Cielo’s work continued as the days passed by one after another, Luna forcing him to work as a mere servant. His nightly duties usually involved cleaning her chambers keeping it dust free along with her washroom, aside from that Cielo had to polish her armor and crown, fetch her meals and tea, make her bed and keep track of any paperwork she had to look over. Luna was taking full advantage of her new guard each day though she treated him mildly nicer she was still far from kind to him; sometimes while Cielo was cleaning Luna would get some rest, during these times Cielo would wake her should she begin to dream despite never being told to.
One such night Princess Luna started to whimper softly caught in a nightmare, hearing her Cielo came out of the washroom and went to wake her but stopped. He was sick of being treated like such scum by Luna and thought he would take his time to let her suffer a bit, standing at her bedside he watched the helpless mare whimper and struggle making him more uncomfortable with each passing second. Sure he wanted to get back at her but Luna looked to be in pain, actual pain, her whimpers growing louder and soon turned to sobbing. Cielo now felt ill with his actions seeing tears begin to form in the princess’s closed eyes.
Promptly Cielo woke her waited no longer “Princess Luna” Cielo called to her giving her a gentle shake, his touch causing her to wake. Luna seemed confused at first almost lost as to where she was “Sorry to wake you ma’am, I think you were dreaming and not a pleasant one… sorry for waking you” Cielo bowed his head expecting to be scolded by Luna for waking her.
Luna looked at Cielo for a moment feeling a tear roll down her cheek; she quickly brushed it away and remembered her dream. The horrific sights and actions of Nightmare moon had brought her to tears for a moment “S-Shouldn’t you be cleaning” Luna asked laying her head back down and rolling over so he could not see her face.
“Yes ma’am again my apologies” Cielo replied before turning around, even though she was still being mean to him he knew he had done the right thing. Cielo started back towards the washroom when Luna called out to him.
“Thank you for waking me Cielo… but I expect you to not say anything about this to anypony. I don’t need ponies thinking I’m a baby that needs looking after” Luna’s voice was grateful but at the same time a little harsh making it clear she really cared what others thought about her at this point in time. Cielo agreed he would tell Nopony and went back to his cleaning duties.
This was not the only time Cielo would have to wake Luna during his watch; several other days yielded the same results only with seemingly less damage to Luna’s sleep. Cielo would waste no time waking her now when she was having a nightmare and after only a week of this Nightmare Moon’s ability to manipulate Luna’s dreams started to fade as the Princess of the night regained her former strength, soon Luna was able to stop her nightmares before they even began and all seemed to be going back to normal. Luna’s mood greatly improved though her and Celestia remained at odds, Luna was far from convinced her sister was not watching her waiting for her to mess up so she would have a reason to replace her once more.
Even with her mood change Cielo remained under her hoof firmly; Luna just knew that he was reporting what she did to Celestia but she could not prove it so for the time being, she settled for making his time with her as unenjoyable as it could be. Yet another week passed and not much had changed for Luna and Cielo once Luna’s dreams stopped, she was getting kinda comfy and set in her old ways again; getting back into the swing of things until one morning when Luna was settling in to rest and Cielo was getting ready to do his chores a messenger came for Cielo. He was told there was a natural storm front moving in that was categorized as too dangerous for the local weather team to handle.
Cielo had no choice but to leave Luna’s side and set off at once, his destination north of Vanhoover would see him gone for several days. Cielo, before setting off, made sure to have a replacement posted to Luna however this new stallion of hers was having none of Luna’s lip however; when told of his duties the stallion scoffed at Luna “Princess Luna I am a royal guard not your personal assistant or servant, if you want food or something cleaned hire a maid to do it. My job is to protect in the event of an attack nothing more; I’m not your lapdog”
This infuriated Princess Luna but there was nothing she could really do about it, the guard was within his rights to tell her such a thing because it was true. The way she had been treating Cielo was not something he actually had to tolerate but rather a courtesy he paid Princess Luna; angry with the new guards lip Luna slammed the door and went to bed. For the first time in over a week Luna had a nightmare once again, Nightmare Moon was mocking Luna showing her a life alone trying to convince her that she was not worth anypony’s time and that Nightmare Moon was the only true friend Luna had.
Needless to say Luna did not sleep well that night, every time she would start to fall asleep Moon would torment her not letting her remain asleep for more than thirty minutes at a time. The next day Luna was quite groggy but performed her tasks as normal with no mistakes, she had convinced herself throughout the day that her nightmares had to be caused by stress. It fits anyway and at any time Nightmare Moon was able to get into Luna’s dreams, Luna had been angry or gone to sleep stressed.
