• Published 13th Nov 2017
  • 1,039 Views, 20 Comments

Sunset Shimmer and the Last Trial of Daring Do - ChudoJogurt

Sunset Shimmer has nightmares. Trapped in the memories of her past adventures, she can't quite return home. There is only one creature in all of Equestira who can help her. Make her good and nice again, but how far will Sunset have to go to find her?

  • ...

And in the Breeze that Brings the Plague

Author's Note:

I really should not have to say it, but just in case, I think I need to be perfectly clear on something.

This is a work of fiction, presented from the point of view of an unreliable narrator, who, as it should be clear from the context, is in need of some serious therapy.
In the real world, however, emotional abuse is NOT OK. Physical abuse is NOT OK. Having rough sex with a sixteen-year-old... may be ok, depending on your age and local laws, but definitely not in a form and ways presented further.

If you find that you're afraid of a person you're intimate with, if you find that you blame yourself for something they did or especially they did to you, THAT IS NOT NORMAL. That, and I really should not have to say it, is NOT GOOD FOR YOU.
Don't do something like that to others, and if it is done to you - get out and seek help.

I came to her cabin that night, when the winds were stilled and the air was hot and stale, and we rutted like animals in the darkness. It was a mechanical, lifeless affair, born of my desperation and surrender that left me drenched with sweat and more miserable than I was before, as something within me tightened and died in an empty, crying release. But that night, when I fell asleep pressed into her hard barrel, no nightmares came.

She beat me to a bloody pulp next day.

In the darkness of our journey, she remade me, breaking me apart and putting me back together. The poison of her words and the salve of her magic, the pain and the pleasure, my pleading for her to stop and my moaning for her to please, please, never stop became one and the same and even I could no longer tell them apart.

And then, when my body was exhausted from the sparring and rutting, when my horn burned and my nose bled from magical exhaustion, we would talk, and she would teach me of the things forgotten and lost but to the select few, of the things as old as the earth and as true as the sky, things that existed for ponykind since before Equestria.

Five rivers we crossed in the dimness of the Underworld where time has no meaning and space is an illusion, and while we did, she taught me, repeating the old lessons I already knew and giving me the knowledge I could not have imagined before.

When we crossed the river of regrets, I learned to be ruthless and have no mercy, towards others or myself. To always move forward and to accept the truths of the past - for to look back with regret was to lose sight of the present. Success or failure, once the end is achieved, and the sun has set - you have what is there to be had, and then you learn your lesson and move on.

She spilled the waters of the river of woes across my barrel between her kisses, and as they slid across my sweat-drenched body lighting every nerve on fire she taught me the ancient art of exquisite pain. Of accepting it and inflicting it, with purpose and precision would’ve made my heart chill with terror, had it not grown numb already.

The flesh would serve, and nothing could be allowed to stop you when you take that which your heart desires, not even your own weakness. Only cold will and the science and art of destroying anything that would stand in your way.

Over the river of fire we sparred, shadows in the suffocating heat, and she taught me the of the power of passion. Of how our passions give strength, the strength gives victory, and through victories chains others would put on us can be broken. To live is to want, desire or hatred smouldering underneath your skin, to be stoked to a raging firestorm at the slightest provocation.

It was then that my fear was melted away by the flames of the Underworld, when I took a sip of its spicy fire, drinking it like water and it did not burn me, for my anger and desire glowed hotter than even the fires of Tartarus.

We drank the bitter drops of river of lost memory in our wine - a sure death to any who did not take all the precautions and follow all the rites, and she told me in whispers about the magics of the earth ponies, the kind that are passed from earth pony master to student, not taught in schools or written in scrolls - of the hidden paths of the earth and the herbs of the forest, of potions and decoctions subtle in use and abhorrent in effect.

When the greatest river, the river of ancient oaths moved our vessel slowly, she told me of the power of promises given and sworn oaths broken, of the rules that’ve been kept since the time began and from time before that - and not much of that lore, for it is not the truth that is known to many, even if they tread the Old Ways as long as she.


"That's horrible…” Fluttershy started, “...what that awful...pony did...”

