Part One: Ponyville Central:
Ponyville Central-Take 1
Knock, knock, knock
A loud and disruptive knocking echoes through a private bedroom in Castle Canterlot, its sound reverberating off of the countless bookshelves filled to the brim with priceless tomes from only the most esteemed sources.
Knock, knock, knock
This bedroom, though similar to almost every other room in the castle, had several key differences that set it apart.
Knock, knock, knock
For starters, the room was covered in arcane diagrams and charts which left little room for anything else. Any personal effects that could have been visible, choked out by the incredible amount of information that would take any ordinary pony years to properly understand.
Knock, knock, knock. “Ma’am? Are you in there?”
In the very corner of the room stands what could be classified as a bed, if it was not covered in enough books to form a kind of paper shell over the soft cushioning. And hiding underneath this paper shell, like a dragon in its hoard, the creature within began to shake and stir in its slumber.
Knock, knock, knock. “Ma’am? Are you there? This is important.”
The movement of the covers on the bed grows greater as the hibernating creature attempts to ignore the affronting sounds disturbing her slumber, trying with all her might to drift back into the realms of sleep.
Knock, knock, knock.
“Ma’am? You need to open the door! Seriously, magi and their magical locking mechanisms….”
A purple hoof slowly extends from under the covers, gently pulling the heavier books on top of her prone form. Though her mind is not in top shape, having just woken up, she knows it is a scientific fact that there is no way she is waking up this early. Not without several more minutes and an entire pot of coffee.
KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK!
“Ma’am! The princess’ secretary sent me to get you. She said that you were taking a nap now of all times. You need to open the door and come with me.”
‘Why won’t the annoying voice go away?’ The slumbering creature thinks. ‘I’m comfortable here, why can’t he just leave me alone.’
KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK “MAM! You need to wake up now! You were supposed to report for preliminary tasks over ten minutes ago!”
The slumbering creature’s eyes widen in terror and, in the fraction of a second, the bed and all the contents on it explode into the air in a burst of magical telekinesis. Her eyes as wide as saucers, the lavender unicorn mare looks at the door as though it was a dragon pounding at the gates. Reaching up with her petite hooves, the mare grasps her three toned mane, composed of a dark purple body and pink highlights like a dark and a sunset sky, in a nervous fit as a single hair pops up from her mane in a curly shape, as her bloodshot eyes scan frantically around the room. Her cutie mark, a mark that signifies every pony’s special talents and skills, is that of a large six pointed purple star, surrounded by five white stars as white and radiant as a real star. Her mark signifies the mare’s skill in the magical arts, as well as her composed and bright personality. However, at this very moment, the mare is anything but composed and bright.
“……I’m….. tardy?” the purple unicorn mare’s bed head becomes even more frazzled as she comprehends the magnitude behind those words “……I, Twilight Sparkle, am... Tardy?”
“Seriously, why do I get stuck with this job?” the guard sighs as he prepares to knock on the door again.
KNOCK, KNO…… BOOOM!
With the subtlety of a steamroller, the door explodes off its hinges, sending the guard in front of the door skidding across the floor while screaming for his life. Barely managing to open his eyes, the unlucky guard manages to see the most demented mare in Castle Canterlot running past him, carrying several objects in her telekinesis as she bolts down the hall with reckless abandon. Strapping her saddle bags to her side, the mare begins to brush her untidy mane while brushing her teeth and eating her breakfast at the same time. And, if the scene wasn’t improbable enough, the mare manages to do all this all while running full force down the hallways, screaming at the top of her lungs about being banished to the moon for daring to be late.
In other words it sounded something like that.
The guard groans as he barely manages to slowly pick himself off the ground. With an impartial glance, the stallion gazes upon the destruction left by Celestia’s private apprentice.
“Yep, just another day in Canterlot…” The jaded guard remarks as he prepares to go back to his post, unwilling to think about the destruction the mare just wrought on his watch.
Meanwhile, the mare, having tidied her mane, eaten breakfast and brushed her teeth, runs down the hall at full force. “I’m late! I’m late! For the most important date! OF MY ENTIRE LIFE! I need to get there ten minutes ago!” In her panic, Twilight Sparkle, most magically talented unicorn since Starswirl the Bearded, builds up a magical charge large enough to destroy a small house, and molds its power to suit her purpose. Imagining the location that she is supposed to be at, and distributing the magical charge over her body, Twilight fades from reality over the space of a single second and in a flash of brilliant purple light…….
