• Published 29th Aug 2012
  • 188,457 Views, 6,345 Comments

Past Sins - Pen Stroke

Can Nightmare Moon, reborn without her hate, ever escape her past?

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12: Mother of a Nightmare

Past Sins


Chapter 12

Mother of a Nightmare


“I can’t believe Nyx turned out to be Nightmare Moon. It… it makes just about as much sense as a blue apple,” Applejack commented.

“I can’t believe you were in on it the whole time and didn’t tell us!” Rainbow Dash snapped, pointing an accusing hoof at Rarity.

Rarity sat up defensively. “Do not take that tone with me, Rainbow Dash! Twilight made me promise not to tell. What was I supposed to do, betray her trust? We didn’t think Nyx was capable of this, and you're not the one bearing the brunt of what’s happened.” Her tone softened, and she looked to the library staircase. “Twilight… she is just devastated. She’s been crying her eyes out since Nightmare Moon disappeared. I had to carry the poor thing all the way back here and put her to bed.”

“Do you think she will be all right?” Fluttershy asked.

“I… I don’t know,” Rarity admitted. “She’s taking what happened very hard.”

“I’d be more surprised if she didn’t. She loved that little filly like she was her own,” Applejack pointed out.

“I’d try to cheer her up, but the only way I know how to cheer up ponies is with parties, and Twilight doesn’t need a party right now…” Pinkie Pie said, her voice lacking much of its usual enthusiasm.

“No, she doesn't,” Rarity agreed. “Right now, Twilight just needs some time. But I'm sure she'll be back on her hooves soon.”

“She'd better!” Rainbow Dash growled as she hovered above her friends’ heads. “Nightmare Moon is alive! That means we need to stop her again, and we can’t use the Elements of Harmony without Twilight!”

“Rainbow! Ssshh, She’ll hear you!” Applejack scolded. Still, even when the friends resumed speaking in hushed voices, their discussion echoed through the quiet tree house. Their words bounced up the stairs, reaching both the bedroom and Twilight’s ears.

Twilight was lying on top of her bed. Her eyes were puffy and red, and a portion of her pillow was soaked with tears. She was hugging a ripped purple vest, a bent headband, and a pair of cracked glasses to her chest and staring at the distant moon through the window. Those three items were all that had been left in the center of Ponyville after Nyx became Nightmare Moon, all that Twilight had left of her. They, however, offered her no comfort.

Twilight knew why she had done it, why she had been willing to let Celestia take Nyx away, and the truth was tearing her up like a parasprite in a basket of apples. Princess Celestia was her mentor. Some would argue she treated the princess like a second mother, considering how close they had gotten while she was at school.

And when one of the ponies you trust most in the world, a pony who always seems to be right, tells you that the filly you’re caring for needs to be taken away, you want to agree. Twilight had tried to argue, but Princess Celestia didn’t waver. It was like she was trying to move the sun itself. It was an impossible task.

So part of Twilight submitted. A part of her agreed with what Princess Celestia was saying. The logical part of her brain conceded, even though other parts of her were screaming for her to keep up the fight. She shut down from the mental conflict; she became shell-shocked.

Then Nyx called out to her, called out for her mother, and all too late did Twilight realize what an idiot she was being. She tried to catch up, tried to stop the princess, but Nyx was already gone. And now… now all she had left of the filly were a few pieces of clothing, and she hugged them as tightly to her chest as she could.

But they would never be able to replace Nyx.

There was only one thing Twilight desired more than having Nyx back. She wanted to say she was sorry. She just wanted to say those words, whether or not she was forgiven. Yet Nightmare Moon was the only pony she could say those words to, and Twilight had no clue where she was. She had vanished. Despite an all-out search by the Equestrian army, Nightmare Moon and the cult had left no clues behind. It was like they had disappeared into thin air.

Twilight herself had tried a number of spells to locate Nightmare Moon. Scrying spells, locator spells: They all failed. She could only guess that the cult was purposefully masking Nightmare Moon’s location to keep the princesses from finding out where they had hidden themselves.

“Hey, did I tell you yet that I figured out who the spy was?” Pinkie Pie’s voice echoed from the main floor of the Golden Oaks Library, drawing Twilight’s attention back to her friends’ conversation.

“Spy? What spy?” Applejack asked.

“There was a spy at the Learn and Play Day,” Rainbow Dash answered. “Pinkie Pie chased him around until he used The Stare to make her freeze up.”

Pinkie Pie nodded. “Yeah, and you know who it was? That waiter pony from the cafe in town, Horte Cuisine. I saw him standing with all those nasty cult ponies, and I recognized his mane and those creepy-weepy turquoise eyes of his.”

“Pinkie, they… um…. all had turquoise eyes,” Fluttershy pointed out.

“I know, but I could still tell it was him,” Pinkie Pie said. “When he saw me, my nose got scratchy and my ears got floppy. That means that somepony recognized me, and he was the only one looking at me.”

Applejack sighed and shook her head. “Well shoot; makes you wonder how many other ponies around town were workin’ for that crazy cult.”

“Yes it does, Applejack, but I’m sure we’ll find out the extent of that particular poison in the morning,” Rarity huffed. “I’d rather not think about it right now, personally.”

Rainbow Dash said something after that, but Twilight didn’t listen; her attention was on her magic. With her horn glowing, she stuffed her saddlebags with a number of different items. She then pushed open her bedroom window, jumped out onto the small balcony, and levitated herself down to the street below before galloping off into the night.


