A Storm of Stars

by Mysterious Stranger

Chapter 1: A Storm of Stars

Part 1

“We’ve been standing here forever. I say we blow up the door.” Frazzle Spark informed Sharp Wing.

Sharp Wing glanced at his dark red unicorn friend. “I don’t think Night Mist would appreciate you destroying the front of his log cabin. I’m sure he’ll be out in a minute.”

“What if he forgot we were supposed to go bowling tonight?”

“Fraz, when was the last time Night Mist forgot anything?”

“Never” Frazzle Spark admitted.

“Then I’m sure he’ll be out soon.”

The two of them stood there awkwardly for several more minutes.

“This isn’t like him.” Sharp Wing mused.

“That tears it. I’m taking out the door.”

“Your obsession with destroying things with fire is somewhat worrisome.”

“I can’t help it, making explosives is my cutie mark talent.”

“That’s no excuse. But I think it’s time to try a different approach.” decided Sharp Wing.

Wrapping the tip of his wing around the hilt, Sharp Wing drew out one of his two swords from a sheath strapped to his light gray flank.

“How is hacking the door to pieces any better than blowing it up?”

In response Sharp Wing stuck the blade between the door and the doorframe and lifted up the latch on the inside.

“Night Mist?” he called after opening the door. From somewhere inside the cabin a dog started barking.

“At least Hunter knows we’re here. Where the hay is Night Mist?” asked Frazzle Spark.

As quickly as it started, the barking ceased.

“Alright, that’s downright strange.” Sharp Wing muttered.

“What’s strange?”

“Hunter usually doesn’t stop barking until he sees who’s at the door.”

As if on que, the sound of something clattering on the floor came from the kitchen.

Sharp Wing’s brows narrowed. “I think somepony just entered Night Mist’s home through the back door.”

“We’ve got him outnumbered. Let’s take him.” Frazzle Spark whispered.

“Agreed,” Sharp Wing said as he drew both swords out with his wings.

The two ponies burst into the kitchen, horn and swords at the ready. A yellow pegasus with pink hair jumped back and let out a shriek. She backed into a corner and froze, her eyes transfixed on Sharp Wing’s swords. It took a full minute for Sharp Wing to get over his surprise.

“What are you doing here?” he finally managed.

“I- I- I’m sorry! I was just feeding Hunter!”

Sharp Wing glanced down. Sure enough, the short legged bloodhound was happily eating kibbles out of an overturned bowl.

“Well… that’s… nice of you, but it’s not necessary. Night Mist takes good care of Hunter.” Sharp Wing informed her.

“Oh I know that! He takes very good care of Hunter. Night Mist always hires me to take care of him when he’s away on one of his investigations.” The pegasus explained.

“Wait, hold up. Night Mist always tells us when he’s leaving Ponyville.” Frazzle Spark objected.

“Same here, but I haven’t seen him for three days.”

Sharp Wing and Frazzle Spark exchanged a glance.

“Do you have any idea where he went?” asked Sharp Wing.

“Last time I saw him he was heading for the library. He didn’t say why.”

“You mean to say he’s been gone for three days and you didn’t tell anypony else he was missing?”

“I- I- just figured he forgot to tell me he was leaving town, so I decided I would just take care of Hunter as usual. I hope nothing bad has happened.”

“So do I, sorry about the fright miss… um…”

“Fluttershy” the pegasus almost whispered, her eyes downcast.

“Right, sorry, I’m Sharp Wing, and this is Frazzle Spark.”
“Nice to meet you.” Fluttershy said softly.

“Likewise. Now if you’ll excuse us, we need to go find our friend.”

“Bye!” Frazzle Spark added enthusiastically.

The two ponies were almost out the door when Frazzle Spark noticed something.

“Sharps,” he said, “There’s a note on the door.”

Sharp Wing turned his attention to the door and saw that his friend was right. Tacked to the door was a rough sketch. The sketch consisted of a circle with several smaller circles inside. A group of five point star shapes were connected by lines to the outside circle. Behind this image was a spiral of what looked like a long cloud, colored in so it was black.

“Do you think Night Mist drew that?” questioned Frazzle Spark.

“I don’t know, I’m trying to think how Night Mist would see it if he were here.”

“He would probably say it was a clue and take it.”

“Then that’s what we’ll do. If we’re going to solve this mystery we’ll have to operate the way he does. What would he do next?”

“I guess he would have a suspect by now?”

“Maybe, it seems the only pony who noticed he was gone is Fluttershy. That would make her a suspect I suppose.”

“Did you say my name?” asked Fluttershy, poking her head out from the kitchen.

“We’re trying to come up with a suspect.” Frazzle Spark said unhelpfully.

“A suspect? You think I had something to do with Night Mist disappearing?”

“Yes, I mean no, I mean, um, when was the last time you saw him again?” stammered Sharp Wing.

“Oh, um, three days ago. I passed by him on my way home with groceries. I said good morning and asked where he was headed and he said, ‘I’m just going to the library to check something’.”

“Night Mist would call that a lead! Let’s go the library Sharps!” Frazzle exclaimed.

Sharp Wing considered what Night Mist would do. Would he go the library or investigate the cabin more?

“Thanks for the information. You’ve been a real help.” He told Fluttershy.

“You’re welcome. I hope you find him.” Fluttershy replied.

Sharp Wing paused long enough to snag the note before he followed Frazzle Spark out the door.

“This detective stuff isn’t so hard. I’m sure were close to finding him.” Sharp Wing said with confidence.

“He’ll be so impressed.” Frazzle Spark agreed. Then, more somberly he added, “I hope he’s okay.”

The two ponies made their way through the now dark streets of Ponyville to the giant tree that was home to the library.

