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Inspired by the song The Moon Rises
It was as peaceful an autumn day as any in the city of Canterlot, a light mist hung over the sculpted marble towers as ponies went about their business.
There was, however, one pony who slept through her sister's glorious day.
Princess Luna twisted violently in her sleep, her satin blankets tangled around her, her eyes darting under their dark blue lids.
"No, please," she begged to the spectral form of her sister looming over her, wearing a malevolent grin, teeth bared.
"No, please!" said Celestia in a horrible, mocking voice. "What have you become Luna? Do have any idea how pathetic you sound? I'm ashamed to call you my sister."
The cruel words struck Luna like icy blades.
"Why are you doing this? What have I done to deserve this?"
There was a pause where Celestia just looked at her with merciless eyes.
"Everything, Luna," she said coldly, "You've no idea how long I've wanted to do this."
The white alicorn's horn began glowing.
"What are you doing?" Luna asked, panic flooding her voice.
A jet of golden light shot from Celestia's horn, hitting Luna squarely in the chest. Celestia was laughing maniacally.
"NOOOOO!" she screamed, sitting bolt upright as she awakened, cold sweat covering her body.
"Just another dream, or nightmare rather," she said weakly, her hoof trembling as she reached for a cloth to clean the sweat off. "They're getting worse, perhaps I should see 'Tia... if she's not too busy, that is," she added grudgingly.
She got up slowly, feeling slightly wobbly on her hooves. She was sleep deprived, she knew it; she had been suffering these nightmares for weeks, and they were steadily getting worse and worse every day. It did nothing to improve her mood. She was often short when talking to ponies.
The ones who actually bother talking to me anyway, she thought bitterly.
She made her way hastily down to the Great Hall of Canterlot Castle. It was a long hallway, with a checked dark blue and white marbled floor, with a long roll of red velvet carpet running from the golden throne down to the large oak doors at the other end. Luna entered from a side door and looked around, her hooves clacking loudly on the floor, the sounds bouncing off the walls noisily. The throne was unoccupied.
She should be here.
She looked around again. There were a few important looking ponies conversing in small groups around the hall. She walked up to some of them.
"Excuse me, but could you please tell me where Princess Celestia is?"
They didn't turn round, or even appear to hear her.
"WHERE IS MY SISTER?!" she yelled, dissolving into the Royal Canterlot Voice in her frustration.
They spun around, looking frightened.
"Well?" she demanded.
"Sh-she's in the um, the Court Rooms, she's presiding over a t-trial today," said a stallion, slowly backing away the entire time.
"Thank you," she said.
As she walked away, she noticed that everypony in the hall was watching her fearfully after her outburst.
I only wanted an answer, she thought. They ignored their Princess! I wasn't exactly asking much. It's like I am invisible to them... Still, what did I expect? They always treat me like that.
She walked slowly and gloomily to the Court Rooms, the slightly hazy sunlight streamed through the stained glass windows, dappling her body in numerous colours as she plodded along.
She reached the grand, intricately detailed doors to the primary court room of Canterlot.
The double doors were carved with a large engraving of a balanced pair of scales, with Celestia's and her own moon cutie mark emblazoned on the left and right of the door respectively.
Typical for Celestia's to be first...
She opened the doors and took one step into the room. One step too many as she discovered.
"Get out!" shouted a voice who she assumed might be the prosecutor, she couldn't tell.
"How-how dare you speak to me like that!" Luna yelled, shocked.
"I'm sorry Your Highness," said a guard by the door, "but you cannot interrupt the proceedings."
She looked up desperately to her sister, sitting high up in the centre of the court room- she needed to talk to her now.
Celestia simply shook her head.
Luna snorted angrily and let herself be escorted out by her own guards.
Just wonderful! In less than ten minutes, I have made a fool of myself twice, in front of about a hundred ponies...
It's hardly my fault, they shouldn't be so rude; they wouldn't dare speak to 'Tia like that. No, not my perfect sister.
She struck her hoof on the ground a few times in her frustration.
The doors opened. A guard stuck his head out.
"Your Highness, could you be quiet? You're causing quite a racket."
"Oh shut up!" she snarled.
The guard slipped behind the doors without another word.
About an hour later, the court had been dismissed and ponies began filing out. Most looked at Luna like she was some kind of wild animal that would attack them without any warning. She gritted her teeth and closed her eyes, pretending they weren't there.
Last of all was the one pony who Luna actually wanted to see. The white alicorn approached Luna quietly, who still had her eyes shut. She nuzzled Luna gently, and she flinched at the unexpected contact.
"Oh 'Tia, you startled me."
"So did you, when you burst into court," said the Sun Princess, with a faint grin, as they started back towards the Great Hall.
