• Published 18th Nov 2016
  • 6,901 Views, 403 Comments

My Only Sunshine - CoffeeBean



700 years have passed since the night Nightmare Moon defeated her sister Celestia and cast her to far off lands, stripping her of power. Now, the hate in the younger sister's heart has faded, and she has brought Celestia back to Equestria.

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Nº 3: LONE WANDERER

More wandering. More shivering from the freezing air. More being full of... hate. She was growing tired of the feeling. In fact, she was growing tired of most aspects of her life. No waking moment seemed to hold any joy, and when joy did strike it seemed to be followed with more anger. At this point, she barely cared about having her sun, her home, her friends, or her magic back; she wanted happiness. Celestia thought for a moment as she continued down an unknown hall, her lantern now held in her mouth instead of her nearly spent magic. Her sun, home, friends and magic were happiness... but more than that, Luna was her happiness. She had Luna at her side before they had a castle, friends, or a place to sleep at all. They had been right by each other through the cold, the warm, the high, and the low.

She wanted Luna. She didn't need her magic if she had her sister; her true sister. The kind, gentle-voiced filly whose light blue mane fell over her azure eyes and whose blue coat gleamed in either the sun's or the moon's light. Simply picturing her made Celestia's heart ache. There was barely a shard of Luna within the being calling itself Nightmare Moon; Celestia could hear the calm, composed, almost studious stature of her sister in the deep voice echoing from that black mare's throat. When she and Iris had been speaking, she never once lost her composure; never shouting or stumbling. That was Luna. Nothing more about her was similar in the slightest. Her wings were sharp and swept, not wide and smooth like a proper Alicorn's wings should be. Her fang-ridden maw drew the eyes not as something of beauty, but as something of disgust. Her fur was like the abyss of the night, looking as if it wished to consume light. Everything made Celestia feel dread. Somewhere in the black body calling itself her sister was her sister. Somewhere in there was the being she loved.

Celestia drew her eyes from the stone floor as she rounded a corner, the now wider and somewhat brighter corridor before her finally holding some resemblance; it was the first place one entered after coming in through the throne hall. She paused, staring at the pair of sealed double doors down the hall, in between them being a barely visible painting of the beast herself. Celestia continued, her eyes locked with those of the gently smiling, pure black mare depicted in the painting, the finer details now being visible as she had held her lantern closer. Smiling. Celestia cocked her head. Nightmare Moon was smiling. Such a detailed and large work would have taken hours to craft; yet Nightmare Moon was smiling. Celestia had never once smiled in her paintings; doing so for such a long time caused horrible pains in the jaw. Yet Nightmare Moon was smiling. It seemed like such a façade, but Celestia couldn't shake the thought that maybe Nightmare Moon was more than just an evil mare wishing for the night to go on for eternity. She thought back to the conversation she had listened in on, thinking of how Nightmare Moon sounded... normal. She didn't cackle or snarl like she had all those years ago; she reminded Celestia of herself. A gentle, wise, knowing tone was the one she heard in that deep voice, one that seemed so foreign, and now Celestia knew why.

She moved from the painting, looking into the eyes of Nightmare Moon for a moment more before moving to the rightmost door, pushing it open and walking inside the expansive, dark hall. Details of the room were somewhat easy to make out thanks to the multiple skylights in the roof above. Blue tapestries adorned with Nightmare Moon's mark, tall pillars and ornate tile floors. It was quite the space, and it seemed lively when the moon's light was able to seep in. Now, it was dead; no echoing voices or chatter from dignitaries or officials, simply the constant drone of rain.

"Why do you enter her Highness' hall?"

Celestia screamed, her lantern falling from her mouth as she flipped around with haste, Philomena squawking in surprise as she was nearly thrown from her perch upon Celestia's back. Her gaze met with the silhouette of a guard, his deep green eyes being the only thing visible of his figure.