“Oh good, it hasn’t closed yet.” said Frazzle Spark when they saw a light coming from a window.

“I don’t think it ever closes. Ponyville hasn’t had an actual librarian to run the place as far back as I can remember.”

“Somepony should look into that.”

“Later. Right now we need to see what we can find.”

The two ponies entered the library and gasped. The entire place was ransacked. Books lay piled on the floor everywhere. In the middle of it all sat a purple unicorn with her back to the door, her nose buried in a book.

“Hi there!” said Frazzle Spark.

The unicorn nearly jumped out of her skin.

“Haven’t you ever heard of knocking before entering somepony’s home?!” she demanded.

“I thought this was a library?!” said Frazzle Spark in confusion.

The unicorn relaxed.

“You have a point.” She conceded. “I’m Twilight Sparkle by the way. I live here.”

“I’m Frazzle Spark, and this is Sharp Wing. I didn’t know somepony lived in the library.”

“She just moved into Ponyville a few days ago. You’re the pony who defeated Nightmare Moon and saved all of Equestria from eternal night right?” said Sharp Wing.

“I had help from my friends, but yeah, that was me.”

“Well, it’s certainly an honor to meet you.”

“It’s nice to meet you too. Are you here looking for a book?”

“Actually, we’re looking for a friend of ours who went missing three days ago. We think he might have come here. Do you know Night Mist?” questioned Frazzle Spark.

“Night Mist?” Twilight Sparkle said thoughtfully, “No, can’t say I’ve ever met a Night Mist. What does he look like?”

“He’s a black earth pony with golden eyes and a silver mane that looks kind of wispy, like tendrils of fog.” prompted Sharp Wing.

“Sorry, I haven’t seen anypony like that. If he was here a few days ago it might have been before I arrived in Ponyville."

“So this is a dead end. I can’t believe I thought this was going to be easy.” grumbled Sharp Wing.

“Of all the ponies in ponyville to go missing, it had to be the only one who’s good at solving mysteries.” complained Frazzle Spark.

“Do you have any other leads? I might be able to help.” Twilight offered.

“We did find a sketch on his door. You still have it Sharps?” asked Frazzle.

Sharp Wing unfolded his wing to reveal the sketch.

“Yeah, right here. I can’t make anything from it though.”

“Let me see.” said Twilight as she magically picked up the note with her horn. “You said your friend was last seen three days ago?”

“Yes, in the morning.” Frazzle clarified.

“That would mean he went missing before Nightmare Moon returned. I think this circle in the middle is the moon.”

Sharp Wing walked around to look at the sketch.

“That makes sense.” He concurred, “But why is it connected to a bunch of stars by lines?”

“I think… I think this sketch has something to do with the prophecy of Nightmare Moon.” said Twilight, deep in thought. “Let
me see if I can find it again.”

As Frazzle Spark and Sharp Wing watched in awe the piles of books rose up into the air and began flying about, putting themselves back on the shelves after passing in front if Twilight’s inspection.

“Here it is.” She said finally, “A copy of ‘Predictions and Prophecies’. This is the same book I used to find out about Nightmare Moon’s return in the first place.”

All three of the ponies gathered around the book as Twilight read it aloud.

The mare in the moon, myth from olden pony times, a powerful pony who wanted to rule Equestria. Defeated by the elements of harmony and imprisoned in the moon. Legend has it on the longest day of the thousandth year, the stars will aid in her escape and she will bring about night time eternal.”

“That’s got to be it!” Frazzle Spark exclaimed. “That’s why the stars in the sketch are connected by lines to the moon! It’s because the stars aided in her escape!”

“It looks your friend became aware of the prophecy about the same time I did. But I still don’t get how this could have led to his disappearance or why he did nothing but draw a picture.”

“What about the rest of the sketch? What could that funny spiral shape represent?” asked Sharp Wing.

Neither Twilight nor Frazzle had a clue.

“We’ve made progress.” Sharp Wing said after they had spent a few minutes trying to come up with an answer. “I think the best thing we can do now is call it a night and tackle this with fresh minds tomorrow.”

“That’s a good idea. Tomorrow morning I’ll organize a search party to help. Finding your friend will be easier with daylight on our side.” suggested Twilight.

“Thank you so much for your help.” said Sharp Wing gratefully.

“You’re welcome. If there’s anything else I can do to help just let me know.”

“Will do. Come on Fraz.”

Sharp Wing and Frazzle Spark exited the library.

“What a night.” Frazzle Spark yawned. “We freaked out two ponies and found out Night Mist has been missing for three days. I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep at all.”

“Same here, hopefully things will become clearer even with just a little bit of rest anyway.”

Sharp Wing heard the swish of something flying through the air before he spotted the projectiles. With the precision that came from years of training and natural talent, he drew his twin swords with his wings and swatted away the objects before they could impale themselves in himself and Frazzle Spark. He glanced down at where they landed. The weapons were blades with five points each, making the shape of a star.

“Sharp Wing! Over there!” shouted Frazzle Spark.

Sharp Wing looked up again just in time to catch a glimpse of a leg and tail vanishing behind a building. The two ponies wordlessly took off at a gallop after their assaulter. Through alleyways and around corners they raced, never losing sight of their attacker. It was too dark for Sharp Wing to make out any details about the pony except that it was a unicorn. Eventually the chase became a straight shot down the road.

“We've got you now!” Sharp Wing hissed.

Eventually the road led to a fence in front of a field of apple trees. A sign above the gate informed visitors that the place was called Sweet Apple Acres. The mysterious unicorn nimbly jumped the gate and disappeared through the trees.

“Sharp Wing! Stop!” cried out Frazzle Spark.

