Luna stood on the balcony as the light of the sun slowly faded. The sky overhead changed from pale blue to purple to the deep blue-black of night. Twinkling stars showed themselves one by one. The waxing crescent moon stood above the horizon, its horns downturned.
A tear fell from her eye and ran down her cheek. The night was so beautiful. The only sound was the distant roar of the waterfalls far below. She stepped to the edge and leapt gracefully over the elaborately carved railing. She spread her wings and slowly glided down. She circled the falling curtains of water. The moonlight turned them into glittering showers of jewels. The tears streaming from her eyes were lost in the falling torrents.
She descended among the falling droplets of water toward the great rocky pools below Canterlot. Finally she flapped her deep violet wings. She soared above the flowing water, multiple reflections of the moon gliding along with her. She followed the river down into a deep valley and finally flared her wings and settled down on the shore. Katydids filled the trees with their chattering. Somewhere in the distance a nighthawk called.
Luna stepped to the river bank and looked down at her reflection. The reflection in the smooth water was blurry, her eyes filled with tears. A single tear fell into the water, ripples spreading far and wide from it. The ripples spread and her eyes cleared and suddenly she noticed a pair of bright blue eyes looking up at her from the water. “Aah!”
She startled and backed up, unexpectedly running into something and stumbling on the soft turf. She fell to her haunches and saw what she had run into. A pink pony, her bright coat looking faded in the moonlight but her blue eyes shining in the darkness. “Hi there!” the pony said brightly and nuzzled her cheek. “Your cheeks are salty,” she said and licked Luna's moist cheek again.
The pony backed away a little and bowed deeply. “Princess,” she said, “I'm sorry if I startled you.” She wore a pair of large saddlebags with images of Sugarcube Corner on them.
“Y-you're one of the ponies who revived the Elements of Harmony,” the princess said, “You have the power of laughter.”
“Indeedy-doo,” Pinkie responded, and giggled. Her tinkling laughter echoed in the trees.
“How did you do that?” Luna asked.
Pinkie looked confused, “Do what?” she asked in return.
“Nevermind.” Luna turned her head away shyly. “Why are you out here?” she asked in a whisper.
“Oh just enjoying the night I guess,” Pinkie responded, “It's beautiful.” Her eyes were wide, reflecting the moon and stars overhead. A shooting star glittered in the firmament leaving a silver trail. She twirled around, catching sight of the saddlebags she wore. “Oh, and delivering cupcakes!” Her last word echoed through the forest. Something far away squawked and took off, flying away further into the darkness.
“I won't detain you then,” Luna said quietly as she turned away.
“Aww, what's wrong Princess?” Pinkie asked.
Luna turned toward the other pony. “I am merely alone in this glorious night.”
Pinkie pronked toward Luna as she walked away, her saddlebags bouncing. “I'm sorry Princess,” she said. “You sound so lonely. Please come along with me, okay,” she begged, “We'll have fun, I promise.”
“With you I'm sure that's certain,” the princess responded. She smiled a little, though there was a silvery tear in the corner of her eye. She had attended one of this pony's parties once, but it had been a bittersweet time for her.
Pinkie cantered up to the river shore and stuffed a forehoof into her muzzle. She let out a piercing whistle. “Taxi!” she shouted.
In the silence after the echoes of the whistle died away the night seemed to close in. After a few moments the silent night insects began their songs again one by one. Soon another sound joined them. A sound of rushing water approaching from downriver.
Before long the source came into view in the moonlight. Luna could see a head with a tall hairdo and what looked like a pair of long handlebars approaching. Below it was the sinuous movement of a great serpent rippling through the water.
As the creature came into view Pinkie greeted it loudly. “Hi Stevie!”
“Oh Pinkie, darling,” he said, “Do you need a ride? And I see you've brought a friend.”
“This is Steve,” Pinkie said to Luna, “He's a darling, he really is.”
“Nice to meet you,” Steven said. His long serpentine body glided up to the river shore. “Be careful of my scales. They're very sharp,” he warned.
Luna blushed. Even in the darkness she could see that the right side of the dragon's mustache was a weave of beautifully styled purple tail hair. Pinkie hopped onto the dragon's purple-scaled back. Luna followed, stepping gently from the shore.
“To the barn!” Pinkie shouted. Steven, the dragon, bent himself in a great u-turn and cruised back downriver. His great back moved underfoot but never threatened to toss the two ponies off.
