• Published 7th Oct 2012
  • 1,203 Views, 10 Comments

A Nightmares return - Befram

During the changeling invasion exactly where was Luna, and what could haves stopped her from helping?

  • ...

The beginning

It was the time of night when all but the most insomniac ponies would have gone to sleep. At first sight the forest below seemed to promise nothing more than a rest from the noise and stress of daily city life, if not for the sounds of stealth betrayed and screams of prey chased and caught that echoed below.

A constant battle of predator and prey taking place in the dark embrace of the Everfree forest of which not even the full radiance of the moon could cast a glimpse of insight on.

What it did cast a glimpse of insight on to any looking up was a pegasus soaring, lowering itself towards the forest. Smiling faintly as the wind played with her mane, a simple dark brown mane in no way contemplating her grey skin tone. Not an elegant, commanding, or even beautiful form, her smile dropped at the sudden thought but only for the shortest time as the old ruins appeared before her in all of their lost glory.

Most of the former castle was in a shape only the tooth of time could account for, entire sections of it having broken down, laying in piles of stone while what still stood was frayed with the markings of rain and moss as the forest reclaimed its domains. Lost soldiers in the futile war against time. But one army still stood where both the battering of time and nature had failed.

Softly landing on the stairs the mare folded her wings and walked in with sure steps, up the staircase and through the chilly stone corridor, the stones around her all bearing cracks and signs of age. The only sounds accompanying here were the sounds of her hooves echoing around her, a sharp contrasts against the previous complete silence that had held this castle in control moments before.

Stopping and waiting until the last echo of her steps had evaporated the mare tilted her head, she could hear nothing at all. Not a single sound was heard now that she stood still, not even any noises from the forest could be heard. First now she sensed a certain pressure in the air, walking forward more carefully the pressure grew thicker the further she went until she found herself in what appeared to have once been the throne room or audience chamber.

Now it was nothing but a decrepit ruin of its former glory, yet this room still bore semblance to the beauty it had once held. Black twisted iron frames in the windows which once must have held beautiful glass mosaics in place, withered pillars heavy with spider webs and vines encircling them and ahead of her a heightened platform where the princesses once must had stood with their subjects beneath them

But more than the lost glory what hit her was the pure substance that penetrated the room. Where the corridor had made her sense the pressure here she could feel it, the very air was heavy with magic so powerful she could practically taste it. Anything that amount was used against had no right to be alive, and yet despite this she suspected the opposite.

Stopping at the center of the room she waited. Minutes passed slowly, the air and silence pressing themselves upon her until her patience faded

“I know you are here, show yourself Nightmare”

Nothing but the rebounding echoes of her voice sounded in the hall, chanting “Nightmare, nightmare, NIGHTMARE NIGHTMARE NIGHTMARE!” Rubbing her ears the mare allowed herself a small smile, so something did linger.

“I see that you st-“


Slamming down her hoof green sparks flew up in the air around her, “ENOUGH!”

Silence reigned once more, an unnatural silence which now even denied her voice its echo.

“Good. Now listen as I’m short on patience. Either you show yourself or I leave you alone to your miserable, pitiful existence here. Your choice”

For several moments nothing happened, but slowly the pure moonlight that flushed its way through the windows began gathering in small strands, intertwining themselves in front of her, the pure light darkening as the form of a giant pony slowly formed itself from the shafts of moonlight.

Fully formed a night black alicorn stared down at her, only the cutie mark in the form of the moon and the eyes were of a different color, the moon pure white and the eyes an icy blue. The apparition before the Pegasus opened her mouth several times until a voice came out, as if from a great distance.

“Pony . Want. What?” The voice was hollow, devoid of the life that any flesh and blood creature possessed, each word coming with a heavy pause between.

“Nightmare Moon, so kind of you to stop hiding. I came here to make a deal which will aid us both” She said nonchalantly, apparently unperturbed in the face of the creature that had held a place in the ponies most frightening tales for centuries.

“Deal. Aid. Why?”

Frowning at the apparition she couldn’t deny this conversation wasn’t going like she had imagined it to. To begin with it wasn’t even a proper conversation, studying the alicorn she suddenly understood. That hollow voice, those icy blue, lifeless eyes, the barest speck of intelligence inside them differencing the being from a mere beast.