Within minutes, Twilight had made her way to Horte Cuisine’s home. The bachelor waiter lived a few blocks away from the restaurant where he worked, a fact Twilight knew from when she had to retrieve an overdue library book from him. Twilight approached the front door, and, making no effort to be stealthy or discrete, she used her magic to force her way inside.

The home looked positively pleasant. It was warm, welcoming, and very clean, not at all the kind of home Twilight would expect a cultist to live in. The decor of Horte’s home, however, wasn’t Twilight’s concern. She made her way upstairs and into the home’s one bedroom. She then moved over to the bed and magically opened her saddlebags. From inside the bags, a number of items floated into the air under the gentle caress of Twilight’s magic. An enchanted map of Equestria, a few smooth stones, and a book, “Skillful Seeking: Scrying and Searching Spells”, all found their way onto the bed.

After flipping open the book to a marked page, Twilight read the instructions and used the smooth stones to keep the map spread out across Horte’s bed. She then began to rummage. She opened drawers, searched the closet, and ransacked the room for pieces of jewelry, pictures, and anything else that was both small and seemed personal.

Once she had a sizable cloud of random items floating around her head, Twilight looked down at the book and read the spell’s instructions again. She had the magically prepared map, and at least one of the things she had scavenged from the room would be of great personal value to Horte. That would be enough to try and scry for the waiter’s location.

That was the hope Twilight clung to. If Nightmare Moon was the only one protected against scrying spells, then there was a chance cultists themselves could still be tracked.

Twilight held each item she had collected from the room above the map and cast the spell. Most items shimmered. Some even began to point at locations on the map. None of them, however, provided conclusive results, and every item that failed was swiftly tossed aside by Twilight.

An old pocket watch finally gave her a good reaction. When the scrying spell was cast upon it, a thin line of light formed between the watch and a place on the map. A smile blossomed onto Twilight’s face; the spell was pointing to an area near Ponyville.

Quickly dropping all the other items, Twilight set the watch onto the open spell book. Horn shimmering, she drew out another map from her bag and set it on top of the previous. The new map was of Ponyville and its surrounding area, and Twilight quickly enchanted it as she smoothed it with her hooves.

With the new map magically prepared, Twilight grabbed the pocket watch and cast the scrying spell again. The line of light formed once more and pointed to the edge of town. Twilight also noticed the line was moving, which meant Horte Cuisine was also on the move.

Leaning in close, Twilight tracked Horte Cuisine as he moved farther away from Ponyville. Then, just as the line pointed to old gemstone quarries, the enchantment stopped working and the line disappeared. Twilight blinked a few times and looked up at the pocket watch wondering if she had done something wrong. She tried recasting the scrying spell, but, after flickering back into existence for a brief moment, the line disappeared again. There were only a few reasons the spell would work one moment and stop working the next, and only one made sense to Twilight.

The spell was being blocked.

Hastily, Twilight used a quill to mark the last location the spell had pointed to before she packed up her things. She had a direction to go and a hunch to act on, which was enough for her. She turned towards the door, and didn’t even glance at the mess she was leaving. In fact, she smiled a little at the thought of Horte Cuisine coming back home to find his bedroom ransacked. It was her small way of getting back at him for spying on her, her friends, and Nyx.

Still, Twilight didn’t let her mind linger on Horte Cuisine. The sun was starting to rise, and she didn’t want to run the risk of being caught by her friends or being stopped by anypony on the street. She was a pony on a mission. With her eyes forward and her brow furrowed, she began walking in the direction of the distant gem quarries.


“Twilight… Sugarcube, are you awake?” Applejack asked. She and the others had decided to spend the night at the library, just in case Twilight needed them or Nightmare Moon decided to attack. Each had kept their Element of Harmony, which had been delivered to Ponyville within hours of Nightmare Moon’s return, close to them during the night. The only exception was Twilight. She didn’t even want to look at the Element of Magic tiara, but Spike tucked it away in her bedside table so it would be close at hoof if it was needed.

Applejack moved toward the bed, noticing a mound beneath the covers. “Sugarcube, I know you’re beatin’ yerself up ‘bout what happened, but you can’t just lie here mopin’. We got to go deal with Nightmare Moon before she can attack the princesses, and we can’t do it without yer help.”

Twilight didn’t reply, and, after a few anxious moments, Applejack reached out a hoof to poke her friend and make sure she was awake. When her hoof sunk deeper into the bed than it should have, Applejack’s eyes narrowed, and she tore off the covers.

Where Applejack thought Twilight had been lying were instead several strategically placed pillows, and attached to one was a note.

By the time you read this, I will be long gone. I’m sorry that I left without telling anypony, but this is something I have to do. I have to find Nightm Nyx my daughter. I have to try to convince her to stop what she’s doing.

There are also some things I have to say, to get off my chest, and she’s the only one I can say them to. Everything she accused me of last night was true. I betrayed her. I let her down. I failed.

I do not know where I am going, and I doubt that I will return. I don’t expect everypony to understand why I am doing this, but I have to see Nyx one more time. I have to convince her to stop, and I have to tell her how sorry I am, even if she doesn’t believe me.

Twilight Sparkle

“Horse-feathers!” Applejack cursed. “Twilight, girl, what are you thinkin’?!”


