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The Night Courts of Canterlot were an unusual place indeed. These proceedings were more subdued, calm, and held a certain peacefulness that made Stormstride feel more at ease. Though given her escort, the minor noble was likely one of the few ponies feeling at ease. Nobility often had their own private honor guard, which was nothing new. What did appear to be new was the fact that Stormstride's Honor Guard were wearing armor made of a black, non-reflective metal, and adorned with antlers, horns, and what looked likes claws and fangs of dangerous and wild beasts. There were even a few dragon claws attached to the helm of what was her captain. They were quiet, but their faces were hidden behind full helmets, their full bodies covered in chainmail, furs, pelts, leathers, and plated armor that made them look like walking amalgamations of monstrous magically crafted metal golems and wild animals combined. 

 

Clashing with that was the mare herself, in a simple white satin toga and golden crown made in the shape of lightning. Maretonian nobility by style and design, and the way she carried herself as well denoted that same are that Maretonian Unicorns carried. The self importance and pompousness many of them had was there, but to a much less degree. The only thing about her that stood out as strange were the shoes on her hooves. One could see the gleaming silver metal, and the mounting screws driven into her hooves, permanently mounting those shoes to her. On her neck hung a simple silver charm, cast with the family crest of her house.  The mare's emerald green eyes stood apart from her mottled gray and dark gray mane. The silvery streaks blending in her mane twisted with the dark rolling grays, creating the look that her mane, tail and coat were made of rolling storm clouds, and beset with two gems for eyes. The deep and long scars on her chest, left cheek, and left front leg were visible. This mare was no stranger to combat. 

 

However it seemed she came not to pick a fight. Instead when it was her turn to speak she came forward, produced a scroll with her credential and then spoke in a tone of both respect and dignity. "Your highness, Princess Luna. I have come before you to request your advice and assistance on a matter dear to my family and our home. As many here are aware, I, Stormstride Cloud am not within good standing within Equestria. That being said, I hope that that will not taint the request I wish to place before you. My daughter has..." She paused, to glance around as if checking to see who was watching before continuing. "My daughter has stopped dreaming. In fact she has not had a dream in many years. I have tried my own magic to help, and sought the help of others in my own lands. However, this is something that we can not understand, nor can we treat. This lack of dreams has brought my daughter a lot of anguish as of late. She is of the age she wants to attend a more focused school. Centering around her talent in cooking. She has several selected here in Equestria and a few in Maretonia. But she has become depressed because she is very different."

 

Stormstride took a step closer, and spoke in a whisper, "Please. I know Your sister loaths ponies like myself, but do not hold it against a filly barely out of her foalhood years. She's already deaf. She shouldn't have to suffer this too." Despite the looks and jeers of a few of the Canterlot nobility that knew of Stormstride's reputation and her previous deeds or misdeeds as they would refer to them, the mare before Luna was sincere in her request. She did not make a show, but she was almost begging for help. This was in honesty a mother seeking help for their child. And so it seemed Stormstride had no other choice but to come to Equestria to seek help. 

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Night Courts tended to be a rather odd event that would happen in the castle every so often. Usualy, Luna was busy with mane other things that would make her unable to take the chance to hear those ponies that needed her help, and on the other hoof, not that many ponies came asking for it anyways. She was still not as popular on this kind of things as her sister, so she decided not to held them oftenly. Although when it happened, not so many ponies went to it. Still, they were enough to keep her busy for a while. Yet this night was different.
She had decided to make a new night court, as it had been quite some time since the last one, but strangely enough, there was only one pony on the list for this night, and acording to the guard that was selected to list those ponies who would had a chance to speak with her, it seemed this was not going to be easy at all. Acording to him, the pony didn't say exactly what was the problem, but said that Luna was the only one that was able to solve it. 

 

Luna was sitting in her sister's throne. She usualy occupied it during the night courts as she didn't had one for herself, and besides, why would she need one? One throne was more than enough. The two sisters shared it and used it at different times of the day. Celestia during day time and Luna in night time, so it was rare when both had to use it. 
Beside her was standing one of her night guards, although this one looked a bit different than the rest. This guard was a pegasus instead of a bat pony, he was rather tall yet his face showed signs that he was still young in age. Finally, he had what seemed a heavy plate version of the standar night guard armor. A rare and rather marvelous sight. It was rahter ornamented, since it was a night court and had to show it was. 
The throne room itself was also lightly ornamented, in such a way that it did seemed it was owned by Luna, but the ornaments also smeeded to be easy to both put on and take off the throne room. 

