The moon shone brightly, beaming down upon Canterlot Castle’s gleaming walls and buttresses, illuminating the spires and towers than plunged their way towards the sky, on a night seemingly much like any other. However, the night was not normal by far. The sun had been meant to rise several hours ago, however the moon was still high in the sky. The streets of Canterlot were packed with Ponies wondering where their sun had gone. Many of them murmured amongst themselves quietly, some said nothing, words caught in their throats by worry; some even screamed and shouted in fear, running about the streets in total panic.
There had been a commotion in the palace throne room, which had ended just moments earlier with a giant rainbow shooting off into the sky. There had been violent flashes of light, the sound of shattering windows and breaking walls; the ground itself had shook as if an earthquake had struck the city. None of the spectating Ponies had any idea what had transpired, but they all knew that the absent sunrise, and what had sounded like a battle between gods, were related somehow. Their attention was so focused on the throne room, that none of them noticed the moon, and the silhouette that had appeared there.
In the throne room, hidden from the eyes of the crowd below, a large white Alicorn lay on the floor, covered in wounds, many of which were not overly serious; some of which, were. She lay on the ground, her only movement the rise and fall of her chest, as she panted for air. Tears ran freely down her face, and onto the cold marble floor, and an expression of complete exhaustion and utter torment decorated her face.
The throne room around her was a shambles. All the meticulously crafted stained glass windows were shattered; bits and pieces of them lay scattered about the entire room. The walls and ceiling bore more than a few gaping holes, and the once pristine floor was cracked and gouged, barely recognisable as the flawless pearl-white surface it had once been. The thrones themselves lay in a smashed mess; debris from the elaborate stonework littered the dais where they had once stood.
Princess Celestia lay in utter despair, her mind blank, but her heart full of pain and sorrow. The wounds she bore on her body were nothing compared to the agony her heart felt at that moment. She lay still for several minutes, allowing the events that had just transpired to fully make their way into her conscious mind. Every second was a nightmare; every breath sent wracking sobs down her lithe frame.
She lay there in that state for a time. Whether for minutes, hours, days or years, she could not have said. Once feeling began seeping back into her body, and every cut and bruise on her body began painfully informing her of their prescence all at once, she lifted her head and looked around, taking in the devastation around her. Her eyes caught on six glistening shapes which lay in a rough circle about her, ranging in colours from red to green, all appearing to be well-polished gemstones.
The Elements of Harmony.
As she watched, the Elements began to darken, the inner light within them fading, and as they faded, a shell of stone began growing around each gem, until they were almost perfect spheres of a dull grey sandstone-looking rock, embellished with an embossed engraving of the gemstones they had once been.
The sight of them filled Celestia with disgust. She enveloped them in her magical aura, and teleported them far away, to the ruin of a castle deep within the Everfree Forest, where she and her sister had once resided before becoming Princesses.
Thoughts of her sister brought new pain to her chest, and her heart cried out in agony. Her own sister had attacked her… Princess Luna, who had declared herself to be Nightmare Moon, had refused to lower the moon to make way for the dawn. Celestia had known for some time that there had been something troubling her younger sister, but she had left Luna alone, thinking she would share her worries when she was ready. How wrong she had been.
Celestia had been standing on the Balcony of her room, having just woken up, ready to raise the sun as Luna lowered the moon. She had risen a little early, so she waited, enjoying the glory of her sister’s nights. They were beautiful. The moon shone, full in the night sky, and stars littered the dark canvas in creative and wonderful patterns. The time had come for the moon to lower itself, and she prepared her magic, readying herself to haul the sun up from the horizon. The time came… and passed… immediately Celestia was stuck with worry and fear. Luna had never been even a second late before.
Celestia bolted from her balcony, ripped the doors open with her magic, and galloped down the hallway towards the stairs that led to the throne room. That was where her sister would surely be.
Upon entering the cavernous room that contained the twin thrones of the Royal Pony Sisters, she caught sight of Luna, standing at the edge of the room, gazing out one of the windows that lined the wall. She immediately knew that something was terribly wrong.
