Past Sins cover image
|Writer(s)||Pen Stoke, assisted by Batty Gloom|
|Date published||July 18, 2011, completed on August 29, 2011|
202,689 (FIMFIction revision)
Past Sins is a fan fiction written by Pen Stroke, with editing and other assistance from Batty Gloom. It spans 21 chapters plus a prologue and can be found on Equestria Daily. The custom cover image caused a huge stir and was likely a major source of the fic's initial popularity, although the story itself soon proved able to stand on its own merits.
It has caused considerable controversy due to the inclusion of an alicorn OC as the central character of the story, and also when Pen Stroke and Batty engaged in a large-scale revision to answer concerns over out-of-character behavior by Princess Celestia and Nyx's borderline Mary-Sue traits.
- "What else can you be when the world can only see a monster?"
- — Quote from the cover image on the right.
The story opens with Twilight Sparkle being held by a cult of ponies who are fanatically devoted to Nightmare Moon. The cult's leader leads his ponies in a ritual ceremony deep in the Everfree Forest to restore Nightmare Moon's power and give her a body of her own, separate from Princess Luna, so that she may claim the throne of Equestria and usher in eternal night. Some of Twilight's blood is added to the scraps of Nightmare Moon's armor along with other ritual ingredients. As the spell nears its climax, Princess Celestia and a battalion of Royal Guards descend and scatter the cultists, interrupting the spell before it can be completed. The guards attempt to track down the fleeing cultists while Celestia takes Twilight back home to Ponyville.
After getting over the worst of her shock, Twilight realizes that her saddlebags, containing rare books from Princess Celestia herself, are missing and she tracks them back to the site of the ritual. When she arrives, she finds a small, black filly with both a horn and wings, along with Nightmare moon's distinct dragon-like turquoise eyes. Although initially driven back by the filly's appearance, her pitiful state convinces Twilight to at least take her back home, clean her up, feed her, and approach the situation rationally. After gaining the filly's trust, Twilight poses several questions to her and learns that she has no memories beyond a few hours previous, reaching back to the time of the ritual. Despite Spike's insistence on alerting Celestia, Twilight decides to allow the filly, who she names Nyx, to remain under her care for a while until Twilight feels confident about the filly's true nature.
A few days go by, during which Nyx proves to have a very timid, curious nature, a love of learning and reading, and constantly expresses a desire to go outside the library. Knowing she can't keep the filly hidden forever, Twilight calls in a favor from Rarity to create a vest to hide Nyx's wings and enchants some glasses to make Nyx's eyes appear normal. Passing her off as a visiting cousin, she enrolls Nyx in Ponyville's school and finally introduces her to the rest of her friends.
Nyx's insatiable appetite for learning earns her the ire of several classmates, especially Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon. Their teasing prompts Apple Bloom to come to Nyx's defense and the filly becomes friends with her, Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, and Twist. Determined to teach Nyx a lesson about asking questions in class just before recess, Tiara and Spoon trick the filly into wandering deep into the Everfree Forest. By the time Twilight realizes Nyx has gone missing and manages to find her, Nyx has stumbled upon the ancient castle where Nightmare Moon was defeated, and memories of her past life force their way into her mind along with a surge of power that attracts the attention of Celestia and the leader of the Nightmare cult, who turns out to be Spell Nexus, the head of Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns. Each engages in their own investigation, the former by accelerating studies on the ritual to learn its purpose, and the latter by assigning cult members in Ponyville to watch for signs of Nightmare Moon.
When Twilight arrives to rescue Nyx from the forest, she sees Nyx with the mystical mane and tail of Nightmare Moon, but before she can think about this too long, she sees Nyx is crying. Upon noticing Twilight, Nyx apologizes for everything Nightmare Moon has done, even though she doesn't understand the memories she experienced, and Twilight comforts Nyx until her hair returns to normal. While Twilight is concerned about Nyx's true identity, she is convinced enough that Nyx just isn't enough like Nightmare Moon, at least not enough to alert Celestia just yet.
