Author: FoeTohn PM
The Elements of Harmony are not ready when Nightmare Moon is unleashed upon an unsuspecting world, and Twilight Sparkle must confront the Mare in the Moon alone. Does she have any hope of succeeding? And if she fails, will she get another chance?Rated: Fiction T - English - Chapters: 5 - Words: 29,797 - Reviews: 20 - Favs: 32 - Follows: 33 - Updated: 09-21-11 - Published: 06-19-11 - id: 7098173
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Long ago, in the magical land of Equestria…
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic belongs to Hasbro studios
Samurai Jack belongs to Cartoon Network
Episode 1: Our Tail Begins
Twilight Sparkle, favored student of Princess Celestia and chronic bibliophile, tore through her lavishly furnished and heavily bookshelved study like a purple typhoon, which is to say she ordered her assistant Spike around as he did the typhoon-ing. The purple unicorn sighed in frustration as the baby dragon hauled himself up a ladder to one of the top shelves and began struggling to read the titles of the crowded tomes, often mispronouncing the longer words.
"A Treat-iss on Auto-the-oh-crat-ik Government."
"No, not that one."
"The Sun-der-ing of the Dragon Lands."
"The Princess- hey, wasn't this one banned?"
"That's not important right now, keep searching!"
"A Beginner's Guide to Eck-toe-biol-glogy."
"Uhh, no, definitely not that one."
"What? What's that one- no! I can't afford to be distracted now!" Twilight shook her head, tossing her already slightly frazzled mane around. "Argh! Where is that book? I could have sworn I saw it just the other day!"
Spike shrugged, the motion combined with letting go of his grip on the ladder causing him to fall. Luckily, Twilight, distracted as she was, managed to catch him. The dragon brushed dust from his scales and shrugged once more. "Who knows? I still don't see why you're getting so worked up over an old mare's tail that you haven't even read all the way through. You should totally just relax and head out to one of the all-night parties for the Summer Sun Festival!"
Twilight frowned. "Even if I wasn't busy I wouldn't do that. Those parties are such a waste of time! Everypony just stands around talking about things that don't matter. Focusing on my studies is far more important!"
Spike sighed and turned to tidy up some of the many fallen books. "You know, even Princess Celestia's been saying you should get out more. You can't-"
"Yes, thank you Spike, next time I want social advice from a dragon I'll be sure to-"
Spike gave Twilight a level stare, and she flattened her ears in embarrassment. "Sorry Spike, I didn't mean that. I'm just so worried about the prophecy…"
Spike didn't lighten the force of his stare for a moment. "You mean the story you may or may not have actually read about and can't remember clearly."
Twilight looked out the window at the setting sun and then back indoors to the great hourglass who's sands lasted a whole year, turned over only when Princess Celestia raised the sun at the Summer Sun Festival. Both indicated that little time remained before Twilight's theory would be proven or disproven the hard way.
"If only I could have read the end of the story! How did Princess Celestia defeat Nightmare Moon? And if she'll be returning, can the Princess win again?"
Spike shrugged, an action he was repeating with increasing frequency as of late. "Maybe you should ask her yourself."
Twilight perked up. "Of course! Why didn't I think of that before? I'm sure she would be happy to tell her most favored, most faithful student about something as important as this!" Grabbing a scroll and quill with her magic, she floated them over to Spike. "Spike, write this down and sent it to the Princess immediately!"
Spike rolled his eyes, but took the pen and paper.
Twilight began. "My dearest teacher, my continuing studies of magic have lead me to discover that we are on the precipice of disaster!"
"Hold on…" Spike scribbled furiously. "Presi- presee-"
"Threshold." Twilight appended.
"Threh…" The baby dragon attempted to sound it out.
"Brink?" The purple unicorn offered. Spike shrugged apologetically.
Twiligh's hoof met her forehead in a display of exasperation. "That something really bad is about to happen! For you see, I have found hints of a prophecy that says that the dreaded Nightmare Moon will soon return from her imprisonment! Something must be done if we are to avoid this terrible prophecy coming true! I await your quick response. Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle."
Spike continued writing for a few moments, and then finished with a flourish to hide the drops of ink he had spilled at the bottom. "Aand done!"
