Imperius

Curse My Name (Cancelled)

Jul 10th, 2013
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  1. You’re not entirely sure where you are, but one thing you are sure of is that it’s a long way from home. And it’s more likely than not that you're going to be here for a long, long time. Whatever sorcery was used on you was some kind of generic, thousand year evil-be-gone nonsense. That’s what the prophecy said and that’s what usually happens to most villains anyways.
  2. Pulling yourself up into a sitting position you find you can do little more than simply sit and look at the ground, a resigned sigh escaping you.
  3. “So this is it,” you mutter to yourself. “After all this time it’s finally come, the moment of my defeat.”
  4. The roaring of the crowd is still fresh in your ears; thousands, millions even, had come to see your public banishment, to watch as their heavensent hero put an end to ten thousand years of darkness and tyranny. The last sounds you heard of your home as you were sent away were the cheering of ten thousand voices, the hero’s declarations of peace, and your own booming laughter.
  5. As you briefly scan the area you get a vague idea of your general location, that being a barren hunk of rock floating through space.
  6. “Oh well, I suppose it could be worse,” you grumble. “at least there aren’t any ponies or anything. That would just be awful.”
  7. You heave yourself to your feet, the clanking of your armor plates the only noise in this barren wasteland. Looking around to get a better feel for your location, you see only endless grey crags in every direction and you sigh in resignation. It’s going to be a long thousand years. But at least you’re not going to be dying anytime soon, which ought to stick in that little hero punk’s craw. Thank you ancient magical suit of armor.
  8. Seeing no real alternative, you decide your first course of action should be to set out and see if this rock really is as barren as it looks. Picking a direction at random, you set off to find out.
  9. All you can think about is that you’re finally free, no longer are you bound by the chains of fate. Prophecy no longer dictates your actions and, for once, at last your decisions are your own, your future is finally unwritten. How inconvenient that your freedom should only come when you can do nothing with it.
  10. “Bah, details.” you say to yourself. “Surely there’s something to do here.”
  11. Your ironshod feet thump across the ground kicking up small plumes of dust with each step, and as you continue on you begin to attempt to amuse yourself by stomping every few steps or so to see how much dust you can kick up. After the fourth or fifth time you realize what you’re doing and groan at what a sorry state you’re in. What a fool you must look to any outside observer, though a cursory glance at your surroundings reveals that you’re villainous image is safe for now as there’s not a soul to be seen.
  12. But surely this place isn’t as barren as it looks, the fact that you can breathe lends some credence to the thought. Or perhaps that’s just one more facet of your magical armor seeing as you’ve never really tested it in a vacuum. Though soon it dawns on you that you don’t particularly care what the reasoning is and the question drops from your mind, thoughts of your recent defeat rushing in to fill the void.
  13. Inescapable fate or not, you can’t help but feel a little irritated that the greatest threat to your everlasting empire of evil was a band of teenagers. It’s always teenagers. Even back when you were on the other end of the prophecy it was teenagers.
  14. “Oh Black God below, they’re probably touching all of my stuff by now,” you sigh.
  15. Maybe if you’re lucky you’ll find a kingdom or something to conquer to take your mind off it all. Yeah, that would be nice, just like the good old days when you were only starting out on the road of villainy.
  16. Oh blasted nostalgia, you’re reminiscing again.
  17. A slight shake of your head clears any remaining wistful thoughts of the good old days and sets you back on track.
  18. “You! What are you doing on my moon?”
  19. Though apparently fate has different ideas about what you should be doing with your time, but that’s fine by you. You whirl around to face the speaker, hopeful that perhaps there might be people to enslave on this apparently not-so-desolate rock. However what you see does not amuse you, not one bit.
  20. “Well? The great Nightmare Moon has asked you a question! Do not try my patience!”
  21. Spinning on your heel, you begin walking in the opposite direction of the talking horse. You’re too old to be dealing with this kind of crap.
  22. “Hey!” comes a furious shout from behind.
  23. The black pony flies up alongside you and matches your pace. “Was I not clear? I demand to know- pay attention when I’m talking to you!” she shouts, stomping a hoof in indignation.
  24. Perhaps if you ignore it long enough it will simply go away.
  25. “Come back here!” she yells, cantering after you.
  26. Not today, talking horse.
  27. “Do you even know who I am?” the horse-thing demands.
  28. You get the weirdest feeling that you’re going to find out regardless of your desires.
  29. “I am Nightmare Moon, Queen of the Night!”
  30. You walk faster, prompting a growl from the so-called Nightmare Moon. Again she matches your pace.
  31. “I demand to know how you came to be on my moon.” she says.
  32. You maintain your silence, still clutching to the flagging hope that it will leave you alone eventually. It would really be a shame to stain your weapon with such a pathetic creature’s blood. A disservice to the mighty thing, really.
  33. “Are you perhaps some manner of automaton?” the horse persists, craning forward to peer into your face.
  34. She shrinks back slightly as she meets a pointed glare, the glowing lights of your eyes narrowed to crimson slits in aggravation.
  35. “Hmm, not an automaton then.” she mutters, lapsing into silence for a moment. “What are you then? I’ve never seen anything like you before.”
  36. Staunchly you maintain your silence, you want nothing at all to do with this wretched thing.
  37. “Hmm, whatever you are you must be newly come to this place, for a thousand years I’ve been banished to this moon and never once have I seen anything similar to you.”
  38. Wait, what? She’s been banished here too? Is this just the place all deposed tyrants are dumped when they’ve been done away with?
  39. You make the mistake of slightly shifting your head in a manner that apparently constitutes something akin to curiosity. Unfortunately the gesture is not missed by the noisy creature and she jumps on the opportunity presented.
  40. “Ah, have I caught your interest? Very well, I suppose I have time enough to tell you the tale.”
  41. Once more the thought crosses your mind that this is going to be a long thousand years.
  42. Meanwhile she wastes no time jumping into an obviously rehearsed and painfully long winded monologue about how she valiantly fought to free her homeland from her sister’s tyranny that you’re one hundred percent sure is a steaming load of crap.
  43. It goes on for seemingly hours, and with no way to judge the time it may very well have been. She talks incessantly about herself and about the crimes perpetrated by her sister, but after a while it all becomes little more than white noise. The more she talks the more sure you become that she’s incredibly new to the whole evil business. She seems to subscribe to every stereotypical villain cliche that exists, it’s a rather painful thing to listen to if you were honest with yourself.
  44. It’s really no wonder she was defeated, she must have picked up every single villain ball that rolled her way.
  45. Fortunately, after what might very well be the fifth hour of her rant she seems to be winding down.
  46. “And when I return the moon will rise and the night will last forever!” she finishes dramatically.
  47. You tried. You really, really tried, but this is just too much even for you, you can’t remain silent a moment longer. That is the absolute last straw.
  48. “That is the most terrible plan I have ever heard.” you grumble, finally breaking your silence.
  49. “I... what?” she stammers, your remark catching her off guard.
  50. “What of the tides, the seasons, or the crops?”
  51. “And what concern of mine are any of those? Such trivial things are beneath me!” she declares, sticking her nose up.
  52. “Only if you don’t mind ruling a kingdom of corpses. You’re not a necromancer are you?” you ask, eyeing her warily.
  53. “Explain yourself!”
  54. Are you really going to have to do this? Do you really have to outline why it’s a bad idea to turn off the sun?
  55. “Eternal night, specifically your obsession with a stationary moon, means no more changing of tides. This would more likely than not wreak havoc on coastal settlements, and probably significantly affect the ecosystem, though I couldn’t tell you how, I’ve always been more about destroying things myself. And as for seasons, with no source of light or heat, say goodbye to everything but winter. I sure hope you love snow. And let’s not forget that plants need sunlight to live, which I thought was something even children knew. This would devastate crops and, considering you’re a horse, I’d say this wipes out your entire source of food. So congratulations, you’ve just killed everyone ever. Enjoy your kingdom. Though if you want my opinion you should just stay here and save yourself the effort, it would save everyone a lot of time and you get the same end result.”
  56. Nightmare is speechless for a few moments, apparently she had never considered that her plan was anything but the pinnacle of villainous genius and your revelation left her a little lost for words.
  57. That’s fine by you, the less she says the better.
  58. “How dare you!” she finally manages.
  59. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.
  60. “How could you even... of course I would plan for... I mean... you can’t talk to me like that!”
  61. Smooth.
  62. Once more she stomps a hoof like a petulant child. “I demand that you stop walking this instant!”
  63. You don’t stop and she doesn’t follow. You don’t look back.
  64.  
  65.  
  66.  
  67. You’ve seen neither hide nor hair of the nightmare horse since you parted ways, and that’s just fine with you. There’s nothing that aggravates you more than bad villains, and she is without a doubt the worst villain you’ve ever encountered. And while normally being bad is good for a villain, this was the bad kind of bad, the kind of bad a villain shouldn’t be. You’re not talking evil bad, you’re talking incompetent bad, stupid bad, pants-on-head retarded bad. You’re honestly rather surprised she knew to wear her helm on her head.
  68. But, you can’t help but think, were you not once there yourself? Were you so different all those millennia ago? When you yourself had strayed from that glorious golden path and taken the mantle of tyrant did you not simply do what came natural? What seemed like evil at the time?
  69. Is that what you would have become if you hadn’t had access to such a wealth of villainous knowledge as you did? It’s far more likely than you would like to admit.
  70. Perhaps with the same help you’d had she would have succeeded with her endeavors.
  71. Your line of thought is brought to an end as a magnificent sight catches your eye. A planet crests the rim of the moon you’ve found yourself on in an odd, but no less marvelous parody of a sunrise. You take a long moment to stop and stare at the world, so very different from your own.
  72. A deep, long forgotten part of you marvels at its beauty, its blues and greens and wispy whites such a stark contrast from your own home, a uniformed red eyesore blasted by a bitter and dying sun where what life exists hardy, but scraggly and inelegant and the seas have long since boiled away.
  73. Another part of you wonders how long it will take to dominate. Nonsense aside, it sounded as if they had only barely managed to repel Nightmare Moon, you idly wonder how they might fare against a true villain. One who doesn’t fall prey to every exploitable villain cliche that exists.
  74. Your blessed silence doesn’t last much longer, unfortunately, and is soon broken by the flapping of wings followed by the clopping of hooves against stone.
  75. Deep down you knew this silence had been far too good to last. Having finally come to terms with the realisation that ignoring it will not make it go away, you decide the best course of action is to nip this in the bud.
  76. “I swear on the bones of every tyrant who has come before me, if you speak another word to me of your blasted eternal night nonsense I will beat you to within an inch of your life.” you say before she has a chance to utter a word.
  77. She’s silent for a moment and you briefly hope that she’ll simply fly away and leave you to your thoughts. Such hope is short lived.
  78. “You are strong.” she says, her previous boastful manner conspicuously absent. “Your power fills the air, even at rest it radiates from you.”
  79. “Did you come here just to flatter me? My empire spanned a world once, yours is just another voice amongst the chorus of conquered souls that sing my praises. Speak your intentions or leave me to my thoughts.”
  80. She stands by your side and the two of you gaze for a while at the planet rising over the moon’s horizon.
  81. “That used to be mine.” she says barely above a whisper. “I want it back.”
  82. Almost of its own accord your arm raises and your hand reaches out to the distant world as though to snatch it from the void for yourself.
  83. “I will escape this prison and bring ruination to it.” you say simply.
  84. “You’re quite ambitious.” she remarks. “How do you intend to escape? I’ve been trying for nearly a thousand years.”
  85. “I will find a way, there is nothing beyond my power.”
  86. “Is there now?”
  87. Nightmare hums for a moment and you can practically sense the gears turning in her head.
  88. “Could you win me that world?” she asks after a moment.
  89. “You have the audacity to ask me to hand you that world on a silver platter?” you ask her. “Because I can’t think of a single reason why I shouldn’t just kill you and take it for myself.”
  90. “Am I to understand that you’ve been banished here just as I have?” she inquires.
  91. “I have.” you reply curtly.
  92. You see a smile creep onto her face. “I can offer you freedom then.”
  93. It’s difficult, but you manage to keep from showing the curiosity you feel. Lie or not this horse has your undivided attention.
  94. “How can you free me if you cannot even free yourself?” you ask, being sure to disguise the inquiry in an appropriately mocking tone, hoping to goad her into revealing her hand.
  95. It works perfectly.
  96. “Because my own banishment is nearing its end, and for a price I will allow you to return with me.” she happily declares.
  97. There’s no deception in her voice as far as you can tell, so your interest is most certainly piqued. If she’s telling the truth then this could be your ticket to a vastly reduced banishment.
  98. “And what would be this price you demand of me?” you ask. “That world? I think not, I will not hand you an empire. I am no servant to be commanded.”
  99. “Why? Surely you are powerful enough. Such a task would present no challenge at all for one as mighty as you.”
  100. She’s not trying to flatter you here, merely stating a fact. She knows as well as you that if you truly desire that world then the only thing standing in your way is time. How boring it would be though if you were to simply take it.
  101. “Because it is as you say, conquering this world is of no consequence to me. There is nothing that may possibly challenge me here, and thus any conquest would be cheapened by the lack of effort. However...”
  102. An idea begins forming in your head as you consider this woeful excuse for a villain before you. A wonderful, terrible, truly malevolent idea.
  103. “Such a pathetic villain you make, incompetent beyond all measure. I wonder if you might be a proper tyrant at all.”
  104. Nightmare growls in irritation. “Is there a point to this?”
  105. “Perhaps,” you muse. “But you are so incompetent that it would take nothing short of a mad genius to fix you. What a challenge that would pose.”
  106. “What exactly are you getting at?” she demands.
  107. Oh yes, what a wonderful idea. What a magnificent genius you are. This is precisely the challenge you’ve been searching for.
  108. “I will not deliver you this world.” you declare at last after a brief moment of thought. “But instead I will teach you, mould you into the epitome of an evil overlord, and help you to take it for yourself. In return for my benevolence you will take me with you when your banishment ends. Is this agreeable?”
  109. She growls again. “I do not desire a teacher! I desire an empire, my empire! Have you so quickly forgotten that I am your only way off this rock?”
  110. “There is another way.”
  111. “What way?” she demands, eyeing you skeptically.
  112. You extend a hand and summon your weapon from the tesseract you store it within. With a brief shimmering a great shape materializes in your grasp, a colossal spiked mace of wrought iron rests within your outstretched hand, as long as you are tall, its head as large as your torso.
  113. “I simply sunder this lifeless rock apart and ride the burning fragments into your world, then take over whatever lives through the impact.” you say, letting your mace rest upon your shoulder.
  114. Nightmare visibly pales. “You’re bluffing!” she exclaims. “There’s no way something like that is within your power to do!”
  115. In response you merely shrug and lift your weapon high in preparation to strike. “Suit yourself then.”
  116. The weapon strikes the ground with a loud thud, leaving a shallow crater in the sundered rock. The collision shakes the ground and you see Nightmare steady herself as the force from your blow throws her off balance.
  117. You raise your weapon up and bring it down a second time in the same spot, cracks spiderwebing out from the impact point along the ground.
  118. A third strike splits the ground, widening the cracks into small rents in the stone. A fourth strike turns them into gaping fissures. A fifth strike causes Nightmare to take to the air in fright as the ground crumbles beneath her.
  119. You raise your weapon and prepare for a sixth strike, the crimson glow of your eyes intensifying while your mace begins to shimmer with power. It begins to fall with the finality of an executioner’s axe when a piercing shout cuts the air.
  120. “Wait!”
  121. You halt your blow mid swing and turn your head to regard Nightmare. “Had a change of heart have we?”
  122. “Yes! Fine! I accept your terms! I will be your student, just please don’t destroy my moon!” she all but begs.
  123. With an inward smile you allow your weapon to fall back against your shoulder again, pleased at the effectiveness of your bluff. Powerful beyond reckoning you may be, but you’re fairly certain destroying an entire moon is still somewhat beyond you. However the Doom Cannon in your fortress of evil is another story completely.
  124. “Excellent.” is all you say.
  125. At the same moment the both of you find your gazes drawn back to world hanging peacefully in the void, unaware of the predatory gazes currently fixed upon it.
  126. “What is it called?” you ask as you stare.
  127. “The world is called Earth, the kingdom... my kingdom is Equestria.”
  128. Your only response is a noncommittal grunt. The name doesn’t exactly thrill you, but you suppose it could be worse. It could be called Ponyville or something. Now that would just be plain unbearable.
  129. The two of you sit in silence while you muse over recent occurrences. In the span of a single day you’ve lost an empire and then found a new one, ripe for the taking. But more than that, you finally have a challenge.
  130. With a fractional, barely noticeable shift of your head, you gaze at your new student. For all your power, for all your wisdom and age and raw magical might this is one challenge, the first in millennia in fact, that you are not totally sure of your ability to overcome. This is something you won’t be able to simply power your way through. It’s an almost thrilling prospect.
  131. “You will do what I say when I say it.” you state, breaking the silence. “Heed my every order and you just might survive long enough to sit upon the throne of your world. Somehow I’ll make a villain out of you.”
  132.  
  133. >A boulder shatters from the force with which you’d launched the Nightmare into it.
  134. “Again!”
  135. >Nightmare stumbles to her hooves, panting heavily. “And what exactly is the purpose of this?”
  136. “I need to assess your capabilities, but so far I only have weaknesses. Again!”
  137. >She bares her fangs and growls angrily at you, power gathering around her horn.
  138. >Again she charges you, head lowered, making to gore you with her overcharged horn.
  139. >You do nothing while she charges you and allow her to strike you.
  140. >When her horn strikes your breastplate it explosively releases its stored energy, focused at the very tip.
  141. >Not a bad strategy, but the delivery was pathetic. There was nothing to stop you from simply sidestepping her and striking her as she charged passed.
  142. >Her magic, though, has no effect against your ancient armor, which evidently catches her by surprise.
  143. >While she stands there wondering what happened you summon your titan hammer to your hand and casually strike the alicorn, sending her through another rock face.
  144. “Pathetic! Never bank everything on a single attack, always have a follow up ready. This applies to any of your endeavors.”
  145. >She erupts from the rubble with a cry of rage, flying straight for you.
  146. >You swing your hammer at her again, but just before it collides she explodes into a starry mist.
  147. >While your hammer passes harmlessly through the space she no longer occupied, Nightmare reforms herself behind you and blasts you in the back with a burst of magic.
  148. >You stumble forward a few paces and whirl around, but stop as you notice that a shadow has been cast over you.
  149. >You look up and a colossal boulder now hangs over your head, suspended by the smirking alicorn’s magic.
  150. “Much bet-” you’re cut off as she drops the boulder on you.
  151.  
  152. >After you’d finished discerning her strengths and weaknesses, you’d thrashed Nightmare around for you own amusement for a while under the pretense of “training.”
  153. >When you got bored you decided to sit down and review your findings.
  154. >In short, she was shit. Nightmare would be of absolutely no use in a head on fight.
  155. >She could be useful in other ways, though. She seemed to be rather good at misdirection.
  156. >She got a few good responses out of you when she’d pulled of some crazy hallucination spell that made you think you were back in your Evil Doom Fortress fighting that band of heroes.
  157. >You did get her back pretty good for that one, though.
  158. >By beating her mercilessly with your hammer.
  159. >That also enlightened you to another thing she has going for her.
  160. >Magic armor. Every good overlord needs magical armor, and it seems like Nightmare’s got hers already.
