• Published 7th Sep 2013
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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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Public Relations

Canterlot Enquirer

Princesses Test Nobility in Nightmare Scare

This past Tuesday, the sun did not rise over Equestria. Nightmare Moon, alter-ego of Princess Luna, had staged a coup, banishing Celestia to the sun and thrusting Princess mi amore Cadenza onto the throne. For a time, it looked as though the night would indeed reign eternal, for though Nightmare Moon did not directly seize the throne, she would not need to, not with the sun permanently set. Going into Tuesday night, not that night or day meant much that dark day, hopelessness reigned as it seemed as though we had all seen our last sunrise, without ever knowing it.

But when the day dawned this Wednesday morning at the proper time, it became clear that Celestia had been released, either through her own means, through the Elements of Harmony, or, as unlikely as it seemed, by choice by Nightmare Moon herself. Further deepening the mystery, Princess Luna was sighted beside her sister, with no trace of Nightmare Moon to be seen and no apparent ill will between the sisters.

The rumor mill around Canterlot was thrown into overdrive until the afternoon after their return to the castle, at which point the Sisters released a statement to the press.

"I know that many of my subjects are concerned with what has happened the last two days. Let me be the first to assure you that I am alive and well, and that Nightmare Moon, or rather, Princess Luna, is of no threat to Equestria. Please, I know there are many questions, but first, allow me and my sister to explain.

"We have faced several trials as a nation these last few years, from the return of Nightmare Moon and the restoration of the Lunar Throne to the return of Discord not more than eight months ago. While these incidents have been quickly solved by the Elements of Harmony, they have revealed several inadequacies in the Diarchy in a crisis situation. While my sister and I are capable of mitigating a crisis as it arises, both the incidents mentioned so far have started with the removal of the head of the government. This naturally causes a great deal of confusion and alarm, but in both instances the Equestrian government have been paralyzed by indecision and inaction. This cannot be allowed.

"After the incident with Discord, a plan was put into place, to prevent the debilitating paralysis of the Equestrian Government should both my sister and I be incapacitated. The nobility and key members of the guard were given responsibilities according to their station in the expectation that their service could one day prove useful. But how were we to test the effectiveness of these measures? With the events of Nightmare Night in mind, my sister had the inspired suggestion one evening of faking an attack by Nightmare Moon.

"Such a fake surprise attack would allow us to observe how the procedures that have been put into place were executed, and allow us to measure and observe the effect on the nation as a whole. However, to best judge all involved parties, it was necessary to make this fake crisis feel as real as possible. To that end, only myself and my sister knew of the plan.

"When the time was right, my sister acted, pretending to take on the guise of the Nightmare and 'banishing' me to the Sun. In keeping with her act, we did not raise the sun yesterday morn, and 'Nightmare Moon' took certain measures so that she would seem to be a legitimate threat, chiefest among them using magic to 'convince' the 12th Royal Guard Division to serve her. The Elements of Harmony were similarly 'neutralized', to add a sense of urgency to the situation.

"Of course, things do not always go as planned, and the Elements of Harmony were able to escape and use the Elements upon my sister early this morning, though since this was all merely an act, such action merely broke the illusion upon her and undid the spells she had cast through the night. With Nightmare Moon 'defeated', my sister and I stood side by side in the ruins of the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters while Princess Luna set the Moon and I raised the Sun.

"Now, before we go into the details and our evaluation, my sister would like to say a few words.

"Citizens of Canterlot. I know that I have frightened you this past day, and I would like to sincerely apologize. I have come to know that there is a time and a place for things such as Nightmare Moon, but Nightmare Night is seasons away. Still, when my sister broached the idea of testing the new procedures, I could not but help and offer my assistance. As a...

Nightmare Scare, Continued on Page 2

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The headlines of all the major newspapers the next day all said the same thing, mostly. Only a few of the more paranoid and conservative papers wrote their own stories, decrying Nightmare Moon and extolling on how Princess Luna was merely playing at being a 'good pony' to deceive her sister before bringing back the eternal night; most simply opted to repeat the press release and offer their own statements and analysis to go with it. That it wasn't really Nightmare Moon, just Luna acting like it so that they could get a proper fire drill of sorts to test the new system in case of emergency.

