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  • T The Best Night Ever

    Grand Galloping Gala meets Groundhog Day time-loop
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  • E Eros Dreaming

    For amusement's sake: crack pairings never before done!
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  • T World of Ponycraft

    MLP meets World of Warcraft ... the MMO. Forget Worgen. Alliance has Ponies.
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  • T Voyage to the Center of the Shipfic Folder

    A narrative retelling of a "Twilight’s Secret Shipfic Folder” game. In other words: crackshipping to an insane degree.
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  • E Rainbow Dash versus The Marewich

    A master chef at work, ladies and gentlemen
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Blog Posts9

  • 34w, 1d
    My Little Vacation

    Finally out here after a long day of flying and driving at old Lake Tahoe for a couple days of skiing and maybe a gamble or two at the casinos nearby...

    As a few know, this means no weekend updates of Platinum Crown, so just FYI

    But I should be back on track the next week, I think.

    It'd be a neat coincidence if any of you guys happened to be out here, if not on the slopes with me.

    Ya never know when you'll run into people sometimes.

    I won't be totally incommunicado, obviously, but my net time will be much more limited, as you can understand and imagine. For example, I made sure to log on today, not just to post this, but as always to make spelling or other technical corrections to chapters ASAP.

    4 comments · 394 views
  • 40w, 5d
    Fanfiction Musings: Twilight and Star Light talk about MAGIC

    Twilight Sparkle waved towards the approaching class, first spotting the bobbing pink curls of Miss Cheerilee’s mane as she led her class up the wide stone steps. The colts and fillies followed a moment later, never straying far from her or ahead of her, but always in a rather disorganized band. It was more than just Cheerilee’s normal classroom with her; little ponies a year younger and a year older had also come along on the little field trip not far outside town. Twilight knew there to be about twenty four of the children, at least if everything followed the well-planned itinerary she had laid out. She had exactly twenty-four lunches for them, plus two for Miss Cheerilee and herself, and one for Spike, and one to spare.

    The class soon started running around the construction site. It was a good thing anything dangerous had already been stored away. Mostly it seemed to be the colts who wanted to get their hooves on any unattended power tools, or to start playing with the cranes, but Twilight noticed Apple Bloom also studying the worksite with interest, especially the four monolithic pillars that surrounded where Twilight stood, waiting.

    “Class! Come on!” Cheerilee said, after a quick exchange of greetings. She spent the new minute or so rounding up the three grades. “There’ll be time to look around after Miss Sparkle’s lecture.”

    Twilight waited, smiling patiently. A flash of purple and green revealed that Spike had already found a nice spot near one of the big pillars where he sat down and leaned back to take a nap. She wouldn’t be saying anything here today that he didn’t already know, besides which he needed to save some energy for spending time with his dragon friends. While the class slowly took their spots, sitting down on the cool stone foundations according to their groups of friends, one filly felt the need to get in the first question of the day.

    “Heya, Twilight!” Apple Bloom was one of the few she knew already, hence the use of her name rather than just Miss Sparkle. Which made her feel a little old, now that she thought about it.

    “What is it, Apple Bloom?” Twilight asked, as things calmed down for her lecture.

    “Ah’m guessin’ mosta this tower’s gonna be stone, right? It makes sense they’d need some tall supports, just like when we put up a barn, but what’re those things?” She pointed with a little yellow hoof towards the towering rectangular beam that struck straight out of the ground behind the librarian. It was one of four.

    “While more mage towers look circular on the outside, usually the interior is an octagon – meaning it has eight sides – and every tower needs four iron grounding pillars to conduct stray magic back into the ground,” Twilight explained, and already a few of the fillies and colts were listening in, expecting this was the actual start of her talk rather than just a brief diversion. She pointed to the pillars, then to the ground. “Think of it as being like magical wiring. This one here is aligned towards magnetic north and the others are set at perpendicular angles to…”

    “I guess that’s getting a little too complex,” Twilight admitted, grinning to cover her embarrassment. It was hard, sometimes, to remember the age and experience of her audience. “They’re magical supports, Apple Bloom, not structural supports.”

    “Ah think ah get it,” Apple Bloom said, after a few seconds of thought. She didn’t sound too sure, though.

    “Oh!” Sweetie Belle suddenly exclaimed, stamping a hoof for emphasis. “Like static electricity! Sometimes, when my sister uses lots of magic to make dresses, my mane gets all frizzy and if I touch something it goes zap!”

    Twilight nodded. “That’s exactly what the iron pillars are there to prevent from happening, especially if a pony is way up near the top of the tower.”

    “Why iron though?” Apple Bloom asked.

    “Iron is the most… one of the most magically conductive elements known to ponykind. There are actually a few metals that are even better, like platinum or gold, but they’re obviously too scarce to build anything with.”

    “Okay, class,” Miss Cheerilee said, taking her place next to twilight in front of the little ponies. “Everypony, your attention, please. For those who don’t know her, Twilight Sparkle here is not just the town librarian. She is also an apprentice of Princess Celestia and the Element of Magic. So let’s all listen and give her the attention she deserves. After she tells us a little about unicorn magic, we’ll have a quick lunch and then get a tour of the area to see what Ponyville’s new mage tower will look like when it’s finished.”

    “Thank you, Miss Cherilee.” Twilight shifted a little, looking across the small crowd of faces.  Her horn lit up, projecting images into the air, the very first being an otherwise blank slide with the words: INTRO to UNICORN MAGIC. “To begin with…”

    The slide flipped around to reveal a picture with the silhouettes of the three pony races: an unassuming earth pony silhouette, a pegasus with her wings unfurled behind her, and a unicorn with her horn held high. To those who could recognize it, they looked rather suspiciously like Applejack, Rarity and Rainbow Dash.

    “I’d like to start with an overview of the different pony tribes and their magic. Not included is the alicorn… which is simply an amalgam of the three pony types. Now, all pony magic is fundamentally the same, whether used by an earth pony, a pegasus pony, or a unicorn. All ponies possess a natural level of magic. What differs is the means by which that magic is used by their body.”

    The slide flipped around again, and this time each of the silhouettes was enlarged and had highlights added to it. The earth pony’s hooves and skeleton were highlighted in yellow, the pegasus had her wings highlighted in blue and the unicorn had her horn highlighted in red.

    “Earth ponies conduct magic along a very robust, de-centralized pathway all throughout their bodies, with four notable clusters or nodes in the hooves. Pegasus ponies have a more centralized magic system than earth ponies, concentrating magic primarily into two nodes instead of four: their wings. Unicorns have the most centralized magic system of all, where the body concentrates magic into a single node: their horn. These physiological differences mean that each tribe of ponies not only developed different types of magic, but that they have physical adaptations to magic as well. The best example of this may be the ability of pegasus ponies to interact with clouds. Anypony is capable of replicating this effect, but it comes naturally to pegasus ponies because their bodies have adapted the spell and made it intrinsic to their being. Similarly, telekinesis is something every unicorn is capable of.”

    “Now that we're gone over the basic physiological basis for magic use, and as it is the focus of this lecture, we will go on to look at the unicorn horn itself.” Twilight flipped her illusionary slide and this time it displayed a textbook copy of the anatomy of a horn and part of the skull. “A unicorn’s horn is a uniquely well evolved instrument for the channeling of magical energy. More than ninety percent of the magic in a unicorn’s body flows into and through the horn. As you can see, the horn is not just a piece of the skull… it is actually a combination of keratin covering a core of live bone.”

    Seeing more than a few confused looks among the fillies and colts, Twilight decided to add a little bit to her lecture to explain. She should’ve known that part of this would’ve gone over their heads without more details.

    “What is keratin?” Twilight asked herself. “Think of it as the same stuff that makes up your mane or tail. Hair, basically. Except it is bundled together very, very tightly. As you can see…” The next slide showed a horn growing longer as a filly grew into a mare. “The horn continues to grow all throughout a pony’s lifetime, though most of that growth takes place as she matures and slows after about twenty to thirty years. The adult length is different for everypony and is believed to be affected by a number of genetic and environmental factors. Basically, it grows for a while, but the size doesn’t have a meaningful impact on how much magic a pony can use. A unicorn with a small horn can channel just as much magic as a unicorn with a large horn. Mostly, the difference is caused by diet and levels of calcium intake. Male unicorns have longer, more thickly built horns than mares, leading many to conclude that differences in horn size are related to competition among proto-unicorns as a result of physical combat.”

    The slide flipped again, to ask the question WHAT IS MAGIC?

    “What is magic?” Twilight asked, repeating the slide’s question. “This is actually a very difficult question to answer, and one ponies have debated about for thousands of years. The modern ‘unified field theory’ of magic that developed out of the works of Clover the Clever, and refined over the last thousand years, tells us that magic is simply the means by which we interact with the universe. In this way, simply picking something up with your hoof is magic, though a very mundane sort. Most of the magic we think of as magical is the non-corporal form of interaction. Meaning: the way we influence the world without touch.”

    The slide flipped, changing to a globe. That globe was surrounded by stars, including a large one labeled the sun, and a small one labeled the moon. Arrows pointed outwards from the stars in random directions, but not the moon or the globe that was Equestria (to most ponies at least, Equestria was both the world and the nation).

    “This is a very simplified model of where magic is believed to come from, though there is still much debate on exactly how it gets from one point to another. You may recall from history that ancient ponies, especially ancient unicorns, worshiped the sun and the stars. They were great astronomers, and in fact, the first mage towers were really observatories. This is true today as well, as every tower always has some means of observing the heavenly bodies. The study of the stars and the study of magic were long seen as the one and the same. While modern unicorns and modern Equestrians separate the religious aspects of star worship from the academic study of magic, we do know that there was a grain of truth to the old legends. As you can see, raw magic is created in stars, just like Celestia’s sun, through an unknown process. The magic is radiated out through space and into the aether, like ripples in a pool of water. It eventually ends up here, though some also bounces off the moon first.”

    Twilight’s next slide altered the first, so there were only a few arrows. One went from the sun to the world, another from the sun, to the moon, and then off the moon to the world. Others came from smaller stars to Equus.

    “The magic we all use comes from these stars, which saturate our world with their magic, just like a hot fire can make a room warm. In turn, the world fills us with magic as well.”