• • •
Steven Magnet slid up to a decrepit looking dock on the river and discharged his passengers. “Lets see,” he said, “For four and a half miles your fare will be, let me see.” He twirled his mustache and pretended to think. “Two kisses,” he said. He bent his great head down.
Pinkie kissed his nose twice, then one more time. “With a tip,” she said, “You're a sweetie Stevie.”
Luna turned toward the dragon, her head slightly lowered and her ears back a little. “Steven?” she asked, her eyes averted.
“Yes?” he asked.
“I, um, notice your mustache. One side is purple pony tail hair, isn't it?” she asked.
“Oh my yes,” he responded, “A very generous pony lopped off her very own tail to replace my moustache. It was so nice of her.” A tear came to his eye.
Luna stood up straighter, “If you'd like, I could make good, I mean regrow your proper mustache with magic.” Her horn glowed faintly in the darkness.
“Would you?” Steven squealed, “That would be fabulous!” “But please, I do want to keep this tail as a reminder of that stylish mare.”
Luna nodded. Her horn glowed brighter, a halo of dark light growing around the mustache in question. The purple tail disentangled itself from his face and tied itself into a neat bundle. Then a great fountain of light came from the stump of ginger mustache. It glowed bright orange and grew, snaking outward until it matched the other side perfectly. The purple tail floated into his hands.
“Eeeeee!” he squealed. His coils thrashed, stirring the water of the river into a roil. “Oh thank you so much, you dear!” he cried. Tears filled his eyes. “I'll never forget this. You can have a ride any time. Or if you need that lovely mane of yours styled, just let me know!” he cried. The dragon swished away, his coils turning to river into a happy bubbling torrent.
Luna turned toward Pinkie, who she saw was beaming at her, her blue eyes wide and her cheeks squeezing into their corners. Luna blushed a bit but did not turn away.
“That was very nice of you,” Pinkie said. She looked so happy that she might explode.
“It was the right thing to do,” Luna said quietly.
Pinkie nuzzled her cheek. “But you didn't have to,” she said, “He didn't even know who you were.”
“I suppose I have many things to make good for,” Luna said, turning away, “I think it's best to do so, if it's within my power to.”
“And to be a good friend, not just a princess,” Pinkie said, “Now lets get to the party.”
“Party?” Luna asked.
• • •
Pinkie approached the barn first. The sound of loud music came from within. A lantern on a hook lit the space around the barn door. There was a surly looking gray stallion with a sledgehammer for a cutie mark standing by the door. The pink mare trotted past him. “She's with me,” she said happily. Luna followed. The stallion recognized her and bowed. Luna suddenly felt out of place.
Inside everything was light and movement and music. There was a DJ set up on a stage spinning discs. Glass bulbs filled with luminous creatures sent out multicolored beams of light in time with the music. Pinkie cantered over to a refreshments table and two mares Luna didn't recognize helped her unload her saddlebags. They piled up cupcakes next to tubs of ice with bottles of all sorts of things floating in them. Luna didn't recognize most of the liquors. They weren't the sort you'd see at a royal function in Canterlot. The cupcakes Pinkie had brought had dark icing with sprinkles shaped like little pony skulls. Their dark eye sockets were represented by spots of black fondant.
Throughout the barn ponies were in motion. Two zebras in strange fringed outfits danced on a raised platform. One had a crescent moon on her flank. Pegasi swooped overhead, some dancing up in the rafters. They were pushing a tiny cloud around up there as if it were a beachball. Luna noticed one dark pegasus watching her. He was standing on the end of a beam and watching her with his lovely red eyes. Her heart jumped for a moment when he gazed at her. She felt a strange sensation in her horn. She blushed, but for a different reason than she had earlier. The flashing light cast multicolored highlights off his midnight blue coat and wings.
All the ponies seemed to be watching her. She could feel their accusing eyes, she thought. Only somehow she didn't. She gazed around. They were watching her indeed, but not looking at her accusingly like the ponies at the royal court. Some seemed to have expressions of admiration. It was a very strange feeling to be watched in such a way. It was something she hadn't felt since she was an awkward filly. Back then any admiration was usually tempered by envy of her position. This was somehow different. She tried to look regal but probably just looked as awkward as she felt surrounded by so much light and activity.