Twilight peeked around the corner and took note of the two guards standing in the earthen tunnel. After reaching the empty rock quarries outside Ponyville, it didn’t take long for Twilight to figure out that she needed to head down into the elaborate tunnel network of the Diamond Dogs. Then, after a few hours of navigating corridors, she almost walked into a pair of patrolling guards. It had been a close call, but it let Twilight know she was in the right place.

The guards themselves were a twisted mockery of the royal guard. The armor was of similar build and color to the night guard, but palette had been darkened to the point many aspects of the armor were black. Also, like Princess Celestia’s soldiers, the armor was enchanted to change the appearance of the pony wearing it. The coats of the sturdily built stallions were a haunting, almost sickly gray tone, and they had Nightmare Moon’s piercing eyes.

After that first close call, Twilight moved carefully through the tunnels to ensure she avoided any wandering patrols. Now, however, Twilight faced a pair of guards that stood vigilantly at a door in the tunnels. She had no clue what was behind it. It could be where Nightmare Moon was, or it could easily be a guard barracks filled with a whole platoon of armored soldiers.

Twilight slipped back behind the corner and took a moment to both swallow the nervous knot in her throat and shore up her courage. She picked up a nearby loose gemstone with her magic and chucked it down the tunnel. It clattered against the stones, and the tinkling noise it made seemed to echo endlessly..

Yet, after a few tense moments, the guards hadn’t come to investigate. Twilight risked another peek around the corner and saw that the two unicorns hadn’t moved an inch. They had remained still as statues except for their ears, which were now turned forward and attentive. Her attempt to draw the guards away from the door did nothing but make them more alert, a fact that made Twilight grit her teeth in aggravation.

“Okay, time for another tactic,” Twilight whispered as her horn started to glow. She’d have to do this quickly, but maybe it would work. Peeking out from behind the corner one more time, Twilight cast out her magic. The magic reached the door, and, after taking a few moments to build strength, unleashed itself.

The heavy wooden door swung open violently and crashed against the stone wall on the far side. Despite their training, the two guards jumped and quickly turned to see who had thrown open the door. Twilight too was looking through the door, but for another reason. First, she confirmed there were no guards on the far side. Then, she focused on the hallway beyond the door. She studied it and painted a picture of it in her mind. She tried to memorize every detail she could before the guards pulled the door shut, and she was forced to duck back behind her corner.

Twilight waited a good few minutes, staying hidden to make sure the guards weren’t going to come searching for her. When she was sure she was safe, she pictured the far side of the door in her head, trying to recall every detail. She then called on her magic and disappeared with a flash.

Twilight held her breath and kept her eyes shut after she felt her teleportation spell finish. She feared for a moment that she may have aimed incorrectly and appeared directly in front of the guards. When nopony reached out to grab her, she risked a look and smiled. She had teleported to exactly where she wanted to be, the far side of the door.

With the guards bypassed and a new trick for getting by any future obstacles, Twilight continued down the tunnel. It went straight for a long time before ending in a right turn, and, upon reaching that bend, Twilight peeked around the corner and almost let out an audible gasp at what she saw.

A huge cavern had been carved out of the solid rock. It stretched on for what had to be twenty or thirty stories and was easily several city blocks wide across. Even more impressive was what was built in the cavern. A castle, both elegant and terrifying, had been erected in the deep underground chamber. Its tallest tower was just a few feet short of scraping the ceiling.

Twilight had little doubt she had found the castle of Nightmare Moon, and she was beginning to regret the fact she hadn’t brought her friends. She, however, quickly shook that thought from her mind. If she had brought her friends along, it would be to confront and defeat Nightmare Moon using the Elements of Harmony, and she couldn’t be a part of that.

That wasn’t why she had come searching for Nightmare Moon.

Not wanting to rush in haphazardly, Twilight hung back in the small access tunnel and watched the many patrols that kept watch from the castle’s high walls. As if being underground wasn’t enough, the castle still had defensive walls, which only made Twilight’s approach that more difficult.

She contemplated dozens of plans to get closer to the castle, but each was made impossible by the patrol routes of the guards. Then, Twilight remembered the trick she had just used. The guards wouldn’t be expecting a pony capable of teleporting, so she looked across the castle for any opening she could teleport to.

The opening Twilight chose was a balcony on the tallest tower. She reached it with a single teleport, reappearing with a small flash. She chanced a look back, both to make sure she hadn’t been seen and to smile at all the castle security she had been able to bypass. She’d need to tell Princess Celestia about this trick if she made it back. Her mentor would undoubtedly like to know how easy it was for a pony to sneak into a heavily guarded castle by just popping around using a teleportation spell.

For the moment, however, Twilight shelved that thought and poked her head into the room the balcony was attached to. It seemed to be a room that existed only as a means of accessing the balcony, a room elegantly decorated with a nighttime sky on the ceiling and a map of Equestria on the floor. Otherwise, the room was completely devoid of furniture. It seemed a shame to waste a perfectly good room, but Twilight didn’t think about it long before she moved towards a nearby stairwell and made her descent into the rest of the castle.


Twilight felt a lot less sure about what she was doing. Her progress through the castle was slow. She had to keep hiding from passing guards, and she didn’t dare go faster than a slow walk. Galloping, even breathing loudly, might draw the attention of the guards or the castle staff. Twilight felt she was lucky she hadn’t already been discovered.

Her pace was also slowed by the fact she kept jumping at shadows. The hallways of the castle were kept lit by enchanted gemstones held in metal, wall-mounted holders. They illuminated the hallways well and made more sense than torches, which would quickly choke the underground castle with smoke. The gemstones, however, had a habit of flickering at times. This caused nearby shadows to dance, and it often made Twilight jump, fearing a guard was about to pounce her.

