Prologue - Nightmare's Nightmare
One Thousand Years Before the Great Stasis
For want of a nail, the shoe was lost;
For want of a shoe, the horse was lost;
For want of a horse, the rider was lost;
For want of a rider, the message was lost;
For want of the message, the battle was lost;
For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
The Castle of the Two Sisters
The moment had been a long time in its coming, inevitable in its arrival, and despite that, Princess Celestia still found herself confused. Where were these feelings coming from? Why hadn't she approached her earlier about this? They could have worked through this together, like they were supposed to. Like sisters were supposed to.
"Not another step!" Princess Luna said icily, glaring down at her older sister from the dais in the throne room. She took a step forward, her horn glinting dangerously in the light of the sun from the window behind her. "Did you really expect me to sit idly by while the prophecy hangs over us all? There can only be one Princess in Equestria!"
Celestia looked over her sister, sadness filling her heart even as she prepared herself for battle. The younger Alicorn's flowing mane somehow looked disheveled, and her dark blue coat looked like it hadn't been washed in several days. Her eyes were bloodshot and it looked like she hadn't slept for at least a week.
"That Princess..." Luna stepped forward onto the small bridge that crossed the two thrones. Rearing up, she slammed her fore legs down, smashing the bridge to pieces as her eyes flared a blinding white. "Will be me! Nightmare Moon!"
The wall behind Luna cracked and the window overlooking the room shattered, revealing the sun outside. Magic swirling around her, Luna rose up, her horn glowing as she cast the moon over the sun, an eclipse. Darkness spread out, unnatural, beams of black spitting out across the land.
The largest of the beams reached out, striking Luna in the heart. Ribbons of darkness spiralled out, cocooning themselves around the Alicorn in a ball of shadows.
The ball hung in the air for a moment before exploding brilliantly, revealing a transformed Luna, or Nightmare Moon now Celestia supposed.
Nightmare Moon grinned, revealing deadly sharp teeth that looked like they could tear through iron. Her horn glowing a brilliant blow, she cast a beam of energy out, slicing the ceiling of the throne room apart, sending slabs of rock and glass crashing to the floor below.
"Luna, I will not fight you!" Narrowing her eyes in determination, Celestia stepped forward. "You must lower the moon! It is your duty!"
"Luna?" Nightmare Moon growled, stomping a hoof to the ground. Her eyes flared dangerously. "I am Nightmare Moon! I have but one royal duty now: to destroy you!"
With a shout of rage, Nightmare Moon blasted away at Celestia with her magic, the elder alicorn shooting out of the way of the beam with a mighty flap of her needed space to work, and the hole through the top of the room was more than adequate enough. With another flap, she accelerated out of the castle and into the night sky above.
"And where do you think you are going?" Nightmare Moon shouted angrily. Leaping into the air, she flew after her sister with deadly intent. There would be no running from this battle.
Her muscles straining, Celestia flapped her wings and weaved between the towers and ramparts of the castle while dodging the deadly magical blasts from Nightmare Moon, who pursued her closely. Dropping towards the ground, Celestia flared her wings at the last possible moment to just skim across the surface. Nightmare Moon stayed hot on her tail.
Rising back up into the air, Nightmare Moon fired another beam, this time with deadly accuracy. Speeding out from her horn, the bolt struck Celestia in the chest and she screamed in pain. Her wings locked up and she plummeted to the ground. It was to her luck that Celestia fell through the hole in the roof of the throne room.
Every part of her ached as she lay still against the cool stone of the floor. She kept her eyes closed, taking the moment to gather her strength back. The fight had been short, but it ad still taken a lot of out of her. It wasn't over and she still had a long way to go before she could fully rest.
Sighing deeply, Celestia stood slowly on her four legs, her eyes still closed. Her head hung low. "Oh, dear sister. I am so sorry..."
Stepping backwards, Celestia fired a beam of magic at the floor of the throne room.
