Nightmare Pt. 3

Jan 25th, 2014
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  1. >Luna stalked the expansive halls of the old palace
  2. >They seemed to strectch on without end, massive and featureless
  3. >Then, from around the corner, Celestia walked into view
  4. >Luna was shocked, and not overly happy, to see her sister in the old palace
  5. "Celestia, what are you doing here?"
  6. >Celestia grinned and started walking beside her sister, looking about the walls as though they were covered with precious paintings and tapestries
  7. >"Well, I just had to see how my sister was failing this time of course. Of course, I didn't expect it to be so spectacular."
  8. >Luna gritted her teeth, taking it as just some teasing on the part of her sister
  9. "Why whatever do you mean, 'Tia? Just yesterday we built seventy structures. That's a sight faster than how long it took to build the Moonlight district, eh?"
  10. >Now it was Celestia's turn to frown, the childhood nickname brining back unpleasent memories
  11. >"Well, you can see for yourself."
  12. >Around the next bend, there was a window that seemed to be almost glowing
  13. >No, it wasn't the window glowing, it was something outside
  14. >She galloped to the window and saw the orange glow of flames coming from the village
  15. >Celestia, ever at her side, smiled sadly
  16. >"So much work for nothing. It's a pity isn't it? So many could have been saved if they had just complied."
  17. >Luna looked at her sister with a face contorted by rage and betrayal
  18. "How could you do something like this, you monster!"
  19. >But Celestia didn't respond
  20. >In fact, her mane had stopped moving and her face was frozen in an eternal grin
  21. >The slight flickering in the distant glow of flame had ceased to be
  22. "W-what's going on?"
  23. >She felt a cold breath on the nape of her neck and spun around, fully prepared to destroy whatever threat was there
  24. >But there was naught besides a featurless stone wall, just as there were all around her
  25. >She slowly turned in a complete circle, horn glowing with magic and leylines burning with energy pent up to be unleashed
  26. >But nothing came forth to face her
  27. >And then, there it was again, a disembodied breath on her neck
  28. >This time, she turned about slowly
  29. "Who's there?"
  30. >This time though, a voice answered her
  31. >The voice hissed like a snake and was colder than a Crystal blizzard
  32. >"I am the one who comes at the end of all things. I am that which which is bred of the core of hatred. But if you need a title to comprehend me, then you may call me Pavor Thoth."
  33. >Luna compossed herself before speaking, resigning herself to only hearing and not seeing whatever it was that spoke to her
  34. "What have you done to my sister?"
  35. >A cold, wet chuckled seemed to emenate from everywhere
  36. >"I have bent time to how I wish it to function, so that we may converse without interuption. I do so hate it when I wish to converse with someone only to be interupted."
  37. >Luna gulped, this entity, whatever it was, had power far beyond her own
  38. >Not even Luna and Celestia's mother had the power to manipulate time, at least not as far as the two sisters knew
  39. "So, what is it that you wish to speak about? And why could you not simply approach me during the day?"
  40. >A wet growl that sounded vaguely like a manticore echoed in the hall
  41. >"I cannot maintain myself in the hated day. But I came to warn you about what is going to happen, what will become of your village should you do nothing to stop it."
  42. >Luna inhaled sharply
  43. "What do you mean?"
  44. >The hall she was in twisted and morphed into a vast expanse of nothingness, a formless void where she walked on a floor made of nonexistence
  45. >She screamed at the sudden change
  46. >A hissing of air that sounded like a shush came from the darkness just in front of her
  47. >With barely an effort, she set her horn ablaze with an empyrean glow
  48. >But she was not prepared for the thing that stood before her
  49. >It was...her
  50. >The same body, the same mane, even the same armour except...
  51. >No, Luna's coat wasn't that dark, and her eyes weren't slits like the Sarosians
  52. "A good imitation. But it hardly compares to the original."
  53. >The doppelganger in front of her chuckled, low and quiet
  54. >"Such attitude in the face of something so dangerous. It seems I did make the right choice after all."
  55. >Luna's face twisted in confusion
  56. "What do you mean, 'choice'? What are you talking about?"
  57. >Another laugh from the creature in front of her
  58. >Clearly there was some joke the princess of the night was missing out on
  59. >"None of what you have seen has happened yet, but it will if you do nothing about it. Celestia is threatened by you, your way with the ponies and their loyalty to you. She thinks that she might lose hold of the domain to you."
  60. >Luna scoffed at the notion
  61. "My sister would never feel threatened by me. We both know that I would never be able to lead anything but a small number of ponies. Such a claim to the contrary is just ridiculous."