Pinkie came to her rescue, dragging her to a stall near the back. It was separated from the room by a sparkly purple curtain. The interior was lit by a dim overhead lantern. Luna was quite surprised to see the occupants. A bright yellow pegasus with a long pink mane sat on an embroidered cushion. A green goblet lay before her with two bendy straws in it.
A white bunny lay on a scarlet pillow in the corner, like a sultan surrounded by his bunny harem. Half a dozen female bunnies of all sorts and colors lay on throw pillows, some wearing jewelry. The scene was rather unique to say the least.
“Princess,” Fluttershy exclaimed, “It's an honor to see you again.” She bowed her head deeply, not rising from her cushion.
Pinkie pushed Luna forward. “I-I'm pleased to meet you again,” she said. The princess chose a violet cushion with gold embroidered dragons and sat daintily. Looking regal in a private situation was one thing with which she felt familiar from long experience at court.
Pinkie nuzzled Fluttershy's ear lovingly and curled up on the cushion beside her. For a few moments they exchanged friendly nibbles. Luna recognized this as the expression of love between two mares of intimate familiarity. She smiled, despite her attempt at nonchalance. It had been a very long time since she had shared such familiarity.
Pinkie whispered, loud enough for Luna to hear, “She did a nice thing for Steven. She restored his mooostäche.” She dragged out the last word to a ridiculous length.
“Oh,” Fluttershy said in her usual quiet voice, “He's such a dear friendly dragon. That was very nice of her.”
Both mares gazed at Luna. She felt a little uncomfortable but they looked upon her in such a loving way. She simply wasn't used to such a thing. The only mare who looked at her that way was her sister. But in that case it was mixed with a dash of pity and on Luna's part more than a little guilt.
Fluttershy cast a meaningful look towards the bunny. He made a motion with his paw and two of the bunnies rushed out through the curtain. They returned in a few moments with a crystal goblet and a fancy looking bottle with bees on the label. The bunny held it up, facing the label toward the princess. She nodded, the little ritual being very familiar, though not usually performed by a bunny wearing a slave bracelet. The other bunny pulled out the cork and they both raised the bottle to pour, then set it down, put a straw into the goblet and backed away, bowing. It was a honey mead from the Whitetail Wood that Luna had been served many times. She took a polite sip.
“So,” Luna began but failed to finish. Pinkie took a sip from the goblet she and Fluttershy shared. For a moment they sat in awkward silence. Pinkie, of course broke it, but in a surprisingly quiet and gentle way.
“Luna,” she said, “We all know, everypony knows, about the past. For a long time you were nothing but a legend, an old mare's tale.” She took another sip. “Only a geek like Twilight even believed in you and believed you were really coming back,” she continued, “but there are other ponies too. There are lots of ponies who play in the sunlight. But there are some also love the night and whisper to the moon.” Luna could see the sincerity in her creepy blue eyes.
“Princess,” Fluttershy began, “There have always been ponies who loved what you represent, even if they didn't know you were real. They told their secrets to the Mare in the Moon. Only now there is no Mare in the Moon.” She looked embarrassed for a moment before continuing. “They sang to the moon in the dark night in the forest. They could see your beauty and feel your power.”
“What she means to say,” Pinkie interrupted, “Is there are ponies who love you and your night. You're half of Equestria, the half that's been missing for a thousand years.”
Fluttershy nodded and hid her face behind mane for a moment. “They say,” he continued in a tiny voice, “that the night was different long ago. If it isn't just more mare's tales. That strange things used to happen in the nighttime. Not just dangerous creatures roaming in the dark, but other things.”
“The dark things of the night,” Pinkie snarled, rising onto her hind legs for a moment and making a face, “Ghosts and goblins and lawyers, gnarrr!”
Even Luna giggled a little at that. She tucked her forelegs under her body.
Fluttershy tilted her head a little. “Is it true?” she asked.
Luna cleared her throat. “I suppose it is,” she said, “When I truly ruled the night things were different. Some of the creatures of the night seem to have gone away. I can still feel their presence but under my sister's dominion of sunlight they've hidden themselves away.” She looked down, her ears drooping. “I don't think she really understands the night.” She took a long draught of mead.
“Of course not,” Pinkie squealed, “But you do!” Luna could see a strange glittering hope in her eyes.
“Pinkie,” Luna began, “Why did you bring me here? Do you think a party can fix everything?”
