Chapter 1 - Are You Afraid of Me?
I levitated up the headpiece with my magic. Slowly. Meticulously.
Such a simple piece of armour it was, yet so striking and fearful. This simple piece of metal…It meant war. It meant destruction. It meant death. The headpiece was an iconic symbol amongst the ponies of this land, and all who were weak at heart fled from its very sight. There were many like it, but this one was mine.
Slowly, I made my way across the room that I was in. The contents of the room meant nothing to me. I almost didn't notice anything beyond the four walls was there at all. My mind, though hard-set and determined, was in a flurry of thoughts. The only sound that filled the room was the heavy, resounding echo as my hooves touched the ground.
Years…For years I have been here, and for far too long this had been going on. The time had long since passed the need for change, and I would no longer idly stand by. Decisions had been made long ago, and there was no way for me to turn back now. Though, it's not like I harboured any desire to turn back anyway.
Tonight, blood would be shed.
My eyes rested upon the full-length mirror that adorned the wall as I approached it. For a while, they were fixated to the headpiece; smooth and deep blue with sharp, stylistic edges. It was held aloft in the glorious blue aura of my horn's magic. I moved it to the side and regarded my own reflection.
There before me stood a tall, powerful mare. The kind of pony who could lead armies, conquer lands, rule nations, and earn the admiration and respect of her peers. She who stood before me was no ordinary pony, not by any stretch of the imagination, which is what made my current struggles so vexing. There was another pony out there, alike to me in so many ways. With her, the world had very nearly been conquered, and in fact had been done so with fairly minimal bloodshed.
My teal-coloured eyes turned furious and I held back a growl. Gone was the time for screaming and yelling. I brought the headpiece back towards me and slowly lifted it up above my head. As I did so, I took another look at my reflection. Four strong blue hooves, long slender horn, taut and powerful wings and a wondrously beautiful mane that shone like the beauty of the night sky. Not much had changed about this pony in the last decade, and yet the one in the reflection could scarcely be recognized as the once-demure Princess of the Night.
I took one more glance up at the headpiece before I stared straight ahead. I stared straight into the reflection of my own eyes. Even a facsimile of myself sent a shiver down my spine from the icy fury held behind those eyes. The headpiece slowly descended, settling atop my head and resting around my ears and horn.
After a single deep breath, I took in what I saw. The armour created a fitting image of who I was. I was a warrior, and a bringer of justice. I was merciless and steadfast, and I would not let anypony stand in my way. I was not who I was many years ago; I had changed for the better.
As an alicorn, my powers and abilities were matched by no other creature. None could possibly stand up to me except for the only other alicorn in existence. In the past, she had been superior in every way, but those times were gone now. She was nothing now.
I set my hooves onto the floor and took on an imposing posture, thrusting out my chest and raising my head proudly. Even while wearing no armour except for the headpiece, it was deliciously fitting. Yes, this was the pony who could rule. There would be no question.
I slammed my hoof on the ground to accentuate my resolve, not caring who heard or about the small crater I had just left in the marble floor. My eyes were like steel, unwavering in their steadfast glare. The time for petty emotions was gone. Now was the time for change, and some ponies in this world are afraid of change. They fear and despise it. Those ponies made me sick.
I turned and began to march towards the door, my purpose in this room completed. No further armour was necessary, nor was it wanted. I had, for the most part, sequestered myself in the room to mentally prepare myself for what was about to happen. As it turned out, this had been an unnecessary precaution. From the moment this headpiece had touched my body, any little doubts vanished.
I did not hurry as I began to make my way through the castle. I took my time, trotting at a leisurely pace and casting my gaze at my surroundings as I went. My expression turned sour at the gaudy interior. Bright, bold marble was everywhere, accented and decorated by golds, yellows and pinks. Everywhere I looked was bright, blazing, garish colours. It was all so ridiculously extravagant, like staring directly into an unbelievably bright flame. I was the only shade of blue to be seen.
I passed through some doorways and made my way down a couple hallways, all accented by excessive red carpets. There were guards stationed in many places around the palace. They normally prowled the hallways and stood guard in front of every door that I would need to pass through. I scowled at each and every one of them, all magically done up to look identical to one another. Nearly 50 ponies I passed, all coloured white and decked out in loud yellow colours. I resisted the urge to crush the skulls of their sleeping forms, every one of them rendered unconscious. Tonight, their true loyalty would be tested.
Like a quiet storm, I moved through the wondrously large castle towards my destination. Still, I was in no hurry. Nopony in this castle could ever hope to stop me if they wanted to, so there would be no trouble until I arrived. I thought about why I was here today, and my furious expression returned. I tried my best to not let everything around me burst into arcane flames.
