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    Nighttime had fallen by the time they’d managed to gather everypony inside the war room in Dreamland, all of them seated around the circular table in the middle of the room.

    Well, almost everypony.

    “Spike, darling, can you see properly?” asked Rarity, her and everypony else looking at the large dragon eye peering in outside the window.

    “What?!” said Spike’s booming voice.

    Rainbow shook her head, trotted towards the window and leaned out. “She’s asking if you can see anything!”

    “Oh!” he called back. “Seeing is a very generous way of putting it!”

    “Keep your voice down, ya goof! Wanna wake up the whole town or what?!”

    “What did you say, Rainbow Dash?!”

    “Spike, just put your ear against the window, not your eye! Come on, dude!”

    “If I may,” interjected the Professor, “this is all very ridiculous.”

    “You think everything is ridiculous, Professor,” Rarity pointed out good-naturedly, clearing the table and putting down the mockups she’d done, as well as some parchment and pens for Twilight to use. Afterwards, she placed the teddy bear right in the middle of the table. “Now, everyone settle down so we can begin, please.”

    Twilight levitated the parchment over and wrote down some preliminary information, but when she looked back up, she was surprised to find that Rarity was still standing.

    “Rarity?” she asked. “Aren’t you sitting down?”

    “No,” Rarity said, levitating a pointing stick from the closet and twirling it in the air. “I’ve found I think better when moving about the room.”

    “Oh boy,” Rainbow said. “I hope you’re comfortable, Princess, ‘cause Rarity’s going to monologue us to sleep.”

    “Oh! I love monologues!” Twilight exclaimed, itching to start writing.

    “Rainbow! Princess!” Pinkie scolded. “Shhh!”

    Without further ado, and clearly ignoring Rainbow’s remark, Rarity began to speak.

    “Let’s review what we know of our particular situation,” she said as she walked around in circles around the table, speaking loudly enough for everyone to hear. “We know that Princess Luna is inside of one of the mountains surrounding Hollow Shades, we know that Discord has similarly displaced her in time, and we know that the only place her dream magic can reach is Hollow Shades and the surrounding forest.”

    She levitated her pointer towards a map on the wall and tapped on a mountain near the town.

    “Drilling through an entire mountain is clearly not an option available to us, and especially less so when we have no idea where she is, but… But, as I said, we may not know where she is, but we do know where she can be.”

    She stopped walking and talking, drawing out a theatrical pause before speaking again.

    “She can be in dreams. Dreams will be our most vital asset in freeing Princess Luna.”

    Twilight frowned.

    “Dreams? But Princess Luna can’t go into the dreams of most ponies,” she pointed out.

    “Ah, but that isn’t true, is it?” Rarity replied, resuming her walk around the table. “Princess Luna cannot enter the dreams of adults, of ponies who don’t believe in her. They’re far too set in their ways, not to mention the fact they’ve been under the complete influence of chaos magic for decades now, which…” She grinned. “Which is why it’s fantastic for us that we are not concerning ourselves with the adults. We, Twilight, are concerning ourselves with those who can still be swayed. Foals.”

    And again, Twilight questioned her logic.

    “Foals?” she asked. “I don’t understand how we’re supposed to use foals to free her? How is that even different? The princess has been able to interact with foals for centuries, and it’s never changed anything. She’s still trapped.”

    “That’s true, yes,” Rarity conceded. “Princess Luna has spoken to dozens and dozens of generations of Hollow Shades foals, but the instant these foals are told the supposed ‘truth about her’, that she is nothing more than a tale, whatever connection she had with them dies. And, well, it does make sense, doesn’t it? How can they believe in her when they’ve only ever seen her in dreams? How can they think she’s real when she’s ever only appeared in these supposedly fictional tales that their imagination conjures up when they’re asleep?”

    “…They can’t?” Twilight ventured, and felt even more confused when Rarity stopped walking to look at her with delight. “…What?”

    “Nothing, nothing!” Rarity said playfully, her pacing again resuming. “I’d just like us to think a little bit more about this, is all. Let’s just take a moment to really think about dreams, shall we? These silly little ephemeral things that accompany us as we sleep. So, tell me, what happens,” she asked, “when you wake up from a dream?”

    Twilight blinked. “I… I’m not sure I know what you’re trying to get at, Rarity.”