"Don't say that!", Sunset cut her off fiercely, "Don't you dare say that! Cruel, vicious and psychotic, she was still my teacher, second greatest I've ever had. When I was weak, she has made me strong. When I was lost, she has shown me the path. When I was at war with myself, she has given me peace.“

"But darling, she clearly used your vulnerable state… abused you even…”

“No!” Sunset leaned back, unclenching her fists. She closed her eyes, breathing away the sudden outburst, and repeated, calmer now: “No.”

“I came to her - of my own free will, and she took me in and healed me. For the briefest time, she was my everything… and then she let me be free. For that alone, I owe her more than I’ll ever be able to express.”


When I stepped off the dark ferry of the Underworld to see Celestia's Sun again, I was not the same broken little filly that I was when I began my adventure. With pain, I was reforged. With rage, I was recast. From the waters of Tartarus I rose again, more powerful than before. But more than that, I felt... lighter. Focused by my new lessons, unburdened by pointless guilt and second-guessing, empty of the useless fear, I was like an arrow let loose towards the target.

The target that now was tantalizingly close to us, with none to stand in our way.

The secret passage opened by Ahuizotl has led us to the heart of Equestria, a castle, ancient and forgotten not a stone's throw away from Canterlot, hidden in the Everfree forest, where monster roam and magics, unpredictable and deadly, grow overnight like wild grass.

The others were already there, Ahuizotl's retinue finding him without error, feeling their master like you feel where your heart is without testing for the pulse. Parts, reunited again with their whole.

Secure against pursuit, we spent almost a day resting and preparing. Objects were placed at focal points of the diagrams, runes, and sigils inscribed in the stones and fed with blood and magic, rubble and dirt cleared away, lest even a single mote of dust interrupt the great work of magic once it would begin.

And then came a moment when the preparation was done. The coin was placed, and the feather was unwrapped, and the knife was hidden until it was to be drawn. Everypony took their places and held their breaths.

Ahuizotl stood in the centre of the hall, under the hole in the roof of the castle, against a richly decorated mirror through which we came. He took a bit of common white chalk in his paw like a director's wand, and on the stone floor, he inscribed a simple circle around himself.

“I summon you…”

The drums began to roll -- a heavy rhythm, insidious and syncopated, as the Elder spake, his power, drawn from the pulsing coin on his chest infused into every word:

“...by the knife from under hill, by the claw of the rat and the wing of the bat..”

A horrid sense of deja vu gripped me, as I looked at the arch of the mirror and the simple chalk circle drawn on the broken stones, where, surrounded by his minions, stood Ahuizotl chanting the spell. I pushed it aside with practised ease.

“...by the coin of stone, by the feather of light and the blood that was life…”

An endless litany of names and attributes, items of power and anchors long forgotten filled the air of the old castle. Layers and layers of words built upon each other in a tower of magic that could reach to the sky and rend the heavens themselves asunder, as the chanting and the drums have arrived at their crescendo.

“...by the name, the name that’s been lost…”

All light lost strength, and the moon appeared in the sky, rising towards the noonday sun. Every sound died, waiting for the last word, and nothing moved. A barest of whispers from Ahuizotl’s lips rang louder than thunder in the perfect silence that kept the world frozen.


Flames exploded around us, in columns of pitch-black fire. The sky turned black and the moon eclipsed the sun, as in the middle of the chalk circle, moonlight reflected by the mirror and the darkness of the sudden night began to coalesce into something living.

She was black, like an abyss between the stars, clad in the armour of starmetal and moonsilver. So dark was her coat that my eyes refused to even acknowledge her as a presence, rather than just the absence of light - it was as if not just the rays of the quickly dying sun were absorbed by her coat, but the reality itself bleaked and grew less real as it approached the Lady of Air and Darkness, Mistress of Nightmares, Regent over things that Are Not and Have Never Been.

She opened her eyes, and the abyss looked back at me.

I met her gaze and stepped forward as Ahuizotl lowered his paws. My horn lit and sparkled with the spell I held at the ready and the green chains of my magic whipped up from the stones of the palace, wrapping and binding the Princess, tying her to the floor.