I entered the second-last hallway that I would need to traverse, this one much more grand than the others. It occupied two levels, and I was currently traversing the upper floor. I passed 15 slumbering guards in the room, but there were no commoners to be seen. How unusual. Court was about to end, but it was strange to not see those last few pathetic peasants who would not be able to get in before closing time. It was if they all knew what was about to happen, though none of them possibly could.
One last hallway, devoid of anypony as it was a private access way, and I found myself before a large, ornate door. Only there did I finally pause. I stared angrily at the door, as if it had somehow wronged me. My heart hammered in my chest, but do not think for a moment that I was nervous. I was filled with exhilaration and anticipation, adrenaline pumping through my veins. I was anxious to burst through that door and face my enemy, but I savoured the moment.
Standing above all other emotions, however, was the one that had been my companion for nearly a decade now. Anger. The volatile, boiling anger that had fueled everything that had happened so far, and would fuel whatever happened next. Horrible anger that would not dissipate. No- Could not dissipate. Not until something was done. This injustice would end tonight, or I would die trying.
I had considered shattering the door into a million pieces, but instead I calmly opened it and stepped through. I found myself standing on a raised stone platform at the head of a large room. Two small stone stairways led down to the lower area beneath me. In front of me there was a semi-circular stone carving that mimicked the appearance of a small balcony, though it did not extend outwards. While I did not look at them, I knew that behind me there were two pieces of hanging drapery. The one to my left was yellow and gold and it depicted the shining sunlight. On my right was the moon's counterpart, though it was clearly an afterthought as it was exactly identical except in colour. Beneath them were two extravagant thrones in colours matching the drapes.
Sitting high above on the surrounding walls were a series of statues all looking down upon the room below. Each and every one of them was a sculpture of the same pony, and seeing them all made my blood boil. Below was a large area, with torches adorning the walls and an enormous red carpet with another extravagant depiction of the sun on it. This was the area that would normally be occupied by a number of guards as well as some peasant commoner pleading with the rulers for some thing or other. Now, however, it was occupied by only one pony; the same pony that all the statues resembled.
The alicorn down below stood off to the side, gazing out the window. Body covered in a coat as white as clouds, powerful wings and a long, slender horn. She was taller than I was, something that had eternally irked me. Her mane was a bright, vibrant pink colour and it flowed as mine did on an unseen, ethereal wind.
Her horn glowed in a bright golden aura as she looked out, a calm, content look upon her face. I stood silently watching her, unsure if she had noticed me or not. I did not care either way. Outside the window, in the corner of my vision, I saw the sun descend through the sky, cast bright, warm colours across the land, and slowly begin to dip below the horizon. I had entered the room at exactly the moment of sunset.
Just as planned.
"Good day, sister," the other alicorn spoke, sounding almost absentminded as she turned to look up at me. At first she barely altered her expression, but that changed when she got a good look at me.
I huffed derisively. "How kind of you to notice me, Celestia," The bitter words left my throat in a deep, poisonous voice, and a sense of elation swept over me as I swung them at her. I spoke her name, in particular, in a sharp, biting tone. It sickened me to even say it.
She blinked and stood there, staring directly at me. Not much about her demeanour changed, but I had known her long enough to know what was going on inside of her head. She was cautiously assessing the situation. I could tell there were a thousand questions brewing in her mind already.
"Is…something happening?" she spoke slowly, taking step towards me.
I glared daggers at her. "Stay where you are," I commanded.
She paused, her second hoof hanging in the air. "I beg your pardon?"
"Do not move," I repeated, my expression unchanged.
Celestia gently placed her hoof back on the ground. It was clear from her expression that she was in shock at having been given such a direct command, but it looked like she was choosing to obey it for the time being. Smart move.
"Who are you to command me?" she asked. There was no anger, malice or superiority in her voice. She posed her question in much the same way as one might ask to be passed something at the dinner table.
I grit my teeth. "You know damn well who I am," I spoke in a much lower voice.
Her eyes drifted upwards. "Why do you wear your headpiece? Has something happened?"
There was a silent pause in the room. For a moment, neither of us spoke or even moved. Then I cracked a smile and laughed. "Oh yes, dear sister," I said, bile dripping from those last two words, "Something is about to happen."
Finally, her expression changed. She narrowed her eyes and frowned, appearing as if she had just lost her patience. "You of all ponies should know that this is no way to treat the esteemed Princess of Equestria," she said, stepping into a trot towards me, "Unless you have something to discuss with me, I suggest you-Ah!"