"Great, send it." Said Twilight.
"Right now? But the Princess is going to be really busy getting ready for the Summer Sun festival tomorrow…"
"Exactly! We don't have any time to waste, it's imperative that the Princess is told right away!"
Spike grudgingly did as Twilight said, breathing out a wisp of green flame that devoured the paper and sent it floating through the air in a cloud of enchanted smoke. "There, it's gone. But I wouldn't hold your breath." He warned.
"Oh I'm not worried." Twilight smiled. "In all my years as her student, Princess Celestia has never doubted me!"
"Argh! Why hasn't she responded yet?" Twilight paced back and forth through her study.
Spike cried out as his book fort collapsed, and he vanished in an avalanche of paper. Twilight sighed and levitated the books into stacks, freeing her assistant. "So have we saved Equestria yet?" The baby dragon asked sheepishly.
"No Spike, I haven't heard anything back from the Princess! I hope she at least read my letter…" The door swung open, propelled by the hoof of a white Pegasus in gold armor, one of the Palace Guard. Twilight jumped in surprise, and knocked a stack of books over on to Spike.
"Twilight Sparkle?" The guard queried in a gruff voice.
"Yes, that's me." Twilight was baffled by the intrusion. "Is there something I can help you with?"
"Orders from the Princess. You are to pack all of your most essential possessions and depart immediately by ship."
Twilight's bewilderment grew. "What? For where? And why? This is so sudden, how immediately did she mean?"
The guardpony had little to offer in the way of explanation. "I do not know your destination, or why the Princess has ordered this. I know which ship to take you to, and that is all. She seemed rather urgent about this, and delivered the order to me herself."
Despite her confusion, Twilight knew she could not defy a direct order from the Princess. Hopefully she would get a full explanation later. "All right, fine, just let me get packed, I'll only be a minute."
Several more hours later…
Spike dozed on a pile of discarded books as the pegasus guard gently beat his forehead against the doorframe. Twilight still had yet to finish packing, a plethora of ongoing tasks and chores that would need taking care of in her absence vied for her attention and won, so she spent much of the time writing an exhaustive list.
"Miss Sparkle" the guard finally interjected, after he had worn a sizeable dent into the wall, "The Princess did express a sense of urgency with her orders. I think everypony will understand if you don't leave instructions for every contingency regarding the watering of your plants, given the circumstances."
Twilight looked up from her pile of notes. "You're probably right, but I'm almost done. Just a few more things to add to the list, then I'll be ready."
"It's been several hours since I was sent to find you, at this point, I think we just need to go and stop worrying about things."
Twilight groaned and set her pen down. "This is just so sudden! There's so much to take care of, and I just know I'm forgetting something!"
The white pegasus stepped forward and lifted one of Twilight's bags from the floor. "Whatever it is it can't be important enough to warrant more of a delay. It's time to go."
Twilight, not really listening, spun around to look out the window. "The moon!"
Spike bolted upright in his paper bed. "It wasn't me!"
"The legends say Princess Celestia sealed Nightmare Moon in the moon itself after defeating her! That must be the key! I just need a little more time, I can find that book, and then we can leave!" She turned back to the guardpony, but he wasn't looking at her. He continued to stare out the window, to where the moon hung low in the sky. "What are you…" She trailed off as she saw what was happening.
The stars had aligned themselves around the moon radiating outwards, and even with just a glance Twilight could guess that they pointed to the main ley-lines running through Equestria. The guardpony put a firm hoof on Twilight's shoulder. "Ma'am, we need to leave. Now."
She glanced back at him, and saw fear in his eyes. "You know something, don't you?"
"There isn't time."
"I'm not going until you explain what you know! The Princess must have told you something!"
"Miss Sparkle, you will be coming with me whether you are conscious or not. I have my orders, and if I have to drag you to that ship for your own safety I will, but I'm sure we'd both prefer it if you were able to make it on your own hooves."
Twilight frowned. "Are you threatening me?"
The guard snorted, but before he could reply, the ground quaked, vibrating as a gong struck by a hammer.
Twilight snatched up her remaining bags and bolted for the door. "You make an excellent argument, sir!"