"I hardly 'burst in.'"
"True, but it was still rather silly."
"We just wanted to see you so much."
"Oh?" said Celestia curiously, coming to a halt.
"Yes, it's my nightmares again," she said miserably, "they're getting worse 'Tia, I don't know how much more of this I can take! I barely get any sleep, and the sleep I do get is plagued with terror, everypony seems to fear me, and I don't know why. I'm sick of it!" She fell onto her haunches and held back a sob.
"Oh Luna, come here."
She helped her onto her feet and brought her into a hug.
"I am so sorry Luna, but I can't think of anything I can do, except that you try and get some more sleep. I wasn't going to mention it, but you do look terrible, you need rest little sister."
They continued walking.
"If it helps, I can extend Day Court by two hours so you can get more rest before you start Night Court?"
Luna looked gratefully into Celestia's eyes.
"Good," said Celestia, opening a side door to the Great Hall. There was a very long queue that had formed in Celestia's absence. "Oh my, I might actually need those two hours to tend to all these ponies' issues."
Luna merely nodded.
"See you two hours after sunset then sister," she said flatly.
"Oh Luna..." said Celestia to herself as she watched Luna leave.
Luna entered the Great Hall two hours after sunset, after she had eaten her breakfast, to begin Night Court. Celestia finished conversing with a yellow stallion and stood up for Luna to take her place as the Princess of the Night.
"Goodnight Luna," said the white alicorn, yawning.
Once her sister left, Luna looked down to the few ponies that had been waiting in line.
"Greetings," she said to a grey mare who was at the front of the queue, "how may we help you?"
"Um, c-can I speak to Princess Celestia?" she asked timidly.
"Princess Celestia needs her rest," said Luna wearily.
"If I am not good enough for you, then you should leave now," she snapped.
The pony looked at Luna for a second, then turned tail and left the Princess feeling angry and hurt.
"Well? What about the rest of you?"
They started backing away.
"Fine! I see that I'm clearly too inferior to answer your questions, but what do I care?"
Soon enough, the Great Hall was empty except for her. Silence descended.
"What a familiar sight," she said bitterly to the empty hall.
The Princess of the Night arose from the throne and walked down the carpet to the outdoors.
If I make the night as beautiful as I can, then maybe they will like me!
With hope in her heart, she closed her eyes and hauled the Moon up from beneath the edges of the world. The silver orb hung low in the sky, it's cold light softly lighting up the ground. Luna pointed her horn straight up and it blazed blue. The stars above flickered as one for a moment as she worked her magic; the stars immediately seemed to double in brightness, with countless more appearing from the celestial depths, a band of stars stretched across the entirety of the heavens. She took a moment to recover from using such powerful magic. When she felt ready she lit her horn again as she began to weave ribbons of light together to create the aurorae that she happily splashed across the skies.
She looked at her work and was greatly pleased with the result.
Her stars sparkled like jewels studded into the velvet of the sky, the rivers of blue and green light slowly undulating in front of the static cascade of stars that made the band of the galaxy, that combined with the low Moon made it perhaps the most beautiful night Luna had ever made.
What a lovely night it is,
To walk a moonlit field,
To see the softer shades,
That are by starlight now revealed.
Luna looked across the city. She performed a spell that would tell her who was still awake in Canterlot. Her heart fell as it told her there was not a single one. Not one. Nopony cared, all they cared about was her precious sister, treating her like a goddess and metaphorically spitting Luna like she was worthless. She was sick of it: the fear, the accusations, how insulting and uncaring they were, her sister overshadowing and oppressing her, her desperate loneliness, her lack of sleep, the never-ending nightmares...
Something snapped inside of her.
I can't take this injustice any longer!
The ponies of Equestria have locked themselves away,
To shun the Moon and wait instead for sister's sunny day...
"No longer," she hissed.
"I've had it with these fools!" she shouted to the empty hall. "I will show them how beautiful my night is, they will bow down before me like they do to sister, and they will adore me and my night! Dear sister shall not be raising her precious Sun tomorrow!
And all will know the wonder of her dark and jewelled sky,
When all the world is wrapped in an eternal lullaby,
So say goodnight at this,
The final setting of the Sun,
Tomorrow dawns in darkness,
The night-time has begun!
The Moon hung high over Equestria, stationary, the stars wheeling behind it in their slow procession, but the Moon remained fixed.
Luna paced up and down the hall, awaiting the 'dawn.'
"Ouch!" she yelped and fell to the cold floor.
In her mind's eye swam a vision of her sister, looming over her with that humourless grin again. Her nightmares leaking into her waking world.
"So, you're going to try and stop me raising the Sun are you?" the vision asked Luna.
"Yes," she growled.