    “Oh!” Sweetie Belle’s hoof shot up.

    “Yes?” Twilight asked, pointing to her.

    “Does this mean you can get magic just by sitting outside in the sun?” Sweetie asked, sounding hopeful.

    “Sorry,” Twilight replied with a titter, “but no. Unless you’re a plant, it doesn’t work that way. But you do get magic by eating your vegetables and exercising right.”

    “Then how come some ponies have more magic than others?” Sweetie asked, more insightful than she knew. “You’re really magical, right? You must east eat a lot!

    Twilight’s pout was probably a little less than dignified.

    “I do not eat a lot!” Twilight protested, stomping a hoof. She did notice one stout unicorn colt in Cheerilee’s class looking very hopeful, though. “Diet is a factor, there are others, too, most of them outside a pony’s control. My family for example. Mares with high magical potential tend to have foals with high magical potential as well. But a good diet is essential to developing your full potential. Now…!”

    The next slide just said: RAW MAGIC – AETHER

    “Let’s talk about what we know about raw magic. ‘Aether’ is the most raw or pure form of magic known to ponykind, since we have been unable to isolate magic in a vacuum. A very diffuse form of it exists in the space far above even the highest clouds. When we create it here in Equestria, it is in a much purer form. I have a very special treat for everypony! I actually brought a small amount of aether for you to see for yourselves.”

    Twilight paused her presentation and reached into the bag by her hooves. She retrieved a thick glass sphere, within which a tiny black point of light swirled and churned. She held it up before giving it to Miss Cheerilee to then pass around to the class.

    “This is a tiny amount of aether, donated to the Ponyville library by the Canterlot Academy of Magical Sciences. The glass is unbreakable, but you should still be careful when it comes around to you and show it the respect it deserves. Aether is very volatile and reacts violently when exposed to impure magic, of the sort that exists almost everywhere in Equestria. Even though aether has been known to ponykind for at least two thousand years, we still know very little about it, especially as it occurs in nature.”

    “Are you sure this is safe?” Cheerilee asked, worriedly staring into the tiny black abyss that swirled in the glass. Staring into it, she could almost swear that something stared back…

    “Perfectly safe! … As long as the glass doesn’t break,” Twilight assured her. “And even the cutie mark crusaders couldn’t break the seals on that container!” The librarian laughed for a second, only to quickly sober and turn towards the class, and three fillies in particular. “Which isn’t to say you should try and prove me wrong!”

    “Aww.” “Nuts.” “Dang.”

    “Now,” Twilight continued, projecting the next slide in her presentation. “From raw aether and raw magic, we get into more nebulous territory: the magical schools and the various attempts over the centuries to classify what magic belongs to what discipline. I could go on for hours about the many attempts over history to define the schools of magic, from Brayto’s study on the Essential Base Elements to Starswirl’s controversial treatises on Recomposition and Simplification of Disciplines to White Light’s Prism Theory of Magic to Boltaire’s philosophy and the later New System of magic that had over a hundred different sub-disciplines…”

    She all but felt the collective shudder from her audience as they prepared for a particularly long and dry, ten-part seminar.

    ”But…!” Twilight mentally scrapped a few of her slides. “Let’s just keep it simple, shall we?”

    The next slide had arrows branching from the RAW MAGIC and AETHER. The first was three branches. Then a second copy had five branches instead of three, and a third had seven branches.

    “Typically, ponies observe either a base-three, base-five or base-seven magic system. Meaning that there are either three or five or seven different schools of magic. All agree that the lines between the types of magic are basically pretty blurred.”

    A hoof went up, and Twilight paused in her lecture, not having expected a question.

    “Yes, Silver Spoon?”

    “Why are there so many?” she asked. “Haven’t ponies had a… a really super long time to figure this out?” She adjusted her glasses and sniffed, disdainfully. “What’s so confusing about it?”

    “And what do you mean blurred?” Diamond Tiara also asked, without raising her hoof.

    “It may be easier to give you an example than to explain it,” Twilight replied, and pointed to two of the colts in the front row. She remembered them from the mess with Trixie. More important for the demonstration, they were both unicorns. “Um. What are your names again?”

    Seeing where she was pointing the two colts stood up.

    “Snips!” the short one said. “And I’m Snails,” the tall one drawled.

    “Would you please come up here?” Twilight asked, and once they stood in front of her, she reached down to cover their faces with her front hooves. “One, two, three!” her horn glowed, and she removed her hooves.

    On the upper lips of both colts, they sported bristly handlebar mustaches.

    “Now,” Twilight announced. “Who can tell me what is the difference between the two forms of magic I used just now?”

    The classes muttered and murmured amongst themselves and Twilight waited, sitting behind the amused Snips and Snails. It wasn’t long before one of them figured to investigate the problem with more than just her eyes.

    “Oh! Oh!” Sweetie Belle waved her hoof in the air. “Miss Twilight!”

    “Yes?”

    “Can I ask Snips and Snails to do something?” She didn’t wait for a reply. “Can you touch your mustaches?”

    Both boys looked back at her, and Twilight nodded. At the same time, they reached up to their faces. Snips’ hoof passed right through his mustache. Snails’ hoof didn’t.

    “One of ‘em is an illusion!” Scootaloo called out.

    “That’s right,” Twilight agreed. “One is an illusion spell and one is an alteration spell. The differences seem obvious, but think about it: how is it you are seeing the illusionary mustache? Your eyes and your minds are being fooled into thinking something is there when it really isn’t. Is an illusion different than alteration, or is altering your perception also alteration?”

    At this, the fillies and colts again began to mutter, not sure what sort of answer they were expected to give. It wasn’t a question with an answer, really. Not unless somepony here was actually a reincarnated Starswirl.

    Twilight held up her hoof for silence. “I’m not asking for an answer. The study of magic is, in many ways, a search for the right question to ask. Ponies have been trying to figure it out for longer than even Princess Celestia has been around. If you ask some ponies, they will tell you there are one hundred and one schools of magic. Others will say thirty seven, or eleven, or seven, or five, or three. Some will insist that there is only one, and that there are no schools of magic at all. You can both sit down now, thank you, Snips, Snails.”

    The colts quickly scurried back to where they had been sitting before, the mustaches dissolving off their faces.

    “For simplicity’s sake, I will just explain the three most common systems,” Twilight told them, and brought up the respective slides. “The conventional seven-school system classifies magic as Illusion, Alteration, Conjuration, Evocation, Transmutation, Divination or Enchantment.” She pointed up to her illusionary projection. “Here, you can see a few example spells of each school, like creating fireworks as an illusion, creating barriers with evocation, or causing a mustache to grow with alteration. Miss Cheerilee had told me that Lady Antimony, one of my distant cousins, already gave you some examples of enchantment. Transmutation involves rearranging elements or magic, either releasing energy or drawing it in. Conjuration is mostly commonly different forms of summoning magic, but it also includes things like the creation of magical mirrors and gateways. Most aether, like in the glass, is either produced in a laboratory or summoned using conjuration.”

    Next, she pointed to the slide with five-branches. “The five-school system is archaic, but some ponies still prefer it for one reason of another. I recently ran into a mare who used this system and it prompted me to re-examine it myself. In this system, there are five schools: sorcery, wizardry, alchemy, thaumaturgy and electricity. In a broad sense, it can be seen as a simplification of the seven school system, where magic is sorted not according to effect but by cause.”

    “Sorcery includes the schools of illusion and evocation, because both schools use magic of a similar… let’s call it ‘wavelength.’ Or color,” she added, seeing that most of the little ponies here wouldn’t know what a wavelength was. “Wizardry includes magic like conjuration and alteration. Alchemy is mostly transmutation, Thaumaturgy is mostly enchantment and natural internal magic, and Electricity is weather and external magic. This system is… convoluted, as it isn’t strictly sorted by what the magic does, instead it is sorted by how the magic takes shape…”

    She coughed into her hoof. “Imagine you have a big bowl of gumballs,” Twilight tried to explain in a way the little fillies and colts would understand. “The green gumballs are apple flavored, the orange ones are… well, orange… and the red ones are cherry. But not all of these candies are the same shape. Most of the green apple-flavored ones are round, but a few are triangles and a few are squares. Most of the cherry flavored ones are triangles, but a few are round and a few are squares. Most of the orange ones are squares. Most magic systems would sort them by their color and flavor. All the apple flavored ones go in the apple category, no matter what shape. The five-magic system sorts them by shape instead of flavor, so your ‘round’ category has a mix of candies, most of which are apple-flavored, but a few are also cherry and a few orange. This system is much more confusing for most ponies to understand, but it is also more versatile, as it includes magic that unicorns don’t normally cast, like earth pony magic – Thaumaturgy – and pegasus magic – Electricity.”

    Twilight paused at the end of her explanation to see if the story and her allegory made any sense. A few of the little ponies seemed sort of lost, or just plain confused, but a few also seemed to be trying to piece it together. The story about the candies helped, she thought, even if it was a last minute thing she had added in. Explaining Lady Twinkling Star Light’s preference in magical systems wasn’t easy.

    “Lastly, we have the three-magic system,” Twilight said, moving on to the last of the slides on this subject. “This divides magic into one of three types: earth, heaven or sky. ‘Earth’ includes transmutation, enchantment and earth pony magic, ‘Sky’ is weather magic, pegasus magic, and elemental magic, and ‘Heaven’ is unicorn magic… illusion, evocation, conjuration and alteration.”

    Discussing the differences between the schools one last time, she decided to open the floor to some questions. It was way ahead of time compared to her planned outline for the lecture, but it looked like a lot of ponies had questions. The first few were easy. Then she got one covering a topic she had planned to touch on later anyway.

    “Alliteration,” Twilight said, nodding sagely. “Most unicorn spells are alliterative. Why is this?”

    She created a new slide that read:

    Berkelium's Blinding Blistering Beam

    “Berkelium's Beam is a fairly common unicorn spell. You might have seen it before. It basically looks like a blast of magical energy.” Twilight turned around to point at each one of the words. “Each alliteration in the spell indicates a level of complexity. A pony has to learn them iteratively… one after another. First, she learns the Beam, which is actually the last word in this case.”

    Twilight turned around and lit up her horn, producing a conical magenta flashlight.

