• Published 7th Sep 2013
  • 16,650 Views, 1,250 Comments

Courage - scion



Evil has come to the Everfree and Ponyville. The Elements must stand against it... but they will not be alone. The mysterious blue-eyed wolf will aid-or hamper- their efforts to bring harmony back to Equestria.

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The Nightmare

It took quite a few moments for everypony to settle down again. Pinkie especially seemed to have gotten over her melancholy and was back to her old, bouncy, hyperactive self. After Rainbow relayed her self-proclaimed (and mostly acknowledged) awesome story about how she carried Link down from the tower, dodging Shadowbolts the whole way, Twilight felt that the time had come to get things back on topic.

"Alright, girls," she said loudly, cutting through the conversation. That her friends immediately stopped their chatter and listened to her was a sign of just how far she had come from being a lonely bookworm less than two years ago. She cleared that thought out of her head and got back on topic.

"We need to get back to Ponyville and find our Elements so we can use them to defeat Nightmare Moon," she said, laying out the first objective of her plan. She had written a mental checklist, which while not quite as good a parchment one, would have to suffice until she found a scroll and quill. She already had steps one through one-hundred and thirty seven fully planned, and was prepared to add more based upon the inevitable difficulties that were encountered.

Step 1: gather information on exits to the room.

"Rainbow, Link always left through that door, was there a way out of the castle that way?"

Having interviewed all the others, Twilight had come to the conclusion that the three doors the others had come through had not led anywhere recognizable. Nor had her passageway she had come down. Having been outside, perhaps Rainbow knew a way out.

"Yea, I guess. There was a hole, but there were a bunch of Shadowbolts out there."

“Hey!”

Epona cut them all off before Twilight could continue her questioning. All heads turned towards her.

“I think Link wants us to get on this stone,” Epona said, before putting words to action and stepping up onto the large circular stone platform herself. In the middle, Link eyed them all patiently. The little imp was making ‘come’ gestures with her clawed hands.

Twilight had spent a great deal of time studying the room, both magically and otherwise, for clues as to where they were and how to get out. There was an enchantment upon the stone platform, but it was a simple triggered levitation spell, though why anyone would put such a thing on a stone slab in the middle of an underground room was beyond her. She theorized that it was a conference table of sorts that could be lowered to save space.

So why did he want them to get on?

Rarity was the first to trot over, followed closely by Rainbow Dash. Pinkie, then Fluttershy, then Applejack all followed. After a moment of contemplation, Twilight followed as well. Link seemed to know more of what was going on than she did. If he wanted her to stand on a conference table, well, she was willing to do it. Even if all that ended up happening was that they all looked silly standing on a table.

Twilight hopped the little lip and clustered with her friends around Link, the seven of them and Epona easily fitting on the large circular platform.

“So, what now?” Applejack asked.

Link responded by backing up and hitting a button directly in the center of the platform.

The grinding noise of stone upon stone could be heard for a second, and everypony stumbled when the aged platform finally lurched free of its home after nearly a thousand years. Slowly but surely the levitation spell did its job, lifting the platform and the mares upon it higher and higher.

Another grinding noise turned all eyes to the roof directly above their heads. It started slowly at first, and she could not tell what was going on, until quite suddenly a clean crack opened up above her. It began to grow wider, like a door opening. Beyond it was starry sky with crumbling pillars of stone.

When the ponies were finally able to see just over the lip, they were all quick to identify where exactly they were: the first room of the Castle, where the pedestal that once contained the Elements of Harmony was. And as the platform finished moving and locked into place with a dull thud, they were all just as quick to see what had happened.

The pedestal that had once held the Elements had split in two down the middle, parting to allow access to the platform.

“My, this must have been quite an entrance when this castle was in use,” Rarity commented. Twilight had to agree; coming up framed by the Elements of Harmony must have been important. Perhaps it was used for formal occasions, or to make an impression upon visiting diplomats.

Twilight shook her head. She could ask and research later. Right now, there were more important things that need to be done.

“Alright girls, we need to get back to town and find the Elements…. of…. Harmony…..”