"I'd like to see you try," it sneered, "you were always so weak compared to me, nopony denies it, not even yourself, for you know it to be true..."
Luna began crying.
"You are so alone aren't you Luna?" it crooned, "And you wonder why? It's because you are pathetic, trying to be like me and failing miserably every time-"
"Oh? You disagree?"
"Mine is not the lesser light, I am just as strong as you are!"
"Please. I knew you were going mad Luna, but I didn't think you were that deluded."
"I'm not mad!"
"Oh no? We'll see about that..."
And with that, the vision of Celestia disappeared, laughing. Luna's head began to throb terribly, as her fears and nightmares overwhelmed her. She screamed in agony and twitched on the floor in her pain. Rational thought became more and more distant, her reasoning- shattered, logic- broken.
She didn't even notice when a side door opened and a very concerned pony hurried over to her.
"Luna! What's wrong?" asked Celestia, her usually steady voice wavering in worry.
She barely had time to duck when Luna fired a jet of dark blue magic right at her.
"You!" she snarled, getting to her hooves.
Celestia gasped. Something terrible had happened to Luna, if it was Luna...
She looked markedly different, her blue coat was now jet black, and her eyes...
What has happened to her eyes?
Celestia looked into them, and the pale blue, slitted eyes stared back, seething with anger and hatred.
"Luna, what are you doing? What are you?" she asked fearfully.
Luna saw the fear in her sister's eyes and her mouth curled into a smile.
"Come, I shall show you."
She walked outside. Celestia followed warily.
"You see the Moon?"
"Yes," said Celestia, unsure where this was going.
"That Moon is not going to move again, and your Sun," she spat at Celestia's hooves, "will never rise again."
It all became clear to Celestia right then.
"So it is treason," she said in a low voice.
"You would call it that, I call it liberation."
"Luna, I am going to give you one chance and one chance only," Celestia said in a deadly serious voice, "either you stop this now and see reason, or I am going to have to use force."
"Oh?" said Luna, moving forward until her face was an inch from Celestia's. "I'm terrified. What are you going to do? You've never been in a fight in your life! I'll crush you, and everypony will finally know the true glory of the night, forever!"
Celestia snarled and they locked horns with a clatter, each attempting to gain the upper ground. Sparks flew as they both tried to use their magic, the fact that their horns were in contact amplified the magic a hundred fold. Celestia couldn't hold out any longer and jerked her head back. There was an explosion as the magic was unleashed, hurling both alicorns over the edges of the city. They hung in the air, looking at the aftermath of the blast. The doors to the Great Hall were blown off their hinges, and a sizeable chunk of the wall had been destroyed. While Celestia was observing the damage with a grimace, Luna took the opportunity to strike Celestia with her magic.
The white alicorn gasped as she felt a burning sensation on her right foreleg. Attention snapping back to Luna, she swooped through the air, narrowly dodging another attack, before spinning around and sending her own jet of golden light, hitting her in the chest.
They continued their aerial fight, occasionally hitting Canterlot with a stray beam of magic.
"Luna!" panted Celestia, her body covered in scorch marks and bruises, her reserves of magic beginning to run out. "Please stop this madness!"
"Oh, I'm just getting started! Why Celestia? Getting worn out?"
She directed a full on stream of magic in her sister's direction and Celestia was forced to respond in kind. The two beams met in midair, a bright epicentre of white light, crackling with a sound like thunder as they battled for supremacy. Sweat poured down Celestia's face as she concentrated on maintaining her attack, but it was a battle she was losing as the bead of light crept towards her. She tried desperately to hold on, but to no avail: it made contact with her horn and the alicorn felt a terrible burning sensation rage through her mind. She shut her eyes tight, refusing to scream and give Luna the satisfaction. Eventually, the searing pain let up and she opened her eyes, head throbbing.
Magic is no more use for me, I'm going to have to get physical.
She darted towards Luna, and before the dark alicorn knew what hit her, one of Celestia's hooves connected with her chest, winding her.
"Going to play dirty are we?" gasped Luna. "So be it."
She lunged at Celestia and the two grappled in the air. There were soon hoof-prints over both of them, and Luna was bleeding from where Celestia had bitten her. They had drifted away from the city over towards the waterfalls adjacent to it.
The white alicorn dove in for another assault, but Luna was prepared. She slipped out of the way at the last second; Celestia's left fore-hoof struck her on the face, but that was of little consequence for the deranged mare as she closed in for the kill on Celestia's left wing. Her mouth clamped down hard, and she twisted her head violently until she heard a resounding crack.
Celestia screamed as her wing broke, no longer able to fly, she plummeted to the ground below. She looked up, terror in her eyes as her sister, who was laughing maniacally, began flying back to Canterlot. The alicorn looked down to see the ground rushing up to meet her; she braced herself as tree branches whipped her face. She hit the rocky ground with a sickening crunch.