Once Stormstride was iside the throne room, the guard standing next to her read a paper he had on his hooves. "Princess, this is Lady Stormstride Cloud." he said as he read the name, turning around to face the princess. As he did so, the sound of his steel armored hooves echoed through the throne room with every step. It was somewhat loud. Imagine trying to sleep with that sound sounding trough the halls! Well, ponies that lived in the castle like the royal sisters, guard and some staff were used to it, but others such as guest...


Luna nodded and after a moment gave permision to the mare to speak. She seemed a bit familiar of course, but from where...? She then first limited herself to listen what she had to said. Oh, she now knew from where she knew her. She... wait... what was the next part?
As soon as Stormstride started explainign what happened to her daughter, Luna's attention became full in every word she said. "A pony that cannot dream..." She whispered to herself.
The ears of her guard perked up as she spoke, but remained silent and looking at Stormstride. He was Luna's guard, and was his duty to keep her safe. Even though the mare didn't seemed to pose a threat, it was better if he kept his guard up in case of anything.

As soon as Storm was done, Luna closed her eyes and leaned back. "Miss Stormstride. You have quite some courage to come back after your previous... incidents." She then opened them. "But I will assist you in any way I can." She then added witha serious tone. "A pony that cannot dream is indeed a really strange event. I can not overlook this, and must investigate it." She started explaining. "Even more if the pony affected was so dear to you to take the risk to come here." She added and stood up. "But first. I need you to explain me what you think coused this, and take me where she is." 

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Stromstride sat and took a very deep breath. She muttered to her guards, and two of them rushed off at a full gallop. This left just one guard and the captain with Stormstride. The mare looked at her hooves a moment before leaning forward some. She closed her eyes as she put her front hooves on her face. The cold metal of her shoes pressing against the scars on her cheeks as she let out her breath in a long, low sigh. Her ears fell back into her braided, styled mane as she leaned forward a bit. After a moment she put her hooves on the floor with soft heavy clacks of metal on stone. Her tail twitched as she stood again and opened her eyes. Despite the heavy bags under her eyes, displaying her own lack of sleep, Stormstride's gaze was like emerald fire as she stared hard at Luna. 

 

She breathed in through her nose and her face set in a hard, tense look. The memories flashing in her eyes were either very enraging, or something else had angered the pony before the princess. Her own guards took a few soft steps away from her, as if expecting her to pitch a fit at any second. But when the mare spoke, her tone was calm, level, but filled with a near loathing hatred. 

 

"I do not know the exact cause. I suppose it could be many things. But I can tell you when this all started. CaramelCream, my daughter was born to me and my ex-wife. And she was always a vocal and happy foal. However she started to talk about not dreaming right after... Right after that... mare I married divorced me and abandoned our daughter at daycare while I was on patrol. I came home to the daycare owner at my house, knocking thinking I was home. Caramel was crying for her mother and that... That mare was no where to be found. She left divorce papers on the counter by the front door for me to find and a vague note about leaving Caramel at a local daycare. She had long lost the love of me. And that was fine, I was just another dumb grunt in the armor for the princess. But what she took was every picture of herself, every reminder she had ever lived there. She left NOTHING for our daughter to know her by. She didnt even leave the pictures Caramel doodled with crayons of us as a family. She took all of that and destroyed it so she would have no ties left to our daughter or me. And I...." Stormstride paused from speaking to bring her tone back down and calm herself again. 

 

"She left us for a Canterlot noble,  became a frequent in Celestia's court and erased all ties to being married to a low class grunt and having a foal with some dumb soldier. That was when my daughter first said she wasnt dreaming. That was years ago and I thought it was because she was still such a young pony there. barely old enough to use full sentences. Still in pre-school, and her mother up and left her like that. For weeks after that she kept saying she couldn't dream. And then she stopped talking about it. Until recently I thought she was dreaming. It was last month she told me she still wasn't dreaming. I exhausted every ounce of energy and effort I could spare without bankrupting all of Maretonia to find out anything and everything I could. We consulted with every pony that had any hint of training in the area of psychology. I even sent out for mystics that might help. Nothing has helped. None of them could point toward a cause, and all of them could not help her. I think that mare That left us was the one that caused it. Intentionally no doubt. She resented Caramel from the moment she was born. That is the only explanation I have left to offer."