    “Oh, me! Me! I know!” Pinkie exclaimed, waving her forehoof in the air. “You forget them!”

    “Precisely!” Rarity exclaimed. “You forget them! Perhaps not entirely, no, but the details of them and more often than not the vast majority is forgotten. This world, this princess, that was so vivid fades away like a distant memory, and whatever feelings and impression you had are gone in at least the first ten minutes or so after waking.”

    She took a breath and continued.

    “Why should foals stand by Luna? Why should they resist and fight what the adults tell them when they have virtually no way of proving both to adults and to themselves that the princess isn’t a figment of their imagination? But… but what if we could change that?”

    As soon as the words were said, Twilight’s ears perked up, and her heart skipped a beat at noticing most everypony in the room was smiling.

    “Change that…?” Twilight cautiously asked. “What do you mean?”

    “What if,” Rarity continued, still moving around the table, closer and closer to Twilight. “What if we could bring something back from these dreams? Bring something back that we could not only see, not only remember, not only have…” She stopped right next to Twilight and with a hoof lifted the alicorn’s chin. “But something we can touch, as well.”

    “Touch?” Twilight asked, a little breathlessly.

    And rather than reply, Rarity simply stepped back and resumed her walk.

    “Boss.” Incantation giggled. “Milking it for all its worth, huh?”

    Rarity grinned. “Absolutely, darling,” she replied, and then it was the teddy bear’s turn to be levitated off the table and taken along for Rarity’s walk. “Teddy bears! Such adorable things, wouldn’t you agree? A foal’s most precious friend, and not only that, but more often than not their fearsome protector against whatever dreadful things are lurking in the dark. I did tell you, Twilight, that this little bear would be the key to saving Princess Luna, did I not? Well, we’re going to start by giving teddy bears to each and every foal in Hollow Shades.”

    She took a grand pause after that, doubtless expecting Twilight to gasp in understanding.

    This did not happen.

    “…Right,” said the alicorn, trying to sound polite when she followed it with, “And what does that have to do with Princess Luna?”

    “Simple!” Rarity said. “She’s going to make it for them.”

    Silence.

    Twilight blinked once, twice, thrice.

    She’s going to make teddy bears for foals?” she asked.

    “Yes,” Rarity said with a grin. “Yes, she is.”

    Looking around, Twilight found that no one but her seemed to realize the absurdity of that impossible statement.

    “All right,” she said. “How?”

    “Indulge me a moment, my darling,” Rarity said, her voice carrying itself across the room as she floated the little bear before her. “Imagine this! A poor foal who’s suffered from a ghastly nightmare is being comforted by Princess Luna in his dreams. A comfort that sadly cannot last for she will be gone the moment he’s awake! Except, before he does, she gives him a present. A beautiful teddy bear, and not only is she going to give it to him, but she’ll ask him to make it his.

    “Did he want it to have a bowtie?” she asked, a red ribbon floating from a nearby cupboard and tying itself into a bowtie on the bear’s neck. Then, from another cupboard, a small blue felt suit floated up and warmed the little bear, followed by a blue flat cap landing on his head and covering his ears.. “What about a suit? A blue one? And a flat cap too?”

    By the time she’d finished, the little bear looked quite dapper.

    “Now,” she said, “we have this charming bear with his darling accessories, and the princess gives it to our little foal.”

    “…Yes?” Twilight asked. “And then…?”

    “And then, when the foal wakes up, yawning and rubbing his tired eyes, I’m sure you can imagine his surprise when who is in his forelegs but—” She placed the teddy bear in front of Twilight. ”—a teddy bear with a red bowtie, blue suit and matching cap, holding a note from the princess.”

    Twilight was concise with her reply.

    What?”

    “You heard me,” Rarity said, coming to a stop.

    “But…? What? How would that be possible?! That’s not possible! It’s impossible to bring something from a dream into real life!”

    “Twilight, of course it’s possible.” Rarity tilted her head. “Because I’ll make it.” She began to walk again, faster now. “I’ll make it, put it in his forelegs while he sleeps, and for the first time in a thousand years, a foal has tangible reasons to not only believe that the princess is real, but he now has a reason to fight for her too. For every adult that says no, for every hiss of chaos magic whispering no, that little bear will say yes, yes, yes.”

    “But—! But what about the chaos magic?!”

    A different voice chimed in.