"Do not shout at us in such a way!" Boomed Celestia as she regained herself, "Tis our castle, we shall go where ever we please!"

"The throne hall is off-limits to anypony during down time..."

"And we are not 'anypony'," Celestia grumbled, picking her lantern up with a spell and inspecting the now cracked panes of glass, "we have had quite the night already, we do not need you giving us conniptions by frightening us!"

"Apologies, your Majesty. I was ensuring you were who I thought you were."

Celestia stepped forward, holding her lantern to the guard, only portions of his face visible past the ornate purple and silver helmet upon his head, "We suppose that is respectable, thou art a guard, after all. Where art thou posted? We hath walked the halls for a near hour and not a single of thy kind hast met our gaze."

The guard raised a brow, "There are guards posted everywhere within the castle at all times, your Majesty. How have you not seen anypony?" The guard paused, his eyes widening, "Ah, you haven't looked up, have you, your Majesty?"

"We hath looked up, aye. Nothing but abyss."

The guard turned, walking out of the throne hall, "If you'll follow me, your Majesty."

Celestia complied, following him into the hall, "May I take your lantern?"

The light floated to his open mouth, his teeth securely holding the handle as his bat-like wings carried him vertically, his ascension going on for some time until he finally reached the ceiling and wall where the lantern cast light upon a second guard hung from his tail on a large, golden pole that both served as a perch and a post to hang a large, long tapestry similar to those in the throne hall.

"Hello, your Majesty." Smiled the upside down guard.

Both Celestia and Philomena stared upward, Celestia's mouth hung open, "Thou find that comfortable?"

"Of course, your Majesty. All of her Highness' royal guard are Nocturn; bat-ponies. We all come from the Hollow Shades."

Celestia's eyes lit up, "Aye! We remember that place well; it was a mere settlement in our time, how does it fare now?"

"It's the largest city in Equestria, your Majesty."

That dumbfounded look remained as Celestia brought her gaze down, shaking her head, "What wonders... we thank thee guards for thy knowledge; we still know nothing of this new Equestria."

"Of course, your Highness." Returned the upside down guard as his comrade with the damaged lantern began his descent.

"Ye who hold our lantern; might thee show us back to our quarters? We art horribly lost."

As the guard touched down he nodded, the lantern bobbing in his mouth. He turned and began down the hall in the opposite direction Celestia had approached from, the lantern only serving as a beacon for Celestia as his eyes were well tuned for darkness. In fact, the light was more a negative, as it was more blinding than it was revealing. As they walked Celestia only found herself smiling; these guards were trained just how hers had been all those years ago; firm when needed, and gentle when not. Hearing that the Hollow Shades had flourished under Nightmare Moon's rule too made her happy, in fact, seeing that Equestria was flourishing as a whole made her happy. Knowing she had done well as a leader and treated those around her with the kindness that should be presented by a leader served some reassurance.

Celestia began remembering back to that horrible night of their final conflict; she remembered telling Luna that Equestria couldn't exist under a permanent night and that all of the vegetation would die off and things would become frozen without the sun's light. Luna's screaming response had been that she would find a way to make it work and that she would make those in Equestria see how wonderful the night could be. If there was one good side to anything that had happened, it was that Luna had been right. She had created her own world, and it had flourished. Celestia did notice an oddity, however; the ponies of Equestria were very similar to the bat-ponies, or Nocturn, as they called themselves. Had the three pony tribes somehow melded into one over time and combined with the Nocturn?

"Most loyal guard; tell us, we see ponies like thyself; bat-like wings and cat-like eyes, but we see no ponies with wings and eyes like our own. Why is that?"

The guard turned his head, holding his mouth open to allow Celestia to take the lantern's handle with her magic, "Most of the castle's staff is from Hollow Shades, but anypony else you see has simply adapted to the night. What you, your Majesty, would know as a 'normal' pony still exists, feathered wings and all... well, minus the eyes. You most likely haven't seen any pony guests walking about yet."