I grinned in smug satisfaction as Celestia reared back and fell on her rear, the ground in front of her smoking from the arcane bolt I had fired at her front hooves. Her chest was heaving as she stared at the black blemish in the carpet, and then she turned to stare at me. My horn was still glowing.
She appeared completely flustered. "How…How dare you-"
"Silence!!" I exclaimed, using the full power of my voice. The room shook slightly from the vibrations of the Royal Canterlot Voice, something I hardly ever got to use anymore. It felt good unleashing it.
"You will remain silent," I commanded her, not caring that she would most certainly not obey. I stepped forward, bringing myself towards the dais and taking my rightful position as most superior pony in the room. A wicked grin was cast across my face as I stood high, Celestia sitting on the ground and looking up at me.
"Tonight," I continued to speak in my most commanding voice, "Tonight, it ends, Celestia."
She appeared perplexed. "What are you talking about? What ends?"
The glow around my horn intensified slightly. "Your injustices, your lavish extravagant arrogance and, ultimately, your wrongful reign."
An expression passed across her face. I would best describe it as a mixture of surprise and disbelief. "You…" she murmured, "Am I to believe what I am hearing…?"
I glared at her. "For too long this has gone on!" I shouted, "For too long the ponies of this land have been feeding themselves to a gluttonous, selfish, wasteful regent and her blinding, scorching sunlight!"
Celestia began to get to her hooves, but I adjusted my head slightly and caused her to freeze. I had moved my horn into a position where I could aim downwards any spell directly at her, with no way for her to escape or dodge it, while still maintaining my elevated point of view so I may look down upon her. If I may be permitted to boast, I think it was a very striking and fearful pose. Yet, despite being under threat of my magic, she still did nothing but sit there. Her horn did not even begin to glow.
I had predicted this, and it brought me a wonderful feeling of satisfaction knowing what was happening. Despite a loaded spell being aimed directly at her…Celestia would still never harm me. She could never harm her wittle baby sister. Her pathetic act of weakness had given me exactly the advantage I had needed.
There was that expression again. Celestia was analyzing the situation. Calculating. Scrutinizing.
"You are not fit to rule this land," I spoke to her in a tone that was almost scholarly, "For too long your crimes have gone unnoticed and unpunished. For too long, the voice of reason has gone ignored and shunned. You have allowed your position of power to swell your head and I am here to put a stop to this."
"Sister…" Celestia breathed, barely above a whisper, "Think carefully about what you say. These words you speak are much more serious than I think you realise. If you…choose to stand against me, then…" She trailed off, unable to finish her statement.
I wouldn't have listened anyway. My glare had grown angrier, my blood beginning to boil. "Are you implying that I am careless and stupid?!" I exclaimed.
"You think that I would be so callous as to make such an audacious claim on a frivolous whim? Do you think I just decided to do this a few minutes ago??"
"NO!" The walls once again shook from the magnitude of my voice. "I am not your sister! I refuse to be associated with a pony such as you! You are an arrogant, self-centred, unjust, blind fool!" The aura around my horn flared as I stood there panting, glaring at her. Decades of repressed anger began to boil to the surface. This was not the first time I had yelled and screamed at Celestia, but in the past it had never felt like it was enough. Even at my angriest, I had always chosen to exercise some self-control. I only now realize how much of a fool I had been.
Celestia's eyes had drifted upwards to my brightly-glowing horn. "Sister…" she spoke, trying to sound calm and in control, "If you strike me…"
A short, curt laugh escaped my throat and cut her off. After a pause, it grew into full on laughter. I never took my eyes off of her, but my entire being shook and shivered with laughter. "Ah…You would like that, wouldn't you??" I exclaimed, my anger beginning to overcome me, "You would like to get me so angry that I lash out at you, and then you get to be the gooood big sister and preach to me about order and rules and royalty and how much more important you are! You would be the victim here, wouldn't you? Wouldn't you?"
"I am not your sister!!" I exclaimed, rearing my front hooves up and bringing them down to the ground in a powerful stomp. The marble beneath cracked and shattered. "When will you learn, Celestia? You are not the victim here! You were never the victim! I am the victim, Celestia! It has always been me! Your little sister! Your little punching bag that you could just throw in the corner whenever you grew bored of me! You will never learn, so I will make you learn!"
At some point I had begun to shed tears. Perhaps some would have seen it as a sign of weakness, but at the time I didn't care. Maybe it was better this way, to let her see the pain and suffering she had caused me.
