"What else can you be when the world can only see a monster?"
On a dark night filled with even darker magics, an insane cult attempts to give Nightmare Moon a body and life of her own, utterly separate from Princess Luna. But, when the spell is interrupted by Celestia, something unexpected is created.Now, a tiny black alicorn filly named Nyx finds herself living under the care of Twilight Sparkle, only to be haunted by memories and emotions from her past. Is the filly Nightmare Moon reborn or is she simply a doppelganger with a soul and mind of her own? Can Twilight Sparkle protect Nyx from those who refuse to see past her dragon eyes and black coat?Or, will Nyx be forced to inherit the sins that may not even be hers and become the greatest evil Equestria has ever known?Can be read here.There is also a series of recursive fanfictions by the name of RealityCheck's Nyxverse.A film adaptation is in progress hereThere is a sequel series labeled In The Family which deal with life after Nightmare Moon. It consists of three stories, Trinkets, Nightmare or Nyx?, and Winter Bells. While Trinkets and Nightmare or Nyx? are one-shots, Winter Bells has multiple chapters.Past Sins is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic written by Pen Stroke, who was assisted by Batty Gloom. The final part was completed on Equestria Daily on the 30th of August and it has gone through 3 revisions to date. During a radio interview, Pen Stroke mentioned that the story will be revised/expanded to incorporate season 2 canon (and can be found here), as well as the possibility of official side stories and short sequels (Such as the aforementioned In The Family series). Also, an MST of the previously unseen, pre-revision version can be found here. The MSTing has its own entry here.
Absurdly Youthful Mother: Twilight Sparkle adopts Nyx, who - if her similarity in biological and mental development compared to the Cutie Mark Crusaders are anything to go by - is equivalent to being a 9 years old human or a 4 years old horse. If anything, Twilight is the equivalent of someone in her late teens or very early twenties by human standards (8 or 9 years old by horse standards).
Action Mom: Twilight Sparkle's taking Nyx under her wing arguably makes her more awesome as opposed to more sedentary. At one point she sneaks past guards through a castle, then knocks out a set of guards in an attempt to rescue Spell Nexus. She is sneaking through the castle so that she can apologize to Nightmare Moon for letting Celestia take her away without a fight.
Adult Fear: Nyx being taken away by a higher authority, screaming for Twilight to save her.
Aesop Amnesia: Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon in Chapter 21; they interpret the events of the story as Nyx's trying to make foals of them in front of everyone.
All of the Other Reindeer: Granny Smith has publicly come out as saying that Nyx cannot be trusted. As explored in the side story " Winter Bells", Shining Armor – traumatized by his susceptibility to mind spells and fearful that Nyx might somehow cause him to lose Twilight Sparkle – nurses a deep grudge against Nyx. Thankfully he appears to be the only member of the family to carry such a grudge.
Nyx, a reincarnation of Nightmare Moon, starts out with no memories of any time before the resurrection ritual. She later finds pieces of her old self that contain memories from when her previous incarnation had tried to bring about eternal night. She was not happy about what she found.
She remembers everything after the cultists complete the spell that created her and she grows to her full size.
Amnesiac Dissonance: Nyx is deeply troubled when she regains some of her memories of the events in Episode 2 of the series, since they made her feel like she wanted to hurt Twilight.
Even after she regains all the memories of Nightmare Moon her behavior is noticeably different from her past self, much to the consternation of her Evil Chancellor. For most of the story Nyx tries to be the Nightmare Moon that everyone expects her to be with mixed results.
Anti-Magic: The cultists slap an anti-magic neck brace on Twilight Sparkle to prevent her from trying anything funny after she is captured. Apparently such devices are commonly used on unicorn prisoners to prevent them from escaping.
The Atoner: As of the side story/sequel Winter Bells Spell Nexus tries to atone for his role as the " leader" of the Children of Nightmare cult His attempts fail and he falls into despondency and a deranged mental state until he realizes why he can't go trough penance by fixing the wrongs caused by his previous acts: There are no wrongs for him to right because by this point there is nothing broken for him to fix.
Badass Adorable: Pinkie Pie's defeat of several of Nightmare Moons' guards by thinking they're playing tag, and being "it".
Remember Feeling Pinkie Keen? Endangering Nyx is also a bad idea.
