The Moon in the Dark

Long ago, the Monsters and Humans fought a great war. The Monsters lost, and were sealed in the Underground. It would take the power of seven human souls to break the barrier that kept them imprisoned. They only had six. And so the Monsters waited and hoped, praying that another human would find their way to the Underground. Some thought the seventh soul would give their King the strength to break the barrier. Some dreamed of a human who would be their friend, and save them all...or had nightmares of one who would bring back the war.
...but nobody came.
...but somepony did.
Eons after the war, with no way to tell how much time had passed above, a tiny blue filly with wings and horn fell into the underground, calling for her Mama. None knew the poor creature's nature or origins...but her soul was powerful with magic, even more so than a human soul.
None can know what will come...of this little 'Woona'.


2. Helping Hand

When Woona slowly awoke, she found she was still in the arms of the goat woman, who hadn't moved from her spot in the circle of light within the darkness.  "You're awake," the woman said softly as Woona's eyes opened.  "Are you feeling better?"

"Uh-huh," Woona replied, nodding her head slowly.  The woman set her down gently.  "I-I'm Woona," she greeted nervously.  "Who ah you?"

The woman smiled down at her.  "My name is Toriel," she explained.  "I am the caretaker of the Ruins."

"Wuins?" Woona gasped happily, looking around.  "Where?"  Having little else to do up above, she'd spent a great deal of time reading, and she loved the adventure books, especially those about exploring ancient locations.

Toriel chuckled, one hand over her mouth to stifle the sound, not wanting Woona to think she was laughing at her.  "These are the Ruins, my child," she explained, her soft voice almost musical.  She gestured to the structure all around them.

Confused, Woona took another glance around.  " don't wook it," she pointed out logically.

"It's not called the Ruins because it is in ruins," Toriel explained.  "It's called that because this is the first place my people settled when we came to live in the underground...and so few of my people live here now."

"Oh."  Woona fell silent as she glanced around.  She could tell that Toriel was upset, and she felt like she should say or do something to cheer her up.  "It's...vewy cwean?" she offered hopefully.

A smile once more graced Toriel's features.  "It is, isn't it?" she agreed.  She slowly got to her feet.  "Come.  There is much more to see."  She turned and headed towards the archway to the north.

"How'd you know I was heah?" Woona asked curiously, following as fast as she could on her tiny legs.

Toriel smiled as she slowed her pace so Woona could keep up.  "I pass through here every day, just in case anyone has fallen down from above.  No one has fallen for a very long time..."  She rubbed a finger in her ear.  "Though I knew exactly where you were due to your incredibly loud shout.  Tell me, what creature hurt you so to get that reaction?"

Woona looked away.  "It...was a fwowah," she explained.  "He...he said he was gonna help me, hurt..."

"Oh, you poor child," Toriel moaned, her voice full of sympathy and compassion.  "Do not worry.  I won't let you come to harm."  Kneeling down, she gently stroked Woona's head, just behind her ears, making the little filly hum in pleasure.  Being pet like that felt nice.  "Come," Toriel continued.  "Let me guide you through the Catacombs."

Nodding, Woona followed happily.  Beyond the archway, the rooms became much smaller and better illuminated, allowing her to see the purple stone of the floors and walls.  Red leaves covered parts of the ground, and crunched pleasantly under her hooves as she pranced in them.  A wide, grey staircase wound up each side of the room, leading to a higher platform with another archway.  Woona slowly and carefully climbed up steps designed for creatures of all sizes...except hers, apparently, as she had to take each step with a jump.

The next room was much smaller.  The path further forward was much closer, but sealed shut.  To the left, a sign was visible against the wall.  To the right, six floor tiles were raised in a pattern of two triangles base to base, arranged north to south.  There was also a switch in the wall to the right of the door.  Woona rushed over to the tiles.

"Careful," Toriel cautioned, putting her hand out.  "The Ruins are filled with Puzzles such as this one, ancient fusions between diversions and doorkeys-"

"Puzzles?" Woona gasped happily.  "I wuv puzzles!  Can I twy to solve it?  Pwease?"  She gazed pleadingly up at Toriel, her eyes shining with eagerness and her forehooves held eagerly together in front of her neck.

