Luna remained alone in her room. After the incident at the Gala, the solitude had been comforting to her. The only pony who ever came by to check on her was Eventide. Occasionally he’d knock on the door and peak in to check on her or inform her of a request for her presence by Celestia, but not much else. He’d leave her food or ask if she needed anything, but Eventide was far too busy to stay and have casual conversations with Luna. She’d just let him know she was fine or that she wouldn’t be attending her sister’s meetings. Honestly, Luna was even surprised Eventide kept showing up to tell her after how many times she rejected the offer.
Of course, Luna did not shirk on her duties either. Eventide visited regularly at dusk, but once he was off to make his rounds, Luna would begin her work. She’d wearily trot towards her balcony, check the opposing tower for her sister, and using her powers she’d gradually lift the moon and bring about the twilight. Once the moon was set on its course, it pretty much ran itself, so Luna would typically flee to her covers to avoid having her sister spot her. She still couldn’t bring herself to face Celestia after hearing how angry she had sounded that night. As long as she could avoid her, Luna figured she’d be fine.
Late one evening, Luna spied the ponies of Ponyville bustling about their town more so than usual. As she viewed them from the safety of her astrology telescope, she could see them decorating the town with all sorts of unfortunately familiar things. Symbols resembling the shadow of Nightmare Moon and her piercing gaze adorned buildings and rooftops alike. There was a small stage set in the middle of town drowning in cobwebs and little spiders. As the ponies continued to decorate their town in a strikingly macabre manner, Luna’s confusion and curiosity grew. She quickly dismissed it for now though, as it was nearly time for her duty.
“P-p-princess L-L-Luna?” whimpered a quiet voice.
“Yes Eventide?” Luna replied, rolling her eyes. “Dost thou never become accustomed to speaking with Us?”
“Ah, well, err, uh, no. Sorry my p-p-princess.” He stuttered, slowly inching the creaky door open to peak in.
“Enter, Eventide. We have a task for thee.”
Eventide timidly entered the chamber with his head hung low to pay respect.
“Rise, Eventide, are We not familiar enough that thou need not act in such a formal manner. We have known each other for quite some time already.”
“Ah, sorry Princess Luna, I guess I’m just not use to that kind of thing.” He replied shyly.
Luna rolled her eyes. “At any rate, dost thou know what Our diminutive equines are causing such a stir over this evening?” she inquired.
“Why yes Princess! Tonight is the hallowed eve of…” Eventide trailed off. “Err, umm, mmm, hmm, how do I say this…”
“I command thee to tell Us already!” she barked.
“Tonight is Nightmare Night!” he squeaked quickly, wincing at her shout.
The princess shot him a puzzled look. “Nightmare… Night? As in, Nightmare Moon, Nightmare Night?”
“Y-yes P-p-princess, but you see the night is about…” Eventide began in the calmest tone he could muster.
W-we do not understand. Why wouldst thou celebrate the evil that is Nightmare Moon? Luna became lost in thought as she pondered the reasons behind the night. Eventide was mumbling about something, but she was far too concerned to listen to him at the time. She was more confused than anything.
They were celebrating Nightmare Moon? And on the night she had been banished to the moon no less. Had the ponies been celebrating her exile this whole time? They must have truly hated her all along. Why else would they make such a commotion over this night? Who could even be behind all of this? Was this her sisters doing? Why would they do such a thing?! As Luna lost herself in her questions, her expression became more and more troubled. She could feel tears begin to well up in her eyes, doing her best to fight them back when she realized Eventide was still present.
“…and that’s why…Princess?” Eventide interrupted himself, staring at Luna with great concern. He realized she hadn’t been listening and now seemed very upset.
“Eventide,” Luna said, almost sniffling, “You will fetch us any information you can find on this event, and report back with it immediately.”
“B-but Princess, are you okay? You seem t-troub…”
“GO NOW EVENTIDE, AND DO NOT RETURN WITHOUT OUR INFORMATION!” The Royal Canterlot voice shook the room, but this time it felt different. It carried more of a somber tone than that of a command. Eventide had noticed too, but was too shocked to say anything at the time.
“Y-y-yes Princess! Right away!” a horrified Eventide replied, jumping in his skin before taking off in a burst of speed.
As Eventide galloped off, Luna wearily approached the balcony. Once again, it was time for her to perform her duties. As she dragged her hooves to the platform, Luna peered out towards her sister’s chamber. Empty as usual she thought to herself with a deep sigh. Luna spent the moment mentally preparing for the task at hand. With yet another deep sigh, she closed her eyes and hung her head down. She waited for just a moment before raising herself. As she stood tall upon the precipice, she slowly began to open her eyes.
