• Published 22nd Apr 2015
  • 16,573 Views, 271 Comments

Inexcusable - cleverpun

Princess Nightmare Moon had tried to keep it secret. She had feigned ignorance, but the charade could not last. She nocked the arrow. Tirek was a large target; he would fall easily. Then the true challenge would come: explaining herself to Celestia.

  • ...

7. Insincerity

Celestia took another sip of wine. She had far too much magic to ever be affected by alcohol; her natural defenses would never let such toxins impede her. The complexity of wine distracted her. Tasting and investigating the layers of a fine wine helped to take her mind off things.

Somepony knocked on her door. She had ordered the guards not to let anyone disturb her, so it had to be someone with authority.

“Come in,” she called.

Cadance walked in. “Good evening, auntie.”

“Hello, Cadance. Wine?”

“No, thank you.”

Celestia waved a hoof at the chair across from her desk. “Please, have a seat. I’m guessing something is on your mind, to show up this late.”

Cadance sat down. “I heard you forgave aunt Luna.”

“I did.” Celestia took another sip of wine. No point in asking how Cadance had heard it. “Is there something that concerned you?”

“After our…discussion, it seemed like an odd thing for you to do.”

“I thought you would be happy about it,” Celestia said. “You were defending her, during that discussion.”

“I would be happy, if you were being sincere.”

Celestia’s glass paused in front of her mouth. She set it on her desk. “Is that why you’re here so late? To lecture me?”

“No. I’m here to ask why.”

Celestia took a deep breath. No point in lying to Cadance. Or rather, Cadance saw through lies too easily for it to matter. “I thought it was for the best. She said a lot of things to me. Troubling things. I hoped that… I thought that, perhaps if we reconciled, she would not feel the need to resort to any more violence.”

“What sort of things did she say?” Cadance asked.

“She said that she needed me. That in all her time alone, I was the only thing she thought of.”

“And that scared you?” Cadance furrowed her brow. “I recall you said something very similar about her.”

“That was…is different. She’s not the same.”

“Neither are you,” Cadance said. “Nopony can be, after a thousand years apart.”

“The differences are not comparable. I did not go insane from isolation and dark magic.”

Cadance leaned forward. “And that justifies lying to your sister?”

“What would you have me do?” Celestia slammed a hoof on her desk, and the wine glass rattled. “Admit that she disgusts me?” She froze, retracted her hoof. “It is better this way. Safer. For everyone.”

Cadance had not reacted to the outburst. She sat there stoically, her eyes still fixed on Celestia. “You can’t fake love, auntie.”

Celestia leaned back in her chair. She folded her forelegs and then took a deep breath. “No, that is true. But sometimes, living a lie turns it into truth.”

“I see.” Cadance stood up. “I think I understand why you did it now.” She turned to leave. “I’ll leave you to your wine.”

“Cadance,” Celestia whispered. “Please don’t tell her.”

Cadance paused at the door. “I won’t. But I would think, after all this, that you would know how much secrets can fester.”

Cadance left. Celestia reached for her glass. She needed the distraction.

Author's Note:

When the blazing sun is gone,
When there nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Then the trav’ler in the dark,
Thanks you for your little spark;
She could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.

The story concludes in You Too Will Deteriorate

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Comments ( 135 )

Interesting read, I hope you plan to write more stories set in this universe.:twilightsmile:

>Sequel to If You Came to Conquer


Will be reading this tomorrow on the commute, I think. Looking forward to it! :D

...No you can't leave it here! Poor Nightmare she's going to be destroyed when she finds out... Self ignorance can only last so long and eventually she'll notice the recoils when she goes to touch Celestia. Or notices their time together decreasing. :fluttercry:

Pretty good follow-up. It was appropriately bleak, and delivered basically what I expected. And I like that it managed to have an open ending without having any confusing elements left over.

Please Celestia.... don't do this.... it might not be how you want it but.... please find it in your heart.... I beg you... :fluttercry::applecry::pinkiesad2:

5895781 if you can't forgive something, then you can't forgive it. Actually rejecting her will do no good. And that's what being honest would be.

Oh wow... that was... ow... medic... I'm feeling out all over my desk.... help.....



Quite the deep little fic. I'm curious if you plan to continue this.

...so, I take it this is going to lead to a story where Nightmare finds out Celestia lied?

Because, let's be real here, in this universe, I only see one way where things will ever be okay again.

