Nights of Frights and Butterscotch

by Rocket Lawn Chair

First published

On the eve of Nightmare Night, Luna's budding friendship with a young journalist is tested by a terrible secret she's kept for years.

What will become of Nightmare Night without Nightmare Moon? That's what Ink Blot, a timid young journalist from the Canterlot Chronicle wants to know. During her interview with Princess Luna, the two ponies develop a budding new friendship.

After experiencing a particularly disturbing dream, Ink Blot turns to her new friend for answers. Luna's reluctance to provide answers puts their new friendship to the test, and risks revealing a terrible truth about Nightmare Moon that Luna has kept hidden for years.

Originally written for the May 2018 Writeoff, "The Other Side"

Latte and Inquiries

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"If I'm being honest, my dreams are more like visions. I can't control them."

It was one of those common softball questions Luna had received hundreds of times before. Of course she didn't blame ponies for being curious; it was only natural for them to wonder how the Princess of Dreams dreamt. Standard journalist faire. She smiled at the mare who had begun her interview, feeling fondness for her delicate demeanor and firey blush.

After some silence, Luna prompted the mare, "Did that answer your question? Or were you hoping for more, Miss Ink Blot?"

The mare's jet mane was tied into a tight bun behind her head. It bobbled as she shook her head. "Oh, umm, you can just call me Ink, your highness."

"Only if you just call me Luna. Deal?"

Ink anxiously panned her eyes down the pages of her notebook. She nodded, fixing her glasses on her snout.

“Uneasy. I'm intimidating her,” thought Luna, frowning. She'd hoped a public setting would make the pony feel more comfortable. She'd spared time for other journalists in the middle of the city square before. The Canterlot Chronicle had a whole contingent of journalists to sling at her, their noses and pens keen to capture the latest news. Ink Blot must be relatively new to the Chronicle, thought Luna.

A waitress floated by their booth to take their order on a small yellow notepad. "A latte," said Luna, then asked Ink if she wanted anything, which the mare timidly declined. Luna nodded. She didn't want to push her.

"You say your dreams are more like visions," said Ink. "I've heard of other ponies that are blessed with prophetic gifts. Do they come from you?"

Another one Luna had heard, to which she replied her typical "Yes, but also no."

"Could you please explain?"

Luna chuckled. "I could, but wasn't this interview meant to be about Nightmare Night?"

"Oh...sure. We should get back on topic..." Ink trailed into an uncomfortable silence.

"No, no, I'm sorry." Luna shook her head, forehoof against her forehead. She took a moment to distill her thoughts, mentally chiding her insensitivity. "I'm not the matron of prophetic visions. I don’t create them, but they pass through me. Does that help?"

Ink nodded. "A little." She scribbled notes with a pencil held between her teeth, which was a noteworthy feat on its own. Most of the field journalists the Chronicle sent were unicorns with the advantage of magic to take quick notes. "But back to Nightmare Night." She straightened up in her seat and cleared her throat.

Luna smiled, matching Ink's attentive adjustment with her own. "Ah, the topic du-jour. Ponies worried that Nightmare Night doesn't feel the same without the threat of Nightmare Moon, correct?"

"Sounds strange to want a villain back—oh!" Ink gasped, then attempted to retract her statement.

"No need to apologize, I take no offense." Luna thanked the waitress as her latte arrived. She took a first sip, raising her eyebrows at the sharp bitterness and heat. "It makes sense to me why ponies want to keep Nightmare Moon around. I can imagine the thrill behind the legend, the idea that a dark creature would come out of the moon to eat you."

"Unless you appeased her appetite with candy," added Ink.

Luna nodded over the rim of her paper coffee cup. "Brilliant solution. I love butterscotch by the way. There's a tip for next week."

Ink scratched "Thrilling legend" and "Butterscotch" onto her notepad. It would be a fun, lighthearted addition for the article, thought Luna.

Ink rolled her pencil between her teeth until it reached the corner of her mouth. "Do you worry what will happen to the holiday, now that Nightmare Moon is gone?"

