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Nightmare

By Clarissa
Created: 18th December 2020 08:21:34 PM

  1. >The moon rose glumly over the mountains that marked the border of the domain of the ponies
  2. >The pale light it cast down on the earth below it seemed to bring a mood of heaviness and depression to all it touched
  3. >And, in a way, it did
  4. >Both the moon and sun reflected, in part, the moods and emotions of their respective guardians
  5. >The sun was bright, cheerful, and warm, just like Princess Celestia, who raised it each morning and brought it down each night
  6. >The moon, however, was cold, baleful, and melancholic, just as the princess who held responsibility for it had been for the several months prior to this night
  7. >And just like every night, the ruler of the day approached her sister to speak about it
  8. >"Luna, why is your night so cold and dreary? Come now, be cheery and bright, you'll find that ponies will like you much better!"
  9. >But the princess of the night turned and gave her sister a cold look
  10. "I did try, sister. I did my best to follow your example. But that is not what the night is for."
  11. >Celestia chuckled at her sisters cryptic words
  12. >"And pray tell, what is the night for?"
  13. >But the monster that had suddenly replaced didn't answer with words, but with a roar
  14. >And the aurora maned alicorn fell to the ground, a hole where her chest had been
  15. >The horrible creature roared in triumph, raising its black head to the sky
  16. >Then it turned its horrible eyes downward, staring at the one last, living being in the room other than itself
  17. >Then, it tore into her as well
  18. >Princess Luna was torn from her sleep screaming, sweat soaking her coat and the sheets of her bed
  19. >The pair of guards, who always stood watch outside her chambers as she slept, burst in with their spears at the ready
  20. >"What is wrong, my lady?"
  21. >Luna sat panting, clearing away the shades of the dream that had scared her so
  22. "No, no. It's fine, go back outside."
  23. >The guards looked at each other uncomfortably, and the younger one, clearly new to the job, spoke up
  24. >"Princess, are you sure that you're alright?"
  25. >The alicorn snapped and shouted at them
  26. "I said get out!"
  27. >This time, the guards made a hasty, and wise, retreat outside
  28. >The princess of the night untangled herself from the damp bedclothes and walked out the door her guards had burst into
  29. >She motioned for them to remain at their post and proceeded down the halls of her wing of the palace
  30. >She shared the same quarters as her guards, a series of cells purpose made for maintaining a sense of community, and enforcing discipline
  31. >The only difference, between the austere cells of the guards and her own, was a size difference appreciable only because of her height and wingspan, compared to that of the guards
  32. >Far different than the chambers of her sister, which were massive by comparison, and even included their own library
  33. >Luna had berated her sister many times in the past, saying that it elevated the sun goddess too far above those who served under her
  34. >Celestia had just laughed and said that, as princess', they were entitled to as much space as they wanted, they weren't the same as everyone else after all
  35. >That had angered the princess of the night immensely, it had seemed her sister had taken her royalty to mean that they were above every other pony
  36. >But Luna felt that they were no better than the ponies, but in fact needed to consider themselves subservient to them
  37. >Celestia just brushed her sisters concerns off, completely ignoring the reasons behind the complaints that were brought before her
  38. >And yet, for some reason, the ponies adored Celestia and her burning day
  39. >But not all the ponies felt the same way
  40. >A rare breed of ponies with leathery wings, carnivorous appetites, and an aversion to sunlight, flocked to the princess that raised the moon
  41. >The Sarosians, as they called themselves, became members of her personal guard, and indeed, almost a personal army
  42. >She had accepted them with an open heart, as they had never found before
  43. >Their ear tufts, fangs, and revulsion to the day, made them outcasts in pony society
  44. >Most were pegasi but, though it was rare, there were unicorns among their kind as well
  45. >So Luna treated them as her own children, gave them positions that most ponies would dream to have
  46. >She struck trade deals with the griffon lands, whose few diplomats were more than amiable to her, for importing meat for her Sarosians
  47. >She even built a district for them that catered to their unique needs, called the Noctem Lux district, but was often simply called the Moonlight district by its inhabitants
  48. >Evidently though, Celestia was feeling threatened by the near fanaticism of the Sarosian ponies and had invited her sister to the table this very day
  49. >So the princess of the night walked down the halls of her wing towards her sisters end of the palace, occasionally stopping for conversations with the guards posted in the halls, even knocking on the doors of some to speak to them
  50. >Punctuality to her sister was hardly her primary concern, especially in a situation like this
  51. >But eventually, she reached the Solar Wing of their palace and, taking a deep breath in preparation, and pushed the doors open to the meeting room
  52. >Celestia sat at the far end of a massive, golden and mahogany table, back towards a balcony that glimmered in sunlight
  53. >At the table were several pony delegates from the three tribes, along with a group of Sarosians in their heavy, hooded cloaks that they used to walked around in the harsh sunlight
  54. >Luna glared at her sister and looked pointedly to the open balcony
  55. "Close the curtains, Celestia. It's hardly fair to the Sarosians to let that blistering light into a meeting that you called."