    “Ah! My turn, then,” interrupted Professor Awe, lifting up a small grey rectangular contraption with antennas, a light-bulb, and a glass-covered indicator with an arrow for measuring something.

    “What’s that?” Twilight asked, resisting the urge to levitate it out of his hoof.

    “You see, Princess Twilight, in the two years you’ve been gone, I’ve been experimenting with chaos magic!” said the Professor. “And this little device can not only show us the extent of the influence that chaos magic has had on a pony, but it’s also showed us that this influence fluctuates. It can change.” He turned it towards him and tinkered with it. “Unfortunately, I’ve determined that it has a tendency to grow stronger the more one believes in its cause, but…” He pointed to Rarity. “Rarity’s incident two years ago proved that not only can a chaos curse be fought, it can be eliminated too.”

    Twilight’s emotions warred inside her. Awe at what Rarity had apparently planned for two years, excitement at the idea that it could work, but also… well…

    “But this will take years!” Twilight exclaimed. “Or centuries even! Hasn’t this town been cursed by chaos magic for almost a thousand years? It would take years to completely overturn that!”

    Rarity’s smile did not waver. “Yes. This is indeed a long-term plan,” she said and gestured to Incantation. “In the same way that one adorable changeling living amongst ponies is hardly going to make the whole of Equestria accept them in a year, neither will one generation of foals who believe in the Princess turn the tide in probably a lifetime, let alone a year, but!

    “But,” she repeated. “All of this is nothing more than our secondary goal.”

    “Your secondary goal?’ asked Twilight, awed. “There’s more?”

    “Twilight, you surprise me! Did you really think this was all I had planned?” She fluttered her eyelashes. “Silly filly.”

    Finally, Rarity ceased her theatric pacing and settled at the table, sitting directly in front of Twilight.

    “Twilight, while you were gone, I had a dreadful amount of time to think about what happened the night the library was sealed off. The most important thing I concluded was that the chaos magic was not only reacting to you—” She directed the tip of the pointer towards Twilight. “But it was also being influenced by you, wasn’t it? You said as much when we were in Canterlot Castle with Princess Cadance.”

    Shame burned Twilight.

    “Yes,” she said, trying not to think too much about it. “I did say that.”

    “Well then,” Rarity continued, leaning back, “the question of the hour is this: what if Princess Luna is the same? What if to some extent she may not be ready to accept she too is playing a role in her imprisonment?”

    Twilight nearly jumped up. “That’s what I told her!”

    “And she denied it, didn’t she? Just as she’s denied it to me, and Pinkie, and Rainbow, and Spike, and just about anypony who’s tried to reason with her about it.” She gave Twilight a pointed stare. “Just like you once did.”

    Twilight again felt shame tint her cheeks, and if Rarity noticed, she did not make it obvious.

    “But,” she said instead, “if we can turn the tide, even if it’s just a few foals… If we can make at least one generation of foals believe in her, just as Pinkie did, just as I did in you, if we can convince her this can all change, if we give her hope, then…” She smiled. “We might not need the long-term plan at all.”

    It was more than a lot to take in.

    It felt… easy.

    Too easy, almost, not to mention the fact that Rarity still hadn’t explained a very vital thing.

    “Wait,” she said, “if you’ve planned this for so long, why haven’t you done it earlier? And what does any of this have to do with Seeking Night?”

    Rarity’s smile finally faltered.

    “Well, this is where we reach a… a snag, let’s say.”

    “A snag,” Twilight repeated. “What do you mean?”

    Rarity licked her lips, her brow furrowing. “Well, in order to pull this off, we would need not only an excuse to have dozens of foals sleeping in the same place, but we’d have to hire at least a dozen seamstresses if not more. Talented as I am, I cannot pull off creating so many custom teddy bears by myself in only a few hours.”

    Twilight tried to be polite when she stated the obvious.

    “…So hire them?”

    “Well, they do not come cheap, for starters,” Rarity said, and again Twilight felt she was being rude when she furrowed her brow and spoke up.

    “Why isn’t Cadance paying for them, then?” she asked, finding it hard to believe that Cadance would not be doing whatever she could to help Luna.

    “She could,” Rarity said, carefully. “But just hiring them isn’t the problem, Twilight. We can’t have just any seamstresses. We need a dozen that believe in the legend and can be visited by the Princess. How else would they be able to reproduce the designs if they don’t see them for themselves?”