Life seems to be good for the two until Nyx's class decides to put on a stage play based on the events of Nightmare Moon's return as part of a cultural fair, and Nyx is cast as the Mare in the Moon herself. Twilight's initial fear that re-living the events may have a chance of sparking unwanted memories in Nyx are compounded when she learns that the Princesses will also be attending the fair. She tries to forbid Nyx to participate, but the filly manages to puppy-dog-eye Owlowiscious into letting her out of the library in time to make it to the play. In the process, Nyx accidentally forgets her glasses and breaks the fake wings on the Nightmare Moon costume but she manages to make her real wings appear to be a costume fake by keeping them rigid.
The play goes off smoothly and, even after spending time close to her at a dinner afterward, the Princesses seem unaware that Nyx is in any way unusual. Celestia, however, becomes curious about the story that Nyx is Twilight's cousin and later begins to research the unicorn's family tree. A member of the Cult is in the restaurant at the same time and later reports to Nexus the possibility that Nyx is their Queen.
After the play, Nyx talks to Twilight about how she found out, from both from a book and from her classmates when they see her "costume", how she looks like Nightmare Moon and she tries to ask Twilight if she's the Mare in the Moon herself. Twilight tells Nyx about her origins and Nyx begins to break down when she comes to the conclusion that she's Nightmare Moon. Twilight comforts Nyx by telling her that she isn't Nightmare Moon and she never will be, and that even though she was born from a spell, she still has a family: Spike is Nyx's brother, Owlowiscious and PeeWee are her pets, and Twilight will be Nyx's mother.
A few weeks later, Cheerilee sponsors a Learn and Play Day event, where the students come together to put an educational display and participate in a series of games. Nyx starts to raise suspicions when she performs a couple of feats of magic, accidentally going too far. Twilight confides in Rarity that she thinks Nyx is Nightmare Moon reborn after all but Rarity convinces Twilight that just because Nyx might have been the Mare in the Moon in the past doesn't mean she still is or that she even has to. Twilight feels better about Nyx and let's her go to a Cutie Mark Crusader sleepover, where as part of a game of truth and dare Nyx reveals she is an alicorn to her friends, who accept her just the way she is.
After the end of the school year, Twilight and Nyx arrive at home from a play day together to find Celestia waiting for them. After sending Nyx out of the room, the Princess confronts Twilight and gets the true story of the filly from her. Celestia then tells Twilight that the spell the cult used was in fact meant to bring back Nightmare Moon and they even used the shards of Nightmare Moon that was purified from Luna by the Elements of Harmony. Twilight has to face the cruel fact that Nyx is, in fact, Nightmare Moon after all. After a long, emotional conversation, Celestia comforts Twilight by telling her that even though Nyx is Nightmare Moon, she isn't going to punish Nyx and knows she can still change for the better. She instead simply wants to see into Nyx's true nature, so she and Twilight can know for a fact that Nyx is anything but a good-natured filly, despite her past.
Nyx, unaware of the conversation and thus the reason she is being separated from her mother, begins to feel abandoned. Celestia had put Spell Nexus in charge of the spell, unaware of his connection to the Nightmare Cult. The spell meant to look into Nyx's soul instead teleports the cult back to Ponyville, where it quickly gathers the remains of Nightmare Moon's power that was scattered at the beginning of the story and completes the ritual.
Nyx awakens with her power fully restored and her body fully grown and, overwhelmed by the return of her memories and her feelings of betrayal and being lied to, snaps as she declares her intent to take over Equestria and bring in eternal night. She blame Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon for her resurrection, brushes off Scootaloo by saying she is no longer Nyx, verbally attacks Cheerilee for making her play herself in the spring play, and disowns Twilight as her mother. Declaring herself to be Nightmare Moon, she teleports herself and the cult to an underground castle Spell Nexus had built for Nightmare Moon's return, where she can plan her take-over and gather her strength.