    “This is a Beam,” she told the class. “Very basic. Most unicorns learn something like this, if not this exact same spell, even before their first apprenticeship. It is actually just the last word in an entire phrase of power. This phrase is an invocation: a verbal phrase or set of phrases that help to focus the magic. Using an invocation is usually only necessary when you first learn a spell or when you’re first trying to understand the principles behind it. After that, a pony usually doesn’t bother, because an invocation always creates the spell at full strength.”

    “For example, the invocation for a basic Beam is simply: Light from Mind. Awareness! Form! Beam!”

    As the last word left her mouth, her horn surged with power, and the flashlight turned into a lighthouse. Burning magenta crackled as Twilight turned her horn upwards to avoid blinding anypony. The searchlight projected directly up into the sky, visible almost until it hit the clouds overhead. Twilight exhaled slowly, and the light faded again.

    “Magic in general is much easier to control when it comes entirely from your horn and not from a verbal component or chant,” she explained.

    “Light from Mind. Awareness! Form! Beam!” a filly repeated, furrowing her brow. It was a little gray unicorn; Amethyst Star’s sister, if Twilight remembered correctly. Dinky-something. “Beam!” she yelled again, and gave a groan of disappointment. “It isn’t working!”

    “The words themselves only unlock the power, they don’t give you power,” Twilight informed her, and the rest of the class, before they all started trying to repeat the phrases. “Think of it like math. You need to understand variables before the equation makes sense. Um… you… probably aren’t up to that kind of math yet, though…”

    Twilight scratched her head, trying to think up a better way to explain it. “Oh! Think of it like a story! You need to know who the characters are for a scene with them to make sense! You need to understand ‘Light from Mind’ and ‘Awareness’ and ‘Form’ and only after you do can you use the ‘Beam.’ See? Now, back to Alliteration,” she continued. “Each alliteration has a set of power words that it represents. Berkelium is next, after beam, even though it comes out first when you use it. So Beam becomes ‘Berkelium's Beam.’”

    “Is Berk-burr-berkkleum a pony’s name?” Sweetie Belle asked, calling out with her hoof in the air.

    Twilight nodded and smiled at the question. “Berkelium was a pony from the migration period, and she invented this variant of the Beam spell and many others. Unlike most of the ancient ponies who invented or improved on spells, we actually know a great deal about her! She was a white mare with a golden mane who moved to Equestria with her family from the Old Kingdom when she was a little filly, just like you!”

    “Cutie mark,” Apple Bloom demanded. “What was her cutie mark and how did she get it?”

    Twilight fidgeted at the question and coughed into her hoof. “I don’t know if I… uhm… that is to say… Applejack isn’t going to like me telling you this, but, well, she sort of got her cutie mark by…” The studious unicorn shuffled uneasily on her hooves. “She blasted some things. With beams. Until they left her village alone.” Twilight laughed, suddenly. “Yes! That’s all! She definitely didn’t destroy anything!”

    Too late. Apple Bloom, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle were already huddled together writing something down on a piece of paper. Twilight made a mental note to stay away from Sweetie Apple Acres for a few days.

    “Yes, umm,” she tried to resume where she had left off. “After Berkelium's Beam, the next level is Berkelium's Blinding Beam, and then finally Berkelium's Blinding Blistering Beam. Though there are other variants, like the Bouncing Beam and the Bounding Beam and the Binding Beam and the Blaster Beam. Each alliteration becomes progressively harder to cast and control. The highest most ponies can go is four alliterations of any given spell.”

    “Why only four?” a unicorn colt in the back asked.

    “Nopony really knows,” Twilight answered. “In the past, very high level unicorns and… others… could use five-alliteration spells. These were often called ‘megaspells’ because their effects could be wide ranging or destructive. It is believed, for example, that the spell the Princesses use to move the sun and moon is a five-alliteration spell, though nopony knows for sure.” She hesitated a moment, before saying just a little more on that subject. “According to some ponies, the limit is four-alliterations because after the fourth alliteration, the use of normal invocations breaks down,” Twilight said, and stopped herself then and there. “The limit is four alliterations. That’s just how it is for the time being.”

    “But that isn’t all there is to spell theory,” she went on, and draw up a new magical slide. “In addition to alliterations, there are also subsidiary castings. Here’s an example.”

    Berkelium's Beam: Blue

    “This is a very simple adjustment to the normal beam, changing the color. Much like the even simpler Beam: Blue!” Twilight’s horn lit up, producing another flashlight-like cone, but this time the light was bright neon blue. “A subsidiary casting is much easier than adding a new alliteration. You aren’t dramatically changing the spell, but you are adding a layer of complexity to it. And, yes, subsidiary castings can also alliterate.”

    Berkelium's Beam: Rainbow Rain

    Twilight tilted her horn up and away from the fillies and colts, and powered up the spell, though keeping it on low. The cone of light she created was intense, more intense than the flashlight Beam, but more importantly it also coruscated with every color of the rainbow. The dazzling lightshow even attracted a few curious pegasus onlookers. One weatherpony in particular took offense.

    “Ohhh! So it’s a Rainbow-Off you want, huh?” Dash yelled from on high, still wearing her weatherpony outfit. She pumped her hoof in challenge. “You think you can take me?!”

    Twilight angled her horn, blasting the flyer with all the colors of the rainbow.

    “Bw-ahagffh!” Dash sputtered, knocked off her cloud. “Hey!”

    “Oops,” Twilight called out, clearly not meaning it, a smile on her face.

    “Watch where you point that crazy thing!” Dash yelled back, also smiling. Then she blasted downwards, leaving a rainbow colored trail behind her as she circled the beam, and then the unicorn who produced it. A second later and she blasted off and back to work. Twilight chuckled and ended her spell, the cone of light turning to sparkles.

    “Theoretically,” she told the class. “A pony can cast a four-alliteration spell with a four-alliteration subsidiary. I should say that that is the real limit. And that’s basic spell structure in a nutshell!”

    “Miss Twilight,” Diamond Tiara imperiously spoke up, not feeling the need to raise her hoof before speaking. “Can only unicorns cast these spells? What about earth ponies? You said that all magic is basically the same thing, right? Just that earth ponies don’t have horns?”

    Twilight licked her lips, thinking about how to respond.

    The image came to her, unbidden, of a dark earth pony mare with a scarred face, inequine eyes smoldering like dying pits of fire, deep and monstrous as Tartarus itself. Eyes that burned with the same magic as a unicorn’s horn, wreathed in poison. No longer belonging to a pony any more than they belonged to the gorgon they had first been stolen from. There were ways, Twilight knew. Not that she had any intention of ever telling anypony here about that.

    “An earth pony or pegasus pony can use unicorn magic by mastering the verbal components of a spell,” she explained, “and substituting their wings or hooves for a horn. But… doing so… is very difficult. I don’t think I can describe how difficult, since I can’t really imagine it myself. But no… pony in modern Equestria has more than a passing skill in it. It was most common in the pre-migration and pre-classical period, when unicorns were captured by other tribes and forced to teach them spellcraft. When the tribes learned to live together in peace and cooperate rather than fight… the need for it died out.”

    “Alright, class,” Miss Cheerilee began to say, “why don’t we--”

    “Twilight!” Apple Bloom called out. “Can a pony other than the Princess really learn to move the sun?”

    Cheerilee paused, glancing over her way. It seemed she wanted the question answered, too. Twilight nodded. “Theoretically, yes.”

    “Do they have to be an alicorn?” another filly asked.

    Twilight shook her head, not entirely liking this line of questioning. “No. That has nothing to do with it…”

    “So what’s the point’ah bein’ an alicorn, then?” Apple Bloom asked.

    “From what I understand, being an alicorn is no different than being any other type of pony. You are what you make of yourself,” she said, putting her hoof down on the subject. “I know today’s lecture dealt almost entirely with unicorn magic, but unicorn magic is still pony magic. Don’t forget that it was an earth pony, the mythical Promaretheus, who stole the secrets of magic from the gods to save ponykind. Magic is a gift and a blessing for ALL ponykind.”

    “What about the magic of friendship?” The question actually came from Spike, who still lounged by one of the iron pillars. “What kind of magic is that?” he asked. “Funny, I never even thought about it until now.”

    “I… I, uh…” Twilight stammered and bit her lip as she same to realize she didn’t really have an answer for her assistant, or the rest of the class for that matter. “I – I don’t… I’m not sure…” Now chewing her lower lip in embarrassment, she had to admit, “I don’t really know.”

    “Okay, class,” Cheerilee jumped in again, this time to rescue the poor librarian. “Why don’t we have lunch? You can ask Twilight Sparkle any more questions you have and relax for a while and then we’ll continue our tour of the area. And remember, if you’re interested in magic, don’t forget to sign up for an apprenticeship. Once the mage tower has been built, Lady Rarity has generously agreed to pay for the first twenty scholarships, but you won’t be eligible unless you enter your name.”

    The ending could’ve gone better, but Twilight’s heart swelled to see many of the unicorn colts and fillies in Ponyville, despite being a rather stark minority, looking with interest at the prospect of an apprenticeship. Soon, thanks to Rarity, young unicorns in Ponyville wouldn’t have to move out of the town just to further their education. Friendship was Magic, she had learned that by coming here, but Learning was a Magic all its own, too. And who knew? Maybe the next Starswirl would grow up in Ponyville.

    Or the next Arsenic.

    Only time would tell. Still… Spike’s question continued to plague her, even as everypony focused on their packed lunches. Where did the Magic of Friendship fit in? It did look like a rainbow, but it wasn’t normal pegasus rainbow magic, or normal unicorn magic OR earth pony magic. Why did all the Elements of Harmony need to be active for it to function? Either it worked at full power or not at all. Who or what had first defined the Elements themselves? There was still so much they didn’t know, that they didn’t understand.

    Which was frustrating, but not necessarily a bad thing: it meant there was always something more and something new to learn.

    - - -

    “Adjusting magical transmission!”

    An upside down alabaster-white unicorn mare appears amid the static, half her face hidden behind a pair of blocky gold clockwork goggles. Despite being upside down, her red and pink mane seems undisturbed, and flows upwards in defiance of gravity. She reaches up, flicks one from red to blue, and crosses her forelegs, nodding to herself.