Twilight trailed off as her own tiara, bearing the starburst Element of Magic, came into her vision range, held by some sort of orange tendril. Startled, she followed the tendril back to the source, and found that the little imp’s orange mane had split into six different tendrils.

“Oh hey look, my Element!” Pinkie exclaimed.

“Well, this sure is convenient,” Applejack intoned from behind Twilight.

Twilight shook her head to clear her thoughts. Mentally, she checked off steps one through one hundred and thirty on her internal checklist.

“Now we just need to find Nightmare Moon and use the Elements to save Celestia, Luna, and all of Equestria,” she summarized, reaching out with her telekinesis to take the tiara. The tiara didn’t budge.

The startled and confused exclamations of her friends told her she was not alone in trying to retrieve her element. But before she could do more than protest, the tendril moved her tiara over to a crumbling pillar.

Twilight shot a confused look at Link, only to find he was eyeing the imp on his back with an annoyed or scolding expression. The imp was smiling innocently back. Twilight rolled her eyes before trotting towards her tiara. As she neared, a curious hole in the pillar made itself known; curious, because it was shaped exactly like her tiara. Looking around, she saw each of her friends standing in front of various sections of the ruins, all with suspicious looking holes that looked exactly like their Elements.

Well, Link had helped them out so far. He must be doing his for a reason.

Twilight took her Element in her magic and slotted it in to the wall. It fit perfectly, though there was a small amount left out of the stone.

Curious, Twilight gave it a small telekenetic push, and heard a 'click' sound from the stone. It was almost like a-

"It's a switch. They're all swiches," Twilight called out to her friends, all in varying stages of progress. "Put your Element in the hole and push until it clicks."

At her direction, each managed to successfully activate their switch; unfortunately, nothing happened.

"Perhaps they all need to be pressed at once?" Rarity suggested. It was a good suggestion; Twilight's tiara had popped out when she had not had any pressure applied.

"On three, girls. One, two, three!"

Twilight heard her own switch click, and heard a creaking from behind her. Keeping pressure on her tiara, she turned to see the doors that led to the throne room swing open. Link was already heading for the throne room.

"Hey, wait for us!" Rainbow called out.

"Rainbow!"

The moment she let go of her Element, the doors began to close. This wasn't a problem for Link, who had made it through the threshold, but by the time Rainbow realized her mistake and went back to her Element, they were already half way closed. Worse, even with Rainbow cursing as she held her Element in place on the switch, the doors continued to close, creaking shut with grim finality.

With an unspoken command, they all let off their switches and then pushed again, hoping to re-open the doors.

The doors to the throne room did not open.

"Well, what d' we do now?"

---

The Throne Room had no doubt once been grand. The size alone was imposing, a sign of the wealth and respect of the Royal Sisters. Tapestries would have hung from the buttresses and rafters of the ceiling, one side of the hall with the fiery eight-armed Mark of the Sun, the other with the veiled Mark of the Moon. Further fineries would have once been lavished throughout the hall– hoof-carved wooden chairs with velve seat covers, a soft Saddle Arabian carpet running the length of the hall from the grand entrance doors to the steps of the Twin Thrones, tapestries, paintings, sculptures; the seat of power that had no equal.

But that was a thousand years ago.

The Twin Thrones were broken and much of the roof was open to the sky, a testament to the battle that had once taken place. The great banners were faded and tattered by time, the carpet gone, the tapestries and paintings and sculptures ravaged and crumbling. The Throne Room was now nothing more than a ruin, a reminder of the mistakes of the past.

Unless the Nightmare had her way.

Link padded silently into the room, lit only by the moonlight that spilled in from the open room. On his back, Midna clenched her legs into his ribs; a silluete, distinctive in the billowing, starry blue mane and turquiose colored armor, watched them with diamond pupiled eyes. Behind her, hung upon the wall between the the two broken thrones, Link saw a glint of light that could only be the mirror.

The sound of metal upon stone set Link on edge as Nightmare Moon shifted. Link bared his fangs and considered asking Midna to shift him to a form he was more comfortable fighting with. He did not know if the Sword of Evil's Bane would affect a creature such as this, but it was his best chance of fighting his way to the Mirror Shard and wresting it free from her–

Shuffling from his side caused both his and Midna's head to swing to the shadows. Before either could do more than widen their eyes, a bolt of turquoise magic slammed into the pair.

