A Forgotten Princess's Musings
I can still remember that moment. The instant those swirling colors of the rainbow engulfed me. I feared it would spell my end. I struggled, trying to resist it. And in the end, I faltered. I expected my ultimate doom to come. To be wiped from my dear kingdom for the final time. Instead, I was baffled to find that I still lived. But rather than being on the stone floor of the throne room within the ruins of the palace I used to inhabit with my sister, I found myself…gazing down from within the shadows of the ceiling?
I saw them. The six new bearers of the Elements of Harmony. They had gathered around each other as they stood before…her. My sister. Celestia. The source of so much of my envy. And surely the source of the warm sunlight that was illuminating the chamber. And yet… Seeing her before me…after such a long slumber within my precious moon within the night sky…I felt such a powerful sense of longing. I still felt some envy, and yet I felt so relieved at the same time to see her for the first time in… How long had I been sealed within the moon?
She spoke to the two earth ponies, the two unicorns, and the two pegasi. She had known my return was nigh all along… And I saw her approach the shattered fragments of my armor. And among those fragments was… Myself.
That was… How could I be there while I was… No! I am Luna! The Princess of the Night! I am… No… I parted with that name long ago… And chose a name no one could not notice or ignore. I am Nightmare Moon. But at the same time, I am still Luna. So then… Why… Why was I seeing myself far below me?!
My old self… I looked so… It had been so long since I last looked like that. The billowing of my mane and tail had reverted to a form I had only seen on myself in my much younger days. Before my true majesty finally came to be.
I saw myself sprawled out upon the stone floor. Exhausted and humbled. My sister began to approach me while I watched myself from above… As bizarre as that may sound. My eyes opened wide before showing a look of fear and shame.
"It has been a thousand years since I have seen you like this." My sister of the sun spoke while gazing down at me. I expected her to be disappointed or furious for my…betrayal. My desperation to be accepted and adored by my people had indeed overwhelmed me.
I expected her to scold or strike me. But instead… She kneeled before me like the calm gentle older sibling she had always been to me so many times before. I heard her speak in a soft caring tone. "Time to put our differences behind us. We were meant to rule together, little sister."
Together… She had never pushed me aside at all. She wanted me with her all along. And I had been so blind with jealousy to even see. Lastly, she rose to a standing position once more and asked me one final question. "Will you accept my friendship?"
I hesitated. I could see the guilt and the shame within my grimace. Finally, I leaped forward and rested my face against the base of my sister's neck. I heard myself speak in a tone I had not heard myself use in far too long. "I'm so sorry! I missed you so much, big sister…"
My sister confirmed my hopes by replying sincerely, tears of absolute joy streaming down her face. "I missed you too."
I watched with utter amazement and relief. All was truly well between my sister and myself. And although I was seeing my former self below me… I am still the lifelong sister to Celestia. My name and form may be different, but I am still the Princess of the Night. I tried to approach my sister. To tell her how I too had missed her and was so eager to rejoin her in ruling Equestria together. But… I did not budge.
I could not move towards her at all. What was wrong with me? I tried to look at myself. To see if I was being restrained. What I found horrified me. My form… It was…perfectly flat. It billowed over the stonework that made up the ceiling. Like…a living shadow. I had become…a literal shadow of my former self!
I looked on in fear as my sister and my former self began to walk towards the exit to the throne room with the Elements' six bearers in tow. "Sister…! Wait! I am here too!" I pleaded, shouting to get her attention. I could feel myself yelling, but my words… They could barely even be considered whispers on the wind. My voice was so silent… There was no way they could hear me from there. Yet I continued to try.
"Celestia! Please, listen to me! No… Please, don't go! Don't leave me here…alone…" I pleaded and pleaded, praying that at least one word would reach her ears before she could vanish from my sight. And yet…she did. One by one, the eight ponies departed from the throne room and did not return. I tried to follow them, hoping to slide along the surface I was on. But I was trapped within the shadow of the pillar that was right next to me. I could not enter the light. Seeing I could not pursue them, I waited with bated breath. I prayed that perhaps one of them had heard me. That they would return. Minutes turned into hours. Hours turned into days. The sun set. And the moon rose. It was only then that I realized that she was not coming back. I was alone once again. And I knew then…that my sister would never return to these ruins deep within the Everfree Forest. A place that no pony would dare enter.
