• E Old Habits

    It's Nova's first official day off, and he's decided to spend it in one place he knows he can relax: the Canterlot Bazaar. But when he has an unexpected encounter with a face from his past, can he face the pony he once was?  · Viking ZX
    19,698 words · 827 views  ·  162  ·  1  · 

Featured In11

More Stories6

  • T Why Me?

    It's been four days since Tirek, and Discord is finally feeling back to being his old self. Or is he?
    7,287 words · 3,292 views  ·  513  ·  8
  • T The Dusk Guard: Rise

    Steel Song is a lot of things. Earth pony. Uncle. Professional bodyguard. Retired. So when he receives a mysterious package from Princess Luna, he's understandably apprehensive. Things are never as they seem in Equestria...
    274,966 words · 3,445 views  ·  399  ·  6
  • E Old Habits

    It's Nova's first official day off, and he's decided to spend it in one place he knows he can relax: the Canterlot Bazaar. But when he has an unexpected encounter with a face from his past, can he face the pony he once was?
    19,698 words · 827 views  ·  162  ·  1
  • T Carry On

    Sometimes the hardest thing to do isn't completing the mission, it's coming home again. For Dusk Guard member Sky Bolt, the mission was a complete success. Everything went perfectly. So why can't she sleep?
    18,257 words · 1,101 views  ·  188  ·  2
  • E Hearth's Warming Cookies

    It's Hearth's Warming season and that means presents, caroling and—of course—making Hearth's Warming Cookies. But just what makes the cookies so important, anyway? Young Jammer Song is about to find out....
    7,054 words · 537 views  ·  92  ·  0
  • T Emoticon

    It's Steel Song's day off, and he's got plans. Plans of the relaxed sort. Plans that most definitely do not involve a strange, brown earth pony who acts like he's known Steel for years. And why is he running, anyway?
    10,199 words · 767 views  ·  139  ·  2

Blog Posts208

  • Wednesday
    It's Good to Be Back

    13 comments · 93 views
  • Saturday
    Halloween Sale!

    22 comments · 201 views
  • 1w, 1d
    Whoa! Everything's Different! (UPDATED)

    Whoa! It's like coming back to your house after a vacation and finding that someone has reorganized the reading room. Not the living room or the kitchen so much, but mostly the reading room.

    Of course, I'll probably find the same once I get back home officially. Right now I'm back from the fishing trip but not back from Alaska yet. In fact, yesterday was the last day of post-trip boat work. Also, the swelling in my my hands has yet to go down all the way yet, which is how I gauge my "this is done" meter. Don't worry if you're curious, this year I took a picture of my hands in their swollen state. They're about three-quarters of the way back to normal at the moment (making typing this a bit like flexing a, tight, sore muscle after a workout, like stretching a stiff, cold, rubber-band), but once they've reached normal size and feel normal again I'll take a second picture and put up a comparison.

    Also, there probably won't be a writers guide post this Monday. I'm not 100% sure on that, however. It sort of depends on how my trip back goes, how much immediate work I have to do upon returning before I get back to work, and what my mental state is when I do return. Getting back into the swing of things after a month of not writing and working 18 hours a day always takes a day or two.

    Like I said, we'll see. I don't want to put it off any longer than necessary, but I want it to be useful.

    So, that said, how about this FimFiction update!? I think it's great. At least, the mobile side of it. Mobile functionality is now a real thing, so I don't have to resort to OS tricks to get functions of the page to work anymore. And I've liked the idea of the bookshelf system since I first heard of it. I'm not sure how this will change up my usual habit of thanking everyone who faves my works? More to think about. Plus, now I need to organize my own system. Still, nice to see the mass flood of Dusk Guard stories onto shelves labeled "10/10" or "Must Reads of FImFiction."

    Okay, okay, okay, so writing news. I promised brainstorming while I was gone, and you guys are getting it. First up, some news some of you may not welcome. Colony probably won't release this year. I know, I'm disappointed myself, in myself. There will be a longer post on what's gone wrong with it, but the truth is that it's going to need some draft work. More than usual.

    And I know why. I tried a few new things with Colony, and unfortunately, some of them didn't work. I've learned a few lessons from it as a result (and that'll be a writing post, I guarantee it), lessons I won't forget easy.

