Today was another one of those warm and sunny days of summer, back at Ponyville. A new day brought by the loved caretaker and ruler of Equestria, Celestia. Each of the ponies of the little town, were attending to their everyday mundane tasks. Most of them were doing so outside, as they enjoyed the nice weather of that time of the year, but something was slightly different than usual. Some sort of energy could be felt in the air, as every pony was working harder than usual, with an almost visible excitement, as the Summer Solstice celebration was coming in only three short nights. This year was special, since it had been confirmed that the Princess Celestia herself would attend. This news alone had put an extra amount of pressure on all of them, since they desired to do everything in order to make this special occasion perfect for a visit from Royalty.
The mayor had requested the involvement of all the citizens of the small town and of course most were simply eager to offer their help, but it had been mentioned by a few ponies that some were more reluctant to do so. No names were said, but everyone knew, thanks to the local and charming dress maker, that those ponies were in fact the Stars' Family.
They were considered an odd family by the townsfolk and there were many reasons for that, though not all of them made sense, but such was the nature of rumors and gossips. They were unicorns and even though it wasn't something uncommon in that part of Equestria, the choice for the location of their house alone was strange enough. They had built it on the outskirt of Ponyville and oddly close to the Everfree Forest, between the shy animal caretaker's cottage and Sweet Apple Acres. It didn't help their case that they were rarely seen in town, except for very special occasions and visits to restock their provisions for the week. This wouldn't have seemed so bad, if they didn't have two young foals on top of that. The poor things were home-schooled and had almost no contact with the other foals of their age, the latest being the saddest point on which ponies agreed on. One of the less talked about rumors stated that their family was one of the very first that had established themselves on those lands, all those centuries ago, but of course ponies usually just had a good laugh at it, returning to their work shortly after.
All of these were second hoof rumors and hearsays, which couldn't beat the few so-called first hoof facts gathered by those who actually had tried to make friend with the family. It came as no surprise that none had succeeded in doing so, even though some would boast that they were able to knock at the door and have a few words with the mother, before being swiftly turned away. The others were simply stopped by the menacing-looking father even before reaching the front yard. Only one 'lucky' pony was ever able to go there and stay for more than a minute and even play with the foals for a few short moments, which would be unbelievable if another pegasus hadn't seen it for herself once. Dropping the mail twice per week, the bright-eyed mailpony would always take a pause to eat a delicious muffin and share some of the lost and undelivered mail with the young ponies when the father was absent, which earned her a sad but thankful glance from the mother each time.
All things considered, most ponies of Ponyville were feeling sorry for that family that seemed isolated and apparently only desired to be left alone... For reasons that no pony knew.
It had been a long day, more than usual for him or at least felt like it on his way back home. First, the day had started quite early for him because of the incessant chirping of a band of birds apparently being trained by their far, though too close to his liking, neighbor, which made him unable to go back to sleep. He had tried to warn the animal caretaker numerous times in the last few days, but each time she would just yelp in surprise and then retreat to her cottage. Today he had more important things to do than to run after an overly timid pegasus. Then, he had been forced to wait an unbearable long time at the Post Office, so he could send an important package containing blueprints for an apple factory in Fillydelphia, simply because of all the lines of ponies wanting to send their silly gifts. Finally, he had stumbled upon the mayor shortly after, who was trying once more to convince him and his wife to help with the preparations, insisting on the importance of thanking the Princess for her work with the Sun.
It was with relief that he was walking the last stretch of road to reach the home of his family, only to see once again the mail carrier of Ponyville fly hastily from the backyard, much to his displeasure. Before entering the house he took a second to collect the mail and admire the pond near the entrance. It was full of waterlilies and colorful fishes. His wife always loved water and all the different plants and creatures whose lives were tied to that vital element. So much that it was what earned her a mark and allowed them to meet, for the first time, in a distant town in a corner of Equestria.
The dear memories gave him a faint smile, which quickly vanished as he saw the all but too familiar black letter with a discreet bone symbol in the corner, which was almost hidden at the bottom of the mailbox. Once more, his rest would have to come much later for him that night, but for now supper was waiting and so was his wife and foals, who were playing on a small new drum that wasn't there this morning and waving happily as he entered, finally home.