That… That was over two years ago. And I have not seen a single living soul since then. I have remained here in this stone chamber ever since. Alone… At least I was fortunate enough to be placed in a deep slumber while I was imprisoned within the moon. Out here…it is nothing but absolute solitude day after day. Nopony has set foot inside this chamber since that day… Keeping count of the hours that have passed, and the number of times the moon has risen and set are the few things keeping me sane out here…
Over the first few weeks, I found that I could move along the shadow I was inside of. Like a puddle sliding over a slope. When night fell and the light dimmed, I was granted greater freedom. I could move over most of the chamber as long as the moonlight was not too intense. I mostly could not enter the spaces near what remained of the windows.
It took several months, but I began to notice a strange feeling fill me with every nightfall. In the darkness, I felt…a faint bit of strength grow within me. On my first night in this pathetic paper-thin form, I felt so helpless to the point where I could not move at all. But now I can move around without effort. I even began to regain the ability to use some small forms of magic after at least two years. But it was small comfort while knowing I was still confined to this chamber. I suppose I could leave by sliding across the floor and down the stairwell at the end of the throne room, but… What would become of me if I were caught outside of a shadow when the sun began to rise? I was so fragile… I dare not risk further harm to myself.
Every day and night was full of nothing but solitude and silence. I had no one to speak to… No one to interact with. I was beginning to fear I would go mad with despair. I wanted to be with my sister again… But on one night in late summer, two years after I became a mere shadow… I received a guest.
I heard soft footsteps enter the throne room. I was near the ceiling, concealed behind one of the chambers great support pillars. Those footsteps… They were too soft to belong to a pony. But they had too much of a rhythm to them to be a wandering forest animal that had stumbled into the chamber out of curiosity. I listened closely, the footsteps sounding as if they were drawing closer. I closed my eyes, relying on my sharpened senses to detect the intruder. The way it sounded… The person was bipedal. But it was not a minotaur. No, it would make the distinct sound of hooves clopping if it were. The footsteps sounded muffled… Almost as if wearing soft…shoes? No… It could not possibly be…
I cracked my eyes open just slightly to get a better look at the intruder. Soon, it came into view. And I could not believe what I was seeing. A human. A race me and my sister had banished together so long ago. That… That was the last time I saw Mother and Father before they departed after the crisis. And yet… Even though I knew for a fact that humans could not have possibly been allowed back into this world… One stood before me.
It was a young man, though his attire seemed…far different from those that had ever been worn before. A more modern style, perhaps? And… Was that a pot lid affixed to his left arm? It strongly brought to mind the shields human swordsmen would use in the distant past when defending theirs and our settlements from wild beasts. And I could see a short blade in a sheath that hung across his chest. A knife. Despite clearly being armed, this man… He did not give off even the slightest hint of malice. His unkempt dark brown hair wavered as a faint breeze blew through the chamber, his fingers adjusting a pair of glasses resting upon his nose. Numerous bags hung from his back and sides. Perhaps he was a wandering explorer. And yet… Why was he there.
The more I watched him, the more I began to notice that he seemed all too aware that he was not the only person in the throne room. His head slowly turned while he seemed to scan his surroundings. A perceptive analytical man, though also seeming fearful. Had he been pursued here? Eventually, he gazed directly up at me. His expression showed one of bewilderment. He was clearly seeing my dark billowing form. I was not certain of what to make of him, so I remained still and silent.
Suddenly, his face seemed to brighten in wonderment and…hope? Was he happy to see me for some reason? No, it could not be. No humans were present in Equestria when I abandoned my original name for Nightmare Moon. And yet, he spoke out to me with a soft tender tone of voice. "Is that you, Nightmare Moon?"
I felt myself calm at the sound of his voice. How he knew my name at all did not matter. I felt calm in his presence. The first living being I had seen in over two years. And he was looking at me with an expression of… Well, whatever he was showing, it was a very positive emotion.