The elements of harmony had not only ripped Nightmare Moon from Lunas body and made her devoid of any powers, they had reduced her to a mere specter with no intelligence to speak of. If her memory was intact how terrifying it must be, to know what she’d once been, what she’d been reduced to, how desperate she must be. A soft smile emerged at this thought, how easily manipulated she’d be.

“For reasons of my own I will give you a chance to possess Lunas body. You do remember Luna I hope? The very body you owned until the elements of harmony ripped you out from it”

At the mention of the elements Nightmare Moons form shook and shifted, partially dissolving, strands of moonlight arching out like lightning until eventually the form calmed itself, retaking its previous pony shape.

“Pain. Cold. Hot” Mere words filled with so much heat it gave an uncomfortable image of what she do with the ponies who had done this to her, if ever given the chance.

Yet that wasn’t her problem. Waving away her words she continued

“Yes, yes I get the picture, now as I said I give you one chance to return yourself to power. Will you take this chance?” She said holding out her hoof.

Eyeing her with the same cold eyes without moving she started to wonder if the alicorn even understood her.

“You. Doing. Why?”

“You’re kidding me, right? Do you honestly care?” She rolled her eyes.

“No” she reached out for the pegasus’s hoof, her own hoof seeping into the small ponies. First slowly, the hoof dragging itself into her and then the rest of her body entering, faster and faster nothing more than the empty room remained before her. The pegasus couldn’t help but shiver at the sensation of it, it was akin to having ice slowly dragged throughout your whole body and focusing itself on one specific point inside. A dark cold part nestling itself inside in sharp contrast to the warmth of her body.

As soon as the alicorn had completely seeped inside she could feel the cold spreading throughout to the rest of her body. Slow at first, then faster until she was numb from her chest downwards and inside her own head she heard a cold cruel laughter. Laughter at the foolishness of a mere pegasus offering her body, expecting herself to be able to control a goddess.

Sighing she focused on the cold and pushed it back, the warmth swiftly returning back to her hooves and chest until the cold was locked behind bars in one specific location.

“Do not try that again or I swear I snuck out the last life you have left in you” she stated plainly, not growling nor shouting. A mere statement of what would happen.

“No. Pony” the same hollow voice resonated through her head. Still despite this small headache she couldn’t resist a laugh.

“Oh? How does that old saying go, seeing is believing? I look like a pony, so what else could I possibly be?

“…Changeling” the voice said with the same heat as before, slowly warming up her prison.

Her laugh resonated throughout the chambers “So you do know!” Chrysalis laughter only grew as she felt the spirit raging inside as she left the room. Unfolding her wings she flew up into the night sky once more, retracing her route back to Canterlot. Back to her wedding.


Standing on the balcony, overlooking the guards practicing below Luna felt a glow of pride. Not just any guards, her guards.

The ponies below were set up in three small regiments, the earth ponies being the most numerous requiring more instructors than the unicorns and pegasi. Something which was evident by the loud number of instructions being shouted, she couldn’t hear what they were but apparently they involved a lot of running and practice bouts against each other.

The pegasi took most of the room while at the same time taking none, using the whole of the practice area to fly and practice their maneuvers, all under the careful eye of their own instructors in case of a maneuver going wrong. Something that happened far too often with new, overeager recruits.

And the smallest squadron of them all, put away as far as possible from the others and any buildings, the unicorns. A unicorn was always a problem she thought, first you had to find one with enough power to be of any use magically, then they had to be willing to join the guard and thirdly they had to pass the tests and be trained. All in all Luna reflected as flashes of light, shielding and combat spells were cast and trained, unicorns could be a real nuisance.

A sudden surge of wind, a glimpse of black feathers and suddenly a pegasus stood beside her. The mare wore the traditional night guard armor, identical to the ones used a thousand years ago and recently reinstated with Luna’s return. A blend of blue and different shades of purple with a purple eye in the middle, but it was the magical properties of the armor that held the true fascination of anypony looking. Turning whoever wore its coat grey or black, turning their wings bat like, the eyes changing into yellow slits perfect to see through the dark with, all made possible by the enchantments placed by Luna personally on the armor, enchantments made to both make the wearer as effective as possible at night and look threatening to everypony who saw it. The threatening effect was unfortunately somewhat diminished by the mare grinning madly.

