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Ice nodded as she heard the princess comment that she could not lie to anypony, nor could she bring herself to be dishonest. However, she would not say anything about it if she was never asked. Ice supposed that would have to be good enough. She would have rather it been complete silence in the off chance that a mission went wrong and they were discovered. It could open a can of worms that the princesses may not want to deal with if Luna let on that she knew about the project the entire time. She though of the position now that Luna was in, and it was a dangerous one. Perhaps she should have just kept quiet. She could have just as easily told her units to make sure Celestia knew they were on her side.

 

As Luna mentioned that she thought that they could seriously use something like this, she was relieved a bit but still, it now put the princess in an even more dangerous position. She mentioned that the other princesses had mentioned of having the help of natural hero that weren't Element bearers, Celestia, or herself to help protect Equestria, but they didn't know who. She said that this could be the answer. She also asked who she had recruited in the organization so far. "First off... I want to apologize.... for the precariously dangerous position I just put you in by telling you this, and I curse my lack of foresight. Princess, if something happens to where my organization were to fail a mission or get caught, you wouldn't be able to let on that you knew anything about us... Perhaps help clear the air and get us out once things started calming down, but no one can know that you know. Celestia is the only exception because I will have units in the borders. She needs to know that she will at least have help, even if you don't want to tell her where the help is coming from... unless we became your sanctioned force. That could.... help alleviate some of that.  Otherwise, I fear that it could jeopardize Equestrian relations prove counterproductive to the end goal. Not only that, the rumors that could get started if anypony found out that we had this discussion... can be easily turned into that you are hiding the army, and you and I both know how messy that could end up getting..." Ice Storm said lowering her head... "I shouldn't have said anything.... I've put you in grave danger by doing so... and I am sorry..." she added.

 

She then wondered if she should answer the second question that was presented to her. At this point, the princess already knew about the organization and she had more than enough resources to find the information out. After all, she had all of Ice Storm's resources plus areas that she didn't even have access too. She'd find out anyway. "Since we're already in the fire, there's no harm in telling whom I've recruited. A few big names actually, Tempest Shadow is my second in command and is currently setting up an expedition to one of the old Storm King Armories. She said that there was a lot of things that we could use in there, from magic nullifying weapons, to different types of shields, armor and relics that could prove beneficial to ponies in combat. The other.... more interesting pony that I managed to get under my command... is King Sombre. It's weird to have a potential enemy working for me, but at the same time, it's a good way to make sure he's not planning anything else. I'm honestly surprised he answered the summons that I sent him. He was.... surprisingly easy to find. From there, several other recruits, all of them have their strengths in their own way, I also have funding from the biggest Wale in Las Pegasus." she finished.

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Princess Luna lifted a hoof to wave away Ice Storm's apologies and the list of all the things that could go wrong. She knew quite well how ponies would twist things should Ice's organization ever be discovered and this information ever got out. "You need not apologize. Should anything about your organization's existence get out, I can simply choose to say -- nothing. My refusal to lie doesn't mean I can't withhold information, which I can do with ease. I've hidden a lot from ponies, even my own sister, and sometimes.. I still do. I don't feel.. good about it, but it is necessary."

 

A soft sigh left her. "If worst comes to worst, I will try to speak for you and your organization, to soothe any fears the public may have, and correct what they try to twist. Even if I must face my fellow princesses to convince them of it, then, I shall. I still may not know too much about it aside from what you've told me, but I believe you have good intentions, and I hope to see what you can do to help protect Equestria."

 

Falling quiet, Luna turned her attention to the answer Ice Storm was giving her about who she'd managed to recruit. Tempest Shadow was one she'd already figured out from Ice's hint, who she hoped would be a great help to them after her change of heart. The next name she was told was enough to make the princess start, her wings unfurling in shock.

 

"King Sombra? Wh-.. but how? I thought he had perished!" Were the reports given by Twilight and her friends about seeing King Sombra destroyed by the Crystal Heart accurate, or.. did they even see it? Were they wrong? They had to be if Ice Storm had somehow managed to find King Sombra and recruited him into her ranks, although knowing what she did about the tyrant, Luna had to wonder how much Ice actually recruited him or if he was taking advantage of the offer to get what he might want in the end. He, from Luna's experience, was a wily one. All lies, deception, and misdirection.. as well as cruel. "I.. see. As nice as it is to hear that you've managed to find several recruits already, I.. must caution you about dealing with King Sombra. He is -- dangerous. Not to be trusted. Do take care with him." Luna could do nothing if Ice intended to have Sombra working for her except to warn the mare about him. If he was dropped suddenly, he might find it suspicious or even retaliate somehow. With him, it was difficult to tell what he'd do.

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Ice Storm lifted her head a bit as the princess raised her hoof and waved the apology away. She told her that she didn't need to apologize because she could just simply say nothing. That she's hidden plenty from ponies, and even her own sister. She didn't feel good about it but she understood that it had to be done. She also added that in the chance that things did start taking a turn for the worst, she would try to speak for you and the organization to sooth any fears that the public has, and correct what they try to twist. She said that she would do so even if it meant that she must face her fellow princesses and confess them of it. that even without knowing as much about the organization other than what was told, she believed that she had good intentions. "Damn straight I do. Making sure everyone goes home, and no one has to go through whay ponies like myself, or you, or others within my organization have gone through again. We're going to be the rock that everypony can turn to for hope. Even the princess. Even when everything feels loss, everyone can have the hope that we are coming. and we will come." she said matter of factly.

 

When Luna mentioned the dangers of Sombra, it was Ice Storm's turn to raise her hoof. "I thought he had too... on multiple occasions actually but apparently that is not the case. It is possible that the Crystal Heart didn't kill him, but simply banished him again. That said, I am well aware of the Dangers of Sombra... and I'm not entirely convinced he wasn't responsible for the deaths in the Crystal Empire years ago with the spire fell. The reason for his inclusion is two fold. I have no doubt that he will at some point try to make a move. However, I am prepared for that," Ice Storm said as the orbs in her necklace broke off and began orbiting her, the air temperature dropping easily a good ten degrees as they did.

