• Published 9th Nov 2016
  • 1,121 Views, 4 Comments

Darkest Night - _Moonbeam

A thousand years can change everything. Even a legend. What would it really take to turn the Princess of Dreams into a living nightmare?

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Chapter 1

Princess Luna had cleared her schedule. Only two ponies had come to her that night, and both with minor issues. Neither of them had any real desire to be in the Night Court, they were only resigned there because the Day Court was unable to make an opening, and Luna didn't have the heart to send them away. Both of their cases had been completely settled in under an hour, leaving their judge with an entire night to reflect on the events of the previous session. Without so much as a sideways glance from any of her guards, Luna stepped down from her throne. Not one so much as blinked. She mentally sighed. Professionalism was one thing, but this? She ought to replace them all with statues one day, just to see if anypony noticed. It had been a few centuries since she and her sister had begun to rule Equestria, and ever since the whole “princess” thing wore off, one night of arguing with nobles had blended into another.

Luna's destination was just outside the palace gate. A stark contrast to the still relatively small village surrounding the castle, the Royal Gardens were a living art display. A good sized hedge maze, a cornucopia of now-extinct flowers, and cherry trees that always seemed to be in full bloom lined the walkway. The alicorn walked through all of it with her head down, only giving a passing glance to one statue: Discord’s. How long had it been since she'd imprisoned him? Fifty years? Seventy five? Maybe longer. Certainly long enough for most of the kingdom to have largely forgotten about him.

Ducking into the hedge maze at the garden’s center, Luna’s thoughts were a million miles away. Is this really the cost of ruling? Decade upon decade of negotiating tax rates? Every pony in the world admiring you, but not one willing to-”

Her train of thought was derailed as she ran, quite literally, into the palace gardener. “Princess!” he shouted, perhaps a bit louder than necessary. Luna gave the moss-green Earth Pony pause. What was his name? They'd never met, but she'd heard his name somewhere. Meadow Grove, maybe? “Princess,” he said again, “are you alright?”

Sure, Luna had advisors. However, most of them were for policy only. Celestia had been the first pony for her to go to, but she was even busier than usual with with the upcoming Summer Sun celebration. More importantly, running daytime operations for an entire nation was taking its toll. She'd placed herself more or less constantly into the role of a judge, always giving both sides equal consideration, regardless of who they were. Even her sister. Certainly a good trait for diplomacy, but bad for hearing somepony vent about their job. Luna desperately needed a shoulder to cry on. “No.” she replied, her voice barely above a whisper. “No, I-” her voice cracked. “I am not alright.”

Meadow Grove hesitated. He'd been just about to go home for the weekend, but now? A princess had walked into him. Anything else could wait. “Would you like to tell me?” he ventured.

With a nod, Luna sighed and began her story.

The previous evening’s Night Court had started typically enough. Generally she'd get one or two citizens who couldn't find an opening at Day Court, to be followed by a substantial amount of paperwork, and then patrolling the dreams of her little ponies. The painfully bright white unicorn Sparkling Diamond, like most of Equestria’s high nobility, rarely attended Night Court. It was, in their minds, for the poor, starving masses that couldn't get a reservation during the day. Occasionally, some situation would manifest, as happened on that night. The Summer Sun celebration was a few weeks away, leaving Celestia even more overscheduled than usual. This left the usual demands of the nobles to Luna, a burden she willingly took whenever possible. Celestia had enough on her plate. “Here's my latest tax proposal,” said Sparkling Diamond, with a tone implying she would rather be anywhere else. Luna took the rather long-winded document out of Diamond’s telekinetic field, briefly glancing through it. As the Princesses had agreed decades ago to split the paperwork, Luna could instantly see exactly what Sparkling Diamond had in mind. Her plan would place herself and the rest of the nobles in a status of “Celestial Advisors,” a term tantamount to diplomatic immunity today. They would be tax exempt, able to lobby the royalty endlessly, and have even fewer checks and balances than the princesses. In other words, it was conceited, extremely egotistical, and a poor attempt at passing a self-serving law through the perceived lesser of the two rulers. Luna wasn't having it.

“Sparkling Diamond,” said the princess, her voice perfectly measured from years of courtroom drama. “When my sister and I founded Equestria, we agreed to place some level of power in the hooves of certain nobleponies, including you. This plan you just tried to pass through me makes me regret that promise. Your plan is denied. I will discuss any potential… redeeming qualities with Celestia at a later date.” Luna finished with a dismissive nod, hoping Diamond wouldn't cause a scene.