Laboriously, and with a groan of protesting metal, the floor slid apart. Hidden gears clacked against each other, spinning, rising. Out of the hole in the floor, a large device rose up, five spires orbiting around it on thin metal arms. On the top of the device sat a smooth stone globe, perfectly spherical in its construction.
"You have given me no choice but to use these," Celestia said mournfully as she stretched her wings.
With a mighty flap of her wings, Celestia flew up above the device, using her magic to take ahold of the stone globe in the center. She grimaced as her magic strained, but slowly and surely, out of the stone rose the Element of Magic. From the thin metal spires the other five elements rose: kindness, generosity, honesty, loyalty, and laughter. Together, they met the Element of Magic and rose to orbit around Celestia, held aloft by her magic.
Flapping her wings, Celestia rose back up through the hole in the ceiling of the throne room.
Nightmare Moon was waiting for her outside, her teeth gritted together in anger.
Hovering in the air, Celestia glared at Nightmare Moon as the dark mare lowered herself from the sky to Celestia's level. Even as the Elements orbited around her, the white mare looked grim, her face sad.
"Don't make me do this, Luna." Celestia plead, her voice desperate.
"My name is Nightmare Moon!" A crack of lightning punctuated her statement.
"I was wrong, Luna." Celestia sighed, lowering her head. "But this fighting does nothing. Not for you. Not for her, and certainly not for the prophecy!"
"No!" Nightmare Moon shook her head and gestured an angry hoof at her sister. "This is the only way!"
Gathering her magic, Nightmare Moon fired a beam of magic at the solar princess. Celestia dodged and Nightmare Moon rushed to follow.
"This is the way that everything needs to happen! You know it to be true!" Nightmare shouted after Celestia, growling.
Their desperate flight took them around the entirety of the castle. Magic arced out across the sky, ripping stone and mortar to pieces whenever it failed to connect with its intended target.
"Stop this, Luna!" Celestia called out over her shoulder.
"Never!" Nightmare Moon growled out. Gathering her magic, she fired an enormous blast of magic at Celestia.
How Celestia knew to dodge would be a question that kept her up at night for centuries to come. There was no forewarning, no signs, nothing to alert her, yet she still dodged, something deep in her gut telling her to move. The magic that would have struck her dead instead continued onwards, blasting apart the tallest tower of the castle. more than half of the stones turned to dust from the sheer power of the blast, and those left behind crumbled, falling to the ground far below. Nothing of the tower was left.
Nightmare Moon's eyes widened in complete terror and fear. Celestia stopped her running, turning to face her sister in understanding. It was over. The fight was over, and all she could feel was sadness, her heart breaking.
"Oh, Luna." Celestia spoke softly. "What have you done?"
"No!" The form of Nightmare Moon faded away, leaving Princess Luna behind. Tears filled her eyes and with a powerful flap of her wings, she rushed towards the remains of the tower. "No! No! No! No!"
With her magic, Luna tossed the rubble aside, frantically searching for any sign of life.
She froze when she found what she was looking for.
Celestia touched down softly beside Luna, peering down into the rubble at what had caught her attention. A shattered dark blue crib lay flattened from the stones. The remnants of a baby foals room was strewn about, barely recognizable in the wreckage. The remnants of Princess Luna's daughter's room.
Helping her search, the two continued silently, tossing rubble aside and out of the way. Both were holding back tears, though Luna sobbed quietly under her breath.
Taking ahold of one of the largest pieces of the tower, Luna tossed it aside like it weighed nothing. She dropped to the ground in horror at what she found. A small blue blanket, torn and soaked in blood, laid underneath the rubble. Luna let her tears flow free, screaming her sadness to the sky above.
"I am sorry, Luna," Celestia said quietly. Gently laying down beside her sister, she put a wing over Luna's back, joining her in her sadness. "I am so sorry."
"I killed her!" Luna wailed, her voice cracking. "I killed her..."
Celestia could think of nothing to say to that, instead giving her sister her silent support.
Things would never be the same.