  62. >The dusky clone formed into a cloud and moved around Luna in an elliptical orbit, whispering in her ear as it passed by
  63. >"She banished you from Canterlot, didn't she?"
  64. >That set the cogs in Luna's head turning
  65. >She had been banished by her own sister, over a small contention in a private meeting, no less
  66. >Maybe, just maybe...
  67. "What are you proposing I do, Thoth?"
  68. >The being reformed and grinned, its mouth full of predatory, pointed teeth
  69. >"Celestia would not be expecting any kind of resistence when she arrives. Simply, prepare your ponies to fight. Give them training, pass it off as defence for the frontier. You have their trust, you can easily do such a thing."
  70. >Luna nodded
  71. "I suppose preparing for such a possibility couldn't hurt. Thank you."
  72. >The shadowy creature nodded, then vanished into the blackness that encompassed the area
  73. >But as it did, is whispered something just loud enough for her to hear
  74. >Something that would stick in her head until the end of days
  75. >"If you need me, all you have to do is declare yourself 'the one'."
  76. >It didn't make sense to Luna, but she commited it to memory just the same
  77. >And then she turned around, facing into the darkness surrounding her
  78. "Well, how do I get out of he--"
  79. ---------------------------------------------------
  80. >Luna woke with a start, though contained the shout building in her throat
  81. >The room was hers, the same one that she had slept in after her and Celestia had defeated Discord four decades ago
  82. >She was breathing heavily, still on edge from the dream she had had
  83. >But looking out her window, she saw that she had no time to waste with dwelling on it
  84. >She could think about it later, but it was almost noon now
  85. >She realized just then that she had fallen asleep in the armour, it just hadn't occured to her to take it off
  86. >It did now though, no point in frightening ponies by wearing the armour around everywhere
  87. >She removed it from her body and placed it down on the bed
  88. >Now devoid of any armour, she took flight from her balcony and angled towards the village
  89. >It was only a two minute flight for her, and she swiftly arrived in the center of the small town
  90. >She could see several more buildings being erected, though not housing as she had expected
  91. >It seemed that the ponies were now making buildings for producing the tools they would need for taming the land
  92. >A forge was set on the West side of the town, the furnace clearly already working and spewing soot into the air, even as its walls were unfinished
  93. >On the opposite side of town, for obvious reasons, was a lubmer mill, which ponies were working at with hand saws
  94. >The structure itself was nearly complete, but it was clear they lacked any tools for processing the timber faster
  95. >Further on the outskirts, a mine was being dug by a team of ponies, many of whom were unicorns and earth ponies, so that ore could be aquired for the forge
  96. >And finally, and most curious of all to her, a bakery was being built in the town center
  97. >This last one, most curious to her, was the first she visited
  98. >She flagged down the pony who seemed to be in charge of the nearly finished structure
  99. "Who asked for this building to be made, and why was the proposal accepted?"
  100. >Bitr, who was one of the Sarosians working on the project, pushed the chief constructor to the side and took his place to explain
  101. >"My princess, this building was requested to be built by the Cake family. I personally cleared them to work on it. Princess, though you may not see it, ponies are scared to be out on the frontier of the known lands. A bakery, like this one, will give them somewhere to congregate and relax, maybe even have some sweets."
  102. >The princess nodded, smiling at the diplomat
  103. "You always have the right words, Bitr. I find your reasoning without flaw, please carry on. Oh, and tell the Cakes to save their first sweet for me."
  104. >The diplomat smiled back at her and nodded before returning to the work
  105. >The next stop for Luna was the forge
  106. >Strange as the dream had been last night, she had a feeling that preparing a defence force was certainly a good idea
  107. >When she arrived, she found a unicorn working the anvil, pounding away at a bar of metal with a hammer held in his telekinetc grasp
  108. >Two apprentices, both earth ponies, were sharpening saw blades that had been made for the new sawmill
  109. >As soon as Luna entered the smithy, the unicorn put the hammer down, quenched the bar and stepped forward to greet her
  110. >"Princess, it is an honour to have you in our humble shop. What can we do for you today?"
  111. >He wiped his grimy hooves on the brown apron he wore and gave the alicorn a smile
  112. "Good afternoon, smith. Tell me, how quickly can you produce arms and armour?"
  113. >The smiths face became twisted with unease at the prospect of what she was proposing
  114. >"Eh...I could forge a set of armour in about a day, and the boys here could make a number of pikeheads in a few short hours. But it depends on what kind of armour you want. The armour your guards have would take two days apiece, but I could make some simple plating to cover vital areas in...maybe four hours?"