---

Nightmare Moon stepped from the shadows with fangs showing in a highly satisfied grin.

Her slitted eyes shot a glance towards the throne; the Nightmare Moon that was standing upon the raised dias flashed her own fanged grin back at her, then turned into nothing more than a black cloud that headed for the Nightmare.

Nightmare Moon seriously considered laughing as her doppleganger rejoined with her. This was the hero that she had feared? Ha! She had had more trouble with the Element of Kindness than she had with this beast! The Nightmare was expecting the whelpling Cadence, who had yet to reach three decades of age and whose talent was love, to put up more of a fight than this!

"I expected more from you, Beast," she taunted, nudging his unconscious form with a hoof. "I must admit, you seemed a formidable foe until now. Defeating the Diamond Dogs; vanquishing the Shadow..."

Now the Nightmare did laugh, a satisfied chortle.

"I had thought you might be the only legitimate threat to my reign. I see now that I was mistaken."

Nightmare Moon closed her eyes. When she opened them again, they blazed white with power.

"Now live your greatest nightmare! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

---

The world was burning.

Link tried desperately to put out the fires that had been spread by the boar riders, running back and forth to the well with nothing but a bucket at frantic pace, but a bucket was nothing to the hungry flames that consumed his home and his village.

Still, he tried. He couldn't give up, not on Epona, not on Colin, not on Illia–

"Link!" came a desperate scream.

Link turned to look, and found Illia trapped in the burning wreckage of her home. He made it to the door when the wooden rafters collapsed in a shower of flames. Beyond them, he saw Illia reaching out to him.

"Link, please, help," she begged him.

"Beast!" came a cry from behind him.

"Monster!"

"Leave her alone!" came a cry fiercer than most. Little blonde-haired Colin, timidness gone from his eyes, holding Link's wooden training sword at the ready, his friends behind him cowering in fear.

Shocked, Link looked down and saw black-furred paws. He whimpered and tucked his tail between his legs as Colin advanced, wondering where Midna was. If only he could turn himself back...

A scream cut the air, and Link whirled to face it. Illia pointed at him, a look of naked fear upon her face. He slid his ears back and lowered himself, trying to look as unthreatening as possible, but the merest movement sent her screaming back into her house; he heard the deadbolt lock as she barricaded–

Link paused, then frowned to himself. Hadn't this house last been on fire when he had seen it?

For that matter, Illia could not have called out his name because she did not remember it right now; Colin and the other children were not in the village; and despite what the boar-riders had done in kidnapping the children and Illia, they had yet to purposefully set fire to any settlements.

There was something wrong here.

Link ignored the form of Midna sneering at him and chose to go to the waters of the small pond at the back of his home village. The waters there were always cool and calm. Peering over the edge into the water, he saw his face looking back at him.

The face of a blue-eyed wolf.

As he watched, his reflection began to morph. The ears pinned back in aggression. The canines came out. The eyes lost their intelligence, replaced with feral intensity and aggression. A snarling wolf looked back at him from the pond, no trace of what he had once been in his reflection.

Link closed his eyes and gathered his will.

It was not real. None of this was.

The Warrior's Spirit flared within him.

---

Nightmare Moon had yet to cease smiling as lifted the beast and his little imp friend in her magic. There was even a bit of a prance to her step as, using the power now at her disposal, she created a cage from nothing.

The imp was gently placed into it, but squirmed and moaned in her sleep despite the care that the Nightmare took. She would have to look in on her dreams at some point and see what it was that had her reacting so, once she had corraled her guards and disciplined them. Yes. The dreams of the little imp and the wolf may be able to tell her much, if properly... controlled... and when she had learned all she could, he would no doubt prove an excellent servant, once he was properly broken in...

Nightmare Moon's chuckle was cut off by a meaty thud.

She turned to see the wolf stagger to his feet. Though his steps were uncertain, the teeth he bared her way and the look in his eyes showed it would not be that way for long.

