The story’s cover art on Equestria Daily
|Date published||April 9, 2011|
Luna becomes frustrated when she is unable to make any friends in Canterlot. Everypony treats her with fear and distrust, save for Celestia and the royal librarian, and her dreams are plagued by visions of Nightmare Moon mocking her attempts to integrate into pony society. Finally, she decides to run away from home and try her luck making friends in another place. To overcome the prejudices she associates with her royal appearance, she researches a spell to transform herself into an Earth pony, knowing that mere illusion spells can be broken or seen through. After leaving the castle and finding a secluded spot in the forest outside Ponyville, she casts the spell, which turns out to be far more painful than she anticipated and unleashes a magical surge felt by every unicorn, and Celestia, across Equestria. When Luna awakens from the spell, she is found by a unicorn named Dewdrop and, calling herself Moonbeam, accepts the offer to rest up at Dewdrop's house. Meanwhile, Celestia alerts Twilight to Luna's disappearance and asks her to keep an eye out around Ponyville for newcomers.
After sleeping off the fatigue from her transformation, "Moonbeam" is talked into letting Dewdrop and her roommate Feather Down help her find a place to rent during her stay. Along the way, she meets Pine Needle and Haystack, who are quickly added to her circle of friends. Meanwhile Twilight holds a cram session on illusion spells and decides to put Pinkie Pie's inevitable "New pony" party to good use as a cover for testing Moonbeam for illusions. The tests fail, but Twilight still concludes that Moonbeam is in fact Luna and writes to inform Celestia of her sister's location and that the Night Princess has made some friends. Celestia arrives in town the next night to speak with Twilight about the problem and they decide to let Luna continue with her masquerade for the time being.
Luna gets a job helping Haystack and Pine Needle on the former's wheat farm and helps each of her friends with problems that arise over the next few months, occasionally taking part in Season 1 events like the Running of the Leaves. All during this time, Nightmare Moon continues to appear in Luna's dreams to call her motives into question and accuse her of living a lie. Eventually Luna decides that it is time to reveal her true self to her friends during a moon-viewing party at her house.
A unicorn mare who works at Ponyville's inn. The first to meet Luna after her change into Moonbeam.
An earth pony mare who works at a restaurant and lives with Dewdrop. She can fall asleep at the drop of a hat and is something of a bed connoisseur. If she isn't sleeping, she's running at top speed.
An earth pony stallion originally from Stalliongrad. He's exceptionally aware of his connection to the earth and will lecture about Earth Pony magic if given a willing audience. Most ponies don't believe him, but there is truth in his beliefs. He works on Haystack's farm and has a paralyzing crush on Applejack -- he freezes up whenever he sees her.
A pegasus who owns the primary wheat farm in Ponyville. He's a stoic individual who rarely smiles, and has a poor opinion of Pinkie Pie, due to him growing up near her and being roped into most of her early experiments in party-throwing and pranking.
"Phases of the Moon" is the sequel to "Moonbeam" and continues the story of Luna and her friends, who now have to discover the results of being so close to royalty.