 

Stormstride was practically shaking in rage at this point. The mare before Luna was obviously at her wits end, and the lack of sleep for herself had not helped that matter at all. There was the soft thump of hooves entering the throne room that drew Stormstride's attention. The two guards she had seen off were returning, baring something between them. It was a carry cot, the kind unconscious ponies were often carried on. On it was a unicorn filly. Her coat was a caramel color, smooth and thick, her mane was near white and fluffy. her rounded stumpy horn poked up just barely an inch out of her mane. She was sound asleep, covered lightly on the stretcher by a soft blanket. Stormstride moved to her and gently brushed her mane from her face. The filly slumbered on, totally unaware of what was happening around her. But her mind was near total blank. No dreams, no eyes or ear twitches to indicate anything. Nothing was happening at all. 

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Although Luna's guard didn't liked the idea of bringing into the throne room unidentified objects that were not registered when arranging the meeting with the princess in her court, the fact that there wasa small filly in it made him forget the fact that the pony didn't registered this. It seemed Luna belived what he had said so far, and the look on her face told so. It was somewhat... expressionless. Like if she had seen a ghost or something, but managed to keep it cool. 

The night princess, after hearing the explanation and the filly, stood up. "Please. Take her to my study. I shall do this there, as I need to make certain preparations before proceeding to investigate this." She stated after a moment, a pair more of night guards comming from the door and gesturing the mare's guards to follow them with the filly. The throne room was no place for this, and since this was the only thing she had to see this night, it didn't mattered that much if she moved to another place. "I do admit, I think the divorce might be a starting good staring point to investigate." She then said as she walked towards Storm. "If you please follow me." She then added as she started walking out of the room, her pegasus night guard walking beside her, the sound of his armor against the floor echoing through the room and hallway as they walked. 

"As you said, a pony that does not sleep is a realy odd occurance." Luna started to say once they all were walking, leading them all to her room. "It will take me a few minutes to get everything ready, in the mean time, my guard will escort you to a guest room so you can rest for a while if you wish. This might take some time, so if at any time you want to retire to rest, the room will be yours." She said before the guards nodded.

"If you please follow me." The guard said to Storom before taking a left turn once they were close to the study, getting separeated from Luna as she entered her study. After walking several doors down the hallway, they arrived to a somewhat big door. The guard opened it and revealed a rather decorated room, though almost all guest rooms where the same. "This will be your room for the duration of your stay. A guard will be outside the door at all time. If you need anything, feel free to ask the guard." He explained, a night guard standing beside the door, seemingly ready for anything. This new guard was a bat pony, while the one that escorted Stor was a pegasus. 

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Stormstride followed, though she did not like leaving her daughter, she understood that sometimes things had to be done. Entering the room she looked around a moment before sighing and turning to them. She motioned her guards. They relaxed into an at ease position and took stance either side of the door inside the room. "I will remain here until called for." she said softly. She moved to he bed and sat silently. 

 

The guards carrying Caramel followed as instructed. Reacing the study, they gently set her down and stood back. One removed his helmet, and set it on the floor beside himself. He was very young, and still very bright eyed. The concern on his face was clear. He was only a bit older than CaramelCream. He glanced at Luna a moment before looking back at his charge. She was sound asleep, but the blankness of her expression was disturbing to him. The other guard with him nudged him and he nodded softly. Putting his helmet back on he whispered to himself softly. 

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"Of course." The pegasus said to Storm before exiting the room. He didn't knew how hard this had to be for her, but he had to keep it cool and say nothing. He was no father or something, yet he loved somepony, and hoped he never had to see her in a situation like this.