Sharp Wing was about the jump the gate too when Frazzle Spark tackled him from behind.

“You idiot, what did you do that for?!” Sharp Wing yelled at his friend.

“Calm down. Didn’t you see what that unicorn was doing?”

“He was trying to get away, and now he probably has thanks to you.”

“Use your head Sharps. That unicorn was clearly trying to lead us into a trap. Didn’t you notice how quickly he decided to gallop for Sweet Apple Acres? Most likely he had allies waiting for us to go through those trees.”

Sharp Wing stopped struggling.

“That… that actually makes sense, I can’t believe I almost fell for it.”

“You always were one to charge in without thinking.” Frazzle smiled.

“Sometimes that’s a good thing. But you’re right, that’s not how Night Mist would do it. But how else are we going to find out what happened to him if we don’t go into this possible trap?”

“We do it by playing by our rules, not sompony else’s.” said Frazzle Spark.

“Ha! Now you’re starting to sound like Night Mist. Alright Fraz, what are our rules then?”

“We go over what we know and look for a pattern.” said Frazzle Spark, intentionally mimicking Night Mist’s dry monotone.

“We now know that Night Mist knew about Nightmare Moon’s return before it happened, and that sompony else is involved in his disappearance. Fraz, those blades that unicorn threw at us were shaped like stars.”

“That’s our pattern Sharps! ‘The Stars will aid in her escape.’”

“That’s got to be it! It would be too big of a coincidence no to be. The stars must have had something to do with Night Mist disappearing!”

It took two seconds for Sharp Wing to see the flaw in his own statement.

“Ugh, that doesn’t even make any sense. You can’t get kidnapped by balls of gas, or whatever stars are made of.” he grumbled.

“We still don’t how he learned about the stars aiding in Nightmare Moon’s escape, however that works, why he went at it alone without telling anypony, why that unicorn attacked us, or where he is now.” said Frazzle thougtfully.

“That’s because we still don’t have to whole picture, so to speak. We have yet to figure out what the spiral shape means.”

“We should go find Twilight Sparkle and Fluttershy. If that unicorn tried to take us out he might try to do the same with them.”
Exhausted from the chase, the two ponies made their way back to Twilight’s and knocked on the door. Surprisingly, a purple little dragon with green spines answered it.

“This better be important,” he muttered, “I was having an awesome dream about eating gems.”

Sharp Wing and Frazzle Spark were speechless.

“Is Twilight Sparkle here?” Frazzle Spark finally ventured.

“Yes, but she’s asleep. You should be asleep too. It’s late.”

“Can you wake her up? We need to speak with her. We were here earlier, she knows us.” said Sharp Wing.

“You better give me a good reason for waking her up. She doesn’t get enough sleep as it is.”

It had been a hard day for Sharp Wing. His friend had gone missing, an attempt on his life had been made, and now a short little dragon was refusing to get Twilight. It was the stress and anxiety of it all that made it far too easy for him to go over the edge.

“You want a good reason?! How about if you don’t fetch her for us right now she’ll be gone forever by tomorrow morning!” he shouted right in the dragon’s face.

The little dragon jumped back and slammed the door shut.

“Twilight!” a voice rang through the tree, “There’s an armed pony at the door saying he’s going to kill you!”

“Smooth.” Frazzle Spark remarked.

“Shut up.”

A moment later Twilight Sparkle came to the door.

“Guys, I know you’re worried about your friend but the best thing you can do for him right now is get some-”

“Somepony just tried to kill us.” Frazzle cut her off. “He threw these at us.” He added, using his horn to float the blades in front of her.

Sharp Wing and Frazzle Spark explained everything that had happened so far.

“Oh. Wow. That changes things.” Twilight said when they had finished. “Not to be rude, but what do you expect me to do about it?”

“We figured since this pony found us somehow, he might be after anypony who has been trying to find Night Mist. You should probably find someplace to sleep far from your home, just in case.” replied Sharp Wing.

“I’m going to tell Fluttershy to do the same. Applejack and her family too, since you saw that pony head for Sweet Apple Acres.” decided Twilight.

“That’s probably best. Sorry we dragged you and your friends into this.” Sharp Wing apologized.

“Don’t worry about it; it’s not your fault.” Twilight said gently. “Spike however, might not be as forgiving.”

Sharp Wing did his best to smile at her joke. Then he turned his attention to Frazzle Spark.

“Alright Fraz, let’s get moving, I have a good idea for where we’re staying.”

Part 2

That night as Sharp Wing slept in Night Mist’s log cabin the burdens on his mind caused him to dream. He was standing in the middle of a field when Night Mist approached him.

“Heard there’s a new detective in Ponyville, you trying to cash in on my business?” Night Mist grinned.

“I could never do the things you do. How am I supposed to find you?” Sharp Wing complained.

“It’s easy, you just got to look at the big picture.” said Night Mist coolly.

“I’m no good at thinking big, you know that. I always live in the moment, nothing more.”

“As your sub-conscious version of your really cool friend, I’m here to help.” said Night Mist as he threw a hoof around Sharp Wing’s shoulder.

“I didn’t know characters in my dreams were self-aware like that.”

“Your mind’s a little messed up right now because sompony just tried to kill you.”

“Whatever, can you tell me what your drawing means? I figured out the moon and stars part, but I have no idea the spiral cloud thing is.”

“That’s because you aren’t thinking big picture. Take a look around you.”

Sharp Wing looked about the field they were standing in.

“I know this place! This is where the three of us would always play hoof ball!” Sharp Wing exclaimed.

“Yeah, those were the days huh? Back when we had so much more time to hang out together.”

“Yeah, that was great.” Sharp Wing agreed. “But what does that have to do with your disappearance?”

Suddenly the sky darkened and the winds started getting very strong.