Supper went by uneventfully, and it was only disturbed by the occasional giggling of the two foals as they demonstrated some of the little things they had learned during the day. The foals were still too young to have their cutie mark and were eager to learn everything they could in order to get it, always acting together as they were twins, though non-identical. The sister was born first and her brother followed, separating them only by a few seconds. The oldest had been named Dawnstar, her coat was light orange, like her father's mane, and she had a yellow mane like the raising sun and her mother's. The youngest, named Duskstar, shared the colors of the moment preceding night, which was a light purple fur like his father's and the deep black mane characteristic of their family, which was the complete opposite of his mother's coat.
Shortly after their late supper, they had put the foals in their bed and wished them good night. Duskstar obeyed quite easily and Dawnstar mumbled for a moment that she wasn't sleepy, like almost every time, and they were ready to go to sleep too. He chose that moment to mention the content of the letter to his wife, far away from the foals' ears.
''Oh Graystar... Must you really go? You know the dangers of the Everfree Forest at night. There's so much that could happen to you, simply on your way there and I don't even want to think of the creatures lurking in the forest.'' She said visibly worried for him, then adopted a more concerned, almost reproachful tone.
''...and that zebra. We shouldn't trust him. I may only have seen him once, but that's more than enough. His very presence is unsettling. No good will come from his actions, I'm certain of this, and whatever he told you about...''
Graystar quickly interrupted her, as he well knew where she was going with this. They had this conversation a number of times in the past, at least once per visit, since the very first time they were visited by this mysterious stranger from the far country, which started a single week after the death of his father last year. Most of the time he would listen patiently, as him too had his own doubts, but tonight the note was insisting on the importance and on how little time was left before... the last night.
''I know your worries well dear Shinestar, believe me when I say that I share them as well, but I must go. This is about more than just my own security; this is about the sacred oath made by my ancestors, all those centuries ago, a mission passed down from generation to generation and which now has fallen on me and our foals to ultimately complete.'' He said this with pride in his voice and yet with a conflicted expression in his eyes, before letting a deep sigh go.
''I promise I will be careful dear, but you know me, I doubt any monster would dare to try their luck on me.'' He said on his way toward the exit. As he walked outside, he turned for a second and added, ''I love you and the foals more than everything... I will never let anything bad happen to this family as long as I stand.'' And then he went off to his meeting, under the cover of a bleak moon in the freshness of the night.
Graystar had taken the dirt trail which stretched from his large backyard to deep inside the gloomy Everfree Forest. The night was especially dark tonight, because of the pale moon now stuck high above his head. Every small shadow seemed to reach for him, as he progressed along the road cautiously, listening to the sounds of the frightening sanctuary he had learned to respect over the years.
He knew he had nothing to fear from this specific night, like in each of his previous encounter with the mysterious zebra. The woodland creatures, normally highly hostile after dusk, would remain hidden though he could hear some of them rustling in nearby bushes, as if he had been granted safe passage somehow.
After a stressful hour in the forest, Graystar finally reached his destination. At the end of the path was a small clearing, void of any bushes or of the smallest plants and even the scare patches of grass were of a sick green shade. A rather large slab of bone white stone was placed in its center, almost like a grim stage for the gloomy atmosphere. The object of his current quest was at last in sight and at hoof reach.
Standing on the improvised stage, he let out a tired sigh and started looking around the clearing, the sound of his hooves on the hard surface resonating into nothingness. As he finished his survey of the surrounding, the weak moon was now perfectly still above his head, signaling the fated hour of midnight. It was only a matter of time before 'he' would show up, he thought. A shadowy figure suddenly appeared out of nowhere right in front of him. Even though the gray lavender unicorn had been startled, his reflexes entered into action and he made a quick dash in the opposite direction. He was ready for anything before he recognized the grime covered cloak of his immobile aggressor.