……..reappears at another location.
In contrast to the quiet atmosphere of her room, or her previously frantic pace down the halls, the open-air stadium Twilight now finds herself in is one of quiet awe. The octagonal shaped room provides a perfect display of the stars above, yet is enclosed enough to protect from prying eyes. The walls of the room around her are emblazoned with countless pricelessly ordinate runes. Each rune designed not to keep ponies out, but to keep aether in, and prevent rouge magical power from surging out in case of disaster. Performing other idle tasks of the side are various master magi and full-fledged ponies of the solar guard, ensuring that their tasks are carried out and everything is in its place.
Yet dominating the room and surpassing the importance of all the ponies in it, lies a large jet black boulder. Set upon an octagonal patio, engraved with one of the most complicated and powerful magical arrays known to ponykind, the boulder presides over the entire room, as if the room was designed around this single inconspicuous object. The stone, though it appears from simple sight to be no more than a black rock, emanates an aura that makes it unmistakable that it is an object of immense importance, an object that can…..
“Enjoying what you see, my dear?”
“GWAH!” Jumping three feet in the air, Twilight hits the ground with a thud; with a startled expression Twilight glances behind her to see the source of the voice that succeeded scaring her out of her skin.
A zebra mare, adorned with a long white coat that barely obscures her toned flank and surrounds her barrel, chuckles a bit at Twilight’s overt reaction. Straightening up the other mare’s appearance with a handy hoof-brush, the mare touches up Twilight’s disheveled mane, while dexterously wielding the brush with her hoof. The Zebra’s black and white mane, tied in an Asian style bun, bobs up and down in perfect unison with the zebra’s bare arms and legs, as she finishes up combing the unicorn’s stray hairs. “Relax, dear Twilight, you have nothing to fear. Be content with the fact that you have not missed anything of importance.” Placing the brush back in her pocket the Zebra extends her hoof to the prone mare with a smile of concern.
Twilight sighs and pulls herself to her hooves with the help of her friend. “Thanks Zecora. I guess that I’m just nervous. I mean, this is what I've been preparing for for ten whole years, ever since I became Celestia’s apprentice. And to top it off I was running late and…..”
Twilight’s eyes widen as she begins to panic. “OH my gosh, I’m late! I’m Ten minutes late! I can’t believe you convinced me to take a nap when I was supposed to be doing preparations! Oh Celestia’s going to kill me. What do I….. mmmhhh?”
Twilight’s rant is cut off by Zecora’s gentle hoof. She chuckles again. “I am sorry Twilight, I did not mean to aggravate you any further. What I was trying to say is, I recommended you take a nap because it was important that tonight of all nights. After all it is only during a lunar eclipse on the summer solstice, that we will be able to release Nightmare Moon from her prison.” Zecora remarks impartially.
“I know that Zecora. Remember that whole preparing for ten years thing?” Twilight waves her hoof at the room around her, pointing to the octagonal pedestal. “I know everything there is to know about Nightmare Moon and the mission that we are supposed to be doing tonight.” Twilight lowers her head. “And I know that I am supposed to be at my best, so that I can help to prepare the Arcanum that will purify Nightmare Moon. It’s just…… I don’t know. Now that I’m here, I just don’t feel very ready.”
Zecora’s face presents a gentle smile. “Twilight Sparkle, you are a talented and unique mare and I know for a fact that you are one of the most talented magi in Equestria in one thousand years. You are more than ready for this task.”
Despite Zecora’s comforting words, Twilight still cannot shake the feeling that she is missing something. “But I don’t even have my stand power yet!” Twilight looks over to the giant black stone in the middle of the room. “If I am really the best mare for the task, and one of the best magi in Equestria, how come I can’t even manifest my own stand, even after countless attempts?”
Twilight restates, unable to accept her friend’s assuring words. “If I can’t even handle manifesting a stand power when almost every member of the royal guard can do it in their sleep, then what kind of unicorn am I?” Looking over towards the dark black stone in the center of the room, the enormity of the task ahead of the mare suddenly begins to seem all that more daunting. “Maybe Celestia is better off finding a new pony to handle a task as important as this…”
“Do not doubt yourself so easily my young student; you are far more talented than you know….”
