"I'm coming home, I'm coming home, tell the world I'm coming home."
"Let the rain, wash away, all the pain of yesterday."
"I know my Kingdom awaits, and they've forgiven my mistakes."
"I'm coming home, I'm coming home, tell the world I'm coming "
It's beautiful, just like it always was. The Sun slowly peaking its way over the edge of the blue and green world below, gently stirring it from its sleep, and nudging away the soft light of the moon and stars. Like a warm blanket, it chased away the chill of the night, spreading it's oranges and reds through the sky. Slowly the Sun brightened, casting rays of yellow over the lands with delicate fingers.
The Sun, HER Sun, was bright enough chase away even the stars. The Moon could only hide from its presence, but there was that moment, that magical moment, where they could look at each other across the land. A momentary gaze cast lovingly across an endless expanse, before the moon finally slipped from the sky, relinquishing it to the bright fiery orb. It was a dance that had been repeated, step for step, every day for millennia. It was another new day in Equestria.
Very few saw the underside of the world, many a pony simply thought it was an orb, floating in the night sky. But this was not the case, as Equestria more resembled a disk floating in the eternal darkness, the nothingness of the Deeper Dark. Without effort, the Sun or Moon would not exist. Stars aren't hidden by the Sun, but physically do not exist until coaxed into being with the rising of the moon every night. Only the Sun and the Moon exist, the direct representations of the Princesses who control them. Ponies forget this, have forgotten this.
"They've forgotten you."
I knew that voice, and would have covered my ears against it if I could, but my prison didn't allow it. I couldn't move, I couldn't blink, I wasn't even sure if my body existed in this state. I was literally the "Mare in the Moon". My body was seemingly absent as I existed not on the Moon but AS the Moon. The Moon was my body, and a floating symbol made of smooth spongy rock cannot sleep, eat, or even move.
"Maybe they have, but she hasn't," I answered the voice. I knew this was all in my head, a floating rock has no mouth, but it was important to answer.
"How can you be sure? Isn't it she who trapped you here?"
I sighed softly, or at least the mental equivalent of a sigh. I couldn't move, but I remembered how it felt. How I longed to stretch, to feel the air beneath my wings, the caress of magic I'd love to just take a breath again. To drink in the smells around me, the damp clean scent after a brisk rain, or the dry dusty scent of an old room, or maybe the salty tang from the seashore. Amazing how you don't miss these things until they're gone. Taken for granted, no-pony ever considers just the simple act of breathing a gift, the sweet smell of fresh air filling the lungs. I did, and I missed that so badly.
"I'm sure," I answered the voice. I knew what "It" wanted, to further poison my mind. The problem was, it succeeded so many years ago. A millennium? Had it really been that long? I couldn't remember clearly, every day seemed to blend into the next, but I knew "It" had won. "It" poisoned me against my sister, jealousy gripped my heart, and "It" slipped in and took over.
"Don't sound so unhappy. At least you've had my company this last millennium," "It" laughed in my head. "It" wasn't separate from me, and shared my prison with me. My sister trapped us together out of necessity. Unable to separate us, we were banished together, to the Moon. But while the fire of my anger had died, "It" was single minded, only wanting one thing. "It" only desired to take my body, eliminate my sister, and rule Equestria with an iron hoof.
"The company of a mad-mare intent on destroying my only family."
"You invited me willingly."
If I could have winced, I would have. "It" was right, of course, I had invited "It" in. I opened my heart to jealousy, watching the ponies below ignore my tireless work on the night skies. Tugging the Moon into position and coaxing each star into existence. I remembered all of them by heart after millennia upon millennia of placing them. Designs and patterns in the night sky, some simple, some complex. But no pony so much as spared them a glance, leaving my work unnoticed to sleep through it. There were times I wondered why I bothered with the stars, it would have been simpler just to raise the moon and leave the rest of the sky blank, like my sister did during the day. But she's the pragmatic one, and I'm the artist and dreamer, and I could never leave a blank canvas untouched. All I wanted was for somepony to admire my work, my art. Even my sister grew tired of my constant adjustments night after night in an effort to perfect my night sky, choosing instead to sleep through my efforts, rising in time to raise the Sun and sweep away all my nightly work into nothing.