The pegasus followed her out into the hall, easily keeping up with the bookish unicorn. Flapping his wings a few times, he lifted off and cleared her head, landing in front of her and leading the way. At the end of the hall, Twilight skidded to a halt.
"Spike! I forgot Spike!"
"I'm, *huff*, right here, *puff*, Twilight…" The young dragon gasped as he scrambled to catch up. "Staying right, *pant* behind you…" Twilight grabbed him by the tail and swung him up onto her back.
Everything accounted for as far as they could tell, Twilight and the guardpony galloped through Canterlot, capital city of Equestria, down towards the docks. As they ran, the ground shook again, more violently this time, and the screams of panicked ponies rose up from all around. A few were taking to the streets, but most seemed to prefer to cower in the safety of their homes, surrounded by their friends and family who they had been partying with only minutes before.
"Hurry, this way!" The guardpony lead Twilight down a series of back alley shortcuts, and they soon arrived at the Canterlot Port, where many ships were tied at the docks. From tiny vessels made to carry only a hooffull of ponies, to Princess Celestia's personal grand liner, all the way up to the Sunrise, flagship of the Equestrian Navy.
The trio passed by the warships without a second glance, but Twilight was a little surprised that they continued by the royal transports. Her pegasus guide took her all the way down to the furthest end of the docks, and gestured for her to get in to one of the rowboats used for traveling between the shore and ships out at anchor. Twilight secured her bags and Spike, who had fallen asleep again, as the guardpony untied the boat and took flight, towing it by one of the ropes out to sea.
A thin mist rolled over the water, limiting visibility slightly, but the lights of Canterlot shone through. More ominously, the moon overhead glowed with an intense, cold light, looming over Equestria. Twilight shivered, only partially from the chill sea air.
She must have dozed off, because the next thing she knew the guide rope plopped down into the boat, and the guardpony hovered just above the bow of the rowboat. "We're here." He pointed out to sea, where a thick bank of fog obscured an approaching dark form. "That vessel will take you where you need to go. The captain knows what to do."
The ship slid out from the mist, its low, sharp hull cutting through the water with ease. The sails were unlike any Twilight had ever seen, instead of billowing canvas sheets, they were held rigid by many smaller spars. To her relief, stylized sun marks were painted all over the vessel, the sign of an Equestrian ship. As it passed by the rowboat, hooks on ropes were dropped to lift it up even with the deck. Crewponies helped her over the side and onboard, along with her bags.
Spike was carried off with Twilight's luggage, taken over to the deck cabins where they would be staying. To Twilight's surprise her Pegasus guide landed on deck and embraced her. "I'm sorry our meeting had to be cut off so abruptly, but it was an honor to meet you. Princess Celestia has told those of us who knew about this coming darkness so much about you. You're our best hope, Miss Sparkle. The Princess trusts you with the future of Equestria, and so do we all."
"I- what? What are you talking about?" The purple unicorn was baffled.
The guardpony let her go, and stepped back. "I know this is hard for you, it is for us all, but never forget, you aren't alone. No matter what happens, wherever the sign of the sun still stands, you will be amongst friends." He spread his wings, and lifted off from the deck.
"Wait!" Twilight called after him. "You never told me your name."
The guardpony laughed. "You can just call me Swift." With a powerful flap of his wings, he flipped over the side of the ship and took the rowboat's guide rope in his mouth. As he pulled it back towards land, Twilight watched after him, more confused than she ever had been in her life.
The sun never rose during the journey across the sea, but it was fairly obvious that the voyage took more than a single night. Something was preventing the sun from rising, and it had the crew on edge. The confirmation of her suspicions brought Twilight no solace; in this case she would have much rather been wrong.
After an indeterminate amount of time the ship pulled in to the docks of a Zebraland port, where a delegation of tribal representatives waited to greet them. The unusually long night had them agitated, but they still welcomed the Equestrian crew and passengers with the hospitality they were famed for.
Twilight was brought to the meeting hall of the city where the chieftains of the Zebra tribes who had pledged their friendship to Princess Celestia were gathered. Here they explained to her the great plan that had been concocted in secret, requiring the involvement of all of Equestria's allies. Celestia had foreseen the return of Nightmare Moon, and not wanting to tear the world apart in apocalyptic battle with the dark goddess, she would choose a mortal to be trained in the ways of magic and combat by the greatest masters across the world.