"So, you are stronger than you first appear," she told him as he steadied himself. "Shame. You should have stayed in the world of dreams, beast. The real nightmare... is right here."

Link snarled and lunged, powerful legs propelling him forward. Nightmare Moon laughed as she turned to nothing more than inky blackness, allowing the beast to pass through her harmlessly.

However, it appeared that she was not his target. The wolf latched onto the bars of the onyx cage with his canines and pulled with all his strength. A small blue sphere seemed to surround him, but the cage was solid stone now, and was so large that the faint blue sphere could not reach the little imp.

"Fool," she called out to him. A blast of magic from her horn forced him away from the cage and his little imp friend. The wolf darted away, towards the throne–

"NO!"

Nightmare's horn lit and lightning flew, only narrowly missing the beast as he jumped back to avoid it. A stomp of her foot and black onyx erupted from the thrones, putting her precious mirror shard well out of reach of the wolf.

"You shall be sent whimpering back to the realm of dreams, beast," she hissed at him. She pawed the ground. "And when I am through with you, this world. Shall. Be. MINE!"

Twilit Noctus lowered her glowing horn and charged.

---

Twilight and the other Elements had been at a loss for how to proceed. The door simply wouldn't open again, no matter how much they tried, no matter how many times or in what order they pressed the switches. Link was in there, fighting Nightmare Moon, and they had been stopped by a door.

Until Rarity had noticed that a second set of doors had opened.

With no way of getting through the throne room doors, and no desire to leave Link to face Nightmare Moon alone, they had agreed to see where it led. With Epona following behind, they made their way through the crumbling stone passageways, up a set of questionable-looking yet actually quite solid stairs, and made a right turn at a partially-collapsed forked passage.

And then they heard the sounds of battle.

"Foal!"

There was no doubt it was Nightmare Moon.

A vicious snarl that sent shivers down her spine and images of ivory teeth closing about her neck echoed a few moments later. Followed by the impact of magic upon stone. The girls all exchanged looks before galloping towards the sounds. With Nightmare Moon's constant shouting, it was not hard.

They emerged onto what had once been a balcony overlook of the throne room. Once, nobles would have lined the walls, watching from the rafters as petitioners and other members of the nobility tried to curry favor from the Princesses. Now, they were falling down; stones had fallen from the floor, leaving holes in some places, and the majority of the stone railing was gone from what looked to Twilight like spellfire.

From their vantage point, they had a clear view of the battle between the columns.

It was clear Nightmare Moon was in control, and she was winning. Lightning, fireballs, and magic compressed into bolts of turquoise light lashed around the arena from her central position as Link ducked and dodged, trying to close the distance. Unfortunately, every time he tried, she would simply laugh at him and turn into a dark cloud, vanishing into the darkness before re-appearing somewhere else and continuing her assault. Every so often, he would have to 'break' a telekinetic grab, or fight off a sleep spell; those moments were the most harrowing, as the Nightmare used them to slow her quarry enough to hit him.

Through all of it, Link could do nothing but nimbly dodge and growl at his opponent, unable to close to do damage to the Nightmare.

"We gotta help him!" Rainbow took off.

Applejack was quicker though, grabbing her tail before the pegasus could go streaking into the fight.

"AJ, lemme go!"

"Rainbow, we need you to use the Elements!" Twilight begged.

"Well then what are we waiting for!" Rainbow zipped into place behind Twilight.

The others were quick to assume their places as well. Twilight closed her eyes, concentrating upon the feeling of friendship deep within her, in her heart. She felt her friends do the same, like singers tuning their voices. Then she felt her hooves lift off the ground, gently supporting her until she was upright as their friendship, their harmonization, reached its peak.

Twilight's eyes glowed white with power as a blaze of rainbow light arced towards the oblivious Nightmare Moon.

---

Link was in a bad place.

Midna had been shut up in a cage, no doubt reliving a nightmare like the one he had broken out of, and he was unable to reach her to break her out of it with his Spirit. The Mirror Shard was now out of reach, and would take time that he did not have to reach it. Above all else, he was under attack from the Nightmare, a constant flurry of attacks that he had to dodge, and sometimes a direct use of magic that he would have to throw off. Worst of all, he could not reach her, not with the Nightmare simply moving to another place whenever he tried. She was toying with him.