And that will be when Celestia sees that Nightmare is dead.

Tirek feels the arrow hit his spine?

"My spine? Seriously? Should have aimed for the brain stem, Loony. Any biologist could have told you spinal injuries don't kill instantly. And with all the magic I have now.. *telekinetically pulls out arrow and regenerates instantly*... ya done f'd up."

Then he brutally slaughters her... because grimdark.



Cue NMM driving herself further and further insane as she senses Celestia's not loving her and tries harder and harder to please her, eventually doing horrible things for her sister's approval.

Enjoyable fic. Though I preferred the more emotionally restrained or emotionally dead NMM in the previous story.

Ha-Ha! Excellent work.


Speaking honestly? Screw you Celestia. I don't care if she's not your Luna, she's still a Luna, and that should be more than enough for you. Your Luna was mad, hysterical, off-her-rocker nuts, and all your little plans? They didn't save her, they didn't do shit; in the end she was still possessed by the Nightmare, she still killed you and the entire damn world. And guess what Celestia? That was your fault, that's right, your fault. Oh, sure, it's not just Celestia's fault, but if it wasn't for her fucking up things wouldn't have turned out nearly so badly. So no, you don't get to sit on your high horse and judge her, not after she succeeded where you failed. And need I remind you that instead of making murder her first option she suffered countless reiterations of all her worst mistakes over and over again, endlessly on repeat just for another ultimately futile chance at convincing Luna that what she was doing was wrong?

Nightmare Moon tried, she did her best, and she suffered for it. And if you can't appreciate that then politely fuck off.

Found this story. Noticed that there was a prequel. Read the first one, Gave it a fave by half way through the first chapter. Read this one after finishing the first one. Insta fave.

I have to say, I havent fallen for a story like this since my friend got my into fan fiction by making me read Fallout Equestria.

Is there going to s a sequel to this? :fluttercry: Pleas, pleas, pleas, let it come out soon.



I had to re-read the previous story to remember exactly what had happened (been a while) but this was a great addition to the verse. Would love to see more set in this universe.

She may be able to forgive her sister in ghe future. The wound is still pretty fresh, but once she's had more time for the feeling of betrayal to fade she may be able to see it from Luna/Moon's perspective.

hi hi

Time travel is a tricky thing. In a sense, Luna/Nightmare Moon committed a tremendous crime, suffered in self-imposed isolation for uncountable years and then further imprisonment in the moon, after punishing herself in the process of setting herself free. Her crimes were indeed great, but so was her sentence. But in spite of how fragile Celestia seemed, I still cannot imagine that a pony as wise as her will not sort things out eventually. Personally, I think she'd have been better off telling Luna/Nightmare Moon what she told Cadence at the very end, but it is no larger a deception that Luna's. I suspect it will come out eventually, and I have some faith that Celestia can make good on her hopes.

Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.

- Salvador Dali

((Discord, on the other hand, needs to learn a few things about how trust works...))

Make it a threequel!

Quite a deep fic here.
Hope that there is going a sequel to let us know how it all end.
In my opinion , Celestia is being unfair , as NMM tried her hardest to do things right , for Celestia and her ponies. Then again , I think that she need more time to process all that. Right now the feeling of betrayal is still to fresh for her to realise how unfair she is being to NMM , who is still her Luna (in some weird way , as she is the much older Luna from the future that originally happened , but still)
I wonder if Celestia would be considered to be the youger sister now...

This is one of the exceptionally few times that I enjoyed reading a sad fic. Nice job. I liked.

This was really deep, and I loved the short crispness of it. Faved.

I disagree. If one holds the idea that altering the past creates a new timeline (as opposed to "you have already changed the past" timetravel we see in the show), then NMM has been hopping from one timeline to another, failing to change the outcome, and finally murdered some other Luna just to take her place. The fact her original timeline still exists outside the loop (as seen in the ending of the prequel fic "If You Came to Conquer") supports this theory.
So Celestia's reaction is entirely justified. NMM might be thinking she's doing the right thing, but she's only messing things up differently.

Also, why didn't she tried joining the battle on Celestia's side and ensure she wouldn't get killed? Or force Luna to see her memories of a dead world? Or even turn Luna to stone and explain the situation to Celestia?

Moony is one messed up mare here.

"That taking a life was a justifiable response?"