''I see you are as dreadfully punctual as always... Zebra''. He said with a smirk, regaining some composure. ''But I would have preferred, if you had put such a dramatic entry aside, for once. In any case, I am ready to hear your oh wise words about the fate of my family.'' He frowned toward the one who had never told his name and sat on the cold smooth stone.
The zebra's head, hidden under the ravaged hood, moved slowly from the stallion in front of him to the dark sky, the line of an imperceptible smile drawn on his face. He spoke in a dry and raspy tone, similar to the voice of a desperately thirsty pony.
''Yes, it is time to discuss your inevitable fate, but do not be impatient young pony and wait. To be there you read the letter and you already know well about her. But what you ignore of the prophecy, told by the father of your fathers I shall tell you if you agree''.
Without giving a second to answer, the zebra gazed away from the moon and into the eyes of Graystar. Even though all he could see were two deep red eyes, the lavender stallion felt as if he was staring at a block of ice. A chill ran down his spine.
''You know this well, your family shall free the Night Princess from her prison, but for the success of the spell, four stars must take action''.
''B-but how? Counting me and my foals, only three of us are related by blood, and as you know Grandstar died last year''. The stallion said while trying to avert his sight from the crimson eyes, which he didn't have much difficulty with doing since the cloaked equine had turned his back on him.
''Surely your wife you never suspected. You and her, both are somewhat... related'', he said calmly.
''What is this nonsense you speak? There's no way this can be true. I know my wife, her family; there are no Stars in her ancestry. She told me so and I have no reason to doubt her''. Rising on his hooves, he dared and took a hoof forward as he was standing resolute for his wife, but quickly interrupted his move.
''Do not dare doubt my spell, since what I reveal to you is only true. Be quiet now, I have much to tell''. He turned his head briefly toward the pony, darting his eyes at the bold move he attempted and continued.
''Haven't you ever wondered why your dearest would often cry, over her precious little pond at night, while even she never knew exactly why?''
Graystar gave the zebra a confused and somewhat worried look. How could this lone zebra know about his wife's habits and the private conversations he often had with her at night? If he felt he had apprehensions for this shady character before, now it was more a mix of silent anger and fear, for the life of his family to be observed as such.
''Oh, do not look so surprised pony. I know much about you all, even from before the fall, and more than you would ever dream to be possible, truly'', he said pausing a second at the mention of 'all'. He then proceeded with his explanation, a trace of what the stallion would associate to nostalgia in his crackling voice.
''Your ancestor Moonstar was brave and tough, a timid pegasus was the one he once loved. Mistyshade was her name and she made his heart swoon, but from the start their love was doomed''.
''In ancient times their love was frowned on, so she fled to the Great Lakes of Waterhooves where ponies would approve, but he was oathbound. He could not follow the love of his life, and to save his secret he took a unicorn wife. At the Lakes, the first scion of Shades and Stars was born, and in him their link forever was preserved unknown''.
The lavender stallion stood as immobile as a statue, his mind filled with numerous questions upon the revelation and about some realizations of his own. Moonstar... he remembered this name from his most prized book about his family's genealogy. Though there weren't many details, the book did mention that he originated from over 1000 years ago. There was also his supposed winged wife, Mistyshade... The grim zebra had talked of them as if he had known them personally, but could it all be true? How old could he truly be?
His thoughts quickly shifted back to his main concern, his family. He remembered when he had first met Shinestar, that fateful day he had accepted a special job at Waterhooves to build some new docks and how love had struck at first sight. It seemed as if they had always known each other. If his wife actually shared some of his family blood, there was always a slim chance that it could threaten the health of the foals, but maybe not. There was no sure way to be sure and it was making him uneasy, but the other equine had apparently read his mind.
''Do not worry about your next of kin, though you both have the Stars' blood within, you are related like the hoof of sand to the mountain''.
''I... thank you, for those enlightening details'', he let out a faint smile that the zebra would not see and a short sigh of relief, ''But what about you? I know the role of my family, even better now, but still nothing of your involvement in her delivery''.
The dusty cloaked zebra turned sideways and spoke with hints of condescension.