Celestia appeared concerned, or perhaps she was simply afraid for her life. "I…I don't know what you're talking about…"
"Of course you wouldn't!" I shot back at her, "How can you notice my plight when you do not notice me??"
She took in a breath and began analyzing the situation again. Always trying to be in control, that one. "Something…" she spoke slowly, "Something has clearly been upsetting you for a while. Why did you not come to speak with me? You know I will be-"
Her speech was interrupted by loud, growling outburst. I couldn't see myself, but I knew that my anger had caused a volatile aura of magic to erupt around me. Celestia shrank back in fear. "I have heard enough of your lies and false promises!" I exclaimed, glaring at her with as much malice as I could muster. I felt the energy surrounding me. It made my fur stand on end, and it drew out my wings and tickled my feathers. It was such raw, powerful energy, even more powerful than what I could have imagined.
I spread my wings out fully, taking on my most commanding posture. I was through talking. "Tonight…" I proclaimed as the last rays of her sun began to fade away behind the horizon, "The moon will rise and take its place in the sky." My horn glowed a brilliant whitish-blue as I began to let the moon rise, though it was not visible yet. "Come 12 hours," I continued, "when it is the appointed time for the sunrise…" I paused and glared daggers at the pony below me
"…the sun shall not rise."
Celestia's eyes widened. "What??"
"The moon shall retain its proper place as our glorious celestial guardian, where it shall remain…forever."
It was not visible through the windows, but I could feel the moon peaking past the horizon behind me.
"No! You cannot do that!" Celestia exclaimed, and she tried to get to her hooves. I laughed in satisfaction as she found her four hooves bound to the ground, compliments of a spell I had been slowly building. I had been casting it so slowly and discretely that she hadn't even noticed it. This didn't deter her words, however. "You can't be serious! Stop this madness!"
"Madness?!" I exclaimed, shaking the walls for a third time. I was beginning to wonder if they would crack and crumble. "You call this madness?! I should think the proper term would be 'justice', or perhaps 'destiny'. The moon is a glorious, sacred artefact, but you have pushed and shunned it away for nopony to see! You have cast it to a time and a place where none can regard its beauty, none can respect its wisdom, and some even fear it! I have stood by for decades watching you utterly destroy me and my beautiful night!"
"The ponies of this land hide away from the night and slumber through all of my hard work and dedication! I spend every night crafting the stars into a beautiful array, so that every night is different! But they must all sleep, and they would all awaken to revel in your glorified daylight and spend all of their time and effort worshiping you and lauding you with excessive gifts and treatment. Did you really expect me to sit idly by while they all basked in your precious light? Do you realize, dear sister, that some ponies do not know I exist?!"
Celestia was quite concerned, and I knew it was because she was beginning to realize that, for once in her long life, she did not have the upper hoof. "Stop…Stop this…" she pleaded, "Luna…"
"You will not shun me away yet again!"
"Look at yourself…"
I decided to take her advice and glance down at myself. What I saw was brilliant, burning blue energy surrounding me. Wind was being whipped through the room, extinguishing all of the torches that lined the walls. My mane was flaring up, burning like a thousand angry fires. It was hard to see through my tear-filled eyes, but I was getting stronger. I was becoming more powerful.
"Are you afraid of me, Celestia…?" I asked simply, turning to look at the pathetic pony on the ground before me.
"I beg of you…" she replied, "Stop all of this before you do something irreversible. Before you do something you regret! I'm sorry if I have wronged you somehow…but this is not the way…" Her eyes were so caring and so pleading. It sickened me. "Luna…"
I struck the ground in front of her with a bolt of magic to shut her up. "You…are a horrible pony…" I spoke to her. I had expected that this confrontation would dredge up anger from within me, but I had never thought that it would reach such a fevered pitch. I could feel my anger and sadness coursing through me and emanating all around me. I began to realize what this powerful magic was. It was all of my hatred and sorrow personified. My rage towards Celestia was fueling me. It was empowering me!
"You are a terrible pony," I continued, "and a terrible sister! We started as equals, but as the centuries passed you let the crown get to your head. More and more I was pushed into your shadow, and it all ends now." My cheeks burned as tears left rivers of anger across them. The room was now a dizzying chaotic whirlwind of magic. My magic. "You have made it painfully clear to me that there can only be one Princess in Equestria."
By this point Celestia was shaking her head and struggling to escape from her bonds. I saw her horn glowing but it was fizzling out, probably because of my own whirlwind of magic overpowering hers.
