Shadows and Sunlight

by Donnys Boy

Chapter 1: Shadows and Sunlight

“Shadows and Sunlight”

by Donny’s Boy

Synopsis: For the sake of a child, all Equestria will burn. This is the tale of the birth of a terrible villain, and this is the tale of the birth of a mighty hero. (Written in response to a story request from Chatoyance.)

The first thing she noticed was the smell of freshly spilled blood.

It was tangy and almost cloyingly sweet. Overbearing and omnipresent. As her muzzle wrinkled in distaste, the dark-coated alicorn carefully walked across the grassy expanse in which she found herself. The long blades of grass that swayed gently in the night air all glowed a ghostly blue, bathed in the light from the still-open portal that stood directly behind her.

By her calculations, she only had a half an hour, at most, before the portal would close.

Following the scent of the blood, she soon discovered its source. An open field lay before her, with dozens upon dozens of motionless bodies strewn across the ground. Luna frowned. She approached the nearest body and peered down at it with a mixture of curiosity and horror.

The creature was hideous-looking. Its limbs were too thin and too long, and its face was flat, as though it had been smashed in. Worst of all, it was almost entirely bald, except for the top of its head and patches on its face. She wondered if that baldness--which the creature’s companions seemed to share--was why they all seemed to be clothed in such heavy tunics and armor. All in all, they very much resembled the apes and monkeys of her own realm.

The creature’s cold, dead eyes gazed up at her mercilessly, and finally Luna had to turn her head away.

Slowly, respectfully, she moved from corpse to corpse, taking in what information she could from what she observed, as a doctor might catalogue symptoms or a scientist might document experimental results. She recognized most of the weapons she saw--arrows, swords, daggers, all made of metal. One creature had had its torso sliced nearly in two, and she paused to gaze in wonder at the glistening pink intestines that lay in a bloody pile on the ground. They were so strangely familiar, almost equine.

Then, she turned her attention to the face of the poor, disemboweled creature. Its snout was far too short, it was true, but the eyes … the eyes held a hint of familiarity, even more so than the creature’s inner organs. Those eyes held a hint of an intelligence, once present but now extinguished.

“Perhaps,” Luna murmured, her voice cutting through the stillness of the night. “Perhaps this world may be worth knowing better.”


She walked away from the graveyard of bodies, walked back towards the portal. Though she estimated that she still had a good ten minutes left before the magical gateway shut down, she knew it was best not to tempt fate. Or to risk the displeasure of her most beloved and most excellent sister.

“You were absent for some time,” observed Celestia, glancing up from her large four poster bed with a slight frown upon her face. “You were gone so long, in fact, that I almost had the guards go out to look for you.”

The bed chambers of the Sun Princess were large, softly lit, and warm. A bit too warm, actually--the room was almost but not quite stifling. Almost, but not quite. Just as the room was almost but not quite too much decorated, teetering right on the edge between well-appointed and ostentatious. The molding that ran along the ceiling was a pure white, with tasteful accents of gold leaf, and in addition to the large bed, the room contained a small, elegant sofa and a few delicately-carved chairs, all in richly dark wood.

The room was perfect. Utterly perfect.

Of course it was.

In reply to her sister’s preamble, Luna snorted. “Is that why you had the guards accost me in my own chambers, to deliver your demand to come see you upon my return?”

“Oh, Luna. It was a request, not a demand.”

“All of your demands are phrased thus. It’s very genteel of you, I must say.”

“That is nonsense, and I refuse to have such a silly conversation with you.” Celestia rolled her eyes. “I asked you to come see me because I wanted to ask you a question.”

“Well, I am here, am I not? What did you wish to ask of me?”

“Are you … are you all right?”

Luna smiled a languid smile. “I am fine. You worry yourself needlessly.”

“I am your big sister.” Celestia’s voice was light, airy, yet somehow velvety as well, with a hint of laughter underlying everything. “I am supposed to worry.”

Luna nodded at that. “I know. You have endless concern and compassion for all the ponies in Equestria.” Her cheeks began to hurt from holding her smile for so long. “And they repay you quite handsomely, in return, do they not? With showers of praise and adoration.”