Twilight’s breath nearly stops in her throat, as a gentle reassuring voice begins to fill her very being with endless confidence. Falling gently from the sky like a sunbeam, the princess and monarch of the sun gracefully steps down in front of the two mares. The full grown alicorn mare, possessing both a majestic horn and a large pair of pegasi wings, lands on the ground with the slightest noise possible, as she demonstrates her natural born grace. From her alabaster coat, whiter than any silk sheet, to the flowing three toned mare of teal, sunset pink and a light purple that puts Twilight’s coat to shame, it is evident to all that the mare before them is a goddess in physical form. Her cutie mark of the invincible sun defines her as the picture of illumination and leader of the entire Equestrian Empire. With untold grace, the regal leader’s flowing mane ripples off to the side as she addresses her doubting student.
“…..And as for manifesting your stand….” The Goddess of the Sun chuckles “……I remember telling you to simply be patient. It will manifest when it is ready, and not before.”
Twilight bows her head in shame, still unwilling to admit her friend’s confidence in her is well founded. “But Princess…..I’m just a filly. I may be a pretty good at magic, but I don’t have half the experience that other ponies have. What about the head magister? Can’t she look over the circle in my place?”
Suddenly Twilight Sparkle’s eyes widen in realization of what she just said, her mentor chuckling at her student’s slip of the tongue. “I mean…… well I know that she can’t…….. You know what I mean! She’s the head magus; she was your student before me! Surely she should be more qualified for this than I am!”
The Princess smiles gently as she looks at the magic pedestal. “True she was my student as well at one time, but you are my student now. And let me assure you, Twilight, nopony, not even the head magister, has as much knowledge in magical theorem and arcane runes as you.” Celestia gestures over to the nearby circle with her wing. “Why you practically designed this magic yourself Twilight, and I could think of no pony more qualified to conduct final preparations than you.”
In a comforting gesture Celestia drapes her free wing over Twilight’s back. “And while the other ministers are managing the ambient energy fields to insure optimal conditions and to protect Canterlot, I know that you will insure that the Arcanum functions properly.”
“No buts, Twilight Sparkle. You really must have more faith in yourself than that. I realised from the day we first met, that you were a filly that would pour all of her talents and energies into things that would enrich the world.” Removing her wing from the timid Unicorn’s back, Celestia looks with purest pride over to the magic circle inscribed into the patio. “And now you are poised to help me save my only sister from the darkness that consumes her. And you know what Twilight? I wouldn’t have any other pony helping me than you.”
Zecora walks forward, putting a gentle hoof on Twilight’s shoulder. “Celestia is right. I am certain that if, Celestia on high forbid, something bad should happen tonight, it would not be your fault. After all, there is no pony that has given more to make this project succeed than you have Twilight.”
“Yeah Twilly! Don’t worry!” Twilight turns around to greet another familiar voice, one that fills her with joy to hear. Trotting up to Twilight’s side is an official looking stallion, dressed in glistening gold armor, adorned in a centurion’s helm covered in blue accents that match his mane and tail. If his uniform wasn’t any indication of his occupation his toned muscular physique, his structured disciplined appearance, and spotless white coat would be be a dead giveaway that he was a stallion at arms. Upon his flank is his cutie mark, that of a gleaming shield, representing both his desire and ability to protect, and his face is a smile of unbridled happiness. “After all, when you have a handsome older brother to protect you, there’s no way that anything bad can happen, am I right?”
Not missing a beat, the lavender mare smiles as she turns to face the white coated stallion. “Yes, Shining Armor, but then I’d need a HANDSOME older brother.”
Despite his demeanor, or perhaps because of it, Twilight Sparkle can’t help but smile as she rolls her eyes. “Yes, Shining Armor, I am happy that you are my older brother as well, however all the brotherly love in the world won’t help me if this circle isn’t completely and utterly perfect!”
Shining Armor frowns at this and glances over towards the giant magical circle. “I just don’t see why we even need this big of a magic circle anyways. My Stand power, Bastion, is an unbreakable barrier, and the magister is handling the backlash fields, I don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to handle any feedback without some fancy magic circle.”