    “But Rar—”

    Which is why,” Rarity interrupted, “we need to do this during Seeking Night. Seeking Night is the only night of the year that we actually have a decent shot of finding ponies who are ready and willing to believe, and it is the one night of the year where the chaos magic is confronted with a herd of ponies who believe. This is why we created the Dreamland, Twilight. This isn’t just a shop or a bakery or a nursery for foals. The Dreamland is a boot camp, and Seeking Night is the battleground we’re preparing for.”

    She gestured towards the mock-ups of playgrounds for foals.

    “Hollow Shades is famous for being completely and utterly designed around the myth of the four Princesses, and it is famous for its Seeking Night events which we can now design, change and use to influence others.”

    She gestured towards a mock-up of a Twilight’s library maze, foals rushing inside and pegasi lifting the bookcases into the air.

    “Ponies will arrive at the event and go through Princess Twilight’s book maze, trying to find the two Elements of Harmony hidden in books despite pegasi rearranging it every thirty minutes. After that…”

    She gestured towards a large mock-up of a waterslide leading straight into a pool, with treasure chests at the bottom.

    “In their daring quest to free our heroines, they must slide down Princess Celestia’s waterfall and dive down in search of the pair of Elements of Harmony she hid. Once they’ve found them—”

    “Boom!” suddenly exclaimed Rainbow Dash, putting down a figurine of Spike. “They’re going to climb the awesome fire-breathing dragon and rampage through town!”

    “What?!” Spike called out, indignantly. “I didn’t agree to that! I thought I was gonna guard the maze!”

    “It’s a work-in-progress, darling!” Rarity called out, throwing Rainbow a dirty look. “In any case, as I was saying, once they’ve found the Elements…”

    She now gestured towards a house decorated to look like a part of Canterlot Castle.

    “They must enter the castle and…” She floated out a little figurine of a changeling. “Once inside, they will be told that the Spirit has infiltrated the castle and in order to protect Princess Denza—”

    “Rarity, Rarity!” Pinkie interrupted, bouncing in her seat. “I wanna say the next part!”

    Without giving Rarity time to reply, Pinkie grabbed the changeling figurine and continued.

    “‘Kay, so, in order to protect Princess Denza, brave changelings took her form so he wouldn’t know which is the real one, but now we don’t know who is who! And what if we’re the Spirit too?! So we’re gonna have to figure out the ciphers on the walls to know which one is the real Denza and then she’ll be like ‘that’s it!’ and we’ll be like ‘yeah!’ and then we’ll know who Denza is and then—”

    “Pinkie, darling, you do remember it’s the foals who will be doing these activities, don’t you?”

    Pinkie looked away with a pout. “…Yeah…”

    Rarity cleared her throat.

    “And, finally, once Princess Denza has given them her Elements, the foals will rush to…”

    With a grand gesture and matching smile, she gestured to the last mock-up of foals engaging in what could only be described as a large sleepover.

    “Princess Luna’s Dream Spectacular.”

    She deftly levitated the Professor’s device towards her far too fast for him to protest.

    “Foals will gather inside the Dream Spectacular and be told that Princess Luna has been trapped in the dream realm, and it falls to them to go into dreams and find her. Once they have, she will tell them the location of the last Elements, and, to a select few, assign a personal guard against the terrible spirit.”

    “The teddy bear,” Twilight said.

    “The teddy bear,” Rarity repeated with an almost manic grin. “And so, while parents relax while their foals sleep for a few blissful hours, I and other seamstresses will make their dreams come true in a room to the side.”

    And again, for the second time that night, Twilight did not really know how to react.

    “Rarity, you… you came up with all of this?”

    “Yes,” Rarity said, and every word glowed with unrestrained pride. “Yes, I did. What do you think?”

    Twilight privately thought she had never felt quite so attracted to Rarity before, but she decided that was a thought best imparted when they were alone.

    “Uhm. Wow.”

    “Thank you,” Rarity said. “And that’s not all, either.”

    And, for once, Twilight wasn’t the only one surprised judging by how everypony looked at each other in confusion and then at Rarity.

    “What? It’s not?” asked Rainbow Dash.

    Rarity shook her head.

    “There’s another reason we need so many seamstresses,” she said. “Because dreams are forgettable. For every teddy bear made, we would need at least four seamstresses in the dreams to see it, wake up and then corroborate the details they remembered.”