    “Yes. Yes. Excellent. Transmission stable. Switching to third-pony present for real time interaction. Adjust the gain fuchsia!” The screen flickers for a second, before the picture turns clear. “Excellent. Greetings, otherworldly guests! I, Twinkling Star Light, have taken it upon myself to appear to answer those inquiries of yours that Twilight Sparkle herself would not be able to! She is a brilliant mare, but certain secrets have been kept from her, once that may be shared with you.”

    “First, I received a transmission asking about the torcs! The Star Keys!” Star Light rubs her hooves together and chuckles. “Such fascinating artifices! I simply had to re-assemble them to continue certain avenues of my research! So, the question was asked: ‘I'm curious about the torcs and their connection to the constellations. There are only three torcs existing at this time (if I remember correctly), but theoretically is there a torc for every horoscope sign?’”

    “Who says there are only three?” Star Light asked, laughing and flicking her head to the side to cause another lens to drop down in front of her face with a click. “My son managed to make off with three functional keys, but he only has those three because nopony save myself knows how to reconstruct them. As least I think I’m the only one… oh, but there are others. Here and there. More there than here. But as you may know, they are a means of communion with the entities that inhabit the Empyrean Vault.”

    “Some of the connections are obvious to all: Chalice has been bound to Sagittarius, Miss Heartstrings to the Lyre, Miss Twinkleshine to the Triangle, I believe. It makes sense that you would think that each constellation has its own torc, but already there are not enough torcs to go around! If we assume that my son only has the three torcs, one of which was broken until Twilight Sparkle fixed it, that leaves two torcs for clearly more than two ponies and more than two constellations! How to reconcile this? The answer is this: individual star keys are not restricted to the one who uses them, or the entity they have been used to contact. After all, if I use a key to break into your home and steal something… a blood sample perhaps, because I really would like a human blood sample - I don’t need the key anymore, do I?” Twinkling Star Light chuckles darkly, adjusting her goggles with her hoof. “Though, it may be better to think of it as a skeleton key, rather than a house key. I also would not advise stealing blood or hair or anomalous matter samples from sleeping demi-gods. This one time, Cruccie got so upset with the constant pan-dimensional interruptions during our personal time that he…”

    “We’re losing the signal!” Pinkie’s voice announces, as Star Light’s audio fades in and out. She continues anyway, gesturing wildly with her hooves.

    “…so after the ‘sample’ escaped and tried to make a run for it, I had to…”

    “Let’s just not hear that, shall we?”

    Star Light glared madly at the screen as her audio returned. “…Thank the Princess that the bones were still intact! But the entire thirteenth floor was covered in…”

    “Er, gross.” Pinkie’s voice cut in as the static returned.

    “…and that was our third honeymoon in a nutshell,” Star Light finished, nodding to herself. “As a bonus, we also got the number for one of our alternate selves. Since Canterlot is being invaded in a few days, I’ve thought about hiring some enterprising individuals to steal – errr – purloin? No, that means steal, too. ‘Borrow indefinitely’ one of the mirrors in the castle. For safe-keeping. That’s it. We don't want it falling into changeling hooves, now do we? Anypony interested?”

    “Yeah… I don’t think that’s wise,” Pinkie warns, shaking the camera a bit. “Oh! What about this question: ‘Does all that insanity out there have some connection with unicorn magic? Is normal unicorn magic filtered down from Out There by Equestria, into something more like what we see, or some such? And what does all that alien strangeness mean in relation to the Sisters?

    “Twilight Sparkle already answered some of this, but I will endeavor to clarify,” Twinkling Star Light says, contemplatively tapping her chin. “Aether, as you may have heard about from various sources, is very volatile and dangerous. In the broader universal sense, it is the medium that stores and transmits magical energy from the stars to Equestria. So, yes, it is connected to unicorn magic and all forms of magic. If there was no aether, there would be no magic, but where there is aether, life as we know it is impossible. But Twilight Sparkle already said as much before.”

    She exhales softly.

    “All magic is, as you speculated, a filtered down form of what naturally bombards our planet. It collects in certain things more than others: plants and gems being the big two. Certain trees continue to soak magical… radiation… for their entire lifetimes. This magic can also grant near-immortality to these plants, meaning that they can accumulate magic for thousands or even millions of years. I believe Yggdrasil to be the best example of this. When I was younger, I visited the tree with my husbu - I needed somepony to distract the dragons and other guardians - and acquired a cutting from it and attempted to clone the tree. My efforts succeeded, in time, as a plant is still just a plant… though it did require draining the small amounts of magic from several hundred volunteers over the course of a year.”

    “Uh, that sounds kind of ominous…”

    “Pish-posh! There was no lasting harm. I contributed my magic as well to the experiment,” Star Light continues, otherwise ignoring the interruption from her unpaid intern and helper. “The sapling only grew to about three times the height of a pony, but it did give me enough to theorize that the current Yggdrasil is at least four million years old. Among other things, I also discovered that while the primary tree is consecutively monoecious, the sapling was not, which explains why there are not whole forests of giant world trees covering the planet from pole to pole. It also gave me enough evidence to prove that sufficient levels of raw magic cause progressive physiological mutations… which may be obvious to those of you who are genre savvy, but nonetheless, I enjoyed having proof to support my theory.”

    “What’s with this tangent, you may be asking?” Star Light clops her hooves and conjures up a tiny black sphere, or at least the image of one. “Aether and raw magic in general is much more destructive… corrupting, is probably the word you are thinking of, though the term is also a value judgment I try to avoid in the interests of an unbiased experiment… than the filtered magics most forms of life use, including unicorn magic. Which brings us to the Princesses.”

    The black light vanishes, and Star Light holds up her hooves, conjuring up a picture of Luna in one hoof and Celestia in the other.

    “These two have been exposed to aether-magic for more than a thousand years due to their connection to the Sun and Moon… mostly the sun, as the moon itself has been proven not to generate magic as true stars do. Who knows what affects it has had on them? Is this the mechanism behind Princess Celestia’s size relative to her sister and normal ponies? Regrettably, the Princess continues to refuse my polite requests to take a few harmless samples of her, and the last time she caught me impersonating her physician, I ended up in a rather dark place for a few days. I don’t think it was the Moon, but…”

    “It was probably the moon,” Pinkie noted.

    “Nonsense! She can’t send things to the moon without the elements of harmony.” Star Light dismisses the possibility with a wave of her hoof. “I will conclude by saying that it is best to be wary of undue or unrestricted exposure to… those entities who exist outside our world. My daughters have learned this first-hoof, and ironically, they know more than I do the details of what transpires after the torc enables contact with an extra-Equestrian being. Our local sun… may be different, however. The constellations one gains power from all have different personalities, if you can call it that, and treat those bound to them differently. It is entirely possible that Celestia and Luna have found the one stellar object in the universe entirely amenable to being tethered to a mortal being.”

    The Celestia and Luna images in Star Light’s hooves glow softly. “Call this the ‘gift’ scenario.”

    “It is also possible that they exist in uneasy tug-of-war and the moment something disrupts that, they will be dragged into a fiery oblivion beyond mortal comprehension.” The Celestia and Luna in her hooves suddenly erupted in flame and disintegrated. “Call this the ‘burden’ scenario. I leave it to you to speculate as to which is most likely.”

    “Well, that’s depressing.”

    “It is?”

    “Of course it is!”

    “Then I should lighten the mood with a joke,” Lady Star Light decides, clapping her hooves together and extinguishing the fires. “After a long day of work, Helium floats into a bar. The bartender objects. ‘We don’t serve noble gasses in here, lady!’ Helium doesn’t react.”

    “…”

    “PFFFFFFHAHAHAHA!!” The noble Duchess breaks out into a peal of laughter.

    “Ha ha ha?” Pinkie laughs. Truly. What a funny joke… ??

    “Here’s another!” Star Light insists, despite muttered insistence from Pinkie that she really doesn’t have to. “I went to the bar with my lab assistant the other day. The bartender asks what I’d like, and I say, ‘I’ll have H2O.’ My assistant says, ‘I’ll have H2O too.’ And he DIES!! PFFFHAHAHAHA!!”

    “Chemistry humor hurts my brain. Please stop.”

    “That’s what you said about all those Far Side comics I keep around the lab. You’ll learn to love them.”

    “Yeah… probably I won’t. So, do you have any PG-13 adventures you can describe instead?” Pinkie asks.

    “Oh.” Star Light mulls over that for a second. “Truth be told, ‘adventure’ is just another word to describe when things go wrong. Contrary to what you might think, I try and take every safety precaution when doing any research off-Equestria. I even kept on-world for almost the entirety of my first pregnancy. It was horrible! Ughh!”

    Star Light shakes her head violently.

    “An irony is that I may have traveled more off-world than around our own world,” Star Light muses. “My last ‘adventure,’ if you had to call it that, brought me to the lab of a scientist in the griffin lands. I had been asked to consult, you see, and I was so lost it was embarrassing! I didn’t know anything about the local cuisine or customs! Oh, but Doctor Terrorwing had just the loveliest view from his mountain fortress. You could see all the way out to this frozen mountain lake where he was testing his freeze ray, and the ice crystals sparkled when they caught the morning light. In between work, he even taught me to skii. Such a gentle-griffin. I felt like a young mare again! Don’t tell my husband, but I think he had a little crush on me!”

    She pauses, leans forward, and pauses again.

    “Oh, you can’t see my eyes, can you? I’m winking. That was a wink. Wait. Here’s a wink. Did you see it? No. Just take my word for it. Hmm? What’s that? Why did I help him build a freeze ray? Surely you understand that there are many peaceful civilian applications for a weapons grade freeze ray!!”

    “Not really,” Pinkie notes while holding the camera.

    Star Light’s snout crunches up and she sticks out her tongue. “Anyway, it was a wonderful time once I got used to all the griffins. But, wouldn’t you know it: I’m just minding my own business throwing failed experiments into the lava pool outside my private quarters when suddenly there’s this tremendous explosion! All the nice griffins start to run and fly around like chickens with their heads cut off. It turns out some young troublemaker had been captured and, against all odds, managed to escape. He soon got his hooves on a prototype pony-and-griffin portable freeze ray and started going wild.”

    Twinkling Star Light shook her head in dismay.