“Think back. You remember this day don’t you?”

“Yes I do, the day that freak storm that picked us all up and dropped us far away from home.” Sharp Wing breathed.

“Yes, the storm that appeared without help from any pegasus.”

“We were separated and thrust into immediate danger.” Sharp Wing recalled. “It was only because we discovered our cutie mark talents that we made it back. Frazzle Spark discovered his ability to make explosives by making a volcano erupt to scare off some dragons. I discovered my talent for duel wielding swords when I was ponynapped by goblins in a rock valley.”

“And I, with my cutie mark for finding the truth, escaped the cave of illusion in Everfree Forest.” finished Night Mist.

“I think I get it now! The dark spiral is the storm! We never did find out what caused it did we?”

“No, we never did. Or at least, you and Frazzle Spark never did.”

Sharp Wing shot a puzzled look at the dream version of Night Mist.

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying look at the evidence. I knew about the coming of Nightmare Moon before it happened and connected it with a storm on a piece of paper. The last time I disappeared was because of a freak storm that landed me in the cave of illusion. It’s possible I know something about the storm I never told you guys.”

“But how does it all fit together? What does the cave of illusion have to do with Nightmare Moon, the storm, or that unicorn who tried to kill me?”

“Haven’t the foggiest idea. But once you wake up you know where to look for answers now right?”

“I think so.”

“Good, hopefully we’ll see each for real very soon.”

Before Sharp Wings eyes the field and storm started to melt away as he woke up. He was on Night Mist’s couch. He stretched, got up, and placed his saddle-sheaths over his back. After waking up Frazzle Spark and devouring a quick breakfast they made their way to the library. Twilight had been true to her word. Posters of Night Mist were everywhere. Fluttershy must have found a picture in his house or an old newspaper. Frazzle and Sharp Wing shoved their way past some reporters to get inside the library.

“Be sure to stay together when searching Sweet Apple Acres.” Twilight was instructing a group of ponies, “That’s the last place the unicorn was spotted and it might be very dangerous there.”

The group agreed they would stick together and departed from the library.

“There you guys are!” Twilight said when she saw Frazzle Spark and Sharp Wing. “I was starting to worry something happened to you.”

“Nothing happened, but I think I have an idea where to look.” said Sharp Wing.

Frazzle Spark glanced at him in surprise. Sharp Wing explained how he thought the storm and cave of illusion were connected to Night Mist’s disappearance.

“The Cave of Illusion, I’ve read about that place. The book said no pony who has ever gone in has ever returned.” Twilight mused.

“Night Mist is the only pony known to ever do so, “Frazzle Spark corrected, “He used his mind to figure out what isn’t real and escaped.”

“If that’s the case, we’ll need a large group to investigate. I know just the ponies to help.” Twilight decided. “You guys wait right here, I’ll be back with them shortly.”

And with that Twilight departed the tree.

“I’m not sure I like the idea of bringing other ponies along.” said Sharp Wing after she had left. “This trip could be very dangerous.”

“I don’t think we really have a choice. We need all the help we can get.” Frazzle pointed out. “Besides, Twilight seems to know what she’s doing. That reminds me, I have to grab a few things before we go.”

Sharp Wing was suddenly alone in the library. Before too long Twilight Sparkle returned with a white unicorn and a blue pegasus. The unicorn was wearing large pink saddle bags on her back.

“Sharp Wing, this is Rarity and Rainbow Dash. They’ll be coming with us to the cave.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” said Rarity.

“Hey there, cool swords.” added Rainbow Dash.

“Nice to meet you both.” He responded. “Frazzle Spark left to get something. He should be back soon.”

Frazzle Spark came through the door sporting industrial sized orange saddle bags.

“I’m here! Let’s do this!” he declared.

“What the hay are those bags full of?” said Sharp Wing. “Can you even carry those things?”

“Sure can, they’re full of raw materials. Sulfur, Phosphorus, stuff like that. You never know when you’ll need a well placed explosion.”

Rainbow Dash’s eyes lit up.

“You can make explosions?! That’s so cool!”

“Yeah, it’s what I do for a living. Fireworks and stuff like that.”

“Anyway, we need to get a move on.” Twilight Sparkle interrupted.

The five ponies left the library and were soon traveling through the Everfree Forest. Twilight Sparkle led the way with a map, with the other ponies traveling side by side behind her.

“My bags are getting so-o-o-o heavy.” Rarity protested, batting her eyelashes at Sharp Wing. “Would you be a dear and carry them for me Sharp Wing? I’m really not built for this sort of thing.”

Moments later Sharp Wing was lagging behind, wondering just why exactly Twilight had thought it was a good idea to bring Rarity along. He glanced at Frazzle Spark, half-expecting him to make some sort of comment regarding the bag’s color.

“Sharp Wing, would you be a dear and carry my bags too?” he said instead, blinking rapidly in a failed attempt to bat his eyes. “They’re really heavy and-”

Sharp Wing cut him off with a look of sheer hatred. Grinning with satisfaction, Frazzle Spark easily trotted ahead with renewed vigor to join Rainbow Dash. After a while Twilight finally called for a halt.

“We’re here.” she announced, “The Cave of Illusion.”

From the outside, the cave looked like any other with the exception of a sign that read: “by the decree of Princess Celestia, no pony shall ever enter this cave.” Twilight wavered a bit when she saw the sign.

“If Night Mist is in there, I’ll find him in ten seconds flat.” claimed Rainbow Dash.

“Not so fast, we need to stick together. Besides, how are you going to see where you’re going?” pointed out Twilight as her horn started to glow brightly.

The five ponies entered the cave.

“So why exactly did you bring Rarity?” whispered Sharp Wing to Twilight as they walked inside.