"You think that it should be you, but you are wrong." I clenched my eyes shut as more tears of anger rushed out. I grit my teeth and growled before rearing up on my hind legs and exclaiming, "That Princess…will be me!!"
Front hooves came down with the full impact of my newfound power. They collided with the circular stone railing of the dais, shattering it into a million pieces. The marble floor cracked even more as my hooves landed, and I felt the entire foundation shift. Celestia actually screamed from the impact of my stomp. I had my eyes glued on her, but I could hear the floor cracking beneath and behind me. I heard the fault continue upwards, cracking the stone wall that surrounded the door and continuing up to a window that was located high on the wall behind me. I heard the sound of the stained glass cracking and then, a moment later, the window shattered. Glass sprinkled all around me, but any pieces that would have hit me simply vanished when they touched my aura of magic.
Celestia was staring at the entire scene in abject horror. This was the pony who had guided Equestria through countless wars and had never let the nation suffer a loss, and now it seemed my actions had petrified her to the spot. I gave her a scowling grin, a sign of my satisfaction.
I had been so angry that I had wanted to break something, but this had been a pleasant surprise. I had just destroyed part of the castle with a mere stomp of my hooves. I had been gaining power in secret over the years, but this was more than I had ever expected. I now began to regret keeping my emotions hidden for the past couple of decades. Letting out all of my anger and hatred for this pathetic pony was giving me more power that I could have ever imagined. It was swirling all around me, creating a veritable vortex in the room. I felt connected to it all. All of this power, and it was all mine!! My horn glowed brilliantly and I adjusted my head just slightly to aim it at the door on the opposite wall. A second later, it shattered into dust.
"Stop this!!" I heard her shout.
"I hereby abdicate you of your throne!" I proclaimed, ignoring her, "From now on, the ponies of this land shall bow down to their one and only true leader."
"This isn't the way!" she was pleading, "We can get through this, sister! I will be there for you, and I'm sorry if I wasn't! We were meant to rule together!"
"Oh really?!" I shot her a venomous scowl. "Now, on top of everything else, you are a filthy hypocrite!"
"No…!" She was shaking her head and pulling tightly against her magical bonds. She would probably break free from them soon, but I cared little.
"Tomorrow dawns in darkness!" I declared, "From this moment, and for the rest of eternity…" I paused as my horn glowed with familiar, warming magic. Even amidst all of this chaos, my connection with the moon was still comforting. Behind me, the moon began to rise into the sky, much faster than it normally would. I held both my head and my forehooves high, no doubt creating a glorious silhouetted image.
"…the night will last forever!"
"That is no longer my name!!" A fiery rush of anger coursed through my entire body, and I felt everything flare up around me as I smashed my hooves into the ground again. The ground blackened and the edges of the drapes behind me burned to cinders. I grit my teeth and glared at Celestia, my chest rising and falling with every heaving breath. I hated her. I hated this pony with every fibre of my being. I had never known anger like this before, and it felt like I could blow up the entire castle with a single huff of breath.
"Luna was a pathetic doormat of a pony who sat by and let her 'regal' elder sister do whatever she wanted. I have forsaken that name and bestowed upon myself a new name befitting the regent of the night and ruler of all Equestria!"
The moon was high in the sky behind me, casting a perfect beam of light through the shattered window and directly onto me. Now, on top of all of this newfound power, I had the power of the moon coursing through me. I was invincible!!
"I am Nightmare Moon!!"
The room erupted into even more chaos as my vision was overtaken by a swirl of black magic aura. It surrounded me, encasing me within a perfect sphere. There were traces of moonlight in the aura. I had not recognized it, but this was my power. This was but a small portion of the magic that I had at my disposal; more magic than I even knew what to do with. It was surrounding me, protecting me, loving me. I felt it close in on me, but there was no more fear. I heard Celestia scream, but only just barely. The power coursed through me, like wonderful fire in my veins. I felt it empowering me even further. It was changing me; making me better! It wasn't long before the black aura faded away, most of it having been absorbed into me. I landed back on the ground with a powerful stomp of my iron-clad hooves, standing tall with a wonderful new perspective on things.
I gave a pleased chuckle, running my tongue across my new, razor-sharp fangs. Everything seemed further below me as I was taller now, staring down victoriously at Celestia with striking green eyes of the night. I could see my mane billowing around me, filled with even more magic than before, and I felt my new armoured adornments. I brought up one of my hooves to idly inspect the armored hoofpiece, and got a good look at my new jet-black fur.
I began to chuckle again, and soon it evolved into a full-bellied laugh. This was far beyond perfect. Such a strikingly wonderful form befitting Nightmare Moon, ruler of all Equestria. I continued to laugh loudly, unable to contain my joy. There was so much power within me! I had basically already won.