At first, I was alright with that. It gave me a new blank canvas every night to work with. But when no pony so much as looks at your art, the heart grows heavy. That's all an artist craves, acknowledgement, and maybe some appreciation. Without that, the artist grows bitter and disillusioned. I had seen it happen before in Equestria, to any number of ponies, but I never expected it to happen to me.
"Are you trying to ignore me now?"
"No. Just lost in thought. Not like there's much else to do here but think, so I might as well. Besides, I can only listen to your hatred for so long."
"Hatred you invited. Hatred that will live again."
"How do you suppose that? We are both trapped within the moon for the rest of eternity. In a way, it's an appropriate punishment, to lie here and simply watch and think."
"You foal. You think I would not have a back-up?"
An icy fear gripped my heart. Certainly "It" couldn't have an escape planned, could it? "It" had the use of my powers, and my body, after I fell. When jealousy gripped my heart, seeing all those ponies lining up to speak to and all but worship my big sister, and none so much as even glanced at my night sky. They knew my name, but that was all, I was just "the other" Princess to them. I am sure that would be worse now, now that I've been gone for a Millennium. Would the ponies even remember my name, or that I was a Princess too?
"Celestia would have anticipated that," I said with some confidence. We were both helpless here, trapped within the moon, with no magic to call on.
"Anticipated?!? She willfully ignored it!!"
"She wouldn't let you free."
"She hoped you'd be able to defeat me, given enough time. Of course a foal like you couldn't. Even in your own pain, you couldn't let go of your jealousy. It still eats at your heart, corrupting your thoughts, and giving me a firm seat within you. And now, on the longest day of the year, the stars will aid in MY escape."
"I'm not jealous anymore."
"Liar. Did you forget I exist within you? I know everything you think and feel. You regret ACTING on your jealousy, but the cause of the jealousy is still there."
I had to stop and think, and to my regret, realized that "It" was right. I was still jealous of the attention my sister got, how everypony fawned on her. The ponies celebrated the longest day of the year, calling it the "Summer Sun Celebration", as if enduring the shortest night were some sort of chore. They certainly didn't celebrate the longest night of the year, instead thanking Celestia for returning the Sun to them come the morning. I felt the pang in my heart once again, an old familiar sensation that filled me with shame.
"See? YOUR night of triumph, and those foals snub you and celebrate HER! What of the other day? Do they celebrate you bringing the night at the end of the longest day of the year? NO! They celebrate her AGAIN!"
"Some celebrate my night."
"Do the handful of Bison who honor the Winter Equinox equal the Equestria-wide celebration of the Summer Solstice?"
I wanted to answer with some cutting remark, but I couldn't. "It" was right, just as "It" always was. But all I wanted to do now was to go home, to be with my sister again, to live amongst the ponies once more. Maybe I could talk it through this time, explain my problem. I never was all that good with being public but
"You foal. You MAKE them worship you. You do not beg them to, they will only worship a pony they respect!"
"I don't want to be worshipped. I just want to be acknowledged."
"You couldn't even do that. You didn't even try."
That was true, I was the "wilting flower". Celestia was the beautiful one, with her resplendent white coat and beautiful pink mane and tail. I was the gentle one, with a coat of soft lavender with midnight blue splotches and silvery-blue mane and tail. She was outgoing and public, and I was shy and delicate, so our roles were almost pre-ordained before we even discovered them. During the day, Celestia sat in her palace, surrounded by her guards, handling the grievances that for some reason the ponies couldn't handle themselves. I remember Celestia complaining on many occasions about how she was expected to rule on even the most minor of disputes, something she despised doing. My Night Palace was the opposite, where I sat with no guards and no petitioners, utterly alone.
