The shadowy alicorn landed in front of the steaming cave by the base of the volcano. Her wings folded against her side as she trotted closer, being careful not to slip on the mud and slick stones beneath her hooves. The air was filled with the stink of sulphur and the bubbling sound of pools of mud as they boiled in the oppressively hot and humid air. Taking as deep a breath as she dared of the stinking miasma she was surrounded by, she shouted into the cave as loudly as her prodigious voice would allow.
"Come forth Ille Qui Gubernat Monte Ignis- 'He Who Governs The Mountain's Fire!' I would speak with thee!"
She couldn't help but feel slightly proud that she was able to do this with breaking into a fit of coughing, considering the quality of the air. Of course no sooner had she thought this then a small cough escaped her lips. She sighed and shook her head ruefully, gently clearing her throat.
Her shout reverberated down the cave, each echo somehow being slightly louder than the one before. Soon enough, the echoes died down to nothingness. Luna waited for a minute, slowly breaking out into a sweat in the sauna-like environment. As she considered shouting again, a plume of smoke flowed from the cave, followed by a tremendous yawn. Soon came the sounds of smacking lips and then a snarl that grew into a voice:
"Who dares speak my true name? What fool offers themselves up as a morsel to fill my belly?"
A ponderous thudding filled the air, growing louder as it approached the cave entrance until coming to a sudden halt.
The great scarred head of a dragon emerged from the cave The massive creature scanned the sky beyond it's cave until realizing the one who had called it's name was below it. It stared down at the alicorn with its one remaining eye, the other being completely covered over with scar issue. It lowered its gaze and peered at her, turning his head so the beast's one good eye could better focus on her. Luna stared up at the dragon, shivering slightly despite herself.
"Hmph," snorted the great reptile. "You know my true name and are brave enough to stand firm upon seeing me. I suppose I shall honor your bravery and daring and not turn you to ash or devour you where you stand. Yet. Who are you and why do you awaken me?"
Luna swallowed the sudden lump of fear in her throat. "Do you not recognize me, my friend? Does my voice mean nothing to you?"
"I have seen many things, young filly - mostly meals and foolish folk who confront me as you do, which are often the same thing. I have heard many voices - mostly raised in screams as I devour them or free my flame upon them. Though I confess yours does ring familiar, though I remember not where."
"Does not my appearance remind you further?"
"My vision is not what it once was, filly, and I have only the one eye to see with, the other taken by a younger dragon than I. Let me look upon you more closely."
The dragon brought his head forward slowly. Luna stepped back.
"Worry not, young filly. I have given my word that no harm will befall you. Is my word not good enough?"
Luna remained in place. "I apologize O' great lord of the mountain, for though I know you, you do not appear to recognize me. And I fear offending one as mighty as you."
The dragon let out an amused snort. "I will not be swayed so easily by compliments, filly, deserved though they are. I admit you are a fine figure of a unicorn filly, of a color not usual for your folk," he said, not noticing Luna's wings, tucked against her sides as they were, where they blended in with the color of her fur.
The dragon considered for a moment and then pulled its head away from Luna. "No, I do not recognize you. Though I admit that your voice does stoke a memory within my mind, beyond that you are a stranger. And yet you seem insistent that we know one another, and quite well at that. You know my name - pray offer me yours."
The alicorn sighed. This would be the turning point of the conversation. Her voice quavering slightly, she replied.
"My name is Luna, Princess of the Moon, O'Lord."
The dragon's head reared up and he snarled, the smoke flowing from his nostrils darkening and billowing up as though it were a storm cloud. Luna stepped back, truly afraid for her life. Despite her magical abilities, she would be no match for a dragon of this size and age, especially as angered as it was.
"What trickery is this?!" the dragon roared. "My dear friend Luna has been dead a thousand years hence and yet you come here under her name! How dare you! Had I not given my word to not harm you, I would kill you where you stand. Get thee gone, liar, lest I choose to do so anyway. Begone and never return!"
"I said begone, filly." The dragon lowered his head again, the smoke from his nostrils becoming infused with sparks. "You have no idea how lucky you are that you still live. Tax my patience no further."