It is for humans. And NMM is very much like a human in this, in her mindset. Any human would agree with what Luna did, it was necessary to kill the evil.

If we are considering the timelines point of view (as I agree with you that it's the theory chosen by the author here) , NMM could still be considered to be in some way Celestia's Luna , an older version , but still.
I should explain myself I suppose.
If one consider one identity to be the consequences of every decision this person took (Memories) , then consider the fact that the two timeline are (for what we know) completely similar in every ways , then should'nt NMM be effectively considered as being the same mare as the one she murdered , given that she basicaly remplaced her past self with an older version of herself coming from a virtually identical alternate timeline ?(Thus having the same experience , though patern and overall personnality) (Plus , I believe that she checked if things would turn out the same.)
Then again , this lead to some philosophical stuff , as it would lead to considering whether a clone with all your memories would be "you" , and if your brother who left one year ago then came back (thus gaining new memories) was still the same person. If one argued that the body was the key point of someone being who their are (In our case , saying that the Luna who was murdered had the same memories but in her own body , thus being a different being) , then hypothetically speaking changing from one body from another would erase the substance of one being....
Things to ponder I suppose.
Fact is , even if NMM is for all intend and purpose a slightly different clone of this timeline Luna , she doesn't know it and sincerelly believe that she just remplaced herself and is doing the right thing (as you said). For all we know , she might have saved this timeline.

Also, why didn't she tried joining the battle on Celestia's side and ensure she wouldn't get killed? Or force Luna to see her memories of a dead world? Or even turn Luna to stone and explain the situation to Celestia?

Maybe she did all that and it didn't work , or created a future worse than the deception curently taking place.
After all , she did say :

I tried so many things, Celestia. I tore apart the libraries looking for a solution. I tried every time travel spell I could find, tried to convince my past self to change her course. But every time it would fail. I would return to the present with nothing but a new memory. Another delusion among my collection.

It strongly hint that this iteration isn't her first try at fixing everything. It can even be argued that she maybe repeated the whole "cycle" several times, maybe even ending at the point where she asked Discorn to help her several times. (which is kind of horryfying in itself.)

Err , sorry for the long rambling post , I tend to do that.
Hope that I was clear enough , as I tend not to be when I try to explain what I am thinking. :twilightsheepish:

There is still much of this story to tell. Perhaps then next Sequel will answer the most important question. Can Celestia forgive herself for becoming the monster she despises.

The question of identity is solved quite simply in our case. As Celestia points out, NMM didn't die with Luna, ergo she is ontologically independent from Luna. Not to mention her mindset differs wildly too - millennia worth of looping did leave a mark on her. So NMM neither is actually Luna nor is identical to her. And for a couple of years she was active in Equestria (both pre and post banishment) she committed two murders.

And her attempts are full of holes: why didn't she ask Discord to send her into earlier moment of time? Say, to the very first time Nightmare's voice spoke to her? So NMM could impersonate herself and guide Luna to a different path.
Yeah, you could say that she tried and failed, but it's a weak argument. There were better ways than to murder herself, potentially creating a paradox.

NMM might be well-intentioned, but all her attempts to fix the situation only bring forth different sort of harm.

5896277 Dude, seriously? "pulls out arrow"? That was hypersonic bolt! All the magic he sucked out just prevented the arrow from riping his neck, torso and head to shreds, with the rest scattered in 500 meter radius. All the insides of his neck, spine, muscles is a mush held together by reinforced skin. I bet theres a crater the size of a house, where the arrow hit the ground.

As for the story, fukken saved!
Needs sequel!


As Celestia points out, NMM didn't die with Luna, ergo she is ontologically independent from Luna.

Yes , but that mostly only serve to further prove that the time travel theory in place here is the one about multiple timelines. NMM would have died with Luna if the theory in place had been the one about the new timeline overwritting the previous one. Concerning her existance , her nature (assuming that's what "ontologically" refers to from web dictionnaries , english is not my native language) well... it does prove that she come from a different timeline (since if it had been the same timeline it would have been the other theory and she would have died) and in consequence is technically an alternate version of some sort ... so yes , you do have a point , she can't actually be Luna (of this timeline anyways).
Now , is she identical ? No , not in the exact sense of the world since she is older and more experienced (and more scared by her ordeal , of course because of the multiple loops). Yet it look like she had the same past and that everything that happened to her also happened to the Luna who was murdered at some point.
She was identical (in memories and personnality) to the Luna that Celestia knew pre-banisment( she could even act accordingly to fool her) ; and since if she is to be believed everything would have happened the same here without her hijacking this timeline , Luna would have eventually become identical to her.