''For you might be the key to her cell, only I can pry the gates to where she is held. For this, a catalyst I needed. An ancient object of great power lost, for me waited. For so long, I have longed for the artifact's reemergence. The search has tried my resilience. To finally find it was... providence''.
The zebra had walked toward the extremity of the clearing while speaking and turned to face the light purple stallion one last time, before stepping into the shadows of the forest.
''You learned all you need to know, now prepare your kin for in two more day you go. At the midnight castle I will wait for you, be there at dusk with no issue''. As he said the last word, he vanished.
Graystar was definitely relieved to see him go, but this final visit had left him utterly confused, quite angry to have shown weakness and still somewhat worried about the future. Since the begining, it was the destiny for the Stars to free the Night Princess, but what after this? Would life under her reign be better once she had regained her righteous place over Equestria and bested her sister? He and his ancestors always believed so, but now more than ever, there were doubts in his mind. Still, fate was inevitable and events far over his control were in motion. Taking back the small road he traveled earlier that night, he let his thoughts wander. The only thing he could do now was to prepare his family, for in two nights, a 1000 years old promise would finally come to a conclusion... For the better or the worst.
After an agitated night filled with vivid dreams, the next two days were used to complete the necessary preparations for the upcoming ceremony. The hardest part had been to explain the new role that Shinestar would have to play to fulfill the prophecy bound to their family. The news about the blood link had been hard to take for her, and even though she let go many tears the following night, her husband's love and the desire to protect their foals had strengthened her determination to support him to the best of her abilities. For Dawn and Dusk, the two days had passed easily. The numerous practices organized by him, in order to learn and memorize the words of their part of the spell, went like a game; simply another fun game, another occasion to test themselves in the hope to finally earn their cutie mark. Graystar envied his foals and their sweet innocence, and reiterated to himself his promise to protect them from any harm whatever might happen.
Finally, the fateful night had come and while they could hear sounds from the summer sun celebration in the distance, none of them would attend to it as they took a completely opposite direction. They followed the border of the Everfree Forest until they reached Sweet Apple Acres, and quickly took an old almost hidden path amongst the dense trees, without seeing any living souls on their way to the forgotten castle of the night
They arrived at their destination after a long moment, and few stops to reassure and comfort their two foals who weren't as much amused by the current game anymore. Desiring not to pass more time being exposed, they entered and went straight for the ruined throne room. As they entered, a familiar yet still frightening figure emerged from the deep shadows. He greeted them summarily and simply pointed at a circle illuminated by the moonlight. Dusk and Dawn shyly hide themselves behind their parents as the four Stars passed near the spooky equine and took their place. The zebra unexpectedly spoke to them, ending the unnatural silence that previously surrounded them. His tone was even drier than the last time, but he sounded almost frantic as he extracted four gem-like pieces out of a small bag.
''Behold, ponyfolks! You are in presence of Providence, the sacred fragments of the lost Element. This not a hoax. Extracted from my home country, the war-torn Whoazambique, those shards are all that is left usable from the Element, but do not worry. With them I will open the way for you. Do not fail, for more than you think is at stake too'', he said last squinting his eyes at them.
The lavender stallion didn't know anything about such an Element to even exist, or where this mysterious country was in the first place, but the time for questions was long gone.
The grim zebra began chanting, with a deep and spectral voice. Words long forgotten by most of pony kind. Rhymes from another era, each note resonating on the walls and into the night, aimed to the great white orb so far in the midnight sky. Soon the pieces of the ancient green crystal came to life. Hovering above the floor, they gained speed as they floated toward and around the four unicorns waiting in circle, their task forgotten for a split second from the spectacle.
The purple and orange foals bounced ever so slightly, trying to catch the green blur orbiting near them, but soon came to a stop from a stare of their father. All of them closed their eyes and began their part of the spell they spent so long to memorize. At first none of them felt any change, but soon they found their bodies becoming as light as the wind itself. Their body, only hovering a few inches from the ground, was bathed into a faint green light. Their mind, alike the shards, were the ones projected faster than any pegasus could ever be, toward the cold prison very afar.
