“Is everyone here?”
No one heard the dark blue alicorn trying to call over the din in the room. Ponies and dragons and a few other creatures milled around, talking about this and that. The meeting was not off to a great start.
The alicorn had to use what her former self called the Royal Canterlot Voice. “QUIET! EVERPONY TAKE YOUR SEATS! YOUR QUEEN OF THE NIGHT COMMANDS YOU!”
And just as commanded, everypony sat. The dragons had a hard time fitting onto the provided stools, but they managed.
The alicorn smiled. “Welcome to Villains United. A support group for those of us who have faced those foalish Elements of Harmony. And, unfortunately, those of us who have lost to them.”
“I actually lost to that little princess,” a changeling pointed out.
“QUIET!” the alicorn commanded. “Now, as I was the first one to face these Elements, I will be the first to speak.”
“What did they do to you that was so horrible you need to go first?” the same changeling asked. “They stopped my subjects and me from feeding!”
“They made me leave my home!”
“They destroyed Trixie’s home!”
“They turned me to stone!”
“I no longer truly exist because of the Elements!” the alicorn cried. “What you see here before you is but a shadow of a great being, the former queen of the night. My counterpart has been reduced to a princess, hidden behind that Celestia, whose sun’s brightness outshines her beautiful night. I can only watch as she accepts her pitiful fate, and you believe my pain is not great enough?”
The room fell into stunned silence. Finally, one of the ponies spoke up. “Uh, you can go first.”
The alicorn smiled. “Of course I will.”
NIGHTMARE MOON’S STORY
I had waited on that moon for one thousand years. It wasn’t as much a punishment as Celestia thought it would be. After all, I am the queen of the night, and the moon. All she did was send me to my domain.
But it did hurt me to spend so long without being the one to control my beloved night. Celestia took my duties away from me in my banishment. The ponies never knew, yet I knew, that many times she was late in raising the moon. Of course the ponies wouldn’t love the night if she never treated it with care.
So I spent those thousand years plotting my escape. I found I had limited power over the stars, and I could move them just a bit each night. By the time the millennium had passed, I had aligned the stars in a path straight to Equestria. I found Celestia and captured her. It was easier than I expected—she had become weak in my time away, too confident in her power.
Of course, I didn’t hurt her. I still considered her my sister. I merely brought the night so heavily on her that she fell into a deep sleep. I planned for her to never wake up.
And then, I made my grand appearance to the ponies who had been waiting for Celestia’s arrival. I was pleased to see them, of course. They were my subjects, and I still loved them. I knew they would enjoy my beautiful night.
They screamed in fright at my presence! They did not even remember me! One of the ponies, who later became one of the elements, tried to guess my name, which should have been taught to every filly and colt in their schools. As an added insult, the name she chose was-ugh-‘Black Snooty’.
I grew angry. I spoke with malice. I did not threaten them, yet still they feared me. I thought I had no way of reclaiming their love—until the unicorn named Twilight Sparkle called me by my name. Not the pathetic name my parents had given me, but Nightmare Moon, my true chosen name. Finally, a pony who remembered and respected me.
Yet even she showed fear. And when I told my ponies of my glorious plan to have eternal night, they cried in terror. They could not understand what a gift I was giving them. But as I saw the fear on their faces, I realized that this fear was just as good as respect.
They did not fear me for long. I only had a moment to revel in their terror before their mayor cried for somepony to seize me. Despite my power, I was still only one pony, and they were many. I fled to the forest, where Celestia was locked in her eternal slumber in our old castle.
I find it curious that the Everfree Forest was able to care for itself after Celestia left that castle. She had never wanted to live in a forest where ponies couldn’t find and adore her. With nopony around and me gone, she abandoned the forest. I had worried that it would wither and die without my caring hoof, yet it stayed alive on its own. Perhaps I had put more of myself into it than I thought.
Yet that is beside the point. As I sat with my sister, I felt the presence of ponies entering the forest. I cannot say how I felt their presence, but I must admit I did not question it. I left Celestia’s side to find these foals who dared search for their princess and shunned their queen.
Back then, I was far more powerful than even the average alicorn. I could dissolve my form into the mist of the forest and travel where I pleased. I found the six ponies near the entrance to the forest. Luckily for me, they were already standing on the edge of a cliff. I just needed to give the ground a good crack and the ponies would be unable to spoil my night.
I almost succeeded. Yet a combination of the pegasi carrying their friends and sheer luck saved their lives. I would have to try harder. I flew down the path I knew the ponies would follow, seeking a way to stop them. A manticore was asleep in a small clearing. Perfect. I tore a thorn from a nearby bush and forced it into his paw. The creature howled in pain, but what did I care if a beast was hurt? All that mattered was that he stopped the ponies.