Toriel was powerless to resist the pleading of a child, let alone one as adorable as this one.  "Alright.  The clue is on the sign."

Cheering happily, Woona raced up to the wall...only to find the sign well above her head.  Bracing herself against the wall, she found she could just barely make out the screws holding the sign to the wall.  She tried jumping, but even fluttering her wings didn't get her the height to see the sign.  She kept jumping anyway, until at last she slumped to the floor.  "Can you pick me up?" she begged.

Chuckling, Toriel scooped Woona up and held her high enough to see the sign.  "This better?"

Nodding, Woona examined the sign...only to see it filled with what, to her, were meaningless scribbles.  "Umm...I can't wead this.  You suhe it's words?"

Toriel frowned thoughtfully.  "I suppose it's possible our peoples use different systems of writing," she admitted.  "Allow me to read it to you."  Holding one finger out, she traced the words as she read them.  "Only the fearless may proceed.  Brave ones, foolish ones.  Both walk not the middle road."

Woona frowned thoughtfully, considering the clue.  Hopping out of Toriel's arms, she went over to the raised floor tiles.  "Switches?" she asked, pointing at them.  "I step on them?"

"Indeed," Toriel praised.  "That's why they are both raised and a different color from the rest of the floor."

Nodding, Woona scampered around the grey tiles as she examined them from several angles.  After a time, she grinned widely.  "And the North and South tiles ah the middle woad, cause dey in the middle!  So don't step on dem!"

"That's right!" Toriel praised.  "Very good!"

"So I should step on dis one..." Woona began, pushing on the Southwest tile with one hoof...only for it to remain exactly as it was, unmoving.  "I push it..." Woona continued, leaning her weight on the switch, to no effect.  Frowning, she stood entirely on the switch with all four hooves, only for it to remain unmoving.  Angrily, she began to jump up and down on the switch, shouting, "Push it!  Push it!  Push it!  Push it!  Push it!  Push it-"

Laughing loudly, Toriel scooped the bouncing filly into her arms.  "I guess you're a bit light to trigger the switches," she said softly, comfortingly.  "How about you tell me where to step, and I'll trigger them for you?"

"...okay..." Woona pouted, but quickly got back into the puzzle solving fever.  "Everything but the North and South switch!"

Smiling, Toriel stepped on the four switches indicated.  "And now what?" she asked.

Woona glanced around, noticing the door hadn't opened.  "...wocks..." she murmured.  "...puu the wevah!"

Happily, Toriel pulled the level, opening the door.  "That was quite fun, wasn't it?" she asked, setting Woona down on the floor.

"More puzzles!" Woona shouted happily, racing through the open door.

"Woona, wait!" Toriel called out, chasing after her.

She found the filly sitting in front of a sign.  "What's this say?" she asked eagerly.  "Is it more puzzle clues?"

"No," Toriel replied.  "It''s instructions on how to read a sign."

Woona turned to look up at Toriel.  "So...I hafte wead a wearn how to wead a sign?"  Her expression was scrunched up, one eye squeezed almost shut while the other eyebrow was raised, her mouth in an adorable pouty frown.  "Sewiouswy?"

"It...does seem rather ridiculous, now that you mention it," Toriel admitted.

Shrugging, Woona took in the new room.  It was a rather long room stretching from West to East, with the exit far to the East, blocked by a spiked floor.  The room was divided by two pools of water, each one stretching from one wall to another and crossed by bridges.  There were also three switches against the North wall, two of which with markings beside them.  "So I jut puww the wevah again?" she gasped happily, racing for the final switch.

"Yes, but-wait!"  Toriel ran after Woona, but she was too slow to stop her from throwing the third lever.

A bucket of warm water and soapy bubbles tipped over, drenching Woona.  She turned, looking up at Toriel with sorrowful eyes.

"Wrong lever," Toriel explained, struggling to contain her laughter.  "Still...children your age often need to be bathed, anyway..."  Scooping Woona up, she walked to the pool...which turned out to be warm.  "Let's get you clean, my child."

While Woona wasn't too happy about the unexpected bath, Toriel's gentle fingers helped relax her...and filled her with DETERMINATION.

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