    Don't read this wrong, Colony isn't getting scrapped, like the first draft of The Phoenix. It's simply going to take some work. I'll send it out to some Alpha Readers as soon as it's done and start collecting feedback on where it falls flat and where it works.

    While that happens, I move my next writing project into full attention. "The Dusk Guard: Beyond the Borderlands" is getting my full attention as soon as Colony's first draft is out. And, thankfully, it has not suffered the experimentation I did with Colony. My goal is to get the whole thing done in a month. 4-5K words a day, 5-6 days a week. Month and a half maybe? We'll see. But I'm excited to finally, finally get the next bit of the Dusk Guard out and ready. Then I can start sweating on "Hunter/Hunted."

    And while I'm working on "Beyond," I'll spend a day or two getting Hunter and Dawn's side stories published on FimFic at last. I promise. Look for those very soon. They're both done, they just need editing work and covers.

    Anyway, and past "Beyond?" :pinkiesmile: I've got my next project.

    My next book will be titled Shadow of an Empire, and I'm excited to start work on it. A western fantasy—by which I mean Wild West, with outlaws and guns, not Western World—set in a shattered world where The Empire reigns supreme. Those who choose to live in the next to lawless outskirts of its territory are fast with a gun and quick with their magic, but always mindful that no matter how far away it may seem, the Empire's shadow has a long reach. Magic, six shooters, good, and evil; they're all going to collide! I'm still working out a few details (wait until you see THIS magic system, it's RAD!) but I can tell you this for certain: this one is going to be a blast. Plus, like "Rise" and "Beyond," I'm not trying anything new as far as writing techniques go, so it should be a straight start to straight finish project.

    Anyway, it's good to be back on land and on the grid!

    UPDATE: Oh, and next week is Halloween! And I've got something coming for that! Keep an eye on this space!

    11 comments · 115 views
  • 4w, 2d
    Off the Grid I Go!

    All right guys, this is it! I've been able to log in with my phone whilst away in Alaska to keep somewhat up to date, but today, I board the mighty fishing vessel I'm currently beholden to and head for the fishing grounds! Which means, sadly, that I will be off the grid for at least two to three weeks.

    But that's okay! It's a good off the grid. Because while I'll be away, I'm going to be doing a lot of grunt work, which means I've got plenty of time to think. And think. And plot, and pace...

    In other words, when I get back I'll have a wealth of new story content to offer. Hunter's side story and Dawn's (at long last) to start, but Colony is almost done with its first draft, and once that's off to the alpha readers, the staggered work I've done on "Beyond the Borderlands" can go to full-time project in earnest. I'm still hoping for a near-Christmas release, but no promises. That means it could be sooner but it could be later. I'm cutting no corners with this.

    Anyway, the original point of this was that I'll be back soon, and with lots of brainstorming done for the next few things coming after "Borderlands" and Colony. Like "Hunter/Hunted." Or Shadow of an Empire and The Phoenix. And, of course, lots of blog post topics!

    All right, I need to go grab my gear and get underway to board our mighty vessel. It's time to face the fierce fall elements of Alaska, and catch those shrimp!

    5 comments · 77 views
  • 6w, 3d
    Being a Better Writer: What's a Memorable Scene?

    Welcome back for today's Being a Better Writer post. Hopefully it's a good one, because it's going to be the last one for a little while. Starting this Wednesday, I'll be off to Alaska for work, and shall effectively (and sadly) become a bit of an internet recluse, since it'll be both tricky to get online (I won't be able to at all during the season, and beforehand I'll be working quite a bit.

    Today's post is a bit more nebulous topic, and so I'm going to try and approach it in a bit more relaxed manner. Rather than moving from point to point, or even prepping more than the initial idea beforehand, I'm just going to talk about it and see where things go. Partially because I feel like being a bit more relaxed today, partially because I want to see how well this works, and lastly because the topic itself can be a little nebulous.

    So, what does make a memorable scene? And here's where we run into a few differences, right with the first answer. Because to me, what makes a scene memorable is something important happening. But that might not be the same answer that others give. In fact, others might give a completely different assessment of what makes a scene memorable. Perhaps it has to do with the main characters. Perhaps it's the final battle, the most energetic portion of the story. Even upon thinking about it, my own answer that it is something important doesn't exactly hold a sum total, because there's a secondary element to consider, in that it be interesting. For me, these are two things that I put into my mind when I'm writing: What's important about this scene? And is it interesting?