Big Bad: It's debatable, but the evil parts of Nightmare Moon's soul that took root in Spell Nexus are pretty much responsible for all the trouble in the story.
The narrative, at least from Nightmare Moon's perspective, certainly agrees. "Yes…Spell Nexus was not the perpetrator. He was just another victim…the first victim, and the true evil behind the Children of Nightmare, behind all that had happened in Equestria…was none other than Nightmare Moon herself."
It might also be argued that the missing parts of Nightmare Moon's soul that didn't get resurrected along with Nyx is a form of a Bigger Bad or at least a Mare Behind The Stallion that gets dragged into the story, by Nightmare Moon herself no less. Unlike some examples of those tropes, the physical representation of Nightmare Moon's evil doesn't get away.
Big Creepy-Crawlies: The scorpiuses, which are gigantic, scorpion-shaped living-constellations, are among the many Everfree monsters that attack Ponyville in the climax.
Big "Shut Up!": During Nightmare Moon's fight with Celestia. Delivered after Nightmare Moon has Celestia at her mercy but refuses to kill her. When Celestia points out that Nightmare Moon is still holding back, as she had done throughout the entire fight, Nightmare Moon screams at Celestia.
Big "WHAT?!": The reaction of Twilight's friends, many of Ponyville's citizens, and some guards from the Children of Nightmare when Nightmare Moon decides to pardon Twilight's friends, even after they tried to use the Elements of Harmony against her a second time.
Big Word Shout: Chapter 10's "NYX!!!" So big the font size is increased dramatically.
Book Safe: Nyx hollows out a damaged book to keep her childhood mementos in. Later, she has Spell Nexus get the book so she, as Nightmare Moon, can remember the good times.
In the canon side story "Nightmare or Nyx" it is shown that the draining has not only turned Nyx back into a filly but also no more magically gifted then a normal Unicorn her age. To elaborate she use to be able to lift objects with ease and preform magic more complex then some of her age should be able to do, now she is having difficulty even levitating a spoon. She is quite naturally frustrated by this.
Cannot Tell a Joke: Nightmare Moon attempts humor by transforming into Trixie, donning her cap and cape, and making fun of her while using her image, shortly after her failed attempt at assuming the role of the element of magic. Because the pony audience is still absolutely terrified of Nightmare Moon, the joke falls very flat.
Civilian Villain: What Twilight feared Nyx was when she first saw her in the Everfree Forest. It was also what Celestia feared might be happening when she came to take Nyx to be tested. Sadly, by the time Celestia understands this wasn't the case, it's far too late.
Comfort Food: Nightmare Moon mentions on several occasions that despite the fine foods available to her as Queen of Equestria her Favorite meal is Celery soup. She even asks for it in Chapter 20 as a type of " Last meal" when she fears she is about to be imprisoned on the Moon again When Celestia asks her why she is so fond of it, she replies that it always reminds her of her mother Twilight Sparkle, for it was the very first meal Twilight fed Nyx when she brought her home after rescuing her from the Everfree forest
In Chapter 13 an anxious Celestia is unable to sleep because she fears that an attack from Nightmare Moon is Imminent. To try to calm her nerves she orders a bowl of Maroon Carrot soup and an " extra large" piece of butter cake from the Royal Kitchens. Unfortunately it doesn't work, though that is mostly because the servant who brings it to her turns out to be Nightmare Moon in disguise
Constantly Curious: Nyx, full stop, and to a lesser extent Nightmare Moon as well. Justified in that she lacks many of her memories when she first appears.
The Corruption: It's stated at one point that the reason the Cult of Nightmare Moon exists is because some ponies came in contact with shredded pieces of her that were left behind when she got 'dispelled' in episode two of the show. We're also told that just touching someone with one gives them a portion of "the blessing" and that they receive a fuller portion upon asking for it. And a chapter later, the entire Royal Guard now serves the Mare of Darkness...
As of Chapter 16 it's revealed that the Corruption affects a pony's personality, actions, and emotions, but not memory.
Chapter 17 reveals that the Corruption is the remaining parts of Nightmare Moon that didn't get put back in Nyx during her first or second resurrection. More specifically, it's the darkest part of her, composed of all the jealousy, anger and hatred she felt for Equestria before being separated from Luna.