Luna wore a strange set of ceremonial light plate mail, and her mane had shifted from a pleasant night-sky blue, to a lighter, sickly nightmarish shade. The look on her face screamed anger and rage, and her mouth was twisted in an ugly and wicked snarl. As she turned to face Celestia, the Princess of the Sun saw that her eyes had changed too. Her irises had become vertical slits, reminiscent of the dragons that they had sporadic dealings with. The overall effect of her sister’s new changes spoke of evil and menace.
“Sister…” Celestia had almost whimpered. “Luna, what has happened? Why have you not lowered the moon?” The dark blue Alicorn stared back for several moments, before releasing a wicked laugh, and when she spoke, her voice was deeper, more menacing, and a slight hiss rounded the corners of her words. It send shivers down Celestia’s spine
“Oh dear sister, you got here faster than I would have expected.” She turned back to the window she had been gazing out when Celestia arrived. “I barely had any time to appreciate the beginning… of my eternal night.” Celestia was dumbfounded, her mind blank.
“Eternal… Night? Lulu… what –“ Luna cut her off with a hard stomp of a hoof.
“Lulu? LULU?! No longer am I your cute little sister who allows you to lead her by the nose. Gone are the days when Ponies bask and play in your oh so glorious sunlight, and spurn and hide from my beautiful night.” The hatred dripped like venom from the fangs in Luna’s mouth. “No longer am I Princess Luna; no, I have been reborn. I am now… Nightmare Moon.” This last statement was punctuated with another sharp stomp, which stuck up sparks from the pristine marble floor, but the sound startled Celestia out of her stupor.
“Sister, what has happened? Why are you doing this?” Luna’s glare to her sister could have burned holes in the walls.
“Why? You want to know WHY?! Have you ANY idea how it feels to pour your heart and soul into your work, every night for centuries, only to have everypony shun it night after night?” Celestia opened her mouth to reply, but Luna interrupted her.
“How could you understand? Everypony loves your day so much… Everypony loves you…” For a moment, a look of intense sadness flashed across Luna’s face, but was gone in an instant. “I am hated and feared by the Ponies we supposedly rule, because I bring about the night time, while you are loved and adored, and for what?” Luna’s eyes narrowed to a menacing squint, and her voice began dripping with hate. “They love you… because they believe you are the one who takes away the night. They believe you are their saviour every morning.” The hurt reappeared in her eyes, but remained this time. Seeing this, Celestia saw her opportunity to overcome the madness that had seeped into Luna’s mind.
“But Luna, that’s not true! Your nights are beautiful, everypony knows that.” She approached her troubled sister slowly, and reached out a hoof. “Luna, stop this, the world cannot survive without the sun; just like it can’t survive without your moon.” Luna’s head fell, hiding her eyes from sight, and she slowly and shakily lifted her hoof as well, but as they were about to meet, she suddenly used her offered hoof to batter Celestia’s away. Lifting her head, her eyes were again full of anger. But this time, there was envy there too, and in that moment, Celestia realised just how deeply this evil went. Her sister was not only angry at everypony for the slights she had imagined of them; she was jealous of her! She had to contain this situation quickly, before something terrible happened, and she lost her sister forever.
“Luna!” She pleaded, reaching out to her sister again, only to have her flinch away. “Luna please, listen to me, Ponies do appreciate you. They love you as their Princess, and I love you as my sister.” Tears in her eyes, Celestia moved closer again to Luna, and gently nuzzled her neck. The night-blue Alicorn flinched again, but didn’t move away.
“Celestia…” Luna’s voice was choked with sorrow and hurt. “Celestia I’m… I’m sorry.” As she said these last words, the venom returned to her voice, and before Celestia could react, Luna had already shoved her away. Looking up, she was just in time to see Luna’s rear legs connect with her face in a vicious buck which sent her flying across the room to lay sprawled on the floor, stunned in more ways than one.