“I thought she might help with seeing through the illusions.” Twilight explained, “She has a great eye for details and-”

Abruptly Rarity shrieked. Out of nowhere a swarm of spiders had started crawling all over her.

“Get them off get them off get them off get them off!” she screamed as she bolted down the cave.

“Wait Rarity, Those probably aren’t real!” Twilight called after her.

“I’ll get her!” said Rainbow Dash as she galloped off after Rarity.

“But we’re supposed to stick together!” objected Twilight as she went after them.

For lack of a better course of action Sharp Wing and Frazzle followed. Rarity led the ponies through many twists and turns, shrieking the whole time. Out of the corner of his vision Sharp Wing caught sight of ghastly horrors as they went. Suddenly the screaming and running halted and Sharp Wing collided with the other ponies. Sharp Wing couldn’t see anything. Then a voice broke through the darkness.

“I apologize for the spiders miss, but quite frankly I couldn’t think of any other options.” said the voice.

Part 3

“Show your face you coward!” Rainbow Dash bellowed, “You mess with Rarity you mess with me!”

“I’m not trying to hide my face, but you are correct in calling me a coward.”

The voice seemed so down and depressed that Sharp Wing almost didn’t recognize it.

“Night Mist? Is that you?”

Twilight Sparkle’s horn glowed again to illuminate the cave. Trapped behind steel bars was none other than Night Mist. His mane and tail were frayed and mangled, and his once illustrious black coat was dull and mangy.

“Oh my goodness, you look terrible!” Rarity gasped.

“Being locked in a cell will do that to you.”

“Who locked you in a cell?” asked Rainbow Dash.

“Hold on, how we know you’re not just an illusion?” questioned Twilight.

“You could ask me a question only I could answer.” suggested Night Mist.

“I got this.” said Frazzle Spark, stepping forward. “What’s my favorite color?”

“Your favorite color is orange, because it’s the color of fire.”

“He passes.”

“Everypony knows you like fire.” Sharp Wing cut in. “Night Mist, you left a sketch on the door to your house. Describe it.”

“It’s the moon and stars connected by lines surrounded by a dark spiral cloud.”

“It really is you. Why did you leave that sketch?”

“I was hoping somepony might see and ask what it means, forcing me to say what I know.”

“Wait a minute.” Twilight interrupted. “How did you do that thing with the spiders? Earth Ponies can’t use magic.”

“It’s an ancient magic called the dark storm, granted to my ancestors by Nightmare Moon, so that we would one day free her from the moon and enforce her rule.”

“We?” said Rainbow Dash, “What do you mean by we?”

“The Nightmare Stars, a special breed of ponies who collectively wield the power of the dark storm when they work together. It’s passed down through the generations. The magic starts in the unicorns and flows through the rest of us.”

“The Stars will aid in her escape and she will bring about night time eternal!” gasped Twilight, quoting the prophecy.

“Are you saying you helped free Nightmare Moon?” asked Rarity.

“Not exactly, I didn’t even know I was one of them until that freak storm all those years ago. Turns out I had somehow crawled away from this cave, our home, as a baby and was placed in an orphanage. You see, when the dark storm was first granted to my ancestors it was weak magic. Nightmare Moon didn’t want her sister to detect its creation. The storm grows more powerful with each generation of ponies, that’s why we had to wait a thousand years until it was strong enough the free her. The Stars knew I had gone missing, but didn’t want to risk discovery by searching the world above. By the time their magic was strong enough to send a storm to retrieve me I was already a young colt.”

“But Frazzle Spark and I were with you when that happened.” Sharp Wing figured, “So it snatched all three of us but only took you to the cave.”

“But that means you knew about Nightmare Moon’s return years before it happened. Why didn’t you tell anypony about the stars?” questioned Frazzle Spark.

“And how would I go about doing that?” Night Mist snarled, “Hey guys, I’m not a normal pony, I’m actually a dark and evil freak born to plunge all of Equestria into eternal darkness! But I hope we can still be friends!”

Night Mist choked back a sob and turned away.

Sharp Wing was stunned. All this time, his friend had hiding this secret and he never knew. He recalled how Night Mist was always so calm and always seemed to have everything together. But this knowledge had been torturing him for years.

“I told myself that it couldn’t be true, that it was just another illusion in the cave.” Night Mist continued, “But as the day approached when she would be freed I had to something. But I still couldn’t make myself tell anypony, I rationalized that it might just turn out to be an illusion. I drew that sketch a day before I came back hoping somepony would see it in time and prompt my confession.”

“Night Mist, just because you were born as one of the Stars doesn’t mean you’re evil.” Twilight said soothingly.

“I am evil! I helped them by not saying anything! If I had said something Equestria wouldn’t be in eternal darkness right now!”

Frazzle Spark stifled a giggle.

“What’s so funny?!” Night Mist raged.

“Nightmare Moon did come back, but she didn’t rule Equestria for very long. Twilight Sparkle here and her friends defeated her with the elements of harmony and she turned good again.” Sharp Wing explained.

Night Mist stared at them all in disbelief.

“She didn’t succeed? Then why haven’t the Stars freed me? If she turned good again, why haven’t they told me?”

“They probably just don’t know yet.” said Twilight. “Once we get you out of here we’ll help you explain it to them alright?”

“Alright.” he said with a weak smile.

“I do believe this calls for an explosion.” decided Frazzle Spark. “Step back everypony.”
All the ponies shirked as far back from the steel bars as the cave would allow them. Frazzle Spark used his horn to float materials out of his bags and arrange them around the bars.

“Are you sure that’s safe?” asked Rarity.