While Nightmare Moon is struggling with her memories of Nyx and her lack of desire to act as ruthlessly as the cult expects her to, Twilight, through use of a scrying spell on a Cult member Pinkie managed to identify, locates the stronghold and sneaks into it with the sole purpose of apologizing to Nyx. She mistakes Nexus for a prisoner and is captured and beaten by the guards before being taken to Nightmare Moon. Still conflicted, the alicorn rejects Twilight's apology but orders her followers to simply lock her up and not to harm her any more.
Nightmare Moon then sneaks into Canterlot and defeats first Celestia, who is emotionally drained by the realization of what she unwittingly allowed to happen, and then Luna in single combat and imprisons them in their respective celestial bodies, despite the two trying to reason with Nightmare Moon that she doesn't have to do any of this. With her conquest complete, Nightmare raises her stronghold to the surface near Ponyville and begins her reign of eternal night. The remainder of the Mane 6, along with Trixie as a last-second substitution, try and fail to use the Elements of Harmony on her, but their fears and worries over their families convince her to spare their lives, opting to simply confiscate the Elements.
Over the next several days, Nightmare Moon is struggling to understand her new feelings of mercy and compassion while Nexus tries to coach Nightmare Moon in the way he believes Nightmare Moon should desire to rule the kingdom. The Cutie Mark Crusaders, after finding out about Nyx's true nature from Cheerilee and driven by their desire to help their friend, sneak into the castle, only to be finally caught by Spell Nexus as the three are catching up with an emotionally conflicted Nightmare Moon. After she agrees to lock them up so they can finally understand she can't be their friend Nyx any more, Nightmare Moon, at the advice of Spell Nexus, tries to more actively rule her kingdom in order to find her cutie mark. Her attempt to hold open court results in a long line of requests for the sun's return, and nothing else she tries earns her the cutie mark she feels she is denied nor makes her happy. After a failed attempt to recreate the night sky in her own design, Nightmare Moon looks over Equestria and sees how the country is suffering from eternal night.
No longer wanting to try to be the tyrant that is expected of her, Nightmare Moon instead raises the sun and informs Spell Nexus of her intent to rule Equestria through both day and night. After sneaking into Ponyville to take in the sight of her subjects happy for the sun's return, Nightmare Moon is emotionally crushed when the townsfolk assume that the sun's return also meant the return of the royal pony sisters and Nightmare Moon's defeat.
Nightmare Moon sulks off to think things over under the shade of a willow tree. She tries once again to understand why she is struggling to enjoy her kingdom and asks why she wanted to rule Equestria in the first place. She finally understands that Luna, before she became Nightmare Moon, simply wanted to be loved and appreciated just like Celestia, and that desire for love was carried over to Nightmare Moon. She then proceeds to quietly cry as she realizes that she was loved as Nyx only to throw it all away by chasing old desires that were never truly hers to begin with. She remains by herself under the willow tree until she is interrupted by a concerned Twist. The two friends talk and Nightmare Moon, finding out why Twist didn't hang out with Apple Bloom after school, makes Twist an honorary Cutie Mark Crusader by both her association with the club as well as her position as Queen of Equestria.
However, running into Twist only makes Nightmare Moon more concerned that she may never truly be happy or accepted by her subjects and she secludes herself in her castle in a fit of depression, taking the time to make sure Equestria isn't suffering from Spell Nexus while tending to the sun and moon but doing very little else. Her depressive cycle of thoughts are interrupted when Pinkie Pie forces herself into her courtyard to invite Nightmare Moon to Twist's birthday party, not because Pinkie Pie wanted her there (she confesses that even she didn't think it was a good idea to invite Nightmare Moon) but because Twist convinced Pinkie Pie that Nightmare Moon isn't as mean as everypony thinks she is and that Twist really wanted her there. While Nightmare Moon politely refuses the request, she is touched by Twist's kindness and reciprocates this by delivering the rest of the Cutie Mark Crusaders in a gift box along with fudge made by the royal chef.