    But that probably isn't what's going through other writers or readers heads when they do their own scenes. They might be going for clever dialogue. Or maybe even a funny joke.

    So why when I'm asked what makes a memorable scene, do I think of importance and interest? I think part of it comes from what I'm looking at as a writer. The last thing that I want my reader to do is be forced to slog through things that aren't important. Look, let's be honest, anyone with half a decent talent for prose can sit down and write a lovely several thousand word piece on a character's experience of cleaning a kitchen. Sliding the washrag across the counter, doing the dishes, cleaning the windows, putting things away ... this can be done pretty easily.

    But what does it mean? What reason does the reader have to read about such an event? Let's face it, we've all had our characters do tiny little things like take a drink from a glass, and those little bits of flavor add to the story, but they're like bacon bits. Tasty, but short-lived and not that good on their own. And if you make a whole chunk of a story about someone cleaning their kitchen, unless it serves a purpose, unless it's important to the story somehow, well then it's little more than a whole bowl of bacon bits. The writing is good, yes, but there isn't anything important going on.

    Clearly context has a bit to do with this. A story about action, adventure, and high-daring escapes really drags when a character spends their day in a kitchen doing nothing relevant to the story. You see this problem in a lot of places, both on FimFiction and in published books from lesser-known authors. They've put the character in a situation, and then they write about it without stopping to consider whether or not there would be any reason to do so.

    Importance. Spending five-thousand words of prose on a scene that contains nothing of importance might still lead to a well-written scene, but the reader isn't going to find it memorable. You have to consider how important it is to the story. What will it convey? What will it do for the reader? Is it moving the plot ahead (aside from just burning time)? Is it delivering the reader interesting elements and anecdotes?

    For me, usually considering the importance of the scene, combined with the characters I then turn loose in it, tends to make the scene memorable enough. Because if I combine anything of importance with characters that are going to bounce off and around it, I can usually trust on those characters to make the scene memorable in various ways. For example, Steel Song in a kitchen is going to be pretty utilitarian—and by extension, not interesting—unless he's interacting with Cappy or his niece and nephew. But even by taking those characters out of the equation, having Steel ruminate on their absence can be a way to keep the scene interesting as well (though it should also be important in some way). Likewise, writing a chapter about Ditzy Doo cleaning up her kitchen could be really boring and not at all memorable if simply approached in a very flat manner, but if the author uses it to show the meaning about Dtizy through her thoughts and actions, such as thinking about the rapid-cooking that led to unwashed dishes she did so that she and her daughter wouldn't be late to a play while doing them, or about the fun she and Dinky had making a desert that led to the mess she's cleaning up.

    Man, this is such a tricky question. Let's see, what about a scene that doesn't really seem that exciting, but is important? After all, plenty of foreshadowing in books often happens during what most of us would consider day to day activities. How do we get our readers to remember some important detail from a scene that's less than exciting or doesn't seem important (and how do you keep them from getting bored)?

    A lot of that goes back to one of my earlier posts on misdirection. Basically, you can conceal information that is important by hiding in with other interesting things. For example, Harry Potter pulled double duty with this in one book by having what would have only been a marginally important scene (a dinner party) serve as foreshadowing for the room of requirement. But to keep it from being dull (and to make it memorable for the reader), Rowling used Dumbledore as the vehicle for the foreshadowing as they group discussed unusual stories of their experiences at Hogwarts. The audience gets a plethora of funny events (which keeps them interested), topped by Dumbledore's special mention of a "magic bathroom" that serves as the capstone story to the scene. The reader laughs, remembers that last story (which becomes relevant later) and enjoys what would otherwise have been a bunch of characters sitting around talking.

    Earlier I mentioned context, and I think I should get back to that. Context means a lot for your story. An action scene can be memorable. A character breaking character for a big reason can be memorable. A well-timed joke (like Dumbledore's funny story) can cement the scene in the reader's mind. A clever finish to a scene, something unexpected.

