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Dear Loyal Watchers, Interested Visitors, and Confused Passersby,
Most of you know of my obsessive need to thank folks for Faving my stories, or for Watching me, or to reply to comments and the like... but now I have a real problem. To whit to whim: Do I thank people for placing my stories in their bookshelves?!
I had forty-three replies when I logged in tonight, and all but three of them were from people adding my stuff to their newfangled bookshelves! The problem is that I know that some of them are people who already Faved my stories, but others I don't know about and even though I really like the creative titles people are giving their bookshelves it gets hard for me to decide who is a new person who is using the bookshelves as a Faving system and who are people who are my old readers who are just trying to keep things neat and who is kinda in the middle and that makes it hard for me to thank people for investing in my works which is something that I really like to do and now I'm all confused and it's late and I feel like I haven't accomplished anything in the fandom today and I'm confused, scared, and a little gassy and I really, really, really, really, really, just want a little direction from you all because you know your opinion is important to me and I feel valdiated by it and I crave human interaction and a pony and for your input because you all know i love ou but not like that and I just need to go to slep and everything is turnning blue and oh gawd I can't breathe now what arg
11w, 3hVery Much Appreciated37 comments · 582 views
13w, 15hSecurity Blanket84 comments · 850 views
Dear Loyal Watchers, Interested Visitors, and Confused Passersby:
Midnight Rambler has posted a blog in which he makes a metaphor of my body of work. It is, in fact, the first time that I can recall that anyone in this fandom has done a retrospective on my whole body of work and attempted to make a larger statement about it. He certainly has my thanks for taking the time to put his feelings on my portfolio into such a concise—even enjoyable—allegory.
Everything being equal, which nothing truly is, he draws a conclusion which was apt, well developed, and not entirely complimentary.
I'm very interested in seeing what you all feel about his observations. If you have some free time, please click the link above and peruse Ramb's blog. I'd especially like to know if his conclusion has any bearing on the lack of success of my last few works.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be huddled under my blanket.
28w, 4d"Ticks" Me Off101 comments · 959 views
Dear Loyal Watchers, Interested Visitors, and Confused Passersby:
It's not quite four in the morning here on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, but I've been up for about three hours and don't see myself getting back to sleep any time soon. The reason for that is because of a series of night terrors that forced me screaming from my bed as I kept dreaming about tiny, horrific creatures crawling the length of my body–making their way across, and under, my skin. This undoubtedly stems from some childhood trauma.
That, undoubtedly, requires some explanation. Whereas you are much cheaper than a professional psychologist, you have all been designated to hear me out. Sorry about that (but not really).
I usually check-in with my fan sites once a day, but I was absent over the last two because I spent the first night flailing like a ninny and screaming as I ran around in tight circles in my bathroom. The reason for that was because I had begun to mow my lawn for the first time this year on Thursday night. The first mowing is always a laborious process because it involves me stopping every five feet to pick up sticks, garbage, rocks, and wayward Christmas decorations that have spread themselves across my yard during the winter months.
My house is too big for my needs. I have an acre of land, and between work and my social responsibilities I don't take care of it nearly as well as I should. It's too much for one single guy to take care of. My fence is collapsing and if I was my neighbor I would have sued me long ago. It's not getting any easier as what was once a country road gentrifies and huge houses spring up around me, leaving me feeling as inadequate as a homeowner as my last girlfriend made me feel as a lover.
Wow, this blog is going all over the place. Did I mention it is four in the morning?
Anywho, the reason I mention my yard is because during this first mowing —which I accomplish with a push mower because I can't afford a riding one—I somehow managed to get a passenger. Yes, at some point I must have brushed up against long grasses, the ample leaf litter in my yard, or a tree branch. At that moment an arachnid decided that I was "dinner."
I got a deer tick.
Cue me getting ready for bed only to go running around my bathroom screaming like a ninny upon the discovery of said tick. It had burrowed its way into my leg, and I wasn't exactly thrilled to say the least. Now, what I was supposed to do was take a breath, get out the tweezers that were less than a foot away in the medicine cabinet, and carefully remove him from my body by grasping him at his head.
What I did was scream like a ninny (as previously reported) and scrape the tick out with my fingers while cursing him in all of the languages of man, God, and science fiction.
I've never been good with ticks. In fact, I'm horrified of them. This stems from having a good friend of mine get bitten by one when I was in the Boy Scouts. This was back when Lyme Disease wasn't well-known yet and was just starting to become a media sensation. He developed the "bullseye rash," and within three months had developed a facial palsy. His family actually moved away to be near a hospital in Boston that specialized in such things. Sad to say, I never saw him again. That was pretty traumatizing.
My fear of ticks has been pretty much a part of my life ever since. The first time I ever got bit by one was when I was in Gettysburg. It was during one of my vacation weeks where I spent the week in the village between two living history demonstrations for the park service. The discovery of a wood tick (a massive bastard compared to deer ticks) sent me running from my hotel clear across the village to the hospital. There I was prescribed antibiotics. Being as I am an idiot I didn't read the directions. I drove down to Manassas, Virginia the next day to visit Bull Run Battlefield. I spent the day walking in the sun... which was exactly what I was'nt supposed to do.
On my way back to Gettysburg I found giant red welts starting to appear on my body, each of which felt as hot and broiling as Satan's spit. I nearly set a land-speed record in my Subaru as I raced through Gettysburg Battlefield. Unfortunately, a park policeman took exception, leading to what must be the greatest excuse ever given to a officer who had pulled someone over for speeding: "I'm sorry officer, but I'm on drugs and I think I'm on fire."
All of this could have been avoided, as in my research afterwards I discovered that most doctors consider the antibiotics given after a tick bite to be "essentially useless."
So, here I am, three years later, and my fear of ticks still plays a part in my life. Last summer I was in Gettysburg again for the 150th anniversary of the battle when I stupidly decided to walk across the fields near the Bushman Farm where the I represent unit fought in an effort to get down there to speak to the people who had gathered. The end result was getting covered with a dozen of the tiny bastards and my speech to the crowd going something like "AAAgggHHHhhhHHH! Get them off me! Get them off me! Aggaaahhh! God, please! Agggahh!"
Noted fandom author and my personal friend Zaptiftun can verify that it plays a pertinent, and annoying, part of my outdoor life. The personalized tour of Gettysburg that I gave him pretty much went along these lines: "This is where General Reynolds was shot at about 10:15a.m. Check yourself for ticks. This is The Railway Cut where Confederates were caught in a horrible crossfire. Check yourself for ticks. This is Little Round Top where the 20th Maine fought. Check yourself for ticks. This is The Avenue Restaurant with good, cheap food. Check yourself for ticks."
