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Fanfic / Past Sins

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"What else can you be when the world can only see a monster?"

Past Sins is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic written by Pen Stroke, with assistance from Batty Gloom.

It starts with a cult's plan to reincarnate Nightmare Moon with the blood of a captured Twilight Sparkle, but fortunately for Equestria, they fail horribly, resulting in a immature body without any useful memories. A.k.a, a child.

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 would 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 In The Family series; details on that below). Also, an MST of the previously unseen, pre-revision version can be found here. The MSTing has its own entry here.

There is also a series of recursive fanfictions by the name of RealityCheck's Nyxverse.

A film adaptation is in progress here (or at least was, in 2012).

A comic adaptation is in progress; it begins here.

The sequel series, In The Family, deals with life after Nightmare Moon. It consists of:
  1. Trinkets
  2. Nightmare or Nyx?
  3. Winter Bells.
  4. The Road Home
  5. Glimpses
  6. Canterlot Has Fallen
  7. Glimpses 2

While Trinkets and Nightmare or Nyx? are one-shots, the rest have multiple chapters.

Other than those, there's a prequel named First Hours, which details Nyx's first few hours of sentience.

This My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic provides examples of:

  • 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.
  • Adoptive Peer Parent: 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 nine-years-old human or a four-years-old horse. If anything, Twilight is the equivalent of someone in her late teens or very early twenties by human standards (eight- or nine-years-old by horse standards).
  • Aesop Amnesia: Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon in Chapter 21; they interpret the events of the story as Nyx's trying to make fools of them in front of everyone.
  • Alliterative Title: In multiple stories:
    • From the original story, "Mother of a Nightmare":
      a book, Skillful Seeking: Scrying and Searching Spells"
    • Chapter 12 of The Road Home, the title of Cadance's Unicornia History school paper is "Unicornia and its Undeniably Unsettling Underbelly." Discussed right after:
      Nyx couldn’t help but snicker a little. "That's a lot of U’s."
      "Yeah, but it got me an A."
  • 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 her. Thankfully he appears to be the only member of the family to carry such a grudge.
  • Alternate Continuity: To the authors' earlier Alan Wake/My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Crossover Creeping Darkness. Both stories share the common element of Nyx, but are otherwise completely unrelated to each other.
  • Amnesiac God: 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: At the beginning, the cultists have slapped 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.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Celestia give one to Nightmare Moon/Nyx during their fight in chapter 13:
    Celestia: "I am not the only one holding back. You strike only to injure me, Nyx, and that is not the only time you have shown mercy. You put my guards to sleep, where in the past you wouldn't have batted an eye at seeing them injured or even dead. You speak of Twilight's betrayal, and yet you have not take you vengeance against her. If you are truly [[spoiler: Nigthmare Moon, then why do you show mercy?"
    Nightmare Moon: "I... I..."
  • 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 through 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".
  • The Bad Guy Wins: By the end of Chapter 13, Nightmare Moon's victory is absolute. She had defeated both Celestia and Luna, banishing them to the sun and the moon respectively, she holds Twilight Sparkle prisoner, rendering Mane Five unable to use the Elements of Harmony — which are soon seized by Nightmare Moon anyway — leaving nobody who could oppose her, and crowns herself the Queen of Equestria, finally bringing upon her eternal night. All too soon, though, she starts to regret her actions and feel miserable over losing everyone she cared for.
  • Being Evil Sucks: Nightmare Moon does achieve her goals of becoming the ruler of Equestria and bringing upon eternal night, but in the end, it only makes her life miserable. Due to her status as a tyrant and The Usurper, she receives no love from her subjects who live in fear of her (Children of Nightmare don't count, since they're just brainwashed slaves) and in order to get there, she had to throw away literally everything she grew to care for, including all ponies that were her friends when she was still a filly called Nyx and the one she loved as her own mother. This is best summed up by her furious rant towards her evil half in Chapter 17.
    Nightmare Moon: Without you, I could have gone on being ignorant, continued being a silly, scared filly. I could have just stayed Nyx. And you... YOU TOOK THAT AWAY FROM ME! You couldn't be satified. You couldn't take defeat. You had to corrupt innocent ponies and finish the resurrection spell. You had to make me remember everything I've done and convince me to do things I can never be forgiven for! And, because of that, now... THEY ALL HATE ME! I CAN NEVER BE HAPPY AGAIN BECAUSE OF YOU!
  • Berserk Button:
    • You should avoid threatening Twilight around Nyx.
    • 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."
  • 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 her.
  • 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.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Twilight is forced to attack Nightmare Moon, both physically and emotionally, after she finally falls to The Corruption.