“Impressive isn’t it princess? We’ve gotten quite good after just this little time, this batch be all professional and trained in a couple of two months II bet, just as you wanted”

A sudden flash of light from the unicorns section followed by a small bang, once the dust cleared three ponies shakily got up while their instructor expressed his professional view of what just happened, loudly.

“Of course” the mare laughed nervously “there still remains a few hicks left to fix”

“So I see captain, yet I am impressed. You have done a remarkable job with the little time you had”

“Awh don’t talk about it, and I keep telling you just to call me Breeze, I’m the breeze keeping these guys afloat, eh?” she nudged the princess who just cast a look at her overly friendly captain before turning back into the castle, motioning for her captain to follow.

“There are rules and protocols to be followed captain. as I am bound to them I expect the captain of my personal guard to follow them as well.” Luna said with a hint of reproach.

“Princess Celestia calls Shining armor by name though” the pegasus pointed out.

Sighing Luna wondered whether she had done the right thing in deciding her own guard be less strict than the royal guard. The reasons had seemed so clear at the time, a less strict guard in order to handle situations the royal guards strict rigid set of mind might not be able to. Not to say that she hadn’t wished her own guard to become an exact replica, of course the foremost reason of all was a very simple one. She wasn’t loved as her sister was, her only chance to gather up a guard of her own was to remove the rigid discipline of the royal guards that intimidated most ponies and it had given results. Yet despite the results this decision and her captain had given her, perhaps she had been hasty.

“Yes captain. The difference between you two being that you’re not marrying our niece,” she said tasting the unfamiliar word, niece. She hadn’t had a niece one thousand years ago and suddenly now she had one, and she was uncomfortably aware she had no idea how to act around her. Just one amongst many problems to be dealt with.

Trotting down the stairs, their hooves creating small echoes around them Breeze shook her head sadly. “I say, connections really are everything these days aren’t they?”

“Yes.” Luna stated plainly as they came to her personal quarters. Nodding to the two guards standing watch, two of her precious few trained Night guards, she walked in, closely followed by Breeze.

The room was opposite Celestias, draped in dark blue colors, much the same as her own skin tone. The walls were lined with bookcase after bookcase filled with everything from historical events, magical discoveries, nursery tales and instruction manuals. The objects of many spent hours to rediscover her kingdom. But the most eye grasping object of her room was the window, one whole section of the wall encased in glass to allow the moonlight to shine in, heavy drapes hanging on the side for her to close it shut during the day.

Squinting her eyes towards the dawning sky a flash of irritation struck her as she gazed, her eyes focusing more on the pink barrier that stood between herself and the sky than the sky itself.

“It’s kind of ugly isn’t it? Kind of think they could have picked another color than pink, green perhaps, or blue? Always been partial to purple myself though”

A soft puff of air was the only sign of amusement Breeze was given. “How many of my guard are ready to take up their duties? My sister has informed me that every guard might be needed in the coming days.”

“Hmm truth be told, I got no idea about the numbers right now. Now, now let me explain! There’s been a lot coming in lately, and with some constantly dropping out I can’t know without my papers or officers can I? I have to check with the trainers for the earth ponies and unicorns but whatever they say there won’t be a lot of them ready, sure isn’t enough in the pegasus section, and any who are will be ridiculously green.

“Some might say the same about you captain, you have served me less than a year”

“Hmm, you didn’t know? I served a couple of years in the royal guard, got kicked out though. They didn’t appreciate a prank I pulled” She laughed but was cut short by Lunas glare.

“And you haven’t felt inclined to tell me about this for what reason captain?” Sighing she switched her gaze back to the view outside. “No matter, even if green, to what extent can my guard be used?”

“Well” Breeze began slowly, “there is only so much we can train them for. But they’re good enough to hold the doors open for any guests and looking threatening. You will need to enchant a couple more armors though.”

“I knew as much when I asked for more recruits Breeze.”

Watching the clouds slowly pass above the barrier, a usually light fluffy white, tainted by the pink color cast by Shining armors magic made her recall Discords chocolate rain. While it was an uncomfortable thing to be reminded of it was an impressive feat for a single unicorn to cast such a spell, cast for the sole purpose of keeping an unknown enemy with unknown motives out. Keeping the doors open was it?

“I will deal with it after I had my rest and taken my watch tonight. For now I believe you should make sure of the number of guards prepared for the wedding should you not?”