 

"Sombra will do well to remember for his sake that while he's under me he's not King. He is a well established enemy of Equestria and I'm giving him a chance to reform. However, should he cross a line, I firmly believe I'm one of the only ponies aside from yourself or the other princesses that can fight him and have a chance. This is my way of training him, and tracking him. As they say, keep your friends close, and enemies closer. I imagine he's trying to do the same with me. I have a lot more ways than he does of getting information right now. I'd say that I trust him about as far as I can through him, but that would be a lie, cause I can throw him quite far."

 

"Not to mention Tempest is a lot more powerful than she lets on, and something that I want to start looking into, to see if it's even possible is some sort of magic to repair her horn. I implore to think how powerful of an asset she could be if we could find a way to fix her horn, without telling her that it's even an option. I got her on board by basically giving her command of the army when we there's not a major threat potential here, as long as she leaves enough forces here to scramble if needed. This way she can head to other regions that the Storm King might have gone after, and persuade them to join our cause. So that someone like The Storm King can't come into power again."

 

"That being said... If captured, Tempest or myself will need to be either released immediately, or kept under very light security with an easy way out. Tempest and I have an Arcane Blood pact. We will not rat on each other, and we will use any means necessary to free the other if captured. Just as I would if you, Celestia, Twilight, or Cadence were captured. When it comes to those that I'm sworn to protect, just as I've sworn my oath to you tonight... I don't play games. I won't harm any ponies that are on Equestrian Soil that get in my way. If we are captured inside of Equestria though, I will do everything in my power to come to you first, and I will instruct Tempest to do the same. However, if one of us is captured outside of Equestria, or one of you four are captured at all... I will not be so nice. I will be invading prepared to kill in order to get you out, to get tempest out... to get any Equestrian Soldier, pony, princess you name it. Everypony goes home... even if it means I might not. I know that there's only so much that you can do and still remain unknowing," she finished. The air getting just a tad bit cooler the more passionate she spoke about defending those she cared about.

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They might never truly know what the Crystal Heart did to King Sombra, but Luna didn't think he was simply banished. She puzzled over the matter while Ice Storm reassured her. So long as the icy mare knew what she was dealing with, then her worries could be put at ease- for the most part. "If you think you have the power to deal with him.. I hope you do. It took both my sister and myself to battle him, and to banish him to the ice." She paused, a hoof lifting to her own chin. "I think I heard.. a little of what happened when the Crystal Empire attacked. I didn't believe it when they claimed King Sombra was a part of it, since I thought him destroyed. I had considered that if I were to ever want to lay siege to the empire, I would want to use the symbol of what they fear most to shatter their morale.. I thought that may have been all it was."

 

Luna dropped her hoof and listened again, her mind starting to work over the matter of Tempest and her broken horn. She felt that there wouldn't be any chance they could fully restore her horn without the rest of it.. "What if we create something that she can fit over what's left? Something that works the same way a horn does, that will allow her to channel magic properly? A.. A prosthetic," she said after a moment's struggle to remember the word. Prosthetics were one such positive change, and it was nice to know ponies could make something so useful for others who'd need them.

 

The moon princess considered what Ice Storm spoke of next and she thoughtfully brushed a foreknee up against the underside of her own chin. Her eyes studied the orbs that'd detached from Ice Storm's necklace in thought. The temperature was dropping.. but it didn't quite bother her. After her imprisonment on the moon, cold temperatures no longer seemed to bother her as much as it might once have. She was sure she recognized such artifacts, or at least some description of them. "Intriguing.." Her foreleg dropped and she focused more fully upon Ice Storm herself. "If there is any way I can assist with your escape in possible captures, I would certainly do so. And none shall know I was responsible. I do hope your and Tempest's plans work out well. I do wish to see Equestria safe and properly protected."

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Ice smiled when the princess told her that if she felt that she had the power to deal with him, then she hoped that she did. She also warned her that before it took the both of them to banish him into the ice. She also added that she wasn't entirely sure that Sombra would have been behind the attacks on the Crystal Faire either. However, the princess did say that if she herself were planning an attack like that, that she would use a similar mask of what the empire would fear most. That it was entirely plausible that whomever was directing the attack on the empire was doing the same thing. Using Sombra's image as a bait and switch tactic. She already had an idea of just who could have been using such a tactic... and it only made her want to kill him even more now... The Red Jarl will pay for the lives he cost. Justice will be served for those families.

 

Still though, she couldn't help but smile at the thought. She might not be an Alicorn, but she felt that she could very easily call the ice her domain. Just as Celestia had the sun and day, just as Luna had the Night, stars, and moon, Just how Twilight had friendship... She wasn't a princess.... but the realm of ice was hers, and she felt like that would be her biggest advantage against Sombra should he veer from his reformation.

 

Her thought shifted as Luna began to talk about Tempest and the reformation of her horn. She asked about fitting something over the top of it. A prosthetic. Something that she would be able to use and channel the magic properly and it would... for all intents and purposed be a reformation of the horn itself and as she thought about it, it would be the easiest way to do so. Ice Storm nodded. "I never thought about that... Perhaps we could work with that... perhaps make it in such away where the new part can fuse with what's already there. something to make it look seamless and no pony would be able to tell that it's a prosthetic... I will begin research on something like that once I leave here tonight," she replied as Luna also told her that she would do what she could to assist in their escapes without anyone knowing that she was responsible for them. That was a big, big plus. As long as they weren't super crazy with things, then her they had ways out. That was very important for what they were doing.

 

"You have no idea how this means to me Princess. To be given a chance like this... to protect you, to protect Canterlot, to protect everything Equestria holds dear... I signed up for EPIC because I wanted to make a difference. EPIC isn't living up to it's promises. I had to do something... I couldn't just sit back any longer.... those who have the means to protect others must be willing to do so from the ones that have the means and choose the path of evil instead. Swift Squall gave me these spheres... and in doing so, gave me the power that I needed to where I felt I could make a difference. That I can help take a stand against the great evils of Equestria," she said as she started raising her hoof up and her magic activating.

