• Published 2nd Aug 2018
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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.

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Luna's First Lesson

Twilight couldn't help yawning as she stepped down from the Chariot and onto the landing platform. Getting used to waking up in the late afternoon was harder than she'd thought, and the ride to the palace after sundown was still chilly.

Spike had already given up trying to stay awake. He snored gently on her back, supported by her magic.

She came to a halt as she realized that the guards waiting at the door were from Luna's Royal Guard. They returned her nod of greeting politely enough, yet it was difficult tearing her eyes away from the hungry look of their bared fangs.

They fell in with her and this time guided her along a different path downstairs, into a lesser-used corridor in the palace.

Rounding a final corner, they came upon Princess Luna. She was standing facing a familiar set of doors.

"The Vault!" Twilight whispered. She felt she was on familiar ground here, recalling countless lessons from Celestia in the safe confines of the gray room-but-not-a-room behind the doors. It was a heavily fortified safe-house, proof against magic from both within and without, and thus a useful space for new students practicing dangerous spells.

Luna spoke up without looking round. "Acolyte! Attend us!"

Twilight quickly trotted forward to kneel gracefully before the Princess, as Luna finally turned to look upon her.

"Better," was all Luna said. She looked to the guards. "Return to duty! You will be summoned when needed!"

The nightmares likewise knelt to her. "Yes, Mistress," they intoned. Then they rose, backed away, and finally turned and departed around the corner.

Twilight heard a gentle snore still coming from her back. "Spike!" she hissed loudly. Spike started awake, blinked sleepily, and then looked up.

Straight into Luna's stern gaze.

"Woah!" He tumbled off Twilight's back with a loud thump. Twilight grimaced.

"My apologies, Princess!"

"Thy assistant will wait here," Luna snapped. "This initial lesson requires the two of us alone!"

Spike hurriedly bowed and then scurried a safe distance away to wait.

Luna turned her head to look at the doors again. "We take it thou already knows what this is?"

"The Gateless Gate!" Twilight replied immediately.

"Very well. Open it!"

Twilight was puzzled. This had been one of her first lessons: getting into the classroom -- and it was a skill she'd long since mastered. The trick was to observe the doors in fine detail, becoming so familiar with them that they no longer commanded any attention, and hence ceased to be a barrier to entry. This also had the useful side-effect that when one needed to get out of the Vault, one could easily find the doors again.

She sat herself down in front of the doors, and looked at them. And looked. And looked some more. Minutes went by before she suddenly realized that it just wasn't working this time.

"Dost thou intend to sit there all night?" Luna asked impatiently. "Thou art an Acolyte of the Lunar Court! Thou desires entry to a room! Command it!"

Uncertain, Twilight got up, and faced the doors.

"Open!" she called.

Nothing happened. She cleared her throat and tried again.

"Uh... Open Sesame?"


"A little louder, Acolyte," Luna suggested dryly.

Annoyed, Twilight raised her voice as loud as she could.

"I command you to open!" She kicked one of the doors with a forehoof. "Uh... please?"

Luna sighed, rolling her eyes. "We shall have to work on this. Observe!"

She wound up, and delivered a full-throated bellow of the Canterlot Voice:


And the doors swung open, rapidly and obediently.

Luna exchanged a look with Twilight, with the merest hint of a smile. "There is a time and place for sweetness and light," she said. "And sometimes it is necessary to show that one means it!"

Then she led the way into the Vault, Twilight trotting quickly behind her. The room beyond was the familiar gray, featureless space, with no variation in shading, only the merest sensation of a floor underhoof. Twilight heard the doors swinging shut behind her.

Then Luna came about and faced her.

"Let us see what thou knows," she said coldly. DEFEND THYSELF!

And the entire space descended into pitch black darkness, suffocatingly close and still. It was like being wrapped in ink-dark cotton.

Shocked, Twilight thought hurriedly. Defensive spells... like Shining Armor's shield spell... let's see... spherical perfect form, then apply deflection magic...

A lash of blue flame spat from the darkness to her left, tumbling her head over heels. She landed heavily, but unhurt.

Shaking her head, she hurriedly managed to get a shield going. It was just in time to deflect a second bolt from the right, but the recoil again bowled her over.

She thought fast. A luminance spell, so I can see where she is? Waste of time, Luna was far too quick. Materialization? Maybe fine sand that would crunch underfoot? But Luna is an alicorn, she can just fly, right?

A bolt from directly overhead smacked her into the floor, knocking the wind out of her. Yup, right!

Then a deep blue magic field enveloped Twilight. Her hooves left the ground. She felt herself tumbling helplessly in mid-air, completely disoriented. Bolt after bolt spat at her from every side, batting her about like a ball.

Yet all coming from one source. Twilight centered on herself as Celestia had taught her to do in a situation like this, and placed the source relative to herself, carefully tracking it as she spun about. Then she reached for the only spell she knew she could work quickly enough. It was only a firefly spell, but it might just do the trick.

A flash of light, a shower of colorful sparks. There was a gasp from the darkness. Suddenly the magic field released her. She barely had time to use her own levitation skills to slow her fall, and hit the ground roughly. Then she jumped up and ran straight toward where she'd seen Luna briefly outlined in the blackness.

Luna was not there. But now Twilight had an idea. As quietly as possible, she took two steps to the right, and three back.

And then crouched perfectly still, holding her breath, eyes shut, and listening.

She heard an annoyed snort from ahead of her and to the left.

Gotcha! She readied a materialization spell, smiling to herself.

A voice whispered right in her ear.

"We can see in the dark, Acolyte! And throw our voice!"

She was seized up in Luna's magic again. This time she was slung round like a ball on a string, faster and faster. Her shield was lashed with flame, with ice, with jagged bolts of lightning. She felt too dizzy to maintain it properly -- it flickered and faded.

A wash of paralysis immediately swept over her. Unable even to struggle, she felt herself brought to a halt with sickening abruptness. A lake of blue flickering flames sprang into being below her, and she was suddenly released, dropping like a stone. Only an inch from the flames, she was brought to an equally abrupt halt. And then the flames snapped out and she dropped the remaining distance to the floor, unable to move anything but her eyes and feeling terribly sick to her stomach.

A brilliant glare of luminance magic appeared above her. She weakly looked up to see Luna standing over her in the dark.

"Passable, if severely flawed," the Princess said coldly. "Thou canst maintain discipline under fire, at least. Good try at misdirection, although lack of understanding of thy adversary's abilities meant it had little effect. And why didst thou not counterattack? Wert thou waiting for permission?"

Twilight felt herself released from the paralysis spell. She coughed roughly and hauled herself to her feet, wanting to retch. "I... haven't really had much practice with offensive spells. I felt it was better to stick to things I knew would work!"

"If thou hast need of offensive magic," Luna warned, "thou wilt not have time to stick to what thou is certain of! We must teach thee to take the offensive, be creative! The less time thou takes to act, the less thy opponent has to plan and respond!" She pursed her lips, considering. "We shall begin with the most basic offensive magics: flame, ice, shock, and paralysis. And thou wilt look up the others, and present us a list ranking them in order of strength and power requirements!"

Still catching her breath, Twilight knelt, feeling her knees wobbling. "Yes, Princess!"

When she looked up, Luna was still gazing at her, coldly and sternly.

"Hast thou a comment, Acolyte? Speak thy mind!"

"I was just... a bit surprised. My first lesson with Celestia wasn't nearly so... challenging!"

Luna expression turned somber.

"The Night is not as forgiving as the Day."

Her luminance spell flicked off, plunging the Vault into darkness once more.