Silently staying besides her Breeze eventually nodded, “sounds like a plan princess, I check it up, Goodnight”

“It’s good morning for most actually” Luna replied absentmindedly as Breeze went for the door, a sudden thought striking her.

“Oh and captain.” Luna spoke as Breeze held her hoof on the handle of the door, “make sure for the guards to realize that if what my sister suspects is true that they have to be ready to close a door, not hold it open and roll over for any enemies might come”

Nodding in affirmation Breeze left, closing the door behind her, leaving Luna alone once more. Breathing out a sigh of relief she collapsed on her bed.

Finally alone, nopony to impress or order, nopony to watch her every step around waiting for her to slip up. Levitating her crown, chest armor and hoof guards of herself Luna rolled down beneath the covers.

For now she trusted Breeze to be able to handle the guard on her own, but tomorrow she had to double-check so her captain didn’t do anything stupid, lax as the discipline might be her captains happy go attitude worried her. She would not allow her guard force to become a refuge for ponies who just liked having a lazy spot to stand in wearing fancy armor and earn bits.

And she had to meet her niece, Cadence as well. Uncomfortable she may be she was family, and after one thousand years family was the one thing that mattered.

Because that very family banished you for one thousand years a small angry voice within her spoke. Rolling around and nestling further into the pillow Luna muttered a sleepy “be quiet” before falling asleep.


An insistent knocking awoke her, groaning she waited, whoever was behind this sabotage of her sleep however did not plan to stop. Knock knock, knock knock, knock knock knock it sounded, whoever behind it changing the pace like a poorly constructed clock. Just waking her was not enough, they had to annoy her as well.

Heaving herself from the bed, stifling a yawn she went over to the mirror while casting an odd look at the hairbrush lying on the counter. Why she even had one was beyond her, one of the benefits of astral hair was never having to worry about bed hair.

Levitating her crown, chest plate and hoof guards to their proper position she scrutinized her image, nodding her approval to the image. Imposing yes, just as a ruler should be, but no longer threatening.

Opening the door and stepping outside the royal guard almost slammed his hoof right in her face. Eyes widening he withdrew it and himself a few steps backwards, stuttering on the way

“Prin- Princess I am so sorry! I did mean nothing of it, I assure you I wasn’t trying to hit you I was only-” So much for not appearing threatening no more. Holding out a hoof he quickly shut up, almost breaking Lunas neutral expression as he stood there shivering.

“Guard, why have you awoken me, where are my night guards?”

“It’s soon time to raise the moon and Princess Celestia told us to shift with them, they were needed elsewhere." He set himself in attention, relying on the discipline the guard was so famed for.

“What?! I heard nothing about this, I-” Catching her breath she counted to ten and exhaled, waving her hoof at the guard.

“Yes of course she did, at ease,” and in a heartbeat the discipline was gone, and so was the guard taking that as an allowance to leave, leaving her quarters defenseless. Her sister had some explaining to do.

Strolling down the corridor she looked out the nearest window. The sun was laying low in the sky, its fiery glare shielded by the purple toned shield engulfing the whole of Canterlot. Spying her sister in one of the towers Luna made her decision. It wasn’t quite yet time for her to take over the watch despite what the guard had said, but there were matters to be dealt with.

Trotting her way down the corridors she did not miss how the servants swiftly changed direction or hugged the wall as closely as common manner allowed, neither did she miss the royal guards watchful gaze eyeing her every step.

After a few minutes of this and coming face to face with the same corridor twice she had to admit something, she gotten herself lost, again. Looking around for a servant, any who her eyes fell on quickly entered a side corridor when they noticed her gaze. Not as if she needed a rumor spread about her getting lost in her own castle anyway.

Staring glumly at the wall she’d faced her shoulders sagged.

“Ah, enough is enough” her horn started glowing azure, its aura expanding and enveloping her for a brief second, then the princess of the night was nowhere to be seen.

Stepping out of the darkness that was her teleportation spell Luna was greeted by a smile tucking at her sisters lips.

“Lost again Luna?”

“This castle is much greater and complicated than the one of the past, I have yet to grow accustomed to the change. Much more so since I have not had the time to properly explore,” Luna answered steadily, ignoring the amusement in her sisters’ voice.