He approached the stone pillar I was closest too before looking at me once again. He wanted me to approach him. And I did just that. I moved down the pillar while he constantly watched me. His mouth curved into a relaxed smile. But I was not prepared for what he spoke next. "It's an honor to meet you, m'lady. I really enjoy the calm and cool tranquility of your beautiful nights."
I froze. He had… Those words… He… He loved the night? He appreciated my work? The beautiful moonlit night I had put my soul into crafting for the world? I could hardly think. My mind was a mess with so many questions and clashing emotions. But when I stopped before him, his hand reached out and rested upon my billowing form. His touch was gentle… His hands soft and supple. Not at all the hands of a warrior. More like the hands of a poet. His face changed to a more somber and sympathetic expression before he spoke again. "They just don't understand… I know you were angry and just wanted to be appreciated. Well, let me be the first to say that I am thankful for your soothing night."
Those words… The first to ever… I… I reached out to him the only way I could. I wanted to hold this man in my arms. To embrace him and show how grateful I was to hear those words. My shadowy form crept along his hand and over his arm. I grasped him as tightly as I could. I was afraid to let go. This sensation I was feeling at the time. I felt so…warm. So…happy. I cannot even fathom when I last felt so elated.
I opened my eye wide to let him see more of me. He spoke immediately. "Is that you, Princess?"
Princess… It had been so long since I had last been called that. I could see my vision starting to become blurred. Tears were building up fast. He spoke once more to me. "I know the rest of Equestria fears you. But… Maybe someday, you'll be able to walk with us again. Not as a monster, but as the princess of the night."
What had I done to deserve such praise… My grasp on him tightened. I was fearful to let go. I could no longer restrain me tears. I felt them flow down, sliding over my dark form. He noticed right away, his hand reaching up and wiping the tear away from my body. "Are you crying, m'lady?"
I could no longer restrain myself. I had to let him know how I felt. I knew it was unlikely that he would hear me, but I tried anyway. I tried to speak. To let him hear my voice. And as I did so, I heard my voice whisper through the air. "I…feel…happy…" I could hardly believe that I had regained my voice. At last, I was no longer mute. "You…were the first to…thank me…"
The human man before me must have known that it was I who was speaking. He nodded with a solemn smile. "No. Thank you, Nightmare Moon. For creating a beautiful night that allows those who are exhausted from working in the sunlight to rest in the cooling darkness."
I felt completely at peace in the presence of this man. He gently retracted his arm, pulling away from me as he took a step back. I could not look away from him. I could still feel his admiration and concern in that calm gaze. I felt…happy in his presence. I wanted to stay with him.
What… What was that I was feeling at the time? It was new to me. Something I had never felt so strongly to another before…
To my surprise, he kneeled before me. And what he said next surprised me. "I know you see sleeping through the night as an insult, but please understand. It is because of the night that I am able to sleep so well. And I am absolutely exhausted. I need to rest."
As he walked towards what seemed to be a collapsed support pillar, I felt absolutely shocked. To sleep… Through my beautiful night right after praising it! Just like the others… But… The more I looked at him, the more I could see just how exhausted he was. He must have been wandering the Everfree Forest for hours. And even I know that the forest is far from safe. Especially at night.
And I will confess… I too usually found myself feeling more relaxed while under the soft glow of the moon… Perhaps he is right. Maybe the night is the most ideal time to rest.
"M'lady, may I sleep here tonight?" He asked while setting out what seemed to be a very large flat bag of sorts made of thick fabric. I mused over this for a moment before finally moving down the pillar and over the sack before him. I rested upon it, gazing up at him while I smiled. Well, I doubt he could see my mouth, but he seemed to understand. He showed a genuine smile before speaking softly. "Thank you, m'lady."
For a time, he lied in that sack while seemingly writing something down. A journal of some sort? Regardless, once he had written several pages worth of paper, he placed them inside the sack he had been carrying on his back and tucked himself into his bedroll for the night. But while inside, I heard him speak softly, "Sweet dreams, Nightmare Moon."
I did not move from that spot. I coated his bedroll with my entire form. I wanted to keep him safe. Even though I am still a shell of my former self, I am certain I have regained enough of my strength to use some forms of magic to defend us. I will watch over him. I will not allow any harm to come to my…friend.