I'd seen her change since she took my place in the celestial wheel, borrowing from my trapped power to raise the moon and coax the stars into existence. Her mane went from soft pink to a beautiful multi-hued mane and tail that flowed constantly in the solar winds. Sadly, I only saw this for a brief moment before I was banished, at the very moment she used the Elements of Harmony upon me. It was the end of a week long fight that exhausted both her and "It" (and me by proxy), and she had to fall back on the Elements to give her that ability, ending our battle and my freedom.
Now I could only watch. Not right now, of course, all I could see was the underside of Equestria as the moon "fell" to it's waiting place, waiting for Celestia to call it to the sky again. I could still remember how incredulous I was at Celestia's idea of having the Sun rise from the same direction every day instead of raising where it was left at the end of the day. This created a sort of circular motion that took so much effort out of our work, the Celestial Wheel as we came to know it. It actually allowed us time to exist outside of our celestial duties, leaving us only to nudge it along at the dusk and dawn. Then the "falling" body would counterbalance the one in the Equestrian sky, tugging it along until the next dusk or dawn, when we would have to pull it along again.
"You're wondering how I'm going to do it, aren't you?"
If I could have chuckled, I would. Much as I was the ignored artist, and sought acknowledgement of my work, "It" craved attention as well. In some small part of me, I wondered if that was the reason for "Its" trying to take over Equestria; the constant need to be the center of attention.
"I'll admit, I'm curious."
"The stars will aid me."
"Its" voice was smug, but I wasn't seeing what "It" meant. The stars were under Celestia's control now, not mine. Further, the Sun banished any stars caught within its light. How could the stars do anything?
"You said that earlier, or are you trying to be cryptic?"
"She could have stopped it, but she didn't. I sent a quartet of stars into the deep dark to collect magic to fuel my return. Now, after a millennium, they return to me with enough magic from beyond your sister's reach to free me!"
"Free us, you mean, we're still linked."
I would have frowned if I could, but knew what "It" meant. "It" would be taking control of my body once again. I hated when "It" did that, it was like being a guest in my own body. I could only watch what "It" was doing. But it had been a millennium, and I'd learned a lot about my captor, and I was sure I would not be so helpless as "It" thought this time.
"You know Celestia will stand against you again."
"I know. I have a plan to handle her."
"She defeated you last time. She'll be able to do it again."
"Silly foal, all I have to do is keep her from reaching the Elements of Harmony again. I know exactly where she will be, or at least close to it."
"The Palace? You and Celestia trashed the place pretty thoroughly before she banished us."
"The Elements are still there. Celestia can't exactly carry them around with her, they're a magic far more ancient then she is then you are."
That was true. According to Celestia, the Elements of Harmony existed before the first pony. As she told the story, the Elements created the world of Equestria, then created her to oversee it. Sensing she was lonely, they created the animals and fish and eventually Ponies and Griffons and even Dragons. Yet she was still alone, which finally resulted in my creation, a second goddess to share in her power. I don't know how much of that was true, Celestia had a habit of only telling half truths, but I had no cause to doubt her in this.
"If Celestia knows about the stars, then she would be ready in case I lost to you."
"She's too soft."
"You said that last time too right before she banished us."
I felt smug for a moment, feeling the waves of anger from "It". It was a minor victory, but they piled up over our long stay. Still, I couldn't help but feel a spark of joy racing through me, the chance to go HOME! I never thought I'd see the surface of Equestria, or talk to my sister talk to ANYPONY other than "It" again! The chance to live again, to embrace the world again, and resume my place on the wheel beside my sister. But first, "It" would need to be handled. My mind raced, grasping at ideas, "It" hid this from me, which is a surprise, usually "It" liked to gloat. "It" probably thought I'd either be able to tell Celestia somehow, or "It" wanted to be sure I couldn't make any efforts to stop "It".
"I'll win this time."
"She's had a thousand years to plan for you. You won't win. If we're lucky, we'll just find ourselves back here. Maybe she'll do it permanently this time. You, at least, deserve that."
"HOW DARE YOU?!?"