I too have made my preparations, and they too have not been in vain - the diagrams I've etched into the floor with her sister’s feather and power, overflowed with binding and holding magics, making stones melt and сry with the energies it contained. Every line, every focal gem, and inscription measured to the last second of arc - a textbook picture of precision and efficiency, the apex of the High Equestrian Wizardry.

Even then, with all my preparations and all the art and all the science, I could not, of course, hold her. Not the Princess in her full power -- I might as well have tried to bind a hurricane.

My spell wasn’t meant to do that. All it did, was for a single second before her magic rose to throw off my spell, hold her in one place, biding her power and locking her slitted inequine eyes with mine.

That’s when Green Glow stabbed her in the back.

The green mercenary fell from her position, silent like a bat, and the Blade of the Night slipped into the nape of Princess’ neck. It pierced the moonsilver and the Nightmare alike as Green dragged the blade along the Nightmare’s spine.

Nightmare Moon’s cry broke every unshattered window of the castle. Stone cracked and ears bled as she thrashed in pain and effort, magic shooting in every direction, but still the mercenary held fast, dragging the knife along her barrel, and with blood and shreds of skin, the Nightmare peeled of the Nightmare Moon like a rind off an orange, releasing the true Princess inside.

Before Nightmare Moon had a chance to deal with the mercenary, Ahuizotl stepped forward, grabbing her by the neck and clasping the nightmare shroud.

"Mine!" He roared, like a dragon in the throes of his greed, "Mine!"

The muscles on his back bulged in ugly twisted angles as if someone stuffed boulders under his skin, his immense strength and suffocating power ripping the Nightmare off the Nightmare Moon.

She screamed again, and everything exploded, the soundless blast of darkness, power, and magic, throwing both the Elder and his mercenary into opposite directions with a crushing force and streams of darkness and making me fall on my haunches.

When I dared open my eyes before me stood the Princess. Free of the Nightmare she breathed deep and spread her wings, and her power filled the wide space to its depths and its heights. Her black radiance drove out the dark.

I bowed, my knees bending by their own volition until my horn touched the ground.

“Guard us from the beast and the timberwolf, and guard us from the thief, oh Night, and so be good for us to pass.”

The words of the ancient greeting that has not been uttered for almost a thousand years fell from my mouth by themselves, prompted not by my mind by the sheer power of the Princess’ presence permeating her air.

The Princess nodded back, a reflexive tiny little bow, as she began to come to her senses.

"’Tis not yet the time preordained. How can it be, little pony, that we are not on our Moon?"

"It took a while, but I figured it out. The Black Book of Blackened Cutie Mark and the Nightmare-summoning ritual, the horn and the mirror and the story of the Mare in the Moon, the Lunar Rebellion account of the Shadow Kicker, and then you just connect the dots, grab a few things, and boom! Here you are."

If not for her heavy presence I would have been prancing around the flabbergasted princess in my joy. With all the sacrifices I’ve made, all that I’ve suffered on my way, the plan had worked.

"Thou hast freed us from our prison," the Princess said slowly, tasting the words as she said them, "But what of the Nightmare?"

"Once Ahuizotl grabbed the Nightmare, the curse your sister placed on the Nightmare Moon activated," I explained smugly. "They’ll be stuck on the Moon for the next dozen years."

"Will I now, little pony mine?"

No. Nonononono

Blood curdled in my veins as I turned to see a very much not-currently-on-the-Moon Ahuizotl, the Nightmare like a short cape on his shoulders. It grew into him and fed upon his frame, like a parasite, spreading through the thick arteries on his neck in streams of blackness, making his skin crawl and bones shift as it transformed him into something monstrous. Into something nightmarish.

"I -" he started, before another wave of transformation doubled him up. His blue spiked fur turned pitch-black, clinging to his now gaunt and skeletal frame, and his eyes turned dirty, cataract-white. "...am the Prince of the Deeps, little pony."

His canines elongated, turning yellow and lined, like ancient rotten bone, his nails turning to claws, black and sharp and deadly. "I am too big for half a curse to hold me!"