I stopped laughing and turned to look at Celestia with a triumphant grin. She was frozen on the spot, her pupils the size of dots and her jaw hanging open in utter disbelief. Even from across the room I could see her trembling. It seemed my vision had been augmented. I gleefully wondered what other little surprises lay in store.
The now-smaller alicorn with her pathetic pink mane was heaving heavy breaths and seemed to be trying to say something, though she couldn't get the words out. It wasn't surprising really. I had transformed into something entirely new; far beyond whatever wretched pony I had once been. I would probably be in shock too if in her position.
The power welling inside of me was like a whirlwind, tornado and volcanic eruption all at once. It felt so wonderful to feel it within me, but I also wanted to just let it all out. My eyes quickly shot up towards the roof, seeking out all those eye-sores of statues. With a wicked grin I lanced my horn up towards them, channeling a substantial amount of my magic through it. A bright energy beam, teal in colour, shot forth and impacted the first statue. The statue crumbled in seconds, falling to the floor below in a pile of debris.
I laughed again as I began to destroy the rest of the statues. This seemed to snap their likeness out of her stupor as she began gasping and begging me to stop. My destruction continued, shattering every statue and not caring where the pieces landed. A few of them barely missed Celestia, much to my amusement.
Finally I rested my eyes on her again. She was gritting her teeth and pulling as hard as she could against her magical bonds. Her horn was also glowing, attempting to disarm them. Only a second after I laid eyes on her, she finally managed to break the bonds and stumble forward into a standing position. She was free, and she began to flee towards the door while keeping her eyes on me.
A split-second flash of my horn later, and she was now trapped within fresh magical restraints of strength tenfold. I grinned smugly.
Celestia gasped as she was halted yet again by my magic. Her horn glowed with a bright golden aura as her face turned to desperation. My attuned senses were able to not only pick up on the magical 'waves' she cast forth, but also identify them within moments.
"Don't bother," I said to her simply, trotting down the stairs towards her, "There's no guards left to come to your aid."
She turned to me in confusion as her horn lit up with a different kind of spell. An offensive one. I effortlessly squeezed her horn with my own magic and put a quick stop to that.
"They're all fast asleep," I continued to say, "I made sure of that." I continued to slowly stalk towards her, weaving my way around the rubble of Celestia-statues. "Isn't that what you wanted?" I continued, my voice slipping into a playful, condescending tone, "You wanted allll of your little ponies to sleep during the night…Didn't you?"
"Stay back…" she whispered, struggling desperately and lighting up her horn again. I extinguished her magic effortlessly.
"Awwww…" I cooed in a mocking tone, "Poor Celestia is all tied up. None of her endless legions of followers around to support her…" I stepped right up next to her fearlessly, placing my muzzle mere inches away from her own. My mane slipped forwards, moving like a tendril, to place itself under her chin and force her head up so that she was looking directly at me. "Not so tough when you're all alone, are you?"
There was unequivocal fear and panic in those eyes, something that few had ever seen. My spells were holding her completely immobilized, and were also putting quite an effective damper on her own magic. She was a sitting duck and I was her stalking predator. This was a position she was hardly ever in.
"What are you…?!" she breathed, the panic even seeping into her voice.
I furrowed my brow slightly. "Oh come now, Celestia…" I replied, "I may have changed for the better, but I don't look that much different, do I?"
She shook her head gently. "What…Who are you?? And what have you…Where's Luna?!"
Now my expression was anger. "You are a blind fool, Celestia! I suggest you convince yourself to believe what has happened, because it has happened and there is no undoing it. 'Luna' was a pony that I once was, long ago, but you can forget about her. She was me, and she has now become me." I gave a smug grin of satisfaction and lowered my voice to a deep whisper.
She visibly jumped when she heard me speak that nickname. It was a name that only one pony in the entire world had ever called her, and hearing it from my mouth brought newfound horror to her eyes.
"No…" she whispered, "No, you're not Luna…"
"Astute observation," I said in an even tone, "I am not Luna any longer. You will address me as Nightmare Moon."
"It can't be…I won't believe it…You're not Luna. You're not…my little sister. You're not!"
"Such optimistic words…" I was beginning to enjoy myself, and it was quite entertaining to see the various expressions flash across Celestia's face. "Could it be that you fear the truth…sister?"
Celestia gave a yelp as if somepony has just pulled out part of her mane and she swung her head around, as if trying to bat me away with her horn. I moved my head back to dodge, my movements faster than the wind.
