Paradox


For those few who are familiar with me, I continue to ask that you judge the quality of my works, not of my interests.


Disclaimer: I do not own My Little Pony, nor any of the characters I may use established by any official or canon sources. They are owned by Hasbro Corporation and the source's creators and staff, respectively. I only own the characters I have created for this story.


Chapter 1: An Unstoppable Force

"And you really think that it'd be alright with everypony if the two of us just…took some extra days off every once and a while?" A lanky, light brilliant amber-coated pony wavered.

Both he and a regal, dark blue alicorn were standing and conversing in the middle of the dining room of the very familiar and incredibly popular confectionary shop, Sugarcube Corner.

However, things were a bit…off about their location. For one thing, unlike how the precious shop merely held the appearance of being made of various treats, such as gingerbread, the inside really was made of that and more. Icing, cake, cookies, candy, brownies, all of it made up everything in their area, from the tables and chairs, to even the usually glass display, the molding, and even the chandelier. Another oddity was that, at the point of their conversation, it looked as though somepony had just lightly taken some fire to the whole thing. Nothing was burned, but it was all melting around the duo, creating an increasingly unappealing appearance as everything began to fall and melding together.

"I know that it might seem a little contradictory, business-wise, but you know more than I do on how much stress you two have been under, lately." A regal, dark blue alicorn replied. "Both you and Mrs. Cake need to remember that taking care of yourselves is just as important as taking care of your shop."

"But…but we have bills to pay, you know? Mouths to feed and all that!" Mr. Cake said, anxiously, the distortion of the room increasing, and the colors mixing. "I-I mean, once in a while seems fine, but what if something important happens that day, or days, depending on some things? We can't just be off and relaxing somewhere! It wouldn't just look bad for us, personally, but it also wouldn't look good for the shop, and-"

"If I recall things correctly," Luna interrupted with a raised hoof, "Miss Pinkie Pie has been training under the two of you for quite some time, now. Surely she could take over the business for a bit, yes? After all, somepony with her energy, combined with what she's learned, it seems like she would be quite the candidate for something like that."

He looked away from her. "Ah…Pinkie's a great gal and all, don't get me wrong, but we're still not entirely sure about giving that kind of responsibility to her. Heck, we even had reservations when she wanted to start looking after Pound and Pumpkin, and that was just babysitting!"

She gave Mr. Cake a raised brow, his attention now fully returned to her. "Both you and Mrs. Cake feel this way about Pinkie, do you?"

He gave the princess a nervous laugh.

"Well…yeah, kinda." The stallion drooped. Everything around them was now nothing but a gooey, sickly-brown mess. "Uh, now don't get the wrong idea or anything!" He said, waving a hoof defensively, "It's not like we don't think she can do it, it's just-!"

"You don't think she can do it on her own, not for very long, at least." She concluded.

The stallion initially made for some sort of defense, but soon dropped it after a few seconds of nothing but an open mouth.

"You and your wife still sell the talents and abilities of your student a little short, Mr. Cake." She said, sternly. "Even though she's been greatly advancing, she is still so much more capable than you two realize."

For a second he looked up, then back down again upon seeing her disapproving look, ears folded. "I…I know she is…we both know."

He remained silent after that, his thoughts about all of this buzzing around like a hornet's nest. Him feeling like a colt being scolded by his own mother again didn't help, either. At that, the pair just stood quietly, until the dream-keeping alicorn finally spoke.

"But even so, who says that she needs to do this on her own?"

Mr. Cake immediately looked up to see a now calm, smiling visage of the princess, puzzled. "Wait, what?"

"Who says that she needs to do it on her own?" She clarified. "Does Miss Pinkie not have friends? Would they not help her with the upkeep of your shop while the two of you are away?"

Slowly-but-surely, realization washed over his face as a lightbulb flickered on inside his head, his muddled thoughts being cleared by its light.

"Wait, you're right!" Suddenly, the entire room began reversing itself back into what it once was. "Oh, how could I forget?! Pinkie can get Applejack and Spike to help her out if she needs it! If the three of them were working together, then they could hold up the fort, no problem!"

