A Nightmare's Dream
Nightmare Moon was shattered, physically and mentally. Her parts were scattered all around the dais of the Castle of the Sisters. She raged in impotent wrath at the world and all life in it.
In the abyss of her shattered existence she became aware of a light, a hated burning light she knew all too well. Then she became aware of another sensationcompleteness, like her brokenness was being put back together. She knew there was only one being capable of such a thing and her rage only grew. The ruined castle came into focus and she turned her head to look at her body; she saw her pieces coming together like a jigsaw puzzle. She turned back and faced her most hated enemy, Celestia.
"Why have you summoned me, betrayer?" Nightmare Moon demanded, her horn flashing with rage.
Celestia only looked at her with sadness. "Nightmare Moon, have you gained no understanding or wisdom from anything that's happened to you?"
"It is you who took from me everything! The world is mine by right. It was I who was the more powerful, I who was destined to rule!"
"Your rule would have been nothing but bloodshed and suffering and ultimate doom for all of Equestria. What I did was save the world from you."
Nightmare Moon's horn glowed with fury and she tried to summon her magic to strike Celestia down.
In response, Celestia sighed and Nightmare Moon found herself changing again. Her normal shape suddenly crushed down into a night-blue ball that rolled across the floor to Celestia. Celestia raised a hoof and pressed against the sphere.
Nightmare Moon began to feel fear, knowing that should Celestia will it, she'd be snuffed out of existence with just a flick of her hoof.
"Nightmare Moon, you can't imagine how tempted I am right now to end your life. The suffering you caused my dear Luna and I, the suffering of all of Equestria when you turned her against me. Even the desire to make you suffer for what you've done."
Nightmare Moon gave a mental sigh of relief when she felt Celestia remove her hoof. She knew the weak foal was too soft to do what needed to be done. She just needed to bide her time; she just had to survive this encounter to
this encounter to rise and overthrow her," Celestia said, completing Nightmare Moon's thought. "I was little more than a filly when I battled you last, Nightmare Moon. I've had a thousand years of study and understanding to work with since we last met, while you are exactly the same as you were then. I could have destroyed you easily when you returned, but dared not lest I hurt Luna. I knew the Elements of Harmony could cut her free of you, but sadly your taint remained on her spirit, despite the best efforts of the Elements. You were a part of Luna, a sickness, one that has been surgically removed. But still
part of her. Were I to destroy you, she would survive, but there would be an unfillable emptiness in her."
"Ha! Foalish nag, even now it is I who still has power. Wound me and you wound her. You are stalemated again, dear sister!" she sneered.
"Do not presume to call me sister!" Celestia snarled, her eyes and horn blazing. Nightmare Moon cowed in silence. Celestia took a deep breath and closed her eyes. In a few moments her usual serenity returned.
"In the months since your defeat I have thought long and hard about what to do with you. Surely there had to be a way to free Luna from you."
"There is no way, Celestia! Your only choices are to kill me or to banish me yet again. Either way will allow me vengeance, to make you both suffer," Nightmare Moon replied smugly.
However, Nightmare Moon wasn't expecting Celestia to laugh at her threat. It was almost good natured, yet with a hint of mockery. "Nightmare Moon, your powers were always grand and violent. Always charging horn first at things and look where it has gotten you. Your very existence hangs by a thread this day. You are wrong. There is a third way and it is surprisingly fitting, yet at the same time I find myself loathe to do it, as it gives you a better fate than you deserve for your crimes. However, I will allow it for Luna's sake."
Celestia's horn started to glow again. "Nightmare Moon, you wanted to shroud the entire world in eternal night, to unleash suffering and death upon all Equestria with no regard for anyone or anything, to crush the ungrateful mortals under your hooves until they worshiped you as a goddess."
"Yes, and it would have all come to pass if not for you!"
Celestia didn't respond. Instead her eyes and horn began to glow brighter and
Nightmare Moon felt herself changing yet again. Her body changed and grew from the ball on the floor. She didn't quite understand what was happening to her; this was like no magic she'd encountered before, but her instincts were honed enough to know when the right moment to attack arrived. She watched and waited, her attention more on Celestia's state than her own. She knew her own life wasn't in danger, so it didn't matter what Celestia was doing. She just had to wait. Her senses began to get muddled and her head hurt. She tried to shake it off, keeping all her focus on the moment to strike. Her size began to change. Either that or Celestia was getting taller. Suddenly all was right and clear in Nightmare Moon's mind.