The group looks at the captain of the Royal Guard with looks of shock and surprise on their faces. Twilight even manages a face hoof as the captain of the royal guard glances at their disappointed looks. “What?” Shining asks “Was it something I said? OUCH! Hey sis that hurt!”
Twilight groans. “Shining do you even know the first thing about the Red Stone? Or why we need a powerful Arcanum that is so complex and powerful, that it encompasses the combined knowledge of almost ten entire generations?” The purple unicorn states with an upset tone. “Do you even remember why I’m freaking out here? DO YOU?!?”
Shining leans his neck back to put as much distance between his sister and himself.“Uhhhhhhhh, because you’re obsessive compulsive and have a deep seated fear of failure?”
Celestia can barely suppress a chuckle as Twilight begins to fume from Shining Armor’s response. “I am not! I am just…… Ugh never mind! Let’s take this from the top since SOME PONY can’t seem to get this right.”
Clearing her throat and adjusting her posture, Twilight raises her head in pride, as she begins to indulge in one of her most well-loved hobbies, elaborating on complex magical theory. “Normally, in order to perform magic, three things are necessary, a power source, a method of molding said power, and a method of activating and or controlling said power. In the case of ponies, magical power or aether/manna/magic whatever it has been called through the ages, is drawn forth from the world around them, or more specifically from their element. Earth ponies draw their magical power from the earth, Pegisi the sky and unicorns from the astral plane.”
“This magical power is drawn in through the body naturally by eating, drinking, resting and breathing, to replenish the body’s own magical supplies that are lost from moving, thinking, fighting or, yes, preforming magic. This magic can then be focused through parts of the body, such as the horns, wings and hooves, to perform spells, such as telekinesis, flight and superior strength and heightened resistance. Once the part of the body has a supply of magical power, the user can activate the power by simply willing it. Earth ponies, pegasi and sometimes even unicorns can manifest their powers unconsciously without even having to think about it, which is why many ponies even believe that pegasi and earth ponies don’t even have magical power.”
Shining raises his hoof cutting off his sister. “Uh, Twi, thanks for the magic 101, but I don’t see what this has to do with the circle. Plus, I think that you forgot stand powers.”
Twilight levels her gaze on her brother again and lightly bops him on the head with her hoof “Don’t interrupt when the teacher is talking. I was just getting to that Shining.”
Clearing her voice, Twilight begins again “Stand power, as it is called due to the fact that it manifests a magical construct that ‘stands’ by the user’s side, is a form of magic that is drawn forth by exposure to the Red Stones. In simple terms, it is a manifestation of the ‘soul’ of the user; their magical energy in their body taking physical form. The user can then direct this magical construct with their will, since the magic forming a stand’s body is technically part of their being, allowing the construct to perform any task that the user designates. The stand can also manifest a special power based upon the user’s desires and needs that corresponds in some way to the user’s psyche. And, because it is made in the form of the user’s soul, it can take almost any form varying its shape and powers based on its user’s psyche. For example Shining, your stand takes on the appearance of a giant bubble…”
“Twi! I told you it’s a 360 degree protective shield!”
Twilight laughs, glad that for once she was able to upset her brother. “…. Like I said, a giant bubble, and its power makes it unbreakable. This power is due to the fact that you are a born protector and you desire a power that allows you to better protect others. This is the kind of power that can be drawn out of others by Red Stone of Aja, a national treasure of Equestria that is unknown outside the highest levels of Equestrian’s government.”
Shining smiles at the complement. “That’s right, sis. I will always be there to protect the ponies that need me the most, that's what makes me a soldier. And though I REALLY enjoyed the long boring lecture ….” Twilight shoots her brother a hostile gaze, letting him know that his sarcasm will not be tolerated, causing the stallion to fearfully back away from her. “….It still didn’t answer my question of what does this have to do with the Red stone of Aja and that Arcanum thing.”
“Right” Twilight clears her throat again, more than willing to continue. “If the Red stone was normal magical power, the Arcanum would be completely unnecessary. However, as you might have guessed by its ability to cause living beings to manifest strange powers known as Stand, the Red Stone’s magic doesn’t obey the normal rules of magic because it’s magical power is entirely different.”
