With powerful bass emulating from the hall, you would think this was some impulsive, underground rave rather than a celebration dedicated to the everyday rising of the sun. Maybe forty five minutes before, you would have, with a beautifully composed melody filling every sound-empty space in the chamber. But now, the sweet hum of string instruments and soft vocals of nature’s creatures were replaced with adrenaline-triggering synth and echoing beats that practically forced ponies to bang their heads. The pure white lights that once illuminated the space around every instrumental performer was now replaced with a plethora of beaming multicolored strobes. In these flashing lights was an ocean of colts, fillies, mares, and stallions, all dancing and pirouetting to the rhythmic beat that fired out of the surrounding speakers.
While the sea of partygoers rippled and swayed on the dance floor, high above them, seated in the Performer’s Tower, hooves operating a duo of tune-rich records accompanied by an overabundance of buttons and dials, was the renowned DJ Pony herself, Vinyl Scratch. Her red eyes were overshadowed by sleek shades which mirrored the entire hall, narrowed in mix of pleasure and success. With her head rocking back and forth steadily, she orchestrated the powerhouse of techno and electronica that coursed through the party like electric current through a wire. Now while the energy was widespread among all the ponies, it was in the center of the dance floor where all the verve was cultivating.
Sprite, Spitfire, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and a crowd of partygoers had gathered together for a good old fashioned throwdown, and right now, Pinkie was letting her bouncy demeanor conduct her moves, becoming an aerial blur. With every touch to the ground, Pinkie propelled herself higher and higher into the air, spinning like a mint-condition gyro at full speed of operation. After four of these seemingly fluent gyrations, the vigorous mare ended her routine with a stylish triple back-flip, landing on her front hooves in a fresh handstand. She then flew back into the crowd to make room for the next contestant, Dash.
A flurry of kicks off the ground, flips, spins, and impeccable moves came after one mere flap of her wings. The expertise of her execution and the difficulty of her stunts wooed the many onlookers, with the use of her wings slashing the complexity in half. Two other mares became part of her routine as she leapt over both of them, touching her hoof onto the back of the second one so she could make a quick spin. Now facing out towards the DJ’s tower, Dash primed her back legs, crouching against the floor in preparation for her final act. Then, she blasted off towards the tower, appearing keen on crashing into it. The sea of ponies parted to make away for the multicolored Pegasus as she headed for the structure. She came within inches of colliding with the spire, much to the fear of some of the viewers, but Rainbow always knew the perfect moment in which to turn, clearly demonstrated as she bounced up along the tower’s side.
A grin of determination spread across the blue pony’s face as she neared the spire’s roof. With only moments left in crashing into the ceiling, Dash repeated her split second redirection trick, bucking her back hooves off the edge of the tower’s peak. As she freefell back towards the center of the dance floor, a streak of rainbow trailed behind her, gracing all the eyes of the onlookers. Their gaze followed the Pegasus until she made her powerful landing, before she stood up and rolled her front hooves tauntingly.
“Beat that!” She goaded to her competition. Spitfire had begun the competition with her own routine, which now seemed overshadowed and bested by the two. The only one that was left to challenge the dazzling duo and keep them from enjoying the taste of victory…was Sprite. Dash’s grin was mimicked by the lime green Wonder Bolt as he stepped up to the plate.
“You’re good with your wings Dash, but it seems all you and Pie can dish out are fancy acrobatics. I have yet to see what you can do…on your hooves!” That was it…the entire dance floor echoed with potent cheers as a tidal wave of astonishment crashed over them. Sprite’s back hooves were blurred patrons of pure skill at dance, something that Dash and Pinkie lacked and tried to hide with flashy stunts and airtime. Both their routines, unforgettable and seemingly unbeatable before, were now like flecks of dust in the gusts of wind that blew from Sprite’s swift, chic moves. It was like the music was an expert puppeteer, and the jade Wonder Bolt was the act, pulled by strings of faultless melodic synchronicity. From atop the tower, Vinyl Scratch gazed upon the spectacle through her slim shades, and decided to give Sprite a nice, sweet beat to power on too. That final wave of synth and bass flow would seal Dash’s and Pinkie’s fate. The competition and props went to the Wonder Bolt’s most brisk, vigorous member.