  115. >Luna nodded at his assessments
  116. "I'll have ponies begin doubling in their efforts on the mine. Do you need anything besides the resources to make the armour itself?"
  117. >The master smith shuffled his hooves nervously
  118. >"Well, princess, I'd like to know why you need armour and weaponry. Your guards should be able to handle any threats we encounter."
  119. >Luna nodded as an answer to both his questioning and as an affirmative that the guards could indeed handle most threats
  120. "There are things in this world that stretch even beyond the understanding of myself, master smith. It pays to have every pony that is able to fight be trained and equiped to, in the unlikely event that they are needed. I'll be having my guards work up a training program as soon as the first armour sets and weapons are provided. I thank you for your time, master smith."
  121. >The blacksmith, unable to counter her reasoning, simply bowed as she exited his shop
  122. >Her last stop, for now, was the guard barrack back at the palace
  123. >She began to feel dizzy and fatigued, so she took the flight slower than she could have
  124. >But she made it without incident
  125. >She landed at the entrance, only to find the mine forepony waiting at the gates
  126. >The princess could hardly ignore him, so she stopped to speak
  127. "What can I do for you, miner?"
  128. >The miner, a massive earth pony with a pickaxe striking a rock as a cutie mark, was practically bursting with excitement
  129. >"Princess, our prospecting went far better than we had ever hoped. It seems there are massive deposits of nearly pure iron ore just beneath the clay here. I estimate we'll be able to pull out around two hundred pounds a day with our current staff."
  130. >Luna looked down at him, impressed but not showing it visibly
  131. "How many would you need to double that number?"
  132. >He scratched his head, confused at the request
  133. >"Eh, at best if we had a nightshift running, we could pull out three hundred to three fifty a day, but that's about it. Another twenty ponies for that, maybe those Sarosians that have the night vision and echolocation, could pull it off."
  134. >Luna's stoic face broke into a wide grin at the idea
  135. "Very well, find another twenty ponies of your choice who are willing to work a night shift in the mines. I want you extracting as much ore as possible. Is that acceptable?"
  136. >The miner bowed, amazed at the amount of support the princess had given his request
  137. >"It will be done, your majesty. We'll be pulling ore out of there like leaves from trees soon enough!"
  138. >With that he galloped off, no doubt to spread the good news and recruit his nightshift
  139. >The princess turned and made her way to the guard barracks so she could find the guard captain
  140. >It was simple enough, he was at his desk as normal for this time of day
  141. >He snapped to a smart attention when she entered the small room
  142. >"Princess! How can I be of service this day?"
  143. >She looked at the stack of papers on his desk before speaking
  144. "I need you, or one of your subordinates, to draw up a training plan for the civilians in the town. Basic pike skills, wearing of armour, maintainence of both, and physical fitness."
  145. >Volkin, the guard captain, chuckled at the request
  146. >Not because he didn't take it seriously, but because training civilians to fight was about the same as training a cow to dance
  147. >"Planning on raising an army, princess?"
  148. >Luna's return smile held no mirth in it
  149. "Precisely, captain. When can you have it done by?"
  150. >The guard gulped and sifted through the sheaves of paper for a blank piece
  151. >"Uh, maybe two days? Depending on what situations come up. Actually, with your permision, I can delegate this to Lieutenant Terph. He's head of training for the guard unit itself and could probably do it quicker and better than I."
  152. >Luna nodded in aquiesence to his suggestion
  153. "Do it then. I'll expect the plan finished by tomorrow night. Have him come and see me when he is finished."
  154. >The guard stood up and bowed to the princess
  155. >"It will be done, your majesty."
  156. >With that, Luna left the guard to his work
  157. >Making her way back outside, she took flight once again and made for the nearest mountain
  158. >It took her ten minutes to reach the peak, and by that time the sun was beginning to set
  159. >So the princess waited where she was and brought the moon up as she was supposed to
  160. >But she remained on the peak, staring in the direction of Canterlot, its towering spires barely visible in the moonlight
  161. >And the princess, thinking of the dream the night before and whatever it was that had visited its caution on her, screamed at her distant sister, locked safe away in her chambers
  162. "Bring all the guards you want sister! You will never be able to crush the spirit of my subjects! We will fight until the last one of your followers breathes their last or until we have been utterly destroyed!"
  163. >Finishing her psychotic shouting match with the heavens, she returned to the palace to sleep until it was time to lower the moon
  164. >But then a strange thought crossed her mind
  165. >A seductive thought that swirled and clouded out all others
  166. >What if she were to refuse to lower the moon?
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