Still smiling, she gave him a light nod. "Indeed. But it wouldn't have to be just them, either. I would wager that all four of her other friends would happily help, even if it was in their more unique ways."

His face lit up all the more at hearing this. "Exactly! It would be nothing but smooth sailing with them all working together!" He said with utmost confidence.

Seeing such a mixture of certainty and excitement in his eyes caused a light chuckle to escape her lips. As always, this was the telltale sign that her work was drawing to completion. "I'd advise caution, Mr. Cake. Neither would I, nor could I say that everything would go perfectly, exactly…" Luna stated, "but I am confident in saying that you'd be in good hooves."

He clapped his forehooves together giddily. "Ooh! Now we can finally use that free full-time, year-long membership we've won! I heard that Bulk gives the best deep-tissue massages."

That last comment got another bit of laughter out her. "Yes, I've heard the same, although they do say he can be a bit rough. But I'll let you decide that." And with that comment, she lit her horn, summoning Mr. Cake's already-open door, and proceeded to go about her way.

"Princess?"

She turned back around to the shopkeeper. "Yes, Mr. Cake?"

He gave her a warm smile, crouching his body onto the ground in the always-customary, deep bow, not unlike how he would if he were awake. "Thank you."

The alicorn returned the expression of gratitude in kind and lowered her head, giving something of a courteous bow, herself. "It was a pleasure. Just remember to try to keep what's been said tonight in mind, hm?"

After giving off a final "sweet dreams", she exited his mind to find herself back in her own realm, the ethereal in-between she refers to as the Dreamscape. It was a void that appeared to resemble the eye of a storm, in a certain way. It was made up of layers clouds, each swirling in the opposite direction of the other, giving off a potentially hypnotic effect if gazed upon for too long.

The colors of said layers were of the same variety that encompassed the princess, herself. The very outermost "wall" was as black as night, just like her tiara and breastplate. The other two-to-three took from other aspects of her form. The center itself somewhat took from her eyes, and was acting as the primary illumination for the realm, softly spewing smaller specs of radiance through it all as if it were a blue giant that had undergone a never-ending supernova. There were no walls, and no floors, and yet she could stand on it as if there were.

"It's always good to end my nightly routes on a good note." She said with a peaceful expression…before it suddenly turned into one of subtle displeasure.

"And, now…" Luna sighed, eyes closed and somehow already feeling exhausted, "we come back to you."

With an authoritative stomp of her front hoof, the seemingly endless rows of doors immediately fell underneath her as her body appeared to elevate. It did not take very long for her to reach her destination, though.

As she got to a new "ground level" and rested her hooves on the new floor, she found herself staring at something that made her fur stand on end. This was not due to fear, though; no, certainly that. Instead, it was due to the latent frustration that the thing before her caused. She dreaded coming here every night. There were even times that she tried to convince herself that it wasn't worth it, that it wasn't worth the cost of her peace of mind. But each time she refused the call, and pressed onward. Always trying, always failing.

Luna looked upon her challenger with discontent. "It has become that time, yet again. Everypony else has been tended to, so there is no cause for worry. It can just be us for a little while. No deviations, no distractions."

The princess of the night stood in front of a final door, a special door that she'd long-separated away from all others…just in case. However, what made it so special wasn't that it was larger than the others, nor that it was made out of a different material than wood. No, it was a plain, dark grayish-orange door with a few specimens of Solanum Dulcamara carved on its front. Yes, this was indeed a very ordinary door…if one didn't count the fact that its entrance was bound by a web of chains, held together by a single lock. And, oh, how Luna wished she had the key to this lock.

"Lucky for you, your princess is feeling a bit more gracious about setting our steps into motion, tonight." Luna said with a slight sneer.

With another breath, she proceeded to remove her glistening tiara, breastplate and sabatons, using her magic to neatly place them to her right side. There was no point in keeping up appearances, not with them, not with how many regrettable years the two have spent "getting acquainted" with one another. Well, if one would even call it that.

Horn still alit, she also conjured up a small, ornate tea set to materialize, and proceeded to pour two cups, placing it all on her left.

She kept her magic going for one more thing, though.

"Be that as it may, that won't stop me from beginning a bit more aggressively than usual. Indeed, I'm afraid that plain-old Luna must take the helm once again. You understand, I'm sure."