“Of course I do!” Pinkie said, smiling, “But that's not why.” “Well, not the only reason anyway.” Pinkie tossed her head, her frizzy mane bouncing. “This is a special place,” she said, suddenly uncharacteristically serious, “It's The Barn.” She spoke as if the name carried some special meaning known only to a few.
Luna looked around the oddly decorated stall. It was an old rundown place, but also oddly alive. The beams overhead were of ancient oak turned dark by what had to be centuries of oxidation. Archaic tack hung from nails made by a crude blacksmith long ago. Luna recognized many of the odd bits and pieces and the way the braces were held together with wooden pegs. “Treenails,” she thought. She hadn't heard the term or seen one since her return.
“Can you feel it?” Fluttershy whispered.
Luna realized that she could indeed feel something. The room lit with a strange white light. At first she didn't realize it was coming from her horn. Then her vision clouded. Her ears were filled with voices. Thousands of voices. She could feel the yearning. It was the same strange yearning and the same voices she had heard while trapped in the moon. Yes, this is a very special place. It was ancient long before the barn was built. It was ancient before she was imprisoned. It was a place of the night.
Luna regained her senses only slowly. When her vision cleared she could see and feel the two ponies supporting her. One was singing a soothing wordless tune to comfort her. “Are you okay Princess?” Fluttershy asked. The princess felt a strange energy within her. For the first time since midsummer she felt the dark energy flowing through her limbs.
“I'm more than okay,” Luna said, “And please call me Luna.” Fluttershy nodded shyly. “Or Selene or Epona or many other names.”
Luna sat up, raising her head and looking truly regal in her dark crown. “This was a temple of the moon long ago,” she said, “I didn't recognize the place at first but now I know where I am.” “This is the place where the first fruits of the harvest were laid as an offering to the moon,” she continued, “This is a place where ponies would gather to dance in the moonlight.”
“They still do,” whispered Pinkie.
Suddenly tears filled Luna's eyes. She couldn't stop the sobbing. It went on and on and on. She felt the warmth of the two mares holding her. Her bitter tears soaked into both their manes. A warm wing was wrapped around her back. She sobbed and her own mane shook. The other two just held her, saying nothing.
When the tears at last ceased to flow and Luna's body ceased to be wracked with sobbing she lay still for a long time. She nuzzled the two who held her. When her vision cleared, she saw a white bunny holding up a tissue. She lowered her head and blew her nose, then again and again. “Thank you,” she said, “that's very kind.” The bunny bowed deeply. It wasn't the kind of scene or the sort of kindness you usually found in a grand drama, she thought, it's the sort of kindness of common ponies, and bunnies.
She looked at her two companions. How different they were from her. But how compassionate they were. These two had quested to stop her plans. She had placed many obstacles in their way. She had done many unkindnesses to them and to others. But yet they felt this great compassion for her. She wondered if she would feel the same in their place.
“My friends,” Luna said at last, “you have shown me so much kindness after I treated you so badly.” She looked truly ashamed for a moment. “And you, Pinkie, you brought me here not knowing what might happen. You had no way of knowing how I might react, did you?”
“What do you mean, Princess?” Pinkie asked.
Luna smiled. “Didn't you think I might… become Nightmare Moon again?”
Pinkie looked puzzled for a moment than shook her head vigorously. “Nopey dopey,” she said.
“You're a silly pony,” she responded, “and trusting and kind.” She nibbled the nape of Pinkie's neck. She noticed a braid of straight pink hair tied into her otherwise frizzy mane behind her ear.
The three sat for a long time just being together in comfortable silence.
• • •
The DJ took a break. The barn wasn't silent and wasn't still. Ponies milled around chatting and nibbling and drinking. A few stumbled more than pranced or wobbled, standing half asleep.
When the curtain parted they all turned to look, even the ponies whose eyes had been snoozing on their hooves. The violet curtain glowed with a pale blue light and drew aside seemingly of its own accord. A deep purple unicorn stepped forward, her horn glowing faintly and her billowing mane sparkling the color of night. She stood in the doorway for a moment. A pair of brightly colored ponies stood behind her, their coats making hers look even darker in contrast. She strode across the floor, ponies stepping aside to let her pass. She mounted the stage step by step, her fine silver horseshoes ringing as she strode on the ancient timbers.