Sparkling Diamond snapped. This was supposed to be an easy loophole! She took a step forward and shouted at the alicorn. “You are supposed to give the nobles the power to act on certain aspects of Equestria independently! For decades, that's been slowly going by the wayside as our kingdom grows. I'm trying to get some of that back, for the sake of Equestria! Maybe you can't see that because you've been on that throne so long you can't see what your little ponies need-”

“ENOUGH!” Luna yelled in the Royal Canterlot Voice, her composure slipping. Taking a deep breath, she added, only slightly quieter, “I do not have the authority to remove you from your position. Nor should I. However, know that my sister and I will not tolerate any similar proposals rom you, Sparkling Diamond. You are dismissed.”

Sparkling Diamond turned to leave, but then looked back at the throne over her shoulder. “You always were the second princess,” she added with a sneer.

“GET OUT!” Luna shouted, loud enough to rattle the windows. Sparkling Diamond trotted out with a smug grin on her face and her head held high. As soon as she was out of earshot, Luna stepped off her throne. “Night Court is dismissed,” she mumbled to the room as an afterthought. The princess walked past the line of additional ponies who had come to see her, closed the door to her private chambers, and wept.

Finishing her story, Luna sank to her knees, putting her almost at Meadow Grove’s height. “Am I?” she asked him, her voice barely above a whisper. “Am I just the other princess?”

“Luna,” Meadow Grove began. “When I was a colt, I was afraid of the dark. I would always see things in the shadows that were never there in the light, and they terrified me. For a while, it was so bad my mother had to leave a candle lit in my room so I'd go to sleep.”

Luna nodded, urging him on, but otherwise gave no indication of what she was thinking. “One night, I had a dream I was trapped in the Everfree Forest at night,” he continued. “I ran through the woods for what seemed like forever, but I couldn't find a way out. When I was about to give up, I heard a voice calling me. You appeared in my dream, and you told me-”

“I said, look behind you,” Luna interrupted. “And what did you see?”

“I didn't see anything, except my shadow,” Meadow continued. “You told me my shadow is a part of me that can only live in the dark, but it's only there because of the light. You need both light and darkness to have a shadow. Once I woke up, I wasn't afraid of the dark anymore. I saw that, just as much as the light, I needed it. Just like Equestria needs you.”

Luna stood up. A single tear trickled down her muzzle. “Thank you,” she said, before Meadow quietly turned back to leave the maze. “Wait!” Luna said in a gasp, nearly causing Meadow to flinch. She hesitated, then finally asked, “If I come back tomorrow, will you be here?”

Meadow gave a small smile. “Of course, your Highness,” he told her.

“And Meadow Grove?” Luna called out just before he vanished into the maze. He stopped again, reflecting on the bizarre turn of events his life had just taken. “Call me Luna.”

He was late. That had been the first time, it was usually Luna who had been caught up in some courtroom drama. However, just like she always had for the last month, Meadow Grove always appeared from the hedge maze’s walls of foliage. “So,” he asked with a hint of sarcasm, “how was the Summer Sun Celebration?”

Luna sighed. “Same as every year. I pick up the slack from the paperwork, handle all of the idiotic demands from the nobles for a bit, and then once I'm done I go back to waiting for Nightmare Night in four months.”

“Sounds boring,” was his only response. Meadow Grove did not mince words.

Luna's smile turned into an expression of concerned worry, hidden behind a wing. “Luna?” Meadow Breeze stepped toward her. “Is something wrong?”

“A whole kingdom,” Luna remarked, more to herself than him, “and only one pony who looked at me and saw a mare, not a goddess. When I couldn't go to anypony, even my sister, I could go to you.”

Without warning, Luna pulled Meadow into an embrace. For a moment, his body stiffened with shock before relaxing into the grip of her strong wings, large enough to lift him to her eye level. The next thing either of them knew, their lips locked together in their first kiss.

Luna was the first to speak after they pulled apart. “Same time tomorrow. We're going to the tavern.”

Neither of them noticed the pony at the edge of the maze. A glimmering white unicorn, dressed in a black cape.

For the next few months, life went on. Luna had dismissed Sparkling Diamond’s idiotic “Celestial advisors” plan as a halfhearted attempt to see if she was really as weak as the nobles seemed to think she was. Thanks to Meadow Grove, she was happier than she'd been in years. However, a more extravagantly worded version of Sparkling Diamond’s proposal found its way onto Luna's paperwork stack eventually. This one was co-signed by no fewer than five other nobles. Staring at the paper, Luna decided then and there something had to be done.

All the way back to Sparkling Diamond’s great-great… well, about ten greats -grandmother, Princess Platinum, some of the less… should I say, noble, nobles - thought only of themselves, seeking greater and greater power and fearing the consequences later. Unfortunately for them, the Royal Sisters had slowly been putting more and more checks on their activities since Equestria had been founded. No running off with some small village’s tax money and getting away with it anymore.