 

"Princess Luna... I Ice Storm of Canterlot, here by decree my unwavering loyalty both to you and the subjects of Equestria. With your permission, I would like to create an arcane pact with you. Upon resolution of this pact, a trace amount of my magic will be imbued into you, as will a trace of yours into me, creating an agreement more binding than any contract. This is the same pact that I made with Tempest. My Pact between Myself and Tempest was a two way pact where we protected each other... however pact that I wish to make today, is specifically to you. I hereby Swear an oath, that I will do everything in my power, to protect you and the remaining princesses, as well as the rest of Equestria. This pact will create momentary pain and discomfort, but will be bound by the arcane aether. I will be bound both by magic and by blood to honor this oath to you, and the ponies of Equestria. I wish to prove with this pact, that your faith is not misplaced and that I have only the purest of intentions for Equestria," Ice Storm said as her ice magic was now swirling around the center of her hoof waiting and hoping that the Princess would accept the oath. It would be an honor to serve the princess and make sure that both she, and Equestria, were well protected.

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The princess made a thoughtful sound. She hadn't thought of it looking like a normal horn.. She'd been considering it as something metal, shaped like a unicorn's horn that fit over the stump of Tempest's horn. Having a prosthetic that made it seem as if Tempest's horn was whole again might actually work just as well. They'd just have to work around a few details, like how to keep it in place and how to keep it from popping off if the unicorn's temper got explosive.

 

"I understand. I too, want to do everything I can to protect Equestria and sometimes I hardly get to. Something always manages to come along and catch me unawares, and I.. I hate it. I have always been the better fighter between myself and my sister. Most of my skills I learned from my time exploring all the nooks and crannies of the Everfree Forest.. To have something catch me off guard and render me helpless rankles me." Luna sighed heavily through her nose, coming close to a snort. "Perhaps we can do better now."

 

Her gaze shifted to the mare's hoof, watching the icy tendrils of magic circling around it. The moon princess paid close attention to each word Ice Storm spoke, searching them to reassure what paranoia she had about such a binding pact that none of it could ensnare her. It wasn't that she thought Ice Storm would try to bend her own idol to her will or anything of the sort, but one never knew. Ice could be under somepony else's control and she wouldn't even know it! But Luna felt no darkness about any of it. Slipping off one of her silver shoes, Luna lifted her hoof to touch Ice Storm's. "I do not wish you to come to harm simply to protect me, Ice Storm, but I accept your pact." She would bear whatever pain might come. The cold could not hurt her like it once did, and she had bore far greater pain.

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When the Princess Luna stood up, and she removed one of her silver shoes relief filled her, however, she remained stoic. This situation, this current set of circumstances required the utmost professionalism. She could relax and give thanks and appreciation once the pact had concluded. The night was still quite young after all. As the princess spoke, telling her that she did not wish her harm simply to protect her, but she accepted, Ice nodded and their hooves made contact, briefly sending a wave of energy through the princess as a small sleeve of ice was made around her leg. As soon as the pact finished, the ice around the princesses leg broke and fell to the floor harmlessly. Ice Storm pulled her hoof back and placed it down.

 

"I would much rather not be harmed either princess... however, when it came right down to it, your survival, and your importance to Equestria is far, far greater than mine. If you or any of the other princesses fall, then ultimately, Equestria would fall. It just takes the loss of one, to create a catastrophic loss in morale. A loss in morale would in turn create more forces willing to flee, than there would be to stand and fight. At the same time, it would also create a blindness. A rage, a need for revenge in those that idolized you. They would seek vengeance and become blind to the dangers around them to enact that vengeance."

 

"I know this to be true for myself as well. I was in the spire when it fell. I just got myself and Twilight out before the final collapse and in doing so pushed myself to an extent that I couldn't cast magic at all for a week. I still feel that burning rage against the Red Jarl of Whitescar.... However... I understand I can't just go and destroy everything he loves and holds dear just because he did the same to us. To do so would make me no better than the monster I chase. However, I have no problem waiting for a scout to find him alone, and deliver the justice that should have been served years ago to him. If Twilight had fallen with the Spire there... and Twilight was unconscious when it fell.... she would have fallen... I shan't think the state that Equestria would be in now. So no, I don't want to be harmed... but what I want doesn't matter, if you, Celestia, Cadence, or Twilight is in danger... then it is imperative that you all make it out. I may be a powerful mare, but I am not an important mare. not in the grand scheme of things, and if something were to happen, and I were to die protecting you or one of the others, then that's a death that I can be proud of, so as long as whom I was protecting got out alive," she said taking a seat once more.

 

"That being said, I'm sure we don't want to spend the rest of the night talking about such gloomy topics. Perhaps we could move to something a little bit lighter..... Oh speaking of lighter," she said her face lighting up as if she forgot something. "Would it be possible to acquire a set of the Lunar Guard Armor? Especially since while Celestia is investigating the borders I will be patrolling the streets immediately around the castle, if not in the castle. Something that other ponies could see that would show my loyalty to you while I'm standing guard," she said. Plus the Lunar Guard armor looked way cooler than her ice armor. Sure she could make it into different shapes and shape it like the guard armor, but it wasn't really... customizable otherwise. She knew that most of the Lunar Guard were pegasi, but Luna might have had something for a unicorn under her ranks.

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Princess Luna's serious expression grew taut as she braced herself against the wave of magic that worked its way up her leg, along with the ice. The latter didn't bother her so much, but it did feel odd. She could feel the magic in the pact's spell too, and when it faded, she knew that it'd been complete. Now, Ice Storm's life, her willingness to sacrifice herself for a princess like herself, weighed on her shoulders. It should be the other way around.

 

Ignoring the whisper of her thoughts, Luna shook her leg, dislodging whatever melting shards of ice hadn't immediately fallen to the floor. She was listening to Ice Storm speak all the while, expressing what would happen to Equestria without the princesses, and expanding on what happened in the Crystal Empire with Twilight. It was the first topic that still stuck like a burr in her mind, and a small frown played around the moonbringer's muzzle while she slipped her hoof back into her silver shoe. "I know that you don't want to come to harm, but believe me when I say that you're just as important as any of us. All of Equestria's citizens are. Simply because you do not have a crown and an influence like ourselves does not make you any less important. My sister and I initially didn't want to be princesses, we wanted to simply be as guardians for Equestria.. I still feel the same way. The guilt of you sacrificing yourself for me.." she let the sentence hang, unable to express herself. She couldn't bear knowing she might be responsible for a death.