  161. >You’re not exactly sure what it does, but it kept you from killing her, so that’s something at least.
  162. >Now you and Nightmare sit on the ground, a few conjured quills and blank scrolls scattered about in preparation for getting shit done.
  163. >An ancient, ironbound tome of wisdom also sits opened in your lap as you scribble upon a scroll.
  164. >”So what do we do now?” Nightmare asks, holding an ice pack to her head.
  165. “We’re going to iron out a plan. We can’t go into this half assed, that’s how the heroes win. You need a solid plan of action.”
  166. >Nightmare scoffs. “This is beneath us! Your strength alone could level Canterlot Mountain!”
  167. “I’m not here to take over the kingdom for you, I’m here to make sure you do it right. And there is nothing “beneath” a good overlord. Brushing off things as beneath you is arrogance, and arrogance will ALWAYS lead to your defeat.”
  168.  
  169. “Now, what do you plan on doing with your sister once you’ve usurped control of the kingdom?”
  170. >Nightmare grins sadistically. “I plan on keeping her in the darkest cell of the palace dungeons. I’ll keep her alive forever down there so she can stew in her failure!”
  171. “Wrong. You’re going to kill her.”
  172. >”But-”
  173. “Are there any objects/ancient artifacts/relics/miscellaneous items that could lead to your undoing?”
  174. >”Yes, the Elements of Harmony that my sister used to banish me in the first place.”
  175. “Do you know their current location?”
  176. >”Yes, the palace of the Royal Pony Sisters.”
  177. “Good, securing those will be our first course of action.”
  178. >”What about announcing our return to the public so that they might prepare for our rule?”
  179. “No. GODS no. A good villain never allows the heroes an opportunity to oppose them. We must first ensure that any means they may have of defeating us are removed from play before they even know we’re there.”
  180. >Nightmare grumbles in annoyance. “Very well.”
  181. “Now is there somewhere safe they can be stored?”
  182. >”Yes! I plan on keeping them on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire where they will be guarded by the Dragons of Eternity.”
  183. “Incorrect. They’ll be kept in your safe deposit box. This also applies to any items which may be the source of your power.”
  184. >”But that-”
  185. “Now how do you plan on acquiring these Elements of Harmony?”
  186. >”I suppose I could always send my legions of Night Guards to siege the palace.”
  187. “Wrong. While a Legion of Terror is a valuable tool, a better idea would be to have them assault another, completely irrelevant location on the opposite end of the kingdom to distract from the Elements. Then in the meantime we can quietly put a Want Ad in the newspaper.”
  188.  
  189. >Hours go by in this fashion, you asking her a question, then correcting her when she inevitably gives you a stupid answer.
  190. >By the time you’ve finished, you’ve filled up several feet of parchment with plans for the journey to Equestria.
  191. >You feel rather satisfied in the completion of this task, it’s been ages since you planned the downfall of a civilisation and the process had a distinct feeling of nostalgia to it.
  192. >A small part of you rejects the feeling, a different nostalgia coming to mind, but you quickly crush it as you have so many times before.
  193. >Sometimes you have to actually remember that you’re not a hero anymore.
  194. >With a contented sigh you slam your ironbound tome closed and return it to its chain at your hip.
  195. >”What’s in that?” Nightmare asks suddenly, pointing to the tome.
  196. >You smile and lay a hand on the large book.
  197. “It is a volume of villainous wisdom, handed down from overlord to tyrant to corrupt king throughout the ages of my world. It is a guiding unlight for any with evil endeavors, and its wisdom has won me many a victory.”
  198. >Nightmare, interest piqued, shuffles forward for a better look at it and you raise it so she can see.
  199. >”... The Evil Overlord List?” she says incredulously.
  200. >You cock your head at her somewhat disappointed tone.
  201. >Noticing the gesture she explains. “I expected its title to be... I don’t know, a little more sinister?”
  202. “Simplicity is a virtue.” you say, handing the book to her.
  203. >She flips open to a random page and begins reading.
  204. >”When I employ people as my advisors I will occasionally listen to their advice.“ she reads aloud. “Huh...”
  205. “Eye opening, isn’t it?”
  206.  
  207. >”I will not strike a bargain with a demonic being then attempt to double-cross it simply because I feel like being contrary.” she looks up at you in amazement. “It’s like this book knows me.”
  208. “Generations of evil overlords have added to it, compiling their knowledge into a single tome of villainous knowledge that all but guarantees the success of any villain that heeds its words. I obeyed every word of this book and my empire lasted for millennia.”
  209. >”But you were beaten eventually, so the book can’t be all that great.”
  210. “Its knowledge is absolute, everything an overlord needs to know is in there.”
  211. >”Then why were you defeated?”
  212. “It’s knowledge is so complete,” you continue, ignoring her, “that throughout my millennia of tyranny I was only able to add a single note to it at the very end.”
  213. >Nightmare looks down at the book and flips to the last page and reads the entry.
  214. >”... No king rules forever?” she says hesitantly, reading your only contribution to the tome. “And what does that mean?”
  215. “It means that no matter your successes, no matter how great your power or how absolute your rule, your time will come. There is no such thing as an eternal ruler. This applies to both heroes and villains, no king rules forever. I penned that entry in my final moments as the ruler of my world.”
  216. >Nightmare stares at you incomprehensibly for a few moments, digesting this new knowledge.
  217. >”I will.” she says suddenly.
  218. “What?”
  219. >She stares defiantly into your eyes. “I will rule forever.”
  220. “And what gives you that idea?” you ask, the red light of your eyes narrowing to thin slits.
  221.  
  222. >”This tome,” she says, pointing to the book, “is a compilation of the knowledge of generations of overlords. With every new generation it becomes more and more complete, and with your defeat it finally is. Every overlord ruled longer and stronger than the one before them with the knowledge from this book. And now that I possess the book in its complete form I will rule longer than even you.”
  223. “And how do you plan on doing that?” you ask sarcastically.
  224. >”Simple. This appears to be a list of failings to avoid. Therefore I will simply avoid not ruling forever.”
  225. “Hmm. We’ll see about that.” you say grinning beneath your helmet. “But it is a weak empress who has no empire to rule.”
  226. >”Queen.” she interjects. “Not empress. I prefer “Queen.””
  227. “By all means, call yourself whatever you wish. It will be your right as the unquestioned ruler. Now, if you don’t mind?” you say, holding out a hand for the book.
  228. >Nightmare looks between the book and your hand, obviously not wanting to give it up.
  229. “You are no overlord. You have no right to possess that book. Give it to me.”
  230. >She scowls at you and pushes it back towards you.
  231. >You close the tome and secure the iron fastenings, locking it closed, then return it to the chain at your hip.
  232. >While she stares covetously at your book, you decide to strike up a conversation on a passing whim.
  233. “You will never be a proper overlord, I think, as you are beginning your quest as a villain. All overlords who have penned this book began as heroes.”
  234. >She looks at you, surprised at your words. “They were?”
  235.  
  236. “They were.” you confirm. “It was the great cycle of my world. A hero would arise to lead the world in revolution against the current overlord. The overlord would take measures against him, but when conventional opposition failed, they would know that a True Hero had risen to oppose them and they would begin preparing for their defeat.”
  237. >”That is foolishness! Why would they not fight to the last?”
  238. “Because a True Hero could not be defeated by a villain. Fate itself would throw its weight behind his endeavors. This is why I say that no king rules forever, because eventually a True Hero will arise to cast your works down.”
  239. >Nightmare snorts. “What nonsense is this?”
  240. “Not nonsense. A king may not rule forever, but each overlord, when faced with a True Hero, would make preparations for succession, because it is the way that the hero will always take the overlord’s place as ruler of the world. The people will demand that their savior lead them into their new golden age.”
  241. >”So a villain would willingly give up his throne to a hero?”
  242. “Not willingly, never willingly. But they would know it was inevitable. There is no mistaking a True Hero and when an overlord recognizes that one has arisen he must recognize that his time has come and set events in motion for the hero to be an appropriate successor.”
  243. >”And how do they do that?”
  244. “They imbue the hero with bitterness and anger. They strike down those he loves, they burn the place he calls home, they desecrate the very ideals he stands for. The hero and the world simply think that the overlord is attempting to stop him through underhanded means, but in truth they are really planting the seeds of villainy.”
  245.  
  246. “Eventually the hero’s bitterness and anger will consume him, though it may not be for decades or even centuries. But eventually the previous overlord’s actions will ensure that the hero becomes an overlord, who will then himself be overthrown by a hero. And so the cycle continues.”
  247. >”So... you were a hero once?”
  248. >You let out a deep sigh.
  249. “Once.”
  250. >”And you overthrew a tyrant?”
  251. “I did.”
  252. >”What changed you to... well, this?”
  253. “The Great Truth.”
  254. >”And that is...?”
  255. “You do not need to know because you are not a hero.”
  256. >Nightmare frowns at you. “That is not entirely true. I was a hero once.”
  257. “Were you now?” you ask, interest piqued.
  258. >”I was. My sister and I saved our world from a tyrant who called himself Discord.”
  259. “Really, now? Hah, perhaps there is a chance for you after all. Tell me, what did he do to turn you to villainy?”
  260. >”He... did nothing, actually. It... well he was actually our greatest friend in the world. He’d simply gotten out of hand and we had to stop him for his own good.”
  261. >You frown.
  262. “So he is not responsible for your fall from grace? A pity, it would have been nice to see the cycle holds true on all worlds.”
  263. >”Well... Discord wasn’t a proper tyrant. He was a good person, but when a near omnipotent being with unlimited power makes it his mission to prank your kingdom into the ground...”
  264. “What.”
  265. >”He meant well, he just wanted to make us all smile. He just got out of hand.” Nightmare explained.
  266. “So you are not a true overlord then.”
  267. >”But we did overthrow another tyrant! A proper one this time! He called himself Sombra, he was the Sorcerer-King of the Crystal Empire.”
  268.  
  269. >Ah, sorcerer-king? That’s much better. Sorcerers always make the best villains, you find.
  270. “And he turned you to evil?”
  271. >”Well, not exactly, but he did push me over the edge.”
  272. “Tell me about it.” It was not a request.
  273. >”Well, at the time I’d been feeling a little jealous of my sister. All the ponies would work and play in the sun. But when it came time for me to raise the moon they’d all go to sleep and ignore it. I poured my heart and soul into making the night sky a work of art.” she says bitterly. “Then they all just ignored it! I spent centuries making every effort I could to make it beautiful and they all just go to sleep! All Celestia had to do was raise the sun and they’d all cheer. It was completely unfair! And then she’d just brush me off when I’d bring it up with her!”
  274. >You make a “get on with it” motion with your hand when you notice her beginning to rant.
  275. >She grins sheepishly and gets back to her story.
  276. >”Well it’s around the time that the jealousy’s really set in that we get wind of some trouble that’s going on in the Crystal Empire. Apparently their new king went on a power trip and decided to enslave them all.”
  277. >Yeah, that sounds about right for a tyrant.
  278. >”Now Celly doesn’t like to just rush in and lay down the law, she wanted to try a diplomatic approach at first. We met with Sombra a few times over the years and tried to talk him out of being a villain.”
  279. >You can’t suppress an amused chuckle when she says that.
  280. >”Yeah, that’s exactly what I thought too.”
  281.  
  282. “And how’d that go over?”
  283. >”Exactly as well as you might think. But he recognized what was happening between my sister and I and tried to play us against each other.”
  284. >Like any self respecting villain should.
  285. >”He saw my jealousy and played to it. He told me that I would never win the peoples’ love by asking for it, that I had to take it. He showed me how well it worked for him, and I have to admit I couldn't argue. He ruled with an iron hoof and it worked well for him. Needless to say I wasn’t far gone enough to really listen to him, but it honestly didn’t seem like he was really trying to stop me, like he just wanted me to hear it.”
  286. >You easily recognise what was going on.
  287. >Sombra realized he’d been confronted with a True Hero and so sought to create a successor out of Nightmare.
  288. >It seems the cycle does hold true after all.
  289. >”So we overthrew him and banished him to the arctic north for a thousand years.”
  290. >Requisite thousand year banishments transcend all cultures it would seem.
  291. >”But his words always stuck with me. I just couldn’t get them out of my head. I thought and thought about them until I eventually decided... well, that he was right. I had to stop waiting for what I wanted to come to me and just take it.”
  292. “And then you were banished here.”
  293. >She nods.
  294. >Well this changes everything.
  295. “So it would seem you’re a true overlord after all. No... not a true overlord, you were defeated before seizing power.”
  296. >”But with your aid I will not fail this time!” she declares. “When I return Equestria shall have a new ruler!”
  297. “You have some serious issues we’ll need to work out first, though.”
  298. >”What?”
  299.  
  300. “That whole business with your sister. We’re gonna have to deal with that. You can’t go running in all filled up with jealousy like that, it’ll cloud your judgement. Now sit down and tell me about it.”
  301. >Nightmare snorts. “I was unaware that you were a psychologist.”
  302. “I’m not, but I need to know how best to tell you to stop worrying about irrelevant bullshit. Now start talking.”
  303. >”I find this to be completely unnecessary. Wouldn’t it be best for me to foster my hatred for my sister? If I hate her won’t that reinforce my conviction and help me to remember why I’m doing what I am?”
  304. >None too subtly, you smack Nightmare upside the head.
  305. “Don’t give me any of that “hatred makes you stronger” bullshit. You’ll remember why you’re doing this just fine. All hatred does is cloud your judgement and cause you to make mistakes that you wouldn’t otherwise make with a clear head.”
  306. >Nightmare rubs the back of her head and scowls at you. “Then if not hatred what emotion should be my driving force?”
  307. “None of them! You shouldn’t be thinking with emotions, that’s how you lose!”
  308. >”Well then what is your motivation? Power? Greed? Wealth?”
  309. “Nothing so crass.”
  310. >”Well then what?”
  311. “Necessity,” you growl.
  312. >”... Necessity? You are a villain because you need to be?”
  313. “Not because I need to be, but because I have to be. It was my fate to become a villain, and I embraced the hand fate dealt me.”
  314. >”Why did you have to become a villain?”
  315. “This isn’t about me, it’s about getting your shit in order so you don’t screw up. Now talk. What’s your story?”
  316. >Nightmare sighs in aggravation. “Alright, fine. Here it is.”
  317.  
  318. Many hours later.
  319. >”And can you believe that she forgot my twelve hundred and fourteenth birthday?! She promised we’d go to Los Pegasus for the weekend and have fun but she completely blew me off! Something stupid about invading dragons or something...”
  320. >Nightmare is broken from her endless tirade about her sister’s inadequacies by a light snoring.
  321. >Somewhere around the third or fourth consecutive hour of ranting you just fell asleep where you sat, her inane prattling becoming little more than a soft droning in the back of your mind.
  322. >”Are you asleep?!” she all but screeches.
  323. >You jolt as though struck, the alicorn’s furious shriek abruptly rousing you from your peaceful slumber.
  324. “Not anymore...” you mutter. “Are you done bitching yet?”
  325. >Nightmare sputters in indignant anger for a moment. “And just WHAT is that supposed to mean? You’re the very one who told me to talk!”
  326. “Yes, but everything you’ve told me so far has been...” you take a moment to search for an appropriate word. “Irrelevant bullshit.” you finish eloquently.
  327. >”How is any of this irrelevant? I’m explaining to you why I hate my sister in the first place!”
  328. “Yeah but all of your reasons are bad. It’s all petty, minor stuff. You’re obviously not taking this very seriously, and if you don’t want to take this seriously then why should I? Why should I help you dethrone your sister?”
  329. >”Because she is a tyrant! Because she does not deserve to rule! Because I DO!”
  330. “And why should your people support your claim to the throne?” you ask, your eyes turning to red slits at her petulant attitude.
  331. >”Why should it matter if they support my claim? I am their rightful queen!”
  332. “Because they are the people you mean to rule. Do you expect them to tolerate a ruler who does not appear to care about them?”
  333.  
  334. >”And why SHOULD I care about them? They are insects to me! They will support my claim because I shall tell them they do! And they will listen because it is the voice of god that tells them!”
  335. >You lean forward, closing the distance between the two of you, and you speak four words.
  336. “Vox populi vox dei.”
  337. >”And what is that pile of gibberish supposed to mean?”
  338. “The voice of the people is the voice of god.” you tell her. “Not yours, never yours. It matters not what power you have, the one true power is the power to stir the hearts of your people. To win their hearts and minds is the truest victory you could ever hope to achieve. Because with the backing of the people your other powers become as nothing, for the masses will be the instrument of your will. That is why I fell, because the people found a new figure to lead them, and when the people choose their decision is absolute. You can rule with fear, and many overlords have, but their fear is nothing, NOTHING compared to their love. To become truly powerful, to truly achieve victory, you must make them love you. With the love of the people there will be nothing your sister can do against you.”
  339. >Nightmare snorts in derision. “Love? I thought you were evil! You’re the last person I ever expected to preach the values of love.”
  340. “Were you not listening to me, you ignorant horse? Love is power!”
  341. >”What makes it any better than ruling through fear?”
  342. “Fear will only drive them so far! They shall only move forward so long as they fear what lies behind them more! As soon as something they fear more than you rears up they shall abandon you!”
  343.  
  344. “But if they love you... if they love you then they will march to the ends of the earth for you. You need not threaten them, the mere thought of disappointing you would be threat enough. You need never punish them, for the guilt they shall feel for failing you would be worse than the sting of a thousand lashes. And you need never reward them, for your love will be all they could ever desire. The strength or weakness of any ruler lies in their people and that is the power you must strive to attain.”
  345. >”How could I possibly make them love me over Celestia? She is the pinnacle of a benevolent ruler.”
  346. “You must defame her! Paint her as an uncaring monarch who knows nothing of the trials and tribulations of the common man! It is the weak and the downtrodden, the meek and the poor who shall be your greatest ally. Call to you all those who have been crushed under the weight of the aristocracy, those who have no chance simply because they were not born into nobility. You shall go to them and promise them release from their hardships, that you shall cast down the arrogant nobles who have for so long looked down upon and judged them from on high simply because of their noble blood. You will tell them that it is THEY who are noble, that it is they and they alone who have the right to shape their own futures. You shall give them a gift that Celestia could never match; you shall give them hope. They will fight for a brighter tomorrow far more fiercely than they shall fight simply to provide you with position.”
  347. >Nightmare puts a hoof to her chin in thought. “So you mean to say that we should start a revolution on the basis that my sister is uncaring for the common pony?”
  348.  
  349. “That is exactly what I’m saying.” you say, feeling a small amount of pride in your student for understanding.
  350. >”But many believe her to be a god, how could we convince them to turn against the very being who raises the sun?”
  351. “You are the princess of the moon, correct?”
  352. >”Queen, thank you. But yes I am.”
  353. “Are you currently controlling the orbit of the moon?”
  354. >”No, my sister is.”
  355. “Then you should be able to control both as she does, correct?”
  356. >”I have no interest in controlling the sun, but yes, if I needed to I could.”
  357. “Then you must cast her from the pedestal she has made for herself, bring her down to earth and show them all that she is no god and that you are the one who will bring about their brighter tomorrow.”
  358. >”I feel that you are missing the point. The whole reason I want this is so that the moon will get the respect it deserves. I want nothing to do with the sun.”
  359. “Unfortunately the world needs sunlight to survive. You cannot just do away with it forever.”