Celestia’s brow creased, every so subtly, and after a moment she stepped down from the bed and walked across the room to where the other alicorn stood, just barely inside the doorway. “While of course I care deeply for all our subjects,” she said in a quiet tone, “I was talking about you, specifically, Luna.”

“And as I said, dear sister, I am fine.”

For several long moments, Celestia remained completely silent. Her deep, purple eyes bored into Luna’s own, and the emotions that roiled beneath those eyes’ deceptively calm surface nearly took Luna’s breath away. The fear. The hesitance. The desperation. As her heart began to speed up, as nausea gripped her, the younger alicorn locked her knees and forced herself to not break eye contact.

Finally, blessedly, Celestia turned away. “I do not wish to delay you,” she said, sounding calm and at ease. “I know it is almost dawn and that you must be rather tired.”

“I am, in fact,” Luna replied.

She was not lying.

“Sleep well, then, my sister.” Celestia walked back across to her room, back to her own bed and her own slumbers. She paused only to glance over her shoulder, with those same haunted eyes, as she softly added, “I love you.”

Luna swallowed. “I … I love you, as well.”

She was not lying.

Luna turned her head aside and found herself gazing at her own reflection in a small mirror that had been hung on the wall. It was odd seeing her own face right in front of her and her own eyes staring back from the smooth glass. Almost as though she was looking at a stranger and not herself. Mostly, though, Luna simply thought that her reflection looked tired. About as tired as she in actuality felt, truth be told.

Quietly she let herself out of Celestia’s bedchambers and headed down the long, dark halls that led to her own set of private rooms. She was certain that a good day’s rest would do her good.

The bodies were gone, but the blood was not.

It had faded, certainly, as was only to be expected. But Luna could still see where the grass had been matted down with the weight of fallen forms, and the area surrounding each spot was dark and stained a dull brown. That was all that remained of the creatures she had seen the night before.

Her ears gave a twitch as voices, indistinct but recognizable as speaking words, drifted to her along the night breeze.

She turned and began slowly, cautiously, walking in the direction of the voices. Her hooves fell lightly into the soft grass, not making the slightest sound. Just as she came upon a nearby copse of tall, stately trees, the first of the creatures emerged from the forest beyond. It looked much as the others had looked, and it carried a torch that cast dark shadows across its broad face.

“Greetings, alien beings!” the equine princess called out, trying to infuse her voice with the warmth and friendliness that Celestia so readily exuded.

She was answered with an arrow hurtling straight towards her face.

With a quick burst of magic, she snatched it from the air and, after glancing at it with a frown of distaste, tossed it aside. She lifted her head again in time to see the creature joined by some half dozen of its fellows, each one holding a bow between its forehooves.

A small, tired sigh escaped Luna’s lips. As the all too predictable hail of arrows came raining down upon her, she erected a small magical force-field around her body. The arrows went ricocheting off her magical shield like so many horse flies scattered by a swishing tail. With cold eyes she stared at the creatures through the shimmering blue aura surrounding her, stared at all of their angry, fearful faces, at their stupid bows and stupid arrows.

Perhaps she’d been wrong about these beings. It was a depressing thought.

Soon enough they ran out of arrows. Once they had, they finally lowered their bows and traded looks with each other. They spoke strange words, as well, words in a language that Luna had never before heard. Then one of them--the creature who had shot the very first arrow--took a tiny, hesitant step forward.

Luna lowered her shield and gave a soft snort in warning.

That was all it took. As one, they spun around and fled back into the woods, screaming and shouting as they crashed through the trees. Luna just stood and watched them go, gazing emptily out at the trees long after they’d disappeared from view.

With another tired smile, Luna turned around to head back to her portal--and then paused. Even from this distance, she could see a smaller version of these ape creatures standing directly in front of her portal and reaching out towards it with a forehoof. Quietly the alicorn trotted over to where the portal flickering and glowed, bathing the immediate vicinity in a dozen lovely shades of blue. Just as she came into speaking distance, the creature glanced over its shoulder.

Its eyes and hair were dark, dark like the night sky above, so dark that they were almost black. They both stood out against the creature’s otherwise ghostly pale face. Upon seeing Luna, it turned all the way around, so that they were now facing one another. Luna continued her approach, but the creature didn’t move, didn’t flee. In a moment they were close enough that either one could reach out to touch the other, but even now, even this close, Luna could see that there was no fear in those dark, shining eyes.