    “Well, I was up on the second to the last floor, so I figured it would all die down after a while. After a quick snack, I was on my way down when I bumped into this pony. Why, I could barely believe what I was seeing. Not only had he stolen the prototype freeze ray, but the ice-armor and the crystal-adhesive boots that allow you to walk on the ice, too. He even had the blue passkey, which meant he must’ve beaten up poor Colonel Coldheart. Just a few days before her birthday, too!”

    “I saw him and told him, ‘I hope you aren’t using that freeze ray to bypass any traps without filling out the proper laboratory testing forms. And you really must be careful when using the boots to scale walls you’ve frozen over to get around obstacles; you could break your neck. I then felt compelled to show him how to slide using the boots and armor.’ Next thing I know, he says he’s going to rescue me, and I end up being dragged behind him, opening panels and doors and the like.”

    “Umm… it sounds like he had the adventure and you were an NPC…”

    “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Star Light shrugged. “An hour or so later and poor Doctor Terrorwing ended up ironically freezing himself and shattering into a million pieces. I barely had time to steal… er… ‘borrow indefinitely’ his research before skiing down the side of the mountain as it collapsed. Such a shame. Cruccie would’ve loved the ice bar.”

    A pink hoof points towards her. “That was a video game! You were in a video game!”

    “I don’t know what you mean,” Star Light protested. “For me, it was a Tuesday.”

    End Transmission

    ----

    Haha, wow, this ended up pretty damn long! 8000 words? lol. This is longer than a lot of actual fanfics. Oh well. One night of binge writing can do that.

    Consider it a TPC one-shot.

    Sorry I couldn't fit in Twilight and Sand Dune bickering over who gets to teach Sweetie magic. Because clearly Blueblood gets to!

    Blueblood: (sipping his drink)

    Sweetie: "This is gonna be fun!"

    Blueblood: (still drinking)

    Rarity: "Give me that!" (takes away his liquor)

    Blueblood: "My drink... why did you leave me? Was it something I said? Okay, fine, magic time. Lesson the first: distracting your sister." (projects an illusion of a half dozen stallions with various flowers, chocolates and gifts)

    Rarity: "Ohhhh dear..." (fans herself)

    Sweetie: "Yes, yes, I see..."

    Blueblood: "And then, while she's distracted..." (carefully retrieves his drink) "And that's how it's done."

    Sweetie: "And this can be applied to get candy and cookies?"

    Blueblood (conjured illusionary Big Mac) "Eyup."

    Sweetie: (evil laughter; so much evil laughter)

    1 hour later edit:

    If you guys want, feel free to ask any other magicy or random questions to either Twilight (who will give you straight answers) or Star Light (who ramble on) about whatever comes to mind. Twilight won't be able to give you potential spoilers, but Star Light may hint at a few inbetween her randomness.

    43 comments · 1,530 views
  • 41w, 18h
    Fanfiction Musings: TPC and The Alpha Mare

    Hey there, to those following me!

    I’ve been quite some time without updates, so I thought rather than just suddenly drop chapters out of the blue (I’m still waiting for a certain commission to finish), I thought I’d try my hand as making a few blog posts that aren’t just dry status updates. I was mulling over that, and over parts of Platinum Crown, when I remembered a commenter’s suggestion that I should shade some of my worldbuilding musings and other “fluff” (as I usually call it) on a blog. Well, I have one here I rarely use, on a site dedicated to fanfiction, so I figure maybe I’ll give it a try.

    My thoughts for the moment are on “Alpha Mares.”

    In Platinum Crown, I noticed, I write a disproportionate number of characters as alpha mares, mostly because it creates further conflict (a story where everyone is reasonable and fair isn’t usually a fun story, haha). It got me thinking about the whole “alpha mare” phenomenon in the fic, and just what it is that makes them this way.

    What do I mean?

    Rarity would have to be the first one I mention, because she is also the one who outright describes what specifically draws out what I oversimplify as the alpha mare state. And that is her love life. Very early in TPC, she talks to her friends about why she can’t find common ground with Antimony, and it boils down to her not wanting to share the this one most-important object of her affection: the Prince we see she had dreamed about since she was a little filly without even a cutie mark. She states that this is her one unfailing bit of selfishness, the thing she can’t bear to be made to share. Her generosity up to a point.

    In part, it isn’t meant to be taken literally – I think that is also clear in the scene. Rarity isn’t compelled to share everything she has, but generosity and compromise and understanding is in her nature. If this were more widely known, I don’t think we could fault Antimony for thinking Rarity could be talked into backing down and being First Mistress instead of a Duchess or a Princess. Rarity isn’t the sort to hoard things out of spite or love of power. For Rarity, her romantic dream, and in TPC her notion of just what her “dream” is, is a matter of internal debate that changes as she learns more and grows.

    I don’t really like using terms like “Beta” and “Alpha” to describe people (the whole Alpha Male myth) but it works here as a recognizable and simplistic term. Her views on romance elevate Rarity from a beta to an alpha, because she won’t compromise her view of what is right in a situation simply because it is impractical or because it causes conflict.

    Contrast this, with all the other so called alpha mares in TPC, and there are a lot!

    Antimony is the very first we run into in the story. She wants to fulfill a political marriage; fully expecting it to be loveless and miserable, because of her unflinching dedication to her family and to what she believes is the “right” way for her to act in society. Antimony is probably the quintessential alpha mare in TPC: she is amiable and pleasant almost all the time, except when she runs into an obstacle, which she crushes without pity or remorse. She can even try to be diplomatic about it, like with Rarity, but she is always unflinching in preferring confrontation to compromise. Even when Luna – a Princess she idolizes as a ‘perfect being’ – suggests a way out of the fight between her and Rarity, Antimony still rejects it, because the she-as-she-sees-herself cannot survive deviating from her path. Even in the face of death, this would be true.

    Soon after the end of the duel between Antimony and Rarity, Yumi and Ritterkreuz are introduced. Both are, again, confrontational alpha mares, but they begin to deviate from Antimony’s (and Rarity’s) formula. Yumi, we learn, is driven by a sense of proving herself by aiming as high as she can – to become the first earth pony Duchess of Canterlot and Princess of Unicorns – she is naturally skilled, tutored and told she is the greatest earth pony mare alive, and thus assured of her destiny. But unlike Antimony, she is willing to make compromises, deals and schemes to get to where she feels she needs to be. She is ironically less ruthless, but more prone to espouse the ends justifying the means. The common thread is always that line she can never cross, and that she will fight before being pushed over: her naive ambition, ultimately betrayed and used against her.

    Ritterkreuz is a stark contrast. She has no ambitions or grand designs. She doesn’t even think most things through, unless they involve fighting or flying. She hardly even thinks of herself as a pony at all, bitterly embracing the role of outcast to her own detriment and self-destruction. This is no mare wishing to be Duchess and Princess, like Antimony or Yumi. Her initial interests are just in screwing over the other mares who have such designs, and once she confronts Blueblood and finds out that he isn’t being coerced or manipulated and that he doesn’t need her to protect him, she quickly gets distracted by her greater objective: an endless fight against a parade of opponents that she imagines may not end until Celestia herself incinerates her. Yet she is also as much an alpha mare as any of the ponies she scorns, unwilling to bend or change who she is to better fit into society.

    What is the commonality that drives so much of the fighting in Platinum Crown among these mares?

    The heart of it, I think, is that they are all outliers in society.

    Much later in TPC, we meet Lady Sand Dune of Bitaly. She is a potential rival, again, of both Antimony and (we expect) of Rarity. She is cunning, powerful and ambitious, but we soon see she is rather willing to compromise and make deals that still benefit her, even if they aren’t exactly what she wants. Together with Fleur (in Chapter Zero) Sand Dune may be the first example of what a normal upper-level noblemare is really like in TPC. They can be vicious and cutthroat, saving lives and threatening to end them in the same sentence, but they are not willing to draw resolute lines in the sand.

    Sand Dune would not say: “I love him; I won’t share him with you, not for politics, not for any gain or at any risk. It is irrational, but that is exactly why it is also so important to me.” She would not say: “My life is the pursuit of a goal, an adherence to what I believe to be truth. Kill me before you take away my reason for living.” She wouldn’t say: “I can do what nopony else like me has ever done, therefore, it is my destiny to do this thing no matter the cost.”

    Neither would Fleur say these things (though she would fight mightily to avoid doing anything that isn’t ‘graceful’), nor the majority of mares. Some may be “alphas” in political standing (as with Sand Dune) but less so in mentality. I won’t go into much when it comes to the clearly subservient social climbers and nobles, many of which we see in FIM’s canon episodes, and who are in TPC. Like Upper Crust (from Sweet and Elite) and Patent Pending (Tiara’s mother).

    .

    This matter is more than just idle thought, though, because it is the inevitable clash between “alphas” that creates so much of the conflict in Platinum Crown. Rarity deals with Fleur rather easily in Chapter Zero (earning a new friend in the process) and much later also deals with Sand Dune without a fight. We see shades of this also, even in the past, when Celestia has to deal with Arsenic, and even when it comes to Chrysalis and her mother the previous Queen (who she disdains for her lack of ambition).

    An interesting final thought is with respect to Twilight Sparkle in TPC. Blueblood himself believes she is more alpha mare than beta, despite her conciliatory and generally unobtrusive nature. Twilight is an interesting contrast compared to, say, Sand Dune, a ‘soft-alpha.’ She might be called a ‘hard-beta’ and we see some of this when she is finally pushed up to the lines in the sand she doesn’t take pains to point out or make clear. When her family is threatened, when she confronts Cruciger and Star Light, we see hints of the Princess we think she might become, and it isn’t a pony to be trifled with.

    .

    As I write this, alpha mares are on my mind in TPC, because the finale is a literal storm of them. Chrysalis leading her invasion, and in the process, planning to cement her new vision of the changelings as dominant predators rather than societal parasites; Cadance enduring the un-endurable abuse and indignities of captivity as part of a larger plan; Twilight still reluctant to wield power but unable to remain on the sidelines; Rarity finding herself leading a group of mares who would otherwise be at each-other’s throats by force of personality and the few glowing embers of trust and friendship, Antimony working with Twilight while working against Brass, despite Twilight working with Brass; and Euporie and Eunomie on top of it all, with their own plans to destroy the changelings and apparently Canterlot too.