  360. >Nightmare gnashes her teeth in frustration. “Then what may I do?! I just want them all to respect the night as they do the day! I want them to look up at the stars and marvel at their beauty! Ruling is nothing next to-”
  361. “Next to their love.”
  362. >”I... yes.”
  363. “You do not desire simply to dominate or enslave, you want to be loved, respected, admired.”
  364. >”And is that so wrong? For millennia I have been pushed aside and forgotten! For millennia they have revered her for nothing while I have made every effort to please them!”
  365. “It is no failing to desire love.”
  366. >”Then why should I be punished so for wanting it!” she demands.
  367.  
  368. >You sigh to yourself. Her issues with her sister could not simply be pushed aside, and she refused to simply deal with them.
  369. >You would have to take matters into your own hands if she was to succeed.
  370. >Somehow you will have to appease her desire for admiration, even though you hold none for her.
  371. >It’s fortunate that lying comes easily to you.
  372. “Perhaps you found no love in this world, but in mine the moon received great love.”
  373. >That stops her cold, and she stares at you intently, mild shock registering on her features.
  374. >”It... did?”
  375. “So beloved was it that I took it for the symbol of my regime, so that all would associate their love for it with my empire.”
  376. >Despite herself you notice her eyes widen in disbelief and you know you have her.
  377. >It’s fortunate that she is so desperate for love that she’d believe anything you told her.
  378. >This lie merely had to hold her over until she won the love of her people.
  379. >In the meanwhile you can only hope that this doesn’t backfire on you in some unforseen, potentially horrific manner.
  380. “It is a shame you were not of my world, you would have been worshipped as a god.”
  381. >”So... there are those that exist who give the moon its due respect?”
  382. “The moon is a sign of hope, of relief, of healing and happiness. Our sun has grown old, and in her old age has become bitter, and as she dies she bombards the planet with her hate, scouring the land and making living a torment. But at night the kind moon shields us from the hated sun’s bitterness. The moon is a sign of salvation to us all, and so I took it as my own symbol, so that all might think that I brought them salvation.”
  383.  
  384. “Let the example of my world carry you. You must show the masses that the moon is kind and benevolent and that the sun is hateful and bitter. Reveal to them the true face of that burning orb, the simple truth that the sun dares not speak; that her light can only blind and burn. Show to them that you are their salvation, that the cool gloom of night will protect them from the hateful rays of the sun. You must become their savior, deliver them from the tyrannical sun!”
  385. >Nightmare is completely enthralled by your words and it’s abundantly clear that you’ve succeeded.
  386. >All she needed to hear was that she was appreciated, that she was loved.
  387. >It doesn’t matter that it was a bold faced lie, it was what she needed.
  388. >Your world has no moon, you sundered it long ago in your quest for power, now all your world has is a ring of dust.
  389. >But she doesn’t need to know any of that. What she does need to know is that you and your people admire the moon, and by extension her.
  390. “I know that the moon of my world is not the moon of yours, but the similarities are there for all to see. You desire the love that is so rightfully yours, but until the day that you claim it you must try to subsist on the knowledge that out there there are those that already do love you. The moon, the stars, the soothing release from torment that the night brings, we loved all of these and they are what you bring to your world.”
  391. >Nightmare’s eyes are wide with wonder as you speak to her, you can tell that never in all her years had she heard of any of her works spoken of so highly. It almost makes you feel bad for lying to her so boldly.
  392. >Almost.
  393.  
  394. “There was a prayer upon my world that my people would speak, to beg the moon to rise and free us from the sun’s torment.”
  395. >”They would pray to the moon?” she asks in awe.
  396. “Vanity of day holds thee entwined, driven by hubris and boiling with sin. Masked by the sun, to the truth you are blind, slaves of the light you may bask within. Coolness of gloom oft reveals the truth, safeguard against the cruel light. Rise, lunar princess, bring darkness eternal. Protect us, shrouded in everlasting night.”
  397. >Her eyes are wet with tears she won’t let herself shed, and you can see the burning desire and envy within them.
  398. >Your lie has renewed her purpose and giving her a real goal. No longer is it simple revenge that drives her, but the desire to be loved.
  399. >That played a part in her earlier motives, but chief among them had been her lust for vengeance against the sister that had so wronged her.
  400. >It’s plain to see now that revenge has been pushed from her mind, to be replaced with a far better motivation.
  401. >In the way that ruling through love is more effective than through fear, so too is it a better motivator for yourself.
  402. >Revenge has a tangible end and the path towards it will often be self destructive. But for love, the end goal is to bask in it for as long as possible.
  403. >In the same way that fear is poor motivation for your subjects, so too is vengeance a poor motivator for yourself, as love and the desire for it will drive one far further than hate will.
  404. >Hatred burns bright and hot, but it burns out quickly. Love will burn just as hot but for so much longer.
  405. >When compared to the unfathomable wisdom your villainous tome had bestowed you, it was this lesson that you learned as a hero, which you carried over into your life as a villain, that was the most valuable.
  406.  
  407. “Do you understand why you’re doing this now?” you ask her.
  408. >She shuts her eyes, takes a deep, shuddering breath, then nods.
  409. >”I understand now what you were trying to tell me. My hatred for my sister was always secondary, but I let it make me forget why I tried to overthrow her in the first place. I want the recognition I deserve, I want the admiration I deserve, and, above all... I want them to love me, like I deserve.”
  410. “And now you understand. Everything but that is secondary, you can’t lose sight of your goal if you expect to win this.”
  411. >Nightmare nods. “I won’t let my hatred for my sister cloud my judgement again. From here on out I will remember why I’m doing this. And with your experience I have full confidence that I can overcome this.”
  412. >She bites her lip, looking like she wants to say something else, but unsure of how to proceed.
  413. >”I’d also... like to... apologize.”
  414. >You tilt your head fractionally, quietly urging her to continue.
  415. >”My actions so far have been... less than professional to say the least. But I promise to you that I’m ready to take this seriously. With your permission, I’d like to continue our planning.”
  416. >Needless to say you’re completely baffled by the complete one-eighty her attitude just took. One moment she was a blathering, egotistical idiot and the next a focused, studious apprentice.
  417. >Apparently she’d needed to hear your little lie much more than you expected.
  418. “Very well.” you say with a nod. “Let us waste no further time. Our time grows short and we have much work to do if you are to succeed.”
  419. >”But succeed I shall. With your help I’ll usher in a golden age of night as Equestria’s dark queen!”
  420. >Her eyelids droop half closed and she gives you a sultry smile.
  421. >”And you shall be my king.”
  422. >Oh.
  423. >Well fuck.
  424.  
  425. “Uhhhh.”
  426. >”Is something the matter, my king?” she asks with a small smile.
  427. “Where exactly is this king stuff coming from?” you ask hesitantly, both knowing and dreading her answer.
  428. >”That wonderful story about your love of the moon.” she says, dreamily. “It was so beautiful, and I could never deny such a proclamation of love.”
  429. >It would seem that you have, for lack of a better word, goofed.
  430. >You’d meant that story as an inspirational tale and a source of motivation, but it would seem she heard something completely different.
  431. >Or maybe you just forgot to turn your swag off.
  432. >The last time you did that you woke up with your doom fortress overflowing with bitches.
  433. >Quickly, think of a way out!
  434. “Surely a mare as powerful as you would need no king to rule. And even if you did you would surely be able to do better than a deposed ruler from a foreign world.” you say, silently praying for her to agree.
  435. >She shakes her head and you feel your iron heart sink like a rock.
  436. >”I care nothing for your status, there could be none upon Equestria as worthy as you. And even if there were, any pony I took would be mortal and would eventually pass, whereas you will endure forever. And, truth be told, all the time I spent in my sister’s shadow removed me from any opportunities to take on a suitor.”
  437. “You mean you’ve never...”
  438. >Her ears drop back against her head and her cheeks darken in a way that you’re sure would be very cute if you weren’t currently so absolutely terrified. “I will admit, I have never had anypony to call my own, in fact I confess I would not know how to go about it.”
  439. >Blood of the tyrants, she’s a thousand year old virgin.
  440.  
  441. >Okay, just breathe. You’ve been in plenty of worse situations than the one you’re in right now.
  442. >You can’t think of them at the moment, but you’re sure they exist.
  443. >Alright, you can do this. Just say something, something smart preferably.
  444. “Listen, Nightmare-”
  445. >”You know,” she cuts you off, “if you’d like, you can call me... Luna.”
  446. “... Luna?”
  447. >”It was what I called myself before my banishment. I understand what I call myself now can be a bit of a mouthful, I admit I was feeling a little egotistical when I came up with it. So you can just call me Luna when we’re being casual.”
  448. “... Luna then. Listen, I’m flattered by your offer, but I just got out of a pretty complicated dictatorship back on my world, and I think you’re a great overlord and everything, but I’m just really not looking for an evil empire to rule right now.”
  449. >Nightmare Moon/Luna/What The Fuck Ever blinks.
  450. >”Oh! I’m so sorry, I never considered that you might be tired of ruling after that whole ordeal!”
  451. >You sigh quietly to yourself in relief as she says that. Crisis aver-
  452. >”You needn’t worry about the hassle of ruling, I’m sure under the guidance of such a knowledgeable consort I will be able to rule by myself quite capably. Don’t worry though, you’ll always be my king.” she says with a wink that makes you cringe inwardly.
  453. >Not as planned! NOT AS PLANNED!
  454. “I’d really... just rather not be anyone’s king for a while.” you say. “Especially when there’s no kingdom.”
  455. >”Ah! Of course, how silly of me. Of course you’d want to make sure I’m a capable overlord before granting me that privilege.”
  456. >That’s a way out if you’ve ever seen one!
  457.  
  458. “Yes! Yes, exactly that. I need to be sure that you’re worthy of an overlord of my standing.” you say, playing along.
  459. >”You won’t be disappointed, my king!” she says eagerly.
  460. “You don’t have to call me your king.”
  461. >”Oh I know, I just like to.” she says with a giggle.
  462. >Oh gods, she’s like a schoolgirl with a crush now. Somehow this is even worse than when she was an egotistical idiot.
  463. “Right then... Let’s... get back to our planning, I suppose.”
  464. >With renewed vigor you and Nightmare plunge back into your schemes.
  465. >As horrified as you are with the current situation, you have to admit that you were certainly right about love being a better motivator than hate.
  466. >Her desire for your affection is vastly outweighing her hatred for her sister at this point.
  467. >You almost feel bad that you’re deceiving her in such a way.
  468. >Almost.
  469. >But an evil overlord can’t afford to be as soft as she is.
  470. >She was following your instructions and using love instead of hate, but she was still doing it wrong.
  471. >Love is supposed to be a tool, it’s supposed to be controlled, allowed to flow freely when you need its power, and then suppressing it again when you no longer need it.
  472. >Becoming too invested can lead to ruin when the object of your affection comes to harm or it betrays you, you have to learn to control it.
  473. >You weren’t lying when you told her that thinking with emotions leads to weakness, but they are also necessary in driving you onward. You just have to learn to be able to think rationally while channeling those emotions, not to let them cloud your judgement.
  474. >Nightmare will have to learn this eventually if she is to become a proper overlord, and there is no better teacher than the sting of betrayal.
  475. >That’s how you learned, after all.
  476.  
  477. >”There has to be SOME way I can work eternal night into this!” Nightmare rants.
  478. “We’ve been over this a hundred times,” you groan. “You cannot have eternal night! Remember what we talked about? Dead planet?”
  479. >”Could I lengthen the nights, then? Allow for maybe five or so hours of sunlight a day?”
  480. “Still too drastic a change. You could alter the times of course, but it would be unwise to make any changes greater than perhaps four hours at the most. And even then I’d be careful.”
  481. >Nightmare groans in exasperation. You’ve been at this for nearly a day now, an entire day.
  482. >You’re not sure how long you’ve been on the moon by this point, about a year, you’re sure.
  483. >But Nightmare says the end of her banishment is days away by now, which is something of a surprise. When she told you her banishment was nearing its end you’d assumed that she had maybe two centuries left to go, but she’d meant literally nearing its end.
  484. >Apparently you showed up at the end of year nine hundred ninety-eight of her banishment, how lucky can you get?
  485. >You hope that when your own banishment is up you can rub it right in that little prick’s nose.
  486. >But the proximity to the end means that you have scant days to finalize your plans, and Nightmare is taking up valuable time with all her eternal night bullshit.
  487. >”Surely you must know of some way for eternal night to be feasible!” she half begs.
  488. “I’m here only to help you succeed, anything more than that is your own job.”
  489. >She scowls, but then brightens up.
  490. >”What if I just decreed that the schedule of the entire kingdom be reversed to fit a nocturnal lifestyle?” she suggests out of the blue.
  491. “That... could actually work.”
  492.  
  493. >”Yes! And it serves a double purpose as well! Now the ponies will be forced to sleep through and ignore the day, just as they did my night! This is even better than eternal night!”
  494. “And it doesn’t result in everyone dying. That’s not a bad idea, actually. Good thinking.”
  495. >Nightmare beams at the praise.
  496. >”Yes, it IS a good idea, isn’t it?” she boasts.
  497. >She’s started acting more like her old self as of late and less like the desperate, crushing schoolgirl she’d started becoming. It’s something of a massive relief.
  498. “It is. And something about a nocturnal society actually adds to the evil atmosphere.”
  499. >”Oh yes, it does, doesn’t it?” Nightmare says, a hoof on her chin.
  500. “Alright, now that was have that sorted out we can get on to important shit.”
  501. >”Like what?”
  502. “Like making sure you remember how to not fuck everything up?”
  503. >Nightmare groans again and levitates over a scroll, unfurling it to reveal a large checklist titled “Things Nightmare Shouldn’t Do.”
  504. >”Yes, yes, I know what to avoid. We’ve been over it. A lot.”
  505. “Because you have a terrible habit of DOING EVERYTHING WRONG.”
  506. >”You will see, my lord. When the time comes for us to leave I will show you that I have learned everything you set out to teach me.”
  507. >You sigh when she adds the “my lord,” but do not voice your opinion on the matter. Truth be told you’ve gotten used to it.
  508. “This isn’t about making me proud, Luna. This is about you and your own desires. You have to be doing it for yourself, not to make me proud. Remember, I’m on my own banishment here, I’ll be gone in a thousand years.”
  509.  
  510. >Nightmare sighs. “Yes, yes, I remember. But you are my mentor, is it not natural for one to want to please their teacher?”
  511. “Villains generally murder their mentors, so please forgive me if I maintain a healthy level of skepticism.”
  512. >”I would never do such a thing!” she exclaims. “You’ve given me such knowledge and aided me so greatly, why would I ever wish to murder you?”
  513. “Now, you see that right there? All that really does is reinforce my belief that you’re plotting to do away with me when I’m no longer useful to you.”
  514. >”My lord, please! How could you ever think that of me?”
  515. “Aren’t you planning to murder your own sister?”
  516. >”That’s different!”
  517. “So you’re telling me that you feel absolutely zero urge to murder me and steal my power?”
  518. >”... Well maybe a little.”
  519. “And hopefully one day you’ll find the desire to act upon it. The day you strike me down in a bid for power is the day you become a real villain.”
  520. >”But I don’t WANT to strike you down!”
  521. >You stare at her.
  522. >”Okay, bad choice of words. I don’t want to KILL you then.”
  523. “If you make an attempt on me and leave me alive then I WILL come for revenge.”
  524. >”But then how are we supposed to stay friends?”
  525. “Villains don’t have friends. They DO have lieutenants and enforcers.”
  526. >”Well then I’ll make you my trusted lieutenant!”
  527. “Just a forewarning; I’ll probably try to betray you and usurp power.”
  528. >”This is all so complicated.”
  529. “Trust me, just execute anyone you don’t trust, and murder everyone stronger than you. That’s how I did it and it worked wonders for me.”
  530. >”I think I’ll do that.”
  531.  
  532. “Also NEVER play fair. You’re a villain, therefor honor means nothing to you. Poisons, backstabbing, dirt in their eyes, and just plain cheating are all allowed, expected, and encouraged.”
  533. >”Oh I know that much. Cheating is my favorite way to win.”
  534. “Good. Honorable villains are always defeated. If you’re going to be a villain you might as well go all out. Everyone expects a villain to be dishonorable anyways.”
  535. >”Don’t worry, cheating is one of the things I’m best at.”
  536. “Good, because you’re going to be doing a lot of it.”
  537. >Nightmare looks back at the scroll of things not to do and scans it over for a moment.
  538. >After a moment of reading she raises her hoof like a child in grammar school.
  539. “What is it, Luna?” you deadpan.
  540. >”How am I supposed to maintain the love of the people while still being a villainous tyrant?”
  541. “Excellent question!” you reply. “The answer varies from overlord to overlord. Some try to maintain their deception as long as they can, keeping their evil machinations and shady dealings out of the public eye, but there are those who only use the people until they’ve acquired their power and then reveal their intentions the moment they’ve surpassed the people’s ability to remove them.”
  542. >”What would be best for me?” she asks.
  543. “It’s up to you, really, though it’s always possible to be beloved by the people and unabashedly evil at the same time.”
  544. >”So how do I do that?”
  545. “You’re going to have to figure that one out for yourself.”
  546. >Nightmare frowns at you.
  547. “Remember, like I’ve said, I can’t do everything for you. There are going to be things that you’ll have to figure out for yourself.”
  548. >”You’ve told me what to do plenty of times so far.” she argues.
  549.  
  550. “Only in the areas where it was completely necessary. If you’ll look, you’ll notice that those areas where I explicitly told you what to do were the areas of greatest importance and, consequently, were the areas where your plans were stupid beyond all reconciliation.”
  551. >Nightmare levitates over another bundle of scrolls and unfurls a few and reads.
  552. >”Huh, so they are...”
  553. “So that there is no further confusion, I’m here to assist, not to deliver you a kingdom on a silver platter.”
  554. >Nightmare rolls her eyes. “I know, I know. You’ve told me a hundred times.”
  555. “Just trying to impress upon you that I’m not here to solve your problems, only to give you the tools to solve them yourself.”
  556. >”Really? I could have sworn that you were here to berate me for my shortcomings.”
  557. “You won’t learn unless I show you what you’re doing wrong.”
  558. >”You seem to take a disproportionate amount of joy in it.”
  559. “I find it very important to enjoy what you do.”
  560. >”Yes well you seem to enjoy it a little too much.”
  561. “It is impossible to enjoy being evil too much. Trust me on this, I’ve tried.”
  562. >”I can believe it.”
  563. “So, just wondering, how much longer until your banishment ends?”
  564. >Nightmare taps her chin and hums to herself in thoughtfulness for a moment, taking a glance and the planet on the horizon.
  565. >”Hmm, the longest day of the thousandth year...” she mutters to herself. “I think that’s tomorrow.”
  566. “Wait what? Tomorrow?”
  567. >”Give or take a month.”
  568. “That’s astoundingly unhelpful. How are we even counting days, anyways? It’s always daytime here.”
  569. >”I’ve been counting.”
  570. “That’s even less helpful. Do we leave soon or not?”
  571. >”Yes.”
  572. “How soon?”
  573. >”Pretty soon.”
  574. “How soon is pretty soon?”
  575. >”I don’t know! You try keeping track of time w-”
  576. >Suddenly a flash of light overtakes you.
  577.  
  578. >”-hen you’ve been stuck on a featureless hunk of rock for... oh hey, we’re here!”
  579. >You drunkenly stagger about for a moment as a wave of vertigo overtakes you, bracing yourself against the nearest tree until it passes.