Not waiting one more second and focusing herself, she fired a steady beam was shot towards the lock's peculiar keyhole with surgical precision.

Once inside, her magic appeared to spread in veins, dissipating throughout the insides of the restraints, their pleasant ring echoing throughout the Dreamscape as they were attacked. This could only last for so long, though, because as soon as she increased her output by a mere tenth of a degree, the process suddenly reversed, shoving her own energy back at her. Luckily, she already foresaw this typical consequence and reabsorbed it. It was an easy-enough spell to perform, but not without issue, not with this one at least. The force that was great enough to push her back a few feet? That she could shrug off. What was a little more difficult was dealing with the magic's marginally painful re-entry.

Lightly panting, the princess found herself staring at the dreamy ground before looking up to glare at her foe. It has becoming increasingly tiring being in their presence, as of late.

"You've…you've absorbed far more of my power than that before spitting it back out! Are you toying with me now, or are you simply growing weaker?" She asked, allowing for some small venom at the end.

Still feeling the jolts of forced magic still coursing through her body, Luna couldn't help but wonder if the shot at its pride had left a mark, and took some time to wait for some kind of snide retort.

…She was always looking for a retort.

Luna lowered her head and let out a tired but giggle. "Poor, poor Dreambreaker, losing their precious power…", She goaded, "Just imagining you finally being helpless, to have no choice but to let me fully show you what you've done to me…"

It felt good, letting the storm clouds roll into her now active imagination as she spoke. But she could not let them linger, for that only brought an early ruin to her time with them.

"…But the insult only falls to myself just for thinking such a thing, doesn't it? You would lose your power no less than a star would lose its light." She breathed in and rose both her sights and her composure back up to the door, gripping her belongings in two, moderate cobalt blue bubbles.

"Come. Our warm up is done and it is time to move on."

Relinquishing her eyes of the lock with a turn, Luna began to walk down the endless void, the chained door gently and noiselessly sliding, keeping up with her pace as if on command. But it did not follow her commands, it followed its own, and right now, those orders were to stay with her. All she could do was keep trying to keep up with it.

"As always, I shall lead."

The two continued on in an already expected silence for a while, not counting the echoing of the alicorn's bare hoofsteps. It was expected, but not relaxing.

"How long have we been at this little tug-of-war, my not so good pony? Do you know?"

Her words caught in her throat for but a moment as she temporarily halted.

"Five years…you should know that this has been going on for five years."

She continued on, brows beginning to furrow at the thought.

Her thoughts were racing.

"Everything comes up to five years, when you think of how long we have been connected, overall. But let's break that down into the time you served with me, shall we?" She gave a loud snort. "Five years—that is one-thousand, eight-hundred and twenty-five of my nights, ten-thousand, nine-hundred and fifty of my hours, and two-million, six-hundred and twenty-eight thousand of my minutes. That is how long this has been going on. You have been ignoring me for five years; you have been denying me for five years; defying me for five years; hurting me for five years."

Luna took in a sharp breath with her unsteady steps.

Her heart was tightening.

"And you know what? Nothing has been accomplished in all of that time—nothing!"

She shook her head, telling herself that that was enough for right now, but the words continued to spill without consent.

"There have been many things that I couldn't help but wonder in our time together, but something that has always remained at the forefront of my head is why? Why has this gone on for so long? Why do you have to be so different from everypony else? Why has it been decided that things would be this way without a single change? Why has it been YOU that was given the right to decide this, and not ME?! Why, just WHY?"

Her breaths shook.

"But the greatest of all "why's" involves my continuing along this path! I often ask myself why I just don't give up on you? You have made it clear time and again that you want nothing to do with me! You don't need a princess in your life like the others; she wouldn't add a thing to it! You can handle yourself just fine!"

An unstable sigh came through. "…Then why is it that I keep coming back to you? That I keep trying to be where I'm not wanted? What good does it do me, when you've nothing to add to my life but more anguish! 'But how can that be so?', the monstrous pony wonders? 'All I do is just sit here and mind my own business.' And that is exactly the point! You mind your own business! You keep to your own life's affairs! It's just like…"

Her eyes stung.