    Sometimes I do look back at it all, and think about the reviewers who lament the dark tone of the story. I’ve never seen it (or planned for it) to be dark. But it is meant to be very confrontational, because unlike most of Equestria’s population, the movers and shakers in TPC are the outliers. They are the mares who not only won’t compromise on ‘this one thing’ – they are the tiny minority who will stick to their guns, no matter the social or personal costs, and often end up dragging their friends (or armies or retainers) along with them for the ride. And unlike in a perfect world, they find themselves at odds with one another, again and again and again.

    As an aside...

    If you guys find these posts interesting, I might make the next one about TPC's crazy magic system. Oh, hey, I could even have it as like a mini-story where Twilight explains it. That might be fun! Or, if people don't like me using the blog for just random thoughts (less blogging, man, and more updating!!) feel free to tell me that, too!

    35 comments · 526 views
  • 62w, 5d
    Side Stories for Ponycraft

    A while back I mentioned that I had grown too disenchanted with WoW and Bliz to write a sequel to World of Ponycraft.

    It occurs to me that I should have mentioned that there are more stories in the WoP version of Equestria/Azeroth, and one that could really use a bit more love and attention. I'm hoping that by drawing a few eyes to it that I can spread the love a bit.

    The story is "A day at the quest hub"

    http://www.fimfiction.net/story/77999/a-day-at-the-quest-hub

    I really do think that those who enjoyed World of Ponycraft will enjoy Quest Hub as well. The author retains a lot of the all important humor and in-jokes that were very much the heart of what I tried to do with WoP. Give it a try!

    (also, for those checking out the blog for non-WoP news... updates are coming for TPC's final arc within the hour)

    3 comments · 381 views
  • 65w, 4d
    Bronycon - Attending it

    So, you guys have had to endure a few of my random rants in stuff you probably don't find that interesting, and that's not really what this blog is for. It is for announcements and such.

    Let me make an announcement then, which I probably should have a month or so ago.

    I'll be 99% likely (unless an emergency comes up) to be attending the Bronycon at Baltimore coming up. I've booked my hotel room and my car's ready and ofc I got the tickets. Why bring this up?

    This is also likely the only 'con I'll be going to (I figure) and I'll hopefully get to meet a lot of my author friends as well there. But I'd also be happy and honored to meet any of my readers who may also be attending! Drop a line if you are, and maybe we'll meet up there at one of the panels or the like!

    15 comments · 341 views
  • ...
 2,734
 21,322
Source

This story is a sequel to The Best Night Ever

Final Arc - The Black Wedding

CH55 - Not to the Strongest

- Celestia and Blueblood meet up with Cadance and prepare to make another move against Chrysalis; Rarity receives insight into the past from Luna. Meanwhile, Pinkie leads Fluttershy and Vinyl Scratch to an unexpected confrontation and Twilight Sparkle finally learns just what Alpha Brass has planned for Equestria.

---

It began with a mare from Ponyville and a time-looping Prince from Canterlot. This most unlikely union now stands at a crossroads: a ruthless changeling invasion; a conspiracy within the highest circles of the Equestrian aristocracy; a half dozen power hungry noblemares looking to become a Princess in all but name. With the prize of Canterlot and its Platinum Crown at stake, it falls to six Elements of Harmony to once again save not just Ponyville, but all of Equestria.

--

--

TVtropes page is here: link

The prequel to TPC, "The Best Night Ever" is here. link

The side-story crossover with "Sweetie Belle Chronicles" is here. link

I've gotten some cool TPC related art done, too.

So Sweet and Tasty's TPC Cover Art

link

Thanks to Madmax for these two:

Rarity, Blueblood and Antimony

link

Dash and Ritterkreuz

link

The Terre Rare Founder - Lady Arsenic

link

Twilight and Alpha Brass Battle Duet

link

First Published
31st Mar 2012
Last Modified
10th Jun 2014

first comment ! love your work, been reading this on ff.net

Sweet, now I can read this here instead of on FFnet. :eeyup:

And the circle is complete. I'd argue that Pinkie deserves a tag as well for this story; she's played a pretty big role as well, bigger than the other Mane Six save for the rightfully-tagged Twilight.

Now! Time to reread each chapter and comment on each like I swore I would if it was posted here!

I must be honest. I hate nobles. I hate princes, princesses, kings, queens, dukes, duchesses, I hate them all.:flutterrage:

Most of them are egocentric, stupid, moronic fools more concerned with themselves and their lineage rather than any form of duty.:twilightangry2:

I can name very few nobles who give a crap about ponyville, and it's a short list.

Good to see the fic cycled up and online! I'm still new to FIMfiction, obviously, but with the responses of a few helpful people here I've solved the formatting (indentation) issue and everything should be running smoothly. Heh. It's very nice to be here. This community is to active, it's amazing to me, since I'm used to FFN.

>>388751

Pinkie does deserve a tag, I suppose. Alright. Sadly, with so much focus on Rarity and her duel with Antimony, there hasn't been time to focus much on the other mane six. You could say: what we need is for all six of them to get into duels of their own, eh?

>>388816

Aristos do seem to have a pretty bad wrap, don't they? But then, I've noticed similar levels of hate for elected officials, too. Quite a few in both cases deserve the vitriol.

People aren't going to abandon FFN entirely, are they? I guess it makes a useful backup archive for fics if nothing else. I've been in FFN for so long, it is kind of hard to expand to other, newer sites. It tends to require vigorous prodding.

>>388849

There's no shame in focusing on what truly matters to the story. The conflict between Rarity and Antimony should be front and centre, and indeed, that is the reason Pinkie deserved her tag; she is the road to Antimony's salvation, if there is salvation to be had... and a chance for it, given the inevitable calling of à outrance in the duel.

Originally read this on Fanfiction.net, it's an excellent sequel to the "Best Night Ever" fic.  The changes to Blueblood's personality really effect how he acts and Rarity is learning just complicated being nobility can be.  The situations of both Pinkie and Twilight are also interesting, Pinkie torn between old and new friends, Twilight between her friends and her family.  The duel is also awesome, showing how magic can make innocuous things like cupcakes dangerous as well as demonstrating how talented and clever Rarity is.

so I  stayed up all night reading this on fanfiction.net. you are an INCREDIBLE author. also very erudite and knowledgeable, its always refreshing to  read something where its clear the author has "done his research" so to say. I love " worldbuilding" fics like this where we  get to know an entire society and how it functions. keep it up.  More please!

I-de-a ! Terre Rare .. Rarity .. ? :rainbowderp::pinkiegasp::pinkiecrazy::pinkiehappy::raritywink::derpyderp1:

Why has R.a.r.i.t.y been renamed Sparkler?

Did I miss something?

Oooo... I get it now. Happy April fools day, everybody

or

Happy April foals day, everypony!

Um... You're calling Rarity 'Sparkler'...

Edit: What the-? Even though I typed R a r i t y, it keeps coming out as Sparkler. What the heck?!

Edit 2: Whoops, it's April Foal's Day. XD This is freaky.

Protip for April Foals' Day: If you enter an empty tag in the middle of a word, the parser can't see it as what it is trying to match. For example, Rarity.

Well I'll probably follow this on both FiMfic and FF.net

Not quite sure which one I'll review on though. Probably both. Just because. I'll try not to just copy + paste my review on both pages or something like that.

See you around, then.

oh...em...gee...Antimony has the mangekyou sharingan

Hell yeah Rarity, you kicked some ass!

And now poor Rares has to defend herself against every unattached Terre Rare unicorn mare in the kingdom. Oh well, at least she started with the scariest one.

SPOILERS AHEAD: YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!!:pinkiehappy:

WOOT! She WON! But now she'll have to deal with the rest of the Terre Rare family. At least she'll have the Prince with her. :raritywink:

just finished reading it. Was 'life is study' a Gekiranger refrance?

I felt like I was going to have a heart attack, the tension was so palpable. It's not even slightly clear to me what phase of the story we are at now - whether this duel was the climax or one scene of an ongoing epic. Of course, my favorite thing was Rarity's remembrance of seeing colt Blueblood. Fabulous.

Also, "From this point on, you will be the pony everypony wants to lay low." :trollestia: Best cornball line of the year.

Twilight's comments about Canterlot's secrets are interesting in light of the episode "It's about time.". When talking to Rarity in this story, Twilight acts like she isn't one of the ponies entrusted with those secrets.  But in the episode, Twilight casually knows the whereabouts of Tartarus and instantly recognized its guardian.  More impressively, when she goes to the locked archives where dangerous time magics are stored, the guards instantly open the way.  I see three possibilities for what that might mean for your story:

1. Twilight has access to a few secrets because of being Celestia's apprentice, but not the really juicy stuff guarded by the old unicorn families.

2. Celestia would deny Twilight nothing, and any secret she wishes to know is theoretically open to her, but in typical oblivious Twi fashion she doesn't notice that all doors are open for Celestia's student.  Celestia would in fact teach Twilight anything Twi asked, but hasn't volunteered some stuff Twi doesn't ask about.

3. Twilight Sparkle was just being modest and not mentioning all the forbidden lore she knows.

I kind of favor number 2, because I find it hilarious how Celestia always treats Twilight like her heir and Twi is too adorably dense to notice.

BTW, it occurs to me that Rarity could short-circuit all these duel challenges by marrying Bmueblood right away.  Present them with a fait accompli that they can't undo.

"There is nothing for you here, Rarity.  No sun to brighten your day, no moon to guide you through the night.  There are no friends to lean on, to make up for your many weaknesses.  No loving family for undeserved support.  It is just you, and I.  And you will never defeat me.  I have felled far greater mares than you, seamstress, mares with powers you can't even begin to understand.  Accept your new life, Rarity.  I have won, and you have lost.  I am the sole victor of this contest.  There is no hope for you here, adrift and alone in my domain."

"I am never alone!"

/cue cheesy anime music.

Also, Antimony's comments about empty cups struck me as very profound.  Did you come up with that yourself?

Hehe, if this was an anime Rarity would have handled Antimony something like this. Still plenty epic as written. :raritywink:

One ending is just another beginning, right?