"Not especially. It's a wonderful holiday. Ponies would hate to give it up. Plus..."

Luna trailed her thought. This wasn't the appropriate place to continue it. She knew what might happen if she admitted the truth about Nightmare Moon. To keep the secret tasted strongly of a lie, and Luna struggled to stomach it.

She buried her lips in her latte, ignoring the burn.


Luna vented coffee heat through her pursed lips.

"'s too important to abandon. More than a holiday for ponies to dress up and eat sweets, it's an exhibition of how to properly combat darkness. Laughter. Joy. Butterscotch."

Her statement prompted a small giggle from Ink, which made Luna smile and let out a steady sigh.

Their interview continued for another few questions; what did she think Nightmare Moon would think of the celebration (Oh, she'd despise it!), and what was her favorite costume (Tricky, but probably a possum). Ink also saw fit to inform her that she had prepared a question about what her favorite candy was, but Luna had already answered that.

"What's your favorite candy?" asked Luna.

"Choco-Peanut Bites," said Ink. Her tone had lost its nervous hesitance, noted Luna pleasantly.

"What do you think about the outlook of Nightmare Night?"

"Honestly, I'm not the best pony to ask that. More of a Hearth's Warming fan." She shook her head, laughing wryly. "In fact, that's probably why the Chronicle wanted me to collect this scoop. They knew I didn't have a strong opinion about Nightmare Night."

"Once again, no offence taken," said Luna, chuckling.

The pair shared pleasant smiles, having finally reached a social equilibrium in which neither had to seriously worry about what the other had said. It finally felt like they were connecting in a manner that transcended professionalism, which Luna felt was the most genuine way to handle interviews. Others would swarm her for a scoop, then immediately leave once they'd devoured the information they needed. Ink did not, which was why Luna took an immense liking to her.

Ink set her pencil and notebook aside. She placed her hooves on the table.

"Do you mind if I ask you more about your visions? Off the record, of course."

"Of course," echoed Luna. She sipped through the final quarter of her coffee. It had gone cold. "What would you like to know?"

"Anything, really. What kind of futures do you see? And whose futures?"

Luna blinked. It took her a moment to find an answer that wouldn't be a lie.

"I see mine. Mostly, it's the very far future. I see what I will become."

Ink hesitated. She felt she was approaching a line, and she wasn't wrong.

"So, this feels like kind of a silly question..."

"Go on, dear."

She gazed up at Luna, a wistful sort of regret magnified through the lense of her glasses.

"Do I...ever become a great violinist?"

The question surprised Luna. "I..."

"It's okay, you don't have to answer. It was a silly question."

"No! It's not that..." Luna laughed. She was relieved that Ink hadn't pressed to know more about what Luna's future was. "The visions I receive...they don't tell me who will be your true love, or how successful your career will be. In fact, they barely give me any distinct picture to work with." She paused to think of an illustration. "If the future was a loaf of bread, my visions are like the scent wafting from the bakery. I only get a sniff of what’s beyond the bakery door. As far as I know, this holds true for the visions other ponies receive."

"I see." Ink stiffened. Her expression seemed puzzled, conflicted.

Luna coughed. "So, a musician with a writer’s cutie mark? Tell me about that."

“I’m no musician,” said Ink sheepishly, blushing pink beneath her white coat. “Only a few lessons from my uncle when I was young. And I try to keep a consistent practice schedule, but work at the Chronicle is hectic.” She shrugged and exhaled a sigh. “But hey, my parents are happy I got the job, and I’m happy, too. I guess violin is more of an escape for me now.”

“You’ll have to play for me sometime,” said Luna. “I’m willing to wager you’re fairly adroit.”

At Luna’s words, Ink’s face flushed pink. She snorted.

“I...umm...haha, I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“My question—the violinist thing. I guess I want to know if it’s worth putting all that effort into it. You know, especially if journalism is what I’m meant to do. Got a cutie mark of a pen and notepad, don’t I? Seems pointless to practice anything else.”