It was a lot to take in, but she would have to adjust to it on the fly. There just wasn't time for her to gradually pick up on the skills she would need, so her training would be accelerated and harsh. Still, the Princess had entrusted her with this noble mission, and for Princess Celestia, Twilight would endure.
Her training began here, in Zebraland, where she learned the basics of combat, outside of the few books on the matter she had glanced at. After the first set of lessons she collapsed into bed, with sore muscles that she hadn't even known she'd had before. A rough approximation of days was kept track of through a system of hourglasses, and as they passed Twilight found that she could train for longer and was less exhausted each time.
Spike spent the time playing with the young zebras and being pampered by scholars who had never seen a dragon for themselves, something he was not afraid to inform Twilight of as she toiled under the watchful eyes of her instructors. After one too many of these interruptions, Spike was made to train alongside her for a day. He was much more supportive after that.
Eventually the time came for Twilight to leave Zebraland, and she had to say her goodbyes to the ones she had so briefly befriended. She waved her farewells as she and a pair of the most skilled warriors of all the tribes departed on hoof, Spike riding comfortably on her back. They galloped along the dry scrublands for what would have been days, had there still been such a thing, until they eventually arrived in the kingdom of the Water Serpents.
Here they were accepted with the hospitality the Water Serpents were famed for, before Twilight was subjected to the rigorous elemental thaumaturgy training they were also famed for. Here at least a semblance of night and day was kept through the use of thousands upon thousands of enchanted lanterns that were lit and dimmed to represent the changing times. It never grew brighter than an orange-tinted twilight, but somehow the purple unicorn felt at home in it.
Twilight's training began with lessons in meditation, so that she could calm her mind in even the most chaotic of situations. Spike sat in on these lessons, at first acting as a distraction with his bored fidgeting, but later joining his pony friend on the bank of a slow stream, or on top of a grassy hill as they did nothing but quiet their inner turmoil. The final test of meditative ability took an entire day, requiring Twilight to sit alone on a raft in the market center as the Serpents went about their business all around her.
This first aspect of her training completed, Twilight was then allowed to enter the temple of the Serpent Magi. There she met the eldest and most powerful of all the Water Serpents, whose mastery of the natural elements were unmatched by any mortal in the world. The lessons here built upon her meditations, teaching her to see magic the way the Serpents did, as an interaction of the five elements of fire, water, earth, wood and metal. Already a powerful, if untrained mage, Twilight took to these lessons with gusto, working until she collapsed into bed each night exhausted in mind and body, but happy with what she was doing.
After training with the Water Serpents she and Spike journeyed to the Ursine Soviet Socialist Republic, the largest nation of Bears in the world, and it was there that Twilight was taught to grapple with both hoof and magic by the powerfully muscled Bear warriors. She also learned to laugh at their dark, almost fatalistic jokes, told in their strange reversed way of speaking.
From there they were taken to Neighpon, a Pony kingdom far to the east of Equestria, ruled by an emperor who never showed his face. From there it was a short trip to the Dragon Wastes, the scorched desert home of the Dragons. When her time there was up, she was flown into the mountains that marked the eastern border of Equestria, where the Griffons made their aeries, while Spike stayed with his dragon brethren where he would be safe until Equestria was freed. Here the final steps of her training were completed under the watchful eyes of the Queen Mother of the Griffons, a fierce and proud warrior-Queen who was said to be a match for even Princess Celestia in physical combat.
Several years had passed since Twilight had departed Canterlot on the eve of the summer sun festival, and she hardly resembled the bookish student she had been. Fit, strong and much more skilled in the practical applications of her magic, she felt that she was ready to fight against the legions of Nightmare Moon's followers, however taking on the Mare in the Moon herself was still an intimidating prospect. Luckily while she herself did not know how her mentor had expected her to duel such a powerful enemy, Princess Celestia had planned ahead, and a small escort of Griffon warriors brought Twilight back in to Equestria under the cover of a storm, and for the first time she was able to see what had become of her home.