She stood before the turntables and faced the assembled ponies. “Mares and gentlecolts,” she began, “you have gathered in this place to dance and to party. You may or may not know that this was once the site of a lunar temple, one of many in the land.” She paused for a moment. “It was and is a place of great power.” She paused again, something strange happening to her appearance. “Once upon a time, ponies gathered here to dance in the moonlight and to make offerings to the moon, and to the mistress of the night.” Her flowing mane billowed higher and higher, sparkling with stars. She seemed to be getting taller.
“There is a reason you feel drawn here,” she said, “and I see that many of you bear the mark of the moon on your flanks.” She nodded toward a zebra near the front of the crowd. “I have been absent for a long time, far too long. Equestria has been out of balance.” She turned, her wings fluttering behind her like a dark cape. “My sister has ruled the night for a thousand years. The old traditions and the true beauty of the night have faded away under her rule.”
She could see two pastel ponies in the audience leaning against each other, tears in their eyes. “At long last that rule is ended. The day has its great beauty. The land cannot live without it. Yet the day cannot be complete without the night.” She faced the audience and spread her wings. “The sun is not complete without the moon. Life is not complete without death. No matter how far the light reaches it can never extinguish the darkness, nor shine without it.” She smiled. She half expected the ponies to cower in fear. She could see clearly that not one did. In fact some were coming closer to the stage.
“The old ways have been forgotten, the old places lost or changed beyond recognition.” She pranced around on the stage, looking happy as a newborn filly. “You are the ponies who can revive the old ways and create new ones. You are the ponies who have the stars in your eyes and the moonlight in your souls.”
“You are my ponies, the ponies of the night,” she said her eyes brimming with tears once more, “and I love you one and all.” “You are the ones who love the darkness and the light of the moon. Those who do not shun the day but need the enveloping coolness of the night. Her horn lit with brilliant light and the ceiling underwent a strange transformation. It looked as if it were transparent, the stars twinkling and the moonlight shining down and filling the barn with its light. She stepped down from the stage. “Things have now changed. What has been lost can be restored. The night can be alive once more!”
Ponies gathered around her. Many bowed deeply. Others reached out to embrace her. She had never felt so at home in all her life.
• • •
Twilight Sparkle heard a light knock on the door of the library tree. Steam rose from her cup of green tea. She let the book she was reading float down to the desk in front of her. “Come in,” she said, raising the latch.
The door swung wide, revealing darkness outside. In a moment Pinkie Pie bounced in. Twilight rolled her eyes. “Why am I not surprised by you stopping by at this hour, Pinkie?” She shook her mane. “Has some party finally broken up?” she asked.
“Yup yup yup,” Pinkie yelped as she bounced around the room. Twilight's horn glowed as she picked up books and other things lying in Pinkie's path. “I saw your light on and brought a visitor!” she said, obviously excited.
Twilight shook her head again. “Who could possibly want to visit the library in the middle of the night?” she asked, “Other than you of course.”
Pinkie bounced around the room and up the stairs. Twilight followed her up. They made their way to the open balcony. Twilight used her power to open the door before Pinkie crashed into it. Once outside it took a few moments for the unicorn's eyes to adjust to the darkness. The light of the moon shone down at an angle as it slowly descended toward the horizon.
Twilight gasped. A great winged unicorn hovered in the sky just beyond the balcony, her floating mane and tail trailing after her. She wasn't the tiny purple pony Twilight had seen after uniting the Elements of Harmony. Yet she wasn't the terrifying Nightmare Moon either. Her flowing blue mane was filled with stars. She held her head high.
“Twilight Sparkle,” she said, her voice booming in the darkness, “I have much to thank you for.” She landed softly and bowed her great head. Her great size took up most of the room on the balcony, pressing the three ponies uncomfortably close.
Twilight didn't know what to say. “Uh, Princess Luna?” she stammered, “Are you, what?”
Luna bent to nuzzle the nape of Pinkie's neck. The smaller unicorn's mane suddenly stood on end. “Twilight,” Luna said, “There is much to discuss and you're the one pony who will understand and can help.” She held her dark wing out toward the moon. “The Harvest Moon is growing toward its full light,” she said, “By the time it is full I hope to have certain preparations complete.”
“T-this is so sudden,” Twilight sputtered, “What is it you want of me exactly?”
“You're the one who can surely finish the work you began by uniting the Elements of Harmony,” she said, “Together we can truly restore the balance of Equestria.”
