• Published 14th Sep 2011
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The Eternal Storm - TDarkchylde



The Nightmare returns, now using an Element Bearer as a host.

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Where Sun and Moon Unite

The Eternal Storm - Chapter 8 - Where Sun and Moon Unite

Upon the roof of the Royal Library, the six Elements of Harmony were set up in a circle and concentrating hard on their reverse banishment spell. Time was of the essence and they all knew this. Equestria would survive a few more days even with the continued pounding from Nightmare Spectrum's storms, but its Princesses wouldn't last much longer if her boasting had any hint of truth to it.

"Is it working yet, Twilight?" Scootaloo said as she strained to keep up her part of the Elements' magic. "I'm not feeling so good..."

"Twi knows what she's doin', sugarcube, just hold on!" Applejack cried.

Twilight Sparkle's horn was glowing with a blinding light. Her body had only gotten a few minutes to recover after the first confrontation with Nightmare Spectrum, and as bad as the others were feeling at that moment, she was taking the worst of it. Still, she was pushing beyond her boundaries. The return spell was one so complex that it would normally take an alicorn to cast it.

If they didn't succeed, they weren't going to have that luxury to help release Princess Celestia. They all knew this, so they kept focusing their energies into the spell.

Just as Twilight felt the last of her magical energies being consumed by the spell and her life force filling the gap, a light began to shine in the center of the circle. It was working.

"A... few more seconds, girls..." Twilight said, closing her eyes tightly. She was starting to cry tears of blood.

The others redoubled their focus. Even Scootaloo was giving everything her little body had, causing her to earn the respect of the others. She was proving herself a suitable host for the power of Loyalty.

The light in the circle's center began to coalesce into the form of a pony. Slowly but steadily, Princess Luna was being returned to her home.

"Just a... *cough* few... more... seconds..." Twilight cried. She was coughing up blood now. Her body was failing.

"Twilight!" Pinkie Pie shouted.

"No! *cough* Maintain... your... focus... she's almost... back..." Twilight strained to say. She fell to one knee, but refused to quit.

Princess Luna's body finished forming, then the spell ended with a brilliant flash of light.

"Welcome... back... Princess..." Twilight said softly as she collapsed.

Twilight's friends quickly ran to her side.

"Get her inside, quickly!" Princess Luna ordered. "She'll get sick in this rain!"

Pinkie Pie, Rarity and Fluttershy loaded Twilight Sparkle's unconscious body onto Applejack's back, with Scootaloo helping steady her. They quickly brought her back into the Library.

"...And thank you, Twilight Sparkle," Luna softly said as she followed. "That's two I owe you now..."

..:://=||=\\::..

Twilight Sparkle was resting comfortably in her old bed. They had completed the summoning spell just in time - she would have a massive headache for a few days, but a good night's sleep would hopefully be enough to rejuvenate her magic. Her body was still badly damaged from the strain of the return spell, however.

The other Elements were taking a chance to rest up as well. Princess Luna had revealed to them before they packed it in that the return spell for Princess Celestia could not be performed with the sun down, so there was little they could do until sunrise other than try to sleep.

Now, the time for sunrise had come. Today, it would be Luna's job to raise it.

"This can't be too difficult. First, to put the moon away for the day..." she said as she set herself to the task. With the persistent cloud cover, she could only go by feel. Luckily, practice made perfect even with sight unseen as the moon descended.

"Nice. My sister has nothing on me in this regard... no, this is no time to gloat. The sun is a completely different beast."

She turned to the east and focused on the sun. There were many factors that would combine to make this more difficult than anything she had ever done, even more so than the first time she raised the moon. The sheer mass was the first difference. There was simply a lot more matter for her to manipulate this time. Another factor was the sun's gaseous and plasmatic state, compared to the moon's solidity.

As her magic locked on to the sun, she felt its warmth radiate through her. Then it got much worse for her. When she fully encompassed it with her magic, it started to burn her. It was a sensation she had never experienced to that magnitude before.