  56. >The solar princess smiled and tossed her flowing mane over her withers
  57. >"Why of course, my dear sister. I wouldn't dream of imposing my day on you or your subjects."
  58. >Luna bit back a scalding response, and her sister used a burst of magic to pull the curtains shut
  59. >With relief from the scorching sunlight, the Sarosians removed their hoods and cloaks, depositing them on the back of the seats they sat in
  60. >The 'normal' ponies seemed rather unnerved by the revelation of the appearance of their counterparts
  61. >Tufted ears, slitted pupils, and glistening fangs were hardly comforting to the ponies sitting at the table
  62. >Luna broke the terse silence with an address of her sister
  63. "Why did you call me here in the middle of the day, Celestia? We both know there are far more pressing concerns to attend."
  64. >Celestia frowned at her sisters bluntness, but humoured her and got to the point
  65. >"I fear that the following among your subjects has reached a dangerous level of devotion. It's almost as though they revere you as a goddess."
  66. >One of the unicorn delegates spoke up immediately after the princess
  67. >"Just last month two unicorns were beaten and humiliated while passing through the Moonlight district! That is completely unacceptable behaviour!"
  68. >Luna glared at the delegate before speaking in a flat, almost uninterested tone that belied her anger
  69. "I heard about this matter already. The unicorns were not 'passing through' as you say, but were marking a structure with derisive graffiti. I already disciplined the ponies involved based on the accounts and evidence."
  70. >She paused a moment while her gaze traveled the room before settling back on the unicorn
  71. "I'd say that such provocation from members of your tribe is entirely unacceptable and, coupled with the persecution that my subjects suffered before I took them under my wing, that the fact that the unicorns involved were not punished, but hailed as martyrs, is appalling!"
  72. >Celestia's voice came from the far end of the table, measured and chilling
  73. >"Luna."
  74. >The named party turned to face her sister, glowering at having her berating of the delegate interrupted
  75. "What do you want from me, Celestia? I woke up at midday for this meeting, have tolerated those derisive looks that the three tribes give me, and weathered storms of comments about my relationship with my subjects. I won't ask to be pardoned for being short with them."
  76. >The princess of the sun shook her head
  77. >"We are concerned about the plight of the Sarosians as much as you, sister. But I called you here to discuss their fanaticism in their following of you. It is deeply concerning how they all but worship the ground you walk."
  78. >Luna gave a derisive snort
  79. "Hardly surprising. I'm the only one to accept them for what they are, the only one to even try and better their lives, lives that by all rights should have been the same as any other pony. I'd hardly call devotion to one that has done so much for them 'concerning'."
  80. >Celestia glared at her counterpart across the table, her annoyance barely concealed
  81. >"Luna, since you clearly don't understand what I mean here, I will have to make you understand. You are to cease the current relations you have with your subjects and follow after my own example for you. I dare say, it will likely make you more loved among the common ponies."
  82. >The smiles of the tribal delegates and barely contained anger within the Sarosians told her this had all been decided from the beginning
  83. >Luna slammed her hoof down on the opulent table, cracking the surface with the force she hit it with
  84. "Like Tartarus I will, Celestia. You may command all of ponydom, but you do not command me. I wholly refuse your so-called 'terms' and reject the very idea that I would ever do such a thing."
  85. >Celestia was unable to hide the shock at her sisters outburst, and the tribal diplomats looked visibly shaken by the surge of emotion
  86. >But the Sarosians grinned, they had known that their princess would never agree to such terms
  87. >Celestia closed her eyes and composed herself before speaking
  88. >"Then you have a day and a night to leave this palace, along with all your subjects within. You are not welcome here anymore, Luna."
  89. >For reasons unknown to even her, the princess of the night smiled
  90. "Very well, Celestia. You will have your wish."
  91. >She turned to the three Sarosians sitting across from the tribals
  92. "Bitr, Vox, Aleph, please follow me. Consider yourselves excused from this meeting."
  93. >The three bowed to her, turned to Celestia and bowed again, before turning to their counterparts across the table and bowing to them as well
  94. >Rude as the others had been, proper etiquette still had to be observed
  95. >Then they collected their cloaks and followed their princess through the door
  96. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  97. >Bitr was the first to speak on the trip back to Luna's wing of the palace
  98. >"My princess, was it so wise to antagonize your sister? You may have just cost many of your subjects their homes and, indeed some of, their lives."
  99. >When Luna stopped and turned to her lead diplomat, he did not cringe in fear as many may have, but stood unwavering
  100. >He knew his point had to be made
  101. "Bitr, I understand your concerns, but a confrontation was inevitable at some point. Do not worry, I have been preparing for this day longer than you have been alive. You will all be safe."
  102. >The diplomat bowed to her, but then Vox, a more agressive member of his kind spoke up
  103. >"Luna, you can't stand for this kind of treatment! You know that after this, our treatment will only get worse, we all do!"
  104. >While tolerant of a point to be made, the princess was less tolerant of outbursts and even less so of challenges to her authority
  105. >With a burst of magic, she pinned Vox to the wall and was immediately far inside of an area most would consider to be either intimate or threatening
  106. "Vox, as I said, I have a plan. This is a case where you need to have trust in me and not question anything I say. Can you do that, or do I have to shut you out of the process?"
