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Distant Shores · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
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The Family Trap
I looked around from my seat on the small boat. I could see the dark waters of the sea surrounding me and the night sky in all his glory over me. I leaned out over the sides of the boat and saw green lights dancing below me, then I had an ominous premonition. I slowly turned around, and saw Luna sitting there, staring. I gulped, she looked me in the eyes, and said the dreaded words. "We need to talk."

Well, it made all sense. I didn't remember how I came to be in a boat in the middle of nowhere, I hated the sea and have never learned to swim. I had worked hard to live as far as possible from any major body of water, I had declared for years to be deadly allergic to brine, I had clearly began to ramble to avoid those fatal words.

I briefly considered if jumping in the water would mean my death. When one dies in dreams, he dies in reality too I thought, or something like that. Couldn’t remember if it was a fact or some kind of horror story. I sighed, that was stupid, I would stallion up and hear whatever Luna had to say. I bowed briefly my head. "Princess Luna, this is a bit of an unexpected visit, to what do I owe the honor?"

"We need to talk about my sister." I jumped.

I sat in a small boat, around me I could see the dark waters, over me the glorious night sky, before me an annoyed princess. So my plan hadn't worked, apparently trying to flee from the guardian of dreams in a dream is a lost cause. I glanced behind Luna, far out there I could see the silhouette of land, I knew somehow that there laid the waking world, I had to distract her long enough to reach the beach.

"Princess Luna, not to impose on you, but should you not be out there guarding the dreamscape?"

She shook her head. "I have... What was that modern word for it? Ah, yes, I have outsourced it. Fear not, tonight the dreams of ponies are safe."

Soft Spot whimpered and hid under a carriage. The haunting shadow wolves had been horrible, but then the heavens shattered under something screaming "CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS NIGHTMARE HUNTERS YAY!" And now Manehattan was burning.

Luna looked at me, I considered again the sea. It would have been useless. It was time to use my wit and my charm to save myself. "We have a pretty sky tonight, the pegasi teams have done a good job keeping it clear, right?" I jumped.

I sat in the thrice damned boat, sea around, stars above, pissed princess before me. "Master Record, will you please stop this futile attempts to evade me? Were your foalish shenanigans in the waking world not enough?"

I put on my most innocent face. "I'm not sure what you are talking about."

Luna walked along the corridor, looking left and right, servant moving out of the way to let her pass. Outside of a window, Master Record was hanging at the ledge, considering the benefits of letting go and plunge down for three floors in the gardens below.

I surreptitiously look behind her, the coast was a bit nearer, maybe I could make it, and then I simply had to stay awake forever. Well, one has to make some small sacrifices. Only a bit longer. "Oh, Princess, those were just a few little jokes, I certainly wasn't trying to avoid you."

She raised an eyebrow. That wasn't a good sign, it seemed my smooth sidetracking failed. Maybe if I jumped again...

"If you jump again I swear I shall find a way to put Blueblood in charge of your dreams."

"You wouldn't...You can't..."

"I will find a way."

Another brilliant plan had been destroyed. One could clearly see the sharp mind and the legendary strategist. I was trapped, but maybe if I let her begin her moves, I could find some weak point. "Very well. Let us talk."

"Finally! So tell me Master Record, what are your intentions with my sister?"

I Jumped.

Small boat, dark water, night sky, furious princess, the chains were a nice addition. I suspected that maybe I should have thought a bit more about my moves. I had rarely seen Luna in such a state, she was practically breathing blue flames. I was regretting a lot in that moment. She calmed down, closed her eyes, took a few deep breaths. The flames disappeared. She opened her eyes again, and stared at me. I tried my award winning smile. "I like what you have done..."

"Silence! You shall now answer my questions without further digressions."

I winced. I had been aware for a while about Luna's intentions on questioning me, I only didn't know her exact reasons. My gut feeling had told me it would be a complicated talk, so avoiding it seemed a good idea, sooner or later I would die of old age,she would go on with her life, everypony would be happy. Still, even accounting for sisterly love, she had been far too determined to interrogate me, and this whole setup was a bit much even for her. "I will answer, but could you tell me please why we are doing all this?"