So far in my life, ticks had been something foreign, encountered only when I was out Civil War Re-enacting, hiking in the mountains, or exploring historic sites. Thursday, that changed. Now my own oversized yard has been invaded. My fence line harbors horrors. My maple trees are hiding assassins. I think that this, more than anything, is what lead to the nightmares that woke me this morning. I went to my local clinic Friday when I got out of work, and they essentially repeated that I could get $300 worth of drugs, but it would largely be useless. All I can really do is wait and see if I get sick and go from there.
That's where the nightmares came from, the feeling of helpless waiting. The arachnids that crawled across, and under, my skin in my nightmare are a response to my own sense of unease and unknowing. Like the dream I had earlier this year after I put my cat down... the one where giant purple berries were erupting from my skin, body-horror imagery tells me that my mind is working through things over which I have no control.
And, more frequently, I feel like I have less and less control. Especially over ticks.
So, it's nearly four in the morning now. I'm sure that this blog is full of horrific grammar, but I hope you'll excuse that. All I have left to do now is wait and see if I get sick, if I get the "bullseye rash", or if I have pain in my joints, especially the neck. The waiting is the hardest part. I hate it.
Anywho, it is Saturday, my volunteering day. I have to be awake again in four hours so I can get to my volunteer position. As you are all watching the season finale I'll be leading my church kids in cleaning the yards of shut-ins. Yup, going back out into the tall grasses and weeds...
... I bet you can imagine how much I'm looking forward to that.
56 comments · 938 views
Dear Loyal Watchers, Interested Visitors, and Confused Passersby:
So, Bookplayer is obviously a very clever individual. Rather than dive into a long, exasperating blog post where the readers are subjected to one author’s interpretation of their “personal fanons,” Bookplayer has done something very smart. Namely, the blog in question asked people to talk about the one thing that everyone loves doing–talking about themselves.
Clever, very clever.
Bookplayer asked the following fifty questions of the fandom at large and us authors in particular. The questions themselves circulate and swirl about some of the most pressing questions that we’ve had to ask ourselves about the show, and many take quite a bit of thought.
Being as we are fans of–and are writing for–an evolving canon, we can see all of our thoughts go up in smoke in an instant. As the poets said: “All we are is dust in the wind.”
Yes, I consider the lyrics of Kansas songs to be poetry. Sue me.
So, then, here we are a fandom in the third-and-a-half year of our age, still pondering these inconsequentialities.
And what is your dear T.D. if not inconsequential?
With fandom luminaries like Bradel Bound, stalwart pillars of our fandom like RBDash47, and old friends like Lurks-no-More all taking swings at the questions, I figured “Hey, why not?” Here then are my answers to Bookplayer’s inquiry. Everything in the following should be proceeded by the metaphorical preface of “In My Humble Opinion.” It happens frequently that people say that the glimpses they get of the head canon in my stories either add to the work or make it so confusing as to draw them out of it. My personal fanon is very detailed, but like anything so specialized it is not rugged, and the show frequently makes me discard or rework my ideas. I’ve had to cut large chunks of it off like a gangrenous limb. Still, a lot of it survives, and I hope that my thoughts give you some ideas to ponder…
…or ammunition to use against me. Either way, enjoy.
1. How old are Celestia and Luna?
Tia and Luna are a few thousand years old. Maybe 4-5K. As far as I’m concerned, when the three basic races came over the mountains they strayed into a land of immortals, already inhabited by alicorns, witches, draconequi, and all sorts of mythological beings. The realm that today is called Equestria is older than the unicorns, pegasi, and earth ponies. Children grew up there, including two who have seen millennia fly across it.
2. How old is Cadance?
No more than ten or so years older than Twilight. She was her foalsitter, not her nanny or matron. She had other things going on in her life, and becoming a princess requires more than just the wings and horn, just as Twilight found out.
3. Were Celestia and Luna always alicorns, or did they ascend?
Tia and Loo were always alicorns.
4. Are Cadance and Twilight immortal?
Not at the moment. I’d like to think that there would be a tipping-point moment where they would have to choose. Realistically, in a cartoon designed for nine-year-old girls, I don’t think we’ll see it. If it did, though, I’d like to see Cadance choose a mortal life to stay with Shining and join him in the Well of Souls. I’d Twilight like to see choose immortality.
Some might remember that I originally had Cadance as a self-reincarnating embodiment of all the forms of love, endlessly going through cycles where she was experiencing familial, romantic, and motherly love over and over by “finding” Shining again and again. Duplex Fields was the first to suggest that, and I ran with it. I don’t think I can shoehorn that in anymore, but it’s nice to think about.
5. Have there been other alicorns in the past?
Yes. Celestia and Luna were the only two naturally born alicorn foals of their mother and father. So that their children would not be alone, their parents summoned the help of the draconequi and the witches to create other alicorns. These were seven, but all since have gone into the Heart of the Mountain to buy Tia and Luna time…
Celestia and Luna are the survivors, not the victors.
6. How much authority do Celestia and Luna have in Equestria?
Celestia has as much authority as she chooses to wield. But, as of late (the last few centuries or so) she has been trying to put more and more power into the hooves of her little ponies. As far as I’m concerned, Fancypants is prime minister. He’s the most important unicorn in Canterlot, and Canterlot is the high capital of the pony realms… so, yeah.
Luna is having difficulty adapting after her return. She agreed with Tia that her re-integration would take time, and as such she has slowly been taking on duties. I think Luna isn’t as confident as she presents herself to be, hence why she spends so much time looking in on the crusaders… she feels safe helping them with their little concerns before she moves on to the “big stuff” again.
7. Does Shining Armor rule The Crystal Empire along side of Cadance?
Maybe he exercises some authority over the Crystal Guard on his merits, but he’s no princess. Just like any prince consort, his job at the moment is to get Cadance knocked up. I know that sounds really bleak, but at least they have the advantage of genuinely loving one another and of having had a long, caring relationship before this began. Not sold? Think of it this way… the Princess Skyla toy has to be somepony’s foal, and if she isn’t Cadance and Shining’s then she’s going to be Twilight and Flash Sentry’s.
Pick your poison.
8. Other than Twilight, Luna, and Cadance, what relationships have been important to Celestia in her lifetime (students, close friends, lovers, family)?
Celestia has watched the great tides of life that we call generations wash up and down the shores of her existence over and over and over. To her, they are all children, and a wizened old pony is no different than the foal that he was when she last blinked her eyes. Oh, she rejoices in them as they grown and gain their marks, and many, many, many have been her friends…
… but she never gets to keep any of them. She lives in a world of rain and sugar. They are all children who grow too fast. And, if she sees them all as children, her children, her little ponies, then what kind of mother would bed one of her own sons and daughters?