That tone in her voice, the weary-yet-resolute slump in her shoulders. Luna could tell Ink was repeating arguments she’d played through her mind several times before. She had a hard time finding the right reply; re-discovering one’s purpose was more in the realm of her sister’s expertise.

“You don’t enjoy your work? Off the record, of course,” she added with a wink.

Ink chuckled. “No, I do. Been writing since I was a filly. I knew I wanted to write, and then my uncle showed me the violin, and I knew I wanted to do that, too.”

“No reason you can’t do both.”

Ink nodded, staring down at the table, hesitating over a question which Luna encouraged her to verbalize. She was somewhat relieved that the conversation had shifted away from visions and prophecies. She felt pleased that Ink seemed to be so comfortable sharing these thoughts with her, though she kept apologizing for her words. That was slightly troubling.

“Let me know if this question is too sensitive for you…”

Luna put the back of her hoof to her forehead. “I’m already fainting at the thought.”

They both chuckled. Ink cleared her throat and continued.

“So, I’m just curious, did you ever want to do anything besides raise the moon?”

Luna made a mock-gasp, then smiled.

“Yes, as a matter of fact. You might say I’m doing it right now, actually.”

“Being interviewed?”

“Not exactly.” Luna snorted and covered her muzzle with her hoof. “A thousand years without equine contact of any kind is...well, it’s unpleasant, first of all. Nopony to talk to but myself—and the conversation became stale very fast, believe me! Why, even if I hadn’t returned to a new millennium, I’d still struggle to relearn the basics of polite conversation. Ponies thought I was a myth for a long time, then poof! Suddenly I’m real!”

“I understand. And it hasn’t been easy for this myth to reconnect with her fellow ponies, correct?”

Luna nodded. “Something like that, yes.”

“Would you mind if I wrote this down?”

“Not at all.”

Luna watched Ink retrieve her pencil and scribble “lonely myth” on her notepad. She thought that phrase sounded remarkably appropriate, if somewhat haunting.

The interview lasted a little while longer, after Luna declared that this had been one of the most pleasant interviews she’d ever experienced, and that at their present pace a second latte might be in order. This time the journalist joined her, bashfully admitting that she didn’t drink coffee very often because it made her talkative.

Knowing this, Luna wished she had gotten Ink a coffee much sooner.


Secrets and Lies

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The following afternoon, Luna had a familiar dream.

She hovered through the frigid air, her wings outspread, her fangs displayed in a cruel, glistening sneer. A mountain rose before her, tall enough to stun the minds of mortals.

Up she rose.

She was at the very top, taller than anything else. So high, the void of space replaced the blue sky. It was so cold, and she didn't need to breathe. The sensation was both liberating and terrifying. She didn't need air anymore.

All of a sudden the sun crashed down from the sky. Not on her, nor even the planet, it simply fell away and was gone. It was in the way to begin with, she thought. Blocking out all the stars and the dark void around them. Even the stars were an impurity.

Things grew much colder. The sky was oh so beautifully dark.

She inclined her neck, peered to the sky, then opened her mouth and laughed. The sky began to fall to the earth in a great, gaping wall and a thundering avalanche of icy air. She continued to laugh as it rushed down upon her. It fell and became the ocean.

Deep underwater. No air, or light, or warmth. It was absolute. Still she laughed, but there was no sound.

Finally, there was no sound!

She awoke to tell her sister of her dream, as was their arrangement.

Celestia had to know about them. Luna’s feedback to her sister helped them monitor the machinations of Nightmare Moon together. The nightmare was testing Luna’s mind for weaknesses, looking for ways to slip through and terrorize the populace in their dreams. More than ever, Luna wished she could tell somepony else about them, especially those to whom the nightmares slipped in the form of prophetic visions. Celestia continued to encourage Luna, reinforce her shaken psyche against the nightmares, re-emphasizing the importance of Nightmare Moon’s containment.

“Once she secures her hold on ponies’ minds, it’s a simple matter for her to emerge into the physical world again. Better they live without knowing of her return. Why should they?”