    Each of these are things that can in one case make a scene memorable, but in another, can break it (or worse, make it memorable for all the wrong reasons). A lot of it comes down to what story you want to write, what story you want to tell, and what elements you've put into your work. A true horror story, for example, isn't likely to try and make it's scenes memorable with constant pop-culture references and fourth-wall winks. It's going to try and make scenes that are tense. Terrifying. Nightmarish. Or perhaps shocking. In Monster Hunter Alpha, one of the most memorable scenes in the entire book is one in which the main character takes an industrial-strength snowblower—the kind that can eat small trees—up against a horde of zombie werewolves. The end result is one of the bloodiest things in the entire series, to a point of near absurdity that even the characters comment on. It's memorable precisely because it's so absurd ... but also because it is a great solution for the problem, and fits right into the series blend of ridiculous over-the-top action and dark humor.

    It's not something you'd see in Harry Potter, although that does make an amusing thought ("Harry Potter, tonight you—arrgh!"). My point is, keep your context in mind when thinking about what will make your scene important and interesting.

    Another thing to keep in mind is what sort of readers you're appealing to with your story. A reader who likes nothing but straight hollywood action, for example, isn't at all going to find a slice-of-life story interesting. Putting a single chapter of it into a story for that kind of reader is pushing it. Likewise, a reader who lives for complex, spiderweb plots and stories where there are wheels within wheels is probably not going to enjoy a very straightforward, simple mystery where everything is just as it appears. And versa-vice with a switch of the situation.

    We tend to acknowledge this (at least, usually) when considering what we or others like to read, but as writers, we can't forget that the same rules apply. Context of what kind of story you're telling and for who can change quite a bit about making a scene memorable or interesting.

    One more thought—at least at this moment—concerning having a memorable scene, and even more importantly, and ending. No matter what the scene is like, the best way to make sure that your reader remembers it is to make it relevant. A reader who understands that he can drift through the story without paying close attention isn't going to bother remembering details of scene or story. If you make scenes relevant, give them weight, where what happens and what is said has recurring effects on the story as a whole, it becomes memorable, because your reader quickly learns that they need to remember why a scene is important.

    As a side note, this is one more reason I despise flashbacks 90% of the time. Because writers use them not to present new information to their reader, but to re-explain and retread information that was already discussed, taking the decision away from the reader as to whether or not to remember information and scenes (and therefore making them less memorable). Even more grievous, I'm pretty certain that this feeds back to the writer as well and lulls them into a false state where they themselves stop considering the importance of what they present. After all, for both parties, why bother remembering or picking out anything important when it'll be handed to them in a silver platter later?

    Anyway, getting back to where that side note took off, the more events of the story mean, the more weight they have, the more a reader will remember them and the more important each scene will feel in relation to the core of the story and the end. To use an earlier example from Rowling, the Dumbledore toilet story still probably wasn't memorable to some readers. However, once Harry has found the room of requirement and he as a character makes the single-line connection between the two, the reader's attention is drawn back to it and the scene is given greater importance in the dialog as a whole.

    Hmm ... come to think of it, retroactive memorability (?) is something to consider as well. Not as a core point, because if an entire scene's worth of material only become relevant and interesting later, than it was probably boring at start, and we don't want that. But you can, through later elements of the story that come back to something in an earlier scene, make that scene more memorable (especially on a reread). For instance, the first time a reader reaches the scene in "Rise" where Steel plays with his niece and nephew only to find himself completely snared by a well-placed (and well-tied) jump-rope, the scene is cute and mostly serves to illustrate what Steel is like when he let's himself relax, as well as to counterpoint the relative loneliness and lack of family the rest of his life has. But only in the finale, when Steel uses the same snare concept on Radiant's gigantic golem, does the scene take on a new level of importance, and therefore, memorability to the reader. It was a foreshadowing, not that the reader knew it at the time. But when the result pays off at the end of the book, the reader is tied back. Even if they forgot it, on another read-through the scene will take on a whole new significance.

    All right, I think I'm starting to reach the end of my thoughts in this, at least for the moment. Which means it's probably a wise idea to summarize things. So, when making a scene memorable, remember that you need to give your reader a reason to remember it. So it'd better be important to the story somehow. It should also be interesting. Funny, unique, cool ... there should be something going on that makes your reader interested in what's happening. Keep in mind context of both the characters and scene, but also of the story overall.