 

Luna's wings sagged a little against her sides and she heaved a breath, standing to her full height. Ice Storm was correct- they didn't have to stay here talking about nothing but doom and gloom. "Yes, of course," she murmured. Hearing out Ice's request for the night guard armor, she made a noise in her throat and stepped around the mare. "We do have a couple of different styles of armor. There is dark blue armor styled after the Royal Guard's gold armor for regular ponies on the night guard shift, and of course the more unique armor of the areions. I'm sure I can find a set of armor for you, if not I can have somepony here at the castle make or customize something for you that would be fitting."

 

"Perhaps we can go and investigate now, if you wish. We have the time, and very few at this hour would get in our way." A walk within the lit halls of the castle would do her some good, rather than the dimly lit observatory. She didn't mind it when it was dark or dim, but for the moment Luna felt she'd feel better somewhere else.

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Ice Storm heard the talk that the princess gave her, but honestly she didn't believe much of it. Of course the princess would say that she was equally as important as she was, and that was one of the things that she loved about Luna, but the reality of the matter was, Luna was a princess, and she was not. She could talk about how she herself didn't have to have a crown or influence meant that she wasn't important. When she said that her and her sister didn't initially want to be Equestria's Rulers, they wanted to be their guardians. Luna added that she still felt that way. That she would feel an immense amount of guilt if she had sacrificed herself for her. "I understand. Let us hope it never has to come to that. Between the power of the force that I've assembled. I hope it never comes to that... because if it can get through what I've built.. then they have bigger issues," she said before the princess agreed to move on to lighter subjects.

 

She was very happy about this. Of course she never planned on having any of these discussions tonight because she wasn't even sure that the princess was going to be here tonight. she also added that there were a couple of different styles for the armor that she had that was for the night guard. There was the dark blue armor styled after the royal guard's armor for regular ponies on the night shift, and then there was the unique armor for the Areions. She was sure that they could find a set of armor here for her, or perhaps have one made for her that would be fitting for what she's doing. When she asked if she would like to investigate the options now, that they could do so. Very few were about at this hour so there would be few that could get in their way. Ice Storm nodded. "I would like that, and I'm open to whatever you feel is appropriate, princess. If you wish to have a set of armor made for me, or simply fit me for a set of the Lunar guard armor, I will be quite happy," she smiled. Ice would like something a bit more feminine than the armor that she's seen the guard in, but at the same time, she understood if that wasn't an option. She was perfectly happy with whatever the princess would believe would be appropriate for her.

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The princess made a soft noise of agreement in her throat over the mentioned show of power and started towards the door to the observatory, the one that lead into the castle, rather than the one she'd arrived from. "We'll see what we can do," she promised. The door opened at her magic's touch and Luna stepped through, heading into the castle without much more to be said. After the course of a couple of years of living here, she'd come to learn it's maze-like layout; even more familiar were the paths she usually took. To the throne rooms, the kitchens, the dining room.. sometimes the armory.

 

She never got to get too involved in battling Equestria's many foes these days, but if she was going to keep herself in fighting shape, to keep herself from getting as rusty as her sister no doubt was, she had to practice. Usually she practiced at the odd hours of the night in a secluded area of the grounds, testing out a few different weapons when she had the free time to. Yet, the skills she'd been trying to keep honed never got to see use these days, not when Twilight and her friends were now the new Bearers and most of those who sought to take Equestria for their own often caught Luna and Celestia by surprise. It was an embarrassment that hung over her head like a dark cloud, to know that she could be caught so easily. Though, Luna had to admit to herself, Tirek was an exception.

 

Her thoughts wandered on the way to the castle armory, and Luna only waved them aside once they'd reached it. There hadn't been much of a reason for her to fill the silence along the way, and she didn't want to waste words on idle talk.

 

Heading inside, Luna made her way towards the night guards' section of the armor and eyed the extra sets of armor. From her point of view, she saw them as neither feminine or masculine. They were simply armor to her. Yet, she could understand some of Ice Storm's point of view. A caster would need light, but durable, armor that was flexible. They'd need to be able to move in it, as would the winged ponies. It was perhaps only the armor made for earth ponies that was heavier and more protective; earth ponies didn't need the maneuverability so much, and their strength could bear it.

 

"Go ahead and look through them. Whatever part of the armor does not fit, we can look into having something made differently, styled to fit you and your needs." Luna's voice broke the silence at last, and she gestured towards Ice Storm's necklace with a slight gesture of her wing. "The craftspony who works on the armor could stand to have something new to do."

 

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Ice nodded when the princess told her that they could see what they could do. From there they got quiet as they began to move through the door and out of the observatory. Ice made sure to turn around and make sure that the door was locked behind them. She was anxious to follow the princess, but not to the point where she would carelessly forget something like that. Once locked, she followed and began to look around the castle a bit. It was intriguing. She had the route from the entrance to the observatory memorized, but she didn't dare try to venture into other parts of the castle. One, she never had permission to up until this point, and two, she was fairly certain that without being with somepony that knew the castle like the back of their hoof, she would get very lost.

 

There were so many stained glass murals through the hallways projected some of the vast history that Equestria had. Ice had seen some of these before on the way to the throne room to meet Celestia the one time that she had summoned her. These were a bit.... more though... It showed a lot more emotion to the history that was presented. A lot of them showed.... sorrow? She wasn't sure what to make of it, but she followed the princess in Silence. AS they started to get closer to their destination, she noticed that the murals started becoming more... consistent. There were banners of shields, with different crests, banners with swords, pikes, you name it. IT was clear they were getting close to the armory and that the armory here in the castle took pride in their work.

 

The walk there though was entirely silent. Something that had been a drastic difference to most of the time that they had spent in the observatory. As the princess lead her, she couldn't help but notice that some of the guards definitely took notice of her and kept an eye on her. It was then that she remembered that her spheres were still orbiting her. With a simple flick of her mind, the orbs ceased orbiting and took their places inside the necklace. There were a few others that looked to ice with a bit of surprise, wondering if they possibly had a new hire in their ranks. In truth, they did in a way. It was just there was a lot more that she had to do, than just stand guard. At this point though... STAR really was just a secret extension of the Lunar Guard now. If the princess mentioned a plausible target to her, and she had some intel to confirm it, Ice would strike immediately.