A final breakdown and outro to the techno medley would cease all the commotion, with everypony stepping off the dance floor and into their seats. They all immediately faced the balcony in the center of the hall, knowing that it was time for the pivotal moment in the all-night celebration: It was time for Princess Celestia to address her public, and use her magic to raise the splendid sun. The whole chamber clamored with excitement as they awaited their ruler to give her speech. But a shutter of silence cut off the noise as Mayor Mare once again took the stage. She tapped the microphone to catch the attention of those few talkative fillies scattered amongst the group, and then began.
“That was quite an intense party wasn’t it everyone?” A resonance of agreement bellowed through the room. “Believe me I wish it could’ve gone on forever. But now it’s time for a very special surprise. We will be having a direct address from our eloquent ruler before the sun is raised. Fillies and gentleponies, it is my great honor to present to you, Princess Luna and Princess Celestia!” The audience roared with joyful applause as the Mayor removed herself from the stage, allowing the sight of parting red curtains to be seen. From behind the massive veils the two princess sisters were revealed. Luna seemed to be smiling at her sister, which seemed appropriate since she had made sure her name came up first in the announcement. Celestia winked at her sibling before turning her attention to the public. Both sisters raised their hooves and waved to their adoring subjects, which were met with shouts of love and adoration. After a few moments of bathing in the esteem, Celesta’s hoof halted, signaling the audience to quiet down, which they did. She then proceeded.
“Greetings, everyone…it is a pleasure to see all of you here today. It is very honoring to see you all having fun, celebrating, cutting loose.” A light wave of chuckles rose and shrunk as the royal alicorn continued. “It truly is…” She cleared her throat. “Now normally I would be raising the sun at about this hour, but Luna will be keeping the moon up for a while longer so I can give this special presentation.” While Luna’s shy demeanor did knock down a couple notches, she couldn’t help but blush and let her eyes wander away from the crowd. But regardless of her bashful assumptions, the crowd’s craze did not lose one cheerer because of who she was. You could see Luna relished in the love and support the ponies showered upon her. But after a while, Celesta’s hand silenced the crowd once more.
“Now then. I’m sure you all are familiar with the many hardships we have had to endure this past year, the enemies of harmony we have had to face. They did have great power and stood strong against everything we believe in, and yet we always managed to rise up against these beings. And for that, I have to give our personal gratitude and everlasting gratefulness to our Six Patrons of Harmony!” From the ceiling, a beam of light flashed upon the Mane Six as the crowned alicorn acknowledged them one by one. “…Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Fluttershy, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Twilight Sparkle!” Each of them had their own feelings towards being put on spotlight: Pinkie’s trademark grin appeared, followed by a small chuckle, Rainbow simply gave a prideful smirk, as did Rarity, while Applejack, Twilight, and Fluttershy each displayed their own kind of humility. The princess gestured her head towards the space between her and her sister, signaling the six to take their rightful places beside them. Hurrying off their seats they scurried up towards the stage, trying to remain posh and proper. One lined up the Princess proceeded with the rest of her speech.
“Each of these ponies represents the epitome of the powers that keep our world strong and alive, through all our hardships and turmoil: Loyalty, Honesty, Kindness, Generosity, Laughter, and Magic. It is because of our refusal to let these qualities go that we have always overcome whatever enemy seeks to disrupt our way of life, they are and always will be…our strength.” The crowd was riled up with more and more energy as the princess’s address seemed to become an old fashioned pump-up session. But it didn’t matter, Celestia’s words could never be more true, and why try to nitpick the truth? “This address was created not only to honor our heroes and everything that we’ve all faced together, but also to grant Ponyville and every other viewing city in Equestria one last look at what we have used against our foes, before I have them locked away for only their patrons to use.” A stand began to rise up from the space between the two princesses, behind the Mane Six. A lavender veil shrouded whatever lay on these pillars from view, but some silhouettes managed to form from the powerful lighting. This moment was full of awe as everypony sitting in the chamber, everypony watching from home, and everypony from the neighboring cities awaited the veil’s removal.