Invisible to every ordinary pony that could have gazed at the moon, their actions caught the eye of two unique ponies at that moment. The ivory one, who was dreading this very moment since the last 1000 Years, hastily gave instructions to ponies in golden armor and vanished in a spark of light. Her destination, a scene she had never hoped so long ago, to contemplate again.
As she appeared inside the old throne room of her fallen sister, a most singular scene opened before her eyes. It wasn't as much the unicorns in the ghostly green light, as it was the peculiar equine standing near them, which caught her senses. He was standing immobile as a marble statue and was looking at her. Even as hard as she tried, it seemed impossible to see anything under his hood other than two bright red eyes and a large offensive smile. It had been only a few seconds and already was she feeling the air becoming colder, but it wasn't the only thing she perceived. Something ancient, something dark was in action and if its origin was uncertain, its goal was clearer.
''What do you think you are you doing! This magic is most evil and old, and you are using it to free my sister from her prison aren't you? Your actions will only serve to bring destruction to this land and this I cannot allow it'', she said strongly, fixing the obscure equine as she made her hooves hit the ground hard, taking a few steps toward to unicorns. ''Step aside, whoever you are and I might be merciful upon your trial''.
But the equine didn't move. He let go a short yet sinister laugh and answered, venom filling his voice dangerously with great and bitter anger, all hope of rhymes soon vanishing.
''Princess, so full of yourself! Moving the solar disc like a toy, stealing the night sphere and the rightful place of your very own sister. Nothing but a spoiled foal, you are. The prophecies, like your time, are done for''. As quickly as he erupted, his voice became cruelly cold. ''You will be the one to step aside, or you shall suffer the way I once died...''
Celestia was simply too astonished to fully grasp the last few words. From pony memory no living being had ever dared to threaten a Princess in such ways. Clearly, this shrouded pony had to be out of his mind, if not down right crazy and dangerous for others. Time was running short, she could fell it, and so she had to swiftly disable this importunate stranger.
Facing the equine she let go a powerful beam of light to knock him over. She was ready to fire another one just in case, but to her surprise instead of trying to dodge it, he put a hoof forward and braced for the impact. As the blast hit him, he was projected at the wall near one of the large stone pillar; surely he had to be unconscious. The hood of his cloak lifted slightly revealed black and white stripes as well as a number of yellowed bandages over his face. So, the pony was in fact a zebra, probably from the Far East country she thought.
Before she could return to the more urgent matter, the zebra went back on his hooves; this shouldn't have been possible, but there he was, sneering as he jumped into the shadow of the column now close to him. At the moment he landed, the shadows of the room shifted and twisted toward the floating unicorns, creating a wall of obscurity between them and the Princess.
She had turned her head for only half-a-second, as the barrier appeared, but the disturbing zebra already had vanished, nowhere to be seen. Placing her full attention on the new problem, she decided that the fastest course of action would be to try to dissipate the dark haze, which was seemingly draining the air of its warmth and light, with her rays of sun. The blasts were effectively digging through the mist, but painfully slowly, too slowly...
Up in the night sky, farther than the horizon and into the infinite sea of stars, four unicorns were making their way toward the moon, completely unaware of the world below them. Their mind focused, they ignored the wind roaring at them and the blinding light reflected by the lunar orb. After what they felt like an eternity, but merely a hoof full of minutes, they reached the moon; which to their eyes was more a prison shaped like the disc of a similar name. A massive double-door was visible in its center, with the giant silhouette of Nightmare painted on it and four star-shaped holes on its surface.
Their hooves soon encountered a hard, yet invisible ground. They approached shuddering, suddenly victim of an unknown cold, and touched the gate together. The resulting effect, a short and intense flash, would only be seen by a single purple unicorn. The double-door slowly slipped open. The mare in the moon, Nightmare Moon, was now free.
Still bombarding the dense fog with her magic, she hastily averted her eyes from the wall as a burst of light surged from behind it, shattering it into a myriad of black sparkles. She regained her sight seeing in front of her, the figure her heart had dreaded and desired to see since the last 1000 years... ''Luna...'', came as a whisper.