  • Brought Down to Normal: In Chapter 21, Luna drains Nightmare Moon of her remaining magic, giving Luna a Plot-Relevant Age-Up and turning Nightmare Moon back into Nyx. In the side story "Nightmare or Nyx", it's shown that the draining has not only turned Nyx back into a filly but also no more magically gifted than a normal unicorn her age. She used to be able to lift objects with ease and perform magic more complex than some of her age should be able to do, but now has difficulty even levitating a spoon. She is quite naturally frustrated by this.
  • Call-Back: Chapter 14 has one to the fancomic Storytime, promoting it to Expanded Universe status.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Nyx disowns Twilight due to the latter's inaction in Chapter 10.
  • 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.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Twilight is subjected to it by Children of Nightmare after she gets captured, in order to force her to reveal how she managed to infiltrate their castle. The interrogation itself is not described, but when she's delivered to Nightmare Moon after Nexus is done with her, she is badly beaten and bruised.
  • 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 last meal when she fears she's 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's mostly because the servant who brings it to her turns out to be Nightmare Moon in disguise.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Here (fan-made, but approved by the author of the story).
  • Constantly Curious: Nyx, and to a lesser extent Nightmare Moon as well, since 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...
    • Chapter 16 reveals 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.
  • Darkest Hour: In Chapter 13, Nightmare Moon decides to finally take over Equestria and actually succeeds. All heroes trying to stop her — first Celestia, then Luna, and eventually even the Elements of Harmony (albeit with Trixie serving as Twilight's replacement, with predictable results) — are defeated in quick succession. Near the end of the chapter, there is literally nopony left who could challenge her. So she crowns herself the queen of all Equestria and brings upon the eternal night, making it a literal darkest hour.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Despite being Nightmare Moon reborn, sharing her memories and even having black coat like her, Nyx is just a timid, shy and well-meaning filly who seems absolutely incapable of harming others. Even after she is fully transformed into Nightmare Moon, playing the role of a tyrant queen only makes her miserable and she turns out to be much more happy being kind to ponies, helping them and protecting them from monsters.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Nightmare Moon crosses it briefly after Twilight — under influence of "the blessing" — attacks and disowns her, calling her a monster. She spends next few hours crying on her bed and cuddling Twilight lookalike doll, her whole world shattered as the only person who always believed in her and loved her like daughter has apparently now given up on her like everybody else. Thankfully, the sight of Twilight about to be hanged makes her snap out of it and come to her rescue.
  • 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, giving way to the second: 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.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: By the end of the story, Nyx has been bullied, mind-raped, kidnapped from her mom, transformed into Nightmare Moon, plunged Equestria into what was meant to be eternal night, nearly watched Twilight be hung, nearly died protecting Ponyville and run the risk of being erased from existence. Does she deserve to go home and just be Twilight's daughter? Yes. Does she get it? Also yes.
  • Easily Forgiven: Discussed and ultimately Subverted. After the whole crisis is resolved and Royal Sisters are trying to decide on what judgement should they exact on Nightmare Moon, Luna visits various citizens of Equestria, asking them what they think should be done with her. Their reactions range from advocating her banishment to the moon, to punishing her in less harsh ways like imprisoning or community service, to forgiving her altogether. In the end, Princesses decide to take away her powers, reverting her to her child persona and leaving her in Twilight's care again. Many of Equestria citizens are not happy about this, and it is obvious that they are unwilling to forgive Nyx's crimes she committed as Nightmare Moon.
  • 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.
  • Even Bad Women Love Their Mamas: Nightmare Moon will NOT tolerate anypony harming Twilight Sparkle.
  • Evil Me Scares Me: When Nightmare Moon is facing her evil half which had possessed Spell Nexus, she briefly comes into contact with it, and her mind is flooded by hatred towards ponies of Equestria. She finds the sensation... disconcerting, especially when she feels the craving for seeing Twilight Sparkle hanged.
  • Expanded Universe: Storytime, a promoted fancomic which is referenced with a Call-Back in Chapter 14.
  • Falsely Reformed Villain: What Twilight feared Nyx was when she first saw her in the Everfree Forest. It's also what Celestia fears might be happening when she comes to take Nyx to be tested. Sadly, by the time Celestia understands this isn't the case, it's far too late.
  • Fan Sequel: Several, but among the most notable are the Alternate Universe adventure Point of No Returnand the slice of life style "Nightmare Night and Nyx"
  • Foreshadowing: Two notable examples:
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • A Glass of Chianti: Not actually with wine, but Spell Nexus manages to swirl orange juice of all things in the same manner as if it were red wine. This doubles as his Trademark Favorite Drink.
  • Good Feels Good: Even after Nightmare Moon regains her lost memories and power, she quickly discovers she's a lot happier being kind to ponies rather than being a tyrant. Comes to a head when she frees her cult from the lingering bits of her inner evil, steps down as Queen of Equestria, and finally defends Ponyville from a monster attack.