“Citizens of Ponyville, of Manehattan, of Canterlot…of all of Equestria. I present to you, the Elements…of Harmony!” Luna’s horn shined a bright translucent white, as did the curtains she had directed her magic too. The light-purple cloak unfastened and parted into two.
Levitating over the pillar by their own vim and vigor were the six gold-rimmed gems of unifying energy. The Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Pink, and Purple Elements were all positioned in a pyramid, and with the removal of the obscuring drapery, the whole world became one, thunderous applause. Cheers, whistles and other forms of acknowledgement and celebration echoed all around Equestria, the kind of merriment and pride that didn’t need any accompanying fanfare.
It was glorious.
Celestia leaned down towards Twilight and whispered. “Was that too much?” The purple unicorn smiled and shook her head.
“I think it’s just right amount.”
The Mane Six took a moment gaze upon the ocean of rejoicing ponies, actually seeing for the first time exactly what their deeds meant to these colts, mares, fillies, and stallions. Celestia also took part in their viewing, proud and filled with the soothing warmth of bliss. They only one not giving any celebratory action, was Luna, because something else had caught her eye down in the stage. At the chamber’s far end, right behind the last row of gleeful mares, the window had opened itself from the outside, with no hoof to guide it. At first the princess dismissed it as merely wind, but wind isn’t usually accompanied by a black murky tendril. The inky tentacle-shaped smoke slithered into the party, remaining behind the public to avoid being spotted, and soon enough, all the other windows began to click and unfasten themselves. More smoke filled into the outer corners of the room, and Luna’s worry voiced itself. He practically leaped next to her sister, tapping her side to get her attention.
“Tia, look!?” Luna shot her hoof out towards the mist, now incredibly thick and obscuring, to the point that the row of windows at the back of the hall were now completely shrouded in darkness. The minute Celestia’s eye caught sight of the ethereal smolder; an ominous cackle filled the room.
No pony from Ponyville had the deep, threatening tenor that emulated from this voice; this was not a native being. As the laughter continued the edges of the smoke began to twitch like broken, leafless tree limbs, and fear began to seep into the hearts of the whole crowd. The royal Pegasus guards of the princesses quickly sprang into action, firing themselves towards this potentially harmful entity. At that moment the many tendrils of smoke wrapped around themselves, becoming solid and black like whips, and swiped at the Pegasi like flies. Two of the guards were sent crashing into the wall, while the others were used to thrash the food off the dinner table. They crashed into the solid, wooden furnishings several times, until they were tossed out the windows like trash. By this time the party had fallen into chaos, panicking and scurrying about for an escape. Celestia gritted her teeth at this, taking to the air and changing her voice from the sweet acknowledging tone, to the outdated but always powerful Royal Canterlot roar.
“Who are you who dares to come and spread chaos upon our celebration? I demand that you come out from that shroud and make yourself known!”
It seemed like the sound had went away to its own hiding place, because the entire chamber was silent right after Celesta’s challenge. The smoke had frozen in place, as did the entire mass of ponies, who fearfully yet eagerly awaited a response. And soon enough…that raspy, menacing voice made its return.
“I wouldn’t expect you to easily remember my voice, Celestia, given how long it has been since we went our separate ways.” The tone of voice was aged and purely hateful, yet somehow it had a sprinkle of elation, like it was happy to be noticed and acknowledged. “But hey, how could you forget me? I mean, all the great times we had together, all the adventures we took on together? But then again, if Luna was able to notice me crashing the party so easily, maybe that’s the sign of age finally rearing its head to you.” Another cackle echoed from the mist, but not even the fear of this being could restrain Rainbow Dash’s mouth.
“Who are you to call out the princess like this!? Why don’t you do what she told you and show your face, coward?” Her brave retort was met with chuckles.
“Dashie, Dashie, Dashie. You hotheaded ways are always so amusing to watch. I wish I could’ve seen more of them but I haven’t been back long. But you’re right…I think it’s time for me to make a proper entrance!” The smoke collected into a sort of bubble, with flashes of monochrome lights pulsing from within it. Muffled booms reminiscent of faraway lightning strikes emitted from the inside of this unholy bubble. Then the center began to glow brighter than the rest, a dangerous-sounding surging noise blasting from it. “Here I come!” A beam of black and white energy shot out from the center of the cloud mass, racing towards Princess Celestia like an ignited bullet. There was no way to escape this sort of blast, no time to fly away or side-step to any direction.