“When it comes to explosions, Frazzle Spark knows what he’s doing.” Sharp Wing assured her.
The glow of Frazzle’s horn turned from red to bright orange and in that same moment an explosion shook the room. When the smoke cleared Frazzle magically pulled the bars out of the now gaping holes in the rock.

“That was awesome!” declared Rainbow Dash.

“Now all we have to do is find the Stars.” said Twilight.

“I’ll take you to them,” said Night Mist. “Follow me.”

Night Mist led the five ponies through a seemingly random series of passageways until they entered a large cavern that was faintly illuminated by torches. They were relatively high up in the cavern, and a vast crowd of ponies was gathered below. Across this chasm a dark green pegasus with a white mane and tail walked out of a tunnel and starting speaking to all the assembled ponies.

“Many of you are wondering,” he began, “Why daylight goes on despite the fact we banished Celestia to the moon in exchange for our glorious Princess Nightmare Moon.”

“So that’s where Princess Celestia was the whole time.” whispered Twilight Sparkle to herself.

“Who’s the guy that’s speaking?” asked Rainbow Dash.

“That’s Nightmare Eclipse, the leader of the stars.” Night Mist informed her.

“The reason for it is simple.” Eclipse went on, “We have determined that Celestia is no longer in the moon. At first we thought she must have come back to Equestria and defeated our princess.”

Cries of dismay and outrage echoed throughout the cavern.

“However!” shouted Nightmare Eclipse, holding up a hoof, “We have also confirmed that our princess had not been returned to the moon! This can only mean that she and Celestia are locked in combat as we speak! The battle for Equestria goes on, and it is our duty to aid Nightmare Moon!”

Twilight Sparkle chose that moment to step forward and speak up.

“Can I have everypony’s attention?” she called out.

Hundreds of heads suddenly turned around. Across the cavern, Nightmare Eclipse glanced at her in surprise. Twilight was now the focus of attention by hundreds of ponies.

“Um, hi, I’m Twilight Sparkle. I’m from, um, up above. It’s true that Nightmare Moon returned, and it’s true that she was defeated. But she’s not fighting Princess Celestia right now. After I, um, after she was defeated, she was sorry for trying to take over Equestria and agreed to rule jointly with Princess Celestia as before. So as you can see, she no longer wants the night to be eternal.” Twilight stammered.

“Yeah, good call not taking credit for defeating her.” murmured Night Mist.

After a long and awkward silence Nightmare Eclipse finally spoke.

“That’s an interesting tale you spin Twilight Sparkle. But if it’s true, why hasn’t Nightmare Moon come here and told us that herself?”

Twilight sparkle stood there, at loss for words. Then, with perhaps the greatest of timing ever, a lone alicorn and a swarm of bats flew into the cavern from yet another tunnel. It was none other than Princess Luna.

“Stars of Night, heed our words! It is we, your royal princess Nightmare Moon!” she shouted royally.

The entire crowd of ponies below gasped and bowed. Eclipse however, remained standing.

“Well, this interesting. First a pony from the surface comes to tell us you’ve changed your mind about eternal night, and now you’re finally here in the flesh.” He remarked.

“Thou dare to address thy princess so? Such disrespect must be punished!” proclaimed Princess Luna.

Eclipse unfolded his wings and flew up to Luna.

I mean no disrespect to Nightmare Moon. I’m just having a hard time believing you’re the genuine article.” Eclipse said darkly.

He turned his head to stare down Twilight. “The timing of it all, it is very convenient.”

Luna followed his gaze.

“Twilight Sparkle! Does this mean our sister knows about this?” she exclaimed when she saw her.

“You mean you haven’t told her?” Twilight shouted back. “I thought you had changed!”

“We did change! We just didn’t want our sister to take back her forgiveness if she found out we had an army!”

“You both make a very convincing act. Doubtlessly it was Celestia who put you up to this to try and stop us without violence.” Eclipse observed. “However, the Nightmare Moon my ancestors knew was not weak in her resolve to rule Equestria alone. She did hold herself back with regrets, and she did not concern herself with her sister’s approval.”

“That is because we changed! Our sister showed us the error of our ways! We are Nightmare Moon, and it is our decree that thou shall disband the stars!” Luna ordered Eclipse.

“Tell you what,” responded Eclipse as he did a lazy loop-de-loop in the air, “We’ll just have to perform a simple test. If indeed, you are the real Nightmare Moon, it should be easy for you to defeat me in combat. The power of the dark storm was granted to us by Nightmare Moon after all, you should be able to defeat something you created.”

The crowd of ponies below roared their approval of their leader’s suggestion. The eyes of the unicorns started to glow, and dark energy seeped out of their horns and washed over the crowd like a wave. All their eyes began to glow as the dark mist grew thicker, until their glowing eyes looked like stars in the night sky. Night Mist’s eyes started to glow for a moment too, but he shook his head and it stopped.

“That is a preposterous request! We will not fight one of our own subjects just to prove our identity!” Luna objected.

“Look at it this way. You said it yourself that my insulting you deserved punishment. If you win, then you really are Nightmare Moon. My defeat at your hooves would make a suitable punishment don’t you think?”

By now the dark energy from the crowd was trailing in circles around Eclipse, and his own eyes started to glow.

He’s about to attack Nightmare Moon! We have to do something!” cried out Rainbow Dash.

Twilight Sparkle retreated back into the tunnel. “If we help Nightmare Moon it won’t convince Eclipse she’s the real deal.” she pointed out, “Nightmare Moon will have to resolve this herself.”

The cave started getting really windy and lighting flashed. Nightmare Eclipse hovered in the in the center of a dark vortex.

“Your insults grow tiresome. Very well then, we accept your challenge!” Princess Luna proclaimed.

