Alone and Afraid
Nightmare Moon stood alone among the trees of the forest. Not only was her name dimly recalled mythology, now the castle where the biggest events of her life had occurred was erased from existence.
She looked around the small clearing where she now stood, a rage that defied description welling up within her. With all her fury she threw off the saddlebags Celestia had given her and stomped them, smashing their contents and scattering it all around the clearing. Then she lashed out with greater violence, bucking wildly, kicking trees, rocks and the ground as she snarled and cursed.
Hours passedhow many she didn't knowbut she didn't stop until the strange stabbing sensations all over her body forced her to stop. She staggered and fell to the ground, her mouth open, almost inarticulate with pain. Hooves, joints and muscles ached from the abuse of her rage.
She clenched her eyes shut and grit her teeth, cursing Celestia and every pony that had ever lived and those yet unborn. When the pain had subsided enough, she struggled to her hooves and looked around at the mess in the clearing. The sun was setting. Her night would soon begin. She'd be in her element. She smiled, already plotting the many ways she'd destroy Celestia and Luna and those worthless vermin in Ponyville that had stopped her.
She took a single step and the pain that shot though her made her stop. She sat to rest more, now cursing the frail mortal body she was trapped in. When she heard the crash of thunder she looked up just in time to see rain begin to fall.
"Curse you, Celestia! This is your doing!" she snarled, shaking a hoof at the clouds. "Do your worst. You will never break me!" she shouted, looking up defiantly at the darkening clouds as the rain grew more intense.
The rain drenched her but she refused to move. She wasn't sure how long it lasted; her perception of the passage of time was now very confused due to her inferior mortal awareness. The storm ended, leaving her sitting sopping wet and shivering in a puddle of mud.
When the clouds finally cleared she saw the moon. Her moon. Still shivering from the cold, she stood on shaky legs and bathed in the moonlight, taking some small comfort.
She felt a burning sensation inside her. It wasn't rage or hate or pain, as she first thought. This one was different, like a hunger, and it took her several minutes to realize it was physical hunger. She was Nightmare Moon, who fed on the cosmic forces of the universe, not the pitiful refuse mortals ate! By sheer force of will, she tried to overcome the desire, but soon her stomach began to growl.
Again cursing her mortal frailty, she turned to the pitch black forest around her with a sinister smile. This forest was her world, not Celestia's. She had forged this in her own gloriously dark image.
"Creatures of darkness, your mistress calls to you. Come to me, my pets, I command you! Bring me nourishment for this feeble mortal shell! " she shouted into the darkness.
She waited, but there was no response to her commands. She repeated her demand, but still only silence greeted her.
"I created you, you ungrateful wretches. How dare you defy me!" she shouted in outrage. The response from the forest was a chorus of unearthly howls and cries from all around her. The mortal pony's instincts started taking over, and she had to fight hard against the urge of flight.
Fortunately, the strange noises quieted down after a little while and regular sounds of the forest returned. She found she was still shivering, partly from fear and partly from the chill of the rains and the greater chill that night brought. Having spent a thousand years on the moon, she couldn't understand how she could be vulnerable to any cold that existed on Equestria.
When it became clear that no help was coming, she looked at the scattered and now damp food Celestia had left for her. The burning inside her was growing more acute and she was sorely tempted to eat, but her pride overruled her hunger and she turned away. She was going to survive and she'd spit Celestia's pity back in her face.
She looked up at her moon, again comforted at its sight and the feel of the moonlight on her face. She closed her eyes and concentrated. She was the Mare of the Moon, mistress of the night. She reached out with her woefully diminished perceptions, trying to touch the cosmic realm she once could control, but she flailed around in utter darkness, totally separated from the power that had given her life. Not even a flicker of her old powers remained. She truly had nothing. Refusing to give up, she strove harder, striving to touch her old self. In her mind's eye she finally pushed past the veil and saw Luna sitting on the grand throne of the night, the throne she herself had briefly ruled all of Equestria from. Luna stared back at Nightmare Moon silently.
The horrors of her mortal existence making her more contrite than she'd have been otherwise, Nightmare Moon approached Luna.
"Take me back, Luna, I beg you. It can still all be ours," she pleaded.
"I advise you embrace the gift Celestia has given you, Nightmare Moon, for it is a far better thing than you deserve," Luna replied softly.
Then Luna shook her head and her horn glowed. Nightmare Moon's eyes snapped open as even that fragile tether to Luna was severed and she was violently returned to the mortal world.
"The Moon is mine, foal! The night is my kingdom!" she raged, now cursing Luna instead of Celestia. A terror gripped her as she gradually became aware of her total isolation. Without Luna she was alone. Never in her existence had she ever been truly alone before. She huddled in the clearing, eyes darting around into the ominous forest.
As the night grew darker it began to dawn on her that this mortal body had no power over the darkness. The only way she could see was in her little clearing filled with moonlight; anything beyond that was pitch darkness that even she, the mare of the moon, could not see into. The strange and vaguely threatening noises of the forest made a tremble of fear run through her. The forest had a thousand years to grow wild and untamed, spawning who knew what new horrors in her absence.
Nightmare Moon knew space and cosmic and magical realms beyond imagining, but she knew almost nothing about the mortal world. In spite of her fear, the growing, gnawing hunger dominated her thoughts. She knew mortals had to eat to survive, but of the things they ate she neither knew nor cared about. What she did know was that they ate things that grew from the ground. She looked around, seeing the wild plants in her clearing.
She hesitantly leaned down toward the grass, but then turned her head away. She refused to eat like a common animal. She'd show Celestia that she was made of sterner stuff. She'd never be broken. She sat up stoically, face toward the sky, still defiant. Shivering and hungry, she'd never back down.
Suddenly there was a buzzing around her. She saw a frightening looking beetle hovering in front of her. She put out her arm and it landed on it.
"Ah, at least one of my minions recalls who-OW!" she cried out as the beetle bit her and flew off.
The pain was intense and she looked down and saw dark fluid running from the small wound. It couldn't be venom; there was too much of it. It must be coming from her body, but what would mortals haveher eyes went wide in terror as she realized it was blood. Blood, the very essence of mortal existence and it was draining from her! The terror she felt was greater than anything she could imagine possible, overwhelming her meager mortal sensibilities, paralyzing her with fear as she watched her life's blood flow.
A minute or so passed as the small wound stopped bleeding and it wasn't until several minutes later that she even dared to move again. She clutched the wound, looking around fearfully at the forest, wondering what other horrors were out there waiting for her.
The night she so loved had turned against her.