As usual, Celestia’s argument was logical and well-reasoned, and yet Luna felt somehow uncomfortable for keeping this vital secret about the world’s destruction. Nightmare Moon would return someday. Shouldn’t their subjects know about it?

“Sister,” she replied, “Ever since my return from exile, we’ve kept the truth of Nightmare Moon hidden, buried all the old stories, and now our subjects go on believing Equestria will endure forever. It feels...deceptive.”

“Hope is our best safeguard against doomsday.” Celestia was calm, passing scrolls beneath her quill, mechanically signing documents while she spoke. She folded her hooves in front of her mouth. “You well know that telling them the truth would damage their hope for the future. It would play right into her hooves.”

“Yes, it’s a lie I need to tell—my burden. It’s still a lie.”

“For the good of everypony,” Celestia raised an eyebrow. “And to the detriment of nopony.”

Luna moved her lips to disagree, but couldn’t find the right words. Her feelings on the matter were tangled through her mind like the roots of a tree, buried and difficult to trace to the source.

There came a knock at the door to Celestia’s study, bringing Luna’s quiet reflection to a close. Celestia said, “Please come in,” and a royal guard entered. He bowed before the two sisters before speaking.

“Your majesties, forgive the intrusion.” He addressed Luna directly. “There is a journalist from the papers waiting outside the castle. She has requested a private audience with you, Princess Luna. I tried to tell her that press are only allowed on special invitation, otherwise she’d have to wait for your next confer—”

Luna halted the guard with a wave of her hoof and a smile.

“Does this journalist happen to be a mare with a dark amber mane and glasses, who goes by the name Ink Blot?”

“The journalist you met at the cafe yesterday?” Celestia added, more as a casual hypothetical while she continued signing her papers.

The guard nodded. “She said you knew her, and she sounded very anxious to meet with you.”

“Bring her to my study,” said Luna. “Tell her I’ll be waiting for her there.”

Once more the guard bowed, then departed.

Why did Ink want to see her again? Undoubtedly professional reasons—extra information to put in her article, something like that. An anxious matter? Perhaps she’d lost her notes from the previous afternoon. Nopony would even bother requesting a private audience with a princess unless it was for important reasons. Still, secretly Luna hoped it wasn’t important. Maybe just a casual chat about the weather, or how Ink’s violin practice was going. She still owed Luna a private recital.

“Celly?” Luna turned before leaving her sister’s study. “Do we have any Choco-Peanut Bites in the castle?”

Celestia peered up from her papers, quill frozen between signatures, her eyebrow raised in suspicion.

“Yes, in the pantry. I asked the cooks to save a box for me. Why do you ask?”

“No reason. Have a nice afternoon.”

Luna smiled to herself, closing the door to her sister’s study. Whatever urgent business miss Ink Blot had to discuss, it would be good to see her again.

She walked down to the pantry, whistling a pleasant tune.


“Okay, so it isn’t every day a pony receives a private audience with Princess Luna,” thought Ink, working out her nerves with deep, slow breaths. Luna had accepted her request, meaning she expected a very good reason to be interrupted from her typical duties. What did Luna usually do during the day anyway? Sleep?

Ink was glad the castle guard was leading her down so many hallways and staircases. More time for her to sort out the crazy things she needed to tell the princess. Her mind buzzed through the myriad directions their conversation might go.

“I’m really sorry, your highness, but I had to see you...Yes, as a matter of fact I have a very good reason…”

Did that sound like a good way to start? Ink shook her head and breathed. Her sweaty mane clung in black seaweed-like strands to the side of her neck. She had been waiting for the guard’s return at the castle gate, sweltering under the hot midday sun. Once she’d been brought inside, she prayed a thankful prayer to whomever had invented enchanted air conditioning.

“So, uh...” Ink gulped, hearing her own shaky voice resonate in the deep castle halls. “Did I, um...interrupt anything?”