Disproportionate Retribution: In "retaliation" for making them repeatedly be late for recess, Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara send Nyx into the Everfree Forest by herself.
Dragon with an Agenda: Nightmare Moon's behavior doesn't quite mesh with the night eternal as imagined and prepared by Spell Nexus.
Dramatic Irony: Twilight was afraid that Celestia would take her daughter away. Celestia was afraid that an Eldritch Abomination was loose in her kingdom, plotting to overthrow her and her sister, and bring about nighttime eternal. Celestia's knee-jerk reaction to her fear resulted in both their fears coming true.
Driving Question: There are two of them. The first is whether or not Nyx Is Nightmare Moon, which gradually becomes a solid yes halfway through the story. The second is, can even Nightmare Moon change for the better? Yes, yes she can, though becoming Nyx and experiencing the love of friends and a surrogate mother certainly helped.
Emotions Versus Stoicism: Played both ways in Chapter 10. Celestia's growing fear of what Nyx could become leads her to taking actions that she knows are horrible. At the same time, Twilight Sparkle's inability to follow her heart against Celestia's logical arguments cause her to let Celestia take Nyx away.
Fan Nickname: While technically the same character within the context of the story, many fans call Nightmare Moon after she is fully resurrected Nightmare Nyx to separate her from the one in the pilot, i.e. when she and Luna were the same pony.
Foregone Conclusion: The cover art blatantly shows Nyx in her capacity as Nightmare Moon, along with the defeated Elements of Harmony and her face-off with Celestia. It is quite obvious that Twilight's attempts to protect Nyx will fail and that Nyx will become Nightmare Moon. However, that only makes the scene where it happens all the more heartwrenching, because you know it cannot be averted.
For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: Nyx, who normally hides her wings and unusual eyes to pass herself off as a normal unicorn filly, exposes her wings and eyes when she plays the part of Nightmare Moon in the school play.
Freakiness Shame: When Nyx reveals her wings to the Cutie Mark Crusaders, they think she's just a normal filly who happened to be born an Alicorn. Nyx was afraid of what they would think since Rarity and Twilight told her going out with both a horn and wings would make other ponies jealous.
From Nobody to Nightmare: Nyx starts out as a sweet, innocent, timid, and cowardly filly... but then she becomes Nightmare Moon again, banishing Celestia and Luna in the process and taking over Equestria.Subverted when we see that Nightmare Moon is... actually a fairly decent ruler who genuinely cares about the well-being of her subjects. The time she spent as a Nobody with a loving adoptive mother and good honest friends is actually what gives her the empathy she lacked in her original incarnation.
Go Mad from the Revelation: When Nyx becomes Nightmare Moon again and regains all of her lost memories. "The Alicorn then raised her head, looking at the night sky as her laughter became crazed and maniacal, ringing loudly over the dead silence that had fallen in Ponyville. It was the laughter of somepony who had just realized a cruel and terrible truth."
It's mentioned twice, both from a narrative viewpoint and from Twilight herself, that the original Nyx from the legends was a black-coated pony who defended her village against monsters. Nyx does the same thing as Nightmare Moon.
Nyx tells Twilight about how Diamond Tiara doesn't think she'll be any good in the play and she claims she'll show her.
Nyx: But I'm going to show her. I'm going to do my best and I'm not going to forget a single line. I'm going to be the best Nightmare Moon I can be!
It's revealed that Nyx really was Nightmare Moon reborn and once she is fully resurrected, she actively tries to play the part.
That line is a double foreshadowing. Firstly, as stated above, Nyx plays the role of Nightmare Moon once she forcibly receives her Plot-Relevant Age-Up, but secondly and more subtly, as Nightmare Moon, the now-transformed Nyx tries to be the "best" Nightmare Moon possible from a moral/ethical standpoint. That is, while fulfilling the "requirements" of Nightmare Moon (overthrowing the Princesses, bringing eternal night, etc.), she also attempts to be a benevolent and effective ruler who looks out for the best interests of her ponies. When these two roles conflict, she sides with "helping out the ponies" instead of "playing Nightmare Moon by the book", much to Spell Nexus's chagrin.