  107. >The youngest of the three gulped against the pressure on his neck and nodded, thoroughly chastised
  108. "Good."
  109. >She let the Sarosian go and continued walking, as did the others behind her
  110. >The rest of the trip was utterly silent, Luna did not address anyone she passed and they didn't dare say a thing, once they caught the look in her eyes
  111. >When they reached the door to her cell, she turned to the party following her
  112. "Gather every Sarosian in the city. Give them cloaks if you must. I want them in the Eclipse Square in two hours. Go."
  113. >And so they did, galloping off to do as they were bid, and taking a number of guards to help them complete the task in the allotted time
  114. >Luna meanwhile, retired to her room
  115. >She did not idle, however, opting instead to gather her few documents and other such items to prepare them for the journey
  116. >As well, she opened the closet that contained her formal wear and fumbled for something in the back
  117. >Finally, her hoof clicked into what she was looking for, and a hidden chamber slid open
  118. >Inside was a suit of armour that she had commisioned decades prior
  119. >It had a great deal of intricate inlay on it, and it had been forged from a metal that had been found in a falling star over a century ago
  120. >Its contours fit the alicorn exactly, clinging to her body almost as a second skin
  121. >It had been forged in such a way that it bent naturally with her body movement, yet somehow never weakened
  122. >The smith had died shortly after creating the armour, so the secrets of his technique were lost to the ages
  123. >So Luna had secreted the armour away and hidden it, dreading the day that she would need to don it
  124. >Unfortunately, that day had come
  125. >She needed to appear strong to her subjects, a stone amidst a raging river
  126. >So she placed the armour over her body, feeling the ever warm metal cling to her body
  127. >By the time she had finished packing her possessions, it was just past midday
  128. >The other ponies would be assembled by now, or they had best be for the sake of those she had tasked to do it
  129. >She opened the door to her balcony, stepped out onto it, and took flight into the sky, the blinding sun reflecting off her armour, making her a beacon for those below
  130. >Within minutes, she had landed in the square, which was crowded with Sarosians
  131. >She kept her wings spread
  132. >Now was not a time for humility, it was a time for leadership and a strong, guiding, hoof
  133. >She cleared her throat, and the slight murmur that had been ongoing before died without another whimper
  134. >With the silence culled, she proceeded with her speech
  135. "My loyal Sarosians. This is a dreary day for us indeed. My sister, the good Princess Celestia, has given us one day and one night to vacate the city."
  136. >A sudden uproar drowned out all other noise in the square, but Luna quick quelled the outburst
  137. "Please, be calm. She is only partly to blame for this happenstance. I did antagonize my sister, I admit to such wrongdoing. But it is of no matter how this came to be. The fact is, you may all stay here in the city, should you wish to. I must leave however, and will not be able to guarantee your safety."
  138. >A random pony shouted from the crowded area
  139. >"I'll follow you to Tartarus and back, princess!"
  140. >The cheering that followed the shout clearly showed a massive following for the sentiment
  141. >Once again, Luna calmed that crowd with a gesture before continuing
  142. "If that is your choice, then I shall be glad to bring every last one of you. If you wish to accompany me on this journey, then pack your belongings and come to the train station when the moon has fully risen. We will depart then."
  143. >The crowd errupted in cacaphanous cheering and Princess Luna took off into the air and angled back to the castle
  144. >The guardian of the moon landed on the terrace that led into the throne room, where her sister was
  145. >She wouldn't leave without saying goodbye to her sister, no matter how angry she was
  146. >The throng queing up before the throne parted as a sea before the armoured princess
  147. >When Luna reached the throne, her sister was there, smiling as though nothing had happened
  148. >"Luna, that armour is so befitting you. I assume you are prepared for the journey to wherever you plan to go to?"
  149. >Luna sighed and looked down at her hooves before staring her sister straight in the eyes
  150. "Sister, I am sorry for my words earlier. It was wrong of me to be so short with the delegates. I will be leaving tonight when the moon is at its peak."
  151. >She paused and took a deep breath, steeling herself for her next words
  152. "And I will be taking every pony that wishes to come with me as well. The Sarosian population is already preparing to leave."
  153. >In the shocked silence that even Celestia couldn't fathom how to break, Luna turned to the crowd
  154. "And spread the word. I will accept any and all ponies that wish to come with me. I will not judge you on whether you are a pegasus, unicorn, or earth pony. It matters not what your appearence is, but what you believe in your heart. If you wish to come, meet us at the train when the moon is peaked. I bid you all good day."
  155. >She turned back to her still stricken sister on the throne
  156. "Sister, we are not seceding from the kingdom, but don't dare come and try to order my subjects to tasks. Goodbye, Celestia."
