• Published 7th Jul 2018
  • 1,299 Views, 20 Comments

After Moonfall - Coyote de La Mancha

Nightmare Moon is banished. It is the first great battle that Princess Celestia has ever lost. But only as the smoke clears does she fully realize what has just transpired. Now, she also stands upon the precipice. The choice is hers.

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After Moonfall

Celestia sagged to her knees, her strength all but spent. The Elements of Harmony clattered to the floor around her, vague shapes of smoking stone. Burnt out. Useless. She looked up, and to her horror, she saw a shadowy profile of an alicorn bound within the very moon itself.

It was done.

Her mind ran through a bizarre roll-call of the enemies she had faced before. Discord. Yandro of the Shining Pool. The Crimson Queen, and her Knight of Mirrors. Sombra. Thallus the Cold One. Lord Tirek the Devourer. So many others. And through it all, her sister, her best friend, had been ever by her side. Her beloved. Her heart. Her fay.

Until tonight.

Of all the battles hard-fought and won, she had lost the only one that had ever mattered.

Tonight, she had lost her Luna.

The battle had been short, fierce, and desperate. The attack had come seemingly from nowhere. Even when her foe had revealed herself, Celestia had refused to believe what had happened. Only when she had been hurled down from the sky, and still there had been no aid given by her sister, had she allowed herself to see.

In the breadth of an instant, she'd seen how she had failed over the centuries, in so many ways. Constantly putting off time with the one closest to her, to care for those far away. Seeing Luna's silence as a sign of wellness, and not a need for aid. She could sense patterns in events, even in lives. Yet, somehow, she had been blind to the needs of her dearest. The irony of it stabbed.

And while she had beseeched Luna to stop, Nightmare Moon had come in for the kill. There had seemed only one way to survive.

But if she had thought, she would not have moved.

Through the ages, as they had continued their endless lives as alicorns, they had both become more inherently magical beings. Their bond with sun and moon had become, over time, a more literal expression of themselves. And so, when Luna finally fell into despair and madness, the transformation had also been a literal one.

Yet, it had been Nightmare Moon who had hurtled Celestia back into their castle, and into the very midst of the weapons needed to stop the mad alicorn's rampage. In retrospect, the truth was obvious: Luna was trapped within the armoured prison of her loneliness and hate. Slumbering, true. But it was a fitful slumber. She was still there, still trying to get out. And this, too, Celestia had realized too late. Now, within the moon, its mistress slept in exile. Trapped within a sleeping monster.

Celestia could see the pattern she had created clearly enough. Nightmare Moon would sleep for a thousand years. Luna had also been a mistress of the Elements of Harmony; they would not be able to cage her forever. Then she would awaken again, aided by the stars, to seek her final vengeance.

The terrible fight had awakened the entire castle. No one was seeking Celestia out yet, but she knew it was only a matter of time. They would have seen at least some of the battle as it had coursed through the clouds, burning and scarring the very sky. Even now, it began its turbulent rage in response. They would think Luna had inevitably fallen to the shadow they took her for, risen against her sister. For so many years, ponies had spoken of them both as things to worship. Now Luna would be a demon. A goddess of evil. Celestia could already hear the whispers and stories, see the re-enactments and burnings in effigy. And she would be placed above it all on an eternal pedestal, the sun goddess who had set the world free from a nightmare of eternal darkness.

She would be fighting these stories for generations.

In her mind, she could already see her eager subjects, circling around her like shadows. Heal us, they seemed to say. Guide us. Save us. Soothe our hurts. Protect us. Rule us. Receive our sacrifices and make us whole. Let our devotion to you become law. Let us kill for your honour, and die in your name. Command our hearts, and accept our souls.

Be our god.

But now, those old voices seemed to blend with an even greater shadow, drawing strength from it. This new darkness swirled around her, surrounding her mind, seeking to draw her in.

There is no love left in the world, the darkness whispered. Thou hast banished it at last, and with it all hope. Nor is there even hope for change. Thou hast either killed it or stilled it in stone, time and time again. Now is only the eternity before thee of sameness and restraint, every day the same as the one before. Chained to the altar that is thy throne, in the castle that is thy tomb.

So old. So tired. And now, so utterly, completely alone. An empty echo, reverberating throughout your own marble halls and stained glass walls. As thou art, so shalt thou ever be, always.

Nothing is worth such pain, such endless fatigue of the spirit and mind.

Within the hollow agony she felt, Celestia could only agree.

Yield, then.

Ascend, become the goddess the ponies say thou art. Accept the worship that thou hast fought against for so long. Legends, aloof and removed, do not tire and hurt as thou dost. Idols do not lament. They revel in their power.

Or else, sleep. End thyself. If life is pain, then let life end.

Her eyes narrowed. No.

It would be so easy.

Her breathing quickening, almost coming in gasps. No.

Stop thy caring. Stop thy hurting.

Teeth gritted, wings unfurled. Shaking her head furiously. No.

Be what is easiest for thee to be; else be not at all.

“No!” Celestia soared headlong through the stained glass, scattering its multicoloured shards into the wind. She soared against the gale, wings beating, past the window ledge, past the spires outside, spiraling up and out from its walls. The storm raged against her, lightning arcing against the very walls of the palace. The tempest roared with a thousand voices, seeking vainly to beat her down to the stones below. She refused to fall, screaming into the storm and the darkness as the very walls of the castle began to crack.

“No! I won’t give in! I will stay myself! I won’t give you the satisfaction of breaking me!”

It was not rain on her face, she knew. Rain does not taste of salt.

“If love is lost, then I shall live without love! If hope is gone, then I shall live without hope! Never shall I allow the darkness to rise again, within my heart or without it!” Voice cracking, she cried out above the tempest, “I am Celestia! And I will fight you, all of you, if it kills me! I’ll keep fighting you, even after I die! I’ll never give in! Do you hear me?!”

Within the Castle of the Two Sisters, ponies hid their heads in terror. Outside, the hurricane coiled around Celestia like an angry dragon. It tore at her wings with a fury to shatter stone, roaring its hate, lightning blazing around her as she screamed into its very heart,