Ice and Nightmares!

Somehow that was all that came to my mind as I watched, almost enthralled, at Ahuizotl’s transformation.

“Now what shall I do with you, my little traitor...” his paw pointed at me, veins flowing with darkness and power.

“Err… no”, I ventured sheepishly, moving closer to the Princess for protection. “The contract was until we get the prize. Which we got. See?” I shoved the relevant page of the contract towards him as my defence.

“She got you there, Big Blue,” the mercenary jeered, seemingly unfazed by her recent close encounter with the castle wall. She discarded the shards of the Nightblade, broken by her fall, and grew serious for a second, giving me one of her looks. “You sure you wanna do this pumpkin? I’m still on the clock, and I am not holding back.”

Stifling last bits of my fear I nodded. No weakness. No fear. No regrets. I knew what I wanted — what I needed — to do, and even she would not stand in my way. Just as she has taught me.

"Be that as it may," Ahuizotl conceded. "I am nothing if not a magnanimous Prince. Bow to me, little pony, join me, Princess, and together we shall drown the world in darkness. Together we shall bring her to her knees!"

"I may have a quarrel with my sister," Luna's horn began to glow, aimed at the Nightmarish creature that Ahuizotl became, "but I am still a Steward of Equestria. Defend yourself, sirrah, or I shall strike you down where you stand!"

Her magic rose, slow and awkward, and still powerful beyond measure. My own spells I already held at the tip of my horn.

“As you wish.” Ahuizotl raised his black-covered forepaw, and the world shivered before his might. My magic scattered and extinguished, like a candle flame in a hurricane, and the beat of his power seeped into the very marrow of my bones, making me ill with its sickening presence. Even the Princess’ light waned and darkness, viscous like a liquid, flooded the room, robbing me of sight. Light of my horn died, unable to chase away the dark, leaving only the feeling of something ready to pounce on me, making my skin crawl and shiver. I couldn't see past my own muzzle, and yet I could feel the things moving in the darkness - vile, alien things. Blind, I tried to reassemble my shield around me and the Princess, and hoped that it would hold.

Suddenly one of the shadows leaped at me, and I felt it slipping through my hastily shield. It touched me, and fire, green and hot burned my skin like a kiss. I saw it spread all over my coat, turning it short and green, and my mane coal-black, and in the mirror that was not there a second ago I could see my eyes turning into Green Glow's.

"You are like me, pumpkin," she whispered, words like poison, "you always were."

I did not flinch from the truth and did not ignore it. I knew what I was and so I woke with a start, ripping the nightmare off with an effort of will. No sooner than I could even take a breath, another one was on me, coiling around my neck. It whispered in my ears and covered my eyes.

I could hear her pulse echo through my horn, and I froze. I had to finish it. I had to. There was no other way.

The fear and desire collided and battled within me, threatening to rip my mind apart. It was my choice, my last chance to once again be a good pony...

I did not doubt or second-guess myself. I made my choice - quick and final, like a cut of a sword. No hesitation, no second thoughts - my magic surged through the spell, and there was a flash of green light, a single wet, squelching crunch, and I woke with a start.

Another black creature slipped through my shielding magic like an eel.

The Red has touched the White, and the laughter, sharp like a winter storm rolled around the ancient cave.

Fear rose from within my mind, shivers and shakes like many times before, but I accepted the past without regrets and woke with a start...