“It’s not really my place to say,” said the guard, turning his head to address Ink. “I’ve never seen you before, yet the princess seems to know you.”

Ink nodded. “Professionally. I mean...well, I interviewed her yesterday.”

“You said you’re with the Chronicle?”


Ink wondered if this line of questioning would lead to her becoming accused of spying or some other treasonous activity. It felt like this guard was prodding her story’s validity, sniffing for information that might not add up. She wondered if she should say something else to ease the guard’s suspicions.

“We talked for a few hours about Nightmare Night and about each other. It was easy to talk to her once I got past the whole ‘Princess of Equestria’ thing. She felt like...well, like a normal pony.”

“Here we are,” said the guard, gruffly interrupting Ink’s thoughts. A stately pair of double-doors stood before them, painted a deep blue and embossed with the Princess of the Night’s iconic cutie mark.

The guard knocked three times. “I’ve brought the reporter, your highness.”

“Show her in!” came Luna’s voice from within her chambers.

“She sounds cheerful,” thought Ink, relaxed that the princess seemed to be in a pleasant mood. Perhaps this conversation would go smoother than she expected.


"Unfortunately I can't interpret your dream," said Luna. She grimaced, tasting the unpleasant flavor of a lie washing over her tongue. "I remember passing it on to you last night, but I cannot tell you more than that. It was certainly an odd dream." She held up a box of candies, smiling. "Choco-Peanut Bite?"

Ink ignored Luna's offer entirely. "Odd? But didn't you give it to me?"

Luna frowned, setting the box of candies on her desk. She took Ink's distress very seriously.

She rose from her chair, took several paces while staring at the tall ceiling of her study. It had been painted the deep blue of a night sky, with caricatured five-pointed stars scattered all across it, and the constellations incorrectly traced by silver lines. Had she been around to conduct the design of her own study, she would have done things much differently, yet she didn't let Celestia see how much it irritated her.

"What makes you think it was a vision of the future?"

"It was just like you said visions were! It had a scent!" said Ink. She stared at the floor, stirring the carpet with her hoof. "It...It felt like a warning, I’m not sure. I need to know where it came from and what it means. You said you have those all the time, so could you please help me?"

"I'd like to, I really would, but..." Luna breathed heavily, rubbing her forehead. Ink's description of her dream was so vividly familiar. She'd never heard of anypony else having it before. "She's toying with me now", thought Luna, not referring to Ink. "...perhaps you only miss-read it, my dear. It's possible our talk yesterday put these thoughts of prophecy in your head, and your subconscious convinced you it was something greater."

"What?? can..." Ink's voice flared with anger for only the briefest moment before simmering down to a smoldering silence.

"Only a disturbing dream, but the memory will pass," added Luna, extending her hoof to the journalist's shoulder. Ink recoiled, sending a stab of pain through Luna's heart.

"Why don't you believe me? You must have seen what I saw!"

"Please, I don't want you to be upset..."

The two stood alone within silence, overseen by a sky of tacky stars.

"I thought I felt something," said Ink slowly. She rubbed her shoulder. "When I first learned to play the violin, you know? Something that tugged me in a way I couldn't explain. I felt a similar tug from this dream, like it was plucking the soul out of my body. Maybe it was really nothing the whole time, and that's all I ever see. Smoke. Mirages. Things that aren't real."

Ink made a curt bow, wiping tears from her eyes. She made her way to the door of Luna's study. "If you'll excuse me, your highness, I have a piece to write. Thank you for your time." Her words were frosted, stiff and formal. She closed the door behind her with a similar tone, leaving Luna feeling cold and empty.


Frights and Butterscotch

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The frontpage article looked very neat and professional, and was one of the most popular pieces on Nightmare Night the Canterlot Chronicle had ever published. They'd never had to run extra print runs during the holiday before. It even earned Ink Blot a promotion, which she couldn't help but accept. Her father couldn't be more proud of his "dyed-in-the-wool ace journalist daughter," and her mother insisted she take Ink's picture while holding a copy of her article.

Ink was happy that her parents were happy, but that was the only reason.