Despite all this, Twilight forced herself to continue searching the castle. She had to find Nightmare Moon, even if every moment she spent looking increased the chances of her getting caught.

And it wasn’t like Nightmare Moon was just sitting somewhere, waiting to be found. She could easily walk to another part of the castle Twilight had already checked, making the search all the more difficult. In truth, Twilight was beginning to contemplate trying to find Nightmare Moon’s bedchamber. She could simply wait there until Nightmare Moon was alone and then reveal herself.

It was then, as Twilight was turning around to search the higher floors of the castle for Nightmare Moon’s bedroom, that she heard hoofsteps. She looked up, and her ears swiveled as she listened. The hoofsteps were coming from the hallway ahead of her, and they were growing louder. Somepony was coming; she needed to hide.

Turning, Twilight moved as quickly and quietly as she could to the closest door. She cracked it open, and, after ensuring nopony was in the room, she ducked inside and pulled the door shut behind her, plunging the room into darkness. For a moment, Twilight held her breath and stood perfectly still in the pitch black. She didn’t even want to risk lighting her horn, fearing the guards might detect her magic or see the light.

She backed away from the door, putting more distance between her and it as she listened to the hoofsteps drawing closer. It was then her hoof brushed something, and Twilight had to cover her mouth to keep herself from yelping.

The hoofsteps were still getting closer, but Twilight couldn’t stand stumbling around in the darkness any longer. She lit her horn and turned to look at what her hoof had brushed against. It was a piece of rough fabric that had been dyed orange. It almost look like a pony’s leg, but a hole on one end exposed the cotton stuffing inside.

That piece of fabric, however, was not alone. Twilight’s light followed a short trail of fabric to a large pile in one corner of the room. It was then she saw the X shaped eyes of several cotton stuffed dummies staring back at her. Almost every dummy was decapitated or otherwise maimed, and every one of them looked like her and her friends.

Twilight’s breathing became ragged, and she stumbled back from the pile of dismembered dummies as if it was comprised of real ponies. She slammed her back against the door, causing it to clatter against its hinges, and she had to cover her mouth to keep herself from screaming. There were so many; Nightmare Moon’s soldiers had to be using them as training dummies, and they were training to kill.

“What was that?”

Twilight’s panic rose exponentially as the hoofsteps grew louder. The guards had heard her back against the door, and they were going to find her. They were going to find her, and they were going to do to her what they had done to the dummies. She had to hide.

The door to the small room opened a few moments later, the light from the hallway flooding inside. There were a pair of Nightmare Moon’s soldiers standing in the doorway. One lit his horn and stepped inside to search while the other remained to guard the door.

The guard focused the light from his horn into a cone and began to look over the pile of dummies. He took a step towards the pile, lifting his hoof to dig through it. The other guard, however, called out to his comrade. “Come on, we need to get Spell Nexus. Queen Nightmare Moon wants to see him.”

The other guard huffed in irritation but nodded his head all the same. He turned away from the pile, rejoined his comrade in the hallway, and pulled the door shut behind him. Once more the storeroom became consumed by darkness, but it did not stay that way for long as a light in the pile of dismembered dummies flicked to life.

Twilight, in a last panicked move, had dove into the pile of dummies to hide from the guards. It had been creepy to be surrounded by the dismembered bits of things that resembled her and her friends, but it had allowed her to go undetected. Her motivations, however, had now drastically shifted from wanting to avoid the guards to wanting to follow the pair that had almost discovered her.

They had said Nightmare Moon wanted to see Spell Nexus, and Twilight couldn’t help but wonder why he was in the castle. She knew him from her years at Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns. He had been promoted from professor to headmaster while she had been attending. Twilight could only guess he had been recently ponynapped. Nightmare Moon or her soldiers probably wanted him for information. They were probably going to torture him into telling them how to get by Canterlot’s magical defenses, or maybe they wanted to know the princesses’ weakness.

Pulling herself from the pile of dummies, Twilight quickly moved to the door, opened it, and stepped back into the hallway. She couldn’t leave Spell Nexus to be tortured. She had to help him escape. In fact, helping him to escape would be for the best. He could tell the princesses where Nightmare Moon was hiding. He could help them prepare and plan an attack, and he was also a unicorn with a talent for magic. There was a chance he could wield the Element of Magic in her place. He could possibly complete the Elements of Harmony, since Twilight doubted she’d be leaving the castle once she found and confronted Nightmare Moon.

With only the vaguest thoughts of a plan, Twilight followed the guards down the corridor. She walked as gingerly as she could while still keeping pace with them. She even began matching their steps. This hid the sound of her own hooffalls in theirs, allowing her to follow them through the castle until they approached a door.

Ducking behind a statue of Nightmare Moon, Twilight watched as one guard went inside. She intended to wait for the guard to come back out, and, as she did, her eyes wandered to the statue she was hiding behind. It portrayed Nightmare Moon with wicked, fang like teeth. She was holding a young pony whose face had been carved into a silent scream. It reminded Twilight of the old Nightmare Night fable: You gave Nightmare Moon some of your candy so she wouldn’t gobble you up.

Twilight shivered, and prayed that Nightmare Moon hadn’t fallen so far that she was willing to cannibalize another pony.

The sound of a closing door brought Twilight’s attention forward again. The two guards had fetched Spell Nexus and were now flanking him on either side. They were walking away from where Twilight was hiding, and all three of them had their backs to her. It was probably the best opportunity she was going to get.