The blast made contact…but with Luna.
Out of loyalty and fear for her sister’s life, Luna fired herself in front of the bolt, and it shattered into a wave of misty black lights. She screamed in utter agony before the force of the hit would throw her back to the balcony like a rag doll. There she lay, clutching herself in what seemed like a burning, inner pain, pain she bore for her sister. Gritted teeth, whimpers of pain, and streaking tears were all that came next from the younger alicorn.
“LUNA!” Celestia cried out, hurrying over to her sister’s aid. She knelt down to try and see what she could do. “Hold on, sister, the pain will be gone in a moment.” Celestia aimed her horn, now glowing with a sun-yellow shimmer, at her sister’s abdomen, hoping a dose of healing magic would take the pain away. The energy flowed from her horn to her sister’s body, seeping into the dark blue alicorn’s torso and coursing through the rest of her being.
For a moment, it seemed like it worked, but then Luna began to jerk and twitch violently, as if being electrocuted. Then from the same area Celestia had sent her magic, bolts of night black lightning cracked and whipped out, shocking the older princess. She grunted in pain, forced to back away so the volts could not reach her. It was hopeless…her sister was infected with some kind of dark magic, one that required serious treatment beyond that of a healing spell. Lament held a loose grip on Celestia, for in seconds it was torn off of her conscience and replaced with an untold, burning wrath.
“That was my real hello.” She heard the voice taunt, which was followed by a mocking chuckle. The princess’s narrowed eyes flashed from their normal pink tone into an ethereal white, with a mist of pure magic emulating from both. She shot into the air and aimed her power-filled horn at the cloud, and fired her own wave of solar energy. Sparkles showered the crowd as the blast flew over them like a shooting star, before colliding with the smoky entity. The explosion lit up the inside of the bubble, revealing the silhouette of a tall, broad, fully-grown stallion.
“SHOW YOURSELF, STALLION!” Celestia’s raging voice shook the entire hall, nearly throwing many ponies off of their hooves. Her order was met with a moment of silence, to which she charged her horn for another assault. But before she could whip her head back to empower the bolt, an answer came.
“Always so impatient, Cellie. I’ll be out shortly.” The tendrils began to fade back into wisps of smoke, spreading open like some kind of ugly, flourishing plant. From the shroud of seething smolder a long hoof extended out. The hair on this horse arm was blacker than the night before dawn, and the hoof itself was a silvery gray, gleaming with the reflections of chamber lights. Soon enough the rest of the villainous horse came into view, causing every single pony that viewed it to shiver and twitch in fear and caution.
He had unnatural yellow eyes with slits for pupils, thick muscles in the legs, body and neck, umber red hair swooping down the left side of his face, and right after he himself emerged, the smoke that hadn’t faded away cultivated on his back, over the shoulders, before solidifying into a pair of massive, condor-like wings. The being surpassed Celestia by only a few inches in height, but in presence, he exceeded hers by gargantuan amounts. His face was seemingly stuck in a sort plotting and eerie glare, topped off by the smallest, yet most daunting of grins. With all this, the last detail to be noticed, was the deadly-looking mark on his flank: a meteor-like shooting star, curved at the tail of orange astral flame, as if it had missed its intended target and was circling back to destroy it.
Celestia’s angry expression dissipated, with a wide-eyed, open-mouthed stare of utter shock taking its place. The astonishment forced the princess to return to solid ground, but her eyes remained frozen and wide. The black stallion smirked at the ruler’s sudden hesitation.
“What’s the matter Celle? Paralyzed, dumbstruck? Well, allow me to nestle the idea into your sweet, little brain. I AM indeed standing here right now, I am NOT light-years away in some corner of the universe surrounded by nothing like you had left me.” Twilight glanced at her teacher, frightened by the fact that this was the first time she had ever seen even a twinge of fear or insecurity in her idol. It took a moment for Celestia’s fright to slowly deteriorate enough to allow words to be spoken, but that was all…words.
