffed to clear the nostrils, feeling herself smile. As the icy palm rested on her she felt only the warmth of the belly. And the touch.

One of the arms slid under her head to provide more support. She had an urge and she took it. She quickly stole one. It was her first, albeit on the arm it was her first.

Tomorrow was going to be a good day. With that she drifted into sleep.