Spell Nexus furiously confronts Twilight, blaming her for poisoning Nightmare Moon with thoughts of kindness and mercy but then hatches a plan to use Nightmare Moon's own love of Twilight against her. He infects Twilight with the blessing every member of Children of Nightmare get when they join the cult.
Nightmare Moon, having been informed of Twilight's request to see her, enters Twilight's cell and finds the unicorn lying on her cot, slightly afraid when speaking at first. No sooner does the possessed unicorn apologize for finding the alicorn in the forest, when Nightmare Moon is hit with pain in her right shoulder. The alicorn discovers that Twilight is regretting her "mistake" and tries to attack using a magical dagger. Nightmare's screams alert Nexus and the guards, who hold Twilight, help Nightmare Moon out of the dungeon and bandage the wound.
Nightmare Moon stays in her room for the rest of the afternoon, lamenting the fact the she has lost her adopted mother. She later discovers that the cult plans to execute Twilight, and rescues the unicorn in a swift move. Resting in the ancient castle, the alicorn finds out about the attempt to drive the love from her heart as well as the infection residing within Twilight and acts to remove it, although the procedure zones out the unicorn. Twilight recovers and apologizes for putting the alicorn through the moments of fear, although she was controlled by the blessing. Nightmare Moon also apologizes for having to believe in it. She orders Twilight to retreat to Zecora's hut for a few days, until she has ceased the guards' search for her.
Nightmare Moon later confronts Spell Nexus in her castle and discovers the "worst part of herself" has corrupted the, originally innocent, unicorn. That part was full of the emotions a true Nightmare Moon would have borne. After fighting the temptation in her thoughts, Nightmare Moon defeats the dark, poisonous magic through will and determination, with help from Nexus' binding spell. The attack leaves her in spiritual pain, her dark self having been burned to nothing. Nightmare Moon later removes the blessing in the other ponies that have been blessed and releases them from their service. She then renounces her title as Queen and breaks the news to Equestria, much to Twilight's delight. Nightmare Moon however begins to contemplate releasing the Princesses and subjecting herself to their wrath.
Her contemplation is cut short when Zecora informs Nightmare Moon that a horde of monsters from the Everfree Forest, previously kept at bay by Celestia's power, have begun to march on Ponyville with the intent of devouring its citizens. Not wanting anyone else to suffer for her mistakes, Nightmare Moon splits herself into dozens of duplicates, and together with the aid of the Mane 6, drives the monsters back into the forest, but is critically injured as a result. In the aftermath, Nightmare Moon's castle becomes a safe haven for ponies whose homes were destroyed in the attack. As she slowly recovers from her injuries, Nightmare Moon tearfully reconciles with Twilight, leading to an emotional reunion between a mother and her daughter.
Nightmare Moon confides in Twilight that she feels lost; she no longer wants to be the Mare in the Moon, but doesn't believe she can ever go back to being Nyx either. After showing Nightmare Moon some thank-you cards from her classmates, Twlight encourages her daughter that, while it will be difficult, she can be anypony she wants to be, but it's up to her to decide what that will be; Nyx resolves to be a better pony with friends who also protects the ones she cares about. Lastly, with some assurance from her mother, Nyx decides to release the Princesses so they may tend to the sun and moon, as Nyx herself is too weak to do so.
After the Royal Pony Sisters are released, Twilight gives Celestia and Luna an account of all that Nyx had done as Nightmare Moon, both the good and the bad, and then the unicorn offers to take Nyx's punishment upon herself, but Nyx boldly refuses her offer. Ultimately, the Princesses decide to deffer Nyx's judgement; Princess Luna travels to Ponyville to gather opinions from the citizens, including the rest of the Mane 6 and the CMC, about what should be done with Nyx. Meanwhile, Celestia watches over an exhausted Twilight and Nyx, and, through her interactions with both of them, finally realizes that Nightmare Moon is no longer the monster she used to be shortly before Luna returns to place her judgement on Nyx.