“I…but…you…we…we ended you.” Celestia turned to her sister, still in pain. Obviously she had a part in this sequence of events the horse was vaguely describing. The stallion looked around as if surprised, taunting the alicorn once more.
“Well, I’m still here…guess you didn’t do a very good job.” Chuckles followed. The black implicit Pegasus then turned his glance over to the shivering pack of frightened foals. Each of them could feel his gaze pass over with an unnatural foresight, as if he could see all their happy memories, all their veiled pasts, and all their darkest secrets. A smirk curled up on his face. “My, my, has Equestria changed. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen this town before.” The stallion leant his head down, meeting the frightened stare of a cyan-coated unicorn with white and blue hair, a unicorn named Romana. Her body froze in an instant, kept motionless by pure fear. “Could someone please…fill me in?” He and the innocent unicorn kept eyes locked for a while, as silence filled the room like a flood of water. It seemed Romana would have to be her own saving grace. Regardless of her cowardly stutter, she was the only pony that spoke.
“This…is…P-P-Ponyville.” The stallion nodded slowly in response.
“Ponyville.” As he faced away from Romana, she almost immediately broke down into whimpers and silent tears, as several ponies tried to console her. The tall horse chortled. “I was right, this place indeed has changed. It’s become weaker. I mean, not one single pony stood up for this innocent little mare. You all left her to fend for herself, like a pack dropping one of their wounded to shun the dead weight. That is…truly…pathetic.” A fire had been boiling inside of Applejack since the appearance of this threatening Pegasus, and it had only grown and grown. Threatening one of her peers was like pouring lighter fluid into the flames, and her silence could no longer be held.
“Who do you think you are? Scaring the daylights out of innocent ponies and calling us weak? I have half a mind to just come down there and change your little perception!” The stallion raised a hoof gingerly, before making the gesture of an invitation.
“By all means, oh so strong Applejack. Please, educate me in the ways that this place is strong. I have been feeling the need to loosen my joints with a good ol’ fashioned brawl.” The stallion mimicked AJ’s accent in a tease, fueling the fire within the already enraged earth pony. But even with this rage, she was still amongst those startled by the stallion’s presence, and began to think she may have let her emotions drag her into a pit. She didn’t know whether to respond or to keep silent, but in the end the latter was what she chose.
“I guess that half of mind is the lesser half than, Jack.” The brown mare growled as the Pegasus turned his attention back to the frightened public. He flapped his wings once and then spoke. “I always believed in a fighting chance for everyone, no matter what the situation was, everybody deserves a fair chance. So this is my gift to you all: a warning.” Muffled gasps could be heard scattered amongst the crowd. “This day marks the beginning of a great conquest of this...Ponyville, of Canterlot, of all Equestria. You have mere hours left to enjoy this final sunrise and this final sunset, because they shall no longer be once we succeed in our endeavor.” A cry suddenly burst out from Luna, and she began to twist and contort as if possessed. Celestia returned to her sister’s aid in a great panic. From the floor below she could the black stallion mock her once again. “Hmm, the transformation took longer to kick in then I thought. Seems Luna’s will is the only thing that’s gotten stronger since my absence. But then again, how would you know Celestia, since you imprisoned her in her own celestial body for 1,000 years?”
Celestia’s eyes were cursed and tortured as she watched her sweet little sister become something she had thought had been dust in the wind by now. Her limbs stretched and forced themselves to grow like elastic, clearly painful given the gritted look Luna had on her face. Underneath her shut, tear-rimmed eyelids, her irises became pale-green and snake-like. Her ears sharpened and curved themselves, her horn grew twice its size, and her flowing star-sprinkled hair faded to a mane of pure mist.
“STOP IT, PLEASE! STOP IT!” Celestia rose up into the air and desperately fired three more sunbeams from her horn at the stallion. The Pegasus smirked and closed his eyes, channeling his own sort of energy. With seconds a curtain of pure night shrouded over him. It was transparent but seemed as if some cut out a bit of the night sky and fashion a protective quilt out of it, with star-like lights decorating the barrier all around. This strange covering shielded him, and the beams landed inside the night quilt, shrinking down until they seemed to be part of the stars themselves. Twilight’s mouth lay agape at this sudden realization: the Pegasus could perform magic, WITHOUT a horn. Celestia snarled in anger, but was called back to her sibling’s side by her final grunts of agony. The final bit of change began to set in.
