Sands of Gold and Red: Duality
Well, that was quite an experience.
My butt hurts, my legs shake, all I can smell is sweat and... other things. His feathers tickle my muzzle and my ribs are cracking under the pressure of his embrace. I couldn't be happier.
Best Heart's Warming ever.
It was Heart's Warming eve, parties all over Equestria were in full swing, and everypony was with their loved ones. There was one pony who avoided these sorts of gatherings though. It wasn't as if she didn't have any friends or family but she preferred the quiet atmosphere of her dark room adorned with expensive furniture and, most of all, her comfortable bed. Most ponies would consider princess Luna a shut-in but those who knew how she expressed herself would be sure she was closer to her subjects than any party could arrange. This evening belonged to her sister who was enjoying the attention of various nobles, guards, and other guests in the castle ballroom and, although she would never admit it, getting mildly wasted. After the celebration, unless Celestia found somepony charming enough to fit her high standards, the sisters would have time for each other but, for now, Luna was alone.
She needed somepony to talk to, somepony who would understand. It wasn't anything serious, she just wanted somepony who could relate to her to listen. Heart's Warming was painful to her, although the wound was slowly fading away. Every year just reminded her how alone she'd been after her return but that hadn't been a problem until the death of Sharp Biscuit, her bodyguard. He used to be shunned as well by his family, thestrals being very unappreciative about colt cuddlers, so they'd usually spent this time of the year together, drinking and stargazing. That had changed when young Blazing Light came to Canterlot and introduced Heavy Hoof to Sharp, thus robbing princess Luna of their together time. She wasn't bitter about it, she was happy that had happened even despite the result being Sharp's death.
Perhaps he could be her company until Celestia came?
Blazing was difficult to find, his power shielding him from all unnatural effects, but Luna was slowly getting used to working around it. Now, unless he was actively protecting himself, she was able to find him, although it took significantly more effort than her usual dreamwalking, and pay him a visit.
Every mind had a shape, an internal landscape - place where it felt safe or which let it focus, and this was the first time she was here. Blazing's mind was a large city resembling Manehattan, no big surprise considering he'd grown up there, but the city was devastated as if struck by a tornado, buildings ripped to pieces and turned to rubble of glass, steel, and concrete. Despite that, it was peaceful. After the first glance she had expected corpses, fires, and other sights going hoof to hoof with such disaster but nothing of that sort was present. The city was destroyed, empty, calm, and the sky was covered with grey clouds but the air was warm, fresh, and calmed princess Luna's inner turmoil.
Luna looked into a piece of shattered window and jumped backwards. She knew the face looking back at her far too well. Cyan eyes with slit pupils, pitch black coat, blue ethereal mane speckled with glowing dots, and a helmet made of blue steel were a visage of something she'd carry with her for a very long time.
What was Nightmare Moon doing here though?
"Welcome back, little filly," the mirror image chuckled.
Luna took another step back as, with a crack, her past self effortlessly dragged herself out of the broken window. Focusing her magic, Luna gasped. It wasn't working! She tried to run but to no avail, her hooves glued to the concrete by black goo. Nightmare Moon walked to her, put a hoof under her muzzle and forced Luna to look the deity in the eyes.
"Nice of you to come here, Luna."
Luna wanted to speak, to scream, but as she opened her mouth she found her lips sealed by the same black substance. Nightmare Moon waved her hoof around at the ruined city and opened her mouth full of sharp teeth.
"In your dream, nopony can hear you scream."
"Cheap and unoriginal," came a voice from behind Luna.
"Cheap and unoriginal," came a voice from behind Nightmare Moon.
An orange beam passed Luna, singing her coat a little but melting the black goo wherever it affected her, and striking Nightmare Moon directly in the chest. Rearing on her hind legs and shielding herself with her wings, Nightmare Moon had nothing to protect her from a sharp stalagmite of black ice coming from the ground under her and spearing her through. The dark goddess disappeared.
Luna could see a black unicorn jump into the air from his hiding place behind a piece of a broken wall, sprout a pair of blue-black wings, and soar into the sky.
"No idea how he does that, I feel sick walking on thick horseshoes."
Luna twitched and turned.
"Blazing? How?" she asked, eyes growing wide.
The second unicorn was about as tall as her, his fur was replaced by bronze changeling armorplates, but he still had the blonde mane she remembered. The two biggest differences were the fire wings on his back and his eyes. Luna knew the look. She remembered the glowing red eyes of her sister when she had fought her a millenium ago. She remembered Void's golden eyes, furious after Celestia locked him up, with his stare giving off enough power to make the young alicorn of the Moon tremble. Later, when Luna grew up, she saw eyes like that in the mirror. Blazing's eyes, blue like a clear summer sky, were burning with inner fire she'd never seen in him before.
"Hey, I can ask the same thing, your Highness. I don't think you've ever visited me while I was sleeping before."
"I just wanted to chat a little."
"With me?" the shock in Blazing's voice returned Luna to reality. No matter how much power the young unicorn had gained, no matter how much he'd been through, he was still a shy little creature compared to her. Little creature that has just effortlessly wiped out her worst nightmare. Speaking of which...
"What was that thing?"
Blazing nervously scratched his head and waved at Luna to follow him.
"Sadly, I do."