No, Celestia has had no biological children of her own, and has never had a pony as a lover.
Emphasis on pony.
Ponies and Equestrian Culture:
9. Are there still cultural differences between earth ponies, pegasi, and unicorns, or is the culture homogeneous by the time shown in canon? Are there cultural stereotypes (positive or negative)?
There are still cultural differences, but they are as mutually conglomerated as in the United States. Everybody is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, after all. The fact that the unicorns and pegasi participate in Winter Wrap-Up lends this thought some credence.
No, bigotry and racism are as dead in the minds of ponies as the belief in the miasmic theory of disease. Momentary fear brought on by unfamiliarity, perhaps, but nothing endemic.
10. Are there foods or items native to Cloudsdale that are uncommon on the ground? Are there foods or items on the ground that are uncommon in Cloudsdale?
Cloudsdale has an entirely import-based consumer market. It has the ultimate high ground in trade, though, as you kind of need rain for anything to grow.
11. Can all unicorns learn all spells, given the time and effort spent practicing them, or is magical talent usually limited in some way?
To use a role-playing analogy, it’s easier to take levels inside your class than outside it. With time and effort, perhaps they could pick up other spells, but they are naturally inclined towards those that suit their mark.
12. Earth pony magic: Does it exist? What is it?
Most certainly! Unlike the unicorns who wrap themselves in the currents of their magic, or the pegasi who channel it into nature, the earth ponies have a quiet, inner magic that roots them to the world and to their mark. I go over this a lot in Tangled Up in Blues and A Sweet Taste of Cake.
13. Some pony families we’ve seen seem to have naming conventions (the Apples, Twilight’s family) and others don’t appear to (Rarity’s family, Pinkie’s family), which is more common? Are there reasons for one or the other?
Have we seen any of Twilight’s biological family get canon names apart from Shining Armor? Did I miss that? Anywho, I think that some families spend more time connected to certain aspects of their marks than others, so similar names come with that. I think it’s more common for earth ponies than other races. It all comes down to how families learn what their foals mark is going to be, and nobody seems to have an answer for that, canon or not.
14. How much formal schooling is an average, middle class pony expected to complete?
This is where the fandom and I go in very, very separate ways. I don’t see Equestria as working in our contemporary education system at all. As my occupation is one of the many cogs in that system, I can’t see a 1:1 comparison. Just think about where they go to school: a stereotypical little red schoolhouse. In the 19th century where those were common, most kids didn’t complete ninth grade before going out into the world.
Furthermore, we only know that Twilight attended Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns. The whole Canterlot University thing is fanon, unless I’m mistaken. Pinkie Pie is an apprentice, and Rarity very well may have been too.
So, to answer the question, as much as they need.
15. What’s the average lifespan for a pony? At what age is a pony expected to be independent of their parents?
I’m jubilant that As the Sweetie Belle Toils showed us that the ponies actually get to have childhoods. The idea that they actually aged like horses was horribly depressing. Only one birthday party, only one Hearth’s Warming, before being thrown into the harsh adult world? You’d better hope that it isn’t raining or snowing on your Nightmare Night or you’re screwed. Have your first foal at three, dead at thirty-two. No thank you. Comparable aging to contemporary humans, please.
16. Are there roughly an equal number of male and female ponies?
Yes. While the series started off with most crowd scenes being female, this was just because little girls would presumably respond more to pretty ponies. The series has been better and better at showing an equitable number of male ponies. Don’t forget, there are a roughly equal number of stallions to females in wild horses, too. It’s just that only the biggest and strongest stallions that get to form “breeding herds” while the rest spend their time in pathetic “bachelor herds.” I’m not a fan of such concepts making their way into stories.
In my mind, the absence of an equal ration is explained by a large percentage of the eligible male population being off serving in the Equestrian armed forces. This is explains why it is mostly older stallions and… well, “unfit for service” stallions that we see in the show. There’s a price to pay for having an idyllic peace in Equestria, and most young stallions serve to make sure that it stays that way.
17. How informed are most ponies about things that happen in other parts of Equestria? What about other parts of the world?
There are ample resources such as newspapers and other mediums for the spread of information. I put it at an early 20th century level of communications, kind of like before television. That being said, despite having the whole of Equestria and the world at their hooves, most only concern themselves with local rumors and celebrity scuttlebutt. This is, depressingly, very much like our own society.
The Main Characters:
18. How old are the Mane Six? Spike? The CMC?
The biggest difference between the way that I see the series and the way that 98.75% of the rest of the fandom sees the series can be found right here. I find it hilarious how, when the series started, most Bronies were in college or late high school, and the fandom consensus for their ages was at that level. Now, four years later, you guys are all out in The Real World and you’ve taken your waifus along with you. I’ve observed the “fanon creep” of their ages go steadily upwards so that most now seem to think they are in their mid twenties.
While most Bronies are moving along with their lives, I am forever trapped in the world of pre-teens and adolescents. My employment and volunteer positions have long left me dealing with the ephemera and impedimenta of teenagers, and I see far, far, far too much of that world reflected in the principal pony cast to ever see them as fully grown adults. The way they act, the way they move, the word choices that they make… yeah, I can’t see them as that old.
Their occupations don’t change my opinion on that, either. Rarity and Pinkie are either at the end of or have completed their apprenticeships. A.J. works on a farm, which is the reason summer vacations came about, after all. I don’t even know if Fluttershy has a job. Dash won the Best Young Fliers Competition. Twilight’s being a student helped my case, and her becoming a princess doesn’t hurt it. Victoria became queen when she was eighteen, after all.
So, that’s why I don’t read many shipping stories and write even less with the mane pony cast. I’ve spent the last three-and-a-half years in this fandom adrift in waves of shipping stories that all unknowingly and unintentionally stink of ephebophilia.
Spike’s age is something that I struggle with, too. Miss Faust said she designed him to be eight, but that simply doesn’t work at all. I’ve spent my life working with kids, and I can see Spike being deep into Piaget’s “concrete constructive” level of childhood development, especially with how he had developed his own moral code and is seeking the approval of others rather than assuming it.
The best guess I have is that Twilight was trying to get into magical kindergarten at Celestia’s school when she hatched him, so it’s whatever the difference was. She looked older then five-year-olds we saw, but younger than the C.M.C. at that scene, so… yeah. I put Spike at late pre-teen, a boy of about twelve or so. Whatever his chronological age, he shows a maturity above and beyond it at times, as well as crushing lows where he seems to need a cuddle like a hatchling would.