...and left without the feather in a dark alley of Baltimare, I could only watch as Ahuizotl has drowned the world in Nightmares for thousand years, darkness and blood deeper than the ocean covering Equestria…
… and somepony else was in my place in Canterlot, a purple filly with more magic than I could ever dream of…
...and she said "Go home, little sun," and I wanted to cry…
...and I turned into a monster, power, and pain like a never-ending high of a drug when wings ripped out of my back in a shower of blood…
...and I stopped him, as easily as I would stop an unruly child, in my panic throwing him clean across the room…
...I put the fan to my lips. He smiled. He smiled, he stepped and he fell -- his head on broken wings in dust...
...and she broke me like a toy, every bone shattered, horn cracked, magic exhausted. Holding me like a baby in her hooves, coils of green round my frame, she whispered “You’re mine now, little princess. Forever.”...
… and I summoned a lightning to burn her body -- a pyre befit a pegasus warrior. And then I moved on...
...and around me sapient beings were slaughtering each other in a thousand nightmare-inducing vignettes of violence, while I was too exhausted and numb to do anything…
...and she just kept rocking on her haunches, nothing but emptiness in her eyes, like a broken little toy horse…
...and I stood hoof-deep in blood, dead bodies of friends and family littering the Canterlot palace. Once you kill, you can never really stop...
...and in her eyes there was something distant. Even through the professional pain-killing spells that hurt…

One by one they assailed me, my magic powerless to stop them, ripping into my mind with the torrent of the nightmarish, insanity-inducing visions of past and promises of doom to come. And one by one they retreated back, finding no purchase within me, leaving me to wake with a start again and again. I would not ever again succumb to the doubts and guilt of the past or to the fear of the future - I knew better than that. I was taught better than that.

And yet, even while they could not defeat me and drag me down into madness, still there were too many of them, and in my struggles, paralyzed by the nightmares, I felt like an ant on the side of the mountain climbing against an avalanche, and the more I fought against them, the more nightmares came.


The Royal Canterlot Voice cleaved my nightmare like thunder cleaves the summer night, scattering the black creatures through the room, and my senses slowly returned to reality.

Her feather touched my muzzle, gentle and soothing.

"We give thee our blessing, little pony. For thy eyes - to see in the dark. For thy flames -- to ward thee against ill dreams."

I could feel the sparkle of power arc from her wing and touch my forehead, melting into my eyes and my horn, and suddenly the darkness became transparent to my eyes, bleak shadows of the nightmares swimming in the air like black medusas.

I could see them now - and I could fight them. The shades twisted and snarled, angling at me from every side, but my magic bolstered by the Princess’ blessing could now hold and tear them. I blasted them to bits with the light of my horn and trampled them underhoof not letting them touch me and rip into my mind again. Finally, powerless but still hissing their vain threats the shades retreated to the corners of the room, and breathing -- the way I've been taught -- I turned towards Ahuizotl.

“Did you truly think the Drowner blind and dumb, little pony?" The darkness clung to him like a cloak, blurring his figure. "Did you truly think I couldn't feel her stench coming off your coat, her mark on your magic?"

I shot out a gout of flames, but it just dissipated in his black shroud, failing to even light the room.

"I knew who you were before you entered my house, little pony. 'Tis the only reason I took you - though you did prove useful enough. "

I ignored him and cast another spell -- just as useless as the first one.

"Thou always were the runt of the litter, Ahuizotl." The princess answered for me. The moonlight on the tip of her horn shone softly, lighting up her frame against the darkness. "Why wouldst thee not pick on someone thy own size?"

Instead of answering again Ahuizotl raised his forepaw, and the darkness swirled and swivelled, the remainders of the black creatures seeping into the ponies that came with him, twisting and changing them, shifting their bones and expanding their frames. "Destroy the traitor," he commanded.

The things that once shared with me their meals and gambled for their simple earnings, now monstrous and mutated, stepped out from behind Ahuizotl’s back and surrounded me slowly, seeking to separate me from Luna.

“Piano, Lemon...” I said carefully “...you don’t really want to do this. Right guys?” I smiled sheepishly, stepping back. They grinned, teeth and canines befit monsters, not ponies, blooming on their nightmarish twisted muzzles.

I did not expect them to answer - I was looking ("Awareness", a coarse voice in the back of my head reminded) and thinking. For the first time in my life, I saw the fight before it would begin, the topology of the battlespace unfolding in my mind's eye, blooming with the nebulae of probable trajectories and swirling strange attractors of tactical inevitability. I wasn't thinking, or planning - I felt the ebb of the future battle with my skin, the rush of the coming fight sweet and tickly in my chest, bubbling up and seeping into my magic.

