Something was terribly wrong here. Even at his young age, Spike could tell that something bad was going on. It had not been long since he set foot upon the surface of the moon, hoping to try and help Twilight and the others, and he'd still managed to get himself into trouble. The events of the past few days had been, to say the least, rather difficult for him and everypony else. The others had come here to rescue one of their own. But not just anypony, but one very special to Spike himself.
Rarity, the love of his life. The beautiful unicorn mare whom he'd harboured a crush on ever since he first came to Ponyville. But she had been taken by a force none could have foreseen. A terrible, dark power that had once claimed the life of another important pony. Princess Luna. That darkness had transformed her into the monster known as Nightmare Moon, and whose conflict with Celestia had forced the latter to imprison her beloved sister here in the moon for a thousand years.
Spike hoped very much that this would not end that way with Rarity, but that hope was dwindling with every passing moment. He had undertaken a journey into the fortress of the enemy itself, trying to find his now-captured friends. But what he'd found instead was perhaps far stranger than anything he'd seen yet. An elaborate throne room, decked out in gold, jewels, and many other things to cause a dragon like him to salivate at the sight of it. But what caught his interest most was the two thrones at the end of the room, one of whom bore a crown and sash marked "King Spike".
As he approached the throne, reaching out towards it, his mind could not grasp what was happening.
"M-m-me? King". He said, confused.
Before he could touch it however, his attention was drawn to a voice coming from his left.
"Why of course, my little Spikey-wikey."
His eyes widened greatly and his head snapped to his left. And there, standing elegantly before him, was a sight for sore eyes. Rarity was there, dressed in a flowing pink cloak and bearing a jewel-encrusted golden crown upon her head. She was smiling towards him, a look that he now returned. To say that he was happy to see her would have been an understatement, as he stepped towards her with an absolutely massive grin on his face.
"Rarity! You're-you're okay!" He said happily.
He leapt forward, wrapping his arms around her in a hug, as though she had been away for years. Rarity then placed a hoof gently around the young dragon, returning the hug, smiling down at him as she did so.
"And why wouldn't I be? I'm a Queen now. Isn't it glorious?" She exclaimed.
Spike broke away from her, his face lit up with that same puppy-love expression he always had when he was around her. But as happy as he was to see her, his mind soon brought him back to the reason he was here.
"It's amazing! But what about the other po-".
Before he could finish however, Rarity placed a hoof upon his lips, stopping him from speaking.
"Oh hush! You are far too cute to be thinking so much! Besides, I have a question for you."
As she finished speaking, the smile faded from her face. She turned to look upon the throne behind her and her horn began to glow. Raising an eyebrow, Spike looked around to see what she was doing. He saw the sash that bore his name become enveloped with the light blue tint of magic that he instantly recognised as belonging to Rarity. The sash levitated from the chair and hovered over to him, gently being placed over his shoulders. Confused, Spike looked up towards Rarity again as she began to speak once more.
"Will you, Spike, forget the past......."
Using her magic again, Rarity lowered a golden sceptre into Spike's open hands, with the young dragon simply entranced by her presence. He was upon his knees, looking at his beloved unicorn as though he were hypnotized. To see him in this state, one could be forgiven for assuming that he was not a thinking creature, for it was clear that his only concern right now was Rarity and what she was saying. But then, he'd always been like that. Still, Rarity used her magic again and lifted the crown from the throne, placing it above Spike's head, ready to lower it down.
"And be my......"
But she could not finish her sentence. Because Spike suddenly came to his senses, as Rarity's words had finally sunk into him. There was something wrong about what she had just said to him. So much so that he pulled himself out of his usual state of adoration towards her, his eyes now snapped wide open.
"Wait a minute. Did you say, forget the past?" He asked.
Rarity stopped lowering the crown, and her smile faded a little. There was a brief moment when Spike could have sworn that he saw nervousness in her eyes. But whatever it was, Rarity quickly regained her composure and smile as she looked down at him.
"Why, yes I did!" She replied.
Spike, still on his knees and holding the sceptre, developed and expression of worry. In all the time he had known Rarity, he had never known her to say such a thing. Forget the past? But what about Twilight and the rest of their friends? She was one of them. Why would she want Spike, or indeed anypony, to forget about any one of them? Something here was not right, Spike told himself, and he spoke out about his concerns.
"But I don't want to forget my past. What about our friends, Rarity? I know you don't want to forget about them."
Upon saying this, there was a pause between Spike and Rarity. The latter stared at him intently, with the smile from before now gone. Spike was unsure of how to feel about the way she was looking at him, but then he saw her expression soften. She leaned forward and gently placed her hoof underneath his chin. As if by magic, her touch had caused him to once more lose focus. His eyes now filled with that infatuation he'd broken himself out of mere moments before. Rarity spoke up, her tone of voice sweet to his ears.