  580. >Wait, tree?
  581. >You look up and find that you are indeed leaning on a tree.
  582. >You look over to Nightmare and glare.
  583. >”Hey, I said give or take a month.”
  584. “Where are we?”
  585. >She looks around for a moment trying to get her bearings. “This looks like Everfree Forest.” she remarks.
  586. “You can tell that just by looking at this small area?”
  587. >”Well, to be fair, Everfree is the only forest where the trees look like they want to eat you.”
  588. >You look back at the tree you’re leaning on and a little ways up it you notice that the features of the tree give it the appearance of a very angry face, complete with a gaping maw of jagged teeth.
  589. “... Huh. Well would you look at that.”
  590. >”Creepy as hell, right? Would you believe we built our palace here?”
  591. “To keep petitioners out?”
  592. >”Exactly! And it worked like a charm, too.”
  593. “This the same palace where you said the Elements of Harmony are kept?”
  594. >”The very same.”
  595. “Is it going to be guarded?”
  596. >”I doubt it. If I know my sister, she’ll be expecting me to do something dramatic and attention grabbing, like interrupting her sun raising ceremony.”
  597. “Where’s that being held?”
  598. >”I haven’t a clue. I’ve been gone for a thousand years, why on earth would I have any idea what backwater she chose for this year’s ceremony?”
  599. “Point taken.”
  600.  
  601. MEANWHILE
  602. >You are Princess Celestia.
  603. >And your sister sure is taking her dear sweet time.
  604. >You really hope you know Luna like you think you do, it’ll be embarrassing as hell if she doesn’t show up and you have to explain why you were late to your own celebration.
  605.  
  606. “This is it?”
  607. >Upon arriving in the forest, you and Nightmare wasted no time and made straight for the Palace of the Royal Pony Sisters to secure the greatest threat to your plans.
  608. >But you’re not gonna lie, you expected the Elements of Harmony to be a little more... impressive.
  609. >”Wasn’t it you who said that simplicity is a virtue?”
  610. “Hmm, I did, didn’t I?”
  611. >”Alright, we have them, what do we do now?”
  612. “Well, first question, can you bind these things to your will, or are they totally useless to a villain?”
  613. >”I probably could, given enough time and effort, but as of right now, no. Celestia and I used to control them, but our connection to them was severed when we had our falling out. It’s entirely likely new bearers have been born since then anyways.”
  614. “If that’s true then why are they still here?”
  615. >”I said likely, not assured. But even so nobody, not even the bearers themselves, would know unless they were exposed to the Elements in the first place.”
  616. “Ah, so a standard situational, finicky, likely prophecy-based magical item set.”
  617. >”Exactly.”
  618. “Well we’d better get these out of here then.”
  619. >”Shouldn’t we look more into the prophecy first?”
  620. “Eventually yes, but for now we’ll take them with us. Can’t fulfill the prophecy if there’s no magic macguffin.”
  621. >”This is so easy, why didn’t I think of this sooner?”
  622. “Because you’re a terrible villain?”
  623. >”Oh right, that. Alright, so what’s our next course of action after we hide these babies away?”
  624. “Rally the masses to our cause.”
  625. >Nightmare claps her hooves together in excitement. “Oh this is going to be so much fun!”
  626. >Surprisingly you even crack your own smile.
  627. “Yes. Yes it is. And this is only the beginning.”
  628.  
  629. “So let me get this straight. We’ve been planning your return for over a year now, and not once in that entire period of time did you think to mention the fact that you had a network of cults?”
  630. >”It didn’t really seem important at the time.”
  631. “You have enough cultists for a full a Legion of Terror. By my own black name, how did you get the impression that this wasn’t important?!”
  632. >Nightmare scuffs a hoof against the ground. “Well I didn’t wanna brag.”
  633. >You’re reasonably sure that working with Nightmare is going to give you a stroke one of these days.
  634. “Blood of the tyrants.” you mutter, covering your face with a hand. “You are the worst villain I’ve ever met.”
  635. >”Well that’s why you’re here!” she says, cheerily.
  636. “I can only imagine that without me you’d already have been defeated.”
  637. >”How long has it been?”
  638. “A week.”
  639. >”Yeah, that sounds about right.”
  640. “Now tell me about this cult network. I need to know what we’re working with. Will they make a proper Legion of Terror or are they just a bunch of fanatics that we’ll herd into the guns of the enemy ahead of the Legion of Terror?”
  641. >”They’re the descendants of my Night Guard Corps, who were instructed to maintain a standing army for me upon my return to Equestria.”
  642. “So you have an entire secret army all set up?”
  643. >”Yep. I just need to give the order and they’ll mobilize. Where should we attack first?”
  644. “No. No attacking. I don’t want to risk open war. That’s too easy to stop.”
  645. >Nightmare pouts. “But open war is fun!”
  646. “You know what’s more fun? Winning. And we can’t win if Celestia flies out and annihilates our army. Plus you’re absolutely useless in a fight.”
  647.  
  648. >”Well what else are we going to do with a fully trained and equipped army?”
  649. “We have them sow unrest and discontent in the population. Have them spread propaganda about your sister, destroy her image and her credibility, weaken the very foundations of her rule.”
  650. >Nightmare puts a hoof to her chin. “Huh. That actually makes a lot of sense.”
  651. “Wars can be fought and won without ever having to spill a single drop of blood. Admittedly it’s less fun that way, I love a good war just as much as the next overlord, but it’s also much more effective.”
  652. >Nightmare sighs. “I haven’t had a good war in a thousand years.”
  653. “Didn’t you lose the last war you fought?”
  654. >”Yeah, but that doesn’t make it any less fun.”
  655. >You just look at her incredulously.
  656. >”Okay, maybe a little less fun, but still pretty fun.”
  657. “I feel pretty confident in saying that you’re hopeless. Now how are we going to get into contact with this cult? Where is it based out of?”
  658. >”Well it would be lead by the descendant of the old captain of the Night Guard.”
  659. “Alright, and where would he be located?”
  660. >”Probably in his family estate, Celestia pardoned all of my Night Guard before I was banished. When defeat became certain they were all instructed to pretend they’d been mind controlled.”
  661. “Celestia actually bought that?”
  662. >”She detests punishment of any kind, so she’ll always look for an excuse to not have to pass judgement. My Night Guard were all very good actors, too.”
  663. “Well that’s certainly a nice bit of information. Where would his family estate be located?”
  664. >”Canterlot.”
  665.  
  666. >You’re silent for a moment as you process that information.
  667. “Canterlot?”
  668. >”Canterlot.” she confirms.
  669. “The capital of Equestria?”
  670. >”The very same.”
  671. “Celestia’s seat of power?”
  672. >”That’s correct.”
  673. “The place where the god monarch you’re trying to unseat lives?”
  674. >”I’m not sure what you’re getting at.”
  675. “Blood of the tyrants, we have to fucking go into the heart of enemy territory to talk to this pony?!”
  676. >”I don’t see why you’re making such a big deal out of this. I have magic, you know.”
  677. “And how does that help us?”
  678. >”I can just transform us into a pair of regular ponies.”
  679. “No.”
  680. >”Don’t worry, I’m very skilled at transformation magic.”
  681. “I am not being turned into a pony. I don’t care how skilled you are.”
  682. >”Do you have a better way of sneaking a seven foot tall iron war machine and an evil alicorn princess into Canterlot?”
  683. “...”
  684. >”That’s what I thought.”
  685. “There HAS to be another way.”
  686. >”There probably is, but this is the easiest one. And considering how Celestia knows I’m back, I’d say time isn’t really on our side.”
  687. >You growl angrily. You really do hate it when she’s right.
  688. “Fine. But if I dislike how I look I’ll make sure you suffer.”
  689. >“Oh you’re such a tease.”
  690. “You know what? You’re going to suffer anyways.”
  691. >”And you can tell me all about all the torment you’ll put me through on the way to Canterlot.” she says, sashaying away.
  692. >You glare furiously after the dark alicorn.
  693. >She turns around and gives you a wink. “I understand it must be quite a view, but do hurry up, my lord.”
  694. >It takes every ounce of willpower you possess to not murder her then and there.
  695.  
  696. Hours Later
  697. >”Canterlot City,” Nightmare sighs. “It’s certainly gotten nicer over the years. The addition of a new palace probably has something to do with that.”
  698. “How the hell do we even get up there?”
  699. >”Either by airship or by train.”
  700. “I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess you don’t have access to an airship.”
  701. >”Well not anymore I don’t.”
  702. “Train it is. Where’s the nearest train station?”
  703. >”I couldn’t say. So much has changed in the past millenium.”
  704. “Very well, we ask for directions and then make our way to Canterlot.”
  705. >”I think you may be forgetting something.”
  706. “I’m not forgetting anything.” you say with finality.
  707. >”Oh I’m sure there’s something.” Nightmare says teasingly.
  708. “I forget nothing. I’m simply choosing to ignore it until it goes away.”
  709. >Nightmare’s horn lights up as she begins channeling her transformation spell. “Prepare yourself, my lord. It’s pony time!”
  710. “Luna, I’d just like to say that you are going to pay for this in blood.”
  711. >”Oh don’t be such a tease.” she says with an infuriating giggle.
  712. >Before you can murder her the magic overtakes you.
  713. >Your armor resists the spell for a while, but after a moment you reluctantly allow it to do its work and you feel your body begin to shift.
  714. >Bones crack and break and flesh runs like wax as your form changes, your organs doing a sickening ballet as they rearrange themselves.
  715. >Your armor creaks as its shape bends and contorts to fit your new form.
  716. >This is easily, without a doubt, the most uncomfortable feeling you’ve ever experienced.
  717. >Within moments the change is complete and you stand a full four feet shorter.
  718. >Nightmare blinks.
  719. “The armor stays. I will not compromise on this.”
  720. >Nightmare pouts. “Oh poo.”
  721.  
  722. >Nightmare’s transformation takes but a moment, and when the magic fades the sheer anger you put into your frown could easily power the magical Doom Cannon back in your fortress.
  723. “Are you serious?” you deadpan.
  724. >”What? I think it looks fine!”
  725. “All you did was shrink yourself to the size of a normal pony. You didn’t even bother removing your horn or wings!”
  726. >”I think I look fine.”
  727. “How many ponies exist that are completely black?”
  728. >”Well bright colors are usually the norm, but darker colors aren’t unheard of.”
  729. “How many regular ponies have ethereal, star filled manes?”
  730. >”I’ll just say I dyed it.”
  731. “You’ll start from scratch is what you damned well better do.”
  732. >”Well you didn’t change much either! You’re just in the shape of a pony now!”
  733. “Nobody in this world has ever laid eyes on me.”
  734. >”Alright! Fine, I’ll change, are you happy now?”
  735. “I will never be happy until I leave this accursed pony world.”
  736. >Nightmare groans and is engulfed by a flash of light.
  737. >When the light fades she’s a bright white pegasus pony with a pink mane and her cutie mark has changed from a crescent moon to a trio of smiling suns.
  738. >”Better?” she asks bitterly.
  739. “Much. Now what am I going to call you?”
  740. >”I was thinking Sunshine Smiles.”
  741. “That name sickens me to my core and instills in me a near irresistible urge to murder everything within a twenty mile radius. It’s perfect.”
  742. >”Why are you a unicorn pony anyways?”
  743. >Your horn lights up a sickly green and your mace lifts into the air, wreathed in a magical aura of the same color.
  744. “Well how else do you suggest I carry this thing?” you ask.
  745.  
  746. “Ponyville? Are you kidding me?”
  747. >”Something wrong?” Nightmare asks you as the two of you trudge towards the nearest town with a train station.
  748. >It took you a little while to translate the directions that zebra gave you, but she was helpful enough. In return you didn’t murder her.
  749. “Not... well not exactly. Just... REALLY? Ponyville? What kind of name is that?”
  750. >”A pretty normal one.”
  751. “Are you kidding me?” you ask for the second time.
  752. >”Not at all. A lot of towns have names like that.”
  753. “The first thing we’re doing when we take over is renaming every single settlement.”
  754. >”Well what names were you thinking?”
  755. “I don’t know, sinister names. Blighttown, or Duskhollow, or Noxus, stuff like that. Just... not Ponyville.”
  756. >”Oh I like those. You’re good at this.”
  757. “I’ve been an evil overlord for thousands of years, I would hope so.”
  758. >The town draws nearer in the distance and you can start to make out features of it. It seems like a pretty rural kind of town, very quaint and likely sparsely populated.
  759. >Much of the town seems to be taken up by huge amounts of farmland, so you imagine it’s likely a farming settlement on the tail end of an expansion into a town.
  760. >And due to the perils that living so close to the Everfree likely entails, your armor probably won’t stand out as much as you’d been fearing.
  761. “Are you familiar with this town at all?” you ask.
  762. >Nightmare shakes her head. “Can’t say that I am. It looks like it was probably settled in recent centuries, so I wouldn’t have been around.”
  763. “Alright, doesn’t matter much anyways. We just have to get in, get on the train, and head to Canterlot.”
  764. >”You think it’ll be that easy?”
  765. “Not in the least. One thing that I’ve learned in my years is that if something has the potential to go wrong then it probably will.”
  766.  
  767. >The two of you reach the small village in little time, but the second you step foot in it Nightmare stiffens.
  768. “What’s wrong?” you ask, suddenly alert.
  769. >”Solar magic.” she all but hisses. “This place reeks of it.”
  770. “Your sister is here?” you ask, your heart beginning to race.
  771. >This is bad, if Celestia is here then your plans could be all but ended before they’d even begun.
  772. >”No.” Nightmare says at last. “At least I don’t think so. But she was, and very recently too.”
  773. >A quick scan of the town reveals decorations hung all over the town, ribbons and stylized sun emblems cover practically everything.
  774. >”The Summer Sun Celebration.” Nightmare says. “She must have had it here this year.”
  775. “Good gods, this is barely a day’s walk from where we arrived. We were very, VERY lucky.”
  776. >”You have no idea.”
  777. “Alright, let’s just get directions and get out of here as fast as we-”
  778. >”OH MY GOSH, NEW PONIES! HI NEW PONIES!”
  779. “By the Black God, what is that horrendous noise?!”
  780. >Before either of you can move you’re accosted by a pony colored the most garish shades of pink you’ve ever seen.
  781. >No living creature has the right to be this pink.
  782. >You’re slowly starting to form a To Do List in your head for the things that need the most immediate attention when you take over this world.
  783. >Item number one: Renaming every single town with a pony related name.
  784. >Item number two: RACIAL CLEANSING.
  785. >You’re going to be a very busy tyrant.
  786.  
  787. >”Oh my gosh, hi! I’m Pinkie Pie! You two must be new in town! I know that because I’m friends with EVERYP0NY in town and I’m not friends with you yet and if I’m not friends with you yet that that must mean you’re new!”
  788. >The green glow of telekinetic magic around your mace brightens as the urge to murder this creature wars against your desire for discretion.
  789. >”And if you’re new then that means I’m gonna have to throw you a party! Oh my gosh this is gonna be so fun! I’ll invite everyp0ny in town! I’ll even get to invite Twilight to her first real P0nyville party! She’s new here too, she only just got here this week! She used to live in Canterlot as Princess Celestia’s personal student, you know! She doesn’t have that many friends yet.”
  790. >Blood of the tyrants, is this thing STILL talkin- wait, what was that last thing she said?
  791. “What was that last thing you said?”
  792. >The creature pauses in it’s hopping that you hadn’t noticed it starting and freezes in mid air, holding that position and confusing you thoroughly.
  793. >“Gonna have to throw you a party?”
  794. “After that.”
  795. >”She doesn’t have that many friends yet?”
  796. “Back a little bit.”
  797. >”She just got here this week?”
  798. “A little further forward.”
  799. >”Princess Celestia’s personal student?”
  800. “Yes, that right there.”
  801. >”What about it?”
  802. “What’s the personal student of the princess doing in such a backwater town?”
  803. >”Oh it’s nothing. She was going on and on about something about the return of Nightmare Moon and the Elements of Harmony, but Nightmare Moon never came back so now she’s just living here studying the magic of friendship with her new friends! But she still keeps insisting that Nightmare Moon really is back and is just a lot sneakier than we all thought, but that’s silly, everyone knows Nightmare Moon is just an old pony’s tale!”
  804.  
  805. >This... is not an ideal situation.
  806. >”I AM NOT AN OLD PONY’S T-”
  807. >You slam an iron shod hoof in Nightmare’s mouth, admittedly probably a little more forceful than necessary, to shut her up and keep her from blowing your already precarious cover.
  808. >”What’s that now?” the pink abomination asks.
  809. “She asked if you know where the train station is.”
  810. >”Oh! Yeah, I know where it is, but how come you wanna go there? Don’t you wanna stay for your party?”
  811. >”Party?” Nightmare asks, spitting out your hoof and a few bloody teeth.
  812. >”Party!” the pink pony echos. “So you’re staying? That’s great! I’ll go get everything set up and Twilight here will show you around!” she explains, reaching out and grabbing a very confused looking pony who you’re sure wasn’t there a few moments ago.
  813. >”This isn’t my library...” the purple unicorn says. “Pinkie? How did you- where did- what the HAY did you just do?”
  814. >”Twilight, meet-” she holds a hoof out at Nightmare, prompting her for a name.
  815. >”Er, S-Sunshine Smiles.” she stammers.
  816. >”Sunshine Smiles! And of course...” she holds a hoof to you next.
  817. >You say nothing.
  818. >”You look like a Shining Armor, I’m gonna call you Shining Armor!” Pinkie adlibs. “I’m gonna go throw a party for them because they’re new in town, you show them around, okay Twilight?”
  819. >Before either party can object Pinkie races off, leaving the all three of you feeling rather confused and faintly violated.
  820. >”Uh... sorry about that...” Twilight says looking at the ground. “That’s pretty normal here, I’m reasonably sure every pony in this town is crazy.”
  821. >”By the stars, how horrifying.” Nightmare says.
  822. “My name is not Shining Armor.”
  823.  
  824. >You and Nightmare walk through Ponyville with Twilight, the both of you nearly shitting yourselves in terror.
  825. >”So you two are new in P0nyville too?” Twilight asks.
  826. “Just passing through.” you say.
  827. >”Well in that case I’m even more sorry about Pinkie, this must be a terrible inconvenience for you.”
  828. >”Kind of, yea-” Nightmare cuts off as you elbow her in the side.
  829. “Not at all, miss, we’ve all the time in the world. The hospitality of your citizens does this town great credit.” you say, attempting politeness.
  830. >”That’s good, because even though it may be a little inconvenient, there really is nothing in the world like a Pinkie Pie party. I’m sure you’ll love it. Celestia knows I did.”
  831. “That brings to mind an interesting point, you’re friend said that you’re the student of the princess, what are you doing here?” you ask, praying for a better answer than the pink one gave you.
  832. >”Oh, she told you that? Yeah, I’m the princess’s student, but she sent me here to make friends, even though I’m certain it had something to do with Nightmare Moon.”
  833. “Nightmare Moon? Isn’t that an old pony’s tale?” you say, echoing the pink pony’s words.
  834. >You notice Nightmare stiffen as you say it.
  835. >Twilight sighs in exasperation. “That’s EXACTLY what everyp0ny else keeps saying, but I’m sure that she isn’t! At the exact moment the prophecy said she’d arrive the Mare in the Moon vanished from the moon’s surface, that has to mean she’s really here but just going about her plans more covertly.”