No…no, that wouldn't do. She's done that for them for long enough. They didn't deserve to see that from her anymore.

"They don't deserve it…they don't deserve it…"

She took a few, deep breathes with her mantra and keeping her head down to regain herself. Then, she stayed quiet. She stayed quiet for a long time.

"Make no mistake, I want to let you go, I do. It would help make my life so much easier, so much better." Luna finally voiced once more, now calculating her next thoughts carefully. "But I can't. I know of the simpler path. It was one I walked upon in my quest to usurp the throne for myself. You do something once, you give into that single prick of temptation, and suddenly the choice gets that much easier the next time around, and so the process continues. I relinquish you from my responsibilities, and next thing you know, I will have turned my back on over half of Equestria by the time this millennium is done. And who knows what state I might be in when that happens?"

Her blood was still simmering from their previous "exchange", but she pushed through it and raised her head back up, defiantly.

"I won't stop chasing after you. I can't stop chasing after you—not for your sake, but for mine, and for those that will forever need my help."

"This needs to calm down…"

"And that's enough of that for right now, I should say. The night won't stop for us. We need to just keep moving along."

Something more casual would help ease things.

"Speaking of nights, how about we talk a bit about this particular one? Nothing all-too eventful, really, in case you were interested. The nocturnal creatures were going about their lives without incident. A grand orchestration met our ears. At least, those of us whom were awake to hear it. Many players and choir members, such as the owls and the crickets, sang their usual melodies. Even the timberwolves, vicious as they are, let their section be heard. I did not bother to interrupt them." She said, offhoofedly. "Yes, things were quite peaceful, and it was an interesting change of pace for once. My other nightly duties are going well, too, by the way."

She stopped for a beat or two to hear an answer that would never come, and continued. "Nopony has ever really brought it up, but I do believe that some have wondered just what it is I do at night. Perhaps you may be wondering, as well. Regardless, I assure you that I do more than simply tend to this realm."

Her eyes found themselves falling back to the lock to their door.

"Would I be by myself during my little adventures, I would probably tell you that things might have gotten a bit lonely after a while. But thankfully, that isn't the case, and it's all thanks to my royal escorts." She finished, head held high and an air of pride in her voice.

Nothing.

"We've discussed many things in our time together, but I don't believe I told you much about my escorts, yet, have I?" The princess asked in an attempt of trying to distract her irritation a little longer. "Truth be told, I may have, but even an alicorn's memory can only stay fresh for so long."

More silence answered.

"Well then, you'll just have to forgive me if I have trouble with keeping track of everything, won't you?" She "responded" to them in kind in a somewhat heated tone.

Luna could already feel her left ear twitch a bit. Things were progressing much faster than usual, tonight, and that wasn't a great sign as far as her goals were concerned. She could try to get at them by using crude violence and anger. After the years of enduring their silence, she knew they could take anything she gave them, and it felt better to vent than to play nice and use diplomacy. Unfortunately, she had learned that it did not get results.

Although she didn't like it, the best thing for Luna to do right now was stay fast, so given that thought, this was a good a time as any to settle things down…for a while, at least.

The royal alicorn halted her steps and tilted her head to her left, the bubble that contained the tea set opening up and transforming into a sort of hard-magic tray.

The tea from this realm always calmed her down when she was getting antsy, and a cup or two couldn't hurt. After all, her magic kept it at a gentle temperature.

Taking a sip of the multi-shaded blue liquid inside immediately sedated the brewing in her head. It was such a heavenly taste, and nothing in Equestria was comparable to it. Letting the tea warm and soothe her body and mind, she let out a contented sigh and lowered herself onto the floor, ready to keep working.

"So, yes, my royal escorts…believe it or not, they are not really known very well among the citizens of our country, partially because they're active at night, but more because most of them tend to not be the most skilled conversationalists. Celestia's aren't much better, to be fair. But despite that small fault, they are without equal. They're strong, stalwart and swift as the wind, even those who receive the duty of pulling my chariot. It is quite the hefty vessel, that chariot…" She took another sip of her tea. "Outside of this realm, they never leave my side, you know. They're always on the move, and yet, are consistently conscious of my presence at the same time."

The princess smiled a bit at that last part.