"But, Spike, don't you want to be my king? Forever....." She said.
Still enthralled by the way she was behaving towards him, Spike slowly nodded.
"Yes..." He replied.
With Spike in his current frame of mind, Rarity's horn glowed once more, and the crown, still hovering above the young dragon's head, began to lower. Spike's eyes closed as Rarity spoke, his mind drifting further and further away from his goal. His thoughts turned to the many fantasies he'd harboured about him and her since they first met. Dreams of how he'd always wanted the two of them to get together one day, and truly be in love. Now, whether for good or ill, that dream was coming true for him.
"Then you will serve me and only me." Rarity said.
But as the crown came within mere millimetres of Spike's head, his eyes snapped open. Even in spite of how much he wanted all this to be happening, his own sense of duty towards Twilight and the others snapped him back to attention. His feelings of adoration towards Rarity now replaced with feelings of uncertainty. There was something about the way Rarity was behaving towards him that seemed off.
"Wait a minute...." He said out loud.
Getting up off his knees, Spike placed his hand upon an object he'd brought along with him for this journey. It was a large ruby, forged into the shape of a heart. It was attached to a simple black length of string, making it into as necklace. oh sure, many ponies would see such a thing as something valuable. But to Spike, it had a far deeper value. For this ruby necklace was a gift he had given Rarity a long time ago. It was a gift she had appreciated a great deal, and it was through that necklace that Spike had first become aware that Rarity already knew of his crush on her.
That had been a turning point of the two of them, with Rarity being much closer to him afterwards, albeit not in the romantic way he'd truly wanted. The events, and disaster, that had followed him giving this necklace to her had made him much more important to her than he had been before, which is why it held such importance to him. And now that he was here, before Rarity once more, there was something he knew he had to do. Because he knew that this necklace had become just as important to her as it had been to him.
Realising this, he held the ruby out in front of him, Rarity now looking upon it.
"Rarity. What do you think of my necklace?" he asked.
Rarity raised an eyebrow at that question before answering.
Spike frowned at that answer.
"Cute? Just cute? It doesn't look familiar?"
Rarity shook her head.
"Not my colour, really."
That answer completely changed around Spike's feelings at this situation. Mere moments ago, he'd felt elation at seeing Rarity again, and even a deep sense of contentment over how she was acting towards him. But now, he was crestfallen. This necklace was, in his eyes, a symbol of everything that he and Rarity had ever felt for each other, regardless of whether or not those feelings were completely romantic in nature. But now, she had merely dismissed it as something childish. As self-centred as she could be sometimes, Spike knew Rarity would never act to callously towards something she knew Spike valued like this.
Looking down at the ruby in his hands, his expression was one of lament.
"That's the first time I've ever hated you saying the word cute, Rarity."
Then, much to Rarity's shock, his expression morphed into one of great anger. He placed one hand onto the blue sash she'd placed on him and, with one tug, ripped it from his chest. Taking a step back from this unexpected act of aggression, Rarity watched as Spike, now with fire in his eyes, pointed his finger at her in an accusing manner.
"But you're not Rarity! Not MY Rarity!" He shouted.
With that, everything around him fell apart. The crown, the thrones, the jewels and elaborate room it had all been placed in, all of it. It all seemed to disappear in a puff of smoke, leaving behind nothing but as cold and dark chamber. Spike looked on in horror at this transformation going on around him, but was even more shock at seeing Rarity. Because, like the room around them, her image began to fade away, and what was there afterwards made Spike's blood run cold.
A mare in Rarity's image, though far taller than he'd ever known a unicorn to be. Her fur was dark, the exact opposite of the glimmering white coat Rarity was known for. Her mane, though still the same beautiful shade of purple, was longer and flowed in the air as though it were in water. But the greatest difference between them were the eyes. These were not the eyes of a pony, but those of a dragon, piercing and dangerous. Spike had only ever seen such eyes once before, when Princess Luna returned in the form of Nightmare Moon.
As much as it pained him to say, what he'd heard was true. Rarity had been changed by this dark power. Corrupted, just like Luna had been a thousand years ago. This being before him was not his beloved Rarity, but a mare whose form was a twisted mockery of her. A nightmare. The being known to those who had seen her, as Nightmare Rarity.
The large mare stepped forward menacingly, gazing down at the young dragon before her.
"It seems you've discovered my little secret. Not only can I create your nightmares, but your dreams too."
Spike, in spite of the great fear he was feeling towards this creature, looked up at her with tears welling in his eyes. His hand reached out, as if to touch something that was not there, and his heart sank at the sight of her.
"But.......but Rarity........I lo.......lo....."