Now that Blueblood is with her and she has more than a sparse week to prepare for what is ahead I think Rarity will become quite competent indeed. Since she is a Lady she won't really have to bother with her business anymore either, which would free up quite a bit of time.

As for Blueblood himself...well he seems pretty important for a glorified master of lines on a map as your last fic had painted him. One interesting thing I noticed is that Blueblood is Celestia and Luna's nephew as well as a direct the apparent descendent of Princess Platinum. But then, couldn't Antimony be considered the niece of the princesses as well? Antimony's family branched off too recently in generational standards for the Bluebloods to marry into the Princess's line...or perhaps they did so after the split in a manner similar to Shining Armor and Cadence?

Noble lineage promotes headaches.

And here I thought this would be the end, not merely the end of the beginning.

It's nice that this battle did not have to end à outrance; I thought it had to, what with Chekov's gun hanging there almost the entire story, but since this was not the end, it wasn't necessary. I do fear terribly when that gun does go off, though; I just can't fathom what forcing Rarity to kill or be killed would do to her.

I'm also glad that I was right in that Pinkie is Antimony's salvation, a friend who will not take "no, I will not be your friend" for an answer. Cranky Doodle Donkey has nothing on the challenge that Antimony will present the pink party pony, but I think Pinkie is up to the challenge! :pinkiehappy:

I look forward to the tribulations ahead; strangely, though it might seem that the worse challenge is over, as Antimony had defeated all other challengers and was theoretically the strongest, it remains that Rarity's magic of friendship, and Antimony's complete inability to understand it, was what won the day here. If the other mares vying for the Platinum Crown actually have some friends, Rarity's in trouble. :raritydespair:

>>399951

I think it's number 2 as well, but less because of Twilight being Celestia's heir apparent and more because, in this world, continuing from the final Gala loop, we have seen just the faintest hint of Twilestia... :trollestia::heart::twilightblush:

A NEW CHALLENGER !

Itachi's Tsukuyomi and it's 72 hours have got nothing on Antimony's 2 weeks :twilightsheepish:

very nice wrap-up, looking forward to the next chapter

>>400152 cheesy anime music?

Perhaps you mean this?

Teleport Spam Twilight Sparkle is best pony.

Now that I have finished reading the last 6 chapters my mind is blown. So much of this, particularly the duel, kept me at the edge of my seat. So intense. I feel a little exhausted after reading this. Looking back, I am quite pleased with the time I spent reading this and look forward to more.:raritywink:

>>399828

Well, there's still the torc and Blueblood's secret society thing to deal with, at least.

Brilliant. truly brilliant. Favoutied, and tracking.:twilightsmile:

Just one thing, though.

Ponies. Are not. Things!:flutterrage:

And this is my one, and only reason that I get incredibly angry when I read this.

The reason I hate nobles? The reason I hate these nobles?

They have forgotten their duty.

I admit, I had a few misgivings about this story. Now that I've had a chance to read through the current chapter, I'm extremely happy to see my misgivings were, well, misplaced.

I'll be interested to see where the story goes from here. To be honest, minus that last scene, the most recent chapter felt like an ending.

Krizak sent me over, as I was informed this was one of the best Rarity vs. snooty noblepony rumbles ever ... and Krizak was so, so right. This entire chapter is a tour de force, adrenaline-soaked and with the perfect pace and tension. In particular, I loved the scene where the gathered ponies start yelling Rarity's name--that was lovely.

I'm so glad to see this story here. It's easily one of the best stories I've ever read over the Internet, and it's great to be able to track it on the same site as most of the other stories I'm following right now. Keep up the incredible work!

I like this story a lot.  The conclusion of the duel works in a way which I was not expecting, the world building makes sense and the character interactions are both interesting and in character.  However, I still had trouble finishing it and I think it was because the Equestria you describe is the least pleasant of the nonDystopian versions I have read.  Compare to Order from Chaos in which Equestria is described as a communist monarchy, or Night's Favoured Child, where Empress Nightmare Moon rules, the Prime Minister is not a noble and entry to the Imperial Schools can only be won through merit.  I can't even see nobles getting away with this sort of thing in the history sections of Silent Ponyville 3.

When I first started watching My Little Pony Friendship is Magic I thought that Equestria had roughly mid 19th century technology.  With season 2 showing coal powered trains, a hydroelectric dam and a black and white film reel I revised this to early 20th, and assumed that their social models would roughly match those of the United Kingdom.  This story shows that I should have been using.. I'm not sure... Germany?  The Holy Roman Empire?  as a model instead.

An excellent extension on to the prior.  Much approval- it's quite an adventure, and the pastry dueling is very innovative.

Kudos on this story.  :twilightsmile:

>>420671

It is actually funny you note this. I also pegged Equestria as 19th century; I really should have known better. In the last episode, after all, Pinkie and Twilight mentioned "lasers" so - yeah, it's a crazy cartoon, and the tech is "whatever it wants to be." It's admittedly thrown me for a bit of a loop the last few episodes, though it is amusing how many scenes (like Pinkie's loony toons bit) end up in an episode 2 weeks later. But, but but... Equestria in this fic draws from a few sources (UK, Ancien Régime France, Austria-Hungary), though it is obviously much more stable and peaceful than those countries. It is very much supposed to be anachronistic to us, the modern franchised First World reader.

"Least pleasant but not-dystopian" is fine as a description I suppose. For most ponies (various characters have different views on it) their government structures are non-transparent and only democratic on a local level (town councils and mayors) but also functional in the sense that things been that way for generations and no pony has much desire to change them. Ironically, with no warfare and no capacity for crushing taxation, and a benevolent (if trolly) monarchy that never dies, the common and merchant classes could be seen as having a less worrisome life than the aristocrats, who are both growing increasingly marginalized and impoverished (like Fleur's family) or who are set into personal competition with one another. A succession dispute, like Lady Arsenic's, could have resulted in open warfare on Earth. In Equestria, it is largely handled behind the scenes and bloodlessly, though the repercussions are the root of this story. Anyway, it is whatever the narrative wants it to be.

>>415113

I wrote this as a potential stopping point in the story, to decide later whether to continue or not. If it feels like a potential ending, that's good. It was exactly what I was aiming for. Though it would be a shame to stop here. There's so much left in the outlined story: the mane six and Antimony's former enemies gunning for them, the torc and the Terre Rare plot and Celestia's master plan... etc.

>>398730

Life is Study isn't much of a reference to anything, really, though I did think of "Golden Boy" when I wrote it. Now that could be an interesting story. A studious unicorn making her way across Equestria... studystudystudystudy... (her mentor would have to be molestia for Twilight to really take Kentaro's part in stride)

>>399951

(2) is pretty much on the nose. In Chapter Zero, there's a direct allusion to Twilight being given access to restricted spellworks and forbidden knowledge. If she wants it. She really is kind of oblivious, and hell, probably would be so worked up over learning new stuff she'd gloss over how potentially dangerous it is.

>>400229

I hope it wasn't too cheesy. I'd always planned for the duel to end as it did, but I'll admit I was anxious after I wrote it as to whether the Friendship Ex Machina would work out.

>>401259

Pinkie says it in her smile song. She just wants to make friends and make others smile. Things worked put basically just as the pink one wanted. :pinkiesmile: All part of her master plan to doubt. Her plan being "unpredictability is a plan, right?"

>>407258

The ones we're seeing are also just a small sample of a larger population that mostly keeps itself working behind scenes and spectacle. They're all bureaucrats really. The big, glaring opening presented by Family Blueblood's vulnerability has just attracted more than a few nutters, Antimony and her clan included, though that was business long brewing.

Ah, I'm sure to run out of room in this comment box soon. Better end it here. Thanks again, everyone, for reading and commenting! Sorry I couldn't fit a response for everyone in here. I do very much need to contemplate which projects to devote my energy to as time goes on.

>>401259 I agree sort of about the Chekhov's Gun nature of the a outrance, but rather I felt like it made for a rather masterful red herring instead without ever needing to go off at all. Because one would think it's going to devolve into that, it just made the tension of the fight all that much more intense. I loved it :D

Nice to see you're continuing this!  It's interesting to see you weaving in an alternate version of season 2 plots, like the dragon migration.  Everyone seems pretty in-character.

DUN Dun DUUUUUUN

You misspelled Spitfire as Spitefire, and dessert as desert.

I hate how that's the first thing I notice.

Rarity certainly has her hooves full, now that she has a place in the Stable of Lords.  I'm very interested to know how she'll finance her Barony.  Maybe expel a few Diamond Dogs from the gem encrusted hills and start up a mining operation?  I'm sure it is within her right as their liege lady.  I can't think of any other unique natural resources Ponyville has available to it, unless you count apples.

I very much enjoyed the scene with the Italian Stallion, Germoglio Bianco!  Gaudy armour is not something Lady Rarity appreciates.  Gaudy dresses, on the other hoof...

I do hope to see Rarity take advantage of her practical skills and relatively pedestrian bearing when dealing with other nobles.  It makes her look unprepared and weak, and I think she knows by now that having your foes underestimate you is a powerful tool.

The legalese at the start was a nice touch.

WARNING! A NEW CHALLENGER APPROACHES!

Everytime I see a new ponified place name that is actually clever, I have a little thrill in my heart, and I'm glad to say that Reinice gave me that thrill. (I'm also curious just which languages Twilight Sparkle knows, and how many.)

This was nice, a nice lull in the action to focus on more intellectual troubles and trials, leading into another alternate-universe episode, and finally... the new threat. Time for Rainbow Dash to break out her headband; Rarity needs some pegasus fighting practice, stat.

>>476758

Ah, excellent. Thanks for catching that! I don't know how these things slip under the rug like this. :rainbowhuh: Obvious little mistakes that get overlooked. So vexing!

Rarity never particularly wanted to be in a position of rulership like she is, but with a rather excellent :twilightsmile: and her other friends she's well on her way to developing her own way of doing things. Ponyville's financial situation (and by extension, Rarity's) is a serious problem, though, as we saw from the town relying on Applejack's rodeo prize money. She may well have to get creative with it to keep Ponyville out of debt. I do like your idea with the DDs, though. This being a Rarity-centric story (despite all the mane cast being in the fire in this half of the story) and myself being a DD fan (just like WoP) I did plan to have a little something there, in time.