“Mm yes, you have been most diligent in your studies. So what do you want to talk about Luna? It’s not time for you just yet.” Celestia replied, returning her eyes to the telescope.

“Actually sister it was one of your own guards who woke me from my slumber, believing me incapable of knowing when the time is right to raise the moon.”

Taking her position besides Celestia, Luna followed suit and scanned the city below. Even now when the sun was about to go down the city was bustling with activity, so different from anything she had seen one thousand years ago, this city never slept. Smiling at the sight it quickly faltered as she gazed back at her sister.

“ I would like to have my night guards back under my direct command Celestia, without you giving orders to the whole company without speaking to me or captain Breeze first.”

“Luna we have spoken of this, we’re under an unknown threat. While the royal guard is effective, your own guard is much more so at night, and with the small numbers of them there is they have to be used as effectively as possible.”

Luna grimaced, partly due to her sisters reminder of exactly how few true night guards existed, once it had been an honored position to protect the ponies during the night. Now it was seen as an excuse for those who didn't make the cut into the royal guard or for crazy ponies wishing to serve a princess everybody knew would snap again eventually. Or for happy go lucky captains who always seemed to find something positive in any situation she reflected.

“So you’re telling me I cannot properly control my own guards, sister? Are you worried that I might somehow forget to give the order to search for any threats at night, the exact purpose for which I created them all those years ago? If so just say it, because I am in no mood for subtleties when the first contribution I made since my return is robbed from me right under my hooves!”

Celestias hair slowly settled itself back from the sudden outburst, taking her eyes of from the telescope she cast an annoyed look at her sister. “Luna, please don’t use the royal Canterlot voice, I rather have a private conversation than have the entire castle hear us. I know you’re fully capable on your own, have no doubt. However we’re facing a possible crisis, of what kind we don’t know, and for now you’re still readjusting. I will take no chances when it comes to any ponies lives”

“I see, the slightest hint of a threat is enough for you to rob me of my efforts, leaving all the praise for you I suppose sister? All for a threat we’re not even sure exist, all this,” she said with a hoof encompassing the dome surrounding them and the guards patrolling the sky and land. “Seems excessive. Is this what pony kind have come to during our absence, hiding behind their covers and praying it all go away at the merest hint of danger?”

The brief spark of irritation that swept past her sisters eyes made her smirk, it was a rare sight.

“Personal glory doesn’t matter at all Luna, any threat towards our subjects should always be addressed as efficient as possible” Celestia said in a slightly cooler voice compared to from before.

“I should know, I experienced that efficiency myself one thousand years ago!” Luna snapped.

Icy silence settled in the air around them, each of the princesses trying not to meet the others eyes, very much resembling a young pair in love. Sighing Luna rubbed her forehead. “My apologizes, I did not mean that, it just came out. However I will not back down on this issue. They are my guards, I expect any further order encompassing the entirety of them to be taken to me or my captain first in the future. Or I be forced to tell them to ignore orders from you for the time being”

“Luna... I rather not tell you, but I doubt they obey to that command, they are loyal to you, yes. But I ruled for one thousand years on my own, don’t put their loyalty and the kingdoms safety on the line because of your own pride. Also, I did talk with captain Breeze.”

Before Luna could reply Celestia turned back, stopping at the entrance of the tower. “We can discuss this further when you stop being so irrational.” With that she walked into the tower, the echoes of her descent downwards accompanying her departure. Perfect Luna. You might have been able to regain control of your guards if you kept calm but instead you snapped, made threats and dragged up that… Incident again. This is exactly how it all began one thousand years ago. But if what Celestia said was true, why didn’t Breeze tell me of this?

Massaging her she sighed, lowering the telescope to suit her height she took a look through it, as always marveling at the advancements that had been made during her exile.

Scanning the surroundings for any sign, and since nopony know what the threat was it was no surprise she went without success. Casting an impatient glare at the sun she was rewarded with the sight of it finally going down.

Smiling she closed her eyes and ignored everything else, concerns, argues, doubts, fears. The chilly breeze, the feeling of her hooves on stone and all her troubles. A brief peaceful moment with nothing except her and the moon. Slowly strands of blue started flowing around her, her magic slowly nudging the moon awake from its daily sleep. Feeling it respond to her magic as to an old friend she nudged it to rise, and in a brief moment the blue ribbons around her transformed into pieces of the purest night snaking around her.

