Strangers in the Night
The night terrors Nightmare Moon had created now toyed with her, preyed on her fear as she had intended them to prey on all mortals.
Just outside the moonlit clearing she could hear things lurking and at times she'd see malicious glowing eyes staring back at her.
She grit her teeth, regaining control of her emotions. She was Nightmare Moon, mistress of the night. She feared nothing. She looked back contemptuously at the creatures in the darkness, however, as the night continued, the sounds grew more menacing and her mask of bravado quickly wore away.
She could hear the creatures out there, but none dared enter the clearing. As time dragged on, she found it harder and harder to concentrate, the pain from physical fatigue, hunger and the insect bite keeping her in a constant state of discomfort. Despite that, she found her eyelids growing heavier and her head nodded and she woke with a start.
She had nearly fallen asleep, the greatest of all terrors, the nightly death that afflicts all mortals, leaving their bodies helpless and feeble minds at the mercy of their dreams.
For hour after seemingly endless hour she fought against sleep, refusing to give in. The night seemed to last forever, the things in the forest never letting up their torment. Some part of her mind endlessly visualized the horrible things making the otherworldly noises she heard and her imagination made them more and more unspeakable.
How was it possible to be this afraid for so long? Surely there had to come a point when she could no longer feel fear, but each new sound drove her deeper,she was near hysterics when the first light of dawn began to tint the sky.
When the light touched the clearing, the creatures retreated and the sounds of nature ruled once more.
Nightmare Moon looked up at the sky, seeing the breaking dawn and for an instant felt relief. But her weary mind and body rebelledwas she so weak that she'd given into Celestia's manipulation so easily? She just needed to get away from the forest. In the daylight she could admit to herself that filling the forest with monsters wasn't a wise decision. With effort she stood, her body protesting its prolonged mistreatment, but she ignored the pain and began walking.
She had to force her body to take each step, a weary, staggering gait. Not caring where her hooves took her. Only one thing mattered now. Get out. Out of her forest. She trudged on, wanting most desperately to be free.
Fatigue took its toll. The black pony frequently stumbled as her body cried out for rest and nourishment. Eventually the trees began to thin out and the oppressive feel grew lighter. Through gaps in the trees she could see grasslands in the distance and she found herself glad.
As she neared the edge of the clearing a strange scent met her nose, something wondrous, enticing and almost hypnotic. She followed it, not sure why a smell could cause a mortal body to react so. She followed it until it led to an enclosed cart that sat on the side of the road. Strangely, in a bridle in front of the cart was a pony clearly made of wood.
She went up to the cart, found the back door slightly ajar, and pushed the door open. Clearly someone used it to live in, and despite being a traveling home, it was very meticulously maintained. She began rummaging around trying to find the source of the scent, all the while cursing her clumsy hooves and dearly wishing for the return of her magical powers.
Unable to find the source inside the trailer she went back outside and finally found the source of the wonderful aroma.
Over a small fire was a pot with some thick fluid-like substance bubbling. It was from that concoction the smell emanated. She guessed from her body's reaction to the aroma that the contents must be food and the look and smell was very appetizing.
She stuck her nose in the pot to eat then she paused a moment, her mind processing a new sensation. She screamed, pulling her nose out of the hot soup and swearing and kicking wildly in a rage. She bucked over the wooden stand that held the soup, spilling the contents of the pot all over the ground and now splashing some on herself, making her even angrier. As she thrashed about, she lashed out at the wooden pony at the front of the cart, breaking it.
"Who dares molest the goods of the Great and Powerful Trixie?" An outraged voice demanded.
Enraged and cursing, Nightmare Moon turned to the light blue unicorn, who wore a cape and hat of dark blue, covered with stars.
"You will rue this day, nag, for Nightmare Moon will be avenged!" she snarled.
Trixie looked at her for a few moments and then laughed at her. This enraged Nightmare Moon more. She charged at Trixie, kicking wildly, only to find herself lifted into the air and thrown around like a rag doll.