After building up her magic and taking a breath to steady herself, Twilight attacked, accomplishing four things in quick succession. First, she teleported behind the soldiers and grabbed Spell Nexus by the tail. Next, she pulled him back so he was no longer standing between the two guards. Then, when the guards turned to see what had happened, Twilight used her magic to smash their helmets together with a wince-inducing clang. Finally, with soldiers incapacitated and Nexus floating in her levitation spell, Twilight turned and bolted.

She ran, rounded a corner, and kept running. She ran and ran, dreading that the guards would be only a few steps behind her. She risked a glance over her shoulders, to be sure the guards weren’t following. Only then did she slow down to catch her breath. After that, she called on her magic and teleported herself and Spell Nexus.

The pair reappeared in the highest tower of Nightmare Moon’s castle, in the same room where Twilight had first arrived. Just like before, the room was empty and unoccupied, and Twilight breathed a sigh of relief as she set Spell Nexus down on the floor. “Okay, I think we’re safe now.”

Spell Nexus stumbled a little as he tried to regain his footing. He kept his eyes shut for a time, but, upon opening them, he looked at Twilight with his slate gray irises. “Twilight Sparkle?”

“It’s okay,” Twilight said as she trotted up to him and put a hoof on his shoulder. “I don’t know why you were ponynapped, but you don’t have to worry. I can get you out of here.”

“But Miss Sparkle, what in Equestria are you doing down here?” Spell Nexus asked. “How did you even find this place?”

“My friend, Pinkie Pie, figured out that a pony in Ponyville named Horte Cuisine was part of this crazy cult,” Twilight explained quickly as she turned and began to trot towards the balcony the room was connected to. “So I used a scrying spell on some of his things and saw him moving towards the gemstone quarries before he suddenly disappeared. I assumed that the reason my spell stopped working was that something was blocking it, so I decided to investigate the quarries. From there, I made my way into the Diamond Dog mines and eventually found my way here.”

Nexus followed behind Twilight, concern and worry ringing in his voice. “But how did you get by the guards?”

“Oh, that was easy,” Twilight replied. She put her hooves on the balcony’s guardrail and looked outside. The guards on patrol still looked to be going about their business, which meant the guards she had attacked hadn’t raised the alarm yet. “I know a teleportation spell, so I just warped past the guards whenever I needed to. That’s actually how I plan to get you out of here. I’ll teleport you down to a cavern entrance. Then, you can escape into the Diamond Dog caves. You’ll have to find your own way back to the surface from there, but I’m sure you can manage.”

“Oh, I can assure you, Miss Sparkle,” Spell Nexus replied, his voice taking on a haughty tone, “that won’t be necessary.”

“What do you mean by—”


Twilight felt something firm strike the back of her head, and the world fell away in an instant. She may have tumbled off the balcony, but Spell Nexus grabbed her in his magic and pulled her back from the edge. He shook the hoof that he had just used to strike Twilight and then double checked to make sure she was unconscious. He then turned, and, as his eyes shifted back to turquoise, he bellowed at the top of his lungs, “Guards!”

Nexus’ shout brought six pegasus guards flying up to the balcony where he stood. They landed with a flutter of wings and bowed their heads. “You called, Brother Nexus?” one of them asked.

With a nod, Nexus’s pointed to the left hoof pair of guards. “You two, go downstairs and find the two sorry excuses for soldiers that let themselves get jumped and knocked out by Twilight Sparkle. They should be in the hallway just outside my office.”

The first pair of guards nodded and took flight while Nexus turned to the next pair. “You two, go fetch the best unicorn sorcerers we have and tell them we need to expand the defensive spells. The anti-scrying spell needs to include Ponyville.

“And you two,” Nexus said, pointing a hoof at the last of the guards before he pointed at Twilight. “Grab her and carry her down to the dungeon.”

The two pegasi nodded, quickly scooped Twilight up, and began carrying her unconscious form to the dungeons in the castle’s bowels. Nexus followed a few steps behind them, his gaze fixed on Twilight as a smile spread onto his lips. “My queen will be very happy to hear you’ve been captured, Twilight Sparkle. Before you’re presented to her, however, you and I are going to have a good, long discussion. I need to hear how you cast that lovely little teleportation spell of yours. After all, we can’t have other unicorns like you sneaking into the palace, now can we?”


The pair of servants at the entrance of the throne room pushed the large doors open and quickly bowed as Nightmare Moon stepped through. Through the course of an hour of cleaning, primping, and armor fitting, she had been returned to the frightful image so many ponies knew her by. Her coat had been cleaned so perfectly it glistened like obsidian. She was once more adorned in her regal armor, and, as the final touch, she once again had on her purple eyeshadow.

Yet, there was one thing she lacked: her cutie mark. Her flank was still bare, and it perturbed Nightmare Moon to no end. She was a full grown alicorn, a queen, and yet she was still a blank flank. There were explanations and excuses offered by Nexus and other servants. The most popular theory was that her original cutie mark was actually Luna’s, and, now that she was her own mare, she might have a different special talent. It made sense, but it did little to curb her irritation.

Of course, Nexus took the opportunity to flatter her endlessly. He was certain her cutie mark would be a crown or something similarly regal, and that it would appear when she took her rightful place as the queen of Equestria. He was a little too eager to please her at times, but Nightmare Moon couldn’t deny his words did ease her concerns. Her cutie mark would appear in due time, but right now she had more important things to worry about.