"You're a liar!!" she exclaimed, "What are you?? Some kind of Changeling?! What did you do with my sister? We've defeated you three times already! Give up!"
My humoured laughter filled the room. "Oh you fool! What kind of Changeling has this level of magical power?" To punctuate my point, I increased the 'squeeze' of her bonds, making her cry out in distress.
My laughter died down to a chuckle. Celestia was gritting her teeth in pain, and a moment later opened a single eye to look at me again. There was a mix between an angry glare and the look of a frightened filly, both mixed together. "Very well…" I said with a small sigh, "If I must prove it to you further…"
I relaxed her bonds back to their original strength, letting her breathe properly. She eyed me cautiously as I slowly trotted around her in a circle. "I am no longer Luna," I said to her, "but I was her. I will not deny my past, Celestia; I was once weak and pathetic. I was the pony living for decades and centuries in your shadow. I was the pony who crafted you a beautiful portrait in the sky using my stars and auroras. I gave it to you on your birthday in 998. My birthday on that same year? I didn't see a single trace of you. I didn't even know where you were until eleven days later."
With every word that I spoke as I circled her, the horrified expression on her face continued to grow. By the time I had finished speaking there were tears in her eyes. All she could do was gently shake her head.
"Centuries of neglect and mistreatment have led us here, sister," I spoke to her in a harsh whisper, "Now, at long last, I have put you in your place."
"What…happened to you…?" Celestia spoke in a shaken voice, "…What have you done?!"
I stared at her expressionlessly. "I did what I had to."
"You…You've become a…a…"
I curled my lips into a wide grin as I looked down upon her. "A 'what', Celestia? What is it you're trying to say? I've become a monster?"
She winced at the last word.
"I'll take that as a compliment." I then stood up tall once more as I towered over her. I began to idly trot away from her, speaking as I went. "In any case…You have heard me speak of what will happen in Equestria now. There shall no longer be 'day', and the sun shall never again rise. Before you say anything, I implore you to remember…This was all your own doing."
"You can't do this!" I heard her say from behind me, as I was no longer looking at her, "What about the land? What about our citizens? There is going to be mass panic come morning!!"
I idly lifted a hoof and examined it. "Dear me," I said in disinterest, "I suppose I'll have to deal with that, won't I?"
"There's still time to stop this! I promise you from the bottom of my heart that I shall right any wrongs I have committed against you! Please, sister! Don't be a fool!"
I chose to outright ignore her pathetic plea, and instead gazed up through the broken window at the moon shining down upon me. Just seeing it filled me with strength and confidence. "There is no point," I spoke, loud enough for her to hear, "in asking pointless questions…So I am going to assume that you will not stand down, Celestia. You would oppose me, no?"
There was a very drawn-out pause between the two of us. The tension in the air was so incredibly thick. Even without looking at her, I could picture the indecision and conflict in her expression. Then finally, she spoke.
"You would stand against your own sister?"
"…Yes." There was resolve in her voice, but mostly I detected sorrow.
"Very well then," I said as my horn began to glow once more, "By your own choice, Celestia…This shall be war." I thrust my horn skywards, guiding my moon higher into the sky. It moved quickly across the night sky, nearly ten times faster than it normally moved, out of the frame of the window and up to the highest point in the sky. As I did this, I heard Celestia crying out in pain behind me. This rapid alteration of the moon's normal rotation was also affecting the sun's rotation, and the results appeared to be rather painful.
"The moon shall stand her ground," I announced as my celestial wonder came to rest at the peak, in the same place where the sun would normally be during noon. There, undoubtedly, it would be visible to all corners of Equestria.
"Stop this!!" Celestia was shouting, "Lower it!! You mustn't alter the course of nature like this!"
"Ha!" I exclaimed, "And who are you to speak about the course of nature! Have you forgotten how much you like to meddle with nature? Hm?"
"You must lower the moon back to its proper place!!"
"There is no such obligation other than your own," I replied with finality, "The moon shall remain where is currently is for as long as I see fit!"
I had expected to hear another retort from Celestia but instead, to my surprise, I heard a third voice.
"Your highness!! What's happening?!"
Quick as a flash I turned myself around and lanced a bolt of energy from my horn with perfect aim. The bright, glowing bolt whizzed through the air, zipped past Celestia's head by mere inches, and struck the stallion square in the chest. He cried out in pain for a brief second as jolts of arcane electricity danced across his body, and then he fell to the floor in a heap.