"Oh stuff it. I've listened to you for over a thousand years, I'm beyond being scared of you. You and I are linked, and I will accept that when your plan comes to fruition, you will be in control. But don't insult me by thinking I'm stupid as well. You may be the embodiment of all the evil and hatred that Celestia banished from Equestria, but don't think I'm foalish enough to be a victim all my life."
"Was that a threat?"
"No, it was a promise. Even if Celestia falls, you won't rule uncontested."
"You couldn't fight me before."
"That was before I spent a millennium with you."
It fell silent, thankfully. I am a dreamer, not a fighter, and I wasn't sure how much of those words I could truly back up. I know I would try, Celestia is my sister, and I loved her no matter what.
The edge of the world hovered in sight, slowly moving past my gaze. The Dragon-Spire Mountains momentarily blocked my view, leaving me only able to see the painted sky of sunset. I wished I could smile, Celestia so loved to remind me that she had an artistic streak too. Her canvas was the sunset sky, coloring the few puffy clouds purple as bands of orange and red covered the sky, fading into a deep blue. Once more our gaze met across the expanse of the world, brief and furtive, before the Sun dipped lower to allow the moon to lift into the sky.
I could feel the approach of the stars long before they would be close enough to do anything of note. That tingling of magic, that rush long denied to me, warmed me even in my prison. My senses expanded as the faint magic fed them, and for the first time in a millennium I could see the details of the world below. For a moment I could almost imagine I was flying the moon across the sky once more, that sense of euphoria rushing through me, looking down upon the sleeping ponies. The urge to reach down, to taste their dreams, flooded through me. Celestia had not been quite managing that aspect of my old job in my absence, their dreams were untended tangles of confused images and feelings, but she managed to keep the nightmares to a bare minimum. But to truly touch them was still beyond my reach, and very few slept anyway. With the Summer Sun Celebration coming at dawn, most ponies were spending the night awake, parties of all shapes and sizes continuing into the night.
No, they weren't celebrating my night, but they were celebrating IN the night none the less. I couldn't help it, but a surge of joy flow through me, and I cast about to watch. Dancing ponies in a club of Canterlot, where a blue-haired unicorn with dark glasses used disks of a sort I'd never seen to make a style of music I'd never heard before, but could not help feel uplifted by. The smaller celebration of a small town as they pulled in a midnight harvest of their crops, while fillies and colts romping through the nearby blooming night-flowers. Another city and another group of revelers, singing in bad harmony at the top of their lungs in a way that spoke volumes of their unity and community. City after city, town after town, even the smallest of farming communities, spent the night awake and in a celebration.
"They're waiting for her to raise the Sun."
I didn't care, so I ignored "It". My gaze fell on a small town where it seemed the entire population had somehow wedged itself into the local library for food and festivities. Oddly my gaze fell on a singular pony who stayed out of the party, her eyes wide as she looked back up at me. For some reason I felt self-conscious, even as the wide eyed gaze of the unicorn seemed to validate everything I'd tried to do all those Millennia ago. It had taken time, but someone recognized the work of the night sky.
But it wasn't MY night sky, it was Hers.
I felt that familiar pang of jealousy racing through me again and tried to force it down, but it refused to be dismissed so casually, burning in my gut like the still lit ember of a fire. If I could have, I would have squirmed in a vain effort to try and escape the sensation. It hurt in a way that no healer could cure, an ache in my heart that caused me to fear for my future. "It" spoke true, the jealousy was still there, that wound that "It" had found was still open.
Yes, the magic was growing stronger, I knew my time in the Moon was up. But I would not go without a struggle this time, not without a plan. I'd spent the last Millennia the victim of my own misdeeds, and my time in the Moon would not be wasted. But I had to wait, and watch. The opportunity would be there, Celestia was simply too smart not to have a plan, but she would need my help. "It" didn't know the Elements of Harmony as I did, and if the tests could be organized, and the right ponies came along
"I said "
"I heard you. Just do me one favor?"
"I'll consider it."
"Let me take a breath of fresh air, I want to smell the world again."
MLP, Luna, Celestia, Nightmare Moon, Equestria © Hasbro
"Coming Home" by Diddy/Dirty Money (ft Skylar Grey)