But he tried nonetheless. He would not give up. Perhaps at some point, she would make a critical mistake and let him get close. Perhaps he could slip her attention enough to break Midna out of her cage and wake her up. All he had to do, all he could do, was duck and dodge and hope.

The Nightmare shot a bolt of turquoise magic at him. Link sprang sideways with all four paws, leaving the bolt to impact against the stone behind it, and sprang forward, intending to close, but was force to skitter sideways to dodge a blast of lightning from his foe.

"Haha! Run all you want, beast. Growl, all you want. There is nothing you can do. When you grow tired, and you finally realize the futility of your actions, you shall be miAAAAAAAAGGGGHHH!"

The Nightmare cried out in pain and surprise as a rainbow of light impacted her back, encompassing her in a multitude of colors. Link stopped and panted as his foe was consumed by the light, her cries cutting off and her form encompassed.

His eyes tracked the rainbow back to their source, and what he found surprised him. The six mares, the ones he had left behind in the Hall of the Elements, were on a stone balcony several stories above. Each glowed a radiant color of the rainbow and was levitated into the air, sustaining the multicolored storm that they had unleashed upon the Nightmare.

After a few more moments, Twilight and the others collapsed onto the balcony, the rainbow of light cutting off. A few moments later, the rainbow storm dissipated.

"If you foals thought me defeated so easily, you are sorely mistaken," Nightmare Moon hissed at him. She did look a little worse for wear; the purple mascara around her eyes was smudged, her armor looked duller, her ethereal mane seemed disheveled, even parts of her coat seemed to be blotches of a bluer shade.

All of that disappeared as she channeled turquoise power, glowing like a lantern in the moonlight. When it faded, she was once again as he had seen her first, immaculate, strangely beautiful and terrifying at the same time.

"The Elements shall not defeat me, cannot defeat me, not this time," she declared to the balcony. "No, the Elements are weak against me now. Still..."

Link growled at her and charged, unwilling to give his foe further opportunity to recover. He had nearly reached her when her attention returned to him. He could feel the dark mist under his feet, and through his fur, as she laughed and turned to nothing more than smoke.

When she reformed on the dias of the thrones, there was not one, but two, Nightmare Moons.

"I shall continue our education here, beast, while my other self deals with your friends."

Link sprinted across the room and threw himself at the Nightmare Moon that was spreading her wings for takeoff, but was intercepted by a pair of hooves from the one who had spoken. There was nothing Link could do as the second Nightmare Moon beat her wings powerfully, taking her to the balcony where Twilight and the others were.

---

Using the Elements took a lot out Twilight and her friends. The first time they had done so, against Nightmare Moon the first time, the Elements had left them weak and unconcious for several minutes. A few questions to her mentor revealed that the Elements drew upon their bodies to fuel the magic; friendship was its power, and the stronger the frienship, the stronger the Elements, but the necessary magic to spark it came from the inborn magic of the ponies themselves, like a piece of tinder ignites a fire. For stronger creatures, like Celestia and Luna when they had wielded the Elements, the draw was negligible. For mortal ponies, the draw was small, and temporary, but significant; only the absolute strongest of ponies could stay awake, much less stay standing.

As such, Twilight was less than surprised to find herself forcing her eyes open. Her legs felt like jelly and for a few moments she was more than content to lay on the stone, not moving.

Then Nightmare Moon landed heavily in front of her.

"You are foals if you think that I can be beaten by the Elements again," Nightmare Moon hissed at them. "You should have stayed in your cells and left well enough alone, but instead you have come to MY throne room, the height of my power, and you dare, you DARE to challenge ME?!"

She pawed a hoof at the ground. "Thank your precious Celestia that I show mercy on you, Bearers," she spat, "and do not give you the full punishment that your actions deserve."

Twilight struggled to her hooves as Nightmare Moon lit her horn. Around her she could hear her friends beginning to stir as well, but not even Rainbow was shaking this off fast enough to avoid whatever spell the Nightmare was charging.

Twilight closed her eyes and braced herself for what might come next.