No sooner then she had said this, a beam of pure dark energy erupted from her horn. Eclipse countered the assault with a beam of his own. The two of them gave it their all. Lightning flashed and winds howled as they flew around the cavern, each trying to gain the upper hoof. Then, without warning, Eclipse struck her with dark lightning. The blow only caused her to waver for a second, but that was all the opening Eclipse needed. A gust of dark wind slammed her against the cave wall, which was immediately followed by several lightning strikes in a row. Dazed, Princess Luna half-glided, half-fell onto a rock outcropping.

“Would the real Nightmare Moon be defeated so easily?!” Eclipse called down to the crowd as he unleashed another barrage of lightning.

Princess Luna tried to rise, but she was pinned down by strong winds.

“Stop! Please Stop!” she begged, no longer using her royal voice, “I can’t take any more!”

“There’s no mercy for anypony who dares to impersonate Nightmare-”

His words were cut off by a fly-by kick from Rainbow Dash. She delivered several more blows before Eclipse sent her next dive off course with a gust of wind.

“You stupid little filly, you’ll pay dearly for that!” he snarled.

“You’re gonna pay for hurting the princess!” Rainbow Dash shot back as she zipped back at Eclipse for another attack.

Rainbow Dash, as fast as she was, was not faster than lightning. Eclipse struck her dead on, the force of it knocking her unconscious immediately. Sharp Wing was about to spring out of the tunnel to catch her when Twilight held out her hoof in front of him and brought Rainbow Dash back in with magic instead.
Instead of going after her, Eclipse turned his attention back to Princess Luna, only to discover she was gone. He simply shrugged, and then blasted a hole through the cavern’s roof with a powerful gust of wind and dark energy, revealing the light of day.

“To Canterlot Castle!” he cried, “The real Nightmare Moon will need us there!”

The crowd cheered as pegasai flew up after him. The rest were lifted up through the opening by gusts of wind. The six ponies stood there in total shock as they all left. A cough from behind him caught Sharp Wing’s attention. Nightmare Moon lay on the ground behind him.

“This is bad.” said Twilight Sparkle, “They’ll tear down Canterlot looking for a princess that isn’t there.”

“From the sound of it,” said Night Mist, “Nightmare Moon didn’t tell Princess Celestia that the Stars exist. They were powerful enough to defeat Nightmare Moon and she knew it was coming. I’m not sure Princess Celestia will stand a chance against them.”

“This is a calamity!” Rarity despaired.

“You got to go after Eclipse Sharps.” said Frazzle Spark.

“What? Why Me? What am I supposed to do if I reach him?” protested Sharp Wing.

“You’re the only pony here who can fly right now.” said Night Mist. “Unless you think you can reach Canterlot before they do, you’ll have to take out Eclipse.”

Sharp Wing looked at them all and saw that they were pinning their hopes on him.

“Alright, I’ll do it.” He said with a courage he didn’t feel. He shrugged off Rarity’s bags and unfolded his wings. “Hopefully this won’t be the last time I see all of you.”

And with that he took off.

Part 4

The army galloped out of the Everfree Forest onto vast open plains. Sharp Wing could see them clearly. The dark storm was a fleet of storm clouds above them, casting the army in shadow. Eclipse would be somewhere in the clouds. Pumping his wings as hard as could, Sharp Wing chased after the storm. He reflected on how the storm looked just like the one that had plucked him out of Ponyville back when he was just a colt. He had been scared then. He had tried to fly away. Now it was different. Now he was going after the storm. He wasn’t just a little colt anymore, he was a stallion.

Some of the pegasai up ahead saw him and turned about. Sharp Wing knew he was at a disadvantage. He could use his wings to fly, and he could use his wings to wield his swords, but not at the same time. So he flew higher. Further and further up he went, so high that the pegasai chasing him were now directly below him. Then he drew his swords and went into freefall. Reacting on instinct, he slashed and hacked, clipping and severing feathers from their wings. Their wings now crippled, they all drifted down to the world below shouting in protest. Sharp Wing sheathed his swords again and resumed chasing the storm. Eventually he spotted Eclipse standing on a cloud in front. Sharp Wing landed near the rear of that cloud and drew his swords. Eclipse turned around.

“Oh, yet another pony whose foolish enough to interfere with the wishes of Nightmare Moon. Sharp Wing isn’t it?”

“Um, yeah” said Sharp Wing, a little taken aback that Eclipse knew his name.

“You must be pretty handy with those swords if Shooting Star couldn’t kill you. Of course, had he been close to the rest of the Stars you wouldn’t have stood a chance.”

Lightning flew out from the clouds and crackled around Nightmare Eclipse.

“Now you’re going to die anyway.” He smirked.

Lightning burst forth. Sharp Wing braced himself for the blow that would surely knock him off the speeding cloud. Instead, he felt an impact on one of his swords. Sharp Wing opened his eyes. Electric energy danced along the blade. Eclipse tried again. The lightning arced through the air and went straight for the blade again. To test this phenomenon Sharp Wing held out his swords to his left and right. Bolt after bolt went for either of the swords.

“Oh I get it. The metal in my swords are acting like lightning rods.” Sharp Wing grinned.

Eclipse snarled and unleashed a furious gust of dark wind. Sharp Wing responded by sticking his swords into the cloud and holding on. The gust continued, so he started working his way forward by pulling out a sword, sticking it back in further up, and then doing the same with the other one.

“Well you’re persistent, I’ll give you that.” Nightmare Eclipse remarked.

The winds died down to normal for a fast moving cloud. Eclipse summoned two small pillars of cloud in front of him, and then magically transformed them into obsidian swords that crackled with dark lightning.

“I guess I’ll just have to take the fight to you.”