  157. >And with that, she turned and left the throne room, leaving behind a hundred shocked ponies, and one sister, paralyzed in shock
  158. ------------------------------------------------
  159. >The moon finally peaked in the black skies over Canterlot
  160. >The train station was packed with ponies
  161. >The vast majority were her loyal Sarosians, but there were some tribal ponies as well
  162. >Luna hadn't expected to have any of them join her, but they were welcome so long as they didn't cause trouble
  163. >Actually, given the number and diversity at the station, it was surprising that no fights had broken out
  164. >If anything, all the ponies seemed to just be quietly waiting
  165. >Good, the faster you could load them onto the cars, the more you could get moved before the sun rose
  166. >Luna landed among a group of guards quietly talking
  167. >Aleph was with them, though he didn't join into the conversation
  168. >Though it was obvious why, his throat had been mauled by a manticore attack four years ago
  169. >She had been along with the group tracking it and saved his life
  170. >He had been a staunch, if not vocal, supporter of her ever since
  171. "Aleph, take these guards and start loading them onto the cars, quickly. We have ten hours until the day comes. And I'm not eager to find out what my sister will do if we're still here when that sun comes over the horizon."
  172. >The voiceless pony nodded once and gestured for the guard group to follow him
  173. >Inside of two minutes, ponies were loading onto the train cars
  174. >Luna had secured forty train cars, all cargo types, and two engines to pull them
  175. >It wouldn't be comfortable, but it would only take a half hour to reach their destination at top speed
  176. >While they took care of the loading, the princess strode among the crowd, chatting with the occasional pony
  177. >She tried to talk to more unicorns, pegasi, and earth ponies than Sarosians
  178. >It wasn't a favouritism, it was more that she had spoken personally, at least once, with every one of the bat-like ponies in the city
  179. >But she didn't speak with the other kinds of ponies very often
  180. >So she paid special attention to those among the crowd who had never had a chance to speak with her before
  181. >She approached a young unicorn couple with a foal in swaddling between them
  182. "Good evening, young ponies. I must ask, what brought you to accompany me, the princess of the night, on this banishment?"
  183. >The stallion looked down at his hooves, but before he could speak, his wife did instead
  184. >"We've lived in the Moonlight district since we moved here. And even though we're not Sarosian, we were accepted as soon as we had moved in. But we had to shop on the other side of town for our groceries, since we can't eat meat."
  185. >The young mare paused and her husband took up the slack
  186. >"They saw how we were dressed, smelled the faint traces of meat on our clothing, we had bought it second-hand see. And the looks of disgust they gave us...I'll never get that out of my mind. There was no way we could raise our child in a place like that."
  187. >The wife spoke up again
  188. >"So we're coming away with you. We heard what you said in the throne room. It sounds a far sight better than what we had already experienced, so here we are."
  189. >Luna's look softened at their story, to give up a life among their fellows for something she had said?
  190. >It was almost too much to believe
  191. "What are your names?"
  192. >The stallion was the first to speak up
  193. >"My name's Plum Cake, princess."
  194. >His wife spoke up afterwards
  195. >"And I'm Angel Cake, Princess Luna."
  196. >They both bowed, and Luna returned the gesture
  197. "Mr. and Mrs. Cake, I swear to you that I will do everything I can to make your lives better. I can't promise an easy path, but the end will be worth it."
  198. >With that, she left the now tearful couple behind and moved on in the crowd
  199. >A young earth pony filly was standing beside an elder of the same kind closer to the back of the station
  200. >She stopped to speak with them as well
  201. "Good evening to you two, may I ask what brings you to follow me along my shameful path of banishment?"
  202. >The younger one made to speak, but her elder hushed her with a gesture before speaking himself
  203. >"Your banishment is not a shame, night princess, at least not on you. Celestia is the only one who should be shamed for banishing her own sister."
  204. >Luna squinted at the old earth pony
  205. "Where are this filly's parents?"
  206. >This time, the filly herself spoke before her guardian could stop her
  207. >"Celestia's guards killed my parents by accident. One of them fired a bolt of magic into our house, right into their room and...and."
  208. >The child broke off sniffling, and it broke Luna's heart to see her in so much pain
  209. >She knelt down to the filly's height and wrapped a wing around her
  210. "I can't bring your parents back, young one. But I can promise you a life in which you are safe. In fact, when we reach our destination, you and your grandfather can come and live in the palace."
  211. >The grandfather in question looked down at the princess, clearly stunned
  212. >"B-but, you're majesty! We're just common, earth-pony folk. What gives us the right to stay in a palace for royalty?"
  213. >Luna gave him a look that brooked no quarel over what she said next
  214. "Because she is too young to work, and you are too old. How will you pay for housing, or food, or heat? You will stay in the palace. If you find the idea difficult because it is charity, you may work as a butler, and she as a handmaiden. Is that acceptable?"