 

Back with the princess, she had stationed some guards outside her room in order to keep anypony from coming in and interrupting her, unless they were authorized. Those with permision to enter were really limited though. Only her, her guard and Storm were allowed to go in and out at will, the last one more limited though. 
Luna made no remark about the guard that took of his helm, though it seemed the two did also cared for her, perhaps this one even more that the other. Nevertheless she was not here to make assumption or something. She had a filly that nedded her help. 
"I will ask you to stay outside, and call for Storm to come at once. Preparations will be done quickly." She stated as several night guards rushed in and started moving the room, a some guards carring some extra beds and several items. A few of them were food. She did not know how long this would last, so in order to keep her guests comfortable and ready at any time, she had to make sure they were also kept fed. 
The room was ready after a few minutes, the bed Caramel was was located at the very center of the room, a slightly smaller bed just beside her. She would have to explain Storm the what was to be done first before doing it.

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The two guards standing by CaramelCream both nodded. As they left the room, the younger turned and stood at attention in the hall. The older one trotted down the hall to find Stormstride. Though finding her was easy enough, as all her guards were given charms that let them home in on her family when needed. Caramel was still slumbering silently, though one could tell now that her face showed she had been disturbed in her rest. She had that look upon her face a pony would have when someone moved their pillow while they were sleeping. 

 

The guard returned after a moment, with Lady Stormstride in tow. The mare stood at the door, waiting her turn to be told to enter. It seemed that when her daughter was in question, Stormstide could become quite the lady indeed. The mare was showing her years at this late hour. Her make up could not hide the scars, and wrinkles of a long and hard fought life. Though one could clearly see the fire in her eyes now. This close to an answer, a bit of help for her daughter and she would not give in. 

 


Caramel made a soft moan and rolled over, her round tummy pulling the covers with her a bit. After a moment more, she settled back down and relaxed again. Her ears laying back as she settled down again. Stormstride had to resist rushing to her, though the desire to do so was clear on her face. Stormstride looked to Luna, hopeful and fearful at the same time. "You sent for me, your majesty?" She asked a calm, polite, and delicate tone. 

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(sorry for delay in post. Been busy with college)

"Yes. I will begging the process of entering her dreams. I need you stay here if I need your assistance inside there. Although you say she doesn't dream..." Luna started saying to Storm as she walked about in the room, getting the final preparations ready. The room was ordered in such a fashion that a few beds were positioned to make a circle with the main bed, where Caramel was. 
"She does seem to have a place to go when she sleeps. All ponies have one, and I doubt she is an exception." She started explaining as she sat on the bed closest to Caramel's. "It is highly likely I will also have to take you into the dreamscape if I need it." She finally added as she turned to see Storm in a rather serios face. She didn't liked taking ponies there, but if she had to do it to solve this problem, she would do it. "Do you understand?" She finally asked as her horn started glowing and several white thin ropes started to come out of her horn and start enveloping Caramel's head. 

The guards that were helping where nowhere to be seen anymore, although a pair were stationed outside the room. The pegasus night guard would soon arrive as well, simply standing beside Caramel's bed to make sure no one disturbes either her or Luna. 

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Stormstride nodded softly, understanding as she came to the bedside and looked over her daughter. Closing her eyes she let out a soft sigh and put her face in her hooves and tried to think clearly. Stormstride then moved to sit on one of the side beds and merely wait. She was quiet, calm, but visibly still nervous. She wanted this to be over so her daughter could be happy. The waiting was painful enough, but watching it was making her tremble at points. It was, after all, her baby girl. 

 

Inside Caramel's mind was a very quiet, peaceful patch of grass in what looked to be the inside courtyard of a small but well defended palace. The main gate was closed, the walls around the courtyard were easily five ponies high. There were flowers in the bushes that surrounded the courtyard. The filly herself sat there on the grass, having tea with her stuffed animal. Though in this image she was much younger, and her chubbiness was a bit more visible. She certainly liked her sweets. There was no sound here though, no birds signing nor any chatter of guards passing by. It was all absolute silent.

 

Stormstride's own guards stood outside the room, all of them merely watched the door. They understood that Luna's night guard were there to protect her, but their duty was to their noble, and Stormstride was inside that room. They would not leave their spot until she came out. 