Reaching up with a hoof, Celestia felt the spot on her chin where her sister’s hooves had connected. There was a savage cut there, and blood trickled out of the harsh incision as Celestia’s mind attempted to process what had just happened. Luna had just attacked her. She regained her senses just in time to see a hostile bolt of magic speeding towards her, which she threw herself aside and to the ground to dodge.
“Sister? What madness has taken you?!” She shouted, the desperate plea in her voice plainly evident.
“The time for talk is over Celestia!” Luna shouted in reply, charging another spell. “Defend yourself sister, I will not be holding back!” Releasing the bold, the younger Princess followed up by charging her older sister. Celestia hurled herself to the side once more to dodge the second spell bolt, but was not prepared for Luna's physical assault, which came in the form of a full-broadside body slam.
Celestia was again knocked to the ground in an impact that forced the air out of her lungs. Struggling to her feet and attempting to regain her breath, Celestia conjured a shield to deflect a series of rapid-fire magical attacks. Her mind was still reeling with the horror of the situation. Her sister had been overcome by some kind of insanity, and was now trying to kill her. All the spells that her sister had cast were deadly ones.
She stayed on the defensive as Luna sent spell after spell towards her with every intention of killing or maiming her. She could sense the hostility in the spells, and was sure that if any one of them struck her, she would not likely be in any state to fight, if she survived at all.
The spells ceased for a moment, and Celestia only just had time to dodge before an ethereal sword of solidified dark-blue magic, the thin, wiry blade slicing through the air where her neck had just been. Luna screamed a wordless shout, and lunged again, and Celestia only just had time to form her own blade and parry. Even though she immediately had an opening, with which she could have struck at her sister and ended the fight for good, she backed off. She would not kill her own sister.
“Luna, please…” Luna cut her off again, with another cry of rage and a vicious stab with her sword. Celestia kept up her pleas, despite her sister’s raging attacks and wordless screams, attempting to calm the situation down.
The fight dragged on for several hours, Celestia remaining on the defensive the entire time, never striking a blow of her own, always dodging and blocking, and moving away. Their spell-blades had shattered some time during the melee, and Celestia was alternating between hiding behind her ever-diminishing shield, and dodging the vicious spells being thrown at her by her still-enraged sister.
Finally, Celestia collapsed, her energy depleted, her desperation to survive and save her sister no longer able to fuel her flight, when she had no intention of fighting back.
She lay on the floor, panting, eyes closed, scores of bruises, small nicks and scratches, and some deep cuts decorating her body, blood flowing freely from each one. She was spent, and all she could do now was expect the worst. Luna, whilst not having a single wound at all, was still clearly feeling the exertion of their prolonged battle. Her wings drooped lifelessly at her side, and she panted heavily, her coat damp with sweat and her sister’s blood. She moved up to Celestia, an expression of triumphant glee overcoming any look of exhaustion.
“Sister, you are a fool.” Celestia forced her tired eyelids to open, and lifted her head to look pleadingly at Luna, who now stood above her, another, much smaller ethereal blade – barely longer than a knife – hovering in the air beside her.
“If you wanted to survive, you should have fought to win” the Night Princess continued. “But instead, like a pitiful foal, you would not fight back. The Ponies might love you, but you are not fit to rule this land!” Too tired to speak, Celestia lowered her head back down, and closed her eyes, waiting for the finishing blow.
It never came.
Several seconds passed, and Celestia had not yet felt the painful sting of a cut throat, nor the cold grip of death. Opening her eyes once again, she saw Luna still standing over her, still levitating the ethereal blade above the fallen Alicorn’s head, but a look of uncertainty dominated her features, her eyes slightly glazed over, as if she was lost in thought or internal debate. Celestia saw another opening, and gladly took it.