That morning Luna tried drinking some rather potent herbal tea she had procured from the castle doctor, he had guaranteed her it would help her relax and sleep. The tea did just as the doctor stated it would and it helped Princess Luna relax quite well and soon aided her in achieving sleep. Though it did exactly what she hoped for as it did not stop her nightmares, yet again she was subjugated to the horrors Nightmare Moon had in store for her only this time Luna was not able to wake herself due to the effects of the tea. When Luna finally awoke she found herself crying softly, sitting up in her bed she looked around and saw Nopony, Nopony was there to comfort her or offer support. This added potency to Nightmare Moon’s claim that Luna would always be alone and she really did not matter in anypony’s eyes.
Getting out of bed Luna only slept for 3 hours on her second night without Cielo at her side, she even went as far to peek outside her door to make sure her new guard was still there. Sure enough he never left his post but he never checked on Luna either, unless the princess actually called for him he would not bother her at all. Princess Luna once more performed her nightly duties only this time with a bit of difficulty; raising the moon really took what little energy she had left out of her. For the rest of the night Luna did not leave her bed, she did not drink or eat at all but simply laid there looking up at the ceiling. Luna was hard pressed to admit it but she was afraid to try and nap even though her body was begging for it.
Before the sun came up Luna had caved in, her body unable to take the stress anymore forced her to shut down and try to sleep. Yet again Princess Luna’s dreams were plagued with Nightmare Moon’s venomous lies, she took Luna on a journey to show her how little Celestia really cared for her and how Cielo had abandoned her, how she was never good enough for anypony to even give a second glance too. Once Luna woke after only a few more hours of sleep on her third night she was devastated, the dreams were far worse than before and relentless, every time she closed her eyes she was forced to be subjugated to Nightmare Moon.
Having enough now on night four of Cielo being away from her side she took a long walk around the castle after raising the moon, as luck would have it her path happened to cross with a few guards who were talking about Cielo. “Excuse me!” Luna called out hurrying over to them in an almost frantic manner. All three guards quickly stood at attention as she approached “Did I hear you talking about Cielo? Do you know him?”
The three guards looked at one another giving an odd look before answering “Well ya we know him” the first guard spoke up. “He’s off on assignment if I’m not mistaken” the second guard added
Luna smiled for the first time in some time throwing the three guards off a bit, they had not seen her smile since the first few days she returned to the castle “Yes yes! That’s right! Would you stallions happen to know how long it normally takes for him to get back?”
“Well…” the third guard thought for a moment “Normally he is back by now I mean it takes him maybe a day to get to where he is supposed to and a day to return though adding an extra day for long trips never hurts he is almost never gone for more than three days”
“But… it’s been three days” Luna added pinning her ears back a little.
“Ya that’s what we were talking about” The first guard replied being joined by the third. “We are getting a little worried for him, I mean I’m sure he’s okay but still it’s not like him to take more than three days, he should have been back by now”
Luna felt a knot in the pit of her stomach that made her feel sick, what if something did happen to Cielo, what if he never made it back. This though bothered her visibly causing the guards to take notice of her expression. “Don’t worry Princess I’m sure he’s fine, maybe his wings are tiered and he’s taking the train back, It can happen in his line of work” The second guard added
The third guard cocked his head a little “Why do you ask anyway Princess Luna, from what I heard you demoted him to a servant anyway, not like you really wanted him around right?” the second and first guard smacked him simultaneously expecting to be reprimanded for their comrades lip however Luna did not say anything back. Luna pinned her ears tight against her head lowing it a little in shame “What did you hit me for!” the guard snapped “Cielo was a good guard, a proud and loyal guard who has done nothing but show everyone I know kindness. It’s my opinion he is not being treated right… I’m entitled to my own thought” he complained to the other guards.
Before the other two could say anything Luna spoke up “You’re right and I realize that now…” the admitted causing the guards to stare in disbelief, they were all familiar with the way Luna had been acting for some time and to see her show remorse and admit she had done wrong was shocking to them. “I wanted to know when he would be back to apologies for my actions towards him as of late, he has been nothing but kind to me and I wish to set things right”
With that the guards almost seemed to lighten up with her words, the respect they felt for Princess Luna visibly growing in front of her “I’m sorry princess… I should have kept my mouth shut… Look I’m sure he’s fine really, just give him another day” the third guard said trying to make Princess Luna feel better. Forcing a smile Princess Luna thanked the guards and made her way back to her chambers after a trip to the kitchen, she forced herself to eat one meal and drink some water even though she was not hungry or thirsty Luna knew her body needed it.
As the morning came and Luna prepared to sleep on her fourth day without Cielo she closed her eyes and found herself praying for his safe return to her, Luna had taken the young stallion for granted and now that he was gone she found herself desperately missing him. She was not sure how but it was becoming more clear to her that Cielo being around her had helped her beat her dreams once before. “Please Cielo come back… I need you… Please…” Luna called out for Cielo to return softly as she closed her eyes. Princess Luna knew that Nightmare moon would be awaiting Luna in her dreams but at the same time Luna almost welcomed sleep not just for her body and mind disparity needing it but now it would be her escape from the worry of Cielo’s fate, before Luna drifted off to sleep that night Cielo was the last thing on her mind.