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(So sorry for long delay)

Luna seemed a bit confused when she first arrived to the mind of Caramel. It was too quiet. Why was that? It was truly fascinating visually, but the fact that there were no sounds made it... odd. After a moment of looking around, Luna decided to walk around a bit until she found Caramel in what seemed to be the courtyard. She was inside those walls and the main gate was closed. Although she could easily get past them with her dreamscape magic, she decided not to affect them or anything to protect her mind and decided to approach the old fashioned way. 

"Caramel?" Luna asked once she was at the gates, saying it out loud so the small filly, from her appearance at the moment, cold hear her and look at her. She wondered why this place was like this. Odd. 

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The princess's voice was loud enough, but it had no echo as it woukd have if it had been the real world. The sound was dead flat, no note or tone to her voice. Nonetheless, Caramel turned and looked at her. 

 

"Hello," she said cheerfully.. making extra space at her little tea party she pat a spot for Luna to sit. "Care for some tea ad cakes?" She asked. 

 

Caramel's own voice was the same as Luna's. Dead toned with almost no real life to it. No echo and certainly no character. As well it souned almost like a foal's voice. A few years too young. 

 

"Are you a dream?" Caramel asked, having never met or seen Luna before, she did not know who or what she was aside from being an allicorn. The filly poured a cup of tea, though it made no sound at all in doing so. 

 

A bird landed nearby, its beek moving as though it were singing. And yet, no sounds came. 

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"Hello little one." Luna said softly, feeling a bit uneasy at the lack of echo, as well as other sounds. Only the voices of the two could be heard. "In some way... yes, I am a dream, but I am a real pony as well." She said softly, trying to help. "I came here to help you." She then added as she gave a step forward. "Although I would like to talk with you and have some tea and cake." She added after a moment, trying to get close to her so she could assess the situation better. This was strange indeed. 

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Caramel happily poured a cup for Luna, setting upon a saucer. Fixing her a small plate if sweets as well, the filly set them out for Luna to enjoy at will. 

 

"I have seen no pony here before. If you are a dream and a real pony, does that mean you are a spirit?" Curiosity overcame the young pony, as she had not experienced this before. Her eyes focused on Luna for a bit before they came to the crown. Caramel tilted her head softly, "Are you a noble from Maretonia like Momma? She merts with them sometimes for business matters. They never spoke to me before." 

 

Caramel watched the princess a bit before returning to her tea. She was unaware who was before her. 

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Luna lifted the cup of tea with her magic, and as a show of courtship, took a sip of it, tasting it first before drinking more.


"Well, you can call me a spirit if you wish." She replied to the first part before Caramel tilted her head. "And no. I am not. I am from Canterlot." She said, not telling her who she really was at first, deciding it would be best for later if it was needed. For now, the task at hand was focusing on finding a way to help her... and figure out where exactly she was. This place seemed like some sort of dream purgatory, if she could explain it like that. This was not a dream as such, but still... it was hard to explain. 


"Do you come here all the time when you sleep, if I may ask?" She asked with a soft smile to Caramel, trying not to look intimidating on her. 

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Caramel seemed to think a moment before speaking. "Not always here. Sometimes I go back to Canterlot where we used to live. However I do not dream of anything. Its always just where ever I live. This is Castle Cloud, my home now."

 

She looked at the main gate and for a moment there was a look of terror in here eyes. But it seemed to pass as she looked away. Sipping her tea she levitates a small cake up, pausing to look at it. "I dont deserve to dream anymore," she said finally. 

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Luna blinked at the last few moments. First, the filly seemed to had accepted her fate in here, not doing anything or wondering why she was in this situation in the first place. 

"No, my child. Everypony deserves to dream, no matter what. It is from them that our hopes come from." She started saying as she looked at Caramel, letting her tea cup down and noticing her look of terror when she looked at the gates, before turning herself to see what it was. 

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The gate itself held nothing special, save for a thin lone of glowing light that peeked from between the gate and stinework around it. 

 

The filly herself looked back at the gate. Her eyes fearful of what was beyond it. She seemed scared of the glow. To Luna the glow was warm, inviting even. It almost seemed to becon the pair to let it in. As if it had something wonderful to show them. 

 

Caramel finally spoke, "I dont deserve to dream... I did something bad and now I don't deserve to dream anymore." At her words the glow pulsed brighter. It was as if it were trying to get through the gate but it couldn't. 

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