• Published 2nd Aug 2018
  • 2,444 Views, 37 Comments

Acolyte of the Lunar Court - Lets Do This

"The Night is not as forgiving as the Day." -- Twilight finds out the hard way what Luna's night is like.

  • ...

The Mistress of Nightmares

"Run, Derpy! Get away from here!"

"Why?" Derpy gave her a puzzled look. "They're not angry at us!"

The lead nightmares came in for a landing. It was Nacht and Skaad, their armor battered and scored, their coats and tails singed in several places, but otherwise unharmed.

They inspected the charred remains of the Princess. Then they trotted over to Twilight, and knelt to her, as the other nightmares likewise came in for a landing and assembled in ranks behind them.

"Mistress. We have failed thee. We could not arrive quickly enough!"

Astonished, Twilight didn't know what to say. Nacht looked up at her.

"You are the Acolyte of our Lunar Court. We are yours to command now, Mistress. All of us."

"That really puts the final nail in it!" Twilight said. She looked at Derpy, then at the nightmares. "I suppose I'll take them to Dark Town, see if I can find sanctuary there. Or maybe I should send them home..."

Her gaze fell to the heap of ash on the cobbles. Oh no...

As if reading her thoughts, Nacht nodded to her. "Our home is with thee, Mistress! Where thou leads us, we will follow!"

Twilight grimaced, feeling she was being treated far nicer than she deserved. Then she thought for a bit. "It doesn't matter what happens to me. But at the very least I can take you all home."

She looked fondly at Spike. "I have to leave now, Spike. Stay here with Derpy. She'll look after you!"

"But Twi..."

Twilight wasn't listening. Taking a deep breath, she concentrated really hard. She'd only seen the place once, but she'd had a good long look at it, and she'd always been good at observation. And if Luna could create a dream like that, maybe Twilight could recreate it, or something like it.

She spoke the dreamwalking spell in the privacy of her thoughts, and then triggered it.

And in a soundless instant, she was standing in the muggy, fog-swept forest, by the dark pool, on a moonless night. And with her was the entire army of nightmares, looking around in amazement.

From the guardhouse, Tasjen hurried out to prostate himself before her. "Be welcome, Acolyte!" he cried. "But where is..."

He fell silent as Nacht and Skaad strode forward, taking their places to Twilight's left and right.

"The Mistress of Nightmares is dead!" Nacht called out. "Long live the Mistress of Nightmares!"

"Long live the Mistress of Nightmares!" echoed the army behind them.

And they repeated it, all the long way up the path and into the night-shrouded city.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In the city square, there was a palace. And in the palace was a throne room. And on the throne, Twilight Sparkle lay where she'd finally dropped in despair, to cry out what few tears remained. Nacht and Skaad had stationed themselves just outside the main doors, fending off the throngs of curious nightmares until Twilight felt ready to address them.

She wasn't certain she ever would be.

She assumed her body was still sitting in the Square, motionless, staring, unresponsive. She didn't want to know. She didn't want to care. She didn't want to have to make any more bad choices. She simply lay where she was, in the patch of moonlight she'd dropped down in.

Wait... moonlight?

She lifted her head. And saw Princess Luna standing before her.

The Princess nodded gravely, and her voice caught as she spoke.

"Nine... out of ten, Twilight."


"We told thee this was our dream, Twilight. And that it would be as we willed it. And so it was!"

Luna's eyes filled with tears.

"We wished to give thee a fair test, to allow thee to demonstrate in full measure thy competence and skill. We should have known better. We should have known how unwilling thou would be to give up, should have known the lengths thou would go to for the sake of those thou cares about. And... and we lost track of thee! For the longest time we could not find thee, and feared we had lost thee forever! Then we thought to look in the one place we least expected to find thee. Our city of nightmares... to find you, their Mistress in our stead!"

She strode up onto the throne and lay down beside Twilight. She swept out a warm wing to cover her shivering body.

After a long moment, she whispered quietly in Twilight's ear. "I think... we should wake up now. Both of us!"

And so they did.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

After allowing a decent stretch of time for Twilight to gradually recover from the ordeal, she once more met with Luna and Celestia in the Solar Court.

"...Dost thou concur with our Proclamation, Sister?" Luna finished.

"We do, most whole-heartedly!" Celestia replied. "And we welcome thee back to us, our most faithful student!"

Twilight smiled weakly, pleased to be able to return to daylight hours once more, and to her studies with Celestia. She looked at Luna. "I'm sorry, Princess," she said. "I think I'll stick to being merely a guest of the Lunar Court, rather than its Acolyte!"

"Do not worry thyself!" Luna answered. "We have learned much from thy tutelage. Enough so that we feel confident in taking on a new student of our own, to lead in the mastery of the Lunar Court!"

"Another student?" Twilight said, surprised. "But who...?"

"Oops! My bad!"