“Luna… I know you don’t want to do this. It’s not too late, we can fix this.” Looking around, Celestia took in the shambles that the throne room had become, and desperately searched for something she could use to dispel this situation. Her eyes rested on the ruined thrones. Each had been embedded with three mystical gemstones, known as the Elements of Harmony, which the two sister’s had used to defeat the Draconequus Discord over a thousand years ago. She was about to dismiss them, because she was not capable of employing their overwhelming magic on her own, but she felt the gems, now lying scattered about the raised platform where they were strewn during the fight, pulse.
She had never felt them so intimately before; they were calling to her, pleading to her for something. Reaching out to them with the little magic she had left, she felt each gem connect to her. Each felt like a bolt of lightning running down her spine; painful, but invigorating. All six elements were now under her control, and although she could not command them as completely as the two sisters did in unison, they wanted to be used. They wanted harmony to be restored. What would happen if she actually used them, she did not know. They had turned Discord to stone, but she did not think that was the Elements’ only function. Their purpose was to restore Harmony where Disharmony existed. How that took effect was only ever known after the magic was used. She decided to try one last time to reason with Luna, and if that failed… she would have no choice but to use the Elements, and hope for the best.
“Luna, please…” Luna’s eyes snapped back to focus, as a wicked snarl drew across her face.
“Please Luna, please” the blue Alicorn mocked. “All you know how to do is plead for your life sister, but it won’t work!” Luna stomped a forehoof again, knocking away several pieces of debris, which scattered across the floor, their clacking the only sound that could be heard. “It’s too late for desperate pleas; it’s too late to go back. How could I go back now? I’ve come so far already! If the Ponies of the world want to fear me, I’ll give them a reason to!” She laughed manically, her mane billowing out behind her head as she reared on her hind legs, before striking her forehooves back down to the ground with such force that several more cracks joined the latticework that now decorated the once-flawless floor.
Celestia knew that she had lost her last chance. She had had so many opportunities to turn her sister back from this path of madness, yet she had failed. Sadness overcame her heart; she only had one option left to her now; the Elements of Harmony.
As Luna began lowering her head menacingly, drawing her blade forward for the final, killing blow, Celestia closed her eyes again, and channelled all her remaining magic into the Elements of Harmony.
Luna paused as the noise of shifting rubble caught her attention, making her ears twitch, and she glanced away from her sister to see the Elements hovering in the air, before speeding over to the pair, a magical aura knocking the attacking Alicorn away. Celestia felt the power of the gems lifting her up off the ground, and when she raised her head, light spilled forth from her all-white eyes. The magic of the elements flowed through her, temporarily blocking out the pain from all her wounds.
“What… what is this?!” Luna demanded, defiantly glaring at the Elements, which were now spinning a slow circle around the older sister. “You think you can control the elements on your own sister? You know that’s futile! We could never work their magic on our own.” Doubt and desperation seeped into Luna’s voice as the gems began glowing brightly, and the light coming from Celestia’s eyes brightened too.
Celestia felt the magic overwhelming her senses, and as the build-up of energy became almost unbearable, she unleashed the magic at Luna. It was not a spell, as such, or at least, not one as she knew it. The Elements of Harmony used magic from the bearer, amplified it between the six gemstones, and used the energy to shift the reality of the world into a more harmonic state. Whose definition of ‘harmonic’ the Elements used was not a fact known to Celestia, and she could not have prepared herself for what happened.
As the magic was released from the stones, the light grew to a blinding intensity, and a brilliant rainbow shot out from the Elements, arced high into the air, almost to the roof of the throne room, before shifting direction, and plunging back down at Princess Luna, spinning around her in a tight whirlwind.
Luna’s cries, whether of pain, shock, or denial, Celestia could not tell, but they shook her to her core. She watched as the rainbow spun faster and faster around her sister, before shooting directly upwards, blasting another hole in the already damage ceiling. Following the rainbow with her gaze, she watched as it flew directly up towards the moon, and she knew that she had just imprisoned her own sister on the celestial body. As the rainbow containing Luna made contact with the white disk, a plethora of things happened at once.