  • 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."
  • Happily Adopted: Nyx. When Nyx realizes that she has no blood relatives, Twilight then explains how she, Owlowiscious, and Spike form a family for her. Nyx happily accepts Twilight as her mother. Spike's relationship with Nyx is brotherly, although he says to Twilight that he prefers to be thought of as an Honorary Uncle.
    • 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 Sequel Nightmare 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 Sacrifice: Nyx is willing to pull this when she goes up against the horde of monsters 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.
  • Imperfect Ritual: An evil cult attempts to resurrect Nightmare Moon, the villain from the pilot of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. However, they are interrupted by the arrival of Princess Celestia and her army, and the unfinished ritual results in the creation of the main character of the story — Nyx, a small filly that resembles Nightmare Moon, but is good-natured and remembers nothing of her time as Nightmare Moon.
  • I'm Taking Her Home with Me!: What happens to Twilight Sparkle when she sees that Nightmare Moon, one of the greatest and most powerful villains in the history of Equestria, has been reincarnated as a helpless and visibly shaking little filly that is hurt, confused, frightened, and alone in the Everfree Forest and desperately needs a hug.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Twilight bursts into flames on two occasions, like she did in "Feeling Pinkie Keen". This gets termed "rage shift" in the fanfic.
  • 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 that "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 that "School was not going to be fun at all." to her thinking "School was amazing!"
  • It's All My Fault: Nyx was willing to accept responsibility for all the evil the Church of Darkness had done on her behalf while under the influence of "the Blessing", despite the fact it was all done without her knowledge or consent.
  • 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 that 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. It fails.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Arguably. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon both went out of their way to torment Nyx, kicked her while she was down from it all, and even tried to send her to her death by tricking her into exploring the Everfree Forest. When confronted by Twilight about the latter, they obnoxiously feigned ignorance until they were threatened into confessing. When Nyx finally became Nightmare Moon, she publicly credits them both as half of the reason for her sudden return, causing them to be scorned and hated by all of Ponyville. In Nyx's defense, their cruel prank DID cause her to discover a shocking hint of her true origins.
  • 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.
  • Light Is Not Good: Princess Celestia, especially in the first version of the story. The retcon turns the issue into a To Be Lawful or Good dilemma.
  • 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 openly says, "I...I don't know who I am anymore". Twilight tells her 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 that 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, she 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.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: As noted elsewhere on this page, Nightmare Moon's victory ultimately proves hollow, as being universally hated tyrant brings her absolutely no joy and it certainly wasn't worth sacrificing every friendship she's made.
  • Me's a Crowd: Nightmare Moon uses her shape-shifting abilities in order to infiltrate Canterlot Palace. 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 she's forced to think about hurting the person 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.
    • In Chapter 13, Mane Five make a desperate attempt at defeating Nightmare Moon with Elements of Harmony, but, since Twilight Sparkle was imprisoned earlier, they decide to enlist Trixie as a replacement. Her boastful, over-the-top behaviour and abysmal results of serving as the Element of Magic clash heavily with overall grim tone of the chapter.
    • In 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: These news posts reveal a MST is in the works for the original edit of this story. And just to clarify, Pen Stroke himself approved this.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: In-universe, the school bully Diamond Tiara plays the kind, gentle and beloved Princess Celestia in Ponyville Elementary's school play, Reunion of the Royal Pony Sisters.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Princess Celestia, after ripping Nyx from Twilight's hooves, inadvertently hands her over to the leader of the Children of Nightmare cult. He then completes the interrupted spell that gave Nyx life, transforming her into Nightmare Moon.
    • After Nyx is transformed into Nightmare Moon, Twilight discovers the location of her hidden underground castle and — without her friends' knowledge — sneaks in there in order to let Nyx know that she is sorry for abandoning her earlier, hoping she will refrain from following her "destiny" as Nightmare Moon and return to her. Not only it completely fails to do the job, but gets Twilight captured and imprisoned, rendering the Mane Five unable to use the Elements of Harmony at the time of need.
  • The Night That Never Ends: Unsurprisingly, one of the first things done by Nightmare Moon once she becomes the ruler of Equestria is bringing upon the eternal night she wanted so badly. Surprisingly, the sight of ponies suffering from ensuing famine and cold makes her regret this quickly and change her mind — making her go back to the usual day and night cycle.
  • Novelization: Chapter 15's ending is based on the fancomic Nightmare Toot.
  • Numbered Sequels: Glimpses 2, repeating the ideas of Glimpses, but with more variations.