Beginning from behind Luna’s flank, a slithery black coat began to spread across her body like a viscous ink. Pure dread hung on Celestia’s heart like a hundred-pound weight as she watched the metamorphosis complete itself. Luna could only manage to open her one eye, gaze at her distraught sister, and say the last words she would say as Princess Luna.
“Tia...” The white alicorn leaned in closer, desperate to hear this last utterance. She sniffled and answered.
“Yes...Lulu?” The once blue alicorn used her remaining strength to stretch her head up close to Celesta’s completely open ear. She grunted as the vigor she used to hold her tears faded and let loose the natural undammed stream.
“For...everything...I do...after this moment...I’m so...sorry.”
The next audible sound that was heard was Luna’s head landing on the floor, completely drained of all remaining essence.She appeared lifeless as the murkiness collected around her neck, eating up the last remnants of blue.In moments, every speck of indigo was cloaked in a midnight gloom, and it was no longer over Luna that Celestia was grieving.
It was the all-to-familiar form of Nightmare Moon, seemingly unconscious, and completely devoid of all movement.
Celestia could only lower her head in muffled sorrow, clamping her eyes and teeth shut to try and keep strong. What would the whole world think if the ruler began to show weakness now? Every ounce of effort went into holding onto the last sliver of composure left, allowing the sorrow to slowly evolve into anger and hatred. One more moment of letting the rage simmer and the perception of Celestia as a stern yet calm leader would’ve been shattered, with a whole supernova blast eviscerating the entire theater in an uncontrollable rage. But the sudden thump of a thrown down hoof snatched her attention, and she opened her eyes, before the figure beneath her did the same. An eye, pale green like aged venom shot open, narrowing its devilish stare against Celestia’s own. The second hoof hit the floor, followed by the third and fourth, and the new princess of darkness brought herself completely upright. Eyes still fixed on the sister she tower over, the black royal alicorn merely smirked, before giving an extremely exaggerated inhale. A long sigh followed.
“Ah, I missed that cool, misty smell of the night. It’s good, to be back.” Her neck lowered down to further close the gap between the siblings’ gazes. “What’s the matter, Tia?” She mocked, knowing that only her sister would use that name to acknowledge her, no one else. “Why so quiet? Aren’t you going to say, HELLO?” Nightmare Moon’s front leapt up into the air, front hooves ready to smash her sister into a pulp against the floor. Celestia dashed backwards, barely escaping the lavender-armored sledgehammers that were her sister’s arms. As the floor before them shattered under the enormous pressure, Moon looked up to meet her sibling’s eyes once again. In this gaze, Celestia became certain of one thing: this was not the same Nightmare Moon she and her subjects had encountered a year prior. No, this was some sort of new, twisted, violent manifestation of her old foe, whose face constantly bore an unnatural grin of undying, malicious intent.
The black alicorn charged, needle sharp horn outwardly ready to pierce any being in her path. Celestia forced herself to dive backwards, barely avoiding her sister’s attack. But before she could collide with the stone banister, Moon evaporated into a puff of midnight blue smoke. Celestia flapped her wings to get back up right, shooting her gaze around the entire chamber for any sign of her sister. It remained quiet, the entire room void of any sound or sight of Moon. Regardless of the silence, Celestia kept her horn at the ready. Luckily, no second assault came to her, as the black alicorn faded back into sight, right alongside her new, silver-hooved ally The stallion smirked as he faced his new apprentice, observing just what he had created. He circled around Moon several times as she strong and eerily proud.
“So this is what I created those many, many years ago. This is the fire I helped fuel into an inferno.” Halted right before the alicorn mare, their evil gazes clashed. “Very strong, very powerful.” He gave a sneering glance at the shaken ruler of Equestria. “It’s a real shame I couldn’t have seen Luna’s jealousy and envy shatter your bond to pieces. What name did you choose to grace yourself with, my new friend?”