Like why Nexus was smiling so broadly.

“My Queen, you are looking positively radiant in your new armor,” Spell Nexus complimented as Nightmare Moon approached and then settled into her throne.

“Thank you,” Nightmare Moon replied flatly. “The blacksmith you recruited does fine work.”

“The finest, my Queen. You deserve nothing less.”

Nightmare Moon rolled her eyes. “Save your flattery, Nexus, and tell me if there is anything else you wish for me to attend to today?”

“There is but one matter, your highness,” Spell Nexus answered, his smile growing as large as it could, “and it’s some good news.”

Nightmare Moon arched an eyebrow. “News?”

“Bring her in!”

At Nexus’s beckoning, a set of doors to the side of the throne room opened and a pair of guards came trotting in. They dragged between them a limp body. The pony was still alive, but she was bruised and beaten. The guards unceremoniously deposited her on the floor at the foot of Nightmare Moon’s throne before stepping back to the sides of the throne room.

“She was found sneaking around the castle corridors, and it appears that she came here alone,” Spell Nexus explained as he looked over the mare. “A rather stupid thing to do, considering she is supposed to be the smartest one in her group of friends.”

Nexus chuckled at his own insult but Nightmare Moon remained still as stone. The breath was caught in her chest, and her eyes were fixed on the battered figured on the floor below her. It was Twilight Sparkle, and she looked like she had been on the losing end of a hoof fight. Her mane and coat were a mess, and she was covered in small nicks and scratches. Her right eye was particularly bad. It was puffy and swollen, like she had been hit hard in the face.

“Stand before your queen!” Nexus barked, using magic to lift Twilight off the ground. The sudden movement seemed to snap Twilight out of her stupor, and she attempted to struggle. She waved her limbs weakly and tossed her head with what little strength she could muster. It was a display that was more pathetic than worrisome, and Nexus couldn’t help but laugh. He then, to further his own twisted pleasure, released Twilight from his magic while she was still a few feet off the floor.

Twilight flopped down to the floor like a rag doll and whimpered in pain from the hard landing. Still, after a few moments, Twilight struggled to her hooves. She stood before Nightmare Moon, though she kept her right front leg elevated, as if putting weight on it caused her pain.

“So, how do you wish to have her dealt with, my Queen?” Nexus asked eagerly. “I can only imagine some of the tortures you could inflict upon her. Oh, and, then, after you’ve had your fun, perhaps a beheading? Or maybe it would send a more powerful message to have her hanged?”

Nightmare Moon’s tone was flat and cold, but her words washed over the room with the power of thunder from a violent storm. “Leave us.”

“P-pardon, my Queen?” Nexus asked.

Leave. Us,” Nightmare Moon seethed before focusing her enraged glare on Nexus. “And we are not to be disturbed until I call for you.”

“O-of course,” Nexus stammered before quickly galloping away. He called out to all the ponies in the room, telling them to leave even though many had heard Nightmare Moon’s command for themselves. It took but a minute for the room to clear, with Nexus being the last to leave. He slipped out the front entrance, shut it behind him, and then set the locks with a loud click.

Only then, when Nightmare Moon was sure she and Twilight were alone, did she make a move. She rose from her throne and spread her wings wide. Her shadow fell across Twilight, who took an anxious step back as terror glinted in her unharmed eye.

“What are you doing here?” Nightmare Moon asked, her voice dripping with hatred. “Have you come to try and purify me as you did before? Have you come to use the Elements of Harmony to save Equestria? Have you come to destroy me?!”

Twilight shrank away from the imposing alicorn before her and flattened her ears against her head. “I… I… I…”

Nightmare Moon slammed a hoof against the floor and bent her head down to Twilight’s eye level. “Why are you here!?”

“I came to say I’m sorry!” Twilight spat out as quickly as her mouth would allow.

Twilight’s words echoed hauntingly across the hall, and Nightmare Moon remained still as stone. She simply stared at Twilight for a time, but then she stepped back, folded her wings, and sat back down on her throne. “It is too late for apologies.”


“Don’t try to lie to me!” Nightmare Moon snapped. “I see through your charade. Celestia came to visit, you two talked in private, and then she came into the library’s kitchen. She spoke sweet words about wanting me to see a doctor, to make sure I was healthy, and how I could spend the night at the palace and even see your old room at her school. Of course, I was naive enough to believe her, but you knew what was going on. You knew, and that’s why you couldn’t even look at me when she was taking me out the door. You conspired with her against me, just as you do now! You knew what she was going to do, and you. Did! Nothing! To stop her!”

“Please, Nyx, I’m so sorry.”

“My name is not Nyx. It is Nightmare Moon,” she corrected firmly.

“You can call yourself what you want,” Twilight said, her voice taking on a comforting tone. “Nightmare Moon, Queen Moon, the Empress of Equestria. To me, you'll always be Nyx.”

The words were sweet, sincere, but the comfort Twilight tried to offer only made Nightmare Moon’s gaze harden. “Oh, how so very sentimental of you, Twilight Sparkle. Pity that sentiment wasn’t there when Celestia was taking me away. Now that I think about it, you probably wanted her to take me away.”