Seeing that her words merely served to infuriate the great beast, Luna took the only other option she could to prove her identity. She opened her wings and spread them wide.
Immediately, the smoke and sparks dissipated from the dragon's nostrils and his one good eye sprang wide open. Utterly dumbstruck, the dragon simply stared at the alicorn. After a moment, the creature found is voice.
"Luna? Is it truly you?" the dragon asked, in a voice oddly quiet for such a huge creature.
Luna replied, her eyes misting slightly. "Yes, my friend, it is I. When we were both younger and you were much smaller, you and I played together. You had not yet found control of your flames and thus I named you 'Sparkmuzzle.'"
A small tear formed under the dragon's good eye. "You are truly she then, to know that nickname, as I in turn named you 'Moonfilly.' But how is it you are here? I was told you were killed by a demon which called itself 'Nightmare'!"
Luna sighed. "Oh if only I had been. But the truth is worse than that, Sparkmuzzle. Far worse. I was not killed by the demon, I became the demon. Nightmare ... I tried to usurp my sister and rule the sky. Thankfully, I failed."
Sparkmuzzle cocked his head. "And the story of your death?"
Luna shook her head. "A misinterpretation - my sister had banished me to my moon and told the others I was gone. Her statement was taken to mean that I was dead. In a manner of speaking, I was, possessed as I was by the demon's madness. I spent a thousand years imprisoned upon the moon until I found a way to escape my sister's banishment. I then returned to the world below, both to seek vengeance on my sister for banishing me and to attempt to steal the reins of power from her once more. "
She sighed. "Fortunately I was defeated by six ponies wielding powerful jewels called the Elements of Harmony. Together, the Elements released a spell that destroyed the demon Nightmare forever and returned to me both my sanity and my true form.
"Ah, a happy ending, then!"
Luna shook her head sadly. "A happy ending, yes, but I am ashamed of myself to some degree. While Nightmare did take control of my body, I didn't fight off its advance as well as I should have. Truth be told, I liked the power it offered me - I was envious of my sister, you see, and I saw this as a way to overshadow her. I bid sister Celestia no ill will for what she did, though. Truly it was the wisest - the safest - course of action. While the demon cursed her for what she did, I silently thanked her."
Luna broke free of her reverie. "But I should not burden you with these thoughts, dear friend. 'All's well that ends well' as they say. I have since been trying to reintegrate myself into modern society, given that I'm a thousand years out of date. I've had successes, but more than a few failures. These new ways they have of saying and doing things - particularly these new devices they call 'technology' - can confound me ofttimes."
She smiled. The kitchen staff were still trying to clean the egg yolks from the ceiling during her experimentation with a device call 'a blender'.
"After all this time, I've had to build new friendships from old and then I remembered a friend from my childhood - one who I knew would still be around, even after all this time. I came to visit you as soon as I could, but I should have expected you had forgotten me after all these centuries."
"Forgotten you? My dear Moonfilly, I mourned your believed death for more than a year! My memories of you held and still hold a warm place in my heart and my mind. But over a thousand years, one's memory can fail them, often requiring a slight nudge. It is good to see you again, Moonfi
Luna raised a hoof. "No. To you I should always be considered your Moonfilly"
The dragon grinned. "And to you, I will always be 'Sparkmuzzle' though unlike then my flames are now under my complete control." He let off a short burst in the shape of a heart and Luna laughed. Sparkmuzzle joined her, his great bellowing laugh echoing back through his cave, but soon their laughter died down.
"Well," sighed Luna, "Despite renewing our friendship we are at somewhat of an impasse. We are neither of us the children we once were. We cannot play as we once did - I am far too small, and you are far too large
Sparkmuzzle smiled at his old friend. "No, I'm afraid those days are far behind the both of us, but we can change the type of friendship we have. For instance, I have a thousand years of tales for you to hear, dear Moonfilly."
Luna smiled in return. "And for you, dear Sparkmuzzle, I have all the time in the world to listen."