  836. “An interesting theory, have you any leads on it?” you ask, hoping to glean some insight to your enemy’s plans.
  837. >Twilight shakes her head. “Oh I shouldn’t, if I’m wrong then it doesn’t matter. And anyways I shouldn’t ramble on like this if I’m supposed to be showing you two around.”
  838.  
  839. “We’re actually quite tired from our journey, is there somewhere we might rest?”
  840. >”Well if you’d like we can go back to my library.” she offered, a tad hopefully.
  841. >Now that presented an interesting opportunity, it would be good to gain some knowledge of this land. Perhaps the delay wouldn’t be as terrible as you thought.
  842. “That sounds wonderful, thank you.”
  843. >”Alright, follow me then.” she said cheerily.
  844. >You and Nightmare fall in behind Twilight, following her through the town.
  845. >You press against Nightmare and urge her to slow her pace until the two of you are a comfortable distance behind Twilight.
  846. “This could be a useful opportunity.” you whisper to her. “With your knowledge outdated by a thousand years and with me being completely new to this world a trip to the library could be exactly what we need. Just keep your head down and don’t do anything stupid and we should be fine.”
  847. >”She’s the princess’s student and she’s actively looking for us! We should get out of here as quickly as possible!”
  848. “The ponies here seem trusting to a fault, and while normally I would advise caution, this is an opportunity we should exploit to its fullest.”
  849. >”You’re the overlord...”
  850. “And you should be paying attention. I’m not going to hold your hoof through this whole thing, I’m expecting you to take the reins sometime soon.”
  851. >“So what happens if I lose when I do?”
  852. “Then when you die or get banished I take over Equestria by myself. And I won’t need to be nearly so subtle, believe me, it’s within my power to just knock Celestia off her throne and take it myself.”
  853. >”Then why are you even helping me do this in the first place?”
  854.  
  855. “Because I need to find a way to kill a thousand years while I wait out my own banishment, and there’s absolutely zero enjoyment in just powering in and taking over. I was never challenged back home, and I only lost because fate said that I would. Taking over a kingdom from scratch is exactly the kind of fun I’ve been looking for. Believe it or not, being an unquestioned ruler for thousands of years gets boring.”
  856. >”I’ll believe it when I see it.”
  857. “If you can suppress your seemingly irresistible urge to fuck everything up, then you may very well get that chance.”
  858. >”We’re here!” Twilight happily announces.
  859. >You’re not really sure what you’re looking at, but from what you gather it’s a tree with a door.
  860. >Gods you hate this place even more than you thought possible.
  861. >The three of you enter and you look around at the books lining the walls. Less than you were expecting, but considering the owner, it’s likely the books are of exceptional quality.
  862. “Quite a selection you have here.” you mention. “Would you mind if we browsed for a while?”
  863. >Twilight seems almost thrilled at the question. “Not at all! Take all the time you need, it’s so good to have somep0ny actually looking at the books for once.”
  864. >You begin browsing the books, making note of books with promising titles.
  865. >”So, if I may ask, why do you wear that armor? And what’s with the giant mace?” Twilight asks.
  866. “I’m a career adventurer.” you say without hesitation. “I travel to the darkest and most forlorn places in the world for renown and wealth.”
  867. >You hear Nightmare snicker from across the room.
  868. >”Oh wow, is that what your special talent is?”
  869. “It is.” you confirm. “Adventuring and exploring. The armor and mace are because the places I explore are rarely as abandoned as they are rumored to be, and the things inhabiting them are generally far from friendly.”
  870.  
  871. >”Yeah, I can only imagine.” Twilight says. “Especially if you’re going to the Everfree, is that why you’re here?”
  872. “It is, we’ve just finished our business in the forest and plan to return to Canterlot.”
  873. >”Wow, it’s hard to imagine anyp0ny willingly going into that place.” Twilight remarks.
  874. “It is little bother to one prepared to face such a place. I hold no fear of that forest.”
  875. >Twilight doesn’t respond, she’s busy staring at Nightmare when you glance at her.
  876. >”Um, I know this is gonna sound weird, Miss Sunshine, but you’re not related to Princess Celestia or anything are you?”
  877. >You and Nightmare both freeze in place, both of you hardly even daring to breathe.
  878. >”W-why would you think that?” Nightmare asks.
  879. >”Well I’ve seen pictures of her from a long time ago and you look almost exactly like she did a thousand years ago.”
  880. >You shift your furious gaze to Nightmare and you swear you can hear an ominous creaking as your head slowly turns to face her.
  881. “Really now?” you slowly ask. “My, my, how FASCINATING. Isn’t that interesting, Sunny?”
  882. >Nightmare wilts under your gaze. “Y-yes! I’ve never been told that before. But no, I d-don’t think I’m related to her.”
  883. >”Oh, that’s a shame.” Twilight says. “It’d be great if she had a relative who wasn’t as stuck up as Blueblood.”
  884. >”Blueblood?” Nightmare asks. “Cel- er... I mean the princess has a family?”
  885. >Twilight rolls her eyes. “Distant relatives, and you can tell. The Bluebloods are mostly stuck up nobles and aren’t anything like the princess. I mean the princess loves them, but I kind of feel embarrassed for her since she’s related.”
  886. >A look you can’t read comes across Nightmare’s face as Twilight talks, but your mind races at the information.
  887. >It looks like you’ll have an entire bloodline to purge soon.
  888.  
  889. >You and Nightmare now sit in a corner reading a pile of assorted history books learning all about the world you seek to conquer.
  890. >Nightmare’s nose deep in some geneology book and being useless.
  891. >You’re pretty sure that she’s been staring at the same page for ten full minutes.
  892. >And she still has that same look on her face, the one you can’t read.
  893. >You don’t like it. You dislike anything you’re not sure of.
  894. >Having had enough of her disturbingly pensive mood, you give her a sharp elbow while she’s lost in thought.
  895. “What’s wrong with you?” you bluntly ask.
  896. >She doesn’t respond at once, she seems to take a moment to collect her thoughts.
  897. >”Family.” she says at last. “Celestia started a family. I have a family now...”
  898. “Apparently. I can only assume she’d hook up with at least one male in an entire thousand years.”
  899. >She shakes her head. “No, you don’t understand. Celestia always told me we couldn’t do that, couldn’t take on a lover.”
  900. “Why not?”
  901. >”We’re immortal, any lover we took would have died while we carried on. She said that we couldn’t afford that kind of emotional trauma. And so I denied myself that desire for thousands of years, but the instant I leave she starts a family and forgets about me?” she rants, he anger rising.
  902. “Is this going to be a problem?” you ask. “You know that the royal bloodline is one of the biggest threats to your rule.”
  903. >”Then we wipe them out.”
  904. “I was almost expecting you to protest the idea.” you say, a grin coming to your face.
  905. >”It’s just one more betrayal of my trust. It would be a mercy to exterminate her wretched line.”
  906. “You know, you’re managing to disappoint me less and less. Soon I may actually not hate you.”
  907.  
  908. >Twilight’s off doing the Black God knows what, so for the moment you and your evil apprentice are discussing the regions around Equestria.
  909. “The gryphons sound as though they might be worthwhile allies.”
  910. >”Gryphons would never submit to a pony ruler. They view our kind as weak.”
  911. “In that case we kill them until they reconsider. Now how about minotaurs? They seem like they’d be a pain to fight, what could we do about them?”
  912. >”They’re strong and honestly pretty stupid, if I offer them an alliance and promise them lots of fighting they’ll join in a heartbeat.”
  913. “Then we just use them to beat the gryphons into the ground. Problem solved. Now, is Equestria the only nation of ponies?”
  914. >”For the moment, yes. But back before my banishment there was another, and since my banishment is over that should be back soon as well. The Crystal Empire is the only other siginificant pony power and they’ll never submit to me.”
  915. “The Crystal Empire? That’s the one with the sorcerer-king, right?”
  916. >”Yes, when Celestia and I banished Sombra he cursed the Empire and ripped it from reality for as long as he was banished.”
  917. “We can’t persuade him to join us?”
  918. >”No, he’s all about domination and enslavement, he’ll never consent to having allies.”
  919. “Annihilation it is then, it’ll be the Crystal Scar by the time I’ve finished with them.”
  920. >”No, we can’t destroy the Crystal Empire, it’s far too valuable. The reason Celestia and I took action ourselves was because of how valuable the Empire is.”
  921. “What’s so special about it?”
  922. >”The Empire acts like an amplifier, while they’re ruled by peace and love then that will be reflected across the world. But if we were to control it...”
  923. “Then we could bathe the entire world in evil.” you finish. “Now THAT is a useful piece of knowledge. Once we take Equestria we should make preparing for the return of the Crystal Empire our top priority.”
  924.  
  925. >”Well it’ll be a while yet before he comes back, he was banished a few years before I was.”
  926. “And what about your boyfriend, Sombrero or whatever? Is he going to be much trouble?”
  927. >Nightmare glares at you. “He won’t be any trouble.”
  928. “Really? You said it took both you and your sister to cast him down.”
  929. >”I’m smarter this time. This time I have you.”
  930. >The red lights of your eyes narrow at her statement.
  931. “I’m not h-”
  932. >”I know! I know. You’re not here to do everything for me, just to teach me how to do it myself. I know.”
  933. “Good. Now get back to reading, we’ve wasted enough time as it is.”
  934. >You toss your current book into your recently read pile.
  935. >”Have you really read all those?” Nightmare asks skeptically.
  936. “Yes.” you say, levitating over another and beginning to read.
  937. >”How? There’s no way you can read that fast.”
  938. “Well I can. Now get reading, I want to learn as much as we can before this damned party.”
  939. >”From what I can see nothing much has changed. Same old sun loving land of peace and happiness.”
  940. “Maybe it is, maybe it’s not.”
  941. >”What’s with you? You’re not normally this curt.”
  942. >You shift uncomfortably where you sit.
  943. “I do not like parties. Parties have people, which I dislike in large numbers. At least when I’m not killing them. And they’re all going to be looking at me.”
  944. >”By the moon, you’re socially awkward.” Nightmare says.
  945. “I am not socially awkward.” you say, slamming your book closed. “I just dislike having to interact with large numbers of people without being able to kill them. I find it difficult to speak with mortals, I have not been one for so long that I have forgotten what it was like.”
  946. >”That’s exactly what being socially awkward is. Oh stars, this is hilarious! The big bad immortal evil overlord is awkward at parties!”
  947. “I could kill you. Right now.”
  948.  
  949. >”Aha! See? You only threaten to kill me when I’m right!”
  950. “And when you’re being insufferable. Which is always.”
  951. >Nightmare leans her head on your shoulder. “Aww, don’t worry, my lord, your faithful student will protect you from the mean ponies.”
  952. >If hatred was a source of power you’re reasonably sure the amount you’re feeling right now could at least power some manner of evil doomsday weapon.
  953. >Exactly like the hatred powered doomsday weapon you had back home.
  954. “Do not touch me.”
  955. >”I’m not touching you, I’m touching your armor.”
  956. “And if you continue to do so you’ll quickly find your bones decorating it.”
  957. >”You’re so cute when you’re threatening to gut me.”
  958. “And you’ll be cute with your entrails adorning my armor.”
  959. >”I hear you say it but you’re not doing iiiiiiit~”
  960. >You grunt and go back to reading.
  961. >Truth be told you really can’t kill her.
  962. >Without her to teach then there’s nothing stopping you from taking over the easy way.
  963. >Essentially she’s your anchor, the only thing holding you back and keeping you from unleashing your horrible powers upon the land and simply ravaging everything.
  964. >Without her to teach you’d have no reason to hold back.
  965. >So your choices boil down to kill her and be bored for a thousand years, then go back home and be bored for the rest of forever, or teach this idiot villain how to do it right and finally be faced with the challenge you’ve been wanting.
  966. >She’s regrettably far too valuable.
  967. >Gods help you if she finds out.
  968.  
  969. Meanwhile in Canterlot:
  970. >You are Princess Celestia.
  971. >And this is all wrong, nothing is going the way it’s supposed to.
  972. >It’s been almost a week since the Summer Sun Celebration and Luna still hasn’t showed up.
  973. >Explaining your tardiness had been awkward to say the least, but they took you at your word and showered you with praise as they usually did.
  974. >Praise that should have been given to Luna.
  975. >Every time they cheer your name you can’t help but wish it was Luna’s they repeated with such love and enthusiasm.
  976. >And letting her take the stage at the Summer Sun Celebration had been your idea for welcoming her back.
  977. >She’d have brought on her eternal night for a few days, a week at the most, and in the meantime you’d talk everything over with her and show her how sorry you really are.
  978. >Once she got the whole eternal night thing out of her system you’re sure she’d be more open to reason.
  979. >But that plan was in ruins, Luna hadn’t shown up.
  980. >You’d begun to worry you’d miscounted the years, but The Mare in the Moon disappeared right as Luna’s banishment was lifted.
  981. >That means she’s here, but going about her plans in a way you hadn’t been prepared for.
  982. >Luna had always had a flare for the dramatic, especially in the time leading up to the fight, so you had been sure that she would go about everything in the flashiest manner she could imagine.
  983. >This apparently newly acquired desire for subtlety unnerves you, if Luna’s taken the time to become more cautious and methodical this could become very problematic.
  984. >Somep0ny clearing their throat pulls you out of your thoughts and you drag your attention back to the present.
  985.  
  986. >A guardsp0ny at the foot of your throne bows deeply before you, and you can’t help the flash of irritation that passes through you at the sight of the hated gesture.
  987. >A pony like you doesn’t deserve the honor they give you.
  988. >”My Princess.” the guardsp0ny says.
  989. “Shining Armor.” you greet him. “What news of my sister?”
  990. >”None, Your Highness. All is quiet in Equestria.”
  991. >This is not good, you’ve been waiting a thousand years to make amends with your sister, you cannot lose her again.
  992. >You can’t help the look of worry that crosses your face. Shining Armor catches it and for a moment you catch a glimpse of concern show through his mask of professionalism.
  993. >”Permission to speak freely, Your Highness?” Shining Armor asks.
  994. “Of course, my little pony.”
  995. >”My Princess, if I may, this doesn’t match anything you’ve told us about Princess Luna. There’s no denying that she’s back, but she hardly seems like one to lay low. Do you think it may be possible she’s acquired outside help?”
  996. >His suggestion held merit, if your sister is working with someone then it could explain the change in tactics.
  997. “It certainly is a possibility. Have you any thoughts on the matter?”
  998. >”Your Highness, I know we are forbidden to speak of him, but is it possible that the King of the Crystal Empire returned as well? I recall that he and Princess Luna were both banished in very short succession.”
  999. >That would make the most sense, Sombra had targeted Luna in the past and filled her head with those thoughts of dominion. If Sombra and the Nightmare were working together then that could spell disaster for the entire world.
  1000. >If Nightmare and Sombra ruled the Crystal Empire together then the world would be plunged into a darkness from which you’re not sure it could ever escape.
  1001.  
  1002. “Send an expedition team to the north and have them scout for any signs of the Empire’s return. I want them to be quick, and above all, discreet.”
  1003. >Shining Armor bows low again. “Your will be done, Your Highness.”
  1004. >He backs away a few steps before turning around to canter from the room.
  1005. “And Shining?”
  1006. >He halts mid-step, your casual use of his first name catching him off guard.
  1007. >”Your Highness?” he asks.
  1008. “After you’re finished, I think you’ve earned yourself a break. You’ve been working non stop all week without rest.”
  1009. >”You honor me with your concern, but the kingdom comes before my comfort, Your Highness. I’ll have plenty of time to rest when this is over.”
  1010. “When’s the last time you’ve slept?”
  1011. >”I caught a few hours two nights ago.” he replies completely seriously.
  1012. >Your chest tightens in the presence of such loyalty. Now more than ever are you conscious that you don’t deserve this kind of devotion.
  1013. “Shining,” you say softly, “you need to rest, I won’t have you hurting yourself trying to fix my mistakes.”
  1014. >”With all due respect, Your Highness, I’m the captain of the Royal Guard, it’s my duty to serve you and the kingdom in every way I can.”
  1015. >You let out a deep sigh. If only you’d been this devoted to Luna.
  1016. “When’s the last time you saw Twilight?” you ask.
  1017. >”Twiley...? Three months ago, I think. Why?”
  1018. >Even when they both lived in Canterlot, even when they both spent most of their time in the palace, they still saw so little of each other? That’s not right of you to allow that.
  1019. “When you’ve finished your duties I want you to go visit Twilight in Ponyville and see how she’s settling in.”
  1020. >Shining Armor sighs but relents. “As you will, Your Highness.” Then he smiles a little. “Thank you.”
  1021.  
  1022. Shining Armor’s PoV
  1023. >”Think nothing of it, my little pony. Please give my regards to Twilight.”
  1024. “Of course, Princess. I’m sure she’ll be ecstatic to hear from you.”
  1025. >”Run along now, Captain, I believe the next train to Ponyville leaves in two hours, I want you to be on that train.”
  1026. >You bow again, once more thanking her for her benevolence.
  1027. >Turning around, you canter out of the throne room and through the brilliant halls of Canterlot Palace.
  1028. >As you trot on your way to arrange the useless expedition to the north, you feel a faint pulsing in your chest, almost as a second heartbeat.
  1029. >You know that beneath your armor, kept away from prying eyes, barely a shade whiter than your coat, pulses a crescent moon.
  1030. >You are Shining Armor, son of Twilight Velvet and Orion, inheritor of the legacy of Midnight, last Captain of the Night Guard, and everything is going
  1031. >Just
  1032. >As
  1033. >Planned.
  1034. “Ave domina nox.”
  1035.  
  1036. Back in Ponyville
  1037. >As is fast becoming your habit, you release yet another sigh comprised of a combination of pent up irritation, aggravation, exasperation, and apprehension.
  1038. >The pony called Twilight currently leads you and your erstwhile... well you wouldn't exactly call Nightmare your companion, really, more like a parasite you tolerate.
  1039. >But Nightmare's companion status aside, the both of you now follow Twilight through the darkening streets of Ponyville, your nerves more than a little on edge.
  1040. >Every instinct screams at you that you're being led right into an ambush, and your telekinetic grip on your mace tightens in anticipation.
  1041. "Where did you say this... party is being held?" you ask suspiciously.
  1042. >"Pinkie said it's being held at Sugarcube Corner. Don't worry though, it's a short walk there." Twilight assures you.
  1043. >You grumble an acknowledgement and continue along behind her, still maintaining what you feel to be a healthy level of paranoia.
  1044. >”Oh don’t be so tense.” Nightmare says. “It’s just a party, you really do need to get out more.”
  1045. “I get out enough, thank you.”
  1046. >”Here we are!” Twilight announces as the two of you arrive at a giant gingerbread house.
  1047. >Your urge to kill steadily begins to rise.
  1048. >”After you!” Twilight says cheerily.
  1049. >By now your instincts are screaming at you to either kill her or leave the town, surely this is some kind of trap.
  1050. >As you reach your hoof out to the door you freeze as a thought enters your mind.
  1051. >What if you’ve already been found out? What if behind that door is Celestia herself waiting to confront you and Nightmare.
  1052. >Your apprehension nearly palpable, you turn the doorknob and push the door open.
  1053.  
  1054. >The door slowly swings inward and as you walk in you notice that all the lights are off.