The fires of industry, war, and the industry of war were ever-hungry; the glowing furnace maws deep under Canterlot gaping open, devouring every bit of fuel that was shoveled into them by the enslaved populace. Until recently, Equestria's vast natural resources had gone unexploited for the most part, the ponies having little need for industry, but with the rise of Nightmare Moon, Queen of Equestria, God-Empress of all Ponykind , The Mare in the Moon, there was a sudden rise in demand.
Legions of foul monsters conjured from darkness and evil required weapons and armor; stomping, clattering automatons powered by steam were forged from metal and enhanced with enchanted gems, all a part of the vast machine of war the dark goddess was assembling. Soon they would march out across the land, to eventually conquer the entire world.
The smoke and fumes from the great furnaces and the metalworks they heated were piped away from the city, so that they would not cover the night sky, the grand tapestry of Nightmare Moon's ongoing work. As a result, many of the outlying areas were covered in a perpetual pall of foul smog, dissipated only by the occasional strong wind.
To the north of Canterlot, the Spiral Horn mountain range stabbed up from gently rolling hills, their steep sides giving enough of a resemblance to a unicorn's horn that their name actually made sense, unlike some of the geographical features that had been re-named by Nightmare Moon upon declaring herself queen. The highest peaks were tall enough to have a dusting of snow, even in summer. With the chill brought on by years of unnatural night, they more closely resembled mid winter.
At the very top of one mountain, unremarkable from the rest, an ancient stone monastery stood; solid stone walls weathering even the fiercest of storms. The altitude and uncontrollable weather made it impossible for pegasi to fly here, and the steep cliffs made climbing difficult at best, and deadly at worst. Nightmare Moon had not considered it worth her attention and effort, and so it had remained untouched through the years. Untouched, but not abandoned.
As Twilight and her Griffon guardians approached the monastery, ponies in white cloaks rose from the snow where they had been hidden. Quick words were exchanged and the group was hurried inside, out of the biting wind and ice. Once indoors, the purple unicorn was introduced to the last free members of Princess Celestia's loyalists, and the guardians of the final key in the Princess's plan. Time was of the essence now, and their introductions were brief. The artifact they held had been hidden, but was reacting to Twilight's presence, and would soon draw dangerous attention. If the confrontation with Nightmare Moon were to happen here, the results would be disastrous, and there would be unnecessary casualties inflicted by the powers unleashed. The duel would have to be initiated on their terms in order to have a chance of success.
Above the glowing furnaces of Canterlot, but still beneath the city, the former guards and servants of Celestia's palace toiled in sweltering heat radiated by the foundries. Here they hauled carts of barely-cooled slag from the forges, turned the wheels of great machines and chanted litanies of praise to Nightmare Moon that would never reach her ears. Nightmare Moon's elite guard, the Shadowbolts, pegasi constructed from pure shadow, oversaw the laborers, providing the occasional cuff with a wing when they thought it necessary.
In the center of the cavern a lone pegasus strained against a capstan on the bottom of a tall effigy of Nightmare Moon, the despot's visage carved into purple-stained wood. Every shift he remained, constantly turning the statue to give the illusion that its tireless gaze swept over the workers. The white pegasus had been forced to work this pointless task years ago, most likely in the hopes that he would die of exhaustion. He obviously had other plans in mind, as he had survived the grueling task through sheer bloody-mindedness, even retaining enough spirit to give the slave drivers the occasional defiant glare. Despite his determination, his body had been worn down to nearly the breaking point, and his steps were slow and plodding.
A steam whistle blew, echoing through the chamber and signaling a brief moment of respite for the workers. Grateful, the pegasus slumped against the wheel, making sure to keep an eye on the guards. A small filly, her tangled mane ragged and filthy from lack of care, approached him while carefully balancing a bowl of water on her back.
"Some water for you, sir." She said with a timid voice.
With a sharp crack one of the Shadowbolts whipped her wing between the two ponies and knocked the bowl to the ground. "No water for this one!" She rasped with her harsh voice.
"I'm sorry!" The filly bowed so low her nose scraped the dust before scurrying away.