    So, I think that's it for this post, which regrettably is the last one you'll see for a while. But before I go, what did you think? Not just on the subject (and I welcome all comments in that vein, but about the style? Was the "stream of consciousness" approach more helpful? Less helpful? Interesting?

    As usual, thanks for reading, and I look forward to doing this again ASAP!

    Edit: Tag's fixed, guys! My bad! Running a bit late today, so I didn't proof beforehand!

    3 comments · 187 views
  • ...

This story is a sequel to Carry On

When a monk has learned all he can learn, he is sent forth on a pilgrimage. A search for knowledge, guided only by a single question, never to return home unless they find an answer. Sabra has been searching for three years, and at long last, he may have found his answer.

It may just not be the answer he expects.

Updated Saturdays

Second of the Side Stories to The Dusk Guard: Rise. Familiarity with Rise is not required per se, but recommended.

Side Stories so far:

Carry On

The Definition of Strength

Old Habits


The Saga has a TV Tropes page!

"This is 100% Approved by Twilight's Library!"

Added to Twilight's Library 1/21/2014

Featured on Canterlot's Finest

Special Thanks to Sonorus, Jorlem, Sinister Voice, Templar22, Bronze Aegis and JinShu for their help pre-reading, editing and getting a summary together.

Art by dpjohnson22

First Published
4th Jan 2014
Last Modified
25th Jan 2014
#1 · 42w, 6d ago · 1 · · Part 1 ·

Haven't read the other stories just yet, but enjoyed the first chapter of this regardless.

It gives an oriental feel to the main character, as well as a decent bit of back-story.

Also, nice title pic :twilightsmile:

#2 · 42w, 5d ago · 1 · · Part 1 ·

And I haven't read this story yet, but I'm adding it to my Kindle to read just as soon as I'm done rereading Sanderson's The Way of Kings—gotta get ready for the next book in the series this March, after all.  (...I'll probably reread it again once or twice before then, too, I'm embarrassed to admit.)

Expect a happy gold star and a green thumb in the next day or two as soon as I do read it, though.  I'm entirely too neurotic to just pass them out pell-mell and without due diligence, but at this point I'm fairly certain most any story you post will get them out of me, anyway.  

#3 · 41w, 5d ago · 1 · · Part 2 ·

Just had the chance to sit down and read the latest chapter.  This is coming along splendidly, no complaints. I am curious with how this will all play out for Sabra, normally I'd have  a prediction or two by now, but currently everything is up in the air for me no idea on how this will play out. Going just of of the two side stories, and not Rise, I like how you made each story have views from a different character, and how they all seem to fit together.

Keep up the good work! ^^

[Edit]: Also, sorry if I sound weird when you read this, it's 4:19 in the morning here, and my mind is mush XD

#4 · 41w, 5d ago · · · Part 2 ·


I had a lot of fun worldcrafting the country that Sabra hails from, and one of the reasons I looked forward to this story so much was being able to finally show a bit more of it. The Plainslands are a definite part of his character, and I enjoy every chance I get to offer a bit more of them.

Since you liked the art, don't forget to check out the page of DJohnson22, who made it for me!


Oh man, I need to reread The Way of Kings before then myself!


I'm glad that Sabra's musings are keeping you in the air on what's going to occur! Also, it's good to hear that you find his viewpoint so distinct. I worked pretty hard at giving him his own voice and making his own experiences different from Sky Bolt's and the other members, and it's good to hear that all that work and revision has paid off!

#5 · 40w, 4d ago · 1 · · Part 3 ·

Just wanted to say, this was great.

#7 · 40w, 2d ago · · · Part 3 ·


Yahoo! Thank you!



#8 · 39w, 2d ago · · · Part 1 ·

An error I found:

I promise the next model will do a big better and letting out heat and—”

Should probably be:

" I promise the next model will do a bit better at letting out heat and—”

A super-powered Sabra? Interesting...

Intriguing story so far; I look forward to more.