• • •
Princess Celestia settled on her throne, having completed her essential morning ritual. The light of the rising sun shone in, filling the room with its glow. In the pale light she saw a wisp of green enter through an open upper window. She was always glad to read a new letter from her pupil, though many of them contained rather mundane insights. When she unfurled the scroll in the air in front of her it let out a puff of flour. Instead of the neatly written scroll she was used to receiving this was a strip of baker's parchment, stained with butter and covered with glittery heart stickers. The message was scrawled in nearly illegible hot pink crayon.
Dear Princess Celestia,
How's it going?
Your sister is really an okay mare and feeling left out.
Since theres a Summer Sun Celebration,
why not a Harvest Moon Celebration too?
Okay, bye. Love ya!
Your faithful servant.
– Pinkie Pie ♥
The princess blinked. “I guess I can't argue with that,” she said and laughed. She thought only a moment before calling for her royal scribe. She smiled a knowing smile. Perhaps the world really could be happy again. She began to believe, as she had long hoped, that the sister she loved so much could forgive her failures, as she was so willing to forgive her sister. Why the request came from this strange pony she did not know but she knew better than to question the source.
Another much larger wisp floated in through the window. Now the princess really smiled. Her student was true to form. There was no need to read through the much longer explanation. She already knew what it contained. There was only the matter of arranging the details and in that she trusted her most gifted student completely.
• • •
A great silver crescent stood on a great stage in the middle of Ponyville with its horns pointing toward the sky. Streamers of purple and silver stretched across the open spaces and purple lanterns hung from posts. Pumpkins with scary faces carved into them and sheaves of corn were piled everywhere. There was a funhouse built out of bales of straw. Pony skulls made of plaster hung everywhere. Two ponies unloaded a cart and set up a stand to sell candied apples.
All around was activity in the light of the sun as it fell toward the horizon. A purple unicorn fussed with decorations and checked off items on a checklist. Another unicorn pranced around town, a tiny dragon running along behind her, trailing streamers in the dust. A gray-maned mare flipped through pages on a podium, practicing lines. A huge pegasus stallion wearing blued steel armor pawed the turf impatiently. His eyes were dark red, the symbol on his hip a black lightning bolt. White stallions in golden armor set up a small reviewing stand with an eight-rayed sun symbol on it facing the moon from the Western side of the square. It was much more subdued than the lunar display which continued to sprout new decorations.
As the cool afternoon went on toward evening ponies began to gather and to chatter. Some had come from as far away as Fillydelphia and even Manehattan. Some ponies with piercings and strangely shaved patterns looked out of place in Ponyville. A small group of zebras gathered, dressed in heavy silver jewelry. Ponies with dark coats and manes milled about. Some with bright colored coats seemed the most excited. A blue unicorn with a silver-blue mane and violet eyes lurked in the shadows, her face and flank hidden by a plain purple cloak.
Three fillies wearing pink, blue, and green costumes rode around town on a skateboard and cart. The orange pegasus powering their travel with her buzzing wings wore a green outfit with a black belt. They stopped at one house after another asking for candy and sometimes playing tricks. Two mismatched looking unicorns ran around town, both with white sheets over their heads, causing chaos with minor magic tricks. Others pranced around the square in festive costumes.
As the sun descended in the sky so did a golden chariot drawn by four white stallions. Princess Celestia was warmly greeted by her student and settled into her place in the reviewing stand. Another royal visitor arrived more sedately, unseen in a baked goods wagon. She was greeted by the dark pegasus alone.
As the sun fell further ponies packed into the square closer and closer. The mayor climbed to the stage and began. “Ponies and gentlecolts,” she started, “Your long labors are over, the harvest is in and we are gathered here today for a celebration that hasn't happened in a thousand years.” “Our beloved Princess Celestia,” she bowed toward the reviewing stand, “has decreed the restoration of an ancient holiday that has been so long neglected.” “As the sun goes down,” she continued, “the moon will rise, thanks to her royal sister, Princess Luna.”
At that cue Luna appeared behind her on the reviewing stand. She stood before the great crescent moon and spread her wings. Her flowing mane and tail spread like great star-filled clouds in the fading twilight. The whole crowd gasped. They had not seen her in months. The ponies of Ponyville had seen her apparition as Nightmare Moon, then at the party following her return she had appeared as a normal purple unicorn. Now she was once again the equal of her sister, but not as frightening as as she had appeared at midsummer, declaring the eternal night.