I’d always thought that the C.M.C. were a little younger than Spike chronologically, but the comic shows them as foals when he’s an egg. I don’t know what to do with that. I don’t like how they go from being bigger than him to smaller in the show, sometimes within a few scenes. Mentally and emotionally, they are younger, so until I’m told otherwise by canon they are chronologically younger in my personal fanon as well; they’re late childhood to early pre-teen at best.
So, basically, the series doesn't fix their ages, and I don't either, but I do see the older ones as younger than most fans do.
19. Did Fluttershy remain on the ground after getting her cutie mark? Were she and Rainbow Dash friends all along, or did they drift apart for a while?
I’ll admit that I haven’t given this question that much thought, therefore I don’t have a personal fanon explanation for it. My best guess would be that she was like Thoreau when he was at Walden Pond. He spent the week there, but he went home on weekends.
20. Rarity and Applejack both seem to have grown up in Ponyville. What were their interactions like before the show?
Scarce and but cordial.
21. What do Twilight and Spike consider their relationship to be?
If you don’t know my opinion about the only thing about the show that I really care about anymore, the relationship between these two, then you haven’t been paying attention to my inane ramblings over the last four years at all.
Rather than write eighteen pages, I’ll just truck out "T.D.’s Mantra":
Sister and brother? Mother and son? Best friends? Boss and assistant? None of these easy terms fully define them. All fall short, and none feel perfect. In the end, whatever they are to one another, it is based on love, trust, devotion, and shared experiences over the course of their lives together. Whatever they are to one another, she’s his big one, and he’s her little one.
22. When did Pinkie move in with the Cakes? Is she a worker who rents a room, an apprentice, or is there some other relationship?
This was the crux of the final two acts of A Sweet Taste of Cake. Pinkie is an apprentice, and she came to work with the Cakes because her father needed to find some way for her to explore her mark. Through a series of interpersonal connections, she found her way to Sugar Cube Corner.
She came at the right time, as the childless Cakes had a lot of love to share and the patience to deal with the ball of energy they had indentured. They love her and worry about her, and she’s practically family to the Baby Cakes.
23. Who among the Mane Six had the best parents growing up? The worst parents?
Heh, Twilight’s parents seemed to have done something right, didn’t they?
Dash’s dad was a great guy. Her mom? Not so much.
24. Why didn’t the CMC hang out more/know each other before Call of the Cutie?
Before the episode they didn’t know about their mutual worries about their lack of cutie marks. Once they had a common issue to share, the rest of their friendships fell into place.
25. Is Scootaloo an orphan? Will she ever be able to fly?
26. Will Apple Bloom’s cutie mark involve an apple in some way, even if it’s unrelated to farming or baking?
Most likely. It doesn’t affect my understanding of her as a character, so I haven’t thought about it much.
27. How is Sweetie Belle’s relationship with their parents different than Rarity’s was?
Typical younger child syndrome, especially since there’s a massive age difference between them. She’s adored and pampered. Rarity is embarrassed by her parents–though she does love them–and distanced herself from them at a young age.
Side and Background Characters:
28. Is Mr. Cake the father of the Cake twins or not?
Yes. Entirely. Absolutely. I become violently ill every time it is suggested otherwise.
“Biomagical Conception” is a concept I advanced in A Sweet Taste of Cake. Like humans, ponies are equal parts physical, mental, and spiritual. They also have another dimension–the magical. It’s a part of each pony, and they wear their magic as their mark. Magic needs to be allowed to find its own way.
The magic knew when the time was right. Two earth ponies needed to be tested first, and they needed to face challenges. The world needed a little unicorn and a little pegasus who grew up in the love of those two earth ponies. It made them wait, and the results were unusual, but their conceptions were entirely in keeping with the sacred bonding of their parents’ physical love and intimacy.
29. Are Big Mac and Cheerilee an item, romantically?
No, but they aren’t opposed to the idea, either.
30. How did Prince Blueblood get his title?
He is the current inheritor of the House of Unicorn, the royalty of the unicorns.
As the races intermingled after arriving in Equestria, their social structures began to merge. The military took on pegasus traditions, and the shires, towns, counties, and pastures took on earth pony administrational constructs. Not wanting to completely lose their individual identities, the leadership of the individual races adopted unicorn-styled limited monarchies. Over time, these disappeared into the responsibilities of Celestia and Luna, leaving them in name only, existing as ceremonial titles with some limited powers, like that of Great Britain.
This also explains why he’s Celestia’s “nephew.” The alicorns guided the races after they arrived, and she began to look on all ponies as her children. Only those she trusted to protect them became “nieces” and “nephews.”
31. Is Silver Spoon equally as bad as Diamond Tiara?
Yes, but unlike Diamond, Silver has redemptive moments.
32. Is Zecora’s magic common among zebras?
It’s about as common among zebras as it is to unicorns among ponies.
33. Why does Daring Do publish her stories as fiction?
In case she ever wants to write one about something that she could have done, wished to do, and wish she hadn’t done. That way, she’s not lying if she never claimed it was true in the first place.
34. Do you have a strong headcanon for any non-speaking or one line background ponies that you want to share?
Yes. They’re called A Cup of Joe, Tangled Up in Blues, A Sweet Taste of Cake, and The Father of My Children. Please read them at your earliest convenience.
35. Does Equestria differentiate between speaking and non-speaking species, in terms of respect, rights and legal responsibilities? Is there some other line or scale used? (For example, how are cows classified? Diamond Dogs? A chimera?)
If it speaks, it votes.
36. Do other speaking species form their own nations, or are all nations largely integrated, with some having larger populations of a species than others?
Equestria is almost certainly only one country in a larger world. Beyond its borders there are many nations, most of which are based around sole-species homogeny. Some are more open about integration than others, and some are more closed.
37. Are minotaurs related to cows at all?
Umm… I have no idea. No?
38. Do all zebras rhyme?
Lurks-no-More began calling zebras with Zecora’s lifestyle “The Sent” at one point, but I don’t recall him following up on why. To me, Zecora is an earth priestess, and her rhyming meter is the mark of her status. It makes her think about her words, making sure she is not too hasty and chooses her words carefully.
39. Do zebra cutie marks work the same way as pony cutie marks?
Yes, but if you need to know zebra symbology to understand them. Think about it this way: If you’d never seen a balloon before, would you know what Pinkie’s mark stands for? It just takes a little research, and before long we’ll all realize that her mark is for preventing the attacks of ancient demons, that’s all!
40. Do any species have types of magic, other than ponies and zebras?
Yes–most definitely yes. The draconequi for one, of course. There are some species with powers even greater than that.