And in truth, it had made for a good test. Twilight's old foalsitter and her brother had acquitted themselves well, trying to restore order in the chaos; quite frankly, everypony was lucky not to wake Discord with all the havoc and confusion at the castle. Others had stood out as well; Fancy Pants, Fleur de Lis, Crown Jewels, and perhaps most surprising of all, Prince Blueblood, had all performed well enough to get mention in the papers. Others, however...

House DuVal, already under investigation by the Equestrian Government for questionable land-buying practices, had attempted what amounted to a robbery, using a combination of blackmail and their strategic agents throughout the government to keep the confusion going long enough to gain access to the Royal Vaults. They were foiled by a rather unlucky guard who had been reporting directly to Shining Armor; he had come searching for his messenger after a short delay only to find agents of the House had tied the intruding messenger up and were attempting to get through one of the most heavily warded vaults in the world.To protect the treasures inside from Nightmare Moon, was their token defense. Needless to say, House DuVal was no longer a part of the nobility.

It was masterful public relations. The story adequately explained everything in a reassuring manner, shifting attention away from Nightmare Moon, and thus, Princess Luna. Nightmare Moon returning suddenly? No, it was merely a test, and Princess Luna had reluctantly shouldered the burden of acting the villain. Celestia had run the government alone for nearly one thousand years, and in that time had garnered a public trust that was unparalleled; her word would be trusted, even in the absence of facts.

It was a fact lost to time, but Celestia had not been the one to wield the Element of Honesty.

Still, there were a few that knew the full truth. Ten, to be exact. Two unicorns, two earth ponies, two pegasi, two alicorns, a horse, and a wolf.

Twilight and her friends had been too tired to walk after their ordeal, so Luna had fashioned a carriage of sorts to carry them. Epona had volunteered to pull, so they were all together, and none had heard the discussions their Princesses had had with the commander of the Guards that were escorting them. By the time they got to the Library, all six of the friends were capable of standing, and it was at that time that Celestia asked if she could speak to the Elements in private. She took them in to the Library, leaving Luna to organize things with the Guard, cast the most powerful anti-snooping spell Twilight had ever seen, and explained everything.

Most of the Elements were naturally confused. Applejack, as the Element of Honesty, was outright incensed. Lying?! That ain't right! They needed t' tell ponies th' truth of what happened, not lie like a foal that got into trouble!

Celestia bore every accusation. She remained quiet as each of Twilight's friends expressed their doubts that Equestria would believe it, their doubts about the morals of what Celestia wanted, their doubts that they would be able to keep such secrets. And when they were all done, Celestia quietly laid out the alternative that she believed, with all her considerable experience, would happen should the full truth come out.

That Luna, her ever-hopeful little sister who was only two years removed from her return from the Moon, who had only recently managed to build enough confidence to put on a first public appearance, would be branded a danger to society. Her name would be forever linked to Nightmare Moon, and she would be viewed at best with suspicion and at worst as a ruler to be deposed. The nobility would shun her, with even the most progressive wanting nothing to do with such political poison. The public would fear what she had the potential to become. Luna, diarch of the night, would be publicly shunned; it would devastate her personal life. She may well withdraw completely, becoming nothing more than a depressed loner that only left her bedroom for meals. At best she would live a solitary existence, feared by the castle staff as she went about her duties, with Celestia and perhaps a hoof-full of others as her only companionship. At worst, well, such conditions as these had led to the initial Nightmare Moon incident; the public’s belief in such a possibility may well become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What was the price of the truth of what had happened this day? Nothing less than the social destruction of Princess Luna.

Everypony had pause at that. What was better? Tell the truth and potentially damn Luna, the kind, enthusiastic, yet shy ruler, someone they called friend? Or keep quiet, tell a small lie about the whole thing, and let Celestia take care of the rest?

Every one of Twilight’s friends balked at having to live with such a secret for the rest of their lives. But even Applejack could not bring herself to tell the full truth when it would destroy someone they called friend over something that was not necessarily her fault.