"And do you know what the best part of it is?" Her smile grew just a little. "Unless there is an emergency of monumental proportions, they only serve me, just as my sister's royal guards serve her. Just think of it…having your own battalion." Before too long, she had realized that she'd gotten lost in her thoughts and refocused on the lock.

"*Ahem!* Well, at any rate, speaking frankly they are the elite of the elite; the best escorts a member of the royal family could ask for. Sometimes, I even try to get into a bit of sport with my sister over whose is better." She lightly chuckled. "It's all in good fun, though."

"That said," Luna added, her brow lowering only slightly. "I must admit that sometimes, their constant presence can be a just bit tiring. Of course, it's nothing compared to you…" Luna laughed dryly, "But still, at least they mean well, and if by some chance they had managed to unhinge me, at least it will then be by accident."

Draining her cup entirely, she looked back to their door, levitated the second cup over to it and knocked on its surface a few times.

"Would you care for some tea? It is fitting for only the most sophisticated of palates, and far above anything I have had in Equestria." She softly shifting her body around for a better position. "Then, again, I created it, so I suppose I would be at least a little biased toward it. Regardless, I'd assume that you would still greatly enjoy it, as I am sure that one such as yourself would have such a palate, what with the orderly design of those restraints. Why not come out and try some?"

…Nothing.

"I see…" Luna breathed out tiredly. "No tea, then." Feeling the quelled storm in her head start to rise again, she refilled her empty cup and downed more than half of it, losing a little of her learned decorum while doing so. "It's not polite to decline an invitation to tea." That precious liquid still seemed to keep its edge though, as it quieted it down once more.

"Do you realize how unique your situation has become, Dreambreaker?" Princess Luna finally spoke up, "Other than dearest Celestia, no pony else has ever seen me look like this, has ever seen me look so standard."

She cringed as the last, passing wisps of her words stung her mind. "Not to say that there isn't anything special about the citizens of Equestria, mind you—they're all twice as exceptional as I am in their own ways."

No response.

How did they do this? How do they twist her up so much? "But…I stand by my initial phrasing. Some might say that this could be something to be happy about—having this extra attention—perhaps even proud of. But this situation isn't anything like that. You should be ashamed of yourself, not happy. You do not deserve to feel such things."

It didn't take long for her to start shaking her head at the dark tone rearing up in her voice.

"When did my words become so poisonous?"

The target of her harsh words, they deserved it, every single bit. But despite that, it still didn't stop a pain from stabbing her heart. Whomever was lurking inside that door, she or he is still a citizen of Equestria. By right and rule, she was not only obligated, but happily overachieved in her efforts to understand and love her people as best she could, no matter who they were. This especially rung true after her return from her corruption.

But this one has proven to be impossible. You cannot love or understand someone if they won't let you, and this "Dreambreaker" will not even give her so much as a "Hello."

Luna took a second and final swig of her second cup, something that didn't ring pleasant, but it could have been worse. She could have been on her sixth cup by now.

"So, I'd say that we've talked enough about me for one night. Let's talk about you. How's life? Is it treating you well?"

Their answer was typical.

"What about your schooling, or work? Have things been panning out? Perhaps we could discuss your home life. Do you have a partner? They refer to those as mare-slash-coltfriends these days, I believe. If not that, then what about a spouse? But you might have been through that process already, and actually have an entire family? Or are you all alone?"

She put her hoof to her chin with thought. "What…are your sleeping habits like? And by that, I mostly mean your dreams; how are your dreams, usually? Are you having any intriguing ones? Or maybe plaguing nightmares?"

Multiple minutes of tired anticipation passed by, before Luna dragged her hoof down her face with a groan, that all-too familiar bubbling rising to the surface. "You just refuse to work with me, don't you...?"

The tea's effects wore off much more quickly after the first, few rounds, and she promptly stood with a very sound stomp of that same hoof.

"Of course, of course you won't! But why would you?!" She turned around and began to walk away. "Why would you suddenly work with me, after all this time? Why would you suddenly have dreams, or nightmares? Why would you suddenly do, or be anything else than what you are, Dreambreaker?" She seethed. "You just sit there; you sit there and you mock me, night after night!"