When Nightmare Night arrived, she told her parents she was going to a party one of her friends from work hosted each year. In truth she planned to spend it as she'd spent it in previous years: practicing her violin. After years of practice, she could almost play the entire concerto from memory. If she could nail the solo, she thought, then maybe it would be enough to impress the director of the Canterlot Philharmonic, despite the fact that she had no formal experience.

In the midst of practice, she heard a knock on her door. Ignoring it, she went back to her solo. She'd left a bowl of candies on her front porch, and a sign which said "Please Take One" with a little Jack-O-Lantern doodle. Nightmare Night may not have been her favorite holiday, but she wasn't going to be a grump about it.

Again, the knocking came. More loudly.

Ink lowered her violin with a growl. She yelled, "There's candy on the porch!"

"I know that!" came a booming voice. "There's no butterscotch in the bowl!"

Ink set her violin on her chair. She stormed to the door and ripped it open with a glare. Princess Luna stood on her front porch in an absurd costume that didn't fit her properly. Her sheepish face poked out of a fuzzy white suit, muzzle capped by a pointy, whiskered nose. A pink, ropy tail hung limply from her hindquarters.

"Can I help you, your highness?"

"Yes, I believe you can. It seems your candy bowl is out of butterscotch, and I—" She was unable to finish her sentence before Ink closed the door in her face.

Luna knocked on the door again. "I was only kidding! Ink! Please, come back!"

Ink did not return. Luna felt a tug on her costume's tail. She whirled around to see a group of small foals, impatiently waiting to get access to the candy bowl. Luna stepped away from the porch. As she did, the sweet melody of a violin caught her ear. She trotted around to Ink's parlor window and peered inside. The music wasn't bad by a long shot. Ink wasn't a virtuoso, but her music was still lovely to hear.

"Ink, please hear me! I need to tell you something!" Luna knocked on the window. "Can you please come to the door?"

Instead, Ink came to the window and closed the curtains.

"Very well," said Luna slyly. "If you'd rather not know what your vision meant, that's fine."

She heard the front door open a moment later. Ink stepped out onto the porch, glaring through her glasses. Beneath the cold disdain of her glare, the mighty Princess of the Night seemed to wilt.

"You mean the vision that didn't mean anything?"

"It did mean something. Before, when you asked, I wasn't sure how to reply. So I lied."

Luna raised her eyes and the pair of ponies shared an uncomfortable silence. Each one felt they needed to say something, but couldn't work it out. Out in the streets of Canterlot, the cheers and hollers of children undercut their silence drastically.

Finally, Luna spoke. " your music. You play very well."

"Oh. Thanks."

Ink rubbed her foreleg.

"I like your...outfit."

"Thanks. It's a possum. Dreadfully itchy, though," said Luna as she scratched herself.

Ink snorted. Luna blushed.

"Shall we take a walk?"

"Sorry," said Ink, covering her mouth with her hoof. "Princess of Possums is still cracking me up right now." She stepped down from her porch. "Yeah, let's take a walk."

"You should put on a disguise. It is Nightmare Night, after all."

"I don't have a costume," admitted Ink.

Luna pulled a set of plastic fangs out of the pouch of her costume. "Here," she said, winking. "I've washed them."

Ink shoved the teeth into her mouth.

"There. Howth thith?"

Luna laughed. "Utterly terrifying."

The two ponies vanished into the streets, piercing the night with laughter.


Luna had practiced for this sort of event in her head. She'd worked out all the details she might need to share, if she ever decided to tell somepony the truth about Nightmare Moon. Of course Celestia knew, and had worked out her own scripted explanation. She didn't think Celestia had ever needed to share the truth, either.

Throughout her explanation, she watched Ink's expression change from puzzled to disbelieving, to almost angry once again. Now she'd returned to puzzled, slowly working back through each of the pieces Luna had described to her. When she arrived at the end, she heaved a weighty sigh.

"It's...a lot to process," Ink said, having spit out the plastic teeth a long time ago. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the world would end, but I didn't think it would be her job."