Only wonder. Only curiosity.

If Luna wasn’t very much mistaken, this particular creature surely had to be a juvenile example of its species. Perhaps a female, as well? The long hair suggested such, anyways.

Luna smiled at the thought.

Slowly, the girl’s own mouth curved upwards, too.

In as friendly a voice as she could manage, Luna asked, “Ape-child … do you not fear me, as do the others?”

The girl tilted her head and furrowed her brow.

Ah, yes. If Luna couldn’t understand them, then of course they wouldn’t be able to understand her. She lit up her horn and bit back a chuckle as the girl’s dark eyes widened. Very slowly and deliberately Luna leaned down, bringing her horn closer to the girl, but the child only watched with that same sense of wonder. Gently, so very gently, Luna touched her horn to the girl’s throat.

“Hear my words, as I now command,” she intoned, still mindful to keep her voice quiet. “Hear my words and understand.”

The girl blinked in response. “H-how?”

“It is magic.” Luna raised an eyebrow. “Do you not have magic in your world?”

“They say there is magic,” whispered the girl, still blinking. “But I have never seen it …”

Luna’s smile returned twofold. As they stood sharing the cool blue glow of the portal, she murmured, “There is much I can show you, child. More than you have ever thought. More than you have ever even dreamed.”

The moon was beautiful.

It was a different sort of beauty than that of the sun, but it was beautiful all the same. While the sun blinded ponies with its power and proved unviewable with the naked eye, the moon invited one to drink in its splendor with gentle light. While the sun burned hot and bright, the moon bathed the land in refreshing coolness. While the sun overshadowed all else in the daytime sky, drowning out its sister suns that lived so very far away, the moon happily shared its nighttime with the stars, the nebula, and all the other wonders of the cosmos.

Luna could not help but reflect on the breathtaking beauty of the moon as she raised it up to its rightful place in the sky. After it was placed just so, she stood for a few moments and gazed upon it.

She wished she could show this to the ape-child. She was sure, without quite knowing why, that the child would love her moon and the ritual of its raising.

Her shoulders slumped as she turned her back to the night sky and stepped off the balcony of the palace. She walked through long, wide hallways, giving a curt nod to the few night guards whom she met along the way. At last she reached a pair of large, ornate golden doors. The lone guard rushed to open it for her, fear and worry written all over his face, and Luna barely resisted the urge to roll her eyes.

Instead, she gave the young pegasus a smile. He smiled in return, his teeth gleaming white against his dark blue face, but the fear never left his eyes.

Wordlessly Luna walked past him and into the throne room beyond.

It was empty, as it always was at this time of night. Empty and utterly devoid of the constant chatter, activity, and life that reigned over this very same room during the daylight hours. Luna continued walking resolutely forward, her every hoofstep echoing loudly off the high ceilings, until she reached the throne. She took her seat upon it and tried to ignore how stiff and uncomfortable the chair was.

She sat there all night, as duty dictated, silent and alone with her thoughts. Not that she minded. She’d never been the gregarious and extroverted soul that Celestia was, always mixing and mingling with the vulgar nobles. No, Luna had always been happier with her books and her magical studies, with her oil painting and her violin playing. Books talked of things relevant and of things meaningful, quite unlike the aristocrats and their petty scandals of the moment. There was never a better friend than a truly good book, she believed, or a well-tuned violin.

So Luna sat, and Luna thought, until the very first rays of golden light filtered in through the arched windows, alerting her to sunrise and the end of her watch over the kingdom of Equestria. Thus finished with her duties, she dismounted the throne and, with a weary gait, retired to her bed chambers.

With held breath and rapidly beating heart, she stepped through the portal, unsure of exactly what she would find on the other side. Once she was through, however, she felt her face ease into a gentle smile as she caught sight of the small figure seated on the ground before her.

“I waited for you,” said the girl, her forelegs crossed over her chest. She sounded half proud and half irritated. “I waited for you to come back!”

“And so I have come.” Luna sat down beside the girl. “I thank you for your patience.”

The girl grinned. “I was not sure if I had dreamed you or not. I was not sure if you were real.”