    Twilight frowned. “That seems inefficient.”

    “Yes, it is, which is why we were planning on having only a dozen foals or so for our first test event, but… but now that won’t be necessary anymore. Now, we have somepony who can not only go into dreams but will be able to remember the designs with crystal clarity..”

    “What?!” Twilight asked. “Who?!”

    And when Rarity simply grinned at her, and when one by one every face in the room was turned towards her, Twilight understood.

    Oh.” She got up and stepped back. “Wait, but — I mean — I don’t know how to dreamwalk! I’d have to learn and I don’t know if there’s enough time for that before Seeking Night!”

    “Seeking Night isn’t for several more weeks, Twilight,” Rarity said. “And I’m sure a pony as frightfully talented as you can learn fast. I’m also sure Princess Luna will agree.”

    Twilight gave her a pointed stare. The idea of Princess Luna thinking that dreamwalking was something that could be taught in weeks?

    “I highly doubt that, Rarity.”


    “It’s okay, Twi,” said a baby dragon as he affectionately patted the head of the poor alicorn collapsed in a dream version of Hollow Shades. “One day you’ll learn not to tempt fate.”

    Twilight mustered the strength to lift her head and properly glare at him.

    “If you’re going to be a smarty-pants about this, Spike, I’m having the Princess take you back to your own dream,” she threatened before lying her head back down and groaning. “How can I be so tired? I thought you couldn’t get tired in dreams.”

    “You said you were excited to learn when you started!” Spike said. “You read all those books the Professor brought from the castle in like two hours!”

    “That was weeks ago.”

    “That was two days ago, Twi.”

    Twilight gasped. “Two days ago?!”

    Twilight Sparkle!” boomed a voice and Twilight winced when Princess Luna appeared before her. “Lying on the floor is not part of your training! We must use all the time we have to prepare you for Seeking Night!”

    She stamped her hoof on the ground and Twilight saw a chaos magic version of herself appear in the distance.

    “Princess,” Twilight said, lifting her head again. “I don’t suppose part of the training will involve comfortably reading books and not having to deal with nightmares every night?”

    Princess Luna actually smiled. “You suppose correctly, Twilight.”

    Twilight closed her eyes and put down her head for what would be the first of many, many times to come in the following weeks.

    “Oh goodie.”


    His hoofsteps were deafening as they rushed through the woods.

    They ran and ran, until the calls of guards faded into the distance, and she finally allowed him rest.

    “How…” he asked breathlessly. “How did they find us…?”

    “Those were batponies,” Rarity said, her voice more than severe. She turned to him, frazzled. “North, your dreams.”

    “What about them?” he asked her.

    “Have you been dreaming of me? Have I ever appeared in them, even once?”

    “No,” he said immediately… until a memory surged within him and he recoiled. “Ah. Well. Perhaps. Once. Yesterday.” At her expression, he grew defensive. “I can’t really control my dreams, you know!”

    And her expression softened.

    “No,” she said, resigned. “No, you can’t.”


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    1. Zanna Zannolin
      Oct 21, 22 at 8:48 pm

      YOUUUUUUUUU how dare you hit me with teasers like that at the end. BAT PONIES? HELLO? what kind of development is THIS WHYYYYY is rarity on the run i am itching to find out. ITCHING. i am going to explode before this fic is over i’m sure.

      so sorry for incoherent comments lately it is big weekend at work and i am dddeaaaad on my feet but this chapter was so wild. rarity is really out here like i have concocted the most WILD plan and it’s brilliant. i would Never think to expect this plan in a million years because it’s so complicated and wild but also like…genius??? it’s so clever how it works to use loopholes and combat the chaos magic. and also rarity’s entire seeking night plan sounds SO fun like. man i wish i were a foal in hollow shades and could do this.

      i’m also a big fan of the commitment to long-term plans. because that’s how life is! not everything is achievable in our lifetimes but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it to put in the effort to fight for change! just because we might not benefit doesn’t meant other people shouldn’t! i have been thinking about this a lot lately you know. like something about hope for the future even if it isn’t OUR future.

      also rip twilight and dreamwalking bootcamp.

    2. AFanaticRabbit (Ashley)
      Apr 8, 22 at 6:29 am

      Oooh the little part at the end! It works but at what cost!

      Mono you are gonna kill me with suspense I s2g