A dark silhouette appeared on the face of the moon, depicting Nightmare Moon’s head, its single visible eye glaring down at the world with menace, however, Celestia could not spare the thought to notice it. She felt some huge, familiar part of herself tear away with a horrifically painful wrench, as if her stomach had just been forcefully removed from her body. The fell back to the ground, the magic no longer holding her up, and lay there shuddering; she felt empty; hollow inside, as if she, and the world, would never be right again.
Then, as if somepony had projected a movie directly into her brain, she saw a vision. She saw almost a thousand years pass in a matter of seconds, the only noticeable change between the days being four stars, which slowly moved closer and closer to the moon, before passing behind it, and in a flash of light, the shape of her sister’s face disappeared. She saw the massive magical backlash of such a powerful spell being broken sealing her away inside the sun, replacing Luna on the world. This image horrified her as she saw the terror her sister would spread upon her return, but she also saw another image.
Six young Mares, strong willed and determined, standing united against the evil that Luna had become, and she somehow knew that they would wield the Elements of Harmony in her stead, and defeat Nightmare Moon once more, as she was no longer connected to them herself, being cut off from her sister as she was.
The Images faded from her mind, and she rested her head back on the floor. She could not rest for long; the sun still needed to rise, but she would have to use twice the energy. Tears flooded her eyes as she thought about what she now had to do.
She had to lower her sister’s moon herself first.
So there she lay, gathering her strength as she prepared to do what was necessary. She struggled to her feet, and gazed out the window. She knew she had rejuvenated herself enough to raise the sun, but lowering the moon first would be a monumental task. She reached out with her magic, far out into space, and felt the moon. She immediately recoiled.
The moon felt like a seething mass of pure hatred and anger, tainted by Nightmare Moon’s presence. She probed the celestial body cautiously, and once she ensured that Luna could no longer do her any harm, she gripped the moon in her magic, and heaved until it slowly began its descent out of the sky.
As the moon made its sluggish way down towards the horizon, a huge chorus of cheers and joyful celebrations resounded in the streets of Canterlot. The citizens of the royal capitol were rejoicing at the impending return of the day. Luna’s anger flared, enraged by the Ponies’ elation towards the end of the night. The immense surge of hostile emotion almost unhinged Celestia’s control of the moon, and she clung to it in a desperate attempt to prevent it from breaking orbit and crashing into the Earth.
After several minutes of struggle, Celestia finally managed to lower the moon out of sight completely, and almost fell to the floor again in exhaustion, but she had one more task to complete. Despite her tiredness, she reached out to the sun, and willed it into the sky, creating a breathtaking crimson and gold sunrise over the eastern walls of the city. To Celestia, the sight was as grey and lifeless as her heart felt at that moment. Her sister was gone; locked away in the moon for a thousand years. She knew that, in such a great amount of time, Luna would be forgotten, lost to the histories, all memories of her dying with the ponies who remembered them. She was very familiar with the passage of time.
Ponies would need to be wary. If Luna returned after those thousand years of imprisonment as Nightmare Moon, they would need to know of the dangers she posed. She wracked her tired mind as she hauled herself up the stairway to her bedroom, intending on getting some much-needed rest after such a horrific ordeal.
Reaching her bedroom doors, which were hanging off their hinges from her earlier rushed exit, she wondered where the castle staff was. There were always guards stationed at her door, as well as the doors to Luna’s room and the throne room, and some other rooms like the treasury. No guards were in sight, but Celestia’s tired mind barely processed the worry necessary to wonder much about it. She could only hope they were there when she woke up again.
She stumbled over to her bed, and flopped down on the soft mattress, not bothering to crawl under the covers. As she slowly drifted off into unconsciousness, her mind still ran over ideas in her head.
She smiled as an idea occurred to her. She would make a day, this day, in fact, in dedication to her sister. It would be a holiday, a time for fun and games, for dressing up and scaring friends. It would be just like Luna’s old self. On the outside, possibly scary and intimidating if you didn’t know her, but deep down, a lover of fun and good times; it would be a grand holiday, one that the old Luna would have appreciated. She knew just what she would call it too.
She would call it…