“No, Nyx, I didn’t—”

“Do not spew your lies here!” Nightmare Moon interrupted with a bellow. “You saw who I was, you saw the truth, and, no matter how much you denied it, you were scared of what I would become. You let Celestia take me away so you could forget about me and go back to your happy little life. Go back and pretend… pretend like I was never even there…”

“I was scared. I’ll admit it,” Twilight said, trying to defend herself. She took another anxious step closer to Nightmare Moon. “Princess Celestia was scared too, and… and she convinced me that I had to let her take you, so that you could be tested. She just wanted to be sure you wouldn’t be a threat to Equestria. Princess Celestia never meant to take you away forever.”

Nightmare Moon flicked her gaze away from Twilight and spoke with a cold, uncaring, yet strangely quiet tone. “Those are sweet lies and nothing more.”

“No, Nyx, it’s the truth,” Twilight assured. “I didn’t want Princess Celestia to take you. I heard you call out to me, and I tried to stop the princess. I ran out of the library after you two, but I tripped, and, by then, the chariot was already gone. I wanted to stop it, Nyx… I did.”

“A touching story, but that’s all it is,” Nightmare Moon snipped coldly. “No matter what your intentions were, it was your actions that set all this in motion. It is through your actions that you have done ill against me, and it’s your actions for which you shall receive no forgiveness.

“And do not think I have forgotten the stream of lies you have filled my head with,” Nightmare Moon continued. “After the spring play, you said that I was not Nightmare Moon, that I could never be her. Well, if that was true, we wouldn't be sitting here, now would we? Tell me, was that lie for my sake or for your own? Were you just trying to deny the truth that stared you in the face, or perhaps you wished to torture me? Is that it? Did you wish to torture me with the trappings of a normal life before I once more became who I am meant to be?”

Twilight shook her head. “No, Nyx, It wasn’t a lie. You weren’t Nightmare Moon then, and you don’t have to be her now.”

Nightmare Moon fixed Twilight with a contempt-filled glare. “You are truly in denial when you can look upon me as I am and not see me as Nightmare Moon.”

“Nyx, ponies choose who they want to be,” Twilight insisted, her voice laced with desperation. “We all have that choice. You are only Nightmare Moon if you want to be, and my Nyx wouldn’t want to do all this. She wouldn’t want to take over Equestria or make her friends worry.”

A disheartened chuckle escaped Nightmare Moon’s lips. “Worry? Now that is your cruelest joke yet, Twilight Sparkle. No pony is foolish enough to worry about me.

“Really? Because I can think of three,” Twilight said firmly as she took another step forward. “Three Crusaders who are your closest friends.”

A memory flashed through Nightmare Moon’s mind. Scootaloo had been the one pony in the crowd, besides Twilight, who hadn’t looked at her in fear the night the resurrection spell was completed. Her eyes had, instead, been filled with concern, confusion, and sadness.

Nightmare huffed and looked away from Twilight, unable to bear the sight of her pathetic, pleading eyes anymore. “They will need to learn that their friend is never coming back, that she’s gone forever.”

“She doesn’t have to be,” Twilight argued. “Nyx, you don’t have to be—”

Enough!” Nightmare Moon screeched as her wings unfurled. Still, she caught her outburst. She took a deep breath, refolded her wings, settled back into her throne, and looked past Twilight to the throne room door. “Nexus! Guards!”

Spell Nexus and two guards slipped into the room within seconds of being called, galloped up to the throne, and bowed to their queen. “What are your orders, Your Highness?”

“With Twilight Sparkle in our custody, the Elements of Harmony pose no threat. Celestia and Luna are defenseless,” Nightmare Moon said proudly as she raised her head high. “We must simply wait for the prime opportunity to strike against the Royal Sisters.”

“No!” Twilight said as a look of panic grew on her face. It was the look of a pony whose desperate gambit had failed, whose last hopes had slipped from her grasp. It was an expression Nightmare Moon couldn’t bear to look at, so she instead focused her gaze on Spell Nexus.

“Soon, I will fly to Canterlot to take the kingdom, but, for today, I wish to retire to my chambers and rest.”

Nexus deepened his bow to the point that his nose was almost touching the floor. “Of course, Your Excellence. And what would you have me do with Twilight Sparkle?”

“You have done quite enough already, Spell Nexus,” Nightmare Moon seethed, her words dripping with her disappointment.

The harsh tone of his queen’s voice caused Nexus to raise his head with a look of confusion. “Y-your Majesty?”

Nightmare Moon once again stood up and unfolded her wings, only this time she was casting her dark shadow across Spell Nexus, causing him to cower where he stood. “Do you, at all, recall my orders?”

“Your Majesty, I—”

“Let me refresh your memory,” Nightmare Moon snapped, cutting him off. “I told you that if any of the bearers of the Elements of Harmony were found, they were to be captured unharmed and Twilight Sparkle brought to me immediately.”

“Y-your Highness, you must understand—”

“Silence fool!” Nightmare Moon bellowed, “I gave you one simple order, and you failed to follow it in spirit or letter! Give me one single reason why I shouldn’t have your head for this!”

“My…m-my Queen, I… I-I…” Spell Nexus stuttered. He grappled with his words, trying to find a way to defend his action. When he was unable to do even that, he dropped to the floor and bowed as low as he could. “Forgive me, Your Highness, I was only trying to act in your best interest. We needed to know how Twilight Sparkle snuck into the castle, but she would not tell us without… persuasion. I beg you, have mercy.”

Nightmare Moon remained silent for a time, glaring daggers at Nexus. She then huffed and turned, walking back to her throne. “I will forgive this grave sin you have committed, if you can follow my next order to the letter and without fail.”