Twilight turned to see Derpy picking herself up after having run headlong into one of the guards at the door. Seeing the Princesses and Twilight, she scampered up the length of the red carpet and came to a screeching halt, prostrating herself before Luna.

"Sorry I'm late! I got lost!"

"Calm thyself, Acolyte! And sit up straight!"

Derpy did so, practically vibrating with eagerness.

Twilight looked from her to Luna to Celestia, in total disbelief. "How... wha... wait a minute!" she finally said. "How can Derpy be your student? She's a pegasus! She can't even do magic!"

"Can so!" Derpy focused really hard. And her mailmare's hat bounced three feet in the air... held in Luna's magic field.

Luna smiled. "She may not be able to voluntarily project spells herself, like a unicorn. But any pegasus or earth pony has the capacity to use magic. We simply lend her our power. She decides what to do with it!"

"Is that wise?" Twilight tried not to think of what Derpy armed with Luna's demigoddess magic might be capable of.

"We think so." Luna's smile turned to Derpy. "We have always relished a bit of a challenge!"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In the darkness of her room, Luna lay in her bed. And fretted. Not about her old student, or her new one. About her dream, the dream she had subjected Twilight to in order to finally test everything the young pony had absorbed from her teachings.

Luna had become Nightmare Moon again, and had been soundly defeated, without recourse to the Elements. If it ever came to that in reality she felt certain that Twilight would be able to do so again, all on her own. Luna no longer needed to fear what happened if she succumbed to the old jealousy, if she once again became the Nightmare.

So why was she not able to relax, to cease cudgeling herself with the memory of what she had done all those years ago?
Because we have not sufficiently atoned, she realized. We gave ourselves a happy ending, a comfortable dream. And we do not deserve it, not yet. We must never forget what we did, never allow ourself to forget what we did, the suffering we caused, until we have sufficiently made amends.

So she reached into her own dreams, far beyond the dream from which she'd drawn the nightmares, back and back into her own remotest past, back to her own fillyhood. And found the first thing that had ever truly frightened her.

The First Nightmare.

"Very well, Tantabus!" she said sadly. "Do your worst!"

The End

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, its characters and indicia are the property of Hasbro.
No infringement is intended. This story is a work of fan fiction, written by fans for fans of the series.

Comments ( 8 )

I liked this.

It was fun with a bit of world building and exploring with some dark elements but not to the point it overwhelmed the story or sucked the fun and joy out of reading it and going gloom and doom on the audience.

Fun, intense, and well-written. Bravo, thou prodigious purveyor of peerless prose.

Many thanks for reading and commenting, oh exceptional expresser of encouraging encomiums!
(Yeah, I totally had to break out the thesaurus for that one! :twilightsmile:)

I’d think Twilight would have switched from greed to wrath after that ordeal.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for asking!

Taken together, My Little Student and Acolyte of the Lunar Court serve as a headcanon basis for several of my stories, since they establish the categories of magic and some of the conventions I tend to assume.

The Night that Luna Returned implicitly takes place soon after Student, and draws out some of the Celestia-related aspects of that story. (I should add a cross-link in the description of Student -- thanks for reminding me!)

While not direct sequels, the stories The Sixth Element, Shopping Spree Day and Princess of the Day can arguably be viewed as taking place in the same continuity, and Derpy plays a similar "wild card" role in each of them, to a greater or lesser extent. (These were fun to write, and hopefully fun to read -- I'm hoping more folks will discover them!)

And if you're looking for Twilight as Nightmare Moon's acolyte, Nightwaker covers that, though it necessarily takes place in an AU timeline.

I did do some deliberate world-building in Acolyte, like Dark Town, the origin of Luna's nightmares, and of course the scenes with Derpy, with the intention that this could be a basis for follow-on stories in the same space. The only reason I haven't pursued those yet is because it's been hard to judge whether there's general interest from the readership for these "early season" stories with Twilight and friends... I'd love to do more along these lines, no question about it!

Anything in particular you'd want to see more of here? :twilightsmile:

Ah, I get it -- you were looking for more continuity, more of the same story... fair enough!

Of course, you do realize that's why we have a Shrek Five and I don't even wanna think about how many Sharknado movies, yeesh! :twilightsmile:

(I have tried writing a direct sequel to a story that readers really liked (see Nightwaker), but I didn't see nearly as much of a response from the readership, so it wasn't clear to me if that was the way to go in general.)

It's been a long while since I've encountered a story about Luna taking Twilight as an apprentice, so I'm really glad to have read that. You said in your notes that there has been lots of fan stories about the same, do you know if they are collected somewhere?

Did you mean the note on Where Nightmares Come From? That was referring to the numerous (and very inventive) stories around Luna's guard ponies; for more of those you might try groups like Bat Ponies and Thestrals.

My take on Luna's "nightmares", as I call them, is a little different, though I don't discount the possibility of there being a Thestral-like race of ponies as well...

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