"Is this... Is this what Celly has to put up with every morning? Is that why she chose to command the sun - to spare me this pain? I never realized... aaaaaaaAAAAAAAHHHHH!"

Inside, Luna's scream woke up Fluttershy. "Oh no," she muttered, "was that the Princess? Girls? Wake up!"

None of the others woke up. The others could be pretty heavy sleepers, but Fluttershy was a light sleeper due to her home's comparatively quiet setting. It also didn't help that Fluttershy's shout was muted. She decided to run up to the roof to check on the Princess herself.

When she arrived, Luna's body was burning as brightly as the sun, but her magic was holding the celestial orb fast. It was slow going, but she was raising it.

"Princess?" Fluttershy worriedly asked. "Are... are you okay? I heard a scream."

"I'm fine," Luna said, ignoring her pain. "I'm just not used to doing this. The sun has a lot of kick... owwwww!" She dropped to one knee. "I never appreciated what my sister had to go through to do this job. That's all..."

"Do you want me to get Twilight to try to help you?" Fluttershy meekly asked.

"No!" Luna screamed in the midst of another surge of burning pain. "No... no. She needs her rest if you girls are going to free my sister. Besides, she just doesn't have the magic needed for this job..."

Fluttershy simply watched as Luna screamed one final time, using a defiant burst of power to force the sun to stay up. It got slightly lighter underneath the cloud cover, at least to the point where the others could see with some sense of normalcy.

"Get some rest," Luna said, trying to catch her breath. "We can probably wait until noon to start the return spell." Her body was still glowing brightly, but that was starting to fade. She tried to walk into the Library, but stumbled.

"Only if you get some rest too... please?" Fluttershy pleaded. "You don't look so good, and you probably shouldn't be falling over, either."

"I should have you hanged," Luna joked darkly, though her emotionally hardened facade was crumbling. "You're right, though... a little bit of rest couldn't hurt."

..:://=||=\\::..

Nightmare Spectrum stayed on her cloud all night and all day. She waited. She knew Luna was freed, and it would only be a matter of time before Celestia would walk Equestria again as well.

Sure enough, right at the stroke of noon, the sun glowed.

She cursed silently as her plans were starting to unravel.

"Problem?" asked the pony trapped inside her mind.

"...What are you doing awake?"

"Watching the show. Could you grab me some popcorn? It's starting to get good and I'm starving."

"You would be wise not to annoy me right now."

"Yeah, right. You can't kill me. You need me."

"Are you so certain of that?"

Nightmare Spectrum leaped off of the cloud into a freefall.

"Wait... what are you doing?"

"I don't need you as much as you believe I do. This body can die, and you with it. I'll survive as part of another."

"Prove it."

She continued to fall. She was close to reaching terminal velocity.

"You won't get another Element Bearer again, you know. They're bound to be on to you by now. Same goes for the Princesses."

She continued falling.

"I'm your last shot and you know it!"

Nightmare Spectrum growled as the pony trapped in her mind called her bluff. She halted her descent and quickly rose into the air.

"I knew it. You're just a coward."

"...Shut up and go back to sleep while I finish off your friends. I don't know how they ever put up with you in the first place."

"Coward... cow... ard..." the pony taunted as her voice became silent.

Nightmare Spectrum quickly flew back to Cloudsdayle to prepare for the final confrontation. With the Princesses free, it was now inevitable.

She was also unwilling to admit that she was now inexorably stuck with Rainbow Dash until the end of time, or until she was banished. Whichever came first.

Her only hope to shut Dash up for good was to finish off her friends.

..:://=||=\\::..

The Element Bearers, the Princesses and Spike all agreed that another night's rest would be needed for them to be in any condition to face Nightmare Spectrum. They decided they'd all head to the Palace to be taken care of properly that night. While Luna and Celestia raised and lowered the sun and moon at the proper times, the six Bearers and Spike slept. None of them would prove to have a very restful sleep. The anticipation weighing on each of them was too great to bear.