So when Bear Claw roared, her giant maw opening much wider than pony anatomy should have allowed, I was already moving. My first spell stuck in her throat, making her cough and splutter, and half-blind she crashed into the wall, slipping on the ice I have summoned. I was already past her when I exploded the thin ice into a zillion sharp splinters, making the minions scatter, and pounced forwards.

Behind me pink and pale white flashes lighted up the rooms, where Luna engaged the Elder with her magic, weaving the moonlight into bolts and lances, but I could not spare a look, much less a spell, as I hit my opponents. Hard and fast: In close quarters, against a crowd, every strike must kill or cripple - there is no time to hit the same pony twice. But even with my newfound sixth sense, with all my magic and all my power, my body was not strong enough, not quite ready to keep up.

I slipped, and almost fell, and missed my spell — it cut her across the chest, instead of taking both her eyes. Straightening out, I threw another stallion aside, his flesh soft and wet and pliant like a slime under my magic. Too late — too slow — I stumbled, and my hooves slid on the uneven floor, and I could feel my time corridors and options shrinking, trapping me in the mesh of my opponents’ moves, viable moves I could make growing scarcer with every second.

There wasn’t any choice, and I let Wild Stab close in, and I saw his spear, now covered in black, dripping ooze, that made the stones corrode and spit black smoke where it dripped to the floor, piercing my side, even before he began his swing. I stepped to meet it, and it hit me right in my ribs, knocking out my breath with the indescribable ecstasy of agony.

I had no time for these sensations ("Focus" a whisper in the back of my head reminded me). I forced my flesh to serve, and protesting muscles to push myself further into the spear, moving deeper within his reach, while the spear raked along my bones until my horn smashed into the soft underside of Wild Stab’s skull and into his brain. A spark of expanding magic finished the deal, and I could now cut the spear off and rip it out of my barrel, and move again, not stopping, not slowing down, not letting them pin me.

They fell apart for a second, my assault shaking their resolve, pushing them away with fire and wind, and for a second, behind their black disfigured forms, I could glimpse at the Princess fighting.

Her spells were old, far behind the advancements of modern magic - slow and inefficient, overly complicated and barely controlled. Even with the Princess’ power, they would not stand a chance. Unlike me, however, she did not just rely on her spellwork.

All it took was for her to raise a hoof and the sky rushed to her aid, bursting the broken roof of the castle and raining down lightnings denser than raindrops. It ripped into Ahuizotl’s shroud like a brilliant net, arcing on his spikes and burrowing into his coat. The thunderous, deafening roar of the elements threw every one of us off our hooves.

Only Ahuizotl still stood, screaming with pain, his muzzle opening wide, soundless compared to the explosion of the Princess summoned, but you could still feel the pain and rage in his scream.

Before he could act or recover, the hail followed, summoned by a wave of Princess’ wing.
It struck like a million blades, across his back and muzzle, drawing black blood, thick and oozing like tar.

Sounds came back slowly, and I stood up, forcing my limbs to move towards the immeasurable fury of the powers fighting, to aid the Princess, but just as I have recovered, so did my enemies. A thin, spindly thing of spurs and bones barred my path. I broke both of its front legs - Piano always had the silly habit of stretching them too far, and before they all could stand up, I regained my footing, and I pressed my attack.

Ahuizotl breathed, and strained his muscles, his claws leaving long, smoking scratches in the stone, and I recognized that look that burned in his eyes, Power shimmering as he gathered it. I have seen it before: Power hurt but undefeated on the bank of the river, where dawn has colored snow blood-red. He was ready to strike back, and I had to get to the Princess before he would do it.

Darkness and blood coalesced at his forepaw when he raised it, a spinning vortex that was blacker than black, before he released it in a single wave of pure might, splattering against Princess’ magical shield. It held, though I could almost feel the strain of the spell against the impossible pressure of the Nightmares, the creaking and shifting of magical energies spurring me to move quicker, lest I be too late.

Scattering the last of the minions with a burst of my magic, I leaped towards the Princess, to shield her from the pressure of the Nighthound, to give her a second’s respite, but something grabbed me by the tail and threw me back on the floor. I rolled and jumped back up, only to see Green Glow standing in my way.