Celestia gave an exhausted sigh and the glow faded from her horn. Nightmare Moon summoned all her rage and power and struck outbut nothing happened. She took up a fighting stance, head out and horn pointed at her mortal enemy to unleash all that was within her.
Celestia only looked down at her with an almost kindly smile.
"What have you done to my magic!" Nightmare Moon shouted, between anger and panic.
"Foalish girl. Earth ponies have no magic," Celestia said gently.
Nightmare Moon's eyes went wide. She was now the size of mere Earth Pony of dark black color with a light blue mane andshe raised a hoof to her head and found no horn.
"No! You-you can't.. can't do this to me, you've made me
" Nightmare Moon sputtered.
"I have made you mortal, Nightmare Moon. You now are a different being than what you were before. Now you bear the burden of mortality, just like the ponies you so despise."
"What do you hope to accomplish with this abominable act?"
"Your bond to Luna reflects the darkness in your heart, and as long as you remained what you were, she would always be tormented by that. Now I have given her a chance to heal by taking away your enchanted nature. When you were once a part of Luna, you were a fragment of a being, incomplete; the few emotions you possessed were all negative ones, yet deep within you now resides a shadow of Luna, for your spirit was mingled so long with hers. For the sake of that part of Luna in you, you are now complete. You have free will, a heart and mind of your own, all as yet unpoisoned."
The immensity of what Celestia had inflicted on her was driving her to near madness. Her senses and awareness were overwhelmed by the horrors of mortality. She could feel her cells dying, her every breath, each beat of her hearta new heart racing with sheer terror. She began to lose herself.
"Make it stop! Take it away!" she threw herself at Celestia's hooves, clinging to them desperately.
"Despite how it may seem, Nightmare Moon, I take no pleasure in any of this. You have been given a second chance, you who deserve it least. There are many much more worthy than you of such a blessing, who will never get it. I command you to live in the world you would have destroyed. To learn, to feel, to experience and come to understand the lives of the ponies that you would have exterminated. Understand what it is to be alive."
Celestia looked down into those desperate eyes but steeled herself. "You will experience want and loss, hunger and fulfillment. You have no magic, no authority; you are no one and nothing in this world. But also, you have no history. You don't even have a cutie mark of your own. Nightmare Moon, you are a blank slate."
"You lie! The world trembled in fear of me! You know the fear of those ponies at my return!"
"Nightmare Moon, even after your return you are still considered mythology. Yes, you terrified the residents of Ponyville, but who was there? A few hundred residents and my personal guard witnessed your grand return and heard your threats for a few minutes. Then you vanished and several hours later the sun rose as it always had and life went on as normal. Your return made as much a ripple in Equestria as a pebble dropped into the ocean. The world will only remember the surprise that Princess Celestia has a sister. The rock and roll band "Nightmare Moon" is more feared than you are.
Suddenly a number of objects appeared on Nightmare Moon.
"To make the transition a little easier, I gift these to you. The saddlebags have several days' worth of food and water, a blanket, a hat and 500 bits. With that you must build your own life, Nightmare Moon. If you can prove to me you are more than the sum of your past misdeeds or just an aberration of thought, then I may show mercy and give you a new form. Do not abuse this most precious gift, for even my patience has limits," Celestia said, gravely leaning down to face the cowering Earth pony.
"I will be watching, Nightmare Moon, always. Maybe, even one such as you will come to understand the very powers that were your undoing. Learn the lessons of the Elements: Kindness, loyalty, honesty, laughter, generosity and magic. The most important lesson, my little pony: Friendship is magic. Come with me. Your journey begins now."
Nightmare Moon tried to resist but was compelled to follow, unable to even voice her protests. Once they were a fair distance from the ruins, Celestia stopped and turned to face the ruinous castle.
"This was where Luna and I were born, yet your actions left not only it but the whole forest cursed. It was a place of almost supernatural beauty that you poisoned and twisted." Celestia's horn glowed once again and ground began to shake and split open. Nightmare Moon was knocked to the ground by the force of the quake as she watched the castle crumble. The ground opened up and swallowed the ruins, then closed up and vegetation regrew until there was no trace of the castle.
"I wish you luck, Nightmare Moon, for Luna's sake," Celestia said, as she vanished in a blinding flash of light.