Luna glared at me, then her expression softened. "I love my dear sister, she is wise and patient. She plans centuries ahead and loves all her subjects. But her choices of companionship have always been, how can I put it, questionable."

"So what was this Reign of Chaos thing you wanted to show me?"

"Any plans for the evening, Chrissy?"

"Please tell me about those crystals, I love what you do with your voice."

"I see you are very serious about working out. And those horns are a nice touch."

"You only want to be sure I'm not some kind of eldritch monster bent on domination?"

"You have already been cleared on that."

"I have been what?"

"The moment you became closer to Tia, your past has been scrutinized by a few different and independent cadres of investigators. After the slightly embarrassing events of Cadence's wedding, relationships have been a much better controlled area."

"Oh, in that case I'm not sure what you are asking me." The coast was there, I had to stall only a bit more.

"What are your intentions with my sister?"

That was the moment of truth, I had to be smooth and smart. "I like her very much?"

That menacing eyebrow, how can such a thing be so scaring? I began to sweat. "I mean, I love her, yes, I love her!"

"Everypony loves her."

"I love her in a very physical way. No, that came out wrong. I do not care for how she looks. I mean, she is beautiful, but I do not care. No, wait, I..."

"Please desist from further digging your own grave. We understand that you are emotionally and physically attracted to her, it happens to a lot of our subjects."

"What? Who? Is this from other dreams? Who dreams of her? Who dares mphmphhmph." A cloth gag appeared around my muzzle.

"This is not the time nor the place for discussing who dreams what with whom about my sister or me. We are here to talk about your relationship with her. Am I clear?"

I nodded, not that I could do much more. I also was under the impression that denying my comprehension of her requests would have been a bad idea. I was proud to have caught that specific faux pas in time.

Luna continued. "Now, the thing we want to know is if you are serious in your relationship with her."

I nodded again. I loved Celestia. I loved all those sides of her, hidden under the armor of being a princess. The little things she could only do or tell when she was with me, the stupid and unfunny jokes, the love for junk food, the trashy romantic novels. I had been near her for years before I had finally gotten the courage of trying to get a bit closer. And then...

I returned to reality, or at least to what was currently passing for it, when Lune booped me in the nose. "Seeing somepony daydream in a dream is a novel experience for me. While it is fascinating, I do not have all the night, so please try to remain focused. I trust my deputies, but I still have to personally process the more complex cases, so help me finish here as soon as possible."

The nightmare was barely aware. It was a simple creature, it slipped in a dream, it attached to a mind, and its victim did almost all the work for it. It hadn't really feelings, or thoughts, yet, for the first time ever, the nightmare experienced something new. As the three figures came nearer, it experienced fear.

Luna looked out, over the dark sea. "I am aware about what you feel for Tia. I want to know if you are also ready to carry the whole weight that such a responsibility brings."

"Mphmpphmmmmphmhm." Smooth.

The gag disappeared. I took a deep breath. "I'm..." It hit me completely unexpected. She had said WE understand the attraction. "Princess, who else is involved in this?"

She raised both her eyebrows, was that surprise? "What are you talking about?"

"You said 'We understand that you are attracted'. Who is this 'We'?"

She stared at me, then smiled. "It is true that you are not the fool you seem to be. Very well, I shall answer you if you will finally drop this irritating facade."

I sighed, no way out now. "Deal."

Luna's horn lighted up, and two quite unassuming doors appeared. She opened the left one, and Cadence came out, wearing a straw hat and dungarees. Then from the other one came Twilight. She glared daggers at me. "Oh, it's him..."

I sat there, the dark waters around me, the night sky over me, and three alicorns balancing on what had become a very unstable little boat. Saying I was uncomfortable is an understatement in the same category as saying "Discord is a bit unruly" and "Dive bombing in Lava lakes may be a bad idea."

I decided to try a frontal assault. Maybe I could confound them and escape to freedom. "This is an interesting conspiracy. I am sure your meddling with Tia's..."

"Shut up!" Twilight had just broken my attack, and my army was routing and crying for their mommies. With hindsight, it had been a stupid idea.