 

When they got to the armory, there were... many sets of armor there and she heard the princess tell her to go ahead and look them over. She added that whatever part of the armor didn't fit, that they could look into having something made and styled to fit to her needs. At that she gestured to the necklace with one of her wings. She finished by saying the crafts pony that worked on the armor could stand to have something new to do. Ice smiled and nodded. "I appreciate this princess. The necklace does pose a bit of a fitment problem, but if I remove it, then I have no way to keep the spheres inactive as they are now. I also cannot remove them nor can they be forcefully removed from me. Well... they can be forcefully, but.... I wouldn't do that... from what research I've done, and what little Twilight's been able to do, because they were made with my aether, they are permanently bound to me. IF they are removed, or broken, they would react explosively, releasing every bit of magic that is inside of me, and all four spheres out at once.They are very powerful, but they don't come without their price. I have to have a way of halting them and pulling them into the necklace if things get to dire for them to be orbiting too much," Ice explained.

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The sound of Ice Storm's voice pulled Luna's eyes away from the sets of armor to settle upon the mare. "It's of no issue. I'm glad to be able to offer something," she replied and faltered, a small frown crossing her face. What Ice's artifacts could do if they were removed was worrying. Anypony who figured that out could easily destroy Ice, though, Luna reminded herself, they'd have to catch the mare by surprise if they wanted to do so. They wouldn't be able to get close enough to try, otherwise, not without being frozen. The mental image of a pony being frozen by magic was an unpleasant one, but Luna didn't dwell on it.

 

Studying the armor again, she frowned in thought. If none of it was to Ice's liking, or looked as proper on her as the unicorn would no doubt prefer, then something new could be made. Though, what? Something darkly colored would let Ice blend in a little more in the dark, and while silver would look fetching against Ice Storm's blue palette, it would be a bit.. flashy, perhaps? Luna wasn't entirely sure how well it'd work out.

 

"Is it possible that we can make something like the necklace you have for the orbs for armor, or should we have armor made with a lower neck to allow room for your necklace?" The moon princess questioned, glancing back towards Ice. "And please, do feel free to nose through the armor sets. Try them out and see what fits. If none does.. we can simply have something fitted and made, perhaps with this idea in mind if it will work," she suggested, her head lifted slightly in a curious tilt.

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Ice Storm nodded to the princess and began looking at the armors. They were all pretty well the same size, and meant for a bulkier pony to where. There was a few that were more her size towards the end that she levitated over one of the smaller sets and the helm itself was much too large for her, even from the smallest set. She could tell it was made for the facial structure of a stallion and not a mare. the cheek guards extended quite a bit around her short snout and it was very limiting her ability to see around her. That wouldn't do at all. The helm would likely have to be made for her. Next she took the saddle part of the armor, and the leather barding under it. She tightened the straps to try to get proper fitment, but with the straps tightened as much as she could, it was still just a bit too large on her, and with her necklace, she wouldn't be able to wear the breastplate for the armor at all.

 

When Luna mentioned about possibly making a set of armor that could function like the necklace, Ice lifted her head a bit in surprise. She was surprised that she didn't think of that. Well, she wasn't because she didn't want to take too much advantage of the situation, and naturally, she would be willing to pay for anything that would be custom made for her. She wasn't poor by any means. "I don't know why I didn't think of that myself. The armor itself fits a little bit loose, but not bad. The added slight space there would help deaden a blow and would cause a little bit less damage to the body in such instance. However I would be unable to wear the breastplate with the necklace as is. However, if there was a way to incorporate the necklace into the armor, or as you suggested, be able to make the armor have the same effect as the necklace, that would work as well. I would have to attune them to the armor, but that wouldn't take long," she spoke to the princess as she looked in the mirror.

 

The armor itself from the side didn't look too bad, the obvious missing breastplate wasn't all that sightly, but she couldn't just based on that with a bit of magic she lifted the necklace up a bit just long enough to affix the plate and look again. Aside from how ridiculous the helm made her look, the darker colors really accented her coat well. No doubt something silvery and more ice colored would as well, but what was here would look good if properly fitted. "I think something just a little bit smaller would work best with some taller shoes. Apparently I'm a bit more lithe than the average guard pony. I would definitely need a custom helm. Something a bit more conforming so that I'm still protected but can see around me. Being a mage, I need to be able to see the whole battlefield to determine the most dangerous threats and take them out before they get to my line."

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Sharp teal eyes watched as Ice Storm perused the available armor and tried them on, making small notes about the improper sizes and plans to have something more fitting made for the unicorn. Ice Storm was more slight in build than most of the guards, mare and stallion alike; none of these would do.

 

Her ears perked as her idea was met with a positive response. "I'm glad to hear we can. It might be far more useful to you to have proper armor, than say, a deep neck in the chest plate to accommodate the necklace that would leave the front of your chest exposed. A well aimed arrow or weapon would easily fell you, if your magical defenses were breached, of course." Frowning faintly to herself, Luna moved to the side, studying the armor Ice was currently trying on. She supposed she could agree with Ice's assessment to have loose-fitting armor; it'd give a mage like herself some flexibility to move in.

 

"Yes.. we will have to find a more fitting helm for you," the princess mused as she came to a halt. The dark, faded blue of the night guard's armor went quite well with Ice's colors; if the armor was slimmer and properly fitted to the mare's form, Luna would daresay that it'd look good, perhaps what Ice was looking for. The helm was going to be an entirely different situation. They'd have to figure out something unlike the standard helmet shape. Until a better design would found, she felt that they'd be able to get started on the rest of the armor and the shoes Ice suggested.

 

"I think it's settled, then. We can approach the armor-smith about the measurements and the designs for your armor tomorrow and have them get started on it right away. We'll have to figure out something for the helm at some point.. perhaps our armorer might have some suggestions about it when we speak to them. If you require any assistance with the enchantments for your armor when it's finished, I'd be glad to help."

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Ice listened to Luna as she explained that trying to conform to the necklace could leave part of her chest exposed, and that a well aimed arrow or weapon could easily fell her. She couldn't deny that and while her magical defenses were plenty, There was only so much she could account for at once. it was very plausible for a force to use her primary target as a distraction while hunters and archers ambushed her from the sides. Not that she would let herself get blindsighted like that, but you can never predict a battlefield. There as somethings that are beyond a pony's control. Her fate should not be one of those things because she didn't heed the warnings now.