Princess Luna strips Nyx of her Nightmare Moon powers, reducing Nyx back to a filly and simultaneously transforming Luna herself into a more celestial entity like her sister. However, Luna does allow Nyx to retain her memories as Nightmare Moon so she may remember what led her to choose to be a better pony, and then gives Twilight the task of being Nyx's legal guardian from this point onward. After returning to Ponyville, it is revealed that Nyx has recieved her cutie mark: a night-blue kite shield with a crescent moon that symbolizes her desire to protect the ponies she cares about. After a surprise party to thank Nyx for saving the town and a happy reunion with all her friends, everypony goes home for the night, and after tucking in Nyx and Spike, Twilight proceeds to write a letter to Princess Celestia detailing the lessons she's learned from this whole experience.
- See Nyx
The head of Celestia's School of Gifted Unicorns, Spell Nexus is secretly the leader of the Children of Nightmare, and recruits members by bestowing what he terms "the gift" on potential candidates. It gives them ability to change their eye color to match Nightmare moon's turquoise and an unwavering loyalty to their Queen. He has a very firm and unwavering picture of how Nightmare Moon should behave toward her enemies, and mercy in any form is not part of that picture.
It would later be found out that Spell Nexus is actually possessed by the disembodied evil of the original Nightmare Moon, using the unicorn and the other members of it's cult to create a body for itself. Upon being exorcised of the evil entity Spell Nexus shows immense regret for his actions and locks himself in the dungeon voluntarily.
During the weeks leading up August 29, 2011, Pen Stroke and Batty Gloom undertook a major revision of Past Sins to address concerns made by a large number of commentators on Equestria Daily. Their stated goal to was revise Nyx's character to highlight her flaws more and to re-write the scene between Twilight and Celestia in chapter 10 when Nyx is taken away. Prior to the change, Nyx was liked by most of her classmates, save for Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, and managed to gain instant approval from any pony not designated as an antagonist to her. After the change, Nyx's occasional showcasing of her exceptional magic, especially during the tug-o-war, garnered as many uncomfortable stares as they did applause and her curious and sensitive nature made her very unpopular in class, her only friends being Twist and the Cutie Mark Crusaders.
The original conversation between Celestia and Twilight regarding Nyx was declared "out of character" for the Princess, since she her tone was far more harsh and she threatened Nyx with immediate dissolution should the analysis spell reveal her to be Nightmare Moon reborn. Twilight was forced to choose between her loyalty to Celestia and her love for Nyx. In the revised chapter, this moral dilemma is lessened by Celestia taking a more sympathetic tone and agreeing to allow Twilight to continue to raise Nyx even if the spell declared her Nightmare Moon reincarnate, allowing for the possibility that being raised in love would override any possible instinct towards taking over Equestria.
The revisions were generally accepted, but some fans of the story fell away, fearing that Pen and Batty were giving in to outside interference with their story.
A revised version was posted to FIMFiction and elsewhere;[specify] this version was revised to incorporate season two ideas into the fiction, and resulted in the story's word count jumping from around 179,000 to 202,689.
At the end of the last Chapter, Pen and Batty left an author's note that said they may return to the Past Sins world at a future date to write slice-of-life stories for Nyx. Upon the release of Trinkets, Pen Stroke declared that Nightmare or Nyx?, Trinkets, and one other unpublished (at the time) side story are part of his In The Family side story trilogy. It was later revealed that Winter Bells is the third and final story in the trilogy. It has also been confirmed that the upcoming printed edition of Past Sins will contain an exclusive short story sequel. The short story sequel will remain exclusive to the book for approximately two months after the printing ships.