Frowning, the pegasus defiantly leaned down to the puddle where the water had fallen. The Shadowbolt snorted. "I said no water!" Her wing lashed out again, but it did not strike. Struggling, she turned to see what had grabbed her.
The dark blue, almost violet eyes of a furious pony stared back into hers. "No more." The unicorn's voice was cold.
The dark pegasus sneered. "Stay out of this and I might be so generous as to let you live."
The unicorn narrowed her eyes. "I am giving you a single chance to leave, never look back, and survive what is coming."
"Never, I am loyal to my Empress, and I will strike you down for your words!"
The unicorn responded by headbutting the Shadowbolt and blasting her with magic, dissolving the shadowy mare's form. More Shadowbolts rushed in, drawn by the commotion. They surrounded the lone pony, snorting and stomping threateningly.
As one they rushed forward, intent on overwhelming their foe with a flurry of kicks and wing strikes. The purple unicorn vanished behind a wall of flailing limbs for a moment, and then a bright light burst forth, throwing the dark pegasi back and burning through them, leaving only rags. The slaves stared in open awe at the demise of their captors; unable to believe what they were seeing was real.
The white pegasus chuckled softly as the unicorn approached him. "Took your sweet time getting here, didn't you Twilight Sparkle."
Twilight studied his face before a look of recognition crossed her features. "Swift, what's happened here? I saw the shadow over Equestria, but what did Nightmare Moon do to all of you?"
Swift sighed and shook his head. "She's enslaved the entire population, those who didn't escape or hide that is, all of us are working in the mines, or those blasted foundries of hers. She's stripping the land of its resources to fuel her war."
"War with who?"
"Everyone. The whole world. She's going to expand her empire until there's nowhere left to go." Swift paused as the filly from before brought him another bowl of water. "But you're back, you've got a plan, yeah?"
Twilight nodded. "I traveled around the world, honing my magic and learning to fight. I have been taught by the masters of every race in every land. But that's not going to be enough. Princess Celestia left something for me, the final piece in her plan." Twilight took a sphere of white stone from her saddlebags. It bore upon its side the carving of a star-shaped gem, but no other markings.
"The Element of Magic!" She held it aloft with a thread of power from her horn. "The key to Nightmare Moon's defeat!"
A quick burst of power channeled into the stone created beams of light that lanced out to shatter the chains and shackles that bound the slaves. They gathered around Twilight in wonder, excitement and hope in their eyes.
Only Swift looked skeptical. "Could it really be that easy? If that thing has the power to beat Nightmare Moon, why didn't somepony just use it the night she returned?"
"It's not quite that simple, unfortunately." Twilight explained. "The Element is very picky about who it will allow to wield it. Luckily Celestia somehow knew beforehoof that it would choose me, which is why she had you take me away from the capitol before Nightmare Moon's return."
Swift gave a slight smile. "An ancient magic that can only be used by the chosen one to defeat the dark goddess? Sounds a bit like the stories I used to read growing up."
"Well this time it's not a story." Twilight helped Swift to his feet and turned to address the freed slaves. "Nightmare Moon will fall, and Princess Celestia will return to make things right. I promise you, I will not fail!"
"Nice speech," Swift nudged her forward as the ponies around her cheered. "But that's not getting us any closer to overthrowing Nightmare Moon. You get going; I'll get this lot out to free the other workers."
Twilight made her way up through the work cavers to the city proper, destroying Nightmare Moon's shadow creations when she encountered them. She was horrified by the devastation she saw when she reached the streets of Canterlot, or those that remained at least. Where Princess Celestia's palace once stood a spire of black stone had erupted from beneath the city, shattering the ground. The ruined buildings were abandoned; those ponies who had not been enslaved had fled to the surrounding kingdoms.
The climb to the base of the tower was unremarkable, phantom figures rose in wisps of vapor from the cracks, but nothing attacked the lone unicorn magician as she approached Nightmare Moon's citadel. An unguarded portal gaped open, fanged as if it were an oversized maw. With a start, Twilight realized it was actually the jawbones of an elder dragon, held open by thick pistons that could no doubt slam them shut with enough force to slice an intruder in half.