Celestia hummed, "We see. And now that Hollow Shades is Equestria's high point, dost that mean most citizens are Nocturn?"

"No, not at all. We only make up around... oh..." the guard looked up into the abyss, "Fexir, what percent of the population do we make up again?" He called to an unseen comrade.

"Around 20 percent, I do believe." Returned an echoing, deep, almost commanding male voice.

"20 percent, your Highness."

Celestia's eyes widened a little, "and how many Nocturn live in Hollow Shades?"

"Around 750,000 Nocturn."

Celestia's jaw dropped, "750,000!?! Equestria's population under our and our sister had been a fraction of that!" she shook her head in disbelief as she and the guard continued on, "What wonders,"

Her attention was pulled to Philomena as she pecked at her back, "Aye, young lady?"

The Phoenix tapped her stomach with a wing feather.

"Hungry, aye? Guard, shalt thee show us to the gardens? Philomena craves more Blue Jay."

"Right away, your Majesty."





The rain sang clearly, unruffled by the windows and walls of the castle as Celestia stood at the fringe of the garden's arched entryway, her escorting guard standing at attention a short distance from her. Philomena's silhouette was barely visible through the darkness and sheets of rain as she circled, hunting for any creature unfortunate enough to find itself not hidden away in a burrow or nest.

"Quite the hunter, indeed," Celestia commented to herself, thinking on what Iris had said a night ago.

"Did you address me, your Majesty?" Inquired the guard, not turning his head.

"Nay, speaking with ourself."

"Understood," the guard now looked over, his gaze landing on the damaged lantern sitting beside Celestia's hoof, "Permission to speak, your Majesty?"

"Granted."

"I can find you a replacement lantern, one that's a little nicer than your current."

Celestia looked down at the mentioned object, "Tis a sad little light now... but we shall refuse. That lantern has served us well."

"Understood."

Philomena's cry broke through the beating rain as she dived, Celestia looking up with a light smile, "Aye, she hath found some poor critter."

"She's an incredible pet, your Majesty."

Celestia chuckled, "We art more her pet than she is ours."

With a second screech, Philomena's silhouette appeared against the deeply gray sky as she approached the entrance, her wings flaring at the last moment to bring her to a halt, her talons causing her to slide a little as she touched down to the tile, water dripping from her soaked feathers.

"Dost not think thou shalt stand upon us while soaked, young lady." Smiled Celestia as she craned her head down to Philomena.

The Phoenix spread her wings, flapping and shaking her entire body to fling most of the water from herself. Then, to the surprise of the guard and to the dismay of his eyes, Philomena burst into flames, her entire fully spread glory being brighter than 100 lanterns for a moment as the last of the water was evaporated from beneath her feathers. The flame died off as her wings furled back to her sides, leaving the Phoenix with wisps of steam rising from her fairly tall figure.

"Wonderful," Celestia's magic embraced Philomena, bringing her back to her perch upon Celestia's blanketed back, "We may resume finding our quarters now,"

"Understood," The guard blinked a few times, trying to re-adjust his eyes, "Do you wish for me to hold your lantern, your Majesty?"

"Nay, we think our magic shall be strong enough for the moment..."

A concerned frown took the guard's expression as he resumed guiding Celestia, "If you don't mind me asking, your Majesty, you're an Alicorn... doesn't that mean your magic is strong enough to do powerful things?"

Celestia sighed, "We art supposed to be, aye. Thy Highness hath seen fit to strip us totally of all but the most basic of our magic, shatter the light being within our body, and prevent us from drawing any of our light magic from the earth."

"And... it's bad enough to where you have a hard time holding a lantern?"

"Aye."

As the guard looked back at her, Celestia saw exactly what he felt through his gaze; sympathy, "I'm sorry, your Majesty. That... isn't right."

"We know well."

Finally, Celestia began recognizing the halls. They were in the general area of her little room, and after turning a corner to a 'C' shaped corridor she saw the sun-marked double doors of her recommissioned suite.