  215. >The old pony stammered out something that sounded affirmative and Luna stood
  216. >She took hold of the odd pair and took to the skies
  217. >The old stallion was shocked into silence, but the filly screamed
  218. >All eyes were suddenly on the odd, skybound trio
  219. >But, almost as soon as the flight had begun, it was over
  220. >The princess deposited the pair at the front of the queue leading to the train cars
  221. >No pony in the line dared argue with her reasons for putting them there, but most seemed content with her choice anyway
  222. >They all knew that a princess would have her reasons for doing such a thing
  223. >She conversed with a few more ponies, all of whom were stunned to be talking to a princess
  224. >Many had, if at all, only conversed with Celestia from a kneeling position at the foot of her throne
  225. >They were overwhelmed with the idea that royalty would pay attention to them personally, let alone get to know them
  226. >Tales began spreading like wildfire about how great a princess Luna was, not as a ruler but as a pony
  227. >It didn't matter to the princess though, she only cared that her subjects were treated well
  228. >As it turned out, everything went quicker than Luna had ever expected
  229. >By the time that the hour to lower the moon had come, every single pony that had wanted to follow her had been sent to the site she had chosen for the new town to be laid
  230. >It was on the frontier of unclaimed wilderness and bordered on a forest that contained the forgotten fortress that the princess of the night and her sister had built by hoof during Discord's reign
  231. >Luna  had been preparing the site for many years, clearing the trees from around the fortress and clearing a path from it to where the town would rest
  232. >With all the extra time she had, two more trains full of building materials had been sent to the site of the new town so the ponies could get a head start on building it
  233. >But now the time came for her and the last guards under her command to depart for their new home
  234. >But as they turned to enter the train, the door slammed shut in their faces
  235. >The guards whirled, fangs bared, ready for a fight
  236. >But Luna had seen the slight swirl of magic around the handle and knew just who had come down to the station
  237. "Well, sister, I had best get going. I wouldn't want to overstay my welcome.
  238. >Celestia sighed at her sisters usual blunt attitude
  239. >"Luna...we both said foolish things back there. Can we not just talk about this instead of leaving on terms like this?"
  240. >Luna snorted, it sounded like a ridiculous statement after all that had transpired
  241. "What do we have to discuss? I've already sent my loyalists to our new home. I won't abandon them, Celestia. Not for you, not for anyone."
  242. >Celestia shook her head slowly
  243. >"They can come back as well. You don't understand how this will look to the ponies we take care of. If we can't stay unbroken, how can they?"
  244. >Luna gave a sharp laugh that sounded almost strangled
  245. "That's all you care about? Your appearence? Sister, the ponies that followed me did so out of love and respect. Love for the way I treat them and respect for the vision I promise them. They will experience a togetherness like none other. I can't stay here, not after what I've promised."
  246. >Celestia approached her sister, the guards still wary of her just as Luna was
  247. >But the princess of the day just wrapped her forelimbs and wings around her younger sister in an embrace
  248. >"I'm sorry, my sister. Please, do come visit me sometime."
  249. >Luna smiled and hugged her sister back
  250. >As much animosity as there was, they were still family
  251. "I will, Celestia. Count on it."
  252. >With that, the door to the train slid back open and Luna, flanked by her guards, boarded the train
  253. >Next stop, the future site of a town called Ponyville...
  254. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  255. >When the train arrived, the sun was rising rapidly in the sky
  256. >As Luna stepped of the train at the railhead, she was greeted by the sight of over a thousand cheering ponies
  257. >All of them were cheering her name in a near mantric way
  258. >But she couldn't stand for that, it was the same kind of thing that made Celestia into the haughty, holier than thou alicorn she was today
  259. >She calmed the crowd with a gesture, and they fell silent, though the silence hung pregnant with anticipation for her to say something
  260. >So she obliged
  261. "My subjects, we have reach the frontier of our lands. Beyond this is unclaimed and unknown territory. But in the forest to the North is the first palace myself and my sister built. It is on the site of Discord's defeat. That is why I chose this place to build upon, we already have a palace built, so I may spend my time assisting you all with your own homes."
  262. >The crowed let up a cheer, which she promptly quelled
  263. "It is going to be a difficult task, my friends. Many of us will sleep under a blanket of stars tonight and nothing else. But if even one of my subjects must go without shelter, than so shall I. If your home is built, offer shelter to your neighbors. If you have extra food, give it to someone that has none. If a fellow is sick, but you are healthy, heal them as best you can. This is my first decree in this new town. A town which I now dub, Ponyville!"
  264. >The crowd burst into another cheer, and this one Luna let go
  265. >She had nothing more to say except for one thing
  266. "Now, let us get to work building our new home!"
  267. >The ponies immediately began taking supplies, from the numerous pallets of material that had been shipped along, and took them to marked out building places
  268. >And Luna was right alongside them, carrying far more than those around her, using her telekinesis and wings to hold all the materials
  269. >She worked, for the most part, as a mule, bringing supplies to various building sites around the area that needed them at the time
  270. >With so many ponies working on the various structures, a great deal of work was accomplished in the first twelve hours, with twenty structures being completed and another forty having their frames and foundations completed
  271. >The completed structures were all given to the pegasi, unicorns, and earth ponies at the insistence of the Sarosians
  272. >The tribals couldn't see well at night, quite unlike their bat-like cousins who saw better at night than during the day
  273. >And just as well, they were able to work harder without the oppressive, heavy garments they usually had to wear
  274. >So when Luna raised the moon, as she had for so many years before, a young Sarosian approached her
  275. >"Princess Luna? How do you know when to bring out the moon and stars?"
