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'.


3. Ruined Hearts

Once Woona's bath was finished, she glanced up at Toriel.  "Why do you even have dat wevah?" she asked with a sulky pout.

Toriel chuckled.  "For much the same reason we have the two middle floor tiles in that first puzzle chamber," she explained.  "It isn't a puzzle unless there's a wrong way to solve it, in addition to the right one."

Thinking about that, Woona nodded in understanding.  "But...why soapy water?"

Toriel shrugged.  "Originally, it was tar and feathers, but I felt that would not be fair to children who did not understand the puzzle, and since little children always need a bath, I replaced it with soapy water.  I also marked the two switches that needed to be thrown."

Woona looked away sheepishly.  "Oh...I thought it was 'spot the difwence'..."

Toriel chuckled softly.  "A logical conclusion.  Wrong in this case, but logical to think.  The writing beside the other two actually tells you to throw them, though."

"But how do I know dat's not twying to twick me?" Woona asked.  "Well...assuming I could wead it..."

"I also signed it," Toriel explained as she walked Woona to the levers, letting her throw them.

Once both switches were thrown, spikes lowered before the exit to the chamber, and Woona followed Toriel into the next small chamber.  This one was a square chamber with only the western entrance they'd come in through, a northern exit, and some sort of training dummy.  "What's dis?" Woona asked curiously.

"With how powerful the magic of your soul is," Toriel began, "some monsters in the underground will be scared of you on first meeting.  They might attack you out of fear...or other reasons, in some cases."  She shook her head as though to dispel unpleasant thoughts.  "When that happens, you will enter a FIGHT.  While in a FIGHT, strike up a friendly conversation.  Try and make friends until I come to assist you."

"Can I hug them instead?" Woona asked.  "I'm not so good with words yet..."

Toriel chuckled softly.  "While that can work sometimes, some monsters value their personal space a little too highly, and might perceive a hug as an attack.  Try and assess their mood before attempting to hug them."  She then gestured to the dummy.  "Approach, and enter a practice FIGHT with this dummy."

As Toriel moved to stand in front of the northern exit, Woona approached the dummy.  She expected to find herself in the black field, as she had against Flowey...but something different happened.  Lines of light surrounded her and the dummy, and her soul became visible on her chest, along with a yellow and blue bar over her head.  "Towiel?" she asked worriedly.  "What..."

"Do not be afraid, my child," Toriel reassured her.  "This is what a FIGHT looks like when you can see the world around you.  I assume you've experienced a FIGHT before, but in total darkness?  With the one who hurt you?"  When Woona nodded, Toriel smiled at her.  "That only happens when there is no light around you, and the soul becomes the source of light.  For now, practice FIGHTing the dummy without hurting it."

Woona turned to the Dummy, trying to figure out what to do.  At first, she thought about hugging it, but it didn't look like it wanted a hug.  The only other option was to try and talk to it.  "Uh...hi?" she offered, waving one hoof.

The dummy waved back.

Yelping, Woona dashed out of the lines of light to hide behind Toriel.  The lines vanished as she passed over them.  Toriel, glancing in confusion at the dummy, leaned down to comfort Woona.  "Let's...continue on, shall we?"  She then took Woona into the next room.

Behind the dummy, Flowey cackled to himself.  A petty revenge for his humiliation from before, but the look on Toriel's face made it all the more delicious.



"Calm down, my child," Toriel whispered reassuringly to Woona.  "There is nothing bad about what happened."

" didn't say the dummy'd wave back!" she complained.

"I didn't expect it to," Toriel replied.  "However, it's possible a mischievous spirit possessed it momentarily."

Woona blinked.  "Spiwit?"

"A Blook, perhaps," Toriel allowed.  "They long to become one with physical vessels, so perhaps one was attempting to possess the dummy when we entered the chamber...and decided to wave back, not knowing it would terrify you."

Woona managed to get her shaking under control.  "...didn't know that could happen..." she muttered.  "So...what now?"  She glanced around at the chamber they were now in.

The chamber was another long one, this time divided into two sections near the middle.  In the part they were in, the room and walls were bare, and a squiggling path was drawn on the floor.  She could see the second section was hidden behind a twist in the path.

"There's another puzzle in here," Toriel explained.  "I wonder if you can solve it?"  Knowing Woona's fondness for puzzles now, Toriel felt challenging her with one might be the best way to get her past the scare of the dummy.

Grinning eagerly, Woona rushed ahead, only to find herself in a FIGHT.  A frog like monster - the name on the green bar over its head proclaimed it a Froggit - leapt into her path, bracing itself for combat.  Woona noticed it was nearly as scared as she was.

"Want a hug?" she asked, holding her forelegs open.  Unfortunately, she forgot to use her wings for balance, and wound up falling onto her back.  "Oomph!"