On the "blood relatives" angle, Twilight provided the blood that was used to create Nyx, though this is a minor detail that isn't really elaborated on and clearly doesn't matter to Twilight. In the Fan SequelNightmare Night and Nyx, Nyx asks Celestia if being made from Nightmare Moon's remaining magic makes Luna her father, which causes the princess to Spit Take.
Hellish Pupils: Because Nyx is Nightmare Moon reborn, she has these. Still cute, though.
Heroic BSOD: Twilight Sparkle, as Celestia is taking Nyx away.
Heroic SacrificeNyx was willing to pull this when she went up against the horde of monsters that were attacking Ponyville.
Hypocrite: The Dragon considers compassion a "weakness" and a "poison", but has no problem with grovelling for mercy when it's his neck on the line.
Identity Amnesia: Nyx has no idea at the start of the story that she's really Nightmare Moon reborn. Even when she starts to put two and two together, Twilight inadvertently lies to her by saying she's not. Much of the later half of the story deals with Nightmare Moon struggling with how she acted as Nyx compared to how she used to act when she was just a part of Luna. See Loss of Identity below.
Ironic Echo: In chapter 10, after turning into Nightmare Moon and thinking Twilight never loved her, Nyx calls her out on it and coldly tells her, "I am ashamed that I had ever called you my mother." Later, by chapter 16, Nyx realizes her mistake and releases Twilight from prison to make amends, but by this point, Twilight has been "blessed" by Spell Nexus into trying to murder Nyx in order to get her back in the swing of being Nightmare Moon; as an added twist of the knife, Blessed!Twilight tells Nyx "I am ashamed that I had ever called you my daughter."
Ironic Echo Cut: A scene cuts from Nyx thinking, "School was not going to be fun at all." to her thinking, "School was amazing!"
Kick the Dog: Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara's giving Nyx a verbal beatdown for delaying their recess serves to establish their villainy for this fanfic. It doesn't help their case that they revel in her tearful breakdown and then continue said verbal beatdown.
Just when Nyx realizes Twilight really did love her, Spell Nexus brainwashes Twilight into acting that she never did, and even makes her try to kill Nyx, in the hopes of turning Nyx back into the Nightmare Moon he envisioned her to be.
Laughing Mad: When the Children of Nightmare Moon cast their second spell on Nyx and causes her to become Nightmare Moon again, she does this from the stress of regaining her memories. See Go Mad from the Revelation above.
Loss of Identity: Because of her time spent as Nyx, as well as missing the worst parts of her own soul, Nightmare Moon struggles with her own identity and thoughts. By the time she makes a Heroic Sacrifice in order to protect the town from monsters, she blatantly says, "I...I don’t know who I am anymore". Twilight tells Nightmare Moon that she doesn't have to be the same mare she used to be during the Summer Sun Celebration.
Mama Bear: Twilight becomes this for Nyx. Upon discovering Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon had sent Nyx into the dangerous Everfree Forest as a particularly mean-spirited prank and finding them to be most unhelpful, Twilight bursts into flames and threatens to transform them both into cacti if they don't start cooperating. Later in chapter 21, When she thinks Nyx has been banished to the moon, she rage shifts a second time and attempts to magically beat Princess Celestia down using bricks ripped from the surrounding castle walls.
Me's a Crowd: In order to infiltrate Canterlot Palace, Nightmare Moon uses her shape-shifting abilities in order to gain a foothold. Later, she pushes this ability to its limit, creating dozens of clones of herself to fight off an invasion of monsters from the Everfree Forest and save Ponyville.
Mind-Control Eyes: Every member of the Children of Nightmare. Including, for a brief period, Twilight.
Mind Rape: This happens to Nyx when some of the memories of her previous incarnation force themselves into her head and is forced to think about hurting the unicorn she loves most.
Mood Whiplash: In Chapter 10, Nyx and Twilight are walking back to their home, talking about how much fun they had had together that day, only to find that Celestia and her guards are waiting for them at their home, ready to take Nyx away.
Chapter 16. While the mood doesn't change as quickly as many examples of this trope, it changes enough times in this chapter to possibly qualify as this, if not Cerebus Rollercoaster.
MST: Thesenewsposts reveal a MST is in the works for the original edit of this story. And just to clarify, Pen Stroke himself approved this.