 

When Luna mentioned that it was settled, and that they could come back in the morrow and speak to the armor smith about the measurements and designs of her armor and she could have them get started on them right away. Luna also mentioned that would also be a good time to ask the armorer about the helm and see if they had any ideas on how to work with that. She also said if there were any enchantments that could be put on the armor to help her, to let her know. "Well, I had heard in a few places that gems could be used to store arcane energy. What if, there was a gem inside the armor that the energy pool for the orbs could reside in? That way if one of the orbs was damaged, it could be locked in the armor until repaired, and thus not have the energy connected to it them. It would at least help with some of the negative effects that the orbs carry. I don't think it would help at all though if more than one was damaged, and the gem itself would have to be behind some heave magic or something incredibly strong and protective. Otherwise one good hit would have the same effects as damaging an orb would otherwise." Ice said aloud. She was excited. Not just because she was about to get her own set of armor, but because of the role it meant she now played. She was essentially becoming a hidden Lunar Guard. Something that she was quite proud of.

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The princess made a soft, thoughtful noise in her throat. It was true that gems could be used to store magic, and they were easy to enchant. Though, many other things could be enchanted too, such as metal and maybe even stone. There wasn't much she'd really tried yet, and Luna was startled to realize the potential experiments she could try. Perhaps in her spare time she might test it all out to see how well different materials took enchantments.

 

Pulling her attention back to Ice's idea, Luna lifted her head. "I think that might be quite useful, as well as assure your own safety should something happen on the battlefield. We.." she trailed off, glancing off at empty air before her silvery-blue magic flared to life around her horn, and in a small flash, a curling piece of blank parchment appeared with a quill. She quietly began to scribble, outlining everything that they'd spoken of for the armor. It'd be best to keep a list of it all to present to the armorer so that no details would be left out or forgotten. It'd be imperative, so that they'd have no reason to have anything altered or fixed after it was too late. "Indeed," she murmured, sounding somewhat distracted. Her scrawling quill came to a stop and she finally looked up at Ice, offering her the parchment for the mare to know what it was she'd been so furiously writing.

 

"To ensure that nothing is forgotten. This armor will be far more complicated than a simple set of armor, and for very good reasons too. I figured it best to have a list so nothing goes forgotten, and it may help the armorer too. Some of it, though, we may have to help them with if they're not as familiar with something so intricate."

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When Ice saw the princess create a small flash and then had a piece of parchment in her aura taking notes, Ice pondered. She also heard the princess mention that something like that would be quite useful and would help with her own safety on the battlefield. She added that in order to make sure nothing is forgotten, that she was making a list. This set of armor was going to be a bit more complicated than a normal set and with good reason. Ice Storm nodded. It wasn't every day that a set of armor needed to be made that could not only house, but protect a magical artifact, or four in this case. She also figured that the list would help the armorer as well, though she mentioned that they might have to help with some of it since they may not be used to dealing with something as intricate as what was needed.

 

"I would be more than willing to help where I can, but my knowledge is very little when it comes to crafting armor. Normally I just created my armor out of ice around me, but with the dangers and the threats that I will be seeking, I don't think my armor of ice would do much to stop them. It may be strong, but it's still ice, If a piece broke wrong or a jagged edge went the wrong way I could be felled by the very armor that's meant to protect me. So I figured it was time to invest in a proper set of armor. Since... I'm effectively a hidden member of the guard now... I thought maybe something along the Lunar armor would be more appropriate," she replied as she took the parchment from the princess into her aura and looked it over. all the notes and everything seemed to be in place and she didn't see anything missing. "Everything looks good for me. Only thing left is to figure out how much it will cost to make. Bit's are of no concern to me. I can afford it," she smiled.

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The parchment slipped out of her magical grasp and into Ice Storm's, watching her notes being reviewed. "Indeed. Even if you were not, this armor should come in handy for you while you lead your organization," she idly put in, straightening up and managing to respond to Ice's smile with one of her own. "I'm sure we'll find out soon. The ideas behind this armor's design and it's potential completion is exciting, and I can't wait to see how it'll turn out. Until then.. we should keep that safe," Luna nodded towards the parchment. She couldn't feel surprised that Ice would have the bits for something as complicated as this armor would be, but it did baffle her a little how anypony could come across so much money.

 

"So, as I cannot think of anything further to add beyond the ideas I've already presented.. perhaps we should move on to something else. I for one wouldn't mind finding somewhere comfortable to settle down to talk about more casual topics. To catch up. It's been some time since we've seen each other, after all, and all we've spoken of since running into each other again is little of ourselves and more about other things, like your organization. It is not that I have any problem with that. These discussions and what information I've learned is useful, but I have little left to say about them now." Luna set back whatever bits of disturbed armor that Ice Storm wasn't wearing and moved away, slowly stepping towards the arched double doors to the armory.

 

"I think a parlor would be a fine place, unless you feel you need to retire for the night. I wouldn't fault you for growing weary the longer the night wears on." Offering Ice Storm a choice, Luna left it open for the mare to choose to do whatever she'd want. They could always find the time to talk tomorrow, if not tonight, though Luna hoped that Ice might stay around a little longer. It was seldom that she had anypony to talk to during the nights. Plus, she had a few questions she wished to ask.

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Ice Storm listened and nodded as she heard the princess speak about how even if she wasn't a member of the guard now, that the armor would definitely come in handy for leading her new organization. She was happy to hear that that ideas behind the armor's design and it's potential completion was exciting. She wasn't even wrong. Ice was fired up from the thoughts and she nodded once more when the princess told her that they should keep that parchment safe. "Indeed. something like this I would prefer to keep as close as possible until it's being built," she replied as the princess continued by saying that she didn't think that there was any more that she could add to the ideas that were already presented. She also stated that while she didn't mind talking about the organization and the like, it had been a long while since they spoke at all and was hoping to talk about some more casual topics. She added that a parlor would be a fine place to do as such unless she needed to turn in for the night. Ice Storm shook her head.