Hours passed. And for the first time in far too long, I did not feel lonely. I could feel my new friend moving under me with every breath and every stir. I felt determined and watchful. Something I had not felt in…over a thousand years. I am reminded of my days in the distant past. When I presided over Equestria with my sister. I cared for my people. I wanted to keep them safe and to keep them happy. But they… They turned their backs on me and my night. Yet… This man openly admires my night, and therefore myself. I once again have someone I wish to protect and please.
My friend had to depart the following morning. Apparently he had to return to the town I had seen when I returned to this world from the moon. It would seem that he has developed bonds with the bearers of the Elements of Harmony since the bearers of the Elements of Loyalty and Kindness came all the way out to this section of the Everfree Forest just to find him. Although he was quick to hide from them, as was I. I would normally not hide from mere commoners like a coward, but… I am still weak. If they found that I still live… After what they did to me the last time… I dread the thought of what would become of me if I were exposed to the Elements' power in such a weakened state.
The two departed before my friend could speak out to them, though I suspect he did not want to. He seemed rather shy at the time. And… Just how in the world did he become an earth pony in his sleep? I could not help but giggle like a fool while watching his frustration upon finding himself in such a state. Although I must admit… He does make a handsome stallion. Though to be fair, he looked just fine as a human too. Will he ever change back?
His reaction to the change was far from pleasant though. He ranted and fumed for a good minute, laughing awkwardly as he beheld his predicament. I even had to help him emerge from his bedroll since he no longer possessed hands. Although… I felt myself gain…strength? His intense burst of negative emotions… Did I draw power from them?
I suppose it should come as no surprise… If I am indeed not Luna, then I was surely born from her darker emotions long ago when… But I am feeling more myself now. More…whole. What will happen as I regain more strength?
I was disheartened to see my friend gathering his belongings since I knew my new friend would soon depart. But I understood he had to leave. The Everfree Forest is nowhere near as safe as it was a millennium ago and remaining out here for an extended period of time is certainly hazardous. Especially to somepony who cannot even walk right. It was rather amusing to watch my friend stumble about as he tried to balance himself on his four legs.
I watched from the ceiling, wondering if he had already forgotten about me. But once he was wearing the bags he had brought on his sides and back, he gazed up in my direction and managed to crack a smile despite his situation. "Thank you for watching over me, Nightmare Moon. I hope we can chat someday."
I felt such an intense warmness. He was hoping to see me again. And I have been awaiting that day for some time. I saw the leaves on the trees beyond the window turn orange and fall. Then the snow came once again. Time passed and the snow melted, the trees regaining their leaves. And he has not returned since.
However, I do not fault my friend. Knowing what kind of wild beasts roam the Everfree Forest, not to mention that cursed village of heartless abominations out there, just reaching my location would be risky. I do miss him… And I often find myself longing for him… The only man who has ever appreciated me… I pray I see him again soon…
It finally happened. I felt my strength return to what it used to be. I brought myself closer to the ground and began to pull. I felt myself regaining shape. Becoming solid and physical. I felt bone and muscle returning to my body, giving me shape. In one great heave, I pulled myself from the wall. I looked myself over, seeing my sleek black form, my beautiful billowing blue mane and tail wavering behind me. Once again, I was whole.
I summoned the shards of my armor that had been scattered around the throne room, merging them together and restoring them to their former glory before placing them back on me. They lack the polish of a princess's royal attire, but they would do.
Now that I am whole once more, it is time to once again make my subjects… Wait… Do I really need to make them all… What about…him?
Of course… My friend. The only friend I have ever known. He is still out there somewhere. He who loves the night. He who loves…me. I feel so lonely… I want to see him again. To finally speak to him as the Princess of the Night. I long to see him so dearly…
What is this feeling… I crave to see him again. To feel his touch. To hear his voice. Is this…love? Is this how it feels to love someone oh so dearly?
The night will begin again once the sun sets. And when it does, it will last forever. For it is what he would want. I know he will cherish the eternal night, basking in the glow of the beautiful pale moon. He will know it is I who have made the night last forever. For him. He will seek me out. And we will be together once more.
And yet…is what I am doing…even if it is for him… Is this…right?