"Calm down Twilight, we talked about this. We will explain him our worries and he will see that we have done this only for love." Cadence, sweet Cadence, I hoped she would save me from Twilight. I never understood why the Princess of Friendship seemed to despise me, but whatever was the cause of it, I never walked in dark libraries alone. "Celestia is strong and kind, but you are her first relation since Luna's exile. She has been alone for so long that now she seems a filly with her first crush."

Celestia pranced down the corridor, smiling and giggling all the time. The servants here are the most trusted, the inner cadre of the gargantuan machine of ponies that makes the castle work. When the princess passes, brief bows and low heads salute her as usual, but once she is past them, curious glances follow her.

"We only want to be sure that you are aware of what is expected from you, of what your duties will be, and that, if you continue your relation with her and then make her suffer because you took it lightly, I will hunt you down, and find you, and then you will regret to have ever thought about playing with love." I rephrased my definition of Cadence. She is sweet and patient, and I shall never piss her off, ever. I longed for the beach of wakefulness, but was perfectly conscious that there was no way out of this now even outside of the dream.

Luna nodded. "That is the gist of it. We are worried that you could hurt Tia. We are sure that you do not intend to do that—" She looked at Twilight who was trying to incinerate me with her glares "—but we fear you may not be aware of what a relation with her entices. To remedy such a situation we—" Another look at Twilight who was preparing some kind of pony doll that resembled me a lot. "—prepared a list of things you shall consider if you plan to continue being her lover."

A thick scroll appeared in the air before the Princess of the Night and unrolled. A small pair of reading glasses materialized on her muzzle. "You will be at the center of attention and political intrigue for the rest of your life, which may be quite short if you don't pay attention. You shall never voice an open political opinion in a public space. You shall take the required etiquette lessons to accompany her in public appearances. You will..." The list of public duties carried on and on, alternating mundane and common sense issues with projections of possible, horrible deaths. "... goats. You will grow old and die, she will not, make peace with that. If your relation panders out and you peaceful part ways, no horrid doom shall befall you. If you ever tell her about this conversation, Twilight will become creative. You shall never comment on Celestia's cake habit. You..."

I thought about it. Not that there was much else to do, being chained in a dream and with three of the five most powerful creatures in Equestria looking down at me, but they had a point. They had made it in the most convoluted and psychotic way possible, but nonetheless I had to consider if I was ready for all this. As Luna droned on I thought about Celestia, about our private moments, about our walks, and about all the small things that only I knew. And about the kind of family I was going to get, one of them wanting me already dead, the others ready to follow on that if I were to ruin everything.

"... veil dance. Do you understand this? Are you prepared to tell us what you intend to do? Be aware, if you back out now, you will walk free." She glared at Twilight. "We swear that. If you, on the other hoof, decide to continue, you will do that under the full knowledge of what this implies. You have time until..."

"She is worth it."

Luna Blinked, Cadence was taken aback, Twilight was getting the needles. I sighed. "I knew a lot of what was on that list, as you said, I am not completely a foal. But the thing is, I love her, and I can make her happy, and if I ever break her heart in an incredibly stupid way, I suppose I will deserve whatever you have in store for me."

Cadence clopped her hooves together. "That went far better than hoped. I'm glad you have made this decision. Luna, I suppose it's time for me to go back. Oh, and remember our tea next month. Twilight, remember your breathing exercises, and greet your friends for me." She walked out of my dream through her door.

Twilight glared at me, raised her hoof, and made it very, very clear that she would keep an eye on me. She turned to Luna. "I also need to go. You know my opinion of all this, but we will see. I will be in Canterlot the day after tomorrow, and Pinkie has prepared some kind of surprise for you. I have no idea why, but she said something about comfort food."

At last, only Luna and I remained. She smiled at me, and for the first time there was a bit of warmth in it. "You are a good stallion, but she is my sister. Please, understand why we had to do all this. I will see you in the morning then, and remember, shush."

In a swirl of stars she left me alone, the chains clattered down, and the boat touched the shore. It had been a strange night, but I was somehow elated.

Luna entered the path between dreams, and blinked. There was custard everywhere, a nightmare sat in front of a door cradled in a small bundle of shivers. Three doors were on fire, and a tuba playing penguin floated up and down. "Maybe my deputies need a bit more training."
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