 

"After the discussions that we've had, and the excitement from the prospect of armor I'm not even close to being tired. I think a parlor would be a great idea to sit back and catch up on things. Besides, I'm usually up for easily another couple hours. I don't go to bed unless I absolutely have to so I can prolong dealing with a rather embarrassing issue that only rears it's ugly head when I fall asleep... Was there any particular parlor that you had in mind or are there some here in the castle?" she asked the princess as she followed her to the doors of the armory and then where ever she decided to lead her to from there before realizing she was still wearing half of a set of armor. With a quick flick of her magic, she had taken it off and placed it neatly back on the rack. She still couldn't believe that she was getting a full set of real armor now. This was really happening, and she felt the armor would only add to her intimidating presence when she needs to use it. Of course, the Opalus Spheres would be more than enough to intimidate most ponies. The fact that she can cradle them inside her necklace shows that she has full control over them.

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"I speak of a sitting room kind of parlor, and yes, it is here in the castle. Unless.. you'd prefer to go out to some late night establishment to sit in? I understand the castle can sometimes feel.. oppressive." Luna spoke mostly out of her own experience. Though she would not live the limited life of a mortal, the mere thought of being trapped in this castle for days or months on end outside of social visits and events she was required for was an awful one. It might as well be a prison. Yet, having somepony to spend time with and talk to made it feel less so, and reminded her the option to come and go as she pleased was always there.

 

Whatever the case, Luna would lead the way into the more public parts of the castle that branched off of its grand foyer with its checkered floor and magenta runners. The door would be opened to one of the parlors in one high-ceilinged hall, empty now with signs that maids had already been through. Everything was cleaned, dusted and tidied. The princess made her way towards one of the soft purple sofas and settled herself down upon it on her side, shedding her silver shoes and nudging them under the coffee table with a hoof.

 

She hadn't missed Ice Storm's comment about an 'embarrassing night time issue' and she had to ponder what it might be. There were possibilities that she was aware of, but she chose not to pursue it with any curious questioning for Ice's sake.

 

"So, ah.. I don't socialize often with ponies and I hardly know where to begin, or what to speak about. But, I do know that I have a few questions to ask. It's less about more important matters like your STAR organization," Luna liked that its name stood as such when shortened, "and more about.. King Sombra. I still cannot help but be curious about what he's up to, and feel surprised that he's.. alive. How he has survived, I do not know, but I desired to ask.. what was he like when you spoke with him?" Out of context, a pony might make assumptions about her line of questioning, but she wanted to know if he was still anything like she remembered when they'd fought him to free the Empire of his reign. Arrogant, surely, but a frightening force to be reckoned with.

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"Here in the castle is fine by me. I rather enjoy being here. I usually only ever get to see the few halls that lead to the observatory, so the opportunity to see other parts of the castle isn't one I would like to miss," Ice smiled. The room that she followed Luna into was, quite nice, and elegant. She honestly didn't expect anything less from a room that would be befitting of a princess. Granted it wasn't Luna's room, but if it was an area where the princesses could be seen in regularly, then there would naturally be a serene sense of elegance around it. She also watched as the princess slipped off the sliver shoes that she wore and slipped them under the coffee table. She felt happy that the princess could be so relaxed around her.

 

She made her way over to the soft purple sofas that was next to the one the princess was sitting at. It would have been rude for her to just presume that she could sit next to the princess on the same sofa, but still next to her and within pleasant conversation range. The next statement that came out of the princess's mouth made her feel... sad. She said that she didn't get to socialize with ponies often so she hardly knew where to start on such matters. She did say though that she had a few questions for her and it was less about her organization and they were more about Sombra. She knew of the history that the princesses had with Sombra so she knew that there would be a lot of skepticism on whether he had actually changed at all or not, and to be completely honest, Ice Storm didn't have an answer. She was asking what he was like when she spoke to him as if she was trying to gauge for herself through her own reactions if the dark prince could be trusted.

 

"First off, I would like to point out princess, if you ever need anypony to talk to no matter the time, I'm available for it. I've heard mentions that you can enter a pony's dream. If you need to talk, feel free to either do so or swing by my shop. If you need a pony to talk to, I don't care if you wake me, I'll be there to listen," she told the princess. "Unfortunately, as far as Sombra goes, the only time that I've spoken with him directly up to this point was when he was actually here in Canterlot when I held the first meeting for Star in the basement of my shop. A basement that isn't on any floor plan in Canterlot. Outside of other members of Star, you are now the only other pony that knows it's there. It won't remain though, as I'm keeping the primary base of operations three stories below my hotel and casino in Las Pegasus. That's for a different discussion though. "

 

"When he was here, the only thing that I really notice was arrogance. He probably was feeling something like how could he have gotten to the level where he was. I know he probably felt like he was more powerful than everypony else in the room. I've made some requests to speak to him on a more personal level so that I can attempt to gauge his intentions, however I haven't heard anything back quite yet. I'm not worried though, I sent the request only a day or two ago. I imagine takes a while for male to get wherever he is."

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Gratitude welled up in Luna. It was nice to know that somepony might always be around for her to talk with, although she didn't think she'd bother Ice Storm terribly often. "These mentions would be correct. I'm capable of dreamwalking, something I can tell you about," she replied with a little dip of her head. It was something that was going to wait until after she'd gotten her answer about King Sombra, a particular individual she was concerned of.

 

When it was revealed he'd been in Canterlot for STAR's first meeting, a small shiver ran up Luna's spine. He'd been in Canterlot? And she hadn't even known! It was shocking that he could slip in right under their noses without so much as a peep of an alert about somepony suspicious lurking around the city. Perhaps nopony had noticed him, or recognized him.. or Sombra was just that sneaky. A small frown crossed Luna's muzzle at the possibilities. If he was able to slip into the city without causing any alarm, then what if he could make it into the castle? Catch them unawares?

 

"I hope he answers your summons soon so that we might be able to get more information about him. Even when we fought him a millennium ago, we hardly knew anything about him. Only that he'd risen to power after the disappearance of Princess Amore, and that he'd enslaved the Crystal Empire. For what? We're uncertain. We never got to explore anything since he took the empire with him when we banished him." Something that they couldn't have foreseen.