“Nightmare Moon.” The Pegasus cocked a brow, nodding in understanding.
“Nightmare Moon…very, very fitting given what I have in store for this whole pathetic world.” The stallion gave one last look around the entire room, taking in all the unforgettable pony faces of dread and fright, relishing in it all. “Well then, Nightmare Moon, I believe that this is enough terror-instilling for one night. But now we must go, there’s a lot of work to be done.” The stallion’s wings bloomed out, smoky and obscuring once again. It began to consumeboth of the dark horses, but suddenly, the closing of mist halted in mid-air. “Oh wait! I forgot, did you get our little trinkets.” The mare gave a single nod, before unwinding her closed wings.
Within them lay all six Elements of Harmony, their natural shimmer shut out by the cage of shadowy feathers. Everyone gasped as Moon grinned at her handiwork. Not one single pony noticed the gems seemingly evaporate from the stands in that short moment Moon disappeared. She had slipped by them, stole and slipped away; all the while everyone was blinded with panic. The stallion grimaced at the sight.
“Perfect. Excellent work...” The stallion faced the shaken gathering for his final address. “To all you little mares and colts, I must bid a final farewell. I’ll give you a little bit of advice before we depart. When that sun rises, I recommend that you take this last day to say goodbye to everyone and everything you hold dear, because once the sun sets, you will never see any of them, ever again.” Closing his eyes to focus his magic, the stallion drew the fog inwards, shrouding him and his ally.
“NNNOOOO!” A blaring voice exploded from somewhere within the chamber. Everyone twisted and turned in search of the shout’s owner, but they found her soon enough as she fired herself into the air. A cyan and rainbow blur zoomed up to the ceiling, before nose-diving down towards the cloak of smog and silhouettes. At the blur’s front everyone could see the face of Rainbow Dash, twisted and distorted by wrath that roared beside her own battle cry. The distortion of her speed pulsed through the entire room as he approached the blackened mass. With iron will and diamond strength, the Pegasus buried herself into the plume of fog like a dagger through cotton, the force palpitating outwards, shattering all the windows and sending numerous ponies onto their backsides. The cloud burst from its place in the center of the room, soaring back towards the window frame facing the courtyard. Blasting towards the stone platform in the center of the garden, the cluster of thick smoke splashed out in all directions with a loud boom and hiss. Every pony hopped out onto the steps leading down to yard, desperate to catch a glimpse of the ensuring brawl. Sounds of struggle and assault echoed from the mist, until they were all overpowered by a sort of whirlwind noise. Then, it went silent.
The remaining five of the Mane Six led the dashing stride down the stairs to the center of the courtyard, approaching the curtain of mist with great caution. At first there was nothing but massive puffs of black and grey, but soon enough a lone silhouette faded within the shroud, the silhouette, of a small wounded creature.
“Dash!” Twilight cried out as she dived into the smog, quickly followed by Applejack and Pinkie. Sounds of strain and grunting spotted the silence, and in moments the three dragged their friend out of the misty black pen. The Pegasus’ was face down on the ground, letting out small groans of weakness as she tried to bring herself up. A few bruises were scattered on her back and left wing, but luckily, no cuts of serious lacerations. Applejack and Twilight gripped both her arms to help her to her hooves, and once she was semi-upright, Dash looked up.
Clenched in between her teeth where three of the six Elements she had managed to wrestle from the two black stallions. Laughter, Generosity, and Honesty all remained in the hands of the public thanks to the brave mare’s intervention. It didn’t matter that she had not managed to get all the elements, the crowd cheered for her efforts anyway.
“C’mon, we need to get you inside. Girls, help me.” All of the six gathered around Dash, pulling her up to her feet and making their way towards the inside of the hall. Hopefully there would be some pony here that could tend to her wounds. While everyone followed as they piled back into the chamber, Celestia remained standing at the second floor balcony, gazing with utter dread at the massive hole her sister had just escaped with this stallion through. Emotions of many kinds were swimming within the alicorn’s heart, sorrow for her sister’s forced regression into her evil ways, embarrassment that she could not keep her pony public from panic, and fear of the events that were left to unfold at the hooves of this new villain.