“Anything, Your Highness.” Nexus said desperately.

Nightmare Moon turned and sat on her throne, tucking her wings away carefully. “Twilight Sparkle is to be taken to the dungeon and given a cell of her own. Her injuries are to be tended by the finest doctors we have available. Ensure that she has a proper blanket and pillow. She is also to be fed properly while she is in our custody, not just bread and water. She is to be given real food, food you yourself would be willing to eat, Nexus.”

Nexus blinked in confusion before he began speaking. “B-but Your Highness. She—”

“Do you question my will, Nexus?” Nightmare Moon asked, her voice a deep rumble. “Twilight Sparkle has failed utterly. Her foolish ploy at sentimentality has crumbled, and, in her failure, she has ensured our victory. Now, she poses as much threat to me as an ant, and I can deal with her at my leisure and at a time of my choosing. Until then you shall follow my orders and treat her as I have directed, so that she is in prime condition for when I wish to enact my revenge. And, if I discover that she has been harmed again by you or the guards, it will not be her hanging from the gallows. Do I make myself clear?!

Twilight had paled and looked to be on the verge of tears. Spell Nexus, on the other hoof, had quickly scampered up to the throne and offered his queen another bow. “Of course, Your Majesty. I should have never doubted your wisdom. She shall be shown the utmost care, so that she can truly appreciate the pain you will, in time, inflict upon her. I will see to it personally.”

“Good,” Nightmare Moon replied, “but, to ensure you understand the seriousness of your mistake, let me remind you what happens to ponies who cross me.”

With that, a small bolt of lightning crackled from Nightmare Moon’s mane and struck Nexus on his flank. He would have yelped in pain, but he bit back the cry and continued to bow. The bolt left a small mark of singed hair, and, though it had done no real damage, the expression on Nexus’s face made it clear it was quite painful. The spot would undoubtedly be tender for days to come.

Once the worst of the pain had subsided, Nexus stood and rushed off, intending to relay Nightmare Moon’s orders to everypony in the castle. Nightmare Moon watched him leave, and only once Nexus was out of the room did she allow herself a few breaths to calm herself down. She then glanced over the ponies who were still in the room, the two guards and Twilight.

“I am now retiring for the day,” Nightmare Moon announced as she stood from her throne. Forcing herself to look straight ahead, she walked past Twilight and towards the throne room doors. “I expect you to escort Twilight Sparkle to her cell and ensure that everything I told Spell Nexus to do is done. Report to me directly if anypony has failed to obey my orders.”

“Yes, my Queen,” the two guards replied in unison before moving over to Twilight. While the pair had initially tossed Twilight into the room like a sack of potatoes, they now handled her as if she were the most fragile thing in the world. They escorted her from the room, helped Twilight keep the weight off of her one hurt hoof, and did everything they could to keep Nightmare Moon from redirecting her anger to them.


Nightmare Moon’s anger had not cooled when she reached her bedroom. In truth, it had only reached a more violent boil as she thought about Twilight and Spell Nexus. She threw open the door to her bedchamber and slammed it shut as soon as she had stepped inside. Then, for good measure, Nightmare Moon took her bookcase and slammed it against the door, ensuring she would not be disturbed.

Her solitude guaranteed, Nightmare Moon began to remove her armor. It was comfortable, or at least as comfortable as armor could be. Still, with her patience worn thin by both Twilight and Nexus, she could not stand to wear it any longer. She threw each piece against the nearby wall to form a cluttered pile on the floor. Unfortunately, her attempt at venting her frustration provided little relief.

“How dare she,” Nightmare Moon seethed as she approached her vanity. On one side of the vanity, next to her makeup, rested a bowl, a pitcher, and a washcloth. She poured the water from inside the pitcher into the bowl. She then wet the cloth and used it to remove her eye shadow while she continued to rant to her reflection.

“How dare Twilight come to me to spew more of her lies? How dare she call me Nyx? Does she think I am still an ignorant foal? Does she think I’d be swayed by her words again? I should have cut her down where she stood for her arrogance alone.

“And Nexus,” Nightmare Moon seethed. She finished cleaning off her makeup and tossed the wet rag into the waiting bowl. “He is lucky his transgressions only earned him a sore flank.

“They are all forgetting who I am,” she said to her reflection, “but I’ll make them remember. I’ll show Twilight I am no longer the cowering filly she found, and Nexus will learn I am not a mare to be trifled with. They will both learn that Celestia’s fear of me and my potential was wise.”

The thought of Celestia made Nightmare Moon grit her teeth, “And Celestia… she will learn all too well the depths of my wrath, both her and Twilight. Twilight for abandoning me, and Celestia for taking me away. They will both pay for—”

Nightmare Moon grunted, and, before she could stop herself, she lifted a hoof and smashed it into the mirror. The surface cracked and spider-webbed from her blow, and her reflection became fragmented. Now, instead of a single, pristine image, a dozen reflections of her eyes stared back from the broken surface.

“No,” Nightmare Moon whispered, her words dripping with the venom of her anger. “I do not care that I was taken away in the night. I do not care that I was stolen from my home and that Twilight did nothing. No, they will be judged for their true crimes against me. Celestia shall regret sealing me in the moon, and Twilight will pay for bringing the Elements of Harmony against me. They shall know no remorse, no mercy.

“I am Nightmare Moon,” she told her splintered reflection, “and they will pay for what they’ve done.”


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I do not own the intellectual properties this fan-fiction is based on.