  276. >The childs mother, having noticed her missing child, galloped in out of nowhere and started ushering her child away while murmuring an apology
  277. >But Luna forstalled her with a gesture and knelt down to be on the same level as the little filly
  278. "I've been raising and lowering the moon at the same time for the past forty years, young pony. After that much time, it's just become an instinct."
  279. >The small batpony looked up at her with wide eyes
  280. >"How old are you, Princess Luna?"
  281. >The queen of the night chuckled at the question
  282. "I'm as old as Equestria, little one. I was here for its creation, and I'll be here until it's gone, maybe even after."
  283. >The filly's eyes somehow widened even more
  284. >"Wow..."
  285. >Luna pushed herself back up and smiled at the frazzled mother
  286. "You and the young one had best get some sleep. Everyone needs to be at their peak after all."
  287. >She nods and takes her child to a house that held the young family you had talked to at the train station
  288. >The rest of the night was spent working with the Sarosians that had elected to stay awake through the night to continue construction in the dark
  289. >Between their now unecumbered bodies and Luna's direction, all the houses were completed that night
  290. >The forty that had been mere frames and foundations were finished, and ten more were completed as well
  291. >Seventy structures in the span of a single day and night...
  292. >The pace was incredible, even for the number of ponies that had accompanied their princess
  293. >Finally, with every pony sheltered, Luna herself walked to her palace that was in the forest
  294. >She flew up to the balcony, only four stories about the ground, and lowered the moon at precisely the time she needed to
  295. >With that duty accomplished, she went down to the cell she had established here when she was younger and laid her head to rest on the small bed laid out for her
  296. ------------------------------------------------------------------------
  297. >Luna stalked the expansive halls of the old palace
  298. >They seemed to strectch on without end, massive and featureless
  299. >Then, from around the corner, Celestia walked into view
  300. >Luna was shocked, and not overly happy, to see her sister in the old palace
  301. "Celestia, what are you doing here?"
  302. >Celestia grinned and started walking beside her sister, looking about the walls as though they were covered with precious paintings and tapestries
  303. >"Well, I just had to see how my sister was failing this time of course. Of course, I didn't expect it to be so spectacular."
  304. >Luna gritted her teeth, taking it as just some teasing on the part of her sister
  305. "Why whatever do you mean, 'Tia? Just yesterday we built seventy structures. That's a sight faster than how long it took to build the Moonlight district, eh?"
  306. >Now it was Celestia's turn to frown, the childhood nickname brining back unpleasent memories
  307. >"Well, you can see for yourself."
  308. >Around the next bend, there was a window that seemed to be almost glowing
  309. >No, it wasn't the window glowing, it was something outside
  310. >She galloped to the window and saw the orange glow of flames coming from the village
  311. >Celestia, ever at her side, smiled sadly
  312. >"So much work for nothing. It's a pity isn't it? So many could have been saved if they had just complied."
  313. >Luna looked at her sister with a face contorted by rage and betrayal
  314. "How could you do something like this, you monster!"
  315. >But Celestia didn't respond
  316. >In fact, her mane had stopped moving and her face was frozen in an eternal grin
  317. >The slight flickering in the distant glow of flame had ceased to be
  318. "W-what's going on?"
  319. >She felt a cold breath on the nape of her neck and spun around, fully prepared to destroy whatever threat was there
  320. >But there was naught besides a featurless stone wall, just as there were all around her
  321. >She slowly turned in a complete circle, horn glowing with magic and leylines burning with energy pent up to be unleashed
  322. >But nothing came forth to face her
  323. >And then, there it was again, a disembodied breath on her neck
  324. >This time, she turned about slowly
  325. "Who's there?"
  326. >This time though, a voice answered her
  327. >The voice hissed like a snake and was colder than a Crystal blizzard
  328. >"I am the one who comes at the end of all things. I am that which which is bred of the core of hatred. But if you need a title to comprehend me, then you may call me Pavor Thoth."
  329. >Luna compossed herself before speaking, resigning herself to only hearing and not seeing whatever it was that spoke to her
  330. "What have you done to my sister?"
  331. >A cold, wet chuckled seemed to emenate from everywhere
  332. >"I have bent time to how I wish it to function, so that we may converse without interuption. I do so hate it when I wish to converse with someone only to be interupted."
  333. >Luna gulped, this entity, whatever it was, had power far beyond her own
  334. >Not even Luna and Celestia's mother had the power to manipulate time, at least not as far as the two sisters knew
  335. "So, what is it that you wish to speak about? And why could you not simply approach me during the day?"
  336. >A wet growl that sounded vaguely like a manticore echoed in the hall
  337. >"I cannot maintain myself in the hated day. But I came to warn you about what is going to happen, what will become of your village should you do nothing to stop it."
  338. >Luna inhaled sharply
  339. "What do you mean?"
  340. >The hall she was in twisted and morphed into a vast expanse of nothingness, a formless void where she walked on a floor made of nonexistence
  341. >She screamed at the sudden change
  342. >A hissing of air that sounded like a shush came from the darkness just in front of her
  343. >With barely an effort, she set her horn ablaze with an empyrean glow
  344. >But she was not prepared for the thing that stood before her
  345. >It was...her
  346. >The same body, the same mane, even the same armour except...