As soon as Celestia had a free moment, Luna went to her. After offering her condolences, Celestia wasted no time in drafting a response. A series of Royal decrees that would severely limit the noble’s powers.

While some nobles would be content to simply work around their new limits, others would look for a more vindictive approach. No pony alive could hope to wear down either princess. Now, however, there was somepony they could hurt a princess through.

Meadow Grove’s pink slip arrived a week after the decrees were publicly announced. It was nearly twilight when the messenger found him, so he didn't have to wait long for his marefriend to arrive.

Upon her arrival, she was more shocked than him. When he asked “how did this happen?,” Luna was at a loss.

“I don't know, it wouldn't have gone through my desk. State-run employment is determined by a council of-” she knew the reason before finishing the sentence- “nobles.” Taking a more subdued tone, she added, “One of them must have found out. They probably fired you out of spite. For what it's worth, I'm sorry.”

“Don't be,” Meadow said curtly. “I knew there would be consequences when I started seeing you. I'll find another job.”

A devious idea came to Luna at that moment. “You know,” she said with a twinkle in her eye. “There is one thing we could do. It's been a few centuries, but in the past, my sister and I would select personal advisors for advice on non-political matters. I stopped doing it after Clover died, I felt I could handle my personal life on my own. Celly did it a bit longer, but at this point she hardly needs advice on something she doesn't have.” There was a tiny hint of bitterness in that last statement. “The position is open, if you're interested in applying.”

The stallion smiled. “When do I start?”

“How’s it going with the nobles?”

They were at a table in Luna’s private quarters, a gothic mansion - styled wing that stood in stark contrast to the rest of the castle. Above them, an enchanted depiction of the night sky served as a star-for-star replica of the real thing. At the right angle, you couldn't tell the difference between the ceiling and Luna's mane.

“The nobles are… what's the new saying? Pissed. I won't cancel the new regulations, and neither will Celly. That doesn't stop them from trying, though. None of them have tried screaming at me again, but tensions are high.”

“Same here,” Meadow responded. “Obviously, word got out that I'm more than just your advisor. I'm getting things like threatening letters with no return address, and occasionally a pony follows me around the castle from a distance.”

That was news to Luna. “That's outrageous!” she reacted. “If you want, I could spare a few Night Guards to keep an eye on you.”

“No,” Meadow said. “It's fine. They won't try anything with you around, and I'm a tough stallion. I can take it.”

Luna wasn't convinced. “I-If you're sure. You shouldn't have to hide from the world, Meadow.”

“Don't worry about me. I'm going out.” He rose from the chair. Kissing his lover goodbye, he opened the massive door and vanished into the brightness of the greater castle.

Luna tenderly placed a forehoof to her belly, though it was still far too early to feel the foal kick yet. “I won't let it get to him,” she whispered to their unborn child. “Nothing is going to keep us from our own happy family. Not even a kingdom.”

“Nothing will stop me from loving you. Moonbeam.”

Author's Note:

So. We're off. This was originally going to be a flashback in my other story, but I decided I liked it too much to just leave as an anecdote. Let's see what the Internet thinks of it.

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Comments ( 4 )

Decent enough story start, if a bit formulaic. I didn't really get how a shadow is 'an essential part of a pony', though. I think you were going for, "look, darkness is already a part of you!", but it didn't really say why that was a good thing. Shadows aren't exactly useful for anything (beyond hiding things from the light...). I think that scene could have been better with a different analogy or anecdote.

Without warning, Luna pulled Meadow into an embrace. For a moment, his body stiffened with shock before relaxing into the grip of her strong wings, large enough to lift him to her eye level. The next thing either of them knew, their lips locked together in their first kiss.

sometimes, or mostly with Ponys in Lunas/Celestias or Rainbow Dash position
(Soarin : fanfilly; Luna and Celestia X anyone else : overly polite romance.), it can look a little bit odd to me, to be honest I don't like every Stallion in the show.

However, even if that went a bit fast for my liking, this is some kind of background story and he seems nice.

I want to say you one thing, so you don't understand my comments the wrong way. I like to overthink some stuff somtimes. Which means it may look like I don't like something, but I actually do, I just try to make it more perfect for me, I mean to describe it how I would had prefered it and stuff like that.

Well....I think I have no problem with thinking about him as her Coltfriend, and it seems it is one of your first storys, so I guess it is okay that you hasn't introduced him a bit slower. Normally I just like to learn about the character before I read that he is courting one of the main chars, however he really seems nice even if it could be better.

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