“Wait. What?” Shining asks
“It’s an anomaly, Shining.” Twilight clarifies with a somber tone of voice. “It’s an object beyond time and space. Even our greatest scientists and theoretical physicists can’t understand how it fully works. Even Princess Celestia, who has studied the Red Stones for years and established the Red Stone Group to research it, barely has any idea of how its powers seem to defy time and space.” With all the caution of a physicist picking up a bar of uranium, the mare points to the black stone sitting on the altar. “And because the stone is an anomaly in space time, it is incredibly difficult to control its power. Even the princess, who has more magical experience than any living being on the planet, has trouble with directing such power.”
“And we’re just going to fire it off randomly and hope it all goes right?” Captain Shining Armor remarks sarcastically as he imagines the entire project literally blowing up in their faces. “Great idea.”
“That’s why we have the Arcanum, Shiny.” Twilight corrects the stallion “Even if the Red stone is an abnormality in space time that taps into a power beyond our understanding, it still follows quite a few laws in our dimension. By using the Arcanum, it allows us to use the stone as a catalyst and a power source, allowing us to achieve feats of magic that would normally be impossible due to their scale and difficulty.”
With no small amount of pride, the lavender unicorn walks up to the stage tapping a hoof on the well inscribed magical circle surrounding the Red Stone of Aja. “This Arcanum is specifically designed to separate and destroy the almost limitless evil that is contained within the soul of Nightmare moon. It’s similar to the way in which the stone allows ponies to physically manifest aspects of their psyche physically though a stand power. This Arcanum will draw out this evil and subsequently destroy it, freeing her from the corruptive influence of the dark magic affecting her actions. I personally helped Celestia design this circle, along with many of the top mages in Equestria. It’s a project that I myself have been working on for ten years Shiney, TEN YEARS, and even I barely understand the inner workings of the Red Stone.” Twilight suddenly glances over to the large black bolder in the center of the room her face masked with worry. “I only hope it the Arcanum works after all of this….”
Celestia smiles benevolently, wrapping her wing around Twilight. “Twilight, the circle is perfect. As you said before, the Red Stone of Aja will provide the power, the circle will focuses it, and the rest is up to me to direct and control the power of the Red stone.”
Shining Armor looks at the dark monolith of black, a sudden look of awe in his demeanor. “To purify your sister’s inner evil……I had no idea that the stone could even be used in this way….”
“What was that Shiny?”
Shining immediately snaps back to attention “Nothing! It’s nothing, little sis.” Turning his back leg, Shining begins to make a hasty retreat towards a very official looking group of unicorn guards. “Anyways, I need to work on the barriers with the rest of the guard. Catch you later Twilly!”
“I should get going as well.” Celestia states as she glances up to the sky above her, the dark face of a pony drawn into the surface of the moon reminding her of the mission’s importance. “The Arcanum will do most of the work, drawing forth the corpse’s power and focusing it. However, it is up to my will and strength to purify my sister. And to do that I need to…… to prepare. Prepare to once again face my sister….” A look of deep melancholy crosses the goddess’ face, a regret so heavy that it could break lesser mortals like matchsticks.
For the first time since she arrived Twilight becomes worried about something beyond her own insecurities “Celestia…..”
Celestia snaps out of her mental daze. “I am fine Twilight; my magic will draw my sister to me when the lunar eclipse occurs. And if the Arcanum is successful, you will have reunited me with my sister and that is worth any amount of emotional discomfort.” Celestia turns away from the Arcanum, her eyes locking on her apprentice. “I’ll say it once again Twilight, I have absolute faith in you. I trust you to make sure the Arcanum is ‘up to snuff’ as those youngsters these days say.”
Zecora coughs, getting the attention of the goddess and the giggling purple unicorn. “Ummmm, princess, I don’t think any ‘youngsters’ these days say that.” the Zebra says.
“Oh. Really I could have sworn that was the right ‘lingo’. Are you sure that ponies these days don’t use ‘up to snuff’ anymore?”
Zecora sighs. “No, princess, ponies do not use ‘up to snuff’ anymore.”
Celestia blushes slightly. “Goddess, I feel old now. Oh well, learn something new every day I suppose. Come along Zecora, we have important matters to attend to.” With brilliant illumination, Celestia charges her horn preparing for a quick teleport. “Oh and Twilight, remember what I said, I have faith in your judgment.” And with that Celestia and Zecora disappear in a flash of light, leaving the lavender unicorn once again alone.