  1055. >Nightmare stands at your side and you can feel her own apprehension as you survey the lightless interior of the shop.
  1056. >The door behind you suddenly slams closed and Twilight stands in front of it, blocking your exit.
  1057. >You begin to back up slowly as realization dawns.
  1058. >You’ve been double-crossed! You knew this was a bad idea! You should never have trusted anything that pink!
  1059. >Before you can make a move the lights flick on and you find yourself face to face with a black powder cannon.
  1060. >The cannon fires, nearly deafening you and thoroughly confusing you as it covers you in party favors.
  1061. >For the barest of moments you’re completely vulnerable, the sudden light and sound overwhelming you, shattering your concentration and cutting off the magic holding your mace aloft, effectively disarming you.
  1062. >You half expect to feel a knife in your back in the short time you’re incapacitated.
  1063. >While there is no knife, what you do feel is your hooves leaving the ground as ponies swarm you.
  1064. >What? No! They’re trying to take you alive to torture for information!
  1065. “Stay back you savages! Unhand me!”
  1066. >The ponies lift you up into the air, all cheering, while confetti and balloons fly everywhere.
  1067. >They carry you off into the store and all you can do is thrash and and yell at them.
  1068. “I’ll tell you nothing! Gods damn it, Sunny, you lied to me! You said there was nothing to worry about! I should have been worried the whole time!”
  1069. >You have no idea what’s going on and you feel like you’re about to have a heart attack.
  1070. >You are too fucking old to be dealing with this kind of shit.
  1071.  
  1072. >You are Nightmare Moon.
  1073. >And it’s far more difficult than you thought to keep a straight face while watching your master get dragged away by a horde of partying ponies.
  1074. >Soon you decide it’s not worth the effort and burst out laughing at his misfortune.
  1075. >”He doesn’t interact with other ponies much, does he?” you hear Twilight ask.
  1076. >After a moment you finally regain some semblance of your composure.
  1077. “Oh no, I suppose he doesn’t. He spends all of his time working and studying and learning and reading. He doesn’t seem to do much else, not for as long as I’ve known him.”
  1078. >You’re fairly sure that saying that much won’t reveal anything incriminating, just meaningless facts.
  1079. >Twilight looks strangely pensive at your words, an odd look coming to her face.
  1080. >”Well then he’s lucky he has you at least. It’s easy to get lost in your own world, but even one friend can do wonders.
  1081. >”I’LL TELL YOU NOTHING! YOU HEAR ME? NOTHING!”
  1082. >Your gaze is drawn back to the party where the ponies, led by Pinkie, are now tossing your master up into the air over and over.
  1083. >How they can lift him in his armor is beyond you.
  1084. >”If you don’t mind my asking, how did you two meet? You seem almost like polar opposites.”
  1085. >Careful, Nightmare, you’re treading on thin ice. Be vague like your master taught you.
  1086. “Well...” You take a moment to sum up the short history of the two of you and patch it into something that won’t reveal you.
  1087. “He saved my life.”
  1088. >”He saved your life?” Twilight asked wide-eyed. “Do you mind if I ask what happened?”
  1089. “It’s something of a touchy subject, but I suppose I could tell you the gist of it.” And the beautiful thing is that you’re not even lying here. Your master said that the most convincing lies are the ones that aren’t really lies at all.
  1090.  
  1091. “We met a little over a year ago. I was lost, I don’t know where I was, but it was dark and I was all alone. I had no friends and what family I had had long since abandoned me. I was stuck there for I don’t even know how long. But then he came along, off on one of his adventures, and after making quite a foal of myself he agreed to take me home.”
  1092. >”So why are you still with him if he said he’d take you home?” Twilight asks.
  1093. “I don’t have one.” you say. “When I told him that, and that I didn’t have anyone to even return to, he said I could tag along with him. Ever since then he’s been my only friend when nop0ny else would be. And, now don’t tell him this because he doesn’t know that I’ve figured it out, I give him something to live for.”
  1094. >”Wow, that’s an incredible story.” Twilight remarks. “You two are really lucky to have each other, it sounds like you really mean a lot to one another.”
  1095. “Oh you have no idea.” you say with a wistful sigh, your gaze going back to the ironclad overlord who the pink pony was now subjecting to face painting.
  1096. >A look of understanding comes to Twilight’s face as you say that.
  1097. >Before either of you can say another word, though, you’re interrupted by a shout of “Twiley!”
  1098. >A white unicorn with electric blue hair garbed in royal purple armor canters up to the two of you.
  1099. >Twilight gasps. “Shining? What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be up in Canterlot?”
  1100. >”Princess Celestia said I’ve been working too hard and wanted me to take some time off to come see how my little sis is doing in her new home.”
  1101.  
  1102. >Twilight is practically hopping on the spot in excitement.
  1103. >As soon as the new pony finishes speaking Twilight lunges at him, catching him in a tackle hug that, for his part, barely budges him.
  1104. >He returns the hug enthusiastically, but soon catches sight of you.
  1105. >”You gonna introduce me to your friend, Twiley?”
  1106. >”Oh! Shining Armor, meet Sunshine Smiles! She just arrived in town today along with her friend over there.” Twilight says, indicating your master.
  1107. >The furious armored pony is now stumbling around dizzily while blindfolded, forced into a game of Pin The Tail On The Pony and brandishing said tail as a weapon. “I don’t need eyes to kill you!” he yells while the ponies cheer him on.
  1108. >”Hello Miss Smiles.” Shining Armor says, holding out a hoof. “Nice to meet you.”
  1109. “A pleasure to meet you t-” you freeze mid sentence as your hoof touches his and what feels like a light electric current passes between your hooves.
  1110. >Your eyes widen, as do his. Your eyes drop to his chest where you can feel as much as see, even through his armor, a small white crescent moon pulsing away, visible only to you.
  1111. >Shining Armor recovers quickly and clears his throat. “So you’re new in town?”
  1112. “I... Yes, my companion and I were exploring the Everfree and were passing through the town to use the train station when Twilight’s friend invited us to this party.”
  1113. >”You’ve made some new friends, Twiley?” Shining asks excitedly. “That’s great! It’s about time you started hanging out with ponies your own age.”
  1114. >Twilight scuffs a hoof against the floor. “I had friends in Canterlot...”
  1115. >”Me and Spike don’t count, we’re family. And Cadance might as well be. I mean real friends, the kind you've been ignoring all your life. Oh this is so exciting! When do I get to meet them?" he asks.
  1116.  
  1117. >"M-meet them?" Twilight stammers. "You want to meet them?"
  1118. >"Of course! I can't wait to meet my baby sister's new friends. The pink mare who invited me here is one of them, right?"
  1119. >"Yeah, h-hang on, let me go find them, I'm sure they're here somewhere..." she distractedly mumbles to herself, going off in search of her friends.
  1120. >Once you're sure Twilight is out of hearing range you return your attention to the stallion before you.
  1121. >He bows his head slightly in respect and, just loud enough to hear, says "Ave domina nox."
  1122. "It's so good to finally meet you," you say, "my loyal pony."
  1123.  
  1124. The Overlord’s PoV
  1125. >The ponies had their way with you for nearly ten minutes, but you finally managed to escape.
  1126. >You’ve severely underestimated these creatures, they’re far more devious than you could have ever imagined.
  1127. >Clearly they’ve used their disarming appearance to lull you into a false sense of security and get you to drop your guard.
  1128. >That won’t be happening again, their ambush failed and you’ll make sure never to give them another opportunity.
  1129. >You managed to finally extricate yourself from your captors, making your way back to your apprentice while taking stock of all the desecrations they’ve wrought upon your armor.
  1130. >Flowers and stars and hearts cover your armor everywhere, you’re going to have to do some serious cleaning later.
  1131. >Or maybe you can make Nightmare do it.
  1132. >You finally find her talking to an armored unicorn right where you’d left her.
  1133. “Thanks for all the help.” you interrupt her. “It’s not like I was just dragged away and tortured by a horde maniacal ponies or anything.”
  1134. >”It’s called having fun, my lord.”
  1135. “Fun? What is this... fun you speak of?”
  1136.  
  1137. >”Are you joking?”
  1138. “Do I look like I’m joking to you?” you ask, pointing to your face.
  1139. >Nightmare and her friend both start snickering.
  1140. >”Yes actually.” she says.
  1141. “What.”
  1142. >Her companion points to his face. “You’ve got a little something...”
  1143. >With a pop he materializes a mirror and levitates it up in front of you.
  1144. >What you see horrifies you to your very core.
  1145. >The damnable creatures that accosted you had covered your helm with stickers and glitter and disgusting amounts of pink paint.
  1146. >You even have a big red bow on your horn.
  1147. >You take a deep breath and struggle to rein in your desire to kill everything.
  1148. “This is your fault.” is all you say.
  1149. >Nightmare laughs you off, infuriating you even more.
  1150. >”But this may cheer you up. This is the pony we were on our way to meet, his name is Shining Armor.” Nightmare looks fondly at him. “He’s the spitting image of Midnight. Except for all the wrong colors of course.”
  1151. >He bows his head to you. “Well met, sir. Who might you be?”
  1152. >You narrow your eyes and with a brief burst of anger to fuel it, your armor flashes molten, searing the desecrations from it.
  1153. “Someone who has cause to see this land under new leadership.”
  1154. >”It’s good to see we have allies outside of the guard.” he remarks.
  1155. “We should speak on this later, it’s not safe to discuss here. Will you be in this town for long?”
  1156. >”Just for tonight, I’ll be going back to Canterlot first thing in the morning and spending the rest of my time off there.”
  1157. “Then so shall we. We’ll return to Canterlot with you and continue our preparations there. For now, we endure this... party.”
  1158. >It’s at that exact moment that Twilight chooses to return, five of the most infuriatingly colorful ponies you’ve seen yet in tow.
  1159. >You can’t help but feel like the day is only going to get worse.
  1160.  
  1161. >You were right.
  1162. >Normally this is a cause of mild joy, because it usually means Nightmare is wrong. But right now you’ve never wished more to have been wrong.
  1163. >Since Twilight returned with her friends everything went downhill and shows no signs of stopping.
  1164. >The pink abomination is back, hopping incessantly and talking a mile a minute.
  1165. >The white one’s been going starry-eyed over Twilight’s brother the whole time, fawning over him and generally being as subtle as a rock about her intentions.
  1166. >The yellow one won’t come near you.
  1167. >The rainbow one wont stop talking about herself and something called the Wonderbolts.
  1168. >The orange one’s been tolerable enough, she doesn’t say much and she’s so bland she just sort of blends into the background.
  1169. >While the ponies all scramble for Shining Armor’s attention, the orange one approaches you, eyeing your armor appraisingly.
  1170. >”Howdy there, name’s Applejack.” she says, extending a hoof.
  1171. >Blood of the tyrants, that voice. It grates on your every nerve.
  1172. >You reluctantly shake her hoof.
  1173. “Well met, Applejack.”
  1174. >”Yer a mighty big fella,” she says. “Never seen anyp0ny with armor like that before. What’s a giant like yerself doin’ in a small town like this?”
  1175. >”Yeah, what’s with the armor?” pipes up a voice directly above you.
  1176. >A look up confirms that you’ve caught the rainbow pony’s attention too.
  1177. “I’m an adventurer, my companion and I were exploring the Everfree recently and we’re here to take a train to Canterlot.”
  1178. >”Woah, you’re an adventurer? That’s awesome! Have you ever like, fought a dragon or anything?” the rainbow one asks.
  1179. >You blink.
  1180. “Yes.” you answer truthfully.
  1181. >”Oh my gosh, really? What was it like?”
  1182. >You heft your mace into sight with your telekinesis.
  1183. “I hit it over the head with this until it stopped moving. The end.”
  1184.  
  1185. >It’s been four hours now.
  1186. >They just keep asking you questions, so much so that the others have taken notice and slowly their attention has shifted from Shining Armor to you.
  1187. >They will not go away.
  1188. >This is, without doubt, the worst hell.
  1189. >”So why are your eyes all red and glowy?” the one named Rainbow asks.
  1190. “Magic armor.”
  1191. >”What’s your favorite flavor of cupcake?” the pink one who you refuse to name asks.
  1192. “Affliction.”
  1193. >”What kinda music do y’all like?” the orange one who’s name you keep forgetting asks.
  1194. “I like my music the way I like my weapons. Heavy and metal.”
  1195. >”D-do you like animals...?” the yellow one asks.
  1196. “I know this one girl who can turn into a giant spider, so I guess they’re okay.”
  1197. >”Who made that armor? It may be a little crude for my tastes but the craftsmanship is exemplary!”
  1198. “The elves of Eregion, ten thousand years ago. We’re not on the best terms right now. I chopped down a couple of trees and they got really upset for some reason.”
  1199. >That’s it, forget the rancor pit, you’ve decided that from now on all torture victims will be given to the ponies, their inane prattling is more painful than a thousand knives.
  1200. >You give Shining Armor a look and he wastes no time coming to your rescue.
  1201. >”Hey Twiley!” he asks over the ponies. “It’s been pretty great party, but I’m really tired. You mind if I crash at your house tonight?”
  1202. >”Sure. What about you and your friend, Sunshine? I don’t think the next train to Canterlot is ‘til the morning.”
  1203. >”Oh!” the pink one yells. “If Sunshine and her friend need a place to stay the night we have a spare room here!”
  1204. >Well you did always say sleep is for the weak.
  1205. >”You mind if they stay over too, Twiley? We’re gonna catch the train together tomorrow anyways.”
  1206.  
  1207. >”Sure, the guest room is all made up anyways.” she says.
  1208. >This pony, you like him.
  1209. >You will kill him last.
  1210. >You shoot an appreciative nod to Shining Armor and he returns it.
  1211. "You have my thanks for the kind offer, Miss Sparkle. We will not be long."
  1212. >"Aww, no sleepover?" the pink monster whines.
  1213. >"Sorry Pinkie, maybe another time." Nightmare says.
  1214. >"Okay!" she chirps, sadness forgotten. "See you guys later then!"
  1215. >You all thank her for the party and take your leave, making your way down the road to Twilight's house.
  1216. >"So did you two have fun?" Twilight asks.
  1217. >"I liked it." Nightmare says. "That was fun."
  1218. "It was... interesting."
  1219. >"I loved meeting your friends, Twiley. The pink one's kinda crazy, though."
  1220. >"Yeah... Pinkie can get like that. But she's fine in small doses."
  1221. >The four of you lapse into silence soon after that and the rest of the walk is made in silence, which is just fine with you.
  1222. >It's not long before you arrive at Twilight's home, and as soon as you walk in the door the weariness that's been building in you since arriving in this accursed town finally makes itself known and all you want to do is sleep.
  1223. >"There's only two beds in the guest room, is that okay?" Twilight asks.
  1224. >"Don't worry, we can share." Nightmare says, just a little too eagerly for your taste.
  1225. >"Excellent!" Twilight says. "The guest room is the second one upstairs. Goodnight everyp0ny."
  1226. >You all say goodnight and head to your rooms for some much needed sleep.
  1227. >Your bed's a little small, but you've long since run out of fucks to give.
  1228. >Though you can't feel it through your armor, hitting the bed is enough to bring you to the edge of passing out.
  1229. >The bed sags beneath the weight of a second body, and suddenly you feel a pair of hooves encircle your midsection.
  1230. >"I'm wide awake, master." Nightmare whispers seductively in your ear.
  1231. "Well you're the only one."
  1232. >You then promptly fall asleep.
  1233.  
  1234. >While you sleep you dream of things long past, things that refuse to leave you even in blessed oblivion.
  1235. >”We all know he’s guilty as charged! No punishment we could enact upon him could ever measure up to the scale of his atrocities, so great was the evil he wrought!”
  1236. “That is because I am immune to any other kind of punishment,” you taunt.
  1237. >”Be silent, monster!”
  1238. “You will hear my voice up until the very moment you cast that spell, I want my voice to haunt you for the rest of your days where I may not. Try as you might you will never be able to forget it.”
  1239. >”All records of your existence shall be erased from this world! You will have no lasting legacy, you will be forgotten!”
  1240. “But you, brave hero, will remember. That is all I care about. I want you to remember me. And I want you to remember that no matter what victory you think you won against me, the one victory you always sought, the only one you truly cared for, was always out of reach. You will never see my face. You will never know my name. You will never know who to hate for your father’s death. You will only hate a figure, an avatar, a simple suit of armor. You will never be able to hate ME.”
  1241. >You can see him visibly shaking with rage now. He knows, he understands. He knows that ultimately you still won and he still lost.
  1242. >The one goal, the only reason he had for his actions was never fulfilled.
  1243. >Sure he may have saved the world, so he may have greatly improved the lives of countless millions and ensured a global hope for a brighter tomorrow. It was all collateral, it was all secondary.
  1244. >He had lost, and his actions now only prevent him from ever salvaging that loss, but they are the only realistic step forward.
  1245. >By this hero’s own doings your victory is complete and total.
  1246. >And he knows it.
  1247.  
  1248. >”This was never about me or my thoughts on the matter!” he lies through his teeth. “This was about the atrocities you committed against uncounted millions!”
  1249. >And everyone would believe him too. After all, who would lead an entire world in revolution simply for personal revenge?
  1250. >But you know and he knows. That’s all you need.
  1251. >”The world will be a much brighter place for not having you.”
  1252. >But you can still ruin him more. Everything you say will be disregarded, but you can make another painful move against him.
  1253. “And will it be brighter for having one tyrant over another?”
  1254. >”I am no tyrant!”
  1255. “No, not now you’re not. But soon. Soon you will be. You will become the very thing you hate. Will you let another rule now? No, I think not, the world will demand that their heavensent hero lead them into this perceived brighter tomorrow, into the golden age you see just over the horizon.”
  1256. >”And why would I not? I must repair the damage that you wrought, my quest is not so easy that it would be ended by defeating you. I have to right your wrongs!”
  1257. “For that is the strength of your character. That is what you truly believe motivates you, and for now it truly is. But down that glorious golden path your thoughts will stray for you will have moved so far as to be unable to see the beginning. Right now you are a great man, but you are still just a man. You can be corrupted, and mark my words, power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Soon it will be as though I never left and the only thing you will have to blame for your woes is a faceless, nameless suit of armor.”
  1258.  
  1259. >The hero turns to the gathered crowd. “Do you see? Have any doubts you may have had been laid to rest? He freely admits his evil!”
  1260. >The crowd roars their approval.
  1261. >”Do you see the state of him? Even now he will not be humbled! But we shall humble him! We have taken everything from him, he has been made less than nothing! Naught but a fading shadow!”
  1262. >And you are in quite a sorry state, that you will freely admit.
  1263. >The most extreme measures had been taken to ensure your immobility. Your hands are bound by the twisted remains of your very greatsword, Zarkoj.
  1264. >The manacles about your ankles are forged from enchanted dwarf star alloy.
  1265. >The collar around your throat is made from the beaten remains of your wrought iron crown.
  1266. >But even so and on your knees you still come up to the young hero’s height and eclipse him with the great size of your armor, you are unable to be made to appear humble, something which will no doubt infuriate the hero.
  1267. “And that shadow will always remain cast over your own life.”
  1268. >He whirls on you furiously, a crackling greatstaff in his hand.
  1269. >It is a relic, forged by titans in the time before the Black God was imprisoned in the heart of the world, predating even the formation of the great Tyrannical Order that was founded to safeguard creation from its evil.
  1270. >Forged by ancient gods, specifically for this purpose, to banish you.