"Leaving so soon?"

The pink shield of the Princess began shrinking against the torrent of the darkness that streamed from Ahuizotl's paw, and her hooves began to slip on the floor, yielding under the pressure of Nightmare’s power.

I made myself ignore it, pushing it away to the periphery of my consciousness and fed it to my anger and thirst for victory. I could not afford a distraction.

Breathe. Whether I thought it in her voice, or she had actually said it, I neither knew nor cared.

She smiled.

“Just me and you now. Graduation time, little princess…” and in a blink of an eye she was upon me, but this time I saw it coming, and I was focused and ready.

My spell shattered three of her ribs drowning her laughter in a bloody cough. She wrenched my leg out of the socket and broke my hoof. Her hoof-strike nearly took off my jaw even as I almost boiled her blood inside her head. Hoof and flame, tooth and horn, we ripped into each other, united in a frenzy of the battle that joined us tighter than sex, until I was crushing her down under my body, a burning sword of my magic at her throat.

And then, pinned by my magic she suddenly kissed me, and I could not but lean into it, the unexpected and familiar sensation blinding me and my blood surging in my veins. Black softness and the sweet peppermint of her hungry lips, saltiness of our mixed blood, her hot, deft tongue... She twisted underneath me, both of her hind hooves throwing me off her and stood up, laughing.


I sneaked a look at the Princess and Ahuizotl, and if I could’ve spared a feeling, my heart would’ve frozen, because at that moment Luna’s shield dropped, pulling the shadows to her instead of fighting them. The hungry shades streamed towards her joining the Princess' caesious coat, spilling across her chest in a pool of inky-black.

Ahuizotl still struggled as he felt his power drain, and Nightmare, almost too eager to come back, abandon him in favour of his original owner. He thrashed and pulled, trying to tame the power no longer his, twisting and snarling like a maddened beast, his muscles rippling and bones cracking under his skin from the vain effort to move away and stop the torrent of life and power ripped out of him.

“You learned well, my little princess.” Green Glow wheezed, trying to get some air into her punctured lungs and spat out a glob of phlegm-stained blood. There was no mockery in her tone - only the quiet pride of a teacher for her student.

“I’ve always been a good student.” I stumbled, only staying upright by a miracle.

We stood there for a second, the world swirling and swaying around as I struggled to stay upright. Then she moved towards me, her broken foreleg dragging limply on the floor.

I took a breath and sprung my spell.

It was the best spell I could have mustered: a mess of semi-coherent energies, barely powerful enough to mash a mosquito in poor health. But it did the job. Her knees buckled and gave under her, her eyes rolled, and she crumpled on the floor.

Too late.

For all my lessons, for all that I thought was my power, I was too late.

Now I could only watch as the darkness consumed Luna, her barrel, and her hooves already back to the pitch-black colour of the Nightmare.

"Tell my sister that we will yet have our words with her." Her voice, soft and quiet, as if she whispered into my ears all across the room. "Tell my sister—" the Nightmare crept finally over her muzzle and her cutie mark, hatred and power turning her voice again to the Royal Canterlot Address, that made the bricks and the mortar shake, “THAT WE SHALL BE BACK ON THE SHORTEST NIGHT OF THE YEAR. WHEN THE STARS SHALL AID OUR ESCAPE, CELESTIA WILL FALL!!”

The beam of moonlight, bright and stark pierced the darkness and hit her, pinning her to the floor like a bug on entomologist's needle, and she turned translucent and ethereal, disappearing back to her prison.

The Elder fell to the floor in a heap, his skin — a patchwork of blue and red where the Nightmare ripped out of his veins through his skin. He looked at me, and if looks could kill, I would have been struck dead right there and then, drowned in his boundless hatred.

I gave the empty place where Princess vanished, the broken ponies, and Green’s unconscious form another look, and a laughter escaped my lips, mirthless and dead.

I had won. I had lost. It didn’t matter.

And then the pain of my injuries caught up to me and swept me down into the soothing darkness.