"Yes, of course you're Nightmare Moon. I should have realized that the moment I detected your complete and utter lack of magical powers or even a cutie mark. The Great and Powerful Trixie is not amused by your antics. You ransack my home, ruin my meal and then break my walking horse? Nightmare Moon indeed! You are nothing but a common thief and vandal. Though perhaps uncommon, as you seem to even be inept at that."
"Put me down, mortal, or I shall smite you!"
Trixie made an overly exaggerated yawn and covered her mouth politely with a hoof.
"As terrified as I am of your awesome lack of powers, there is the matter of the destruction you caused," Trixie said, releasing Nightmare Moon and letting her crash to the ground, knocking the wind out of her.
Nightmare Moon struggled to her feet and tried to charge at Trixie again, but a rope snaked around her legs and bound them, causing her to stumble. She strained against the ropes, again snarling and cursing.
"Oh my, again with such language. You offend my delicate ears." A rope appeared and wrapped around Nightmare Moon's muzzle, binding it shut. Nightmare Moon grit her teeth, the intense burning sensation from the hot soup on her muzzle making the pressure from the rope agonizingly intense. She could feel moisture leaking from her eyes in reaction to the pain and she worried she was bleeding again. She opened her eyes and was relieved to see only water droplets running down her cheeks. After a few moments she felt the rope around her muzzle loosen a little bit.
"Who are you and what are you doing out here?" Trixie demanded.
"I am Nightmare Moon and I have been cursed by Celestia with this pathetic mortal form," she sneered.
"Alright, more specifically, what were you doing here at my cart?"
"I require sustenance for this weak body and yours looked and smelled pleasing."
"So you just thought you could take what you wanted?"
"I am Nightmare Moon. I am the true ruler of Equestria!"
"Then, true ruler of Equestria, you spilled my food and broke my things?"
"Release me, mortal, your queen commands it!" she shouted.
"Princess Celestia is our 'queen'," Trixie said, making quote marks in the air with her hooves. "And if that's any indication as to how you'd run things, then it's not surprising she's the one in charge rather than you."
This infuriated Nightmare Moon and she began ranting about Celestia. In response, Trixie tightened the rope around her muzzle again.
Trixie turned away from Nightmare Moon and began examining the damage to her possessions.
"Well, nothing's broken inside the cart and the meal was fairly inexpensive. But the walking horse, the one thing I can't rebuild myself, is the one thing you break. That took a great deal of time and resources to acquire and your foalish behavior ruined it. I'll need to have an expert repair it."
The broken wooden pony then shrank down to miniature size and levitated over to Trixie, whose hat raised up and the wooden pony disappeared inside. Her attention now turned to Nightmare Moon, an evil grin on her face.
Trixie lifted the bound Nightmare Moon and set her down, her head in the now cold soup spilled in the grass.
"You have ruined my meal, so enjoy it. Eat up, you will need your strength," she said, turning away.
Being so close to the food, the smell in her nostrils and her terrible gnawing hunger finally won out. Nightmare Moon reluctantly began eating, grass and all. She didn't care; she just had to make the hunger go away, unable to bear it a moment longer.
Though she would be loath to admit it, she took strange satisfaction from the process of eating. She continued eating until the pain of emptiness was replaced with the pain of having eaten too much. Again she cursed the vagaries of the mortal body.
Having eaten her fill and stuck lying down brought her new concerns. The fatigue she had fought against fell on her anew. Her eyelids began to close.
"You must release me! Slumber is trying to overtake me!" she said, nearly in panic.
"I must not sleep. I will dream!" she said, her panic doubled in her voice.
The rope around her muzzle bound tight, sealing her mouth closed.
Trixie walked over to her, her horn glowing.
"You are of no use to me weary, so sleep!" she commanded and Nightmare Moon could feel the magical forces trying to overtake her will. She fought mightily against the power, but her weakened state couldn't resist for long and soon she slept.