Mind Games

Royal pain

Presently, outside the Royal Palace.

“Well, here we are dear.” Rarity told Apple Bloom, whom still seemed down.

Apple Bloom looked up at the doors to the palace, but didn’t say anything.

The two made their way inside to the grand hall where they had been just days prior. They waited for a while, until Rarity finally broke the silence.

“Hmm…it’s odd that she’s taking so long. The Princesses are usually so punctual.” She said aloud.

As if on cue, a horrible instrument began to play atop the stairs, revealing Discord in a poofy guard outfit playing a flugelhorn.

“Announcing! Her semi-royal highness-ess! Princess Celestia!” Discord announced as Princess Celestial walked through the doors, before being bombarded by the sound of Discord playing the horn again.

Celestia stuck a hoof in the instrument, silencing it, before speaking to Discord.

“Thank you Discord. That will be all for now.” She told the draconequus.

Discord then changed into a soldier outfit, and saluted the princess with a serious face, before falling backwards and disappearing into a pool of water out-of-nowhere.

Princess Celestia then turned her attention to her guests, as she made her way down the stairs.

“I’m sorry if I kept you waiting.” She told the fillies.

“Not at all your highness.” Rarity told the Princess with a bow, while Apple Bloom just lowered her head.

“Now, as for why you’re here.” Celestia told the two.

“Miss Rarity said you needed to speak with me.” Apple Bloom replied.

“Yes, that’s correct.” Celestia told the filly. “Welcome Apple Bloom, you seem to be handling what must have happened last night to Zecora fairly well.”

“Ah won’t lie your highness. Ah’m still really upset by it, but Ah’m moving on. It’s what Zecora would’a wanted.” Apple Bloom replied.

“That’s very noble of you.” Princess Celestia responded. “Now, has Rarity told you why you’re here?”

“She wasn’t very specific, but Ah’m guessing it’s got something to do with Queen Chrysalis’ disappearance?” Apple Bloom replied.

“Indeed, it does.” Celestia answered. “I need for you to either provide me with absolute proof, or a third party statement that can prove that neither you nor Zecora were involved with the events that occurred here last night.” She told the filly.

“Princess Celestia, if I may.” Rarity interrupted. “The others and I already explained earlier that we were with Zecora and Apple Bloom the entire time last night.”

“I understand that.” Celestia replied to Rarity, looking at her. “However, even though enough of you were here earlier to make the third party statements necessary to prove your innocence; unfortunately, without Zecora here on your behalf, or another pony, your options have become fewer for Apple Bloom.

“But your highness!...” Rarity began to speak, before Apple Bloom cut her off.

“Your highness.” She spoke to Celestia.

“Yes Apple Bloom?” Princess Celestia responded to the filly, looking down at her now.

Apple Bloom interrupting her caught Rarity off guard, as she watched the little filly take a deep breath, before speaking to Princess Celestia once more.

“In the past day, Ah’ve had my world turned upside down in more ways than one.” Apple Bloom told the Princess. “Ah’ve had Zecora finally recover from her headaches, only to say that everything that she knew was a lie. We sheltered a bunch of ponies for different reasons, all saying crazing things about Queen Chrysalis being evil. Ah stood and watched Princess Luna tear apart our home and threatened Zecora. And to top it all off, Ah had to hear about what happened to Zecora from ponies other than me. So please Princess; if you wanna tell me that either Ah, or Zecora are accused of treason, then by all means you can go to Tartarus.” Apple Bloom finished telling the Princess, a serious look on her face.

“Apple Bloom dear…” Rarity replied, shocked by the words the filly had used.

Princess Celestia looked down at the serious looking filly, an unemotional look upon her own face. She then closed her eyes, before lifting her head up and saying with a smile.

“Very well then. You are free to go.”

“What?” Rarity and Apple Bloom said in unison, surprised looks on their faces.

“Despite these times that we are facing at this very moment, and despite all of the developments that appear to be occurring every minute, you had the resolve to say to a Princess under Queen Chrysalis’ rule what you just said to me. Let’s just say I don’t know what kind of pony I’d be if I punished you for speaking your mind like that.” Princess Celestia told the two, a happy look on her face.

“Your highness…” The two responded in unison.

Princess Celestia raised a hoof to reassure them.

“You must forgive me for sounding unsympathetic, but we will hold a proper ceremony for Zecora once this entire ordeal is over.” Celestia told the filly.

“Thank you your highness.” Apple Bloom replied.

“No. Thank you. For bringing to our attention something that we should have been helping with a long time ago.” Princess Celestia replied.

“What’s that?” Rarity asked.

“The needs of the ponies.” Celestia responded, looking up to the skylight. “I thank you for your time in coming here, you may go now.” She told the two, returning her gaze to them.

“Yes your highness.” The two said in unison, bowing at the same time.

Rarity and Apple Bloom then turned around and made their way to the door. Rarity opened the door with her magic and held it open for Apple Bloom.

“Apple Bloom.” Princess Celestia called out to the filly one last time.

“Yes ma’am?” Apple Bloom answered.