He couldn't say it. Not now. Not after what had just happened. The mare he loved had been taken by something vile, something twisted. She was a prisoner of this force, just as he would most likely become her prisoner in turn. The happiness that he'd felt mere moments prior to this had now been dashed. He came to this place, to the moon itself, to find Rarity. But seeing her like this was not something he wanted. Nightmare Rarity on the other hand, looked down upon the young dragon and saw the devastation in his eyes. A small smile crept onto her face, and a plan began to form in her mind.
"Oh, there's no need for you to despair, dear Spike. Rarity is still here. She is part of me, just as I am part of her."
Spike looked up at Nightmare, tears still flowing down his cheeks.
"Your not Rarity." He said.
Nightmare shook her head.
"No, I'm not."
She looked at him with a smile that almost sent shivers down Spike's spine.
"But I could be. Rarity is who you want. And you could have her, if you wanted."
Spike gained a look of confusion as he heard that, which quickly morphed into another look of anger.
"You're lying! Just like before! This is just another way for you to get me to stop looking for the others!"
The young dragon turned around, determined to leave this place and carry on looking for Twilight and the others. He wanted to be rid of this place, and to get his head back in order. He'd need o be thinking clearly if he was going to recue the others, regardless of whether or not Nightmare already knew he was here. Unfortunately, he hadn't taken two steps forwards before something stopped him. He felt paralyzed, fixed into place. Looking down, he saw this his legs were enveloped in the unmistakeable blue tint of Rarity's magic.
The mare was clearly using her power to keep him from leaving. He'd suspected that she'd try and stop him, but what he did not expect was what came next. For as he struggled to free himself from the spell, a voice came from behind.
"Don't go Spike."
He stopped. He knew that voice well. It was not the cold and harsh voice of the creature who had been standing behind him, but the warm and caring tone of the mare he'd come here to rescue. Looking over his shoulder, he saw before him the one whom he loved. Rarity, as he'd always known her. Her brilliant white fur coat, her gorgeous purple mane, and even her bright blue eyes, all back the way he remembered her, free from the dark influence that had taken her.
Before he could say anything however, he felt a pull on the magic holding his legs in place. He spun around on the spot until he was face-to-face with his beloved unicorn.
As Rarity looked upon him with warmth in her eyes, a realisation came into Spike's mind. He frowned and began to pull at the magic binding him.
"It's a trick! I won't fall for it! I won't do what you want!"
Rarity took a step forward and placed her hoof gently on the struggling dragon's shoulder, gaining his attention.
"I am within Rarity. I know her thoughts. Her feelings. Would it surprise you to learn that she cares for you a great deal?"
Upon hearing that, Spike stopped struggling, and looked up at Rarity with a raised eyebrow.
"I.......of course I know! She's my friend! And I'm hers!"
But Rarity shook her head at that.
"No, child. I mean beyond that. There's a special place for you in her heart. The same warmth you feel for her."
Spike opened his mouth to speak, but no words came. He knew this was a trick. It had to be. Nightmare was just trying to get him to do as she wanted. His friends, Ponyville, all of Equestria was at risk if this being wasn't stopped. He couldn't allow himself to be caught in this. But as much as that part of his mind struggled for dominance, there was another, equally strong impulse to listen to what was being said to him. More than anything else in the world, he wanted Rarity to love him. He'd wanted that for a very long time now. And the thought that his feelings for her were mutual, even if it was a deception on Nightmare's part, was too tempting to simply ignore.
"I.......Rarity wouldn't want this! She wouldn't want me to just ignore everything you've done to her! To the others!" He said defiantly.
But Nightmare knew full-well what it was that this dragon wanted. And she was more than willing to dangle that carrot in front of him. To break his will, his resolve, was what she wanted. All that was needed was the right push. And so, still in the form of the original Rarity, she stepped forward, her hoof taken off Spike's shoulder and instead placed lovingly on the side of his face. Spike began to blush at her warm touch despite his efforts to ignore what was going on. Her horn began to glow and Spike's eyes became tinted with the blue hue of her magic. His mind was becoming more and more clouded as the seconds passed, filled with images of his dreams of him and her together. As this happened, his urge to break free and complete the task he came here for began to slowly fade.
"Dear Spike. You want Rarity. And I AM Rarity, just as she is me. Stay here, with me, and you will be with her, just as you always wanted."
Spike, still influenced by Nightmare's magic, looked up at her, his eyes now filled with that same infatuation he bore only for Rarity.
But he couldn't think straight. Not anymore. Nightmare brought her face close to his, her horn still glowing. So close were they that it almost looked as though they were about to kiss.
"Forget the past.........for her."
And so Spike, once resolved to save the mare of his dreams, now found himself in an impossible situation. She was here, within his reach, but not as he'd known him. Deep down, he knew he was being manipulated. He knew that his friends were in danger. He knew that, if he gave in now, then everything he'd worked to achieve would have been for nothing. But even so, nothing dominated his mind more than his simple desire to be with Rarity. And even though there would be terrible consequences, that was exactly what he'd been offered.