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And at the End, You Shall Remain Alone · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
What Dreams Are Made Of
"Tell me what her dreams are made of?"

Cadance asks me this one afternoon, whilst we are alone with Flurry Heart in the Crystal Castle's nursery. She strokes her daughter's mane tenderly, her face drawn from one lost night after another. Yet fatigue dulls not her smile. It shines – she shines – with the youthful exuberance of a young mother, in love with her young family.

I've seen that look on the face of every young mother who's called on me with that question. If I make that sound like a common occurrence, it's because I mean to; it happens with surprising regularity. Young mothers will visit the castle, seeking me out, or spot me on those rare occasions where I venture into Canterlot proper alone. Clutching their babes to their barrels, they pluck courage enough to approach me where their husbands or lovers will not, and ask me what dreams fill their colts' and fillies' slumber.

They all want the same answer. They expect the same answer. The truth is, I couldn't tell them what their baby, specifically, dreams of, because I've learned not to investigate the dreams of babies. They dream of shapes, and of colors, and of sounds. Their minds are blank canvases, unspoiled by the material world; they lack context for anything more complex than what their senses immediately perceive. Babies are uncomplicated. Their dreams are no less so; they've no need for me

Mothers don't want to hear that. Every mother want to hear the same thing: that their baby dreams of their mother's smile. So, I tell them that they want to hear, and they leave, satisfied by my lie.

My sister's niece is no different. Despite my misgivings upon first meeting her, I've grown fond of this earnest young alicorn, yet between you and I... she, too, is uncomplicated. Predictable. By no means is this a criticism; I don't imply that she has the wit of an infant. Merely, she is Love, as I am the Night, and I understand her better than she could hope to understand me.

So, when she asks me to tell her what her daughter's dreams are made of, I know what she expects of me. It is no different from any of the other innumerable times I've been asked this tired question.

Except, in this instance, my canned response is not a lie.

Once, on the occasion of her birth, I slipped inside of Flurry's dreams. It was equal parts boredom and curiosity – a whim I chose to act upon. I wanted to know what the first natural-born alicorn since time immemorial must dream of. I don't recall what I expected; only that I hoped to see something more than the same shapes, and colors, and sounds that fill all infants' dreams.

And I did. And I've not been able to chase the memory from my mind since.

Flurry Heart dreams of the end. Of icy winds, and sandswept ruins, an expanse of ash and salt and sand stretching into the horizon, where a six-pointed star and a blazing sun shriveled in the cold, blue light of a sickly crescent moon.

One tower, cut from crystal, caught the dying light and drew my eye. Flurry Heart, in marehood's bloom, sat upon its balcony. A pony curled at Flurry's hooves: a sallow bag of brittle pink skin, stretched taut across sharp bones and clad in oversized, rusted regalia. It wore a rictus – an eternal grin of rotten teeth.

Flurry's face was expressionless as she stroked what remained of her mother's mane, gazing across the picked-over carcass of Equestria.

"Auntie Luna?" Cadance prompts me, no less sweetly.

I tell my sister's niece what she wants to hear.

"Why, her mother's smile, of course."

Cadance grins. Her teeth are pearly white.

My own smile is thin and brittle, like dry skin over dry bones. I'm careful not to let it reach my eyes. A shiver catches me, then, and I fluff my wings for warmth.

I look away from Cadance, toward her offspring. This slumbering miracle who knows not her own importance, who burbles into the saliva-soaked fabric of a cloth snail whilst filling a canvas with dreams of the end. I wonder at her.

I wonder whence that vision came. I wonder if she knows I wonder what else she sees, what else is sealed away within her mind.

I wonder if I'll ever have the courage to look again.
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#1 · 3
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Very nice:

My only comment is about as nitpicky as a comment can get. 'Cause the phrasing of Cadance's question strikes me as odd. Why would she ask what Flurry's dreams are "made of"? Wouldn't she just ask about the dreams themselves, i.e., "What's she dreaming of?" or "What's she dreaming about?"

Other than that, though, I got nothing: this is top-notch from beginning to end.

Mike
#2 · 1
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I am with Baal Bunny, in that I thought this was going to be a question about what dreams were made from, rather than what she dreamed of.

I did like this, though; this is a nice, short little piece, and lovely in both its symbolism and ominousness. Luna's own arrogance shines through here, and I'm left curious about what Flurry Heart is and what her dream truly means - is it really a portent of the future, or is it one of those "prophecies" that are steeped in symbolism rather than being literal?

In any case, I liked it.
#3 · 1
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Your Story's Theme Song: Bon Iver - Creature Fear

First story off my reviewing plate and already, I'm looking at a likely finalist.

Baal pretty much nailed the biggest thing bothering me about this story, though after a few repeated rereads, I think I get why you chose to start the story with that line. I'm getting the idea that this isn't the first time Luna had entered into Flurry Heart's dreamscape, as it seems like she had done so 'once, on the occasion of her birth' out of pure curiosity. Going off from that, it would mean that this is a recurring dream, and that time and time again, whenever Luna peered into Flurry's head, she sees the same apocalyptic scene. Given that, I can see why the question was phrased as such: a question that directs specifically towards Flurry Heart's dreams as a collective rather than what an infant dreams in general.

It's a nice question if it came from the writer. Not so much if it came from Cadance though— a little awkward, to be honest. Nevertheless, I appreciate the effort, especially with how much you managed to keep me thinking about it.

That aside, I do like Luna's voicing in this story. You've captured Moonbutt well, though I do think the fixation of Cadance's teeth (rotten teeth vs. pearly whites) is a little odd. Methinks it probably says more about the author than about Luna.

I would say though that there is something else pestering me that I can't quite put my finger on before locking in this review. I'd probably be brooding over this story for the next few days and it'll come to me (or someone will beat me to it) but I'll let you know as soon as it hits.

Thanks for writing!
#4 · 1
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I wonder if the author read my story called The Campfire at the Edge of the Universe, but I don't think anyone actually read this one so the chances are slim.

Also, as others mentioned, the opening line is rather awkward, but what follows is one of the better stories I read so far in this round. Aside from one missing period, I didn't spot any technical flaws, and Luna sounds pretty in character. The description of Flurry's dream is pretty atmospheric and the story doesn't spoil too much of the mystery.
#5 ·
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This narrator has an oddly formal way of speaking, one which doesn't seem to suit present tense at all. It feels like language appropriate for a prepared speech, not something off the cuff that we witness in real time. Like some flowery vocabulary and strict grammar? I could buy that, depending on the speaker. But "fatigue dulls not her smile"? Who talks like that?

A few typos, probably due to rushing. One's a pet peeve of mine, though: "between you and I" is absolutely incorrect grammar.

In fact, that "I" begs another question: who's Luna talking to? She's confiding a lot in me, but she never lets on who this audience is. That bugged me a lot.

The other thing is that Luna is so certain that Flurry Heart's dreams are a portent. Or maybe she's just disturbed by the imagery, but why would that strike her so badly? From all the dreams she's seen? People dream weird, dark shit sometimes. Maybe you want to play it that ponies don't, but that's not going to be the default assumption here. So we don't get Luna's line of reasoning behind why she finds this so disturbing. You spent an awful lot of word count talking about how most babies dream and what most mothers want to hear about it. That would have been better spent giving this some more meat.

I liked the fridge horror aspect to it, but to me, it needed to connect the dots better. It'll still finish high on my ballot.