"Your quarters, your Majesty." Spoke the guard with a bow, letting Celestia pass him.

"We thank thee for thy guidance and thy conversing. We hath barely had words with any in this dark castle... we forgot how wonderful it can be to speak with others."

The guard smiled, "It was my pleasure, your Majesty."





Nightmare Moon's horn came to life with a wavy blue aurora of magic, a collection of documents held together by a little wire clip being lifted from her desk by the same aurora of magic.

"The bi-annual tax totals, Miss Moon." Informed Iris after dropping the papers before Nightmare.

"Ah, wonderful. I'll have them to your office by time dinner's served." Nightmare returned after inspecting the stamp at the top of the first page and placing them off to the side.

Iris simply bowed, turning to the door of Nightmare's large and extravagant office space. Nightmare watched her leave, turning her gaze back down to the stack as she began flipping through them curiously, the gentle light of a nearby candle coating the white papers with an orange glow. She hummed, reading on at the figures and percents. The nation had quite the income, and debts to neighboring nations were being paid quickly. She had been considering an expansion of the Army, and seeing that things were going quite well only boosted her confidence in the success of some expansion. Raising certain low taxes by a tiny amount would be a good way to make up for the extra costs of training and armor, and small adjustments usually went unnoticed by the newspapers.

The papers were put back down as she turned her attention back to the bills before her, a quill loaded with red ink held at the ready more like a sword than a pen to smite legislation she saw unfit. Raise tax on imports from Yakyakistan by .14 percent? She nodded gently, jotting her signature in a quick fashion and placing the paper into a wooden rack under the category 'Approved', which was marked by an engraved gold plate. No matter how hard she tried her signature was never perfectly consistent. She had doomed herself to such a fate long ago by deciding to make it elaborate, trying to fit her full title in places. Iris had taken the route any intelligent secretary would and made her signature a simple jot of her initials, barely adding flare or high curves. Though extremely simple, it was instantly recognizable; unique in its simplicity.

A quick rap on the doors drew her eyes up, "Granted," she called.

The door was pushed open to reveal a heavily armored guard, the marking on his breast plate showing he was a Corporal of the up-hours guard stationed in the guest wing. Her eyes were instantly drawn to something she hadn't expected at all; Philomena, who stood proudly on his back.

"Her Majesty's Phoenix requests that you follow her... at least that's what myself and two others could figure out, your Highness."

Nightmare stared for a moment, Philomena looking at her and chirping while giving her wings a few small flaps.

"I... well, alright," As she stood from her desk, she kept her eyes locked with Philomena's, "I assume Celestia sent you?"

Philomena nodded, spreading her wings and taking to the air from the guard's back, Nightmare leaving her heat-blued peytral and shoes at the door as she trotted to follow the Phoenix. Naturally faster in flight Philomena would land at intersections and stand in waiting as Nightmare hurried along, trying to keep a pace with her. Every night Nightmare found herself awe-struck at how intelligent this Phoenix was; Celestia had trained her very well over the years. It made some sense; Philomena was only a few hundred years younger than Celestia, such age in a creature and constant treatment as a pony and not as a simple avian had combined to make her quite the sharp little bird. Never once had Celestia simplified her words with Philomena, she addressed her as if she were addressing her adjutants or dignitaries.

After a few minutes of following Philomena, Nightmare began to suspect she was leading her to the guest wing where Celestia's room was located; she had been cooped up in there for nearly every hour of her time since her return. She too began wondering why Philomena had summoned her; why not inform a guard or Iris? She wondered why Celestia would summon her at all. There was joy at the occasion, of course; as she would get to see her sister for the first time since her return, but there was also fear and worry. Something must be wrong in order for Celestia to want to see her.

"Philomena?" Nightmare called to the Phoenix as she touched down up ahead, turning to address her after coming to a hopping stop, "Is... something wrong? I'll assume Celestia's unhappy with me, and wants to talk."