“Ponies of Equestria,” she began, “For one thousand years I have missed you, and I know that many of you have missed the night as it had been.” “As my dear sister's sun sets so will my moon rise,” she boomed as if her voice were amplified, “The night shall again be as it once was!” She bowed toward her sister on the reviewing stand at the far side of the square. Her sister bowed in return as the last light of the sun faded. The sky began to darken. The colors of Celestia's mane seemed to fade with the daylight.
Luna stood an stage and spread her wings. There was no blare of trumpets but a strange singing seemed to come from a great distance. She lifted off the platform, dark against the sky. Then a great silvery light shone over the horizon. It surrounded her form and the moon rose behind her until she appeared silhouetted against its disc. A strange eerie light filled the square and shone on all the assembled ponies. Some seemed to glow in its luminescence.
Luna slowly descended to the platform as ponies raised their heads, gazing at the full moon. The outline of the Mare in the Moon was gone. It's face was spotless as it once had been. Luna spoke once more. “Among you are many who bear the mark of the moon and many others who love the darkness. You have hidden in the shadows for too long,” she said as she strode the stage, “Certain among you I would ask to join me.”
A shaft of moonlight suddenly spotlighted a mare in a purple cloak toward the back of the crowd. She acted startled and backed away. “As I say,” Luna continued, “Reveal yourself!” Luna's horn glowed and the cloak was pulled aside. It uncovered a blue unicorn familiar to those in Ponyville and universally reviled. On her hip was the mark of a crescent and wand. It was Trixie, who had caused so much destruction and run away, humiliated. “Your powers have been squandered for too long,” Luna said, “For you have not discovered your true destiny.” Trixie looked terrified, staring at Luna.
“I would ask you,” the princess continued, “to become my student and learn what power you truly possess, for it is far greater than you imagine.” “Will you join me?” she asked again. Slowly Trixie regained her composure. Then she bent one foreleg and bowed deeply. Luna smiled. One by one she directed her attention to ponies gathered in the square. She did not ask the others to become her personal students but instead asked them to become her loyal followers. None refused. Some surprising ponies joined her. Ponies of bright hues with cheerful cutie marks bowed to the princess. One bright pink pony wearing glowing deely-bobbers bowed without prompting, tears in her eyes.
By the time she finished her task the moon was high in the sky. She addressed the crowd as a whole again. “There are many more ponies in Equestria who will chose to join my loyal followers,” she boomed again, “And much more to be seen.” She paced on stage. “But this night will not last forever,” she said, “So party!” A band began to play an unfamiliar tune about the moon.
• • •
Luna milled around in the crowd, accompanied by the armored pegasus stallion known as Darkbolt. The group of followers parted as Celestia approached her sister. The two entwined their necks lovingly and this time it was Celestia alone who shed a tear. “I've missed you so much sister,” she said, “even since your return. I've missed the old Luna as you were. Now I see that in your eyes once more.”
As the two embraced, two other unicorns pointedly did not. Twilight eyed Trixie and snorted at her in scorn. Twilight's mane somehow flipped over her face and she stumbled blindly, bumping into one of Celestia's guards. Trixie laughed, her horn glowing faintly. “Remember, Twilight,” she said, “If not for the advantages you've had you might have become a conjurer, but instead you became the personal student of the ruler of the land.”
Twilight turned on her in anger. “If not…” she started, but memories held her tongue. It was true that but for the intervention of destiny she wouldn't have gotten a magical education, much less had the princess as her personal tutor. “I,” she began again, “I wish you the best with your new teacher.” She stumbled again. “But you're still irresponsible,” she finished. Trixie laughed again, but not scornfully this time.
“Twilight,” she said quietly, “I'm sorry for all the trouble I caused.” She bowed her head. “If I could I'd undo all the terrible things I've done in the past,” she said, “Since leaving this place I have wandered alone and haven't caused any more trouble.” Twilight could see she had a tear in the corner of her eye. “I've always been alone,” she continued, “and never had a place where I really fit in.” “Perhaps with a new start I can be a new mare. I won't ask you to be my friend, but I don't want you for a rival either.”
The two realized they were being watched. The towering princesses were observing them and smiling knowingly. “Twilight,” Celestia began, “You have learned so much, including lessons of forgiveness. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive this young mare.” Luna nodded her ascent.