In the end, they agreed, even Applejack, to go with Celestia’s story. Not that there was much of a lie to tell, Celestia had woven the narrative so that the Elements would not have to lie about much, but still, they would all know it was a lie, or rather, a partial truth. For most, it was better than the alternative, and in the end even Applejack relented, though she didn’t think she could hold up the lie if asked directly about it. Celestia had been quick to assure her that nopony would do such a thing.

With that, Celestia and Luna had left, leaving orders for the guards to resume their posts at the Diamond Dog mine. As for the Elements, well...

All six of them found themselves rather tired in the slowly recovering shell shocked community of Ponyville. Merely walking over to Sugarcube Corner, where Pinkie promised everyone a cupcake for a job well done, was done through empty streets; though there were signs that ponies were contemplating going out to find out for themselves if the sun was really out.

They arrived to find that the Cakes were more venturesome than other ponies, and were beginning to tidy up in preparation for a return to business. The six were quickly offered a booth, which they graciously accepted, and were joined a few minutes later by some unexpected but not unwelcome guests.

Big Mac, escorting the Crusaders and Spike, were just in time to get confections of their own- Epona had wandered back to the farm and told the family and their charges that the Elements were back. What followed were cookies all around and smiles on everypony's faces. The Crusaders and Spike had all wanted to know what had happened, how they had defeated Nightmare Moon, how awesome it had been to fight against the boogeymare again.... they were saved when Big Mac saw how awkward everypony was and covered for them.

The rest of the day went by sedately, at least for Twilight. They all went their respective ways after Sugarcube Corner; Twilight and Spike went back to the Library, where they spent the time organizing and putting books on shelves. Not even doing research; her mind was far more occupied with what Celestia had asked her to do. What she had asked of all of them, for Luna's sake.

Twilight put the paper down, returning to her breakfast. They really did need to do this. Luna had come to Nightmare Night full of righteous purpose, but it had all quickly crumbled in the face of a scared population, and when it had she had gone off alone. Only Twilight had brought her back and turned the night around. She could see Luna backsliding very easily.

And what did it matter? They were not outright lying about everything. Just one small little thing- that everything had been under control. That it wasn’t really Nightmare Moon, just an act…

But Celestia solved it so easily! Almost like she had done this before! How many times has this happened before? I’ve read all the history books, how much of it is not the full truth? Will what happened here ever make the history books?

She took some comfort in the fact that Celestia had done so for a good reason, to preserve the image and mental well-being of her sister. No doubt Luna was taking this hard; she had worked tirelessly to distance herself from the Nightmare, to have everypony so suddenly reminded, to have herself reminded of that wicked mare….

“That’s not true,” Spike mumbled at the newspaper. “Twilight, is this what really happened?”

“W-what do you mean, Spike? Why do you think that?”

“There was no Link!” Spike scowled.

Twilight hadn't even thought of that. She had been so wrapped up in the events surrounding Luna, she had completely missed that there was no mention of Link. Given that he was instrumental in releasing all the bearers from enchanted slumber, then again in finding the Elements, then a third time in the battle against Nightmare Moon, it seemed a disservice to not even mention him at all. The Elements may have cured Luna, but it was Link who had done all the heavy lifting and had made everything possible.

He was the real hero of the day, and nopony would ever even know even he existed.

"Twilight?"

Twilight reigned in her thoughts to the matter at hoof. As somedragon who had been close to the events of the past few weeks, Spike knew more than most ponies about what was going on. He knew that Celestia's story wasn't accurate.

But still, she couldn't have him run around telling everypony.

"Only if you Pinkie Promise that you won't tell anypony else, okay Spike? It is very important that everypony believes what is in the paper," she told him with a serious expression.

"Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!"

"Alright, Spike. I trust you. So, after I was ponynapped by Nightmare Moon...."

She knew the truth, or most of it at least. Soon, Spike would know what she knew. Her friends knew the truth. Celestia and Luna knew the truth. For now, that was enough for Twilight.

Author's Note:

Sorry this took so long. I had to get a chapter out for my other story. And then Dragon Age Inquisition happened (I'm sorry).

Anyways, here we are. I always knew this story would wrap up quick after the second boss, but even so, I am surprised with how little I can think of to tell. The next chapter may well be the official end of the story. I can't imagine it going more than two chapters from here.