Also glad you liked Germoglio! There's gonna be a lot of foreign ponies in this story soon from every corner of Equestria.

>>476918

Ah, how many languages does that magical bookworm know? It's entirely my fanon, but I'd guess quite a few since this version of Equestria has about a dozen languages in it across as many Duchies. Then again, even in the show, there's Fancy French!

A new challenger approaches? Oh yes. About a half dozen do, actually! Hahaha!

>>476705

Funny enough, the dragon migration stuff was not in my initial outline. I revised to add it in when I saw the episode. That's the thing about writing a fanfic with a season in progress; you need to keep on your toes!

"Pinkie, I'm pretty sure Ponyville already parties well above the national average" - Yeah, that seems pretty likely.

How many languages does Twi know? Probably all of them, heh.

I think the season two finale is going to provide a lot of good material since your fic deals so much with pony nobility.

My current theory; being an alicorn is a highly recessive pony trait with great potential power, so any pony born an alicorn automatically gets the title "Princess".  Best to keep them onside, you know?

Like Briefvoice, I think you'll be able to mine the season finale for all its worth. An Italian-sounding alicorn "princess" (somepony named MiAmore Cadenza certainly would fit right in in your world), who foalsat for Twilight Sparkle's family (they must be pretty important nobleponies to have a princess babysitter)? Royal weddings being big to-dos? These things could have been ripped from your pages already, and instead you'll get to reverse engineer them.

I honestly don't know all that much about feudal society or medieval times, but I like your feudal Equestria a lot, complex thought it may be. It seems rather unfair that the pegasi would ask the town to give them more water for their cloud homes, unless they have to pay some sort of levy in lieu of property tax. Otherwise, they receive all sorts of benefits without contributing to the local tax base, due to their DIY houses which require no real estate ownership. Bunch of freeloaders! Given that there are probably a lot of citizens who would take advantage of a leader who was more generous than savvy, I expect Rarity's oversight of Ponyville to go, well, not smoothly.

I was surprised at the Italian mercenaries showing up, and I look forward to learning what their homeland is like. Apparently, this story is going places I never expected when I first began reading, and there will be many more obstacles between Rarity and that platinum crown.

So now I suppose we have a challenger for Rainbow Dash? Might be interesting, even if RD isn't the one who has to take her down.

With the Migration sub-plot added, we finally know the time-frame this altered timeline is set within. I certainly hope you manage to work in the season finale, as I was honestly impressed by those two episodes. Even if you don't, all the super-mares that come to challenge Rarity will be fun to watch.

In Antimony, we saw what a powerful unicorn could do. With Ritter, we will see what a pegasus can do. Will you include an Earth Pony next?

What is the fate of that ancient set of armor you had talked about earlier? Will that villain at the bottom of a river come about? So many questions, and every chapter only seems to add more. Love it.

OMAIGAWSH~! MOAR FASTER! MOAR MOAR MOAR :rainbowwild:

I started this story about a week ago after noting it over at Flight of the Alicorn, and have just now got caught up. And it seems at a great point too now that we are effectively starting the next chapter in this grand old tale. I have found this story to be immensely enjoyable for a number of reasons (and I gave you your 80th thumbs up as a well deserved result). The world building has been absolutely top notch, and you have clearly put a great deal of thought into the feudal nature of Equestria and the world in general. This has had some of the most entertaining politics I have read, and comes across as quite believable in its own right.

Antimony was a superb antagonist in my opinion. Extremely well thought out, and with very convincing motivations for her actions. It was very entertaining to try and see why she did the things she did, and to what purpose. I could just about see the gears in her head move, and see how she operated.

The buildup and tension for the duel was excellent, and I was at the edge of my seat throughout to see how it went. I really had little to no idea how Rarity was going to pull it off and every twist and turn on the battle played with my emotions. Bravo!

I’m curious if you did active research for this story or not? It would seem you are well versed in medieval politics, society, and culture. I’m have to wonder what you have read to prepare yourself for writing this fanfic. I could use some good summer reading, and I think it would do me some good to learn a bit more about the influences for this story.

--------

As for this chapter, seems Rarity is hitting the cold hard reality of being a noble, and she is learning it has a lot more to it outside of her trashy romance novels. Time will tell if she is equipped to deal with the responsibilities now on her shoulders. Just the issue of trying to come up with a good gifting for Ponyville could really get her into trouble. Given she wants to make everyone happy with very limited resources. Life seems to like to either give Rarity nothing but choosing between bad choices, or having to choose between a number of good options.

I am curious about what Rarity’s powers, resources, and responsibilities exactly are as Baroness of Ponyville? At least in the past I believe it was implied that the Mayor, as the duly elected representative of the town, and beholden directly to the Princess’s, was the one who largely in charge of running the town and local area (no doubt along with some other local officials supporting her). So has Rarity been placed above Mayor Mare as the overall official of Ponyville, and the Mayor is now beholden to Rarity and is now in a awkward position between having to do what Rarity wants and what the pony’s of Ponyville elect her to do?

What resources does Rarity now have available? Rarity is no longer legally allowed to earn an income as a dressmaker (unless she wants to throw away everything she fought Antimony so hard for), and she personally has no lands or source of income we have seen yet that would normally come with inheriting a noble title considering she got her title solely as a result of “services rendered to the crowns.” It seems from the start she is doomed to go the route of the indebted and impoverished noble right out the gate based purely on her own resources (not counting her sugar daddy in Blueblood at this point). At least from what we have seen considering the fact she needed Blueblood’s money to pay for the mercenaries to protect Ponyville. It is possible she now controls at least some of the taxes of Ponyville, though that has not been explicitly stated as of yet.

If you plan on covering these topics in story then feel free to say so. It just seems that you have put a lot of thought and energy into this world, and I just love to learn more about it. Especially when it pertains to the story. Either way I look forward to your next chapter.

Also it seems we are going to run the gauntlet of my two favorite types of villains. A villain with perfectly understandable and relateable villain with the likes of Antimony, and a complete monster in our new opponent, Ritter. It looks like we might get some awesome Rainbow Dash action in the coming chapters. I certainly hope at least some of the other Mane Six get some action in. Especially as things get even more serious. I have a feeling Antimony was the nicest and most reasonable of Blueblood’s would be suitors (wrap your head around that everypony).

Big update this weekend (and Friday!) Time also to answer some of my awesome reviewers!

>>479591

Funny you mention the whole Princess thing, because I've wavered back and forth on just where the title "Princess" is applied in TPC (and TBNE). Cadence kind of threw this for a loop, so out of story, I dropped a few references to "foreign Princesses" in case I needed to explain it away. As it is, I'll have to add her to the rather broad family tree of Celestia and Luna. The Terre Rares, remember, are just one slipping from the Blueblood line, which has married into dozens of families across Equestria over the last 1000+ years. I'd say Cadence (from a Cavallo/Italian family) indeed won the genetic lottery and has been upgraded from distant-relation to niece. Remember, even Blueblood is really just as distantly related to Celestia as Antimony! But... then Antimony reflected on her belief that there were forbidden spells to "make one into an alicorn" as well...

>>481971

Always a pleasure, ponydora. The pegasi do indeed pay a vertical property tax, but their special needs re: the water supply are a special consideration. Still, I imagine pegasi do pay to permanently occupy airspace over a town, especially premium airspace. RD also has a big-ass house of her own, with all those rainbow waterfalls. Her water bill must be huge! But I also wanted her concerns for her fellow Ponyville pegasi and their community to be valid. Rarity is definitely going to face a bit of a problem, as a generous politician can easily put herself (and her town) deep in the red. The annoying thing is having to compromise what can be done with what needs to be done, and how to afford it. Rarity will have to get creative!

>>485059

I hope (and plan) to include the new season two finale, and to use as much of season two's stuff as possible on the way!

Lady Yumi (introduced in chapter 11) will be the only earth pony mare in the battle for the crown, and yes, she will showcase the fact that earth ponies can rumble in the top tiers. For that matter, expect all the mane six to get into things, too. Rarity had to physically face Antimony alone. How the Gang of Six can strut their stuff.

As for the other questions... wait and see. I keep referencing certain things for a reason.

>>541409

Thank for the review, and I'm glad you're enjoying the story here on FIMfiction!

I'm especially glad to hear people enjoyed Antimony's character, since OCs can be a handful. She's gone for now, but Rarity still has her dress for the Art Festival. I'm sure she'll be back for it. As for the background, most of the research I do is for specific terms and terminology. I go by high medieval and renaissance stuff I've picked up over the years. I can't quite remember if any specific part came from any one source.

The second half of your comment raises some very interesting questions which I'm happy to try and answer! Most all of this is, or will be, revealed in the story, but usually only in passing. I don't consider any of this a spoiler.

Since accepting the Barony of Ponyville, you can say that Rarity has a power that supersedes that of the elected Mayor (and her staff). This is largely because it is much easier to replace a Mayor at any given election than to petition for the removal of a Baron/Earl. Doubly so since Rarity is in close with both her Duke, Blueblood (who wouldn't remove her on a whim) and the Princess Herself (the absolute head of state). In practice, though, Rarity's powers are actually subordinate to that of the elected government: she can not pass laws or sign them into law (the town council and Mayor do this), and while she can lawfully swear in judges, she has no other input in their decision-making. The town really runs smoothly without her interference!

Her primary responsibilities are security of the town and the roads and the enforcement of laws, along with the protection and advocacy of trade outside Ponyville. If the Apple Family tries to sell apples in another town, Rarity-as-Baroness is supposed to make sure they aren't cheated at the border or at the market. This part of the job actually plays to her strengths: her charisma, personality, refinement, etc. The problem is the "security" issue, which Yumi takes advantage of in chapter 11. Rarity thinks of herself rightly as much happier negotiating a deal around a table and a cup of tea than raising and paying guards to discourage brigands or other criminals.

Lastly, her money: she does have a source of income aside from Blueblood. She has the right to tax ponies and property in her realm (Ponyville and the surrounding farms), along with the right to raise a tax on sales and transactions. Unfortunately for her, Ponyville is not nearly as huge and rich as Antimony's dominion in Prance (Mareseilles). The money situation for her is a real problem! Especially with all the good she wants to do for the town, she could well end up ruining herself in the process!

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