“Princess,” she started then turned her attention elsewhere, “Trixie, you humiliated my friends and your actions nearly destroyed this town.” She paused. “But I do see your point. You never had the advantage of a teacher such as I have.” She looked up at Celestia with great love in her eyes. “If you really have the potential Luna says you do, I hope you can make the most of it.” She reached out and touched Trixie's shoulder with her hoof.
“I appreciate your decision, Twilight Sparkle,” Luna said unexpectedly, “Perhaps there are some things I can teach you as well. I look forward to teaching both of you.” Twilight cringed inside, thinking of studying with Trixie, but she admired Luna and the ancient knowledge she held.
• • •
The sky was lightening in the East, the full moon lay on the Western horizon, swollen and orange. Soon the sun would rise again. Ponies looked up at the sky and the promise of a new dawn after the long night. A few galloped around in the morning coolness, training for the Running of the Leaves which would be happening in a few weeks. A group of ponies gathered on a hilltop waiting for the dawn.
“Pinkie,” Luna said, “You've been so wonderful to me, much more than I deserve.”
“Aww, it's nothing,” she responded, “and don't say that. Some ponies can see the kind of mare you really are.” Pinkie rolled in the dewy grass, her hooves pawing the air. One of her deely bobbers was broken, the other sputtering as the firefly inside tried to escape.
“If there's anything I can do for you, please tell me,” Luna said, “I've known deep magic for a very long time and have many abilities no other pony possesses.”
Pinkie rolled onto her side and looked over to where Luna lay, her legs folded up daintily. “You know,” she said, “There is one thing I've always felt left out of but it's kind of silly.”
“Anything, Pinkie,” she said seriously, “Anything that's within my power.” Pinkie whispered in her ear as the moon slipped below the distant horizon.
• • •
Rainbow Dash soared on a rolling thermal in the clear autumn sky. She turned out at the top as the rough edge died away. Down below she could see a single fluffy cloud drifting across the otherwise perfectly clear sky. It cast a beam of shadow through the hazy air down to the meadows near Ponyville. Dash tucked her wings and glided down toward it. She could see the outline of a snoozing pony wrapped up in the fluff. She snickered.
The blue pegasus approached and gave the cloud a light kick. “Ouch,” came a squeaky response from inside the white fluff. Dash sniggered. “Is that you Ditzy?” she asked, “Sleeping on the job?”
Suddenly a bright pink head popped up over the edge of the cloud. “Oh, hi Dashie!” Pinkie Pie called. She rubbed the side of her head with a hoof. There was a braid of sparkly blue hair tied into her mane behind her ear.
“Gah! What?” Dash stammered, “How did you get up here? Did Twilight use that walking on clouds spell on you again?”
“Oh no,” Pinkie giggled, “It's much better than that.” Pinkie Pie stood on the cloud and spread a pair of gleaming pink wings. “Aren't they keen?” she asked. She happily bounced up and down on the cloud causing it to throw off scraps of vapor.
Rainbow Dash's jaw dropped. Her wings bobbled, causing her to fall a few feet before recovering.
“I'm not used to flying yet. Maybe you could teach me!” Pinkie shouted, looking more excited than ever. She gave a few flaps and fell backward onto the cloud. “It'll be great!”
According to the opening narration in FiM Part I ponies love to frolic in the daylight. But real ponies love the nighttime too. It's natural for them to be active in the night and they give birth in the dark.
Steven Magnet reminds me of Fifi in Dragontales who gives smaller dragons a ride across a river. I guess it makes sense for him to be a dragon ferry.
Luna was originally named Selene but Hasbro's lawyers detected some sort of copyright issue with the name. It was still used in a storybook. Epona is a Celtic lunar horse goddess, which I think is most appropriate.
The festival is meant to be a mix of Samhain, Halloween, and Dia de los Muertos. How appropriate for a festivity honoring the mistress of the night. The full moon rising opposite the setting sun always seemed so dramatic to me and an occasion for more festivity than silly humans generally practice.
Trixie has real power? Maybe she blew an entrance exam once, but if she'd been hit by a Sonic Rainboom her full potential would've been revealed. I rewrote those bits as well as the description of the festival after Cutie Mark Chronicles first ran. The story had been started earlier.
Lauren Faust's original designs had Pinkie as a pegasus and Fluttershy as an earth pony. The two were eventually reversed, so Fluttershy seems out of place in the sky and Pinky strangely ground bound.