#9 · 39w, 2d ago · · · Finale ·


Thanks for spotting that, glad I could fix it. :twilightblush:

And I'm glad you enjoyed the story. There's a lot coming with the Dusk Guard, so keep an eye out! There are still four side stories to come before the next chapter in the series rolls out in earnest!

#10 · 33w, 13h ago · 2 · · Finale ·

I know that OC stories get less readers than others, and I know this is the second side story after a trilogy, further weeding out possible viewers. But this truly deserves a much higher rating than it has. You pulled off the deep introspection wonderfully, and I very much like that you didn't take the easy out of having him find his answer. I especially enjoyed your rendition of the princesses, and your choice of their answers. I like this one as much as Rises, and maybe even a little more.

I also REALLY like that you have the Elements of Harmony as aspects of Magic. Having them be emotions might be stretching the definition slightly, but I always did feel like if the Elements were so powerful, they shouldn't just be limited to the ponies that embody them. Kudos for working that into your lore.

#11 · 33w, 12h ago · · · Finale ·

>>4079032 :twilightblush: Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it so much, and I'm really glad all the time and effort I put into Sabra and the Princesses paid off. I've had such a journey writing the Dusk Guard from the humble start to where it is now, and I'm glad that all that work is paying off with a story that others are enjoying so much. I look forward to keeping this journey rolling (between pumping out my published stuff) and one day, we'll see the end. Where it's all heading, I won't say, but I'm glad to hear you're enjoying the ride. :pinkiesmile:

#12 · 32w, 1d ago · · · Part 1 ·

Definitely a different tone than in Bolt's story.  I like it.

I liked 'Tia's answer, and I'm guessing we'll hear Lulu's later. As good as it might be, sometimes life is a burden. It will be hard at times, but make it through and you be stronger because of it. Some would say life is a curse, where everything goes wrong time after time. For these, friends are a definite must. They can help a person get through where one might stumble and fall alone.

Helmets not currently covering the ears? Will definitely need some help with circuitry here. And a superZebra? Nice.

#13 · 32w, 1d ago · · · Part 2 ·

And here's Lulu's turn. Wow. I mean, having artception is a bit mindblowing, and all of this parallels the night sky.

Also... DERPY!!!!!!!!! *squee*

"difficult trial"     Tell me what it is, please? You can't just leave it at that.

Ahahaha. My comment on how life can be a burder definitely ties into what Luna's saying here. To be truly defeated is to give up and stop trying.

Took him a couple of tries, but he's finally getting it down. Wonder what other enchants Bolt's got in mind.

And more shipping.

#14 · 32w, 1d ago · · · Part 3 ·

LY is apparently going to be a major element for the team. Wonder if any of the others will be focused on.

The note on Nova entering the captain's room is hilarious.  

Sabra is redefining where home is. Now to shipping the two.

#15 · 32w, 1d ago · · · Finale ·

Master Sage eh? I bet Zecora's one too, except Mythical status as opposed to Legendary.

Tron lines sound cool, but might want to find a way to make it appear only on a HUD if you want to indicate usage. Otherwise it might be detrimental for stealth.

Wibbly-Wobbly... Doctor!

I actually like OC storys, long as they're written well. Allows more creative freedom with the characters without people saying "That's not how X or Y behaves". Those kind of stories also can be well written, but established characters usually have guidelines on how to write them.

#16 · 31w, 2d ago · · · Finale ·


Naw, she's a shaman, like the one that Sky and Sabra met at the diplomatic dinner. Or the one that was in on Sabra's council. Different societal area.

#17 · 26w, 3d ago · · · Finale ·


So far all three shamens have been female and all sage masters have been male is this purposeful?

A separation similar nuns and priests or just a coincidence

#18 · 26w, 3d ago · · · Finale ·


Ooh, good question! Actually, all shamans must be female, but a master sage can be male or female.  Sages are students of the monastery, while a shaman is a specific "job" that traditionally has been held only by mares. It's a position that is a bit like a matriarch. There's usually one for a village or collection of villages, more in a city, and trained by apprenticeship.

Which doesn't mean that a stallion can't have the same training. A stallion can train under a shaman as an apprentice, and will be trained in the art of potions-making, but can't ever be known as a "shaman." Instead, they're a doctor, or an herbalist, or whatever career they choose to take their skills to. But the title "shaman" is specifically held for mares who take the respected office among the zebra.