"No!"

The sound of massive hooves upon stone brought her eyes back open.

"What?!" Nightmare Moon gasped in surprise. Then it turned to an emotion that was unmistakably fear as Epona, the last horse on the face of the world, who towered over even the alicorns of Celestia and Luna like they were foals, charged directly at the Nightmare.

Nightmare Moon barely managed to get out from the path of the trampling hooves at the last moment, regaining enough wits to send a blast of magic at the horse. Epona accepted the blast to her chest with nothing more than a grunt, then wheeled about, her hind hooves facing the recovering Nightmare Moon.

Both hooves kicked out and hit Nightmare Moon like a pair of sledgehammers, one in the soft belly, the other on the side of her armored shoulder. The force was enough to send Nightmare Moon flying off the balcony. The Nightmare flew without the aid of wings through the throne room, bursting into a cloud of black as she hit a crumbling support pillar.

"You will not hurt my friends!" Epona declared with a snort.

Twilight, now on her hooves, forced herself over to the edge of the balcony, where the fighting had not stopped. The black cloud of the doppelganger rejoined with the Nightmare as she fought off Link's attack, sending him skittering across the floor.

Nightmare Moon shot Twilight, and Epona beside her, a look of pure malice.

Then Link lunged at her exposed neck, forcing the Nightmare's attention back to the threat at hoof. But now, she kept a weather eye on the balcony when she could.

"It didn't work," Rarity whispered behind her.

"You hurt her," Epona said, bringing the panic to a halt before it could begin.

"What do you mean?" Twilight asked.

"When you did the rainbow thing. It hurt her. She was spotty. And her hair looked like Applebloom's when you make her do the morning chores," Epona elaborated.

"If it hurt her once, it can hurt her again," Applejack said slowly.

"Maybe it could even return Princess Luna to us if we do it enough," Twilight theorized.

"Well? What are we waiting for!?" Rainbow demanded.

---

Link was glad his ever-faithful companion had stepped up to the plate and helped to defend Twilight and her friends. The look Nightmare Moon had shot at them showed just how quickly her plan was crashing around her.

She was weaker now, and more distracted. He had even managed to sneak up on her a few times, forcing her to fend him off with hoof instead of horn.

She was, however, fighting fiercer now. Before, it seemed as though she was toying with him, her voice never ceasing with taunts about what fate she had in store for him or the futility of fighting back. Now she was focused; gone was grin, replaced with a frown on her muzzle and a constant spell on her horn. She also did not shy from hitting him now; one magic blast had sent him flying and now his right foreleg twinged with every step he took.

He ignored it. His time had come. She was vulnerable, and if he could distract her long enough for Twilight and the others to perform their rainbow trick again, then she could be brought down.

Link saw the balcony begin to glow; a sign that they were beginning to strike again. If Nightmare Moon saw it, she would no doubt try to stop it, or dodge.

Link barked at the top of his lungs, charging recklessly at Nightmare Moon. Not far enough or fast enough to cause her to turn to smoke, but enought that she thought he may be a threat. She responded with a fireball that singed his fur as he flattened against the ground to avoid it; he nevertheless continued doggedly forward, growling and snarling at the Nightmare, trying to keep her attention.

It worked. Nightmare Moon had her eyes fixed on him, spell ready against what move he may take next. She didn't see the ponies on the balcony lift in a white glow, nor the rainbow that arced nearly to the ruined ceiling that crashed down upon her.

She screamed in rage and pain as she was once again swallowed in a vortex of color. For a few moments, as the rainbow swirled around the location where the Nightmare was, Link entertained the thought that this might be enough to stop the Nightmare and that this battle was over.

Then the rainbow receded. Nightmare Moon looked ravaged; her ethereal hair was wild, spots of blue covered large sections of her body, and her armor was both askew and looked beaten. She panted as though she had just run a long distance.

She shot Link a glare of fiery anger before a wave of turqoise flames exploded from her form. Link had to scramble to get behind a pillar as the wave of fire erupted out from her in all directions.

"ENOUGH!" Nightmare Moon commanded, once again back to her pristine self. "I will not be stopped by some mutt and a few broken artifacts! The world is MINE, and the night SHALL last FOREVER, no matter what you array against me!"