“She shall be missed.” Princess Celestia told the filly, closing her eyes and lowering her head.

“Thank you Princess.” Apple Bloom replied, before turning around and walking out the door.

Rarity followed suit, shutting the door behind them.

Princess Celestia stood in the quiet of the room for a minute, before taking a deep breath and speaking.

“Discord.” Celestia said aloud.

Discord appeared in a flash behind her, holding a small bell by his paw.

“You rang?” He answered, flicking the bell with his claw, causing it to ding.

“Discord, have you seen my sister?” Celestia asked, not turning around to look at him.

“Dunno. She disappeared again.” Discord replied, cutting a piece of paper with scissors, before pulling it apart to reveal several cut-out moons and Lunas.

“I would like for you to find her, and any other leads as to the whereabouts of the ponies that escaped.” Celestia told Discord, while still facing away.

Discord was playing with a yo-yo by flicking it up, instead of down, until he realized the serious of Celestia’s tone.

“I’ll join you in a little while.” She said once more.

Discord tossed the yo-yo behind himself, before responding.

“Very well Celestia.” He said, before disappearing in a flash of magic and reappearing outside the Royal Palace in a rowing boat.

Discord began to row himself away from the palace, until he felt a large rumble emanate all around him. Trees began to shake, the gates began to rattle, and the lights inside began to flicker. Discord was almost thrown from his boat, before the rumbling stopped and a giant surge of magic erupted from inside the palace. He immediately began rowing faster and faster away, leaving a dirt trail in the ground.

Meanwhile, at Donut Joes.

“Woah!” Braeburn called out. “Did ya’ll feel that tremor?”

“I felt it too. It’s not normal for Canterlot to experience earthquakes.” Twilight replied.

“I’ll say!” Spike added on.

“You okay Fluttershy?” Rainbow Dash asked her yellow friend.

Fluttershy slowly moved, before sitting up on her own.

“I’m…better.” She replied. “I must look rough, huh?”

“No, you’re just a little shaken up.” Dash answered.

“Probably from those vibrations.” Spike added.

“You seem, content.” Braeburn told Fluttershy.

“Heh, content. That’s a first.” Fluttershy replied.

“You’ve never been content with anything before?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“Please. Braeburn’s just always trying to calm me down, but I don’t know why.” Fluttershy responded.

“Well, you should be content. Things can’t always be so bad.” Dash replied.

“Yeah, and I’d have thrown you out of the Salt Block just as much as I have him if you said that to me.” Fluttershy told the Pegasus.

“That wouldn’t be so bad.” Rainbow Dash replied.

“And why is that?” Fluttershy asked.

“Because we’re friends.” Rainbow Dash answered.

Fluttershy chuckled to herself, upon hearing that somepony would be happy with being thrown out of a watering hole and call it friendship.

“You know what? You’re alright Rain…?” Fluttershy began to say, but forgot the Pegasus’ name.

“Rainbow Dash.” Rainbow Dash responded.

“Yeah, that’s right. Rainbow Dash.” Fluttershy said to herself.

Twilight let out a sigh.

“You still don’t remember, do you?”

“No, can’t say that I do.” Fluttershy replied.

“It’ll all come back. I’m sure it will.” Spike spoke up.

Fluttershy sat there for a minute, thinking to herself.

“…What was I like before?” She asked.

“Huh?” Everyone responded.

“You keep going on that we knew each other once. So, what was I like?” Fluttershy asked again.

“Well you weren’t so mean, that’s for sure.” Spike replied, before getting poked in the head by Twilight.

“Humph. Go on.” Fluttershy spoke.

“You were a lot more…caring and looked out for others. Especially your friends and the little woodland creatures.” Twilight responded.

“You’re starting to lose me here.” Fluttershy replied.

“It’s true!” Rainbow Dash told Fluttershy. “You stood up to a dragon for us, cheered me on to do my signature ‘Sonic Rainboom.’”

“You saved me and the Cutie Mark Crusaders from the Cockatrice, tried to nurse Philomena back to health for Princess Celestia.” Twilight added on.

“Helped me pick Tank as my pet, stood up to that bully Iron Will.” Rainbow Dash added on. “You even got over your fear of flying in front of others by helping me and all the other Pegasi get that water from the reservoir up to Cloudsdale!”

“Wow…I…really did all that?” Fluttershy asked.

“You did!” Rainbow Dash replied.

“And it’s because of all that and so much more that you’re our friend!” Twilight added on.

“I…I don’t know what…I feel…” Fluttershy started to say.

Twilight, Rainbow Dash, and Spike’s eyes all lit up, as they were expecting this to be the point where Fluttershy remembered who she was.

However, instead of an ascension of kindness, the group was greeted by another loud rumble; this time occurring much closer by.

“Waah!” Twilight, Rainbow, and Spike exclaimed.

“What the hay was that!?” Fluttershy yelled quietly.

“I hate to break up your friendship get-together, but we got ourselves a big situation out here!” Braeburn told the rest of the group.

“What is it!?” Rainbow Dash asked.

Twilight moved over to the window next to Braeburn, letting out a gasp.