  1271. >As ethereal fire ignites along the staff you smile.
  1272. >You’ve served your purpose, the Tyrannical Order will continue with this boy.
  1273. >And the world will be safe.
  1274. >The fire leaps from the staff and consumes you, ejecting you from the world.
  1275. >But your work is not done, you still need the last word.
  1276. >You give him three.
  1277. “HUE HUE HUE!”
  1278.  
  1279. >When you awake a number of things grab your attention, each more confusing than the last.
  1280. >The first thing to catch your notice when your glowing eyes crack open is a tiny purple dragon in an apron.
  1281. >The second is the unmistakable smell of freshly cooked pancakes.
  1282. >The third is the fact that Nightmare Moon has you in some manner of death grip as she sleeps snuggled against you, her face pressed to the back of your neck.
  1283. >Only two of those things are tolerable.
  1284. >”Morning!” the little dragon by your bed says. “Just here to let you know that breakfast is ready, come down whenever you’re hungry!”
  1285. >You look blearily at the dragon for a moment before extricating yourself from Nightmare’s grasp.
  1286. >After you topple out of bed onto the floor, you notice Nightmare begin blindly grasping about for something to cuddle, a distressed whine leaving her as she searches.
  1287. >You go for the easiest solution.
  1288. >You grab the tiny dragon and hoof it over to Nightmare.
  1289. >”Hey!” he squawks as Nightmare unconsciously grabs hold of him. “What the-”
  1290. “Shh! You’ll wake her up.”
  1291. >The dragon immediately goes silent while Nightmare sighs contentedly, holding him like a teddy bear.
  1292. >”... How long do I have to stay here?” he whispers.
  1293. >You shrug.
  1294. “Just until I finish breakfast, I like to get a few minutes to myself every now and again.”
  1295. >”Uh, okay. I’ll just be here then...” he says as you trot away.
  1296. >You trudge sleepily through the library following the scent of delicious pancakes.
  1297. >Gods, you haven't had pancakes in centuries. You outlawed them in your kingdom when you found that the people didn't hate you enough and thought that would be pointlessly cruel enough to suit your purposes.
  1298. >Oh the things you do for evil.
  1299. >You weren't lying when you told Nightmare that the love of the people was a powerful weapon, but in your unique position it could not last.
  1300. >The peoples' hatred gave you strength; real, tangible power.
  1301. >And kept that power from something far worse than any tyrant.
  1302. >But then all thoughts of your destiny are shattered as you enter the kitchen and Twilight starts saying words.
  1303. >”Hey, where’s Spike?” she asks.
  1304. “Couldn’t tell you.”
  1305.  
  1306. >”Huh, that’s weird, I sent him upstairs to wake you up five minutes ago.”
  1307. >You shrug and take a seat at the table next to an already eating Shining Armor.
  1308. >You grab a fork up in your magic and start going to town on the plate of pancakes set in front of you.
  1309. >”So Shining, how’s Canterlot been? It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve seen you!”
  1310. >”It was pretty hectic leading up to the Summer Sun Celebration, but it’s died down since. Not a whole lot really happens up there, for the most part. Oh! Cadance’s been asking after you, says she misses her favorite filly.”
  1311. >Twilight lets out an ear splitting squeal that leaves you reasonably sure at least one of your eardrums had burst.
  1312. >”Oh my gosh, how’s Cadance? It actually has been forever since I saw her last! Are you two dating yet? How long have you two been together? When’re you getting married?”
  1313. >Shining Armor all but chokes on a mouthful of pancakes at Twilight’s last barrage of questioning and you find yourself mildly entertained by his suffering.
  1314. >After a few moments of avoiding suffocation he manages to compose an answer.
  1315. >”I accompanied her to a few royal functions, that’s it though. Don’t get too excited, nothing’s happened yet.”
  1316. >Twilight huffs. “Fine, but you better hurry up before somepony better looking snatches her up. You wouldn’t want Blueblood on her tail would you?”
  1317. >Shining Armor, foolishly thinking he was safe, had attempted another mouthful of pancakes but promptly began choking as Twilight voiced her concerns.
  1318. >You’re content to watch until he starts turning blue.
  1319. >You can’t have him dying on you now, that would just be bothersome.
  1320. >Your horn flares green and a concentrated burst of telekinetic force strikes him in the back.
  1321. >The force of the blow dislodges the food from his esophagus.
  1322. >It also slams him face first into his plate of pancakes where he lays unmoving.
  1323. “Sorry, I panicked.” you drawl lazily as you shovel another forkful of pancakes into your mouth.
  1324.  
  1325. >”Dangit...” Shining mutters as he cleans himself off with a short burst of magic before returning his attention to the conversation. “Isn’t Blueblood related to Cadance?” he asks a little worriedly. “He wouldn’t make any moves on her, would he?”
  1326. >”Eh, they are technically related, but Blueblood’s so much further down the tree than Cadance that they may as well be fiftieth cousins for how diluted the blood is. It’s a possibility, and looking more like a probability considering Blueblood himself. He’s always looking for mares with status, he flirted with me nonstop while I lived in the palace with Celestia.”
  1327. >”He what?!”
  1328. >”He’s as tactful as a rock, I’ll tell you that. Though at least rocks don’t talk about themselves as much as he does.”
  1329. >It’s sounding more and more like exterminating the royal blood line will be doing a favor to the world more than anything.
  1330. “Perhaps you might like to have a word with this fellow once we journey to Canterlot.” you suggest.
  1331. >”Oh I’m gonna have more than a word,” he growls.
  1332. >Twilight rolls her eyes. “Shining, don’t. I honestly don’t think he knows any better.”
  1333. “You speak of him like he’s the special kid that got an important position out of pity that everyone goes out of their way to be nice to.” you remark.
  1334. >Twilight just stares at you. “That... actually sounds pretty accurate.”
  1335. “So you’re saying that your brother’s only competition for this girl is a retarded fake prince and that you’re worried she might choose said retarded fake prince of your brother. And that you think he looks better than your brother.”
  1336. >”Well gee, thanks for the vote of confidence, Twiley.” Shining quips.
  1337. >”Well now it just sounds mean when you put it that way.” Twilight says.
  1338. “But that’s essentially the situation, right?”
  1339. >”Uh...”
  1340. >Before Twilight gets the chance to answer a piercing shriek echoes from upstairs and a tiny purple dragon is launched out the bedroom door.
  1341. “Sunny’s up.”
  1342.  
  1343. >You’re soon joined by a frazzled looking white pegasus as she flutters over and takes a seat beside you at the table.
  1344. >A little too close for your preferences.
  1345. >You none-too-subtly put a little distance between the two of you.
  1346. >”So when do we head out?” Nightmare asked as Spike piled a stack of pancakes in front of her.
  1347. >”The next train leaves in a little over an hour.” Twilight tells her. “You’ll probably want to take that one.”
  1348. “I actually have a question about that.” you say. “You’re the student of the princess and the most magically gifted unicorn in the land, right?”
  1349. >”Well I don’t know about that second part, but I am good with magic, yes.”
  1350. ”Is it at all possible that you could simply teleport us to Canterlot?” you ask her.
  1351. >Twilight appears thoughtful for a moment. “I suppose I could, actually.” she says at last. “But it’s pretty far away, I might need to borrow some magic from you and Shining.”
  1352. >Well it’s not like you don’t have any to spare.
  1353. “Very well, this would be preferable. My companion has something of a phobia of enclosed spaces and it would be greatly appreciated.”
  1354. >”Oh, I’m sorry, I hear that’s not that uncommon with pegasi.” Twilight remarks, giving Nightmare a sympathetic look. “When would you like to leave then?”
  1355. “Whenever you’re ready, this cuts several hours from our travel time so we’re not in any particular hurry now.”
  1356. >”Alright, does after breakfast sound good?”
  1357. “That would be excellent, thank you. And on this note, you’ve been nothing but generous to us since we’ve arrived, is there anything we might do to thank you?”
  1358. >Nightmare gives you an odd look as you voice your question, but you ignore her. A little kindness can go a long way when one is in need of allies.
  1359. >Twilight smiles and waves a hoof dismissively. “Oh don’t worry, it’s my pleasure to help. And I think it should be me thanking you, you’re the first visitors to my library to actually read anything.”
  1360. “I insist, you’ve truly gone above and beyond for us.” you persist.
  1361.  
  1362. >”Well if you really want, I’ve actually been rather curious about that book you have chained to your side there.” she offers, pointing to the List.
  1363. >You hesitantly unhook the book from its chain and levitate it across the table to Twilight who takes hold of it with vested interest.
  1364. >”The Evil Overlord List?” she reads, giving you a curious look.
  1365. “I discovered it in some ruins we found in the Everfree, it was the only thing of any possible value we found. I’m actually on my way to Canterlot to have it’s worth appraised by a colleague of mine.” you explain, the lie coming naturally to your lips.
  1366. >The lavender accepts the explanation without a second thought and looks back to the book with an almost reverential awe.
  1367. >She carefully opens the book and begins leafing through the pages. “It looks almost like some kind of protocol for villains to follow.” she observes.
  1368. “My thoughts are the same. I believe this means there is a possibility that this book could have been used by some of the most notorious figures in recorded history as a kind of guide. If so this book could prove to be of incalculable value, and even help to develop strategies for combating future threats to the kingdom. And if your suspicions are correct about Nightmare Moon’s return then, assuming this book is what it claims to be, I stand to make a rather handsome profit if I were to bring this to Princess Celestia’s attention.”
  1369. >You see Twilight eat up your story and you inwardly smile, not that anyone would have noticed if you actually did smile that is.
  1370. >”Wow, you’re extremely lucky to have found this.” she says, levitating the book back to you. “If you’re right this could be of incredible help to Equestria. Just let me know if anything comes of it and I’ll put in a word for you to the princess, and so can Shining as well. With the word of the captain of the Royal Guard and her own personal student you’re pretty much guaranteed that the princess will hear what you have to say.”
  1371.  
  1372. >”And you showed up at the most crucial moment possible with Nightmare Moon returning, it’s almost like it was meant to happen.” Twilight comments.
  1373. “Well then let’s hope fate is as kind as it appears to be. Hopefully this trip to Canterlot will be my last and I’ll be able to retire.”
  1374. >”Well you know there’s also the whole “helping to save Equestria” part too.” Nightmare points out.
  1375. “Yes, Sunny. Thank you for that.”
  1376. >”Well I wouldn’t want to keep you from any of that.” Twilight says. “I’ll send you off as soon as you like.”
  1377. “Well we’re all just about finished with breakfast now.”
  1378. >”I’m not finished y-”
  1379. “We can could leave right now if that’s permissible.” you say, cutting off Nightmare.
  1380. >”Of course! But like I said, I may need a little help, if you and Shining could lend me some magic I should be fine.”
  1381. “Of course.” you consent, getting to your hooves, Nightmare and Shining Armor following along.
  1382. >You all follow Twilight from the kitchen and into the main lobby of the library, Spike setting upon the dishes at the table the very moment you leave them.
  1383. >The four of you gather in a small circle before Twilight. “Okay, I’m gonna be reaching into your magic, if you haven’t done this before it might feel a little weird.” Twilight warns you. “It’ll be a little like your leg moving without being the one making it.”
  1384. “Consider me prepared. Whenever you’re ready Miss Sparkle.”
  1385. >Twilight closes her eyes in response to your urgings and her horn begins to glow. A soft field of light extends from her horn to cover you, Nightmare, and Shining Armor, and as soon as it passes over you you feel a foreign presence seeking entry to your mind.
  1386. >It’s very difficult to keep yourself from instantly killing her in response.
  1387.  
  1388. >You allow the unicorn the barest fraction of your power, though it’s still enough to make her gasp slightly at the immensity of the power you give her.
  1389. >The combined power that you and Shining Armor give to her is more than sufficient to see you safely to Canterlot, and Twilight takes it into herself and begins weaving the spell.
  1390. >Then everything goes wrong as Twilight's eyes shoot open and fixate on Nightmare.
  1391.  
  1392. Twilight’s PoV
  1393. >Such power! Never before in all your life have you had access to so much magical power.
  1394. >Well, that’s not entirely accurate, during your... episodes you feel almost like a god with the amount of power usually forced into you.
  1395. >But you don’t have that problem anymore, you haven’t had one of those magical episodes in years.
  1396. >But truth be told it’s a struggle right now, with all the power required to teleport three ponies to Canterlot, two of them even wearing armor, you can feel all the magic struggling to break your grasp on it.
  1397. >But you keep your hold on it firm, keeping the spell stable and the magic in check.
  1398. >But... something isn’t right.
  1399. >This adventurer may be abnormally powerful, but even he shouldn’t have this much power.
  1400. >You’re drawing from more sources than you should be.
  1401. >There two unicorns before you, but even accounting for the wanderer’s above average levels there’s enough for far more than that.
  1402. >You isolate the extra source you’re drawing magic from and find that it’s the pegasus, Sunshine Smiles.
  1403. >But that can’t be right, she’s a pegasus, there’s no way she should have access to this much magic.
  1404. >Every pony has their own personal well of magical power, manifesting itself as an aptitude for a specific talent, but this is too much for an average pegasus, it’s too much for even a unicorn.
  1405. >You haven’t felt this kind of power since you began training under Celestia when you were little, when she would help you with spells by letting you use her own power.
  1406. >You feel something else, more magic weaved about her, some kind of spell.
  1407. >An illusion.
  1408.  
  1409. >This all happens within the span of mere seconds.
  1410. >It’s a simple matter to see past the illusion once you’re aware of it, but what you see terrifies and confuses you.
  1411. >Just beneath the surface of what appears to be Sunshine Smiles is the very being you’ve been trying to warn everyone about for a week now.
  1412. >Nightmare Moon.
  1413.  
  1414. The Overlord’s PoV
  1415. >She knows.
  1416. >You know exactly what went wrong, she’s feeling magic where there shouldn’t be any.
  1417. >Stupid fucking Nightmare Moon, why didn’t she just use a unicorn illusion like you?
  1418. >You can point fingers later though, right now you need to do something about Twilight.
  1419. >It’s too late to stop the spell, you can already feel the telltale tingling that always precedes having every atom of your body being transmuted into raw energy. You always did hate teleportation.
  1420. >But you know how to deal with wizards, you’ve put more than a few magic users in the place in your day.
  1421. >Assuming magic works the same here as it does in your world, every wizard should have a maximum amount of magic that their body is able to safely hold. Fill them up with a little too much and it starts to leak out.
  1422. >Or they pop.
  1423. >With only seconds left before the spell is complete you make use of a trick you’re particularly fond of.
  1424. >You remove the barriers keeping Twilight from the bulk of your power and then you force every spark of magic you possess through the link between you and Twilight.
  1425. >Just before the three of you vanish you notice Twilight’s eyes go white.
  1426. >Moments later the three of you appear instantly at Shining Armor’s home in Canterlot.
  1427. >The only word that can describe it is magnificent, it would appear that Midnight’s bloodline is a very good family to be born into.
  1428. >Situated high upon the upper levels of Canterlot, the three of you are afforded an amazing view of the landscape before Canterlot Mountain.
  1429.  
  1430. “She found out.”
  1431. >”Who found out what?” Nightmare asks, confused.
  1432. You turn on her, your eyes glowing dangerously. “Just before she sent us away Twilight saw through your disguise!”
  1433. >Shining Armor’s eyes widen in panic. “Are you sure? How do you know?”
  1434. “She could feel magic where there should have been none and she grew suspicious. I have since remedied the situation, but if it happens again you will receive no such aid.”
  1435. >”Ah, my apologies, it won’t happen again.” she replies sheepishly.
  1436. ”It had better not.”
  1437. >”Erm, how exactly did you fix the problem?” Shining inquires hesitantly.
  1438. “I overloaded her with magical energy, quite a lot of magical energy, actually. Your sister is likely a fine red paste now covering the interior of her library. You have my condolences.”
  1439. >”Y-you did what?” he stutters.
  1440. “This is war, and in war there will be casualties, but her sacrifice will not be in vain, she will be remembered, etcetera, etcetera.” you ramble disinterestedly.
  1441. >”No, you don’t understand.” he replies urgently. “My sister is incredibly gifted, magic itself is her special talent. Twilight is no ordinary unicorn, she was chosen as Celestia’s student for the raw power at her command, her capacity for magical power is nearly limitless. There is no amount of magic you could have forced into her that would fatally injure her. At the most you likely only stunned her for a moment.”
  1442. >You take a moment to process this.
  1443. “Are you telling me that I have just granted enough raw power to level an entire city to our enemy, who now knows our identity and our location?”
  1444. >”That would seem to be the situation, my lord.” a wide eyed Shining confirms.
  1445. >It would seem that you have, for lack of a better phrase, fucked up.
  1446. >Another realization comes about and you glance to the side to confirm your suspicions.
  1447. >Your worst fears are realized when your eyes fall upon Nightmare Moon, who now wears the most obnoxious smirk you’ve ever seen.
  1448. >And there’s not a thing you can do about it.
  1449. “...Damn it.”
  1450.  
  1451. >”Now what was that about-”
  1452. “Enough of your prattling, Nightmare, I need to think.”
  1453. >”Oh not a chance, you-”
  1454. >Doing your best to block out Nightmare’s triumphant gloating, a thousand thoughts race through your mind as you try to salvage the situation.
  1455. >You acted with haste and now you’re paying the price for it, it’s entirely possible this could spell the end for any hopes you’d had for subtlety.
  1456. >This could very well force you into direct confrontation with Celestia and if that happens you’ll have to kill her.
  1457. >If victory comes so quickly then Nightmare won’t have the opportunity to learn even a fraction of what you want to teach her, she’ll continue to be an incompetent villain who was simply handed a kingdom.
  1458. >And with no worthy adversary to betray your time on Equestria will be very boring indeed.
  1459. >You must work quickly if you are going to have any kind of a future in this land that is worth having.
  1460. “Twilight is your sister, correct?” you ask.
  1461. >”Yes sir.” he confirms.
  1462. “Good, it is likely then that she will not think you to be complicit in our schemes. Should a confrontation come to pass you will appear skeptical of your sister’s claims initially, and when she provides proof you will side with her against us. We will do what we can to ensure you are not severely injured it become violent, but it must appear convincing, you understand.”
  1463. >The guard captain nods resolutely. “Yes my lord, I will serve my queen to the best of my abilities.”
  1464. >For a moment you are unable to react.
  1465. >Though he is of another species you see things in his countenance so eerily familiar.
  1466. >That determined look on his face, his utter devotion to Luna’s cause.
  1467. >A man in fire blacked armor comes to mind.
  1468.  
  1469. >After a tense moment you regain control of yourself.
  1470. “Good lad.” you mutter distractedly. “Good lad.”
  1471. >”Though I would request you attempt to turn her to our cause before resorting to other means.”
  1472. >”Well of course.” Nightmare says. “Your ancestors were some of the most gifted unicorns in the kingdom, it would be a terrible loss to waste the potential she represents.”
  1473. >”Thank you Your Highness.”
  1474. >”However you understand that if she refuses to turn she will have to be dealt with immediately. There will be no second chances.”
  1475. >”I… I understand.” Shining Armor says with evident reluctance.
  1476. >You find yourself mildly surprised at Nightmare, it doesn’t happen often but every once in a while she reminds you that she is actually capable of being a proper villain.
  1477. >And once more the unicorn provides an unsettling reminder of a brother in arms long gone.