---

It was harder, fighting for conciousness the second time. The effects of using the Elements may have been temporary, but they simply could not afford to wait until they felt good again. They had to stop Nightmare Moon now.

"Ugh. I hate feeling tired like this," Twilight heard Pinkie say from behind her. For the party pony on a constant sugar rush, feeling this tired must have been pure torture.

"Did it work?" Twilight asked to nopony in particular.

"No," came the reply from Epona. Groans sounded from everypony, except for Rarity, who sighed. Ladies did not groan.

"She looked worse this time," Epona continued.

Twilight managed to stagger to her hooves, before nearly falling over again on unsteady legs. "Well, that's something, I suppose." She staggered over to Rainbow, who appeared to be out for the count.

"Rainbow, get up," she said, nudging her companion. Rainbow groaned in response. "Come on, Link needs our help."

One eye opened, followed by the wings spreading themselves out.

"Ah'm not sure how many more times we c'n do this, Twi," Applejack said on wobbly legs. Behind her, Fluttershy was standing but breathing hard.

"We can't give up," Twilight told them all. "This may be our only chance at stopping Nightmare Moon, rescuing Celestia, and preventing Eternal Night!"

"There is nothing that will prevent the Eternal Night, foal," Nightmare Moon hissed at them as she landed on the balcony.

Unable to use the Elements again yet, all Twilight and her friends could do was stare, and hope that Epona helped.

She did not disappoint. With a snort, Epona charged at Nightmare Moon. The Nightmare sneered and conjured a turquoise barrier of magic– which promptly shattered when Epona slammed into it. She staggered, then continued her charge at the Nightmare.

Fear once again crept on to the Nightmare's face even as another spell built upon her horn, but it was too late. Epona barrelled into Nightmare Moon, knocking her to the stone floor hard. Then she reared, kicking her forelegs into the air, intent upon bringing those hardened hooves down upon the Nightmare.

Nightmare Moon dissipated into black smoke with mere moments to spare. Epona's iron-shod hooves struck sparks upon the stone as she landed.

The smoke flitted over the edge and back down to the floor of the throne room before reforming into a pony.

"I had promised myself that I would take mercy upon you, if for no other reason that you could prove useful, Elements! Now, I see that was an error. An error I shall cor-omph!"

Nightmare Moon did not finish her threat as Link leapt upon her, teeth bared. The Nightmare screamed in fear and rage as the growling wolf doggedly held on during her attempts to shake him of. A small sphere of blue sprang surrounded him, and Twilight's eyes comically widened as Nightmare Moon's ethereal mane turned to normal hair when in the field.

"Well, ah'll be damned," Applejack commented. Nightmare Moon began bucking in a vain attempt to get her unwanted passenger off, but Link held on. And as long as her attention was focused on Link, they had a chance.

Twilight felt her hooves steady underneath her. She did not feel fully recovered yet, but she felt well enough. It would have to do. "Alright girls, formation!"

---

Through a combination of sheer determination and more than a little luck, Link remained on the back of Nightmare Moon as she bucked her way around the hall. With the Warrior's Spirit, she could not dislodge him with her magic, nor could she turn to smoke as she had done so many times before; no, so long as he was suppressing her magic locally, all she could do was attempt to buck him off. Unfortunately for her, Link was rather experienced with farm animals and their handling, and he also had an excellent grip in the form of her mane in his teeth.

He rode her as she weaved and bucked through the hall, cursing him all the while in a voice that was so loud that he thought he could hear an echo off the nearby mountains.

And then his vision went rainbow.

Author's Note:

Here we are at last. The battle against Nightmare Moon. I only telegraphed it *counts* twenty chapters ago. Well, let me know what you think. I hope you enjoyed.

I imagine that the last part, where Link is riding on Nightmare Moon's back, is like the section of the game where you have to calm a panicking Epona down; hold on for a set amount of time, and the Elements activate and blast her.

Also, my view of Epona's magic at this time can be best summed up in four words: "Honey Badger don't care."

Or more accurately, "Epona don't care."