Luna’s eyes were glow a brilliant white as she begins to channel her true power. Her horn began to wax and wane until it reached an equally radiant glow of dark blue energy. As true magic slowly coursed through her body, Luna began to rise from the ground. She opened her forehooves as if to command the Moon itself, and surely enough, it begins to peak over the mountaintops. The Moon quickly moves higher before it appears to snap onto a track and begins to move along its natural course, creeping along the night sky, but Luna’s job isn’t done yet.
Luna continued to channel her energy and magic until the sky began to shimmer. Stars glistened and gleamed across the sky, crowding its vast emptiness. One star in particular, however, seemed to shine brighter than all of the rest. As Luna began her descent, she gazed upon the incandescent glow of the star. A single soft tear began its journey down her cheek before dripping onto the floor. Her brief moment of comfort was quickly interrupted by yet another loud knock as the door creaked open. Eventide slowly crept in, his eyes quickly affixing to the alicorn raw with flowing power before him. Luna quickly realizes his approach and releases her grasps on the state and returns to her regular being once more, at the same time attempting to hide her tear.
“P-p-princess, I did not intend to interrupt the Royal Ceremony!” he stutters.
“Not at all, We were just completing our duties.” She replied, attempting to regain her full composure. “Regardless, hast thou completed Our request?”
“Of course Princess, allow me to present you with this book I knew of in the Royal Canterlot Library.” Eventide knelt before the Princess once more, producing a large and rather elaborately decorated book from his saddlebag.
“Fame and Festivals: Celebrating Equestria’s Historical Figures.” Luna read aloud. She let in a deep breath, as she typically did when facing such a momentous occasion.
“Inside, you will find a chapter I am sure you will find very informative, Princess.” Eventide said, passing her a pleasant smile.
“You have done very well Eventide. We thank you sincerely.” Luna replied an equally sincere smile, his kindness calming her. “If there is a way We might make it up to you, please let Us know.”
“Ah, well, actually…” Eventide blushed. “If it isn’t too much trouble, then I’d like the night off.”
Luna was shocked. “W-whatever might you need this night, of all nights, off for?”
“It’s a long story. Please Princess Luna, just one night.” Eventide pleaded, kneeling before her.
Luna eyed him suspiciously. It was highly unlike Eventide to make such a request. She stared into his doeing, seeing glints of hope. “Very well Eventide… you are freed from your duties, tonight, and we shall find a replacement guard.”
“Oh, thank you so much Luna… AH MEAN PRINCESS!” Eventide shouted, horrified of his mistake.
Luna only giggled in response, “It’s quite alright Eventide, but this will not become a regular occurrence. Remember, thou art a Dusk Guard, and your kind has been serving me for many a year. I will make this exception only because you have proven your loyalty, even throughout my absence.” She finished sternly.
“This means so much to mean. Thank you so much… Luna.” Eventide looked up at her as his smile turned into a beam of glee.
Luna, shocked at his reply, quickly shook to regain composure. “It is not an issue Eventide. Please, go out and enjoy yourself this evening.” she smiled back.
Eventide snapped to attention before bowing once and taking his leave. Luna could hear him shouting with glee from the hall as the bat pony raced down toward the armory to remove his gear before taking off into the night. She continued to giggle at his excitement, but couldn’t help but wonder what he had been so wrapped up about. Luna could only pout to herself, as she knew almost nothing about the loyal Dusk Guard. Luna knew that as a bat pony in the Dusk Guard, he wasn’t any normal pony, but she had never stopped and taken the time to ask him anything about himself. She simply commanded him along his days. A bolt of guilt ran through her body. She hadn’t considered how selfish she had been with him before. Perhaps even he dislikes us, and has gone to celebrate with the rest of the ponies in order to leave us alone again.
Luna hung her neck looked back at the book Eventide had presented her and it brought a small smile to her face. This is the second time I have asked him for a personal favor, and it’s the second time he complied without question. Maybe he really does care if he is kind enough to help me every time, despite the danger. Luna approached the book with her spirits slightly raised, blowing the dust off before attempting to open it. The old book lifted from the pedestal it was placed on, as Luna used her magic to slowly begin flipping through the pages.
“N, N, N, ah, here we are! Nightmare Night.” She began slowly. “Nightmare Night began a nearly a thousand years ago. It is a celebration in which we pay homage to the loss of our beloved Princess Luna. Her heart became corrupted with hatred and a jealousy, for the ponies reveled in the days, but did little to enjoy the beautiful nights she had worked so hard to give us. It is because of the ponies of Equestria’s actions that Princess Luna felt great sadness and loneliness. Thus, each year on the night of her banishment, everypony comes out to feast and celebrate, keeping the Princess in the Moon company. They offer her food and show her how much we truly enjoy the beauty of the night in hopes of warming her heart. The children are given candy as a treat and to help them stay up during the night, but are also required to make offerings as well. They even dress as familiars and decorate the town, in hopes that seeing creatures of the night will comfort Luna even more so. The Princess of the Day, Celestia, was crestfallen when she had to banish Luna from Equestria. However, she was greatly pleased with the idea of celebrating the night and paying respects to her exiled sister, so she had a statue of Nightmare Moon erected in the Everfree Forest, Luna’s favorite place to visit in Ponyville. The statue is to show her that even though she had been taken from us by corruption and changed form, we still love her dearly and know deep down our beloved princess is still in there. Until the day when she returns to us, we shall use this day to remind her just how much we truly love and care for her.”