  1478. “And in the event she escapes you will join her, your position is of incalculable value and your cover must not be compromised.”
  1479. >”I understand, my lord, but what if she goes to Celestia first?”
  1480. ”If she goes to Celestia first then none of this will even matter, we will have to retreat from Canterlot and likely Equestria altogether.”
  1481. >”The most we can do is pray she comes after us herself.” Nightmare adds.
  1482. “There is something I would know, though, guardsman.” you say.
  1483. >”You have but to ask.” he says inclining his head.
  1484. “I am a newcomer to this land and have little knowledge of its history. Why do you aid us? I understand that your ancestor served Nightmare, but why you? What is your stake in this? What could drive one of such character to turn against their own family?”
  1485.  
  1486. >Shining Armor takes a deep breath.
  1487. >”While it’s true my family has faithfully served the night, this isn’t about the loyalties of my ancestors, I just want to do what is best for Equestria.”
  1488. “And you think having Nightmare in control is for the good of the kingdom?” you ask incredulously, casting a glance at your pupil.
  1489. >”Of course. Though she was never in the limelight like Celestia, Princess Luna kept us strong. She believed that for us to prosper we had to be mighty. Celestia, though kind as she is, is weak. She seeks peace by any means and thinks only to appease the other nations. The surrounding kingdoms mock us, the gryphons in the north openly speak of war, the younger generation looks for any excuse to win back their kingdom’s honor from us. The dragons frequently migrate through the kingdom, burning whatever they please as they go. And the only reason the minotaurs haven’t invaded is because in their minds they’ve already won. They see us as children playing soldiers, they consider our military to be little more than quaint. The other nations see us as a joke and Celestia is blind to it, she sees only this fragile peace and is content with it.”
  1490. >Nightmare furrows her brow angrily. “Is the kingdom truly in such dire straights? My sister was always a naive fool, the other races will only respect strength.”
  1491. >”And we need a leader who understands that.” Shining continues. “Words can only get us so far, might and magic will have to take us the rest of the way.”
  1492. >”Of which my sister has ample amounts, though she refuses to use any of it.” Nightmare says bitterly. “If I possessed half the power she does all the world would bend its knee to Equestria.”
  1493. “It will one day, Nightmare.”
  1494. >Immediately following your declaration a deafening boom shakes the building and a bright flash of light blinds the three of you.
  1495. >When the light and noise die down you open your eyes to a scene of devastation; windows are blown out and furniture and decoration are scattered across the floor.
  1496. >And standing right in the middle of it all is Twilight Sparkle.
  1497.  
  1498. >After a moment of tense silence you fall into the act that needs to be put on.
  1499. “Quite an entrance.” you drawl. “Is there something you need, Miss Sparkle?”
  1500. >Twilight glares at you, eyes glowing white with stolen power.
  1501. >Your power.
  1502. >”I think you know exactly why I’m here.” she says dangerously.
  1503. You shrug. “Can’t say that I do.”
  1504. >To your relief Shining Armor takes up the act without a moment’s hesitation.
  1505. >”Twilight, what are you doing?” he demands, managing to sound convincingly surprised. “This is going to take forever to clean up!”
  1506. >”Shining, get away from them!” Twilight exclaims urgently. “They’re dangerous!”
  1507. >He glances back at you feigning disbelief. “What are you talking about Twiley? Dangerous?”
  1508. >Twilight points an accusing hoof at you and Nightmare. “They’re not what they appear to be, they’re under a powerful illusion. I didn’t even notice it until the very last second.”
  1509. >Shining Armor shakes his head. “Come on Twiley, I’m the captain of the Royal Guard, I think I’d be able to spot an illusion.”
  1510. >”Not if it was cast by an alicorn.”
  1511. >”An alicorn?” he asks, glancing back at ‘Sunshine Smiles.’ “Twilight, you’re not seriously saying that-”
  1512. >Before he can finish or you can react Twilight’s horn glows violet and a bolt of magic screams towards Nightmare.
  1513. >The spell impacts and when the light fades Nightmare’s illusion is stripped from her.
  1514. >Shining Armor looks suitably surprised, though you hardly budge.
  1515. >”Well now that was just uncalled for.” Nightmare quips.
  1516.  
  1517. >Her gaze turns to you next.
  1518. >”And you. You’re no wandering adventurer, nothing short of an alicorn should possess the kind of power you do.” Here her horn begins glowing as she prepares to strip the illusion from you as well. “Let’s pull back that illusion and see what you really are.”
  1519. “Let me save you the effort.” you growl.
  1520. >Now that it’s no longer needed you reject the illusion weaved around you.
  1521. >Bones snap and flesh and metal run like wax as your body and armor reshape themselves.
  1522. >Soon you tower over the ponies as you return to your normal shape, growing head and shoulders above Nightmare and eclipsing both Shining Armor and Twilight.
  1523. >This time Shining Armor’s surprise is real, so far he’s only seen you in the guise of a pony.
  1524. >When the transformation ends you gaze impassively down at a fearful Twilight.
  1525. >”What in Celestia’s name...?” she asks, dumbfounded.
  1526. >You spread your arms, holding them out to your sides in question. “Well? You have seen through my disguise and have us cornered. What will you do now, little unicorn?”
  1527. >Twilight takes a step backwards.
  1528. >”What are you?”
  1529. “A king without a kingdom.” you say simply.
  1530. >Twilight’s eyes narrow. “So you’re working with Nightmare Moon to take over Equestria?”
  1531. “Very astute, Celestia must be proud to have such an intellectual as her student. Of course that’s what we’re planning, a child could have figured that out.”
  1532. >”Then your plans end here, you won’t leave Canterlot if I have anything to say about it.”
  1533. You take a thundering step forwards. “And what do you have to say about it, Twilight?”
  1534. >”I think I may actually have something to say about it.” Nightmare pipes up, sauntering over to Twilight.
  1535. >”Tell me Twilight, how do you feel about eternal night?”
  1536.  
  1537. “Nightmare, we’ve been over this. Eternal night kills everything and… actually you never did answer me when I asked if you were a necromancer.”
  1538. >Nightmare groans. “Would it kill you to let me have a moment? I just thought it was a good way to open, I know eternal night is a bad idea.”
  1539. You hold up your hands placatingly. “Alright, alright, I’m only making sure. You understand I have more than enough justification for being worried.”
  1540. >”Yes, yes, you don’t need to remind me. Now if you don’t mind?”
  1541. “All yours.”
  1542. >Nightmare turns back to Twilight and clears her throat. “So tell me Twilight, how do you feel a-”
  1543. >”Are you sure you two are villains?” Twilight asks as she cocks an eyebrow.
  1544. >”Yeah you guys argue like a married couple.” Shining Armor adds.
  1545. >Nightmare stomps a hoof. “We do NOT argue like a married couple. Not to mention I’d never marry him in the first place, he’s no fun at all. He’s so incredibly business minded, it’s like he hates the idea of fun.”
  1546. >”But what about that stuff you told me back in Ponyville?” Twilight asks. “You seemed like you really liked him back there.”
  1547. >Nightmare’s cheeks grow red and you cock an eyebrow within your helmet. “I was trying to build character for my disguise! None of that was true!”
  1548. “I think I’d actually like to hear this.”
  1549. >”No you don’t!”
  1550. >”Not to interrupt or anything, but weren’t we in the middle of something?” Shining interjects.
  1551. >”Yes!” Nightmare yells in exasperation. “Now, Twilight, how do you feel about-”
  1552. “Eternal night is bad, just saying.”
  1553. >”Will you just shut up and let me speak?”
  1554.  
  1555. >Nightmare takes a deep breath to calm herself down. “I’d like to make you an offer.”
  1556. >Twilight’s eyes narrow. “You can save it, I’m not joining you.”
  1557. >”Oh come now, Twilight, I can teach you things Celestia never would. And my friend here-” she says, motioning towards you, “can teach you even more. You’ve felt first hand the kind of power he possesses, and Celestia only just barely managed to defeat me alone last time, do you really think she’ll be able to stand against me now?”
  1558. >”Of course she will.” Twilight declares. “Because she’s not alone, she has me, my brother, the guard, and every other pony in Equestria.”
  1559. >”You’re a clever girl, Twilight, don’t tell me one as bright as you can’t see the obvious. My sister’s days are numbered, join me and I promise you that I’ll give you more than Celestia ever could.”
  1560. >Twilight glares at Luna. “Why would you even want me on your side? I’m Celestia’s personal student, if I did join you I’d just turn on you at some crucial point.”
  1561. >”Because I, unlike my pitiful sister, can see your real value. Celestia sees a servant, a way to make her own life easier. But I see talent to be fostered and a very, very useful ally. It would be a tremendous shame to waste the kind of potential you represent.”
  1562. >”No, I don’t think that’s it at all.” Twilight rebuts. “You think I’ll serve you out of some misplaced sense of loyalty. I know all about how my family used to serve Princess Luna, but you’re not her anymore. You’re Nightmare Moon, you’re the monster that took her away from us. And I think that’s why Celestia picked me; she wants me to bring you back.”
  1563. >Nightmare snorts derisively. “Oh of course, that absolutely must be why. It’s nothing at all with you being the most powerful unicorn since Starswirl.”
  1564.  
  1565. >”You’ve been imprisoned for a thousand years, how could you know that?” Twilight demands.
  1566. >”I can tell just by looking at you girl, it’s like staring into the beating heart of a star. Celestia sees it and it terrifies her, she’s worried that what happened with Starswirl will happen to you. She just wants to keep her enemies as close as she can.”
  1567. >It’s difficult to admit but you’re finding yourself rather impressed with Nightmare, there’s hardly a trace of the idiot villain in her now, she seems to take her role very seriously. And though she may be painfully long-winded she sounds much less like the children’s storybook villain that you’d been fearing she would be.
  1568. >And she really seems determined here, it’s easy to tell she’s trying to make you proud with how much effort she’s putting into turning Twilight to your cause, even if the attempt is doomed to fail.
  1569. >Which happens to be a curious thought, it’s painfully obvious that Twilight has no intentions of switching sides, yet she’s making no attempt to stop Nightmare from trying. All she’s done since she’s arrived is talk. She meets everything the alicorn says and draws the conversation out ever longer.
  1570. >It’s like she’s content to just go back and forth all day.
  1571. >Like she wants to keep Nightmare talking.
  1572. >It’s almost as if she’s…
  1573. >Your eyes widen in shock as the realization hits home.
  1574. >Oh no…
  1575. “Nightmare!” you shout. “She’s playing for time! She’s already-”
  1576. >Without warning the front door is blown off its hinges in a great cloud of dust and splinters.
  1577. >After a moment of shock Nightmare returns her gaze to Twilight, infuriated at the deception played on her.
  1578. >Before she can act Shining Armor dives in front of Twilight, encasing them in a violet force shield. Immediately following this Twilight casts a teleportation spell and the two instantly vanish.
  1579.  
  1580. “Forget them!” you exclaim. “Can you get us out of here?”
  1581. >Suddenly a tether of magic springs forth from the cloud of dust left from the door’s demolition ensnaring your right forearm and pulling taught.
  1582. “What is this?” you demand.
  1583. >With an angry growl you violently wrench your arm backwards. The tether resists a moment, but the resistance suddenly gives and unicorn in gold livery comes flying towards you.
  1584. >You catch him about the neck and without a further through hurl him through the great window overlooking the plains before Canterlot Mountain, high over the city.
  1585. >The glass shatters and the unicorn soon falls out of sight to the streets below.
  1586. >Nightmare is next ensnared by three herself, but before you can go to her aid she teleports a foot to the right and escapes them effortlessly.
  1587. >Relief floods you as her display unintentionally answers your question of escape. She can teleport after all.
  1588. “Get us out of here!” you demand.
  1589. >”Right away my lord!” she affirms blinking to your side.
  1590. >As she takes the moment to prepare the long distance teleport a low, base thrumming fills the air and a wave of violet magic pulses through the room, tinging the atmosphere with the smell of ozone.
  1591. >The wave passes through the both of you, apparently harmlessly and you’re left wondering what that even was.
  1592. >”Whatever that was it didn’t work.” Nightmare says dismissively. “Are you ready? This may be a little disorientating.”
  1593. “As I’ll ever be.” you rumble, most assuredly not ready.
  1594. >Nightmare closes her eyes and her horn begins to spark.
  1595. >Then it fizzles out with a sound like a bowel movement.
  1596. >”Um…”
  1597.  
  1598. Eyes narrowed to slits, you glare at Nightmare. “I’m in no mood for games, Luna, get us out of here!”
  1599. >”It’s not working!” she exclaims in a panic. “That spell, I think it was a teleportation inhibitor, but there’s no way someone so young could do that… by herself.”
  1600. >A furious growl tears from your throat at the implication.
  1601. >”My lord… the power you gave her…”
  1602. >Before you can launch into another furious tirade a torrent of gold armored ponies swarms into the building, surrounding you and cutting off any means of escape.
  1603. “Damn it all to the lightless depths of the void!”
  1604. >As the ponies back you up to the shattered window Shining Armor and Twilight emerge from the soldiers and take to the fore.
  1605. >”You’ve got nowhere to run.” a stone faced Twilight says calmly. “Just come peacefully, no one needs to get hurt here.”
  1606. >You feel confident in assuming you and Nightmare are having the exact same thought right now.
  1607. >A sideways glance at her confirms your thoughts and without wasting a moment you grab hold of her neck and swing yourself onto her back.
  1608. >In the meantime she’s already in motion whirling around and sprinting for the window.
  1609. >You settle yourself just as she leaps and takes to the air, for some reason shattering another window pane for what you assume can only be added effect.
  1610. >Unfortunately your moment is cut short as a magical tether lashes itself to Nightmare’s back leg, yanking the two of you out of the sky.
  1611.  
  1612. >The both of you plummet to the streets below, each shouting with varying degrees of outrage.
  1613. >You hit the ground first, grunting as you bounce after hitting the street. The breath is then driven from your lungs when Nightmare lands atop you, slamming you forcefully back down
  1614. “You need to lose weight.” you grunt, forcefully rolling her off you. “This is coming from a man who is invincible, mind you.”
  1615. >Nightmare groans as she sits up. “It wasn’t much better for me, you know. That armor is far too pointy, I think one of your ridiculous pauldrons gouged out a chunk of my flank…”
  1616. “We’ll talk about why this is all your fault later, for now we need to concentrate on getting out of here. Is there any way down the mountain?” you ask.
  1617. >”None.” Nightmare replies as she pulls herself to her hooves. “Unless we just run right off the edge of the city. I could fly the both of us to the Everfree where we could regroup.”
  1618. “Excellent.” you reply. “What’s the fastest way to get to the edge of the city?”
  1619. >”Well I suppose we could just fly, though I’m sure Celestia will have the sky over the city patrolled by pegasi guards. It would be completely impossible to outmaneuver them with you riding on my back.”
  1620. “What’s to stop them from harrying us the whole way to the Everfree then?” you ask.
  1621. >”The forest is close and nobody will follow us into the sky above it. The weather around the Everfree can’t be controlled or manipulated by pegasi and it’s generally too hazardous for them to be there.”
  1622. “As insightful as that is, it doesn’t actually help us get out of here any faster.”
  1623. >Soon guardsponies flood the streets around you, once more surrounding you and leaving you cursing your terrible fortunes.
  1624. >Immediately following their arrival a violet magical field springs to life around the two of you imprisoning you.
  1625.  
  1626. >The guardsponies take up positions a safe distance away and once more Twilight and Shining Armor canter to the fore, Shining’s horn alight with magic.
  1627. >”You’re completely surrounded and trapped on a mountain, just surrender.” Twilight pleads. “We can be civil about this.”
  1628. >”Can’t we just fight them?” Nightmare asks. “Surely a few guards and Twilight, even as powered up as she is, wouldn’t pose that great of a challenge.”
  1629. “While you’re right that we would overcome them that’s time we cannot afford to waste. Twilight would be exceptionally annoying in her current state as well. We need to get out as fast as possible, who knows how far behind them Celestia herself might be? We cannot risk confrontation at this point in time.”
  1630. >Nightmare growls. “I dislike running away.”
  1631. “Get used to it,” you rumble. “You’re a villain, you know no shame and spit upon such concepts as honor and chivalry. Knowing when to retreat is one of the most important skills you can possess.”
  1632. >”You will be treated fairly, I give you my word!” Shining Armor calls. “Just stand down and we can end this peacefully!”
  1633. “Hn, you would have no idea he was a traitor.” you mutter to Nightmare.
  1634. >”He certainly plays his part well.”
  1635. >A moment of silent deliberation later and you decide the best course to take is one of direct action. While normally you would prefer to keep your involvement to a minimum and instead guide Nightmare, you accept that the severity of the situation at hand warrants your direct involvement.
  1636. >At least insofar as your own escape is concerned. If Nightmare falls behind she stays behind.
  1637.  
  1638. >With a calm breath you begin walking forward, much to Nightmare’s surprise, and returning your mace to its holding tesseract.
  1639. >As you reach the edge of the field containing you come to a halt, laying a hand to rest upon the transparent dome.
  1640. >For a moment all go silent, likely expecting you to say something.
  1641. >Turning your head to look back over your shoulder at Nightmare, you give her a single moment of warning.
  1642. “Watch closely, with any luck you might possess a fraction of this power one day.”
  1643. >Before she can say a word you draw back the hand resting on the dome and clench it into a fist.
  1644. >Your arm pistons forward and your fist collides with the prison, seemingly with no effect.
  1645. >After a moment cracks begin forming in the magic around the impact point of your fist.
  1646. >Slowly the cracks grow and spiderweb.
  1647. >Then without warning the whole dome shatters loudly and violently, the wind kicked up by the shockwave knocking back several of the surrounding guards.
  1648. >As the ponies frantically try to reform their ranks you begin to crouch low to the ground and take up a ready stance.
  1649. >As the dust clears and the guards reform their ranks you begin gathering power.
  1650. >They watch on anxiety mounting as seconds tick by and you continue building up your magic.
  1651. >Twilight turns to Shining Armor. “What’s he doing?”
  1652. >Shining Armor shakes his head. “I have no idea. It looks like he’s going to charge us, but that would be ridiculous.”
  1653. >The armor about your legs creaks and groans as your muscles tense and the ground beneath your right foot begins to crack.
  1654. >The stone street beneath your foot splinters as you push off and begin a thundering charge at the line of guardsp0nies.
  1655. >The guards ready themselves and both Shining Armor and Twilight erect barriers before the line.
  1656.  
  1657. >Your thundering steps crack the stone with each stride and within a moment you’ve reached the line.
  1658. >Just before you crash into the line you abruptly halt mid stride, leg still in the air in preparation for another step.
  1659. >Before the terrified pony before you can even realize you’ve stopped you bring your foot down.
  1660. >The stone shatters and a shockwave of magic explodes from the impact point.
  1661. >The shockwave tears through Twilight and Shining Armor’s shields with contemptuous ease and scatters the soldiers gathered before you like leaves on the wind.
  1662. >All except Nightmare are thrown to the ground while windows blow out all down the street.
  1663. >Soon the dust begins to settle and you glance over your shoulder to see Nightmare staring dumbly after you.
  1664. >”By the moon, what was…”
  1665. “Stay close to me, do not fall behind.” you warn her.
  1666. >Before she can say anything you take a ready stance once more and take off crashing violently through the first building to block your path.
  1667. >Nightmare wastes no time following after you and your escape begins in earnest now.
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