Though originally disheartened by every pony’s sudden absence, Twilight wastes no time. With urgency befitting her situation, she slaps her cheeks with her hooves, waking her mind and body up for the important task she is about to begin. “All right Twilight! It’s up to you now. All you have to do is go over the Arcanum and every rune in it in order, to make sure that everything is in its proper place. Compared to your other work this should be a breeze.”
Leaping to her hooves, Twilight begins to walk over the layers and layers of carefully choreographed runes that lie upon the ground. With peerless perception and years of photographic memory on the circle’s from and composition, she goes tirelessly over every sigil, every bump, and indent on the stage, strengthening the marks and insuring every letter of the magical alphabet is spell checked to reduce any margin of error. Seconds drag unto seconds, minutes into minutes until finally, the empty room around her begins to fill with serious looking ponies, each member a master in the magical arts, as Twilight resolves to make sure her greatest work is nothing short of perfect, no matter how long it takes.
…………… two hours and twenty three minutes later……………
“FINISHED!” Twilight wipes the sweat off her brow, breathing a sigh of relief as she takes pride in the brain child of her ten years of research resting beneath her hooves. “That was exhausting, I almost thought that I had made a mistake on review number three on the fourth wall but luckily I was wrong! I guess this circle is about as perfect as I can make it. That means, all I have to do is sit back and…….what?”
However just as Twilight is about to turn away, her eye catches the sight of something out of place. “Hunh? That’s not right….” Looking to the left and the right for signs of anypony else, Twilight walks carefully forward, to the center of the circle, where the red stone is. Tip hoofing over the detailed magical runes (many that she helped craft), she stops near the center of the circle and stares agape at a single syllable slightly outside the center of her perfectly crafted ritual.
“There’s no way….” Twilight peers that the circle like a soldier staring at an active land mine, as a single horrifying thought worms it’s way up from her subconscious. “I…. made a mistake? NO! That’s impossible! I checked and double checked this rune at least four times! This shouldn’t be here! Celestia herself said that she would go over this part of the Arcanum! And there’s no way that Celestia of all ponies would make a mistake!”
Twilight states with a tone of finality as she tries to convince herself otherwise. “This must be a new addition to the Arcanum to boost its power, yeah that’s it! Celestia must have just changed this part of the Arcanum without telling me! There’s no way that this could be a mistake. ”
Twilight looks around her again, gulping deeply in fear. “However……This could cause a catastrophic magical surge if it is not properly handled…. And Princess Celestia DID say that she trusted me to go over the circle for any errors……”
Twilight falls to her rump, her mind in deep concentration ‘OK. Twilight. this is the moment that you have been trained for; fix the circle and risk Celestia’s wrath or don’t fix the circle and risk Celestia’s wrath. There are no wrong answers, only two equally dangerous decisions that could end up with me banished to the moon or Nightmare Moon rampaging free across Equestria. This moment will decide the fate of your entire life, and you can’t afford to mess it up.’
Looking up at the moon, Twilight thinks of Celestia’s long lost sister corrupted by dark magics. She thinks of this magical circle the only real hope of purifying her from the darkness that consumes her. She thinks of her own brother, and how she would do anything to save him if she was in Celestia’s place.
Suddenly her mind is made up. “The princess trusted me and my judgment to make sure that this Arcanum would drive out the evil in her sister. If there is even a single error in it is my duty to make sure that it functions properly! Besides, such a textbook mistake can’t be considered worthy enough to bother Celestia, especially since she needs all her focus for tonight. I’m sure she would understand.” Igniting her horn, Twilight fires a beam of magical energy at the opposing rune, causing it to glow. Slowly, the affronting rune takes on a new shape, better conforming to the circle’s pattern.
Twilight smiles and nods her head, content that now the circle will do its purpose. “Whew. I’m glad that moral dilemma is over. I just hope that this won’t have any far reaching consequences!”
Suddenly Twilight’s train of thought is cut off by a familiar voice, the voice of her brother “Twilly! We’re about ready to start! Get over here.” Shining Armor cries out, waving his hoof off to the side of the Arcanum’s platform.
Twilight turns around with a look of shock on her face. “Coming shinny!” Building her magic in her horn, Twilight teleports off of the dais, directly to the side of her brother. “Don’t worry I’m done! No magical catastrophes or anything!”