Luna chuckled at that. “I am very real, I assure you.” She tilted her head, as something suddenly occurred to her. “Tell me, child. Were you waiting for long?”

“A few hours, I think. I have come here every night since I first met you.”

“Ah. I see.” The alicorn felt a pang of guilt. She leaned forward to give the child an affectionate nuzzle. “I am sorry for my delay. I was … regrettably detained, and I could not return immediately.”

The girl pouted, in a way uncannily reminiscent of the way a young foal might with her parents. “Oh.”

“But I am here now, am I not?” asked Luna, with a grin. “What wonders shall I show you first?”

The girl stayed silent for several long moments, her huge dark eyes gleaming. Then, in a serious tone and with a serious face, she replied, “Everything. I want to see everything.”

And so Luna showed her everything--or, rather, the best approximation of “everything” that she could fit to within an hour’s time. Though she knew an hour was pushing the limits of how safe it likely was to leave open the portal, she couldn’t help but want to spend a bit of extra time exploring this strange new world and this strange new being. So she stayed, under the soft light of the moon and stars, and she stayed there beside the tiny girl.

She cast spell after spell, to the delighted cries and shouts of her young companion. She teleported from one end of the field to the other, she shot sparks from her horn into the dark night sky, she levitated the girl a few feet above the ground as the girl broke out into high-pitched, uncontrolled giggles. It was then, as the child giggled and grinned, that Luna found a smile of her own slowly steal across her face.

But as she gently lowered the girl back down, Luna felt her smile fade away the same moment that the magical aura faded from her horn. Never before had an hour slipped by so quickly. Careful to keep her voice steady and neutral, she informed the child, “It is time. I must go.”

In an instant, that pout from before returned with a vengeance. “Already? But you have just gotten here!”

“I … I know.” She turned her head and gazed into the portal’s swirling blue depths. “I am sorry. But I will return to you soon--as soon as I am able.”

Luna took a few steps towards the light, approaching close enough that she could feel its magical power drawing her in, like a tether being yanked, a pull that was irresistible. But then the girl’s quiet little voice cut through the hum and buzz of the portal: “Could I … could I come with you?”

Luna froze.

The answer was no, of course. It was dangerous enough that she’d kept the portal open as long and as frequently as she had. To bring an extraterrestrial through with her … it was unthinkable. It was unthinkable and completely out of the question. Although she did not blame the child in the least for asking, the princess knew that she could not grant the young one’s request.

The answer was no. The answer had to be no.

But Luna did not say no. Instead, she merely glanced over her shoulder to where the girl still stood, as still and as serious as ever, and she gave her alien friend a small, fond smile. Then, finally, she stepped through the portal, alone.

While wearing a tiny frown, Luna glanced around the huge and elaborately decorated ballroom with uneasy gaze. Everything was loud and garish and entirely too bright. Nor was it only her eyes which were assaulted, but also her ears--the string quartet’s lovely music was all but completely drowned out by the mindless babbling of the gathered ball guests, all the countless noblemares and gentlestallions, each dressed to the nines.

It was awful. All of it. Everything.

But then, the Grand Galloping Gala was always awful.

She had tried, of course. She always tried. She had listened to the Duchess of Hoofington ramble at great length, about the duchess’ tulips and petunias, her paintings and her poetry. But as Luna’s legs began to go numb from the strain of keeping her knees locked in place, and as her throat ached with a terrible and unrelenting dryness, she had found her patience wearing very thin indeed. It was perhaps that numbness and that ache that had caused her lips to draw back from her teeth, that caused her ears to flatten--and that led the duchess to take a step back, her eyes wide and scared.

At that point, Luna had quietly excused herself and retreated to a relatively deserted corner of the room. She hid among the oversized floral arrangements and picked idly at the sumptuous desserts that lined the refreshments tables.

At least Celestia appeared to be having a good time. Of course, these sorts of formal affairs were right up her alley. Celestia never shone brighter or came more alive than when she was surrounded by a crowd, being loved, being adored. Even from a distance, as Luna hid away in her corner, the younger princess could hear her sister’s ringing laugh all the way across the room.

She closed her eyes. It was a good thing, she reminded herself, that Celestia was so adept at mixing and mingling at these parties. It saved Luna from having to stand in front of the aristocracy herself, awkward and ill at ease, all while attempting to engage in the social intricacies necessary to maintain all those strange relationships that somehow proved important to keeping the kingdom running.