41. Is the lack of buffalo presence in Equestria cultural, or simply because most pony towns aren’t built to accommodate a full grown buffalo?
Forgive me for being a downer here, but it seems that Equestria came to the buffalo tribes, not the other way around. Appleloosa was built on buffalo tribal ritual ground and was only a year old at the time of the episode. This is depressingly like our own history. I’m not saying it was planned that way. There’s no smallpox blankets being given away by the ponies here; their douchebaggery was purely unintentional. The buffalo nations are happy living as they are, and have no need or want to move into Equestrian cities.
Headcanon and You:
42. Do you consider official sources other than the show (comics, card game text, movies, novels, etc.) to be canon?
I consider them guideposts, but anything that happens in the show that contradicts the “secondary canon” takes precedence.
43. Do you have one head canon that you always use, or do you switch depending on projects?
The overwhelming majority of my stories take place firmly rooted in my own personal fanon, one that I try to keep compatible with canon as much as possible. The only story that does not belong to my over-arching fanon is Immature. I am lucky that I’ve worked with people whose fanons easily fit with mine, like with Lysok on Zenith. If I were to work with someone else on one of their projects I’d happily use their fanon. They’d have to keep me abridged of it, though!
44. Can you easily accept the headcanons of different writers? Do you prefer when stories match your headcanon?
Since nobody else has a head canon that is very much like mine I pretty much have to accept others. I swallow some people’s interpretation better than I do some that I've read, but I’d like to think I give everyone a fair shake.
45. Is there a part of your headcanon that you wish was more popular among writers?
My personal fanon is too over-reaching to even hope that others understand it, let alone use it. I’m very lucky to have interested as many people in it as I have, and I hope I don’t disappoint them.
46. Is there a popular piece of headcanon that other writers use that you dislike?
I’ve never been a fan of the Alternate Celestia Character Interpretations.
I’m not a fan of anything that suggests infidelity on the part of Misses Cake.
I guess I don’t understand why people try to make these characters into animals. They don’t act like animals in the series. They don’t eat, sleep, or interact or have family structures like real horses. They don’t even look like real horses, really. So, I guess I’ve always seen that as a square peg trying to be forced into a round hole situation.
A subset of that is the “Ponies in Heat” trope that I abhor. Oh God, I hate it. I hate it so much.
47. Have you ever written a story or blog post just to explain some part of your head canon (other than this one)?
Yes. I’m sorry to all of you who suffered through reading them.
48. Does your head canon influence things like your favorite pony, ship, or episode?
My head canon and my adoration of Spike and Twilight’s relationship feed off of one another.
49. Would it bother you if the show proved part of your head canon wrong? Any specific piece that would really bother you to lose?
Every episode has shattered some small shard of my head canon, but opens it up in other ways. It’s a long, hard trek through a land of small victories and crushing defeats.
If Twilight did anything that made me believe that she had stopped loving Spike, I’d quit the fandom.
50. Is there something that wasn't asked about here, but you feel like you need to explain to everyone?
In the words of Duplex Fields, the pegasi have a “Trial by Ordeal” once a decade to determine who their commander will be. It is purely symbolic these days, but it is a tradition they keep. Any winged pony can fight in the trial, and all you need do is enter the ring and begin fighting. Every decade, seemingly forever, a white-coated mare with a pink mane, no bigger than any other pegasus, has entered the fray.
Every decade, for as long as anyone can remember, she had left it victorious, even if splattered in her own blood and the blood of others.
She limps off alone to some safe, distant spot. She sits there shaking, and after a few moments her magic sinks back into the mare.
Celestia returns to her alicorn form, and then makes her way back to Canterlot.
Written by The Descendant
Used with permission.
Edited by Future
Chapter 1: “All Bets are Off”
The air that hovered around Sweet Apple Acres was so thick with estrogen that it seemed to hang in the atmosphere with a visible pinkish haze.
So substantial was the presence of such an environmental hormone imbalance that even a stallion as manly and endued with excess testosterone as Big Macintosh could scarcely breathe without having the lingering urge to talk about his feelings and eat dark chocolate.
Not that he was opposed to dark chocolate, but in this case pondering the treat led to a rather unpleasant want and wish to read trashy romance novels in a bubble bath by candlelight.
So, as he wheeled Granny Smith towards the podium, Big Macintosh tried his best to think about power tools, sports, and some of the more perfect female flanks that had caught his eye in the last few days.
Even these decidedly macho thoughts were not enough to overcome the decidedly Amazonian ambiance that held sway around the farm. Indeed, so powerful was the feminine influence that hovered around Sweet Apple Acres that at the thought of the word “flank” Big Mac actually found himself worrying whether or not his mark made his butt look big.
Stunned by where his thoughts had taken him, he carefully placed Granny Smith at the microphone, easing her closer so that she wouldn’t hurt herself like last year, and then galloped away from the crowd of young mares and fillies in search of large things made out of metal and wood that he could hit with a hammer while ranting about “the game”.
Clearly, the Sisterhooves Social once more held immutable dominion over the farm.
“Hey now!” Granny Smith called through the loudspeaker. “We’re gonna go an’ get started wit’ the race and all that hooey in a bit! If ya’ ain’t gone an’ get gotten all yer’ flanks registered, do it now!”
After parsing her sentence, a few young mares and their little sisters headed to the registration table.
Two pegasi sat there, registering each group that came forward. One pegasus pony delighted in her task, passing the entrants their colored scarves, recording their names, and generally being delightfully bubbly.
The other pegasus sat with her head across the table, begging for the sweet release of death.
“Hey, Rainbow Dash!
Hey, hey… Rainbow Dash!
Heeeyyyyy Rainbow Dash!”
“What. Is. It. Derpy?” replied Rainbow Dash without looking up to her counterpart.
“We’re at the Sisterhooves Social!”
Rainbow Dash gave a low moan and wrapped her head with her forelegs. She didn’t even bother to look up as the hooffalls of what she desperately, desperately, desperately hoped would be the last two entrants fell before the registration booth.
“Oh, my!” called Derpy. “You’re gonna be in the Sisterhooves Social? That’s neat-o! Here’s your bandanas… sorry, that’s the only color that’s left!”
Neat-o? Dash groaned again. Still, she did wonder what was making Derpy so excited.
“And you’re gonna need to put... well, you don’t really need to, do you? I mean, we allllllll know who you are, huh?” Derpy concluded as her voice rose in a giggle.
Dash’s interest was piqued.
She opened her eyes, blinked twice, smacked her lips, and then looked up to see whom Derpy could possibly be getting so excited about.
Upon seeing who it was, Dash immediately took to the air, a plan developing in her mind.