  347. >No, Luna's coat wasn't that dark, and her eyes weren't slits like the Sarosians
  348. "A good imitation. But it hardly compares to the original."
  349. >The doppelganger in front of her chuckled, low and quiet
  350. >"Such attitude in the face of something so dangerous. It seems I did make the right choice after all."
  351. >Luna's face twisted in confusion
  352. "What do you mean, 'choice'? What are you talking about?"
  353. >Another laugh from the creature in front of her
  354. >Clearly there was some joke the princess of the night was missing out on
  355. >"None of what you have seen has happened yet, but it will if you do nothing about it. Celestia is threatened by you, your way with the ponies and their loyalty to you. She thinks that she might lose hold of the domain to you."
  356. >Luna scoffed at the notion
  357. "My sister would never feel threatened by me. We both know that I would never be able to lead anything but a small number of ponies. Such a claim to the contrary is just ridiculous."
  358. >The dusky clone formed into a cloud and moved around Luna in an elliptical orbit, whispering in her ear as it passed by
  359. >"She banished you from Canterlot, didn't she?"
  360. >That set the cogs in Luna's head turning
  361. >She had been banished by her own sister, over a small contention in a private meeting, no less
  362. >Maybe, just maybe...
  363. "What are you proposing I do, Thoth?"
  364. >The being reformed and grinned, its mouth full of predatory, pointed teeth
  365. >"Celestia would not be expecting any kind of resistence when she arrives. Simply, prepare your ponies to fight. Give them training, pass it off as defence for the frontier. You have their trust, you can easily do such a thing."
  366. >Luna nodded
  367. "I suppose preparing for such a possibility couldn't hurt. Thank you."
  368. >The shadowy creature nodded, then vanished into the blackness that encompassed the area
  369. >But as it did, is whispered something just loud enough for her to hear
  370. >Something that would stick in her head until the end of days
  371. >"If you need me, all you have to do is declare yourself 'the one'."
  372. >It didn't make sense to Luna, but she commited it to memory just the same
  373. >And then she turned around, facing into the darkness surrounding her
  374. "Well, how do I get out of he--"
  375. ---------------------------------------------------
  376. >Luna woke with a start, though contained the shout building in her throat
  377. >The room was hers, the same one that she had slept in after her and Celestia had defeated Discord four decades ago
  378. >She was breathing heavily, still on edge from the dream she had had
  379. >But looking out her window, she saw that she had no time to waste with dwelling on it
  380. >She could think about it later, but it was almost noon now
  381. >She realized just then that she had fallen asleep in the armour, it just hadn't occured to her to take it off
  382. >It did now though, no point in frightening ponies by wearing the armour around everywhere
  383. >She removed it from her body and placed it down on the bed
  384. >Now devoid of any armour, she took flight from her balcony and angled towards the village
  385. >It was only a two minute flight for her, and she swiftly arrived in the center of the small town
  386. >She could see several more buildings being erected, though not housing as she had expected
  387. >It seemed that the ponies were now making buildings for producing the tools they would need for taming the land
  388. >A forge was set on the West side of the town, the furnace clearly already working and spewing soot into the air, even as its walls were unfinished
  389. >On the opposite side of town, for obvious reasons, was a lubmer mill, which ponies were working at with hand saws
  390. >The structure itself was nearly complete, but it was clear they lacked any tools for processing the timber faster
  391. >Further on the outskirts, a mine was being dug by a team of ponies, many of whom were unicorns and earth ponies, so that ore could be aquired for the forge
  392. >And finally, and most curious of all to her, a bakery was being built in the town center
  393. >This last one, most curious to her, was the first she visited
  394. >She flagged down the pony who seemed to be in charge of the nearly finished structure
  395. "Who asked for this building to be made, and why was the proposal accepted?"
  396. >Bitr, who was one of the Sarosians working on the project, pushed the chief constructor to the side and took his place to explain
  397. >"My princess, this building was requested to be built by the Cake family. I personally cleared them to work on it. Princess, though you may not see it, ponies are scared to be out on the frontier of the known lands. A bakery, like this one, will give them somewhere to congregate and relax, maybe even have some sweets."
  398. >The princess nodded, smiling at the diplomat
  399. "You always have the right words, Bitr. I find your reasoning without flaw, please carry on. Oh, and tell the Cakes to save their first sweet for me."
  400. >The diplomat smiled back at her and nodded before returning to the work
  401. >The next stop for Luna was the forge
  402. >Strange as the dream had been last night, she had a feeling that preparing a defence force was certainly a good idea
  403. >When she arrived, she found a unicorn working the anvil, pounding away at a bar of metal with a hammer held in his telekinetc grasp
  404. >Two apprentices, both earth ponies, were sharpening saw blades that had been made for the new sawmill
  405. >As soon as Luna entered the smithy, the unicorn put the hammer down, quenched the bar and stepped forward to greet her
  406. >"Princess, it is an honour to have you in our humble shop. What can we do for you today?"