It was a good thing that Celestia could do it so easily, as Luna was so hopeless at it all. Luna should have been grateful. Was grateful, really.

There was no reason for her not to be grateful.

A gentle cough caused the princess’ eyes to fly open, and Luna found herself suddenly looking into a very familiar pair of warm, magenta eyes. “Sister!”

“Good evening, Luna!” The other alicorn smiled. “I couldn’t help but notice that you have not been having a good time.”

Luna’s frown deepened. “That is not--”

“Come,” Celestia interrupted, gently steering Luna towards the nearby doorway. “Let us go for a short walk, shall we? I could use some fresh air and quiet.”

The two princesses gave polite nods to the guards as they stepped out in the cool calm of the palace gardens. For a few minutes, they simply walked, side by side, neither speaking. Luna concentrated on breathing, slowly in through her nose and then slowly out through her mouth, while trying not to wonder when Celestia would finally break the silence.

It was only once they’d reached the very center of the garden, with its menagerie of stone statues, that Celestia quietly offered, “I know, Luna.” There followed a soft little sigh, just a whisper on the breeze. “I know about the portal.”

The younger alicorn said nothing. She kept her eyes forward, staring out at the statues.

“Luna, I know … and I worry. I worry about what effects such a portal will have on both of our worlds, what consequences it will have for Equestria, whether it will mean an invasion.”

Luna swallowed. “It will do no such thing. I have been careful. I would not endanger our subjects--you know I would not.”

There was a short pause before Celestia continued. “But mostly? Mostly I worry for you. I worry that you are so unhappy that you felt that you must run away to an entirely different realm of existence.”

“I did not run!” Her head whipped around, and Luna glared at her sister. Almost involuntarily her lips drew back and left her teeth bared. “I am no coward!”

Celestia shut her eyes but made no reply.

Moonlight filtered down to them from behind a blanket of clouds, casting long shadows across the white-coated alicorn’s face. The shadows made Celestia look older. More tired, almost sickly. But then, shadows never had suited Celestia.

“I am leaving,” Luna announced, her voice shaking the tiniest bit. “Please give my apologies to the Gala attendees. Tell them … tell them that I regret being unable to stay.”

She was not lying.

At that, her sister opened her eyes. Even under the shadows, those eyes blazed like two tiny suns. “If you must leave, then you must. I will not try to stop you.” She took a step forward and gently nuzzled Luna’s neck, her breath hot and moist in contrast to the cool night air. “But promise me that you will be careful.”

Luna hesitated, just a moment, just for a split second, before she returned Celestia’s gesture with a brief nuzzle of her own. “I will be careful, sister. I give my word.”

She was not lying.

The first thing she noticed was the smell of freshly spilled blood.

As soon as she stepped through the portal, Luna could smell the blood, could smell the overpowering odor of death and dying. The bodies of countless ape-creatures littered the ground like so much stinking refuse, and Luna felt her heart leap into her throat.

The girl.

“Ape-child!” she shouted, her voice booming in the otherwise quiet fields. “Ape-child, speak if you can hear!”

She was answered with only silence.

Quickly she ran through the maze of fallen bodies, her eyes darting back and forth, scanning, searching, desperate to locate a pair of dark eyes set in a tiny, pale face. She paused at every smaller body she could find, eyes narrowed, intent--but none of the beings, living or dead, had those dark eyes that burned with a curiosity insatiable. As Luna’s panic reached fever-pitch, she reared back and let out a loud whinny of frustration.

And she received in reply the reward of a soft voice, nearly lost to the wind as it called out to her: “Magic horse?”

The alicorn’s ears gave a twitch. One single twitch. Then, Luna was galloping across the grassy expanse towards where she’d heard the voice, galloping so hard and so fast that her lungs felt as though they just might explode, until finally she came upon--



Luna came to a sudden halt, and she almost vomited, right then and there.

“I waited for you,” explained the girl in a proud tone, a wan smile upon her lips. “They came with torches and swords, and there were so many of them … but I … I waited …”

Blood. So much blood.