Concerning the two murder , Tirek was justified and since nopony cried when Sombra died , I say that Celestia is just stuck in her moral high horse mode.
Killing herself now , well... I admit that it maybe wasn't the better way. I could effectively say that she tried and failed , but since we don't know much about the world where this story take place it would be moot as we would be both playing with "what if". (Maybe Luna was too powerfull for her to subdue ect...) Just for the sake of it however , concerning Discord :this is still Discord (and not the reformed one) so I doubt that he would agree on an easy and non chaotic solution (then again , it depend here on the author headcannon concerning Discord sadism).
Basically , depending on the author headcannon , it MIGHT have been the better choice. (or at least , from her understanding of the situation)
But yes , I readily admit that her attempt to fix the situation might create more problems along the way or cause a different sort of harm , the way to hell is paved with good intentions after all. It just might have been the lesser of the two evil. Sometimes as a ruler sacrifices need to be made.

I do agree that NMM saw it as a sacrifice to be made and took no pleasure in the act. And just to clarify, normally I love it when NMM gets a night in limelight in a fic. But still, I'm pretty sure she could've averted the entire ordeal if she went far enough into the past. Like she herself said, "Luna already was under [Past!]Nightmare's influence".
My opinion on that is that this idea honestly did not occur to her. NMM was born from violence, and while she did have time to change her mind, old habits die hard. Especially if it's thinking habits. After all, she didn't have Celestia's millennium of ruling a peacefl kingdom. For her, it was years of resentment, a coup against her sister, several years of trying to hold a dying kingdom together, and then centuries of loneliness. She used them to hone her skills, but she don't seem to change her plan radically, despite multiple iterations. At least I've got the impression she went to the same moment in the past, right before the confrontation.
The end result is that while she did break the time loop (probably), she did it in a very messy and violent way.

On an unrelated note, have this piece of art: https://e621.net/post/show/570593/

If there is a sequel, I hope it ends on a happier note. This was depressing, and now I have to go to work feeling all down in the dumps. Thanks a lot Cleverpun

I love how deliciously dark it is. Celestia hates Nightmare Moon, which makes sense since she killed her sister. But, the confusing part is that NMM is still her sister as well. Possibly similar feelings of unease that people get around human looking robots. It is something familiar but yet it is different and unexpected. This is why current androids are so unsettling. Celestia might be having a similar reaction to Nightmare Luna. Where as NMM is just happy her sister is alive and she con continue with her delusion of not killing her.

I Foals Errand hereby present this ribbon for writing such an outstanding story... Though I hope you do another sequel!

Very nice story; it continued the premise of the first story in a very bleak and interesting way. (although I feel as if the original fic worked very well as a standalone honestly)

I can't say I like it as much as I did Conquer, but Celestia's characterisation won my heart despite my disappointment at the lack of freedom of interpretation that Conquer offered.

i knew that was too easy. :fluttercry:

A lot of good ideas in the story were hampered by it's shortness. The scene where Nightmare moon revealed who she truly was is a good example. You have just been told that your sister had been murdered by another version of her from another universe, and all you do is push her and then leave? With the weight of the previous story behind just that scene alone, I dunno, it just seems like wasted potential. So much more could have been said and done.

On another note, everyone else seemed rather blase about the Luna they thought they knew being dead for over a thousand years.


This story is a nice continuation of the original story and certainly portrays emotions well, but it's hampered by it's brevity. There's very little build up. It also portrays Luna/NMM as significantly more unstable than she was in the prior story. An enjoyable story, but with flaws.

I think it was a different reason. Namely, that Princess Nightmare wanted to punish Luna.

She made her suffer. In fact, she made her suffer the exact same way she killed Celestia, all the while waxing about what a horrible experience that was. Luna was her proxy for acting out her own self-loathing. She made Luna suffer because Luna was the perfect standin and weak enough to be made a victim.

All in all, I'm more on Celestia's side here. Princess Nightmare is dangerous. How long until she notices Celestia isn't like she remembers her, i.e. endlessly loving and forgiving? And if she does, what then? Whom will she kill just to keep 'her' Celestia by her side?