She tasted blood, but that was the least of her worries, she had landed heavily on her side and several of her ribs had broken along with her wing, causing her breaths to be shallow and ragged. She spat the blood out and yelled in pain as she forced herself to her hooves.
"I can't give up!" she whispered, "I have to stop her."
She looked around her. She was surrounded by many small waterfalls, all happily splashing away under the trees. She knew the direction of Canterlot and started her agonising journey to the city. Soon she came across a small pool. She tried to cross, but her hooves slipped on the wet rocks and she plunged face first into the icy water. She expected pain, but the water felt oddly soothing to her injuries. She allowed herself a few minutes respite. As she floated, something caught her eye, glinting in the moonlight. She looked down to see that at the bottom of the pool were six sparling gemstones. Celestia felt drawn to them and could sense an ancient magic emanating from them. She took a deep, painful breath and dove down, picking up the gemstones.
She set them at the water's edge and inspected them; she didn't know what they were, but whatever magic they contained was the only hope she had left. She levitated them with the tiny reserve of magic she still had and continued her slow ascent to Canterlot.
Luna was in her chambers, laughing like a madmare at her triumph.
She looked outside: there was widespread panic over Canterlot, most of the city had been awoken by the aerial battle. Nopony knew what was going on, except that it should have been daylight over four hours ago. Luna seemed oblivious to the chaos beneath her, and assumed that everypony was in awe of her spectacular night. She pranced around her room, revelling in her victory.
"With Celestia dead, I am unchallenged in my rule of Equestria!"
"No, you're not," said a deadly quiet voice from the doorway.
Celestia limped slowly into the room. Her and Luna began a slow and cautious pirouette around the room.
"So, you're alive..." she said looking at the alicorn's battered form, a wing hanging limply at her side, her body badly bruised and stained with blood. "Just about." She looked at the gems that were floating next to Celestia. "What are those? Shiny rocks won't stop me!"
Celestia remained silent, thinking about the grim plan she was about to put into effect. She glared at the alicorn in front of her, hating that she had to resort to this.
"What are you going to do? Stare me to death?"
She closed her eyes and began laughing. Quick as lightning, Celestia took her chance, channelling all her strength into an almighty kick that struck home on Luna's head; the alicorn fell, a feral snarl escaping from her lips as she stared up at Celestia, who had the upper ground.
"I hate you," she hissed to the battered form of her sister looming over her, her face, pained with grief and, was that fear?
"You hate me?" said Celestia in such a calm voice, Luna flinched. "What have you become Luna? When did my beautiful little sister become such a monster? I'm... ashamed to call you my sister."
Tears sparkled in Celestia's eyes.
"Why are you doing this? What have I done to deserve this?"
For a second, it seemed there was a glimpse of the Luna she knew behind the slitted pupils, though in an instant it had gone, to be replaced by the madness that had consumed her.
There was a pause where Celestia just looked at her with expressionless eyes.
"Everything, Luna," she said coldly. "I don't want to do this... But I have no choice."
The white alicorn's horn began glowing and the gems shone with a full spectrum of light.
"Goodbye Luna," whispered Celestia, her voice cracking, "I love you..."
A jet of rainbowed light shot from the gems, hitting Luna squarely in the chest. Celestia shut her eyes, detesting herself for what she was doing.
Celestia fell to the floor, shutting her eyes tight, flinging her forelegs over her head, she couldn't bear to watch. One last piercing scream, then, silence. A terrible, deafening silence.
The alicorn raised her trembling hooves. She was alone. She felt boiling tears fall down her face, and she wept. She had just performed the one act she had never wanted to do. She had sent her own sister to the Moon.
No! whatever that was, it wasn't Luna, it was a true nightmare, a nightmare of the night, Nightmare Moon...
She struggled to her hooves, blood dripping steadily to the floor as she limped to her own quarters, taking the gemstones with her.
Sunlight. The feeble heat from the sinking Sun caressed the alicorn’s noble face as she watched it set, the crimson light setting fire to her eyes as she gazed at the orb that she was connected to. A single silver tear trickled down her face as she sat in silence, the weight of her decision crushing her spirit with an unforgiving grip. She had refused to let anypony tend to her wounds, instead suffering them as a reminder of what she had done.
I didn’t have a choice.
I did what I must for my kingdom, for my subjects, to keep the peace, to maintain harmony.
Moonlight. Celestia made her weary way to the other side of the castle as she prepared to raise the Moon for the first time in her life.
She looked at the silver circle as it rose and thought of who she had banished to it.
Oh, sister, what have I done?