Luna began to feel her eyes glaze over as she closed the book. Softly, tears began flowing down her cheeks. A chill ran down her body as waves of true happiness ran through her, causing her to quiver and fall to her knees. She had been wrong. This event was not a mockery of her exile, but instead it was a heartfelt attempt to restore faith in her ponies to her. In this case, it had worked. Through the words of the book, Luna found the courage to try to make friends with everypony once more.
“I must find Eventide.” Luna whimpered as she wiped tears from her eyes. “I have been too cold with him and if anypony deserves our kindness and friendship, it is him.”
Luna donned her cloak, and charged out her room, making her way to the armory. She rammed the door open only to discover two other Dusk Guards, Vesperus and Noctus, taking an unauthorized break. The two startled bat ponies quickly rose from their creaky chairs at the wooden table and stood at attention, trying to hide the fact that they had been enjoying some salt licks and lounging about.
Luna eyed them angrily, surveying the situation. “Hast thou seen Eventide?”
“Yes Princess Luna, he reported in just moments ago to drop off his armor and lance, and then took off again once more!” The two replied in unison, the younger Vesperus still trying to lick the salt from his muzzle.
Luna thought intently to herself for just a moment before snapping back to them. “Dost thou know where he has gone to?”
“No Princess Luna! He left in quite a hurry, barely mumbling that you had authorized his leave of the night.” they replied in unison once more.
“Then thou hast absolutely no clue where We might find him?” she questioned, losing patience with how unhelpful the two had been.
“We are not sure Princess Luna.”
“…but he did mention a few days ago he’d met a filly...” Vesperus snickered.
“Q-quiet you,” Noctus perked up from the shock, “The Princess has no time for our personal affairs and fraternizations!”
“Oh come on man! She’s a damn dirty Dawn Guard for filly’s sake! You know damn well what they say about us Dusk Guards behind our backs!” Vesperus snapped back.
Noctus shot him an angry look and Luna watched in shock as the two bicker between each other. The argument quickly escalated into violence as the two guards began to rumble in the armory. All the while, Luna was still considering her options. She brushed off the previous statement, and simply didn’t wish to get involved in the guards rivalries at the moment. The sound of fighting, tables and racks shaking, and falling armor, however, slowly annoyed her more and more as she attempted to think.
“ENOUGH! WE CANNOT THINK WITH SUCH A RACKET DSITURBING US!” she shouted. The two guards stopped mid-clash, on their hind legs and forehooves pressed into each other’s faces. They both gave Luna a frightened look.
“W-well, maybe Eventide is in P-P-Ponyville!” Vesperus speculated as he continued to fight off Noctus. “S-surely he has g-gone to celebrate with all the other ponies if he asked for tonight off particularly!” The two broke into fighting again as Noctus threw Vesperus across the room and into a barrel of pickled vegetables. Vesperus crashed inside, causing cabbage and juice to spill out and onto the ground.
“That’s it! He must be there then! We must head to Ponyville at once!” Luna’s mood shot up as her hopes of finding him rose once more. “You two, since you see it fit to be taking a break at a time like this, you will instead be taking this time to escort us to Ponyville on Our Royal Carriage!”
“Awww c’mon! Why can’t you just fly to…”
“SHUT IT, VERSPERUS! WE DO AS THE PRINCESS COMMANDS!” Noctus interrupted him. “You have my sincerest apologies for his insubordination Princess Luna.”
“Very well, I shall forgive both of you, this time. I will not be so kind to you next time, however.” Luna sternly replied, looking down at the two.
“Ugh, fine..” Vesperus continued to whine as he climbed out of the barrel, spilling more onto the floor before falling face first into the puddle himself. “ACK!” He continued to try and himself together grumbling under his breath. “old man always barking orders at me…”
“We shall prepare the Royal Carriage and depart shortly Princess Luna. Until then, please be patient and we shall contact you as soon as it’s ready.”
“Thank you Noctus. Please keep in mind, it has been quite some time since We last used the Carriage. If you would be so kind as to clean it properly as well…” she trailed off with an awkward smile.
“Of course, anything you wish Princess Luna.” Noctus replied quickly.
As Luna left the armory to wait for her departure in her chamber, she could hear the two bat ponies continue to argue from down the hall. She only rolled her eyes and chortle softly as she continued to trot away. Tonight was going to be a big night, and Luna was ready to face Equestria once more.