This is quite the disturbing little universe you've created. I think I like it.

I know. I'm agreeing with her sentiment.

I must be a masochist, because this was like a sucker punch to the gut yet I still want more.

I don't remember the last time I saw a chapter to a story end so indecisively yet powerfully. I can't wait for the next chapter.

...wait a minute...

So she intended to turn Luna into stone like like what happened with discOrd? I guess that would be a small improvement.

Keep in mind that we only know that NMM left from "centuries" after she'd killed Celestia. How many, exactly?

Without ponies around, how long did it take for Discord's seal to break? How long was she, an immortal being, left alone in a world with no sunrise and no sunset, where she effectively had no way of knowing how much time had passed? How many new memories had she picked up? How many of them conflict with her old memories? She picked a very specific point to go back to. It doesn't seem to me that NMM didn't pick an early enough time to go back to; it seems that she didn't remember when she needed to go back to. Oh, she had a good idea. And after so many failed attempts and so many new memories, she probably even believed that was the correct point to go back to.

Or maybe there is an even simpler answer. After, history is immutable; the sisters would fight. One would stand, and one would fall. As long as both Luna and Celestia lived, there was no way for NMM to change history; this is established in the previous story. Even if she had gone back earlier, the Nightmare would have still whispered in Luna's ear, convinced her that NMM was just some conjuration intend to mislead her. It would have delayed the outcome, perhaps, but it would not have prevented it. The scenario was, in a word, unwinnable, no matter what NMM did.

At least, it was unwinnable until she changed the only parameter that would have meaningfully affected the outcome. And through all her attempts, the only parameter that remained constant, unable to be changed, was Luna. NMM didn't choose the solution she did because it was the best solution; she chose it because it was the only solution.


I hate temporal mechanics.

5899334 But they never actually knew the original Luna; for Cadance and Twilight, Princess Nightmare Moon is the only version of Luna they've ever had contact with. That's probably why Celestia reacts to it so much more strongly than anyone else.

5890869 5895541 5896162 5896208 5896489 5896526 5896539 5896739 5897181 5897638 5898057 5896741 More isn't out of the question. I think that the audience could come up with much more interesting consequences and scenarios than I could, though. That's one reason I try and make stories open to interpretation.

5900365 Or she was trying to exorcise her and failed horribly

> it seems that she didn't remember when she needed to go back to.
While it's a legit point, there are two counters to it.
First: NMM didn't get rid of celestial cycle completely, she could still keep track of time using her moon.
Second: it appears that she knew very exactly when to go, and she'd consciously chosen that exact moment. What stopped her from calling an earlier moment next iteration when she realized current one was too late?

> After, history is immutable; the sisters would fight. One would stand, and one would fall.
Soooooo the conflict is a "fixed point" in time (an event bound to happen) but Celestia's defeat isn't? That looks like an absolutely arbitrary decision to me. In my opinion, either both are fixed, or none is. Of course, there are reasons for both events, but if you can change the past, then those reasons can be dealt with.

I also thought that NMM could have been using "safe" spells in her early attempts, but since those spells can only create stable time loops she couldn't change anything. The problem is, she'd have run into multiple future selves then if she tried to vist a moment several times... unless she didn't. Then all Nightmare's attempts happened sequentially during a single "playthrough".
That theory kinda explains what happened: NMM used regular spells over the years of her solitude and probably did even start her attempts early, but due either to her lack of skill in manipulating Luna, or nature of the spells requiring a stable time loop to be set up, results were the exact opposite: she either failed to overcome the voice of Past!NMM, or even unwittingly aided her in setting Luna against her sister. Since neither Luna nor Past!NMM knew about Future!NMM - the former was busy brooding, the latter could be avoided by the Future!NMM - she could keep trying. But after each attempt, since she knew there were no other Future!NMMs trotting around, she wouldn't even try to revisit it.
She has been attempting that until she literally ran out of time - there were no usable (i.e. when Luna was alone) moments before the confrontation she wouldn't have visited already. Becoming convinced that it's the self-referencing nature of time-travel spells that makes her fail, NMM waits for Discord to show up and enlists his help - thus abandoning her original timeline and entering/creating another. Knowing that it's her final attempt, she goes for the only way she thinks is a guaranteed success. Because murder always works, right?
What can I say... epic fail, Moony. Epic fail.

5900441 bruh......
In all seriousness though, it is your story to be fair

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