“I will fix this, child.” Luna licked her lips, which suddenly felt dry and chapped. “I will fix you. Do not be afraid.”

Leaning down, she touched her horn to the girl’s broken body and began chanting under her breath. She felt something small and soft touch her face, stroking, ever so gently, but she ignored it as unimportant. Irrelevant, merely a distraction. She focused all of her strength, all of her magic, all of her being, into her horn and released her power in one mighty burst.

The sky flashed a blinding blue, as bright as day for the briefest of moments, but when the darkness returned, Luna saw that nothing had changed. The girl still lay there, smiling her horrible little smile, her face covered in still-wet blood, her belly as open and raw as though she were a fish gutted by a griffon.

It had been Luna’s best spell. Her most powerful magic. And it wasn’t enough. She … wasn’t enough.

“Unacceptable,” the princess snarled, under her breath. “Unacceptable.”

And then her eyes narrowed, with sudden determination and grim clarity, as she realized what had to be done.

“Luna? What is the meaning of this?”

Celestia was out of her bed the instant that Luna had burst through the doors of the Royal Sun Princess’ chambers, and the white alicorn’s eyes widened in fear and her nostrils flared. Luna strode across the room, a dark form held in front of her through her telekinesis and surrounded by a cold blue glow. Celestia stood motionless as Luna approached.

“She is dying,” the younger alicorn said, her words clipped. As carefully as possible, she lowered her precious cargo to the floor of her sister’s bed chamber. “You must heal her.”

Wordlessly Celestia glanced down to the child’s slender form. She lowered her head and gave the girl a cautious sniff. The girl’s chest rose and fell almost imperceptibly with shallow, weak breaths.

Celestia frowned. “I have never seen a creature such as this. I am not sure that I can--”

“Do it, Celestia!” Luna’s voice exploded through the near total darkness in which Celestia’s room was shrouded. “Do not tell me why you cannot! Just … just fix her!”

Taking a step back, Celestia gazed at her sister with penetrating eyes in silence for several long moments. Then, setting her jaw, she replied, “I cannot promise anything, sister, except that I will try.”

Luna gave a terse nod. She kept close watch as Celestia’s horn lit up with regal magic, with a brilliant gold light that glowed almost white, and Luna clenched her jaw shut tightly so that she would not make the slightest sound. A surge of anger, as strong as a riptide, tore through her as she recognized the first few spells that her sister cast--the same spells that Luna herself had already tried, with absolutely no success. Though she kept utterly silent, she wanted to scream out that she was not stupid, that she had already attempted all of this, that there was no time to waste on these trifles …

But then something changed. The magical aura that enveloped the child intensified, so bright and so powerful that Luna had to avert her gaze.

It was only after the younger alicorn heard a soft grunt that she turned her head back towards the girl--and gasped.

“Luna … “ Celestia paused and gulped down a lungful of air, before continuing in a voice that trembled with strain and exhaustion, “I do not know … do not know if it worked … ”

Kneeling, Luna tenderly nosed the belly of the girl. Of the filly, rather, as instead of the ape-child, there on the floor of the royal bed chambers laid a tiny purple unicorn, crackles of golden magic still surrounding her. But the smell of blood was gone, and Luna found the child’s torso to be smooth and whole and completely intact.

A small, shuddery sigh escaped the Princess of the Night.

Slowly the filly’s eyes fluttered open, and those eyes now shone a deep violet through the dark, unnervingly familiar and yet so very different and so very strange. The little unicorn frowned. “Where ... where am I? Who are you?”

Luna froze.

For a moment, she believed that her very heart stopped beating, that her lungs stopped drawing air. Everything and anything in the entire universe cracked open and fell away, crumbled into nothingness, as she found herself staring into a pair of confused and terribly frightened purple eyes. Softly, achingly, Luna whispered, “You do not remember me, child?”

“No.” The filly tried to push herself up but promptly fell back to the ground. She looked up at the larger pony and blinked. “Have we met?”

“You … do not remember me.” Luna swallowed thickly, and her own saliva tasted sickly sweet in her mouth. “You … do not … “

This was a nightmare. All of it. This entire night, this entire world, this entire existence. All of it was nothing more and nothing less than a nightmare, a nightmare that had risen up like a ghoul from the grave. A nightmare that was dark and true.