Dash scanned the length of the grandstand, searching for that most beautiful and most wondrous of things… namely, a dupe.
Yes, a dupe. She needed a dupe.
Her eyes panned the crowd that sat awaiting the beginning of the race. What she needed was someone who was slightly too naïve, way too trusting, easily intimidated, and not the fastest on the draw.
“Hi, Spike!” she said, landing near the dragon in a flurry of feathers. She tried her best to hide the deceitful tones that were building in her voice. “Watching the race, huh?”
“Yup!” he answered, smiling up to her in the same innocent smile that he always wore.
She bit her own lip, lest a duplicitous fit of laughter escape her.
“Twilight’s using the mare’s room,” he said, gesturing over his shoulder. “We’re here to cheer everypony on and…”
“Yeah, uh huh. Hey,” she interrupted, barely unable to hide her conniving any longer, “that’s great. Wanna bet on the race?”
“What?” he asked as he startled slightly.
“You know,” she said, giving him a slight punch in the shoulder, nearly sending him tumbling, “let’s bet on who’ll win! Now, I’ll wager that…”
“Whoa! Whoa, whoa, whoa!” he said, waving his clawed hands through the air. “I… hey, I can’t…”
“What are ya’, chicken?” she said, lifting her wings and standing over him imposingly. “C’mon, it’ll be fun!”
She grinned to herself, watching his first defenses come down.
“L-look, I don’t think Twi would like me to,” he said, trying to look away from her.
She leapt through the air with an enthusiastic twist of her athletic body and was right back in his face once again. “Awww, man,” she said, her face painted with treachery, “don’t be so lame, Spike. I thought you were fun…”
“Hey,” he said, a little hurt showing in his voice, “I am fun…”
“There ya’ go!” she said, playfully punching his other shoulder, sending him reeling in the other direction. “I knew I could count on you! You’re awesome, Spike!”
She watched a few more of his defenses fall down, and she could barely keep from trotting her hooves in anticipation as he danced his fingers together.
“Look,” she said, her scheming reaching its endpoint, “I’ll go real easy on ya’! I just want to back the next team to come up to the line… whoever they are. Really! That’s my team, no matter what… and all we’re betting is one week of slavery!”
“One week of what?!” the little dragon cried.
“C’mon, Spike?” she said, making her expression go soft. “If any other team wins, you win! Goin’ real easy on ya’, the last team to come up is mine, that’s all! C’mon, please? Please? Pllleeeaaaasssseeeee?”
Her lower lip trembled, she pouted, and Spike’s last line of protection washed away.
“Oh, well… okay, I guess,” he said with uncertainty.
He suddenly felt his hand being lifted, heard the sound of her spitting, and felt her hoof bump to his.
“Deal!” she cried. “I bet on this last team, you get all the others, and the loser is the other’s servant for a week!”
“Blegh!” Spike answered as he wiped the spit from his hand. “Geez, Dash, I-I’ve never bet on anything before. I, wow, ummm, so… when will the last team get here?”
Dash lifted her eyes, and at once all of the deviousness, the scheming, and the cunning fell out of her as she grabbed him forward and pointed towards the starting line.
“Why, hey,” she said, grinning mischievously and pointing with her hoof, “here they come now…”
Spike focused on the distant starting line where the few other teams of sisters stood awaiting the call to begin the competition. He squinted into the distance…
… and Princess Celestia and Princess Luna took their place at the starting line, the royal sisters nodding to the suddenly very disappointed looking competitors.
When Twilight returned to where she had left her little baby dragon she found him standing there with his mouth hanging so far open that his jaw seemed to be sitting on the ground, resting amid the dust and the discarded bags of Mairsy Doats.
His eyes were distant, and he held his hands out in a position of supreme confusion, his whole expression seeming to say “Why? Why? Why?” over and over in wounded tones.
Nearby, Twilight noted, Rainbow Dash lay on her back, laughing uproariously.
“Spike?” asked Twilight, eyeing him up and down. “What’s going on?”
Spike could only continue to stand there, hands held out, mouth open, and make little whimpering sounds of dejection.
“Dash,” Twilight asked the pegasus, “did you break Spike?”
“I bet… I, I bet him that the next team of sisters… sisters, to come to the line would win!” Dash explained, trying to speak through the laughter that still convulsed her.
“Spike,” she said, turning back to him, “I don’t like the idea of you gambling.”
Spike held his expression of astonishment, his voice continuing to reach out in a series of disbelieving squeaks.
Twilight arched an eyebrow at him before turning back to Rainbow Dash.
“I don’t get it,” she said. “Who were the next sisters to join the race?”
Dash sat up, looked deep into Twilight’s eyes even as she bit her lip to keep from chuckling, and grasped the unicorn’s head in her hooves. Dash spun Twilight around, facing her towards the starting line.
There stood the two alicorn Sister Sovereigns of Equestria.
“Wow, Spike,” said Twilight, her face a picture of befuddlement, “you’re screwed.”
Spike emitted a low whine. Soon he began to pace back and forth, his hands on the side of his head. Soon he had grabbed Twilight and was staring into her eyes as he bounced up and down in confusion and alarm.
“Twi, what am I going to do?!” he said. “The princesses are gonna trot away with it! They’re just so big, and strong, and magical…”
“I’m sorry, Spike,” she said with a sigh, running her hoof over his frills, “but if this is the only way for you to learn your lesson, then I guess you’ll have to deal with the consequences.”
“Ha! That’s right, Fun Size!” laughed Rainbow Dash. “You’re gonna have to be my personal gopher for a week!”
“But, but,” began Spike, “please, Dash, I didn’t really wanna gamble! I just came here to watch my friends in the race. You know… to watch Rarity leap through the air, her mane shimmering behind her as the graceful curves of her body lift past the obstacles, to see the gentle fall of her lines as her hooves touch back to…”
Spike looked up to see Rainbow Dash and Twilight smirking at him. He blushed brightly and ran his foot across the ground.
“Please?” he asked piteously.
“Sorry, Junior,” she replied as she bopped him gently on the nose.
“But I can’t be your slave, Dash!” Spike said, painting some irony into his voice. “I’m already Twilight’s slave!”
Spike looked back over his shoulder, ready for Twilight to give him a mouthful about his word choice. He had done it on purpose, hoping that he’d just started an argument that would give him a chance to divert attention from his looming gambling debt.
Instead, all that met him was a whimpering Twilight. Her jaw trembled, her bottom lip quivered, and tears were forming at the edge of her eyes.