#19 · 25w, 6d ago · 2 · · Part 3 ·

This whole story of the Dusk guard is all excellent, but I think Sabra's story in particular is truly exceptional in how complexly philosophical it is, not just his search for the meaning of life, but all the ways he comes to view things like home and belonging.

#20 · 24w, 3d ago · 1 · · Part 1 ·

It's amazing seeing what the world looks like behind Sabra's eyes. It's a good reminder, too, that even someone who looks whole and collected from the outside can still be confused and trying to make sense of the world from within.

I also liked the contrast between Sabra's living conditions and Sky Bolt's, and look forward to seeing how that sort of thing influences their interactions.

#21 · 24w, 3d ago · 1 · · Part 2 ·

Luna's speech on the meaning of life was beautiful. And how you wove it into the rest of the chapter was great, particularly when you had Sky Bolt echo part of it.

Another achievement of yours: Whenever these characters smile, I'm smiling along with them.

#22 · 24w, 2d ago · 1 · · Finale ·


Wait, so you're telling me you aren't usually this deep and introspective? That's almost as hard to believe as your saying you don't actually fight magical killer robots for a living!

#23 · 24w, 11h ago · · · Finale ·

I'm glad Sabra got his chance to shine a little brighter. He's a real great character, and its great to see that in evidence here. The little touches like his homesickness and his struggle with the finer points of Equestrian/English/Basic helped show that he's more than just a "butt-whoopin' Zebra warrior."

Though he is that. :raritywink:

I liked the more philosophical tone of this story. I've realized fairly recently that an emotional conflict can be just as interesting and fun to read as a physical conflict. This story had weight and, even if it's been partially resolved, that weight's going to continue to be a big part of Sabra. It's gonna be awesome. :pinkiehappy:

Also, I've given in and finally decided to root for Sabra and Sky Bolt's relationship. They're too cute. I've held off on actually investing my emotions into them because I know that something terrible is going to happen. This slow build up is most certainly building up to something. :unsuresweetie:

#24 · 24w, 11h ago · · · Finale ·


You have no idea how much of a relief that was to hear. Writing Sabra was probably the toughest challenge I've had writing the Dusk Guard so far, and probably will stay that way.

I loved every minute of it, thought. And I'm glad you did to. He's quickly become a favorite of mine for a lot of reasons past "I'm awesome and cool about it."


It's amazing seeing what the world looks like behind Sabra's eyes. It's a good reminder, too, that even someone who looks whole and collected from the outside can still be confused and trying to make sense of the world from within.

Still waters run deep.

Luna's speech on the meaning of life was beautiful. And how you wove it into the rest of the chapter was great, particularly when you had Sky Bolt echo part of it.

Another achievement of yours: Whenever these characters smile, I'm smiling along with them.

I believe that good writing shouldn't just be good, it should inspire as well (yeah, there's totally a blog post coming on that).

And if I'm leaving smiles behind, so much the better! :pinkiehappy:


I'm glad Sabra got his chance to shine a little brighter. He's a real great character, and its great to see that in evidence here. The little touches like his homesickness and his struggle with the finer points of Equestrian/English/Basic helped show that he's more than just a "butt-whoopin' Zebra warrior."

I threw a lot of work into this piece partially because I'd given him such a short stick in "Rise." I knew how complex his character was, but readers didn't. That and I hadn't scratched the surface of his personality yet. It was actually one of the reasons I set out to write the side stories: I wanted to give them each their moments, so that everyone could reach the level of attention that Steel and Nova got (that, and I didn't want to go cold while I wrote a few more books before the sequel). Honestly, I love the entire team, but Sabra's always going to be a little unique thanks to his position, and his challenges (like that question).

Also, I've given in and finally decided to root for Sabra and Sky Bolt's relationship. They're too cute. I've held off on actually investing my emotions into them because I know that something terrible is going to happen. This slow build up is most certainly building up to something.

Hey, I root for them too! As far as what the future holds, you'll just have to keep reading. :raritywink:

#25 · 23w, 6d ago · 1 · · Finale ·


I threw a lot of work into this piece partially because I'd given him such a short stick in "Rise." I knew how complex his character was, but readers didn't. That and I hadn't scratched the surface of his personality yet.