  • Oh, Crap!: Celestia, on realizing that she's just handed over Nyx to those who would return Nightmare Moon to power.
  • Orwellian Ret Con: The authors performed 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 unwitting Hero Antagonist), among other things.
  • 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 link to a looped Castlevania song during chapter 17 in order to help accompany the mood of the main scene.
  • Parental Abandonment: After the events of chapter 10, Nyx thinks Twilight did this to her.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Twilight Sparkle suffers from a brief bout of this when she doesn't recognize Nyx's reluctance to go out and play with her self-proclaimed friends Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon.
  • Pet the Dog: Near the end of chapter 17, it's shown that all Diamond Tiara wants to do is spend some quality time with her Brainwashed dad, who's gone to neglecting her and her mother after being given a seat of power.
  • Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Poor Nyx. And it was against her will, too.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Used to tell the audience when It. Is. ON!
  • Puppet King: ZigZagged with Nightmare!Nyx in regards to Spell Nexus. While Spell Nexus does obey her orders loyally and eagerly, it's also clear that he has very… specific ideas about what Nightmare Moon's reign is supposed to be like and will do things like question her motivations when she acts counter to those expectations, manipulate her into following his plans, and even go behind her back without consulting her in order to achieve what he thinks her goals are.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Nyx and the Cutie Mark Crusaders use these to great effect, and Nyx can take it up to eleven. When Puppy-Dog Eyes alone fails to convince Twilight's pet owl to let her leave the library, she intentionally starts shedding tears and whimpering.
  • 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.
  • Relatively Flimsy Excuse: Twilight initially passes off Nyx as her cousin who came to live with her indefinitely. Hilariously, this actually makes more sense after the Season Two revision, given that Twilight had a brother that even her friends didn't know about. Celestia still finds it suspicious enough to check the records, and quickly realizes that Nyx can't possibly be Twilight's cousin.
  • Religion of Evil: The Children of Nightmare are a cult bent on bringing back Nightmare Moon and plunging Equestria into eternal night.
  • Reluctant Monster:
    • Guess who. It's Nyx!
    • 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.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Spell Nexus, according to Celestia.
  • Sealed Inside a Person-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.
  • Sea Serpents: In The Road Home, Shining Armor, Cadence and Twilight are attacked by a lake serpent with A Head at Each End that Twilight identifies as an Ouroboros.
  • Self-Made Woman: 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:
  • Show Within a Show: The school play in which Nyx plays the part of Nightmare Moon. Said play is based on the events of the pilot episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.Pinkie Pie helped to write the script, and said that she had read the episode transcripts to help her remember what they had said.
  • Shrinking Violet: Nyx. With her purple mane, she's even Color-Coded for Your Convenience!
  • Slice of Life: Much of the first half of the story focuses on Nyx adjusting to life in Ponyville.
  • Spoiler Opening: The cover art blatantly shows Nyx in her form 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 will happen.
  • 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.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Celestia faces this dilemma over what to do about Nyx. She chooses Lawful at the advice of a trusted friend who is secretly the leader of the Religion of Evil and under the influence of The Corruption.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: 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 fillies cannot comprehend kindness. It's worth noting that only Diamond Tiara spoke while Silver Spoon just stood there...
  • Unishment: After Celestia and Luna are released, it falls to Luna to decide Nightmare Moon's punishment for conquering Equestria in the first place. Given that Nightmare!Nyx had been a much kinder monarch than could be expected of someone being manipulated by an evil possessed cult, and had defended the citizens at significant cost to herself, Luna decides to deport her, undoing the Plot-Relevant Age-Up, and remand her to the custody of Nyx's mother, Twilight. As Pinkie puts it later, anyone who knows Nyx will understand that's not a punishment.
  • The Usurper: By the end of Chapter 13, Nightmare Moon had defeated both Royal Sisters and takes their place as sole ruler of Equestria.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Chapter 10, where Celestia takes Nyx away, the cultists succeed in turning Nyx into a fully grown Nightmare Moon, and Nyx publicly disowns Twilight.
    • Chapter 13, where Nightmare Moon defeats all the heroes, takes over Equestria and brings upon eternal night.
  • 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.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Luna's response to Celestia's ripping a child from her mother's arms and to Celestia neglecting to tell her 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.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: While infiltrating Nightmare Moon's castle and finding Spell Nexus in there, Twilight assumes he was taken prisoner and decides to free him. Unfortunately, he is actually the leader of Children of Nightmare and knocks her out with a hit to the head when she takes her eyes off him.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Canterlot Has Fallen, Nightmare Or Nyx, The Road Home Past Sins, Winter Bells