Luna nodded. "Sometimes the visions she grants me slip through my mental barriers, and behold, another prophet is born."

It was the truth, in a perverted way, that prophecies came from Nightmare Moon. Ink had laughed this off at first, having only heard this as a fringe superstition taken seriously by absurd religious groups and huckster fortune-tellers. Hearing it from Princess Luna herself gave her serious pause for thought.

"But did it mean anything? In my vision, I was on a mountain. I felt cold, inside and out. I saw the darkness of space and welcomed it to me. Why did Nightmare Moon want to show me all that?"

Luna thought for a moment, then suggested they head to the Nightmare Night Fair that was being held in Bridle Park. It didn't answer Ink's question, but it would give her a chance to think of a good response. She would have to go slightly off-script.

"I don't yet understand why she sends visions to specific ponies," Luna replied as they walked. A group of nearby children screamed at her grotesque costume, without her needing to add any scary actions. "All she wants is to get out so she can inspire fear, which is why I fight to keep her locked inside. The more ponies know the truth, the more despair will take hold, and the stronger she'll grow. As I said, her first appearance was too soon. She only escaped because I was foolish and wanted her to escape. Thankfully, her power was weak enough to be fought back."

"So, there wasn't anything in that vision for me specifically?"

They were nearing the park, Luna could tell from the growing sound of lively music spilling through the streets and the crowds of costumed ponies congealing around them, all walking toward the source. She grinned at them, sticking her tongue out at the children, getting delighted laughter and terrified screams alike.

"It's possible she saw how you and I were becoming friends. Perhaps she wanted to show you the monster I would become to put a strain on your trust in me."

“Or maybe,” Ink replied, “she saw that I was a journalist, and hoped that I would blow the whistle?”

Luna raised an eyebrow at Ink. Ink laughed weakly.

"Sorry, that was a bad joke.” She cleared her throat uncomfortably. “Anyway, has this kind of thing happened to any of your other friends? Has anypony else close to you gotten a sneak-peak into doomsday?”

“None that I know of for certain,” said Luna with a sigh. “Except for my sister, of course. I tell her whenever I have those dreams. It helps. Talking to you about it helps as well. It's been difficult for me to hold onto this secret so closely for so long.”

Several grinning pumpkins greeted them as they approached the park. The Nightmare Night fair surrounded them in games and laughter and colorful street fireworks. Ink adjusted her glasses to the dazzling lights.

"I guess, in a weird way, that's kind of flattering,” Ink said. “To have the Nightmare of the Apocalypse think you're special. Should I be worried about that?"

"I wouldn't let it get to you."

"What about the doomsday in my vision? The visions you see every day? Can it be stopped?"

Luna sighed, sweat dripping from her brow. Her costume was both itchy and hot.

"That future is such a long way off that you will never see it. Very few ponies will. And the visions don't torment me every day, in fact, I've never gotten a single vision during Nightmare Night."

"But still,” Ink huffed, “you shouldn't have to live with that monster inside you. It doesn't seem fair."

"Don't focus on Nightmare Moon or her distant, ugly return," said Luna. She smiled, patting Ink on the shoulder. "Focus on a vision that matters, like playing the violin. That's a very good vision."

They approached one of the game booths together. Luna picked up a cream pie that was set out on the booth table. She offered it to Ink. "If you're still worried, just throw one of these at her." She slung the pie at the goofy wooden cutout of Nightmare Moon. The pie hit the cutout right in her snarling face.

"See? Cream pies! Her greatest weakness!"

Ink laughed. She threw a pie, hitting Nightmare Moon right in the flank. She laughed even harder.

"Cream pies and butterscotch, right?"

"Oh-ho! She hasn’t got a chance against an arsenal like that!"

The rest of the night they continued throughout the fair, stopping at booths to play games, or to steal a few of their favorite candies from the sweets stands. They brought up the topic of doomsday a few more times, but it was always to the tune of a bad joke and a flourish of laughter.