That work shows! I'm hoping we get to see inside his head some more in the future. Maybe he'll have more plot-relevant thoughts in the next book? :scootangel:

Hey, I root for them too! As far as what the future holds, you'll just have to keep reading. :raritywink:

What I'm reading at the moment is that you took the trouble to keep my bold emphasis on "terrible" in the quote. This does not bode well for the zebra or the pegasus. :trollestia:

#26 · 23w, 1d ago · 1 · · Finale ·

hmm it sure has been interesting to see inside Sabra. your narration around tgis character has been always quite original, but his inner scape is an step forward

But I still want to see more avout him and his romance :)

#27 · 22w, 4d ago · 1 · · Finale ·

Why are we here, what's life all about?

Is God really real, or is there some doubt?

Well tonight we're going to sort it all out

For tonight it's the meaning of life

What's the point of all this hoax?

Is it the chicken and the egg time, are we just yolks?

Or perhaps we're just one of God's little jokes

Well ca c'est the meaning of life

Is life just a game where we make up the rules

While we're searching for something to say

Or are we just simply spiralling coils

Of self-replicating DNA?

In this life, what is our fate?

Is there Heaven and Hell? Do we reincarnate?

Is mankind evolving or is it too late?

Well tonight here's the meaning of life

For millions this life is a sad vale of tears

Sitting round with real nothing to say

While scientists say, "We're just simply spiralling coils

Of self-replicating DNA"

So just why, why are we here?

And just what, what, what, what do we fear?

Well ce soir, for a change, it will all be made clear

For this is the meaning of life

C'est le sens de la vie

This is the meaning of life

#28 · 19w, 3d ago · · · Finale ·


What I'm reading at the moment is that you took the trouble to keep my bold emphasis on "terrible" in the quote. This does not bode well for the zebra or the pegasus.

Keep guessing! :pinkiehappy:


But I still want to see more avout him and his romance :)

We will. :pinkiesmile:


Will he ever find it? He's gotten some dang good answers already, what could he be looking for?

#29 · 13w, 16h ago · 1 · · Finale ·

I'm not even going to second guess this: The Definition of Strength was one of the most difficult things to write that I've written in the last year. Perhaps ever

Well you did a masterful job with it all here. A great look into Sabra. I have to admit as well the philosophy student in me let out more than a couple loud squees at different points. I really enjoyed the answers you put together from the two princesses especially.  Not only were they spectacular answers and great deliveries, but each of their answers also payed very well into their characters and past experiences.

Also just like you did in Rise I really like the way you are weaving the emotional components not only into the magic, but also into the character's experience of that magic. I also think the choice of Loyalty being the driving emotion of the strength enchantment is an inspired choice. It is an emotion that can drive so many actions, and also drive one to abilities possibly far beyond what they could achieve otherwise.  

The story with Sabra's quest, the armor, and his relationship with Sky Bolt were also very neatly woven together. I also really liked the looks into Sabra's homeland and past and really look forward to more.

#30 · 11w, 1d ago · · · Finale ·

so sabra is the element of loyalty. well, at least an equivalent of it. :rainbowdetermined2: sabra is my fav pony/zebra so this was even more interesting than usual. i like how the tone of the saga completely changes based on which character's viewpoint we're looking at. i also like how sabra has minor problems expressing himself in equestrian sometimes. both the princesses' answers were very well thought out. i applaud u for that. sabra's realization about where his home was is very nice, too. giving us a look at sabra's background was really nice as well.

so therefore my rating is :yay: :rainbowkiss: :rainbowkiss: :rainbowkiss: :twilightsmile: :moustache: :moustache: 8.7/10 man, my ratings are high for this saga. oh well, it deserves it. :ajsmug:

#31 · 9w, 1d ago · 1 · · Finale ·

Man, I can't even imagine how hard it was to write from Sabra's POV.  Between the foreign culture, language barrier, adorable crush, and what would already have been a pretty turbulent mess of figuring out his place in the world even given none of those...I mean that's pretty ambitious, but damn if it didn't work.

#32 · 1d, 1h ago · · · Part 3 ·

I loved Nova's entry and also Steel's response.

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