“It’s Princess Luna! She must’ve followed us here somehow!” Twilight exclaimed.

“Oh come on! Doesn’t she know when to quit!?” Fluttershy yelled.

“What are we supposed to do now!?” Braeburn asked.

“Oooohhh! We’ll never get anywhere at this rate if she keeps coming after us!” Twilight said aloud.

“So what do we do?” Spike asked.

Twilight thought for a second, trying to think of the best course of action, when only one solution came to mind.

“I’m afraid we have no choice.” Twilight responded.

“You don’t mean?” Spike asked.

“I’m afraid so Spike.” Twilight answered. “We’re going to have to stand up to her and convince her to stop.”

“Aw yeah!” Rainbow Dash said in agreement.

“You bet your flank that I’m coming too!” Fluttershy yelled quietly.

“Yeah.” Braeburn agreed nervously.

“I guess so.” Spike agreed nervously as well.

“Alright then, let’s end this!” Twilight told the group.

The group then ran outside the store and stood off in front of Princess Luna.

Princess Luna’s eyes were glowing white, as her magic swirled around her. She finally noticed the group, before speaking in her Royal Canterlot voice.

“Finally ready to turn thyselves in!?” Luna asked.

“You were vicious like this when you were Nightmare Moon, Princess Luna, but that’s not who you are anymore!” Twilight told the Princess.

“Yeah! What she said!” Spike added on.

“You wouldn’t put innocent ponies in danger by chasing after us like you have!” Rainbow Dash added.

“I don’t even know you from before, but I never did like that smug look you always had on your face!” Fluttershy yelled quietly.

“And you better believe that I’m gonna stand by Fluttershy!” Braeburn added on.

“We must say, seeing thy magical expertise has gotten us thinking.” Princess Luna spoke, looking over at Twilight.

“Huh!?” Twilight replied.

“While we hath never seen thou before, we keep hearing this voice in our head, telling us to not fall victim to you. Not again.” Princess Luna spoke.

“Well you’re too late for that now!” Rainbow Dash spoke.

“And we plan on making up for lost time.” Princess Luna replied, before her body once again began to change into the form of Nightmare Moon. “BY A THOUSAND MOONS!!”

“Oh my! I’ve never seen her like this before!” Fluttershy said aloud.

“She’s turned into Nightmare Moon!” Twilight responded. “I always hoped that this would never happen again!”

“We don’t have all the Elements of Harmony, Twilight!” Spike told her. “What are we gonna do!?”

“We’ll just have to give it our all with what we’ve got!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed, before flying up and preparing for a nosedive.

“Get ready everypony!” Twilight called out.

Nightmare Moon then began to gather her magic even more, preparing to release it all at once upon her victims.

The group prepared themselves for her attack, and began to ready their own; when suddenly, something unexpected happened.

Nightmare Moon’s magic began to lessen, until it all but disappeared. She looked on in anger at the ponies in front of her, before her vision began to go dark and she collapsed on the ground, turning back to Princess Luna once more.

“Princess Luna!” Twilight called out, running over to the fallen alicorn.

“What happened?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“She just collapsed.” Braeburn answered.

“Talk about a dud.” Fluttershy said aloud.

“I think she must’ve used up all her magic.” Twilight replied, looking Luna over.

“Huh?” The rest of the group replied.

“She must have used Nightmare Moon’s powers too many times, or overused her magic in general too much lately.” Twilight told the group.

“So who is Nightmare Moon anyway?” Braeburn asked.

“She’s one of the two royal sisters who ruled over all of Equestria.” Twilight began to speak. “Eventually though, the younger one grew jealous of her older sister and allowed her darkness to overcome her. This is what led to the birth of Nightmare Moon; a pony who threatened the good of the land in favor of her eternal night.”

“So what should we do about her now that she’s back to being Princess Luna?” Braeburn asked.

“I really wish that we could try to talk some sense into her, but I’m afraid she probably won’t be waking up for a while.” Twilight replied.

“That meanie left me freezing on the moon! I should give her a piece of my mind!” Fluttershy exclaimed.

“Fluttershy no!” Twilight spoke.

“Yeah Fluttershy!” Rainbow Dash added. “I know you don’t remember being the kind you that we remember, but please don’t ruin your old self by doing something.”

Fluttershy thought to herself for a minute, before turning away from Luna and responding.

“Fine, but only because you asked me nicely.”

Braeburn looked on at Fluttershy in surprised shock.

“I don’t believe it. Is this really the same Fluttershy I knew for years?” He thought to himself.

“Come on everypony. It’s probably best if we make our way to Rainbow Falls as soon as possible. We need to stop Spitfire and the Flim Flam Brothers” Twilight told the group.

“You said it Twilight!” Spike replied.

“I’m down.” Rainbow Dash responded.

“We’re ready.” Fluttershy and Braeburn said.

The group then took off for the train station, leaving Princess Luna lying unconscious on the ground.

Shortly after, Discord stood up from behind a small bush nearby, before his jaw literally fell off and hit the ground.

“Oh my.” His mouth said from the ground.

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