Through gritted teeth, Luna's horn grew alight, and she shot another beam of magic into the keyhole, albeit with more force. The same absorption and deflection followed suit, but being mindful of the upcoming force, she put up a shield to block.

Shaking, she poured a few unsteady cups and wolfed them down in place of firing an already prepared barrage. Excess liquid streamed down from the corners of her mouth in ragged veins.

Finally setting the cup down, she forced herself to take deeper breaths and try to calm down again. The tea was failing her, but that was ok. She was going to give this one, maybe two more goes before it was her turn to really bite back.

Giving out a long sigh after what seemed like almost ten minutes of self-restraint—fur and mane a little mussed—Luna gingerly placed a hoof on the centered lock.

"And yet I have another "why", for you this time. Why are you doing this? Why won't you let me see you as all the others have?" Princess Luna desperately questioned to the barrier in front of her. "Do you hate me? Are you so utterly repulsed by me that you cannot even allow yourself to bear my company within a simple dream?"

Her hoof still on the lock, she gave a firm push, allowing the door to bounce a bit. The chains gave off their usual, pleasant ring as they reacted to the sudden force. "I suppose I can understand to an extent. My…crimes against our country were of no small consequence, but I paid for those sins with my banishment. What's more, I even punished myself for what happened! There's nothing else I can do!"

She gave another, defeating push. "My other subjects, they seem comfortable with the idea of my protection, now. Some are even overjoyed to see me in their dreams. It's only you that continues to resist, to my knowledge, at least." Her brow furrowed as she leaned her head against its surface as best she could, looking towards the floor. "Despite my own conflict, perhaps I should have been fine with this idea: to be content with letting one pony not wanting to see me, to not want my aid…but I'm not anymore, and not just because of the dangers of giving in." Her sight shifted to the wood, itself. "No matter how hard I try to think otherwise, no matter what possible loophole I may have looked for, you were the ultimate thing that kept me from that selfish freedom. You invade me like poison, and refuse to allow me my full peace of mind!"

The princess took her head off of the door's surface and gave a few light taps with the tip of her horn. "*Sigh…*So what would you allow, hm? How about an accord? Everypony loves a fair accord."

A few more taps. "Now how should I go about this?" She tapped three further times, muttering to herself.

Upon the rapping becoming somewhat of a habit, her face lit up with realization. "Dreambreaker," Luna stamped in authority, "I have a final proposition for you, this night. Give me liberty to fully enter your world. If you do, I shall only stay for half an hour; that's all. This way, we can meet, finally put this matter to bed, and I won't overstay my welcome. As a bonus, after we're done, I will give you a royal promise to never bother you ever again. What say you?"

Naturally, there was silence, but she thought that it was a good solution. It all made sense; it fell in line with what they both wanted—simply peerless. "Yes, I think that could work just fine. Now, if you could kindly let me inside and see…"

With a smile and a nod, she promptly advanced her weight onto the door, half-expecting it to open. Not only did it not do that, causing her to just bump into it with a loud grunt, but the chains kept as tightly-intact as always. That obnoxiously agreeable bell-like ringing grew just a little louder at the failure.

She backed away at this continued opposition with a monstrous sneer.

That was their last chance.

"No? Very well, then." Luna's face darkened once more. "We've been down this road, and you have officially exhausted my time and patience, so how about we just skip my usual strikes and move on to the main event? Who knows? Maybe you'll finally see things my way this time around."

Not waiting another second, she opened her own lock, letting the repressed frustrations and fury flow through her every fiber.

Oh, sweet release…

Silent, she began with a few, simple beams towards the door. At first, they were directed at the lock, but the target radius soon expanded. They started off at slow, controlled intervals. However, it did not take long for them to increase in speed and production. Before long, an entire scatter-shot barrage of magical bolts savagely assaulted the object in front of her.

By the time she ceased fire, heat emanated off of the chains, already impregnated with blue.

"Don't you dare think of shrugging that off to me, you cur! I am far from finished!" Her ear twitched.

Without hesitating, she unleashed a new attack in the form of magi-electrical discharge. Bolt after bolt pounded at the door, as a dream-variant of storm clouds charged to the princess' aid. Lifting her forehooves and body off the ground, she looked down upon the door.