The Froggit let off a croaking laugh, relaxing completely.  Approaching, it helped her back to her hooves before accepting - and reciprocating - the offered hug.  The FIGHT lines dissolved, and the Froggit patted her on the head before hopping away, leaving two small gold coins behind.

"Wait!" Woona called out.  "You fohgot your bits!"  The Froggit did not respond.

"He didn't forget them," Toriel explained as she approached.  "Now that you've befriended him, he left you that gold as an apology for attacking you, and as a sign of friendship, to help you on your journey."

"Ooooh!" Woona replied as she wrapped her mind around it.  "I'ma befwiend evewy monstah in da undagwound!" she proclaimed, her fast speech exaggerating her slight lisp.

Toriel smiled happily.  "That's a wonderful idea," she praised softly.  "For now, do you have any ideas regarding the puzzle?"  She gestured forward.

The next part of the room had pools of water surrounding an island of spikes.  On either side of the platform of spikes were wooden bridges connecting the island to normal ground.  Woona examined it for a time.  "Hmm...swimming?" she offered.

Toriel blinked a few times, then chuckled.  "Yes, I suppose you could swim around it, but that's evading the puzzle, not solving it."

"Then...the spikes can be stepped on?" Woona asked incredulously.

"There is a safe path of that sort, yes," Toriel promised.

Curious, Woona extended her hoof, surprised to see the spikes lower as her hoof touched them through her silver hoofshoe.  Feeling more confident, she tested the square of spikes in front of that one, and it went down as well.  When she tested the third, however, the spikes did not descend, and touching them sent a shock of pain through her body.

As she fell back, even before she could scream, Toriel had caught her.  "I'm sorry, my child," she whispered as she healed the injury.  "I had hoped to encourage you, but perhaps this puzzle is a bit much for you."  Toriel stood up, but felt a tug on her hand.  Glancing down, she saw Woona was standing on her hind legs, wings spread for balance, both little hooves in Toriel's right hand.  Toriel smiled softly.  "How about I walk you through this one?" she offered.

Woona nodded, and carefully walked alongside Toriel, stepping only where she did as she was led through the spikes.  As they reached the end of the twisting safe path, she gasped.  "The squiggle!" she cried out.  "The one on the fwoor in the fuhst paht!  It's the safe path!"

"Very good, Woona!" Toriel praised, kneeling down to pet her head.  "You are so clever, my child.  I'm very impressed."

"Thank you, Mommy!" Woona called out, then gasped as she realized what she said, covering her mouth with her hooves.

Toriel blinked, surprised.  "Woona?" she asked softly, hesitantly.

Woona hunkered in on herself.  "It's call me youw pwaise me when I do good...make it all better when I get hurt...doesn't...doesn't that make you my Mommy?"  She looked up at Toriel, her eyes pleading and lip quivering.



A huge conflict surged inside Toriel.  On the one hand, here was a child like all the others, asking to call her Mom.  Always before, she had said they could call her whatever they liked.  The slight distancing there had always been to protect her own heart.  She cared so much...and she'd lost her own two children already, and each of those she'd let call her Mom since, all six of them.  Always, they would move on, and she couldn't protect them.

But it was different this time.  The children who had asked to call her Mom - those six - had not been this young.  Each had easily been ten years old, old enough for a good deal of independence.  Calling her Mom was a source of comfort to them in a strange new world.  She loved each of them, but it wasn't quite the same as how she'd felt about her own children, and she'd let them go when they'd wanted to go back to the surface...and cried as she learned of their fate.

But Woona...  She was still slurring her speech.  She was so young.  This wasn't a child seeking the momentary comfort of a mother substitute.  This was a toddler calling out for love and compassion, lost and alone.  If she said yes here, it would mean opening her heart completely to Woona, and truly becoming her mother.  And...someday, Woona might leave the Ruins...and her soul used to break the barrier.  Toriel didn't think she could bear losing another child.

Had this been over the phone as it had been with the other children, perhaps she could have maintained that bit of emotional detachment, protecting her own heart.  But staring into those hopeful, pleading eyes, and seeing that hope start to fade from her hesitation to be replaced by despair, she knew there was only one response she could give.  She could not destroy this child just to protect herself.

Kneeling, she pulled Woona into a tight embrace.  "If that is what you need..." she began, slowly building up to the words she knew would leave her open to a pain she didn't think she could handle again and feared was inevitable.  "Then yes...I am your mother..."  She felt tears pour from her eyes, both from joy of being a mother again, and from fear of the pain she was certain would come.



Woona gasped in shock as Toriel knelt down and pulled her into the tight hug.  However, when she heard the words, tears fell from her own eyes.  Wrapping her forelegs and wings around as much of Toriel's neck as she could, she buried her face in the crook of the goat woman's neck.  Finally, she was able to speak.  "...I love you, Mommy..."

The shared love between mother and child filled them both with DETERMINATION.

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