“Oh, jeez,” he said, pinching the bridge of his nose and then looking back up at her. “I’m sorry Twi, I was just being sardonic. I don’t really feel that way. I don’t really think you treat me like a slave…”
Her expression brightened slightly.
“It’s just that, well… you know,” he said, “sometimes I have to work all day, and sometimes I have to keep going even after my arm starts to hurt, and sometimes you bounce furniture off of me…”
Spike pinched the bridge of his nose once more as Twilight spun around in a circle, bawled her eyes out, and then pelted off into the distance before disappearing in a poof of her magic.
“I was being sardonic!” he called after her, waving his arms frantically before sitting in a huff.
“I don’t think that means what you think it means. I think you mean ‘sarcastic’,” Dash said, mentally calculating all of the tasks she’d soon have him doing.
“No,” said Spike in an unhappy tone, “I mean sardonic.”
“Those little fish that some ponies put on pizza?” she said, staring down at him.
“Oh, sit down and watch me lose the bet,” he said with a groan. He crossed his arms in front of himself in dejection, listening as Twilight appeared and disappeared in the far distance in poofs of her magic, still wailing noticeably.
“Don’t mind if I do!” she said, grabbing some popcorn from a nearby barker. With that she stuck the box on his spines for easy access, leaned across him in recliner mode, and watched her shoo-ins prepare to run the course.
Down at the starting line, Celestia and Luna wrapped their bandanas around themselves, took their places, and looked on in astonishment as the other sets of siblings fell down in whimpering, jibbering heaps.
“My little pony!” Celestia said, lowering her head to where Rarity sat in despondent puddle. “Whatever is the matter?”
“Oh, Princess,” Rarity wailed, “forgive me, but this year, I had… had hoped to win the race with my dearest sister Sweetie Belle, to win it for her, you see…”
“And why should this not be the year for you to do so?” Celestia asked, lifting her hoof to the two white unicorns.
“Well,” said Rarity, sheepishly, looking upon the imposing figure of the alicorn, “there’s the problem that you’re… you. You see?”
Celestia arched her eyebrow, and then at once an expression of understanding swept over her features.
“Oh. Oh! Oh my, I do see your point,” the alicorn said in an apologetic tone. “Would you consider it more fair if I dipped my innate magic a bit?”
“Oh, Majesty!” spoke the unicorn, her eyes twinkling, “Would you?”
“Certainly dear!” she said with a smile.
“Buck!” came an invective from the grandstands, the tone seeming to denote that it had arisen from a cyan pegasus mare who had just heard her plan begin to go awry.
“Yes!” came a voice in reply, one that seemed to come from a dragon whelp who suddenly found himself potentially freed from indentured servitude.
“It is only fair, Rarity,” said the Daybringer with a smile. “I am sure I can afford it, and Luna too. Here, let me just…”
The crowd in the grandstand watched, their eyes getting wider, as the elder sister began to decrease the amount of the deep magic that sat within her ancient frame.
Apparently, she hadn’t done it for quite some time.
“Hurrrrrrrr!” Celestia exclaimed, a single shudder going through her. “Murrrrghh!”
The entirety of the assembly looked upon the alicorn as she closed one eye, winced, and danced her hooves.
“Rrruuuggghhhhh… ruh, rugghhhhhh.”
The ponies looked upon their sovereign wordlessly, each blinking in disbelief as their princess made rather indelicate noises.
Celestia’s tongue hung out, and one of her eyes bulged. As a series of shakes coursed the lengths of her body most in the audience felt their eyes only growing wider, and one filly began to cry.
“Majesty, oh dear, I… I didn’t mean…” Rarity attempted to interject.
“Oh, it is no problem, my dear,” Celestia said, wiping a bit of sweat from her brow.
At once she was at it again.
Rarity covered Sweetie Belle’s eyes.
“Princess,” Rarity interjected, “if it’s inconvenient, don’t feel that you…”
“No, no, my dear," the princess said, “I have this one… just let me…”
“Oh, well, if…” began the unicorn.
The alicorn groaned, stuttered, and gave another lurid motion that seemed an imperfect mix of pain, incontinence, and modern dance. With that there was an immoral sound, kind of a wet pop, not unlike if someone had thrown the cake down a stairwell at a very good office party.
“There we are, is that better? I certainly hope so,” said the alicorn with a small sigh. “I’ve pushed my magic all the way down to the level it was at the first time I raised my sun. Is that fair, Rarity? Rarity?”
Rarity did not answer, and instead she, along with the rest of the ponies gathered there, gazed at her mane. It was pink. Just pink.
“Well… no, my princess, not really,” mouthed the unicorn. “Forgive me, but you’re still quite powerful… and it is still not quite fair.”
“Oh,” said Celestia, looking a little self-conscious. “I’m sorry, but I can’t depress my powers any further, not without the sun dimming and casting us into darkness, I’m afraid…”
“Yes!” came a voice from the grandstand, one that sounded like it arose from a mare who had just gotten her uncompensated labor force back.
“Buck!” came the voice of a dragon whelp, one who quickly covered his mouth and blushed red in embarrassment.
“Heh,” laughed Rainbow Dash. “Hey, Salty, keep using language like that and Twilight will have me wash out your mouth with the same soap that you’ll be using to clean my bathroom!”
“Hey,” she said, bopping him again, “how was that for some sarcasm?”
“Sardonicism,” he said, checking the far horizon to make sure that the wailing Twilight had not heard his cursing. He turned back to Dash to find her blushing brightly.
“Wow,” she said, her own face a twist of surprise. “Aren’t you a little young to know about that?”
“What? Sardonicism? It means ‘in a sardonic way’. Right? Why? W-What do you think it means?”
Back at the starting line, a pink-haired Celestia turned to her sister.
“Luna?” she said, lifting her hoof. “Will you not do the same?”
“Ha!” laughed the younger sister sovereign. “Nay!”
The Nightbringer turned to the other competitors, and a particularly bloodthirsty smile fell from her that sent several onlookers in the grandstand running away screaming and into the comforting embraces of their therapists.
“Nay, Sister,” she chuckled, “we shall not forgo our strength! Too long have we suffered that we may retain our title, and here upon this glorious field of battle we shall not suffer its loss!”
The eyes of the ponies in the grandstand went wide once more, and even the two contenders in the bet stopped their explorations of grammar as Luna’s words fell across the farm.
“Nay!” she continued. “We seek to strive in divine combat! Let those who should seek our besting suffer the pain of defeat! Our throne is ours alone, and we shall not share it! We shall clutch onto it until Death himself grabs it from our hooves! Let all who seek our undoing feel the power of the moon that courses through this frame!”
Applejack slid Apple Bloom behind her.