Oh Crap: Celestia, on realizing that she had just handed over Nyx to those who would return Nightmare Moon to power.
Orwellian Ret Con: The authors just completed a massive one to clear up spelling errors, tweak Nyx's personality, add in some Luna, and make Celestia nicer (while still keeping her an antagonist) among other things.
YMMV on Celestia being an antagonist.
Painting the Medium: If Pen Stroke and Batty Gloom want something to reverberate inside your skull, they will use the medium to let you know. They also make liberal use of italics to display emphasis, and use another kind of style change to signify onomatopoeia.
Given that the story was written with Google Docs, the two actually links to a looped Castlevania song during chapter 17 in order to help accompany the mood of the main scene.
Raise Him Right This Time: Essentially what Twilight hopes to accomplish once she's certain of Nyx's identity, and Nyx's fate by story's end.
Reformed, but Rejected: Nightmare Moon, after her resurrection was completed, believed this was the reason that Celestia convinced Twilight to let her to take Nyx away and become a big motivation for her to actively act like her former self. After becoming Nyx again, there are some who can see she's not the same while others still fear her, so it's played with at the end of the story.
Reincarnation: While the term is not used specifically, it is one of the biggest themes since Nyx is the very essence of Nightmare Moon reborn. The other theme would be redemption via the reincarnation.
Celestia may qualify as this, as highlighted in her confession to Luna shortly after all heck breaks loose.
Say My Name: Twilight, as Nyx is being carted off to Canterlot by Celestia. "NYX!"
Schedule Slip: When the fic was first submitted, it was updated in parts every other two days or so. After the retcon, it has updated less often. Word of God states that the authors are much more concerned with the quality of the updates, rather than the speed and quantity of them.
Sealed Inside A Pony-Shaped Can: The overwhelming bulk of Nightmare Moon's malice and hatred were sealed inside Spell Nexus the entire time, as he had willingly locked as much of the corruption inside himself as he could before succumbing.
Self Made Mare: Done by Nyx herself who, when she realizes that the corruption infecting the Cult consists of the remaining (evil) fragments of her own soul, systematically and agonizingly burns it away piece by piece.
Shock and Awe: Nightmare Nyx's standard response to enemies is lightning. Lots of lightning.
Shout-Out: At the end of chapter 13, Pinkie Pie's saying "Who's going to make the cake when I'm gone?" is a shout out to one of GLaDOS' lines near the end of the original Portal.
Spontaneous Weapon Creation: Nightmare Moon and Princess Celestia can generate blades out of magic. Princess Luna can do this too (two no less), and so can Twilight Sparkle (in the form of a dagger.
Thicker Than Water: Twilight leaves her friends to track down Nyx so that she can apologize to her for going into a Heroic BSOD when Nyx was taken away.
This Is Unforgivable: A follow-on depicts Granny Smith as being quite unwilling to see Nyx as anything other than the monster who arrested Apple Bloom no matter what Celestia might have to say about the matter.
Ungrateful Fillies: In Chapter 21, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon attend a party in Nyx's honor. Twilight encourages her daughter to apologize for what she did to them. Nyx grudgingly does so and is told by Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon that she's 'not fooling them'; they know she and everyone else hates them as much as they despise all of them and they just came for some free cake. May also count as Bratty filliescannot comprehend kindness.
It's worth noting that only Diamond Tiara spoke while Silver Spoon just stood there…
What Happened to the Mouse?: Night Wind, Gray Gale and Stonewall vanish from the plot completely in the second half, though it's at least pretty certain that Nightmare Moon cured them of The Corruption along with the rest of the Children of Nightmare.
Luna's response to Celestia's ripping a child from its mother's arms, and to Celestia's neglecting to tell Luna about the whole "Nightmare Moon Reborn" debacle ahead of time.
Twilight gives Celestia two of these in the last two chapters. In Chapter 20, she calls Celestia out for threatening to banish Nyx to the moon immediately upon release. In Chapter 21, she attacks Celestia when she thinks she banished Nyx while Twilight was locked out of the room.
You Are Better Than You Think You Are: What Nightmare Moon learns at the end of the story, with the help of Twilight, some pictures from a few grateful children, and a heartfelt letter from Cheerilee.