Celestia gasped in horror and I quickly galloped over to investigate. The lifeless stallion was wearing the armour of a Royal Guard. Damn! I had specifically acquired a registry of all guards who would be stationed in the castle tonight so I could put them all to sleep. This idiot must have been a new recruit or something.
It only took a moment's observation to see how effective my strike had been, and to accept that there was no longer any danger to myself.
I rolled my eyes and turned to face Celestia. "Wonderfully astute observation as always, Celestia."
She wasn't looking at me. Her gaze was locked upon the soldier's dead body. "He was one of us…" she was murmuring, a shaken look in her eyes, "He was innocent and you killed him!"
"He was subservient to you and, therefore, my enemy," I retorted. With a growl of frustration I used the tendrils of my mane to once again force her to look at me. "You seem surprised, Celestia," I spoke smoothly to her, "Yet, you shouldn't be. Have you forgotten?" I took a pause before I leaned in close and lowered my voice. "Casualty is an inevitability of war."
"You didn't need to kill him…"
"You hammered that lesson into my head when I was younger," I said, standing back up tall. I noticed the tears in her eyes and scoffed at her weakness.
"How could you do this, Luna…?"
A sudden spike of anger shot through me. I turned away from her and used my magic to tighten her bonds again. I heard her crying out in pain behind me, but I didn't care. "I tire of this game, Celestia," I said as I began to pace towards the back-end of the room, "The way I see it, you have two options. You may change your mind and submit to me, or I shall destroy you and toss you into the dungeons to rot."
The squeezing of the magical bonds rendered her unable to reply except with more screams, and so I focused my attention elsewhere. My eyes fell upon the decoration of the back wall and, specifically, the two hanging tapestries. With a quick flash of my horn, the tapestry on the right burst into bright blue flames, being reduced to ashes in a matter of seconds. As Celestia continued to shout behind me, I then levitated the throne on the right into the air. With nary even a movement of my head, the throne tossed itself to the ground and shattered into a hundred wooden pieces. These too then erupted into flames.
"Well? Have you made your decision?" I mused as my eyes fell to the carpet on the floor emblazoned garishly with the sun, "I hope you're not thinking of opposing me or, perish the thought, fighting me. I think it's quite clear that I now have the upper hoof, dear sister."
Celestia let out a particularly loud cry. I remember thinking to myself that perhaps I was underestimating my own strength, and perhaps I was choking the life out of her. Casually, I turned around again to face her, but then my eyes shot open wide.
The other alicorn was gritting her teeth and pushing against her bonds, which were actually bending and beginning to give way. More than that, however, she was surrounded with a moderately bright golden aura and her horn was pulsing with energy. I took two hasty steps towards her, but then I was halted by the strong burst of magic.
My shield spell prevented any adverse effects, but I was still blinded from the flash. When my vision cleared, I saw that Celestia had broken free from her bonds somehow and was standing up. My focus, however, was drawn to her appearance. She was now nearly as tall as me, and her mane was now transformed into a flowing sea of pinks, blues, greens and purples.
Huh…That was new…
She also had her eyes closed, so I capitalized by casting another, more powerful immobilizing spell towards her. Her eyes flashed open and her horn glowed bright gold. My spell was batted away effortlessly.
"Oh my…" I said, keeping my cool, "Isn't this an interesting development?" I took a few steps forward, striding towards her. "Perhaps you can offer me some challenge."
She lowered her head slightly and alit her horn once more, this time with a much brighter glow. "Luna!!" she proclaimed, speaking in a much more powerful voice than before, "I do not wish to fight you! You must lower the moon! It is your duty!"
Immediately, I was surrounded by a powerful, fiery aura as I glared at her. "'Luna'?!" I growled, "You still choose to insult me by associating me with the name of an inferior pony?! Hear me now and engrave it in your mind! I am Nightmare Moon!!"
Celestia's expression did not change.
I took a single step forward, slamming it into the ground. "Since you refuse to yield, then I have but one royal duty now. This is your final chance, Celestia! If you do not stand down, I will destroy you."
For what seemed like an eternity, the two of us stood our ground and stared at one another. Tense silence filled the room as each waited for the other to make a move. It was many minutes until there was finally a change.
Celestia closed her eyes and heaved a sorrowful sigh as a single tear ran down her cheek. She remained that way for a moment and I considered attacking her, but I do have a sense of honour. Besides, if this erupted into a full-on battle, it would be so much more fun! Finally, Celestia opened her eyes and stared at me. For the first time that evening, I saw fury in those eyes. She opened her mouth and spoke two glorious words that would forever change the history of Equestria.
Chapter 1 - Are You Afraid of Me?