She wondered if things had always been such and she just hadn’t realized. She didn’t know. Couldn’t know.


Shaking her head, Luna began backing away from both the foal and from the other alicorn. “No. No! This cannot be!”

A long, low growl escaped her throat. Her eyes darted around the room with all the speed and desperation of a bird attempting to escape a cage, frantic to find anything that could hold her attention, that could serve as an anchor. What her eyes found was the small, round mirror on the far wall.

Luna’s breath caught in her throat.

In the mirror she could see that her eyes were blazing through the dark, nearly glowing, and that her teeth were bared in a snarl. Her nostrils flared widely with every lungful of air she she took in, flared in frustration and in anger. It was little wonder that she’d terrified the poor child. Little wonder at all.

“A nightmare,” she whispered.

“Luna? Please. Speak to me, sister.”

The bolt of dark blue magic came quickly, like a flash of lightning from the heavens, and it ricocheted off the mirror’s smooth, perfect pane--and then hit the girl, dead on and straight in the chest. A split second later that blue bolt of magic was met just as quickly by its golden-hued counterpart. The filly’s body jolted and jerked, as the two magics warred within her. All too soon, it was too much for the little being to withstand, and the combined magic poured out of her eyes in a flood of pure, white light. After seconds that felt like hours, Luna was able to wrestle her magic back under her control and cut off the stream.

The unicorn lay slumped on the floor, completely motionless.

In an instant Celestia was by the girl’s side, her stance edgy and tense. Even as she bent her head to check on the filly, carefully sniffing the child’s body, she kept her eyes locked on the other princess.

Meanwhile, Luna stood perfectly still while her mind went perfectly blank. Only after several long moments and with great struggle was she able to formulate one single, simple question: “Is she dead?”

“No,” replied Celestia, very softly. “She is … merely asleep.”

“A magical sleep.” Luna paused, in order to give Celestia a chance to deny this, but Celestia merely kept staring. “A magical sleep, then. For how long will she sleep?”

“I do not know. Your magic is very strong, sister, and it--”

“But not as strong as the mighty Celestia’s. Is it?”

“Your magic is very strong. The young one may sleep for months. For a year.” The older alicorn’s voice wavered, just a tiny bit, as she added, “Perhaps many years. Perhaps centuries.”

Months. Years. Centuries.


Good. It was better this way. It was better for the child to sleep painlessly, perchance to dream of happier things and happier times. Better for the child to be able to simply drift away on clouds of ether and moonshine. Better to be spared the nightmares of the waking world.

And it was better for Luna, too. It was better to make a clean break, better to leave behind all that once was. Better to forget one’s false dreams and to embrace the reality. There was no point in fighting it, after all. No point in fighting against all that was and all that could never be changed. No point in fighting against what you were.

“Perhaps even a millennium, Celestia?” asked Luna, laughing suddenly, a hollow, booming laugh that strangled her.

“Perhaps.” Celestia’s voice was so quiet that it was nearly inaudible. “Perhaps as long as a millennium.”

With a flick of her dimly glowing mane, the darker alicorn turned on her heel and began walking away. “Then it is done, and she is dead.”

“No, Luna! No, she is not dead!”

“It is done. And she is dead.” Then, as she reached the door to the Sun Princess’ chambers, she threw a poisonous look over her shoulder. “And I am not Luna, my dear, dear sister. Not any longer.”

Celestia’s eyes, wide and sad, reached out to her through the dark. “If you are not Luna, then … then what are you?”

Luna smiled, a small, sad smile. “I am Nightmare.”

Author’s Notes: This story was written in response to a story request from Chatoyance, who won a “name the OC” contest I held a million years ago. Chatoyance’s request was: “I would like to see a relationship story involving a native Equestrian and either a human or newfoal, or a soon to be converted human, that deals with the concept of how love is kept when things change.” This story is … a bit of a departure from the standard Conversion Bureau story, I realize, but hopefully it’s an enjoyable read regardless.

Also, I must give due thanks to my good friend Professor Piggy. It was through various conversations with him that I got the idea that Luna’s descent into Nightmare Moon might have been triggered, at least in part, from losing a loved one, and Professor P. very graciously allowed me to incorporate this idea into the story.

Revisions: 6/29.

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