Celestia was on the roof the next morning as she readied herself to raise the sun.

"Celly?" Luna asked as she made her way to the roof.

"Sister, what's wrong?" Celestia asked as she turned to look back at Luna.

She was crying. "I'm so sorry," Luna said sadly. "I didn't know how hard it was to raise the sun. All those years ago, I simply thought that you were trying to prove that you were more powerful than me... I never realized all the pain you went through..."

Celestia walked over to her sister and pulled her into a hug. "I'm sorry, too, dear sister," she said as she also began to cry. "I was hoping to spare you the pain the sun can cause... that's why I gave you dominion over the moon. It's not easy for me, either. If I don't prepare properly, it can still cause me severe agony even after all these centuries."

"This is all my fault," Luna sighed. "If I hadn't been jealous of you, the Nightmare would have never taken me over, it would have never imprinted my powers and we wouldn't be facing this crisis now."

"Shhh... that's not true, Luna," Celestia said. "If it hadn't happened then, it would have still happened eventually. The Nightmare could even have taken me over instead of you. It is the one force in Equestria that's beyond even our power to tame."

"I wish I never escaped the Moon," Luna sobbed.

Celestia gave her sister a kiss on the forehead and hugged her tightly. "I'm glad you did," she said. "I missed you over those thousand years, and I'm truly glad to have you back now."

"You're just saying that," Luna said as she wiped a tear from her eye.

"Nonsense," Celestia whispered. "No matter what happens today, I am proudest of all that you are back and we will stand together. That will never change."

"You mean it?" Luna said between sniffles.

"On my honor, I meant every word I said," Celestia said as she stood up and smiled at her sister. "Get some breakfast, then start preparing the Elements. I'll be down shortly."

"Okay," Luna said, feeling a great weight lift from her heart as she departed back into the castle.

With that done, Celestia mentally steeled herself against the pain that was to come as her magic latched onto the sun...

..:://=||=\\::..

It was finally time to take the fight to Nightmare Spectrum. Between the Princesses and Twilight Sparkle, they had come up with a brilliant plan of attack.

The first part was making sure that the girls, aside from Fluttershy and Scootaloo would be able to walk through Cloudsdayle in the first place. Twilight Sparkle cast a cloudwalking spell on herself, Rarity, Applejack and Pinkie Pie in order to facilitate this.

The next part was transit. Princess Luna left first, flying high overhead. Her part of the plan was to clear a path for Princess Celestia and the Elements of Harmony to make it to Cloudsdayle. Though no Rainbow Dash, she was a fast and strong enough flier to create a fairly calm wake for the others to follow in.

Celestia's part was just as important. Being the more talented sister where it concerned magic, her job was to telekinetically carry the Element Bearers along with her as she followed in the wake.

The girls' part of the plan was fairly self-explanatory - use the Elements to stop Nightmare Spectrum, either by expelling the Nightmare from Rainbow Dash, or by banishing her to the moon if that failed. They had all protested that part of their role, but eventually they all realized that if it was the only remaining option, it had to be done.

Finally, Spike was to remain behind at the Palace. He was the fallback - if everything else failed, Celestia would use him to relay orders to the Royal Guard to level Cloudsdayle. If the town was destroyed, the cloud generators would be destroyed with it. It was without a doubt the least palatable option, and probably the least effective as well, but it would serve to disperse some of the storm clouds and buy Equestria some extra time to prepare for one more shot.

Everything went according to plan until they actually reached the cloud factory in Cloudsdayle.

As Twilight Sparkle tried to walk in, she was repelled by a magical shield. She shouted out as her body impacted it, causing her pain.

"Did you really think I'd make it that easy for you this time?" Nightmare Spectrum projected to the Princesses and the assembled Elements. "I think not."

"You're finished!" Scootaloo defiantly shouted. "Give us Dash back!"

"All in due time," Spectrum taunted. "In order to reach me, there are tests for each of you Elements of Harmony. If you wish to reach me, it's as simple as this..."

"...You must abandon each other and travel alone..."