Philomena shook her head.

"So, nothing's wrong?" a little glimmer of hope lit up Nightmare's eyes, "She... does she just want to see me?"

Philomena shook her head again. Nightmare hummed, trying to think what could be the matter. After a moment, Philomena took back off, flying down the hall towards the very recognizable guest wing; Nightmare had been right in her assumptions. Like before, Philomena landed at the intersection to the 'C' shaped corridor of the guest suites, this time hobbling along on her talons down the hall instead of flying. Nightmare watched with amusement as the bright Phoenix disappeared around the wall, her combination walk and hop being a rather comical and adorable sight. As Nightmare trotted to the intersection and around the subsequent corner to see Philomena hobbling along towards Celestia's doors, her wings half-unfurled from her sides to keep her balanced. Upon reaching the door, Philomena simply stopped, politely waiting to the side as Nightmare approached.

"You're incredibly cute, do you know that?" She spoke, smiling down at the Phoenix.

Philomena chirped, fluttering her wings.

Nightmare looked to the doors with her head cocked; they weren't sealed, one sat slightly ajar from its partner. Her naked hoof pushed open the unlatched door, her head peeking in to find Celestia sitting against her large bed, her wings half unfurled and her pink unkempt mane falling over half her face.

"Celestia?"

She simply groaned in pain, looking up at Nightmare then Philomena, her cheeks damp with tears.

"What... what's wrong? Are you okay?"

Philomena hopped past Nightmare Moon, going to Celestia's side and nuzzling her head into the soft fur of her side, the action bringing no smile from Celestia.

"Nay... our stomach hath emptied itself."

"You threw up? Are you sick?"

Celestia nodded, "Every inch of our being aches. It feels as if blades puncture our stomach in every place... why dost it hurt so much?"

The pink eyes she once knew to gleam with joy now seemed flat, pure pain and fear being the only emotions visible within.

"How... how did you get sick? You've never been sick, even back when that flu went around the castle you stayed safe from it... was it something you ate?"

"Our last meal had been during our visit to the dining hall."

Nightmare's eyes widened, "Celestia, that was a full two and a half nights ago! Why aren't you eating?!"

Celestia shook her head, short, gasping groans leaving her gently parted lips.

"Have you been drinking, at least? That... that's horribly unhealthy to go for so long without food. I'll have the chefs prepare you some soup; you need nutrients."

Celestia let out an anguished exclamation, shaking her head, "Nay, nay; we dost not need food. It shant stay down... we wish to no longer heave."

"Well... I, I don't know what to do for you..."

Celestia sat silently, her hoof finally raising to pet Philomena, who still nuzzled her side.

"The spa... we want to be there. With the music and hot water."

Nightmare's magic took the blanket from the bed and draped it over Celestia, who didn't look up to meet the loving smile Nightmare's expression held, "We can go to the spa,"

Celestia slowly got to her hooves, groaning as her body panged with aches. Her legs shivered as she looked to Philomena, her horn crackling as it failed to lift the Phoenix from the floor. She shut her eyes, trying again. Philomena was brought a distance from the floor before her magic died off again, Philomena squawking as she caught herself in the air, somewhat awkwardly hovering over to Celestia's blanketed back. Her head remained aimed at Philomena's last location, her eyes too locked on that spot as she stared, blinking rapidly.

"Are... are you okay, Celestia?"

It took a moment for Celestia to finally bring her gaze up, though she did not look back to Nightmare Moon, "We want to be at the spa..."

Without further words, Nightmare turned and began towards the open doors of her sister's little room. As she exited her eyes were drawn to the shattered lantern sat by the door, its little wick not holding a flame. She paused, looking at it for quite some time before looking to Celestia, whose head hung and wings fell from her sides. She couldn't shake the resemblance from her mind. A shattered light.

Author's Note:

If you've enjoyed the story so far be sure to favorite or add to your 'tracking' shelf!