Nightmare or Nyx?
- Main article: Nightmare or Nyx?
Nightmare or Nyx? is a short story, one chapter sequel to Past Sins, and is the first part released in the In The Family trilogy, though chronologically, it takes place after "Trinkets".[note 1] However, it is not the same sequel that will be included with the printed version. It involves Spike's lingering apprehension over Nyx's current state.
- Main article: Trinkets
Trinkets is the second, in terms of publication date one chapter short story in the In The Family trilogy. However, it is the first, chronologically, in the aforementioned trilogy. It involves Nyx receiving her possessions back after her reign over Equestria.
- Main article: Winter Bells
Winter Bells is the third installment of the In The Family trilogy. It involves Nyx visiting her relatives in Canterlot for Hearths Warming's eve. Nyx has to face the fear of her new family, especially Shining Armor, who is determined she is still Nightmare Moon.
The Past Sins post on Equestria Daily includes a large number of pictures and comics created around Nyx and events in the story. A couple comics were incorporated into later chapters as the subjects of flash-backs Nyx experiences while alone, and one was made into a present-day scene that helps to continue Nyx's realization of what she had given up. Additional pictures and comics exist beyond those showcased in the EqD post.
Another author, Mr. Boltitude, has taken Nyx as a central character in a new fiction title Fandom Crisis! Judging by the inclusion of other common fandom themes such as Doctor Whooves and Slendermane in the first chapter and the author asking others for permission to use their characters, Crisis! seems likely to become a massive cross-over of multiple fan fictions, and thus does not belong to the original Past Sins universe.
YouTube user Forcedemodo has composed a "Past Sins Main Theme"', and started publishing a "soundtrack" meant to be listened to while reading the story. He is also providing the music for an upcoming Past Sins animation, being done by Cartoon Bronies.
A fan fiction named Class Sins by The Only Regidar is an authorized parody of the story.
It has been announced that Past Sins will be coming out in a printed edition, with exclusive content, such as Valcron's original concept sketches for Nyx, and a short story sequel to Past Sins. The people running the pledge to buy a copy made an additional pledge due to the expiration date expiring on the first, and then another when the date expired on that.
On August 26, 2012, the print team opened up a site, under the name Equestria Publications. Said site contains an in-depth look into the work that has been put into the Past Sins book thus far.
On December 9, 2012, an e-mail was sent out to all those that had signed up to buy a copy of the book, explaining the delay of the project was caused by the team losing contact with the first artist shortly after the sign-ups to buy a copy of the book closed, and having to locate a new artist who could emulate the quality and style of the first artist. The projected release date for the book is now Q1 2013. In an e-mail newsletter sent out on March 25, 2013, it was announced the book was done, and would be shipped in about two months.
On April 19, 2013, it was announced that the project had been put on hold, due to the fact that PayPal would not release the money to the team until the book was printed and shipped, despite the fact that the money was needed in order to get the book printed and shipped. Everyone who paid would be refunded, according to the announcement, and the book would be released in e-book format while the team looks for an alternate way to distribute the book.
On April 23, it was announced that the project was not dead, and that questions were being asked to ensure that a problem like PayPal presented would not be run into again.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Calpain (2012-06-09). Nightly Roundup #344. Equestria Daily. Retrieved on 2012 June 9. The 5th post down
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Pen Stroke (2012-10-04). Comment on "Nightmare or Nyx?". FIMFiction. Retrieved on 2012 October 23. Archived locally
- ↑ Cartoon Bronies' official tumblr. Retrieved on 2012 June 19.
- ↑ E-mail explaining the delay
- ↑ Equestria Publications Newsletter, March 25, 2013 - announcing completion of the book
- ↑ Sethisto (2013-04-19). Past Sins Printed Version On Hold. Equestria Daily. Retrieved on 2013 April 19.
- ↑ Equestria Publications Newsletter 2