''It's Nightmare Moon for you, Celestia''. She said in spite. ''Finally, the prophecy came to fruition and this time no one, not even you, will prevent me from bringing my Eternal Night over Equestria!''
''I was able to stop your last attempt and I will do it again, if I have to, this time will not be different. But, please Luna, I beg you to come to your senses... This doesn't have to come to this''. Her words came out with hope and determination, but she knew that her sister wouldn't be convinced so easily, yet she tried.
''There can't be peace between us, never more... and I believe you seriously overestimated yourself this time. In your state of mind, there's no way you will be able to use the Elements of Harmony against me, on the other hoof, I have a little surprise for you''. A grin appeared on her face, as four green gems hovered in front of her.
''A welcome gift from my most faithful follower, which will allow me to be the one the seal you this time, but not immediately... At first, I will place you far down the horizon. There, you will be able to see me bring the Eternal Night over your precious sun-loving ponies and you will suffer, helpless at helping them and unable to bring out the sun, so close and yet out of reach below you. Accept your fate, there's nothing you can do to stop me this time, sister''.
Celestia lowered her head as sadness washed over her face. She was forced to recognize that she was in no state to face the current form of her sister without the Elements. She knew it from the start in fact; this is why she had prepared a plan, long ago. A last hope, she hoped would solve everything once and for all. Those old jewels on the other hoof, even though oddly familiar, were something she hadn't considered. From the pale green light they were currently emitting, instead of the bright one from earlier, she supposed that her sister would have to focus them specifically on her imprisonment, meaning they wouldn't be accessible for the upcoming events. Everything now rested on the shoulders of her favorite student, Twilight Sparkle.
Taking the silence of her sister for her surrender, she then cast the spell to take her away; the crystals danced around the white winged unicorn and her form became like a blur before vanishing completely.
Pausing for a short moment, she suddenly remembering the presence of the unicorn family she faced them. Each of them were clearly exhausted, especially the two foals hidden behind their parents, the father making a visible effort the stand and shield them from whatever harm he had anticipated from the unfolded scene.
''I must thank your family for my liberation, especially your two foals, so young and already so brave. I am not of the kind who forgets my followers; the fidelity of the Stars will be rewarded. Right now, I have no need for you. You shall return your home and wait for my orders, as I have great plans for you... but I see you can barely stand''. She then moved her horn toward the ponies and added. ''...There. After this nopony will be able to say I'm ungrateful, like my sister''. Her mane shifted and moved in a large circle around the four Stars, before making them disappear.
Satisfied by the turn of event, she readied herself, after all she had a Celebration to attend to. She thought amused by the idea, with malice in the eyes, before becoming a cloud of purple smoke and into the cold, eternal night.
The rest of the night would unfold as predicted by Celestia's plan and would later be well documented, even if kept under strict secrecy inside the Royal Archives for reasons unknown. Six young ponies united by a common destiny, set into motion years ago, would forge deep links of friendship through many trials on their way to the Midnight Castle. Each of them would gain through their actions the respective Element they embodied, regain the powers of Harmony and defeat the Mare in the Moon, thus bringing a new era of peace for Equestria... or so they thought, and they would be right, but only for a time.
For war, war never changes and so are those who perpetuate the cycle...
Amongst the less disclosed facts of that night figure the involvement of a unicorn family from the town of Ponyville and the royal pardon from her Majesty Celestia. It is said that it was delivered to them personally, the night following the events, from the hooves of the previously fallen Princess of the Night, along with a few words that would forever be known only by them; your mission is finished, you can finally rest your mind in peace. Do not let your past dictate your future, nevermore. Now and forever you are free to make your own destiny and to open your heart to the world. Adding as she left their house, her head lowered, almost for herself. Do not make the mistake I once made.
In due time they would follow her advices, but that night they would simply stay by themselves under the front window, admiring the night sky and its beauty for the first time truly at ease. A warm blanket over each member of the family, each were now asleep except for one; Even though Graystar's heart was set, his mind couldn't help but wonder about the zebra's fate. He was probably far away by now he thought, up to whatever new schemes, but none of this mattered for him as he finally joined the rest of his family among peaceful dreams.