Opening her eyes she looked around, mildly disappointed that nopony had seen her. There was no real need for the dramatic effects she knew but she had always believed that the atmosphere was important.

She admired her moon for a few minutes, doing her best to ignore the barrier. Shifting slightly to a more comfortable position she drew her eyes away from the gem in the sky, and glued her eyes on to the telescope, scanning the areas with deep interest. For somebody who been imprisoned for one thousand years the opportunity to have a valid reason to spy on the population below was an interesting one.

In one particular building she saw ponies rushing out, immediately preparing to go there herself her worry ceased as she saw dough rising out from every corner of the house. “Just a baking accident” she chuckled to herself “a particularly nasty baking accident.” Her argument with her sister for now forgotten she returned to her pastime. Never forgetting the duty she had as she also scanned the outside for any incoming threats, nor ignoring the moments of amusement or surprise she got from watching her, she was starting to suspect, slightly insane subjects.

“Aunt Luna how glad I am to see you.” A voice broke through her concentration.

Turning unwillingly from the latest development a pink mare approached, her curved hair carrying three colors within it, her wings neatly tucked in, wearing jewelry not all that different from Celestias or her own. All these things marking her as one pony almost all of Equestria would recognize without having ever been introduced.

“Hello dear... Niece” she replied uncomfortably.

“Found anything?” Cadenza asked as she positioned herself beside Luna.

“Nothing that our subjects can’t blame themselves for.” She shifted her body slightly, setting some distance between the two.

“You do not like me” Cadance said plainly, surprising Luna with the matter of fact tone she used.

And it was a fact, despite all the praise she heard of Cadenza from her sister, the captain of the royal guard, and in general everypony she ever asked the truth couldn’t be denied when looked at straight in the eyes.

“No.” Luna agreed, rubbing her eyes as she tried to figure out how to say it. What had her captain once said? Lies come back and bite you, but you know exactly where you are when telling the truth, even if where you are is somewhere in the gutter with a bruise on your face.

“I am sorry Cadenza but the thought of suddenly having a niece, it’s an unfamiliar one,I like to get to know you better, but for now I am occupied. Perhaps we can meet tomorrow noon?”

“I thought you slept during the day?"

“I can manage for this. I truly wish for us two to get along, I learned the hard way that family is all that truly matters.” Twisting her mouth into a sick comparison of a smile, her mind returned back to her latest family conversation.

At the mention of family Cadance gave her an odd look coupled with a lopsided smile.

“Yes... Family really is all that matters isn’t it? I know I do absolutely anything for my own, so I be seeing you in my room tommorow then?”

“Yes, I truly hope for us to get along niece I just... I just need some time to get used to all this. It’s a lot to take in.”

“Don’t worry auntie,” she tapped the princess of the night lightly on the shoulder making Luna involuntarily shiver, a sudden chill spreading from her shoulder only to disappear just as quickly as it had come.

Rubbing her shoulder she cast a suspicious glare at Cadance whose, and maybe it just was her imagination, smile looked just a tiny bit strained all of a sudden. “Sorry for the interruption aunt, I be seeing you tomorrow then. Otherwise Celestia is bound to throw both of us in a room to force us to get to know each other, isn’t she?” She said with a soft giggle, her horn flashing up and with an eruption of pink with a trace of green in it the balcony was occupied by one less pony.

Rubbing her eyes, momentarily disoriented by the sudden flash of light Luna swore to herself. Why that little, she was sure she’d made her teleportation flashier than needed on purpose. But no, it was merely a mistake of course. Cadance must be tired and had messed up her teleportation, simple as that.

Sighing at the prospect of even suspecting her own niece to be against her she returned her attention to the telescope. But what about that green shade? Her magic shouldn’t be green, and what was that chill from when she touched her? Did her dislike of her niece unknownst to her run so deep that her very body rejected the young alicorn, and her eyes deceiving her when she was in sight?

No. Tommorow I will see her, we will talk and I will find out that there is absolutely nothing wrong with her and it’s just me being judgemental. After I seen Breeze of course, and enchanted the new guards’ armor.

Returning her attention back to the telescope, towards the location she’d been watching before Cadance had come, she shook her head at the scene below.

I might be wrong, but I could’ve sworn ponies were more intelligent one thousand years ago.