"I stole a bit of Nightmare's power while it was controlling you so I could stand on even ground. Even with mirror Sombra's help it wasn't enough but the stolen power sort of stuck with me. The Nightmare appears from time to time."
"You don't seem bothered."
"Right now, I feel I can deal with it."
Luna looked around as they walked through the city ruins.
"Are you sure? Most ponies' minds look a bit more... complete. A calm piece of nature or the memory of a family house."
"Heh, considering my relationship with my family and all of them being dead I doubt I'll ever remember our Manehattan mansion fondly."
They entered a small campsite where the rubble had been cleared out and a small tent was standing with fire burning outside of it. The black unicorn was already there watching both of them approach. Luna could easily recognize a shattered mind when she saw it but most of the time the split personalities were in conflict. Nothing of that sort seemed to be happening here.
"And who are you?" she asked the black unicorn. She knew he looked like Blazing after being resurrected by Sombra's dark magic with some small differences. His coat was still dark grey but there was a glassy blue glimmer making him look as if he was made of living ice. On top of that, the pink eyes showed no signs of blindness whatsoever.
"That little voice who kept bugging that piece of crap," he pointed at Blazing, "and kicking him until he became the outstanding member of society he's now. You can call me Mistake."
"And what a great job you did, bastard," Blazing laughed, irony ringing on every word. Still, Luna felt as if there was a love-hate relationship there, like two friends close enough to be able to tell each other anything and take it.
"I think he did. You've changed a lot," Luna had to take Mistake's side who grinned widely, sat down, and crossed his front legs on his chest satisfiedly.
"Pfff," Blazing waved it off, "I'm still the weird, uncomfortable, antisocial, and generally useless pony I was when I ran away from home. I just can set ponies on fire when they say it now."
"That might be the case," Luna smiled, raising an eyebrow, "but the Blazing I remember from your first days in Canterlot would get lost in those words. You feel as if you still believe them but at least you can put some distance between yourself and them and be objective. The change seems quite recent as well."
"He finally got laid," Mistake snorted, "That's all."
Blazing literally burst into flames. Fortunately, this being partially a dream, it didn't do much harm.
"I-I-I... Chokey did as well... the sex thing I mean."
"Yeeeees," Mistake admitted, "but there's a time and place for everything. You and Chokey being together after the first invasion was stopped... it was different."
"Stop doing that," princess Luna had trouble not laughing as well.
"Sighing when you are happy. That can't be healthy."
"Just like screaming 'Buck me like the good whorse I am!' over and over," Mistake had to cover himself with his blackfrost wing when a ball of fire flew at him.
"Now I get it," princess Luna covered her muzzle with a hoof but her eyes betrayed her enjoyment, "Feeling wanted and desirable, young unicorn, as if you could do anything?"
"Why meeee?" Blazing drew his fire wings in front of his face. His own mind betraying him, the wings grew see-through enough for the blush on his face to be visible. Failing to hide, he sqeaked, "Maybe."
"There is nothing wrong with it," Luna shrugged.
"It's just new to me," Blazing looked at the sky where the clouds were clearing up, "I knew I was needed, sort of, to stop Sombra and do all the other stuff but... truly wanted? I must admit it feels really nice."
"Too bad the alicorn of Love is already taken. I feel as if you could become it."
"Heh, Void told me I could be the successor to Death, now you tell me it could be Love. I think both of you are wrong though."
"Oh? The study of alicorns isn't something ponies in the past were able to pursue freely. What do you think you've found out?"
"I think alicorns are resistant or immune to their aspect."
"I'm not sure but I think alicorns who are not tied to natural flow but rather to a mental force become desensitized to it and while they can spread it they need somepony else to show it to them."
"That is an interesting observation. My sister told me Cadance sometimes used to be a very depressed pony before she met Twilight and Shining Armor. You might be right."
"And it might not be tied to alicornhood but to the fact that she was a teenager," Mistake stuck his tongue out, "But, as the idiot here is taking forever to say, he didn't base his guess on Cadance but on Void who respects and protects life more than anypony we know."
"So, what is your conclusion then, Blazing?" Luna asked and held her breath.
"Well, I can't live for myself. I just see no future for which I should aim when I try but when I think about Chokey and Cro I know I want to be with them no matter what. Heavy made me realize it but neither of them would be here without me. I gave them hope for the future and that's what they are to me."
"The alicorn of Hope. That doesn't sound bad at all."
"I'm still just a unicorn, princess," Blazing raised his hooves, "And I'd prefer it staying that way. Immortality would, as they say, screw everything up."
Luna heard a distant knocking.
"I am happy for you," she said, "I truly am. You deserve happiness after all you've done."
"You seem like you have to go."
"Yes, my sister is done with the party and we have much to talk about."
"Thank you for visiting me here, princess."
"No, I have to thank you, Blazing. Both of us commited atrocities most ponies can't even imagine but you found a way out of it, or a certain thestral and griffon duo did it for you. I now know for sure there's hope for forgiveness even for me."
"Don't be too hard on yourself, princess."
"I won't be, not anymore. By the way, ask Twilight for some local analgesic tomorrow if you have trouble walking," Luna chuckled and her form became transparent.
"You just had to include an anal joke..."
Her laugh echoing through the city was his only answer.