As I headed back to the castle, I noticed a few more opportunities to stop the foals. I carved some trees into terrifying faces, hoping to scare them away. I wasn’t trying to kill them, after all, only stop them from attacking me. I also upset a river serpent.
“Ooh! That was me!”
Nightmare Moon sighed in exasperation. Her eyes glowed as she glared at the sea serpent. “What are you doing here? You are not a true villain. You were only a pawn.”
“I’ve faced the elements too, haven’t I?” the serpent with the perfect coiffure asked. “I should get a chance to speak!”
The alicorn rolled her eyes. “Very well. Speak. Make it quick.”
STEVEN MAGNET’S STORY
Well! There I was, relaxing in the river, when suddenly this terribly tacky purple—I know now it was you, miss Nightmare Moon, but you do clash with my scales—this tacky purple cloud flew by and just sliced off half my moustache!
I had spent months growing out my fabulous moustache! Do you know how hard it is for a serpent to grow facial hair? And then woosh! Clean off! If you wanted to upset me, Nightmare Moon, you certainly did!
I cried for hours! Every time I thought I might be all right, I saw my reflection in the river and saw just how horrid I looked!
But then! I heard singing from deep within the forest. And suddenly, a group of ponies came over to my river!
I told them what was wrong, and, well, most of them didn’t care. But there was one generous soul among the group! That white unicorn with the beautiful mane cut off her gorgeous tail just to replace my fabulous moustache!
Oh, she’s the element of generosity? Well, of course! It makes sense!
Anyway, I was so grateful to her and her friends that I helped them cross the river!
The alicorn gave Steven a withering glance. “Are you done?”
The river serpent nodded.
“You know, you kind of helped them,” a pony pointed out.
Steven shrugged and nodded. “I faced them, though!”
“You said you were finished speaking,” Nightmare Moon reminded him. “And I still have more to tell. Spend no more time defending yourself. Just…be quiet.”
Steven folded his arms across his chest and curled his tail around his body, but he did shut up.
NIGHTMARE MOON’S STORY (continued)
After the ponies had passed him, I realized I needed to take a more direct approach to stop them. I peered into their minds and learned the rainbow one would do anything to be part of Celestia’s Wonderbolts.
Of course, the Wonderbolts would not longer exist when the ponies accepted me as their queen. I had once had my own team of flyers, named the Shadowbolts. The Wonderbolts had been called the Wonderdreams back then, but Celestia chose to combine the teams after banishing me. I planned to reform the Shadowbolts, but these brave pegasi would need a captain.
I took the form of some of my greatest former flyers, Swift Wing and Dark Hoof. The foal didn’t seem to notice that Dark Hoof was there twice. I used their voices to flatter the pegasus and tell her she was indeed the best flyer in Equestria. She was not modest in agreeing. I said she could join this great team, if only she abandoned her friends.
She led me to believe that she had chosen my wonderful flyers. And then she saved her foalish friends. The betrayal did sting, but what else could I expect from ponies who had never known me?
There was nothing left to stop them. I returned to the castle to watch over Celestia. Yet when the ponies arrived, they were not talking about my sister. They spoke of the Elements of Harmony--the only things with the power to stop my reign.
I stayed hidden in the shadows of the castle while they found the old Elements. The spark of magic had disappeared from the stone orbs when Celestia had stopped using them. They sat dull and lifeless on their altar. I had no fear of these little ponies being able to wield their power.
The ponies left the unicorn who had recognized me alone with the Elements. She managed to start to bring the magic back to the orbs, but I chose this moment to make my presence known. A little magic spark of my own cause the orbs to shatter. The Elements were no more.
I thought then that nothing could stop me, and perhaps I became too proud in my victory. The unicorn charged towards me, and I stopped her with another little show of magic. I should have simply destroyed her then, but I no longer considered her a threat.
Her friends returned, and the unicorn gave a speech about how they were the true Elements. I did not believe them. I should have. What little magic the unicorn had done to the Elements had transferred the spirits from the orbs to the ponies themselves. They were more of a threat than I could imagine.
The ponies used their newfound power on me, and I could do nothing to save myself. I was forcefully ripped from Luna, who was left as a sniveling shell of the princess she was before me. I became this shadow that you see today. To the ponies, I no longer mattered.
And now, Luna is strong enough to resist my return. I have nowhere to go. No one remembers that I exist.
“That is such a sad story!” Steven Magnet cried when Nightmare Moon had finished talking.
The alicorn simply sighed again. “Please, don’t come back next week.”