"Oh, why did I ever bother creating that silly Tantabus?" She cursed, flinging the appendages towards its direction. At once more and more lightning struck, even stronger than the first phase of the attack. Smoke had begun to form around her opponent's barrier.

Seeing that it was no use, the dark alicorn dropped from her lofty position like a rock, creating an enormous, magical shockwave upon landing. The opposing forces pushed her some distance away.

Luna didn't let it all get away from her though, as she used her horn to reabsorb the energy back into her four hooves. This was quickly followed by a great charge, the speed unparalleled.

"You cause me enough suffering well on your own!" An audible crash soon came when her back hooves brutally collided with the metal.

"And your persistence; oh, it is so incredibly insulting!" Explosions of magic erupted at contact from the detestable entry. Her bucking turned into a four-hooved wailing. The ringing and jingling from the chains noise continued to intensify and assailed her ears. The metal now gave off a noticeable amount of heat.

Breathing hard and leaping back a few feet, hurling large blasts of moderate cobalt blue fire at her target on all sides. None missed and sent sparks of a similar color in every direction.

"You have reduced me in ways that few others have managed to do! You've slighted and humiliated and torn at me, and you've done it all without so much as a single word, not even a vowel!"

Back to facing the locked opening, directly, she charged up and unleashed a much stronger variant of the simple magic beam.

"I should be impressed, and maybe I once was, but no longer! I'm tired. Tired of doing this, night after night!" Her teeth clenched, the stream increased in strength.

"I am your Princess of the Night, and as a citizen of Equestria you will yield yourself to me—you will!" She tapped further into her vast power.

"Do it! Unlock!"

However, she was so busy continuing her onslaught that she failed to remember about the energy building up on her seemingly impervious target. They continued on like that until, eventually, the build reached critical point and released everything in an incredible shockwave, sending Luna flying and hitting the floor with heavy force.

The dark alicorn got up to all four hooves, sweating and trying to catch her breath from spending so much energy. At the very least, she could say that she gets a good workout through these constant trials.

As the dust settled, her eyes fixated on the door to see that, as per routine, it was still very much secure. There weren't even any scratches on it.

Mentally chalking up another failure to the board, she could only start laughing bitterly at the fruits of her efforts.

"That…that was about it for my end, for tonight. I won't try anything else." Luna finished with wiping stray traces of mane from in front of her eyes. "I've been leading the entire night, so unless you've anything to add, I shall be on my way."

Getting ready to make her exit, she re-placed the sabbatons, breastplate, and tiara back onto her person. Nevertheless, it looked like her opponent had other plans, still.

As if in reply to her query, silver light began emanating from the eight points of the supporting chains. It continued to grow, until suddenly an intense fire of the same color erupted from those points, and swiftly engulfed both their door, and the immediate area around it.

Save for her sister, should anypony else had borne witness to such an event, they would at least be visibly shaken. But why wouldn't they? The blaze was so…odd, in nature, so uncertain. It was strong, intimidating. She could physically feel the power coming from it. And yet, it was calm in the most contrasting of ways; ways that, after all of this time, she still couldn't explain apart from the cold. It wasn't a stinging cold though, but a sort of soothing one.

Luna stood bravely in front of the curious fire with a daring, expectant face, the lock and chains already melting. Before long, they did finish this action, and the resultant, liquefied metal shot up and bore into the wood to form that ever-fascinating symbol: Something that looked like a weirdly-curved horseshoe, combined with an asymmetrical cross. Finishing the ritual off, it came to rest dead-center on the charred barrier, veins of the metal extending throughout the frame like an archaic design, and dark-grayish orange embers dancing about the immediate space.

One last flash of white luminescence, and entryway opened up to her, and she strode inside the solid blackness, horn alight.

Should this have happened when Luna first started working with them, she would have thought that her efforts had finally weakened the door enough to unlock it. She knew better, now. It was opening because it wanted to, and for no other reason. This only added to the seeming irremediable essence of the situation.

Even now, their "dream's" nullity somehow managed to still unsettle the alicorn, if only slightly. Why that was, she was still trying to figure it out.