 

"Until we get more answers.. I suppose we can move onto lighter matters. I'd rather not dwell about tyrants. The topic of dreamwalking, for one. It's something I discovered I could do while I was still imprisoned. It was the only way I could still influence anything in Equestria, especially when.. well, being imprisoned in the moon is hard to describe. I was almost not a physical thing. Dreams, however, gave me a way to still do something. Although, at the time I only ever sowed nightmares."

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Ice nodded as the princes said that she hoped that Sombra answered her summons soon so that they could get some more information about them. She added that even when they fought him a millennia ago, they hardly knew anything about him. Only that he had risen to power and enslaved the Crystal Empire. They didn't know why, or what lead to the situations, and they didn't have anything to try to gather information with because when he was banished, he took the Empire with him. This all put Ice Storm deep in thought. It was entirely plausible that he was trying to use STAR as a method to gain power again... If he was, he just made him one step closer... However... if he couldn't handle the power of the two sisters before, then there's no way he'd be able to withstand them, plus herself and Twilight. Cadence wasn't a slouch either, but it wasn't like she would be able to instantly get to where they were fighting to be able to help in time, unless she just some how happened to be in the area.

 

When Luna suggesting tabling the matter until they got some more information on just what Sombra was planning to do, or at the very least had a chance to speak with him in an environment that wasn't strictly business, Ice nodded again. She listened as the princess spoke a bit more on the topic of dreamwalking. That it was something that she discovered that she could do while she was trapped on the moon. That it was one of the ways that she could still influence Equestria with. It gave her a way to do something, even if at the time the only thing she was doing was sowing nightmares instead of helping resolve them. "Well, if it makes you feel better, I don't ever recall a nightmare that I had that even had Nightmare Moon in it... Though there was a few dreams in my really young years that I joined Nightmare's forces because she was the only one that took me in after I was abandoned, but I wouldn't call them nightmares. Most of my nightmares were about my own family. Well, what I remembered of them. I don't really have a problem with nightmares too much now, except for a few memories of the spire from a few years ago," she said a bit of curiosity forming in here. "With that in mind though, what are the limits of what you can actually do in the dream realm? Have you ever been trapped in someone else's dream before?"

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"I may have personally shown up in some nightmares, but never in the forefront of them. Only as a shade, something in the background as I slipped from dream to dream, twisting them into nightmares to punish ponies for the slights I perceived against me. There wasn't an eruption of nightmares since my imprisonment in the moon, but I did have a hoof in many. I know it's the reason ponies still hold so much fear of me even a thousand years later even when they'd never seen or met me before. I know its why so many cowered during the first Nightmare Night I ever attended- that, and all the dishonest stories ponies have crafted and spread about me, about Nightmare Moon. Lies handed down from generation to generation." The princess looked unhappy as she spoke of it.

 

"I see.." Luna murmured. "I've never been trapped in a dream before, no. I dreamwalk, and so too do I have power over those dreams. In many cases it is easy for me to sweep aside the threats a pony's nightmare presents them in order to speak with them and help them through the problem that is plaguing them so much, it follows them into their dreams. In others, it is not so easy as that. Some problems are far more complicated, and may be beyond my power to truly help with.. but I can try to help in some ways, at least to assuage their nightmares." Falling silent, the moon princess mulled over particular memories of this particular topic. There weren't too many that stood out to her well enough to mention.. although she was still aware of the nightmares some crystal ponies still suffered about King Sombra's rule.

 

If ever the tyrant were to show his face, Luna wasn't sure she'd be able to trust him in the least, let alone expect anything good of him. Not after what he'd done.

 

"Most of the time, I merely peek into ponies' dreams to see how well everything is doing in the dream realm, keeping track and making sure there isn't anything that needs my immediate attention."

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"If it makes you feel any better princess, I know for a fact that there are quite a few, myself included that never believed the lies. I can't speak for the majority of Canterlot. or Ponyville, but I can speak for a lot of my friends. I know that some of them were skeptical at first, which I can understand a bit. A figure that's been gone for a thousand years suddenly reappearing. I can see how that can be a little bit intimidating to address, not because of the fact that there's an element of fear involved... well... I guess technically that would be an element of fear, but not afraid of you persay. More of, you've been gone for a thousand years, and things culturally have changed a lot in a thousand years. It could also very well be that not many know how to address you because of the differences in time. In the fear of accidentally saying something that could have been offensive a thousand years ago, and offending you now, at least until you got acclimated to the new cultures of the time, there's many that would much rather just remain silent. Which in of itself can create a similar sense of unease. I'm a rare pony in that instance where I have very few inhibitors, and I have a habit of stating what's on my mind about different topics regardless of who's present in the room. I don't like sugar coating things. That's the easiest way to get misinformation," Ice Storm started in response to what the princess had said.

 

She also heard what the princess had mentioned about how she was never usually the forefront of many of the nightmares that she showed up in. That she was more of a shade that slipped from dream to dream as she sowed her fear through the land. Ice already mentioned what she felt on the other parts so there was no point in going over it again, however she also caught what the princess said in regards to her question. She mentioned that she was able to dreamwalk and that she usually gained a semblance of power of the dreams, so she's never been trapped in one before. She added that in many cases she was able to easily sweep aside the threats that a ponies nightmare was able to present, but also that sometimes there were so complicated and beyond what she could actually do to help. That went back to one of the things she learned in the school here. All nightmares are based in fear, wither rational or irrational, the deep seated fears are the ones that cause the worst nightmares even if the acts of them occurring are almost none. She did mention that she was at least able to help lessen some of the effects of the nightmares so that they weren't too oppressive. Most of the time, from what she said, she seemed to only go into a pony's dream to see how well everything is doing and make sure nothing needs her immediate attention.

 

"That sounds both intense and invigorating at the same time, and possibly a bit disheartening when you come across the Nightmares that you can't do much about inside them. I also can't imagine having to keep track of so many diffrerent dreams at once. I don't know if I would be able to handle something as overwhelming as that and for something like that I really have to commend you. I would presume that it takes a lot of mental fortitude just to consider something like this, let alone be able to follow through with it and actually help solve issues via this method. How do determine what dreams need your immediate attention, and which ones can take a back burner for the night? Are there ones that you've had to resolve multiple times?"

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