Later that same night, amongst the shadows of a deserted castle in ruin, an ageless zebra and an old pony entered a room were lied the pieces of a broken nightmare. The weathered pony waited at the entrance, while the cloaked zebra walked toward the inert shards scattered on the floor, not by respect but by fear of what he knew would follow. As the zebra removed his hood and proceeded to make contact with the nearest fragment, the pony could have swore he heard the zebra say, in nothing more than a whisper: My will his yours completely. May a thousand years of hatred and suffering fuel this will and finally bring me the rest I once craved for.
Nothing could have prepared the gray maned pony for the atrocious spectacle that would unfold before his tired eyes... if only he had found the strength to avert his sight.
The first piece melted, the glowing metal tracing burn marks around his hoof. Soon the other pieces followed, melting and changing shapes as they landed and took form on his body, the cloak and hood catching fire. The macabre dance of consuming fire and burning molten metal, revealed patches of charred flesh and bones rattling together as they were being exposed by remaining embers. His body grew twice in size and two arms grew from his flanks, muscles forming around the bone lengthening. The arms ended in claws, had tattered leathery wings stretching from them, as well, which would allow the monstrous figure to fly.
During the entire process the zebra remained conscious and standing. Never dieing. He couldn't. But he screamed of a wild and guttural voice, as he could fell pain; the force of the sound shaking the foundation of the castle. The aged pony would surely have been heavily sick, from the smell alone, if he still had been able to.
As the smoke cleared, it revealed the ravaged being, which could hardly be called a zebra or even an equine. Where bones were exposed, a metal darker than the purest ink was now covering it. Securing the various pieces together were series of small chains of a bone-like texture. Replacing his once bright red eyes were two glowing pieces of ember. His movements displaced a cold and black mist around him, creating the illusion of slowness, as if he was perceived thought the haze of a nightmare. His cavernous voice echoed into the room as if it was coming from nowhere and everywhere at once, each word coming like an expiration.
''(sigh)... hehehe... no need for rhymes anymore, I believe. This silly heritage has no reasons to be now. The power, one like nopony has ever seen; it is corrupting, consuming, but I couldn't care less. It will be the final instrument to summon my vengeance upon this wretched world, to end this cursed existence. The prophecies have come to an end, and the very life of this world will follow the same path one day''.
The expression of the old pony had remained neutral after the end of the transformation and, emerging from his vigil, he responded back a few words with a strange calmness.
''I await your command, sir. How shall you be called?''
''Why, I am the End of Life, the terror in the heart of the livings, the last thing they shall ever lay their eyes on; Upon the last day, I shall be known as the Sinistral of Death. As for you faithful servant, you will return to your post at the Royal Archives and you will observe. Report to me the actions of the Princesses, but also the progresses of those new bearers. They intrigue me. Place the scrolls at the usual place, under the venerable oak at the Traitors Hill. They will find their way to me''.
They were now both outside, the moonlight being absorbed by the void of the armor and the air freezing around Death, each of his steps leaving patches of dead grass were they landed.
''This all shall be done as you specified, Sinistral. May I inquire where you will be going?''
The Sinistral of Death smiled as his body was becoming vapor, slowly infiltrating into the ground, his voice evoking the nostalgia of a funeral wake.
''I have plans to make, armies to rise, and some very old friendships to... unearth''.
As his master vanished, the pony of venerable age turned toward the bridge and on the way to Ponyville, his place of residency for a few more days. Only long enough to record the events as they were told by the 'heroes' of the Nightmare's defeat.
It would be a long walk to the town, and more as a light summer rain started pouring, but he didn't mind. As he walked, his back cracking slightly because of the humidity, some ancient memories came back at the surface, but he ignored them. He was already thinking of what he would write in his report for the Archives of her Majesty and how he would start it.
Something in the lines of:
Every story has a beginning and every beginning will usually start with the witnesses of the events telling the story...
-The End ...?-