Perhaps it was the fact that time felt like it slowed to a halt, even though she knew reality said the opposite. Maybe it was because every hoofstep, every noise that was uttered was uncomfortably muffled, and yet, still found a way to reflect off of nonexistent walls. Or it could just be because she was subjected to somepony else's rules for once, instead of the other way around.

"Is this it?" Her warped, biting question reverberated throughout the void. "Is this all you ever have to offer me; opposition and darkness?" The words continued to distortedly ring around in the pitch, while she sat down once more, albeit to try to relax and better hear some kind of audible reply.

But no such answer came.

In place of that, another, calm, silver light appeared not too far off from where she sat. Immediately, Luna rose to her hooves and walked towards the source. She was momentarily intrigued in what they might have had in store, but that faded quickly upon finding herself being blinded and engulfed in a bubble of the same hue. Following a quick rubbing of the eyes, she focused her attention back to what caused the flash, already aware of what happened. Before her was a familiar-but-interesting plant.

It most echoed after a small branch of a tree, covered in three-pronged, medium-sized, spade-shaped leaves. What left it had in store for her were smaller branches that held either what appeared to be berries, or flowers. Each branch had either one, or the other; never both. The flowers themselves consisted of a five-petal bloom. Some were horizontally erect, so as to resemble a star, while others curved downward, creating a sort of inverted bell shape. Silver had consumed nearly all of this organism, not counting the rather large, yellow stamen that protruded from the middle of the flowers. It had turned simple berries into ovoid pearls that glistened like the very precious metal, itself. The same thing applies very much to the flowers, making them shine like a well-smith-ed product. To a less-noticeable extent, the leaves and branches shared this aspect.

The tranquil light coming from it never failed to temporarily mesmerize her with intrigue.

"Now how could I have forgotten this?" She asked inside the sphere with a frown and returned voice. "The Solanum Dulcamara presents itself to me. Still yours, I assume, but that's beside the point. Because this is here, I suppose that means you have decided to have some say tonight." Out of reflex, Luna attempted wrapped her magical grip around the plant. Naturally, this yielded no results, as the magic instantly dissipated.

"Even your creations remain defiant." Trying another way, she reached to try and pick it up with her mouth, but was stopped by a second and much smaller magical bubble. This process of trial and error went along for a few, increasingly painful rounds before she acquiesced to that, as well.

"These more "intimate" steps to our dances are far-too few compared to how things are otherwise, and even with this in mind, you still won't let at least me walk out with this parting gift?" Luna pointed her solemn question to the half-sphered plant she softly pawed at.

After what was sure to be their final declination, she turned and trudged out the larger dome, wincing as the emptiness' heavy atmosphere revisited her.

"I can feel that our time together is finally up." She called as she went further away from what might have been the center of this new domain. "And I leave with all of the same questions, and no answers. If nothing else, I can still say that at least you are determined."

"But I am just as determined. No matter how you may feel about this, I am still your princess. You cannot win, and as long as I have domain over this realm, we will continue working until we get some cooperation from you."

It felt like an eternity, but, at last, the princess reached the edge. That said, before leaving, she halted and glowered at the door. "You are lucky that my proactive searches for those answers were halted by our various disasters and emergencies, but we are now settled in another time of peace. As such, the hunt can hopefully continue, soon."

She grabbed hold of their door and firmly shut it, hearing the insignia melt and reform into those accursed restraints again, as she walked away.

A symbol that is not knowingly archived and a sub-species of flower she can't trace…that's all they gave her to work with.

"I do not know why you decided to take these actions, and at this point, I don't really care. All that matters to me now is finding you. And Dreambreaker…?" Luna ignited her exit into the waking world, turned her head back to their door as she did so. "One day, I will find you."

And with one, last, scornful glare, she released herself from her nightly duties.


A bit of a gamble, this story. As you may have well seen, this chapter was...extensively heavy on the narrative. Due to more elements being included in chapter 2, onward, this should no longer be the case. If it is, it will not be in anything that I can personally see in the chronological near-future of the other ones. More will be one the way. Hope you decide to stick around to see it.

Editing assistance for this chapter came from Bluecatcinema and secondary advisory was from Kurly45674. Please support them however you can.