  407. >He wiped his grimy hooves on the brown apron he wore and gave the alicorn a smile
  408. "Good afternoon, smith. Tell me, how quickly can you produce arms and armour?"
  409. >The smiths face became twisted with unease at the prospect of what she was proposing
  410. >"Eh...I could forge a set of armour in about a day, and the boys here could make a number of pikeheads in a few short hours. But it depends on what kind of armour you want. The armour your guards have would take two days apiece, but I could make some simple plating to cover vital areas in...maybe four hours?"
  411. >Luna nodded at his assessments
  412. "I'll have ponies begin doubling in their efforts on the mine. Do you need anything besides the resources to make the armour itself?"
  413. >The master smith shuffled his hooves nervously
  414. >"Well, princess, I'd like to know why you need armour and weaponry. Your guards should be able to handle any threats we encounter."
  415. >Luna nodded as an answer to both his questioning and as an affirmative that the guards could indeed handle most threats
  416. "There are things in this world that stretch even beyond the understanding of myself, master smith. It pays to have every pony that is able to fight be trained and equiped to, in the unlikely event that they are needed. I'll be having my guards work up a training program as soon as the first armour sets and weapons are provided. I thank you for your time, master smith."
  417. >The blacksmith, unable to counter her reasoning, simply bowed as she exited his shop
  418. >Her last stop, for now, was the guard barrack back at the palace
  419. >She began to feel dizzy and fatigued, so she took the flight slower than she could have
  420. >But she made it without incident
  421. >She landed at the entrance, only to find the mine forepony waiting at the gates
  422. >The princess could hardly ignore him, so she stopped to speak
  423. "What can I do for you, miner?"
  424. >The miner, a massive earth pony with a pickaxe striking a rock as a cutie mark, was practically bursting with excitement
  425. >"Princess, our prospecting went far better than we had ever hoped. It seems there are massive deposits of nearly pure iron ore just beneath the clay here. I estimate we'll be able to pull out around two hundred pounds a day with our current staff."
  426. >Luna looked down at him, impressed but not showing it visibly
  427. "How many would you need to double that number?"
  428. >He scratched his head, confused at the request
  429. >"Eh, at best if we had a nightshift running, we could pull out three hundred to three fifty a day, but that's about it. Another twenty ponies for that, maybe those Sarosians that have the night vision and echolocation, could pull it off."
  430. >Luna's stoic face broke into a wide grin at the idea
  431. "Very well, find another twenty ponies of your choice who are willing to work a night shift in the mines. I want you extracting as much ore as possible. Is that acceptable?"
  432. >The miner bowed, amazed at the amount of support the princess had given his request
  433. >"It will be done, your majesty. We'll be pulling ore out of there like leaves from trees soon enough!"
  434. >With that he galloped off, no doubt to spread the good news and recruit his nightshift
  435. >The princess turned and made her way to the guard barracks so she could find the guard captain
  436. >It was simple enough, he was at his desk as normal for this time of day
  437. >He snapped to a smart attention when she entered the small room
  438. >"Princess! How can I be of service this day?"
  439. >She looked at the stack of papers on his desk before speaking
  440. "I need you, or one of your subordinates, to draw up a training plan for the civilians in the town. Basic pike skills, wearing of armour, maintainence of both, and physical fitness."
  441. >Volkin, the guard captain, chuckled at the request
  442. >Not because he didn't take it seriously, but because training civilians to fight was about the same as training a cow to dance
  443. >"Planning on raising an army, princess?"
  444. >Luna's return smile held no mirth in it
  445. "Precisely, captain. When can you have it done by?"
  446. >The guard gulped and sifted through the sheaves of paper for a blank piece
  447. >"Uh, maybe two days? Depending on what situations come up. Actually, with your permision, I can delegate this to Lieutenant Terph. He's head of training for the guard unit itself and could probably do it quicker and better than I."
  448. >Luna nodded in aquiesence to his suggestion
  449. "Do it then. I'll expect the plan finished by tomorrow night. Have him come and see me when he is finished."
  450. >The guard stood up and bowed to the princess
  451. >"It will be done, your majesty."
  452. >With that, Luna left the guard to his work
  453. >Making her way back outside, she took flight once again and made for the nearest mountain
  454. >It took her ten minutes to reach the peak, and by that time the sun was beginning to set
  455. >So the princess waited where she was and brought the moon up as she was supposed to
  456. >But she remained on the peak, staring in the direction of Canterlot, its towering spires barely visible in the moonlight
  457. >And the princess, thinking of the dream the night before and whatever it was that had visited its caution on her, screamed at her distant sister, locked safe away in her chambers
  458. "Bring all the guards you want sister! You will never be able to crush the spirit of my subjects! We will fight until the last one of your followers breathes their last or until we have been utterly destroyed!"
  459. >Finishing her psychotic shouting match with the heavens, she returned to the palace to sleep until it was time to lower the moon
  460. >But then a strange thought crossed her mind
  461. >A seductive thought that swirled and clouded out all others
  462. >What if she were to refuse to lower the moon?
  463. --------------------------------------------------------------
luna safe drama

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