Shining Armor smiles at this. “That’s good, Twilight. Now get ready to watch the real show put on by yours truly.”
Before Twilight can retort on the fact that it is Celestia that will be invoking the circle’s power and he’s only playing a supporting role, the blaring voice of Zecora cuts them both off. “Quiet everypony! This is no time for a fuss! The time has come for us to perform our tasks! To your stations!”
Zecora’s booming voice causes the soldiers and magi around her to immediately scurry around as they frantically prepare for the eclipse. “Man your posts! There is no time to spare! The lunar Eclipse is almost upon us!”
No sooner than the words leave the Zebra’s mouth, a brilliant flash of light emerges from the center of the circle. Covered head to hoof in glimmering runes and shining armor, the monarch of the sun emerges in front of the red stone of Aja, her face grim and resolved. Facing the red stone with the reverence of a saint, Celestia raises her horn to the heavens, as the four stars near the cardinal points of the moon.
“All right stallions, Secretary Zecora is right, enough horsing around.” Shining bellows as he dawns his gleaming helm. “The moment that Nightmare Moon lands in the circle, I will use my stand to trap her inside while Celestia does her part. Mages, flow your magic through the inscriptions on the stone to help control the power of the Red stone. The rest of you form a perimeter and get ready for a heck of a show!”
Following his commands, several prominent magi, including Twilight Sparkle, ignite their horns around the stage forming a pentagram of prismatic light suspended in midair. Clearing their minds, unicorn mares and stallions alike touch their horns to the side of the octagonal platform, causing the light from their horns to slowly spread through the runes underneath the monarch’s feet, their magical pentagram meshing together with the runes of the circle. Finally, the entire circle gives off a dull illumination and the magi raise their heads again, their will and magic bound to the Arcanum in a dramatic display of arcane power. As the Arcanum glows bright white, the monarch of the sun stares stoically at the dark shadow on the moon, preparing for the confrontation to come as the moon begins to turn blood red against the dark and foreboding sky.
“Thirty seconds until Lunar eclipse! All ponies stand by!” Zecora bellows.
The guards stand ready, forming a perimeter around the stone dais upon which Celestia stands.
“Twenty seconds until Lunar eclipse!”
Celestia herself stands ready, raising her horn to the heavens as the last white sliver on the moon prepares to give way to the blood red that spreads across it.
“Ten Seconds until Lunar Eclipse!”
Shining armor readies his horn, igniting its pinkish hue, his face stern and unmoving.
Twilight gulps heavily ‘All right Twilight, this is it!’
“ZERO!” Zecora shouts, her voice echoing off the enclosed room with the intensity of a thunderclap. The shadowy face on the moon disappears. All is deathly silent as everypony holds their breath and waits for the horseshoe to drop.
Ten seconds pass……
Everypony is too scared to even breathe. Each one, mare and stallion alike, holding their breaths as they prepare to plunge into an uncertain future. Yet, each pony stands at the ready, prepared to do their part though each one is uncertain of what will happen next.
Suddenly, as fast as a thunderbolt, a dark shadow falls on Canterlot. A fell wind blows as a creature that could only be conceived of in a night terror lands in front of the monarch of the sun. Its wings sickly and bat-like flap in the night air like those of the ancient devils of old. Its teeth pointed and jagged, as if designed to consume the very flesh of living things in boiling rage. A mane as dark and shimmering as the water from a well that has never seen the sun, ripples in a nonexistent wind as the few glimmers of starlight contained in its’ vestiges are choked out by its pervading dark. The creature’s body, black as coal, is adorned with ancient cobalt blue armor that is etched with the foulest runes made from the blood of countless innocent creatures. However, most terrifying of all are its eyes. Staring at them with malice that freezes the blood in their veins are eyes devoid of compassion, mercy and any trace of goodness. Its reptilian alien slatted eyes are more akin to one of the near extinct dragons of the fiery plains than a pony of flesh and blood.The eyes that stare back at every pony in the room are eyes devoid of a very soul.
This creature, not pony, but creature, shakes off the dust from its coat as it looks upon the princess of the sun and it does something more terrifying than simply existing.
The monster opens its mouth and contorts its razor sharp teeth into a broken grin.
Nightmare Moon has arrived.