Stepping past the still sharp teeth, Twilight ascended a gentle slope of the same black rock that the rest of the tower was made from. It had a smooth, flowing quality, as if it had been soft when it emerged from the heart of the earth and allowed to flow a little before solidifying. Combined with the cool, damp breeze smelling faintly of decay coming from further within, it made Twilight think of a massive frozen corpse. Gritting her teeth and ensuring that the Element of Magic was easily accessible, she continued forward, towards the court of Nightmare Moon.
The slope became a spiraling stairway, corkscrewing up the interior of the tower until it reached a wide, round room open to the night sky. A multitude of stars stretched out above Twilight, shining points of cold, hard light arranged in a breathtaking tapestry of terrible, harsh beauty. Substance without a soul, it served only to show those below it how tiny and insignificant they were in the face of the night.
The platform was arranged as a dark parody of Princess Celestia's throne room, a deep blue carpet running along the black floor to a great obsidian throne decorated with delicate silver runes. The throne was unoccupied, but Twilight could sense a malevolent presence nearby.
"Nightmare Moon!" She called out. "Show yourself!"
Thunder rolled all around, a deep note that shook the entire tower, and for a moment Twilight feared she had walked into a trap. Then, the sky split open, and a crack like a grinning mouth filled with shadows disgorged a blob of darkness so deep it appeared to be a hole in space. The mass shifted as it fell and a pair of vast wings blotted out the starlight, tips clawing upward as if to tear the very stars from the sky. Four hooves shod in dark purple star-metal touched down, kicking up sparks of negative light when they touched the obsidian floor. A mane the color of a starless frozen winter night shifted in a breeze that wasn't there around a needle-sharp black horn backed by an aura of darkness, as if it were eclipsing a void beyond shadow. Nightmare Moon opened her violet eyes, pupils slitted like those of a dragon's, and gazed down at the tiny figure who challenged her.
"Who dares summon me, the Mistress of Misfortune, the Dealer of Darkness, the Queen of Calamity, Nightmare Moon?"
Twilight Sparkle planted her hooves firmly and shouted her reply, "I am Twilight Sparkle, faithful student of Princess Celestia and lost daughter of the land you have pillaged! I am here to reclaim it and return Princess Celestia to her rightful place as ruler of Equestria!"
Nightmare Moon threw back her head and laughed. "HAH! FOAL! No mortal can harm Nightmare Moon!"
Twilight leapt forward, a wave of power from the Element of Magic slamming in to Nightmare Moon's legs, tearing away at the aura of darkness that surrounded her.
"WHAT?" The dark mare whirled. "No… I recognize that stone! The Element of Magic? But how- no matter, you have not the power to wield its full potential! I will destroy you as I did that FOAL Celestia!"
"What have you done with the Princess?" Twilight charged herself with magic and launched herself at Nightmare Moon like a missile.
"Am I not royal enough for you?" Despite her size, Nightmare Moon was fast, and warped her form to slide around Twilight. "Equestria is mine! And soon, throughout the world, the night will last forever!"
"But you're not powerful enough for that yet, are you?" Twilight rebounded off a pillar and soared up into the air to rain spears of light down on her opponent. "You can't conquer the world by yourself!"
"Clever girl." Nightmare Moon snarled as some of the lances pierced her shadows, burning her. "But with you gone nopony will have the power to even touch me!"
Twilight channeled all of her considerable power into the Element of Magic, causing the stone to ring in high-pitched tones. An aura of light in the shape of a giant hoof formed around her, stomping Nightmare Moon flat onto the throne room floor.
Twilight landed before the fallen alicorn and readied her last reserves of power. "With this final blow, I banish you back to the moon from whence you came!"
"You may have beaten me now, but I will destroy you in the future." Nightmare Moon gasped.
"There is no future for you." Twilight's horn sparked with light and magic, seconds away from finishing the goddess.
"I disagree." With a harsh screech, Nightmare Moon's body twisted into a double loop, one half black and the other white.
"What-?" Twilight was cut off as a portal enveloped her.
Nightmare Moon collapsed on the floor, groaning with exhaustion. "You will see me again, Twilight Sparkle, but next time, you will not be so fortunate."
Trapped within a churning vortex of time, Twilight's mouth opened in a silent scream as everything came apart around her.