The two pegasai surged forward and blades met on blades. As they began to fight Sharp Wing was dismayed to find out that Eclipse was extremely talented at duel wielding swords. Then he caught a glimpse of Eclipse’s cutie mark. Two crossed swords. Nightmare Eclipse’s cutie mark was identical to his own. Sharp Wing soon found himself on the defensive as their blades flashed and forth. Both kept silent as they devoted themselves to the fight.

“This is very rare you know.” Eclipse remarked after they had been fighting for a while. “Two pegasai with the same special talent locked in a contest such as this. I’ve never even met another pony with a cutie mark for sword fighting. Have you?”

Sharp Wing hadn’t, but he wasn’t about to give Eclipse the pleasure of an answer.

“It’s a shame really, that life has pitted us against each other.” Eclipse went on, “Had you been born and raised as a Star you would have understood why Equestria would be better off in eternal night. Instead you’re trying to stop me. Honestly, if we kept at this long enough I’m not sure who would win, it seems we have both developed our natural talent with plenty of practice. But now we’re almost at the castle and we might never see who proves to the better sword fighter.”

Sharp Wing stole a glance over the cloud and saw that Eclipse was right. The Storm and the Stars had already crossed Canterlot’s border. Down below the royal guard were fighting the Stars, but they were no match for the winds that picked them up and tossed them around. The storm began to gather around the castle. Rain fell and lightning flashed as the clouds circled to towers.

Eclipse sprang off and bounded from cloud to cloud down to one of the towers. Sharp Wing pursued him. A mighty gust of wind blew apart the doors on the balcony and Eclipse soared through. Time seemed to slow down as Sharp Wing went after him. Standing inside was Princess Celestia. As Eclipse charged her trailing lightning and dark energy she had just enough time to turn her head and widen her eyes in surprise before an explosion rocked the room.

Sharp Wing felt something slam him up against the wall of the room. When he opened his eyes again he found that he was stuck fast by some sort of sticky green substance. He wasn’t the only one. Eclipse, Twilight Sparkle, Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Night Mist, and Frazzle Spark were all pinned against the wall by the same strange substance.

“And that, your majesties, is how you make and set off a slime bomb.” Frazzle Spark beamed, grinning like a lunatic.

“How did you all get here before I did?” asked Sharp Wing in surprise.

Twilight Sparkle tilted her head towards Rainbow Dash as far as the slime would let her.

“I flew past you and Eclipse like ten times while carrying a pony each time. You guys were so busy fighting each other you never saw my mad speed.” Rainbow Dash boasted.

“Night Mist came up with the idea for setting a trap for Eclipse.” Twilight explained.

"I never would have come up with it if Rarity hadn’t flipped out when she walked through a spider web.” Night Mist said honestly.

“I think this is much worse than a spider web.” moaned Rarity, who was suspended upside down by the slime.

Eclipse struggled wildly against the slime, but couldn’t break free.

“This is nothing but a temporary setback!” he raged, “The stars will crush all of you when they get up here!”

“You’re fighting for a lost cause Eclipse. The Nightmare Moon you’re looking for no longer exists.” said Princess Celestia.

“You’re lying! The real Nightmare Moon must be hidden somewhere in this castle!”

“You’ve already found the real Nightmare Moon. You fought her back at the cave. The fact she had powers like yours should be proof enough that she’s the real one, even if she didn’t beat you.” countered Twilight Sparkle.

Eclipse stiffened as if her words had been a physical blow. He glanced at Princess Luna, who refused to meet his gaze.

“If what you’re saying is true,” Eclipse said slowly, “then it would mean my entire existence has all been for nothing, that my whole life no longer has a purpose. What use would it be for me to even live?”

“That’s the thing Eclipse, you haven’t been living at all.” said Night Mist.

Eclipse looked at him.

“You haven’t been living your own life,” Night Mist continued, “You’ve been living a life sompony else gave to you. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m very sure that cutie mark on you flank doesn’t stand for bringing night time to Equestria forever.”

Eclipse began to tremble.

You’re- you’re right. I haven’t been living my own life. This isn’t my destiny. I’ve been telling myself lies, saying that this was how it should be.”

His eyes widened as he realized the true horrors of what he had started.

“The Nightmare Stars! I have to stop them before they destroy Canterlot!” he exclaimed.

Princess Celestia smiled. A bright light flared from her horn, and the slime started to dissolve.

“I think you know what to do.” she said.

Without hesitation Nightmare Eclipse shot out of the tower and hovered above Canterlot.

“Nightmare Stars!” he cried out, “We have made a terrible mistake!”

What followed was perhaps one of the greatest impromptu speeches in pony history. It was quite long, but mostly it was about free will, destiny, and how night and day both were important. After Eclipse had finished Princess Luna came out and gave a public apology for what she had started a thousand years ago. A vast majority of the Stars were convinced on the spot of their crimes and were sorry. Some however, slinked away with hatred in their hearts. It took a few months, but thanks to Night Mist’s detective work they were eventually all found and imprisoned. Only time would tell if they ever would see the errors of their ways. Many of the former nightmare stars, including Nightmare Eclipse, still preferred the night over day despite the fact they knew both were equally important. They opted to take the night shifts as royal guards of Canterlot, much to the delight of the previous holders of those positions who were transferred elsewhere.

Princess Celestia, of course, forgave her sister for her additional crimes, while Twilight Sparkle and her friends returned to Ponyville to resume their lives as normally as they could.

As for Sharp Wing, Frazzle Spark, and Night Mist, they also returned home to Ponyville and made a pact to never hide anything from each other. As a result they entered an even more powerful bond of friendship then before. They still laughed and joked and goofed off most of the time, but behind it all they knew they had each others backs from then on.

The End

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