“Where art our enemies!? Let them feel the holy wrath of our judgment! We shall smite them all! There shall be wailing, and families shall weep! We shall leave their crushed, broken bodies upon…”
“Luna! Luna, no, dearest sister,” Celestia interrupted, her own eyes a touch wide. “No, dear… this, this is not that kind of competition. This, this is the Sisterhooves Social, in Ponyville, the one we talked about yesterday. This contest is not what you believe it to be…”
“Pray you, sister, the Sisterhooves Social?” Luna said, jumping a touch in surprise. “Oh! Forgive me!”
With that Luna blushed slightly and smiled to the crowd. She dropped her shimmering, starlit mane down to the single tone of blue that she had worn when she had just returned from imprisonment within Nightmare Moon.
“Truly, 'twas but a silly mistake on my part,” she giggled as she dropped her third-pony persona. The crowd breathed easier, and some small chatting and laughter broke out. “My, now I feel the fool! This is not such a competition, is it, dear sister?”
“No, my sister,” Celestia said with a smile, rolling her eyes. She giggled too, and then focused back on the race before them.
“No,” she said with a small laugh, “you were thinking of the National Moon Pie Eating Championship in Hofston next week.”
The crowd went stark silent once again, the only discernable noise being that of their jaws hitting the ground.
“Alright! Get yer rumps on the line!” came the gravely voice of the Granny Smith.
At the starting line and in the crowd, various ponies began to wince as the old green mare rocked closer and closer to the megaphone. More than a few remembered her unfortunate eye injury from the year before.
“On yer marks!” she called, rocking closer to the megaphone, causing the crowd to grimace.
“Get set!” she said, bringing her eyes perilously closer to the conical device as she rocked forward once more.
Her chair rocked forward, the crowd gasped…
… and Twilight Sparkle emerged from a poof of her magic, her eyes still bleary, and tripped across the old mare, sending them both to the ground.
“Oh! Mah back!” called Granny Smith.
“I’m so sorry! I’m sorry!” answered Twilight as she still blubbered.
“Sardonic!” cried Spike from the grandstand as he waved his arms frantically, trying once again to apologize to his caregiver.
“Oh! Mah back!” Granny Smith repeated.
“Oh dear. Here, please, let me help,” came a strong, caring voice. Celestia’s magic reappeared in her mane for an instant, and with that Granny Smith found herself lying comfortably on a table and surrounded by several virile looking young stallions.
“I say fellows!” called one. “One moment we were at the National Chiropractic and Sensual Massage Seminar, and now here we are at this farm!”
“How very odd!” commented another stallion. “Why, weren’t we about to accept the prize for Most Tactile Chiropractic Team? And now, here we are indeed!”
“Mah back?” Granny Smith said again, a sudden shadow of hope appearing in her voice.
The stallions looked down, and there discovered the incapacitated octogenarian. “My word, lads!” called another one. “This poor mare! Let us not let our newfound titles for Best Carnality in a Massage go to waste as we race to her aid!”
In the grandstand and at the starting line most big sisters placed their hooves over the eyes of their little sisters. As the sounds of oils splattering reached their ears most of the young fillies reached up and did the same for their older siblings as well.
“Go!” whimpered Granny Smith in a libidinous tone, and after a moment the wide-eyed participants at the starting line realized that the word had floated out to find them.
The crowd at the grandstand gave a loud shout of excitement, and with that the race began.
It seemed a slaughter from the get-go.
Spike wailed as Celestia and Luna leapt from the starting line in time, the sisters’ longer strides, easy breaths, and unerring grace instantly leaving the other participants behind. Rainbow Dash could only grin and reach for more of the popcorn in the box she had stuck to Spike’s spines as her inevitable victory approached.
In what seemed moments the royal sisters had reached the first obstacle, the mud pit leap.
The crowd looked on as Celestia lifted her graceful frame, her long legs reaching out before her as she leapt into the air…
… and then fell face-forward into the mud with a sullen splat.
Spike looked up to see that the piece of popcorn that Dash had begun to toss into her mouth was somehow suspended in the air in front of her, and the pegasus herself seemed frozen in place in shock and disbelief.
“Take thee to the wing, my sister!” called Luna, bounding past her older sibling. “Disregard the sodden earth! Obtain thy victory!”
At once the Nightbringer’s wings came open, and the alicorn sprang into the sky…
The misty shoreline of Equestria knows many hidden places. Some of them are well known, and others hang in myths of silent shores and ancient lords. Some are majestic in their sweep, and grand in their beauty.
Some are known to the fiercest of races beyond Equestria’s borders, and it was to one such place that the diamond dog longship Hambone glided on the gentle wind.
Rex walked the length of the longship. The oars were stored, and as he went forward he felt the wind that brought his boat closer to the towering cliffs and short beach of the fjord beyond. Equestria loomed over him and he looked upon his crew, imparting to them his warning.
“We come only for gems,” he said, looking out over the entire complement of his crew, some three-dozen dogs. They sat hunched on the deck, peering at Equestria beyond even as their spears were held high over them.
This was the best crew he’d ever assembled. He still wondered if it would be enough…
“We come only for gems. Take gems, find gems, steal gems. We go. We can not stay long,” Rex said, his voice resolute even at a whisper. “Equestria scary place, dangerous for dogs. Rumors tell of whining harpies.”
He held their gaze as he lifted a fist and told them of their role in the raid.
“We must not stay long. Must not attract the guardsponies. Must, must, must not be noticed by…”
There was the sudden clatter of hooves, and the rustle of feathers as something landed in the boat.
“Curses!” said Luna, stomping her hoof on the timbered deck. “We have but overshot our mark!”
With that she turned, smiled at the diamond dogs with a smile that made the iron fall out of their red blood cells, and took to the air once more.
“… their princesses,” Rex whimpered.
Luna returned to the farm to find that most of the teams had overtaken Celestia. This didn’t seem to be a very hard thing to do, as her sister was hopping along with all four of her hooves firmly stuck in the bottom of a half-barrel.
“I pray you sister,” Luna said, arching an eyebrow as Celestia went thudding past her in little leaps. “You are vexed?”
“Yes,” replied Celestia as she hopped along, “I seem to be having some difficulty with my hooves. You see, the barrel run was next, and whilst you were away I began it.”
Luna’s eyebrow arched higher as her sister skipped along with the barrel half firmly stuck around her hooves, loud thuds sounding out each time she made her little jump forward along the course.
“I could very well have simply walked it in a few steps, but I was so taken by the way that Rarity’s darling little sister did it that I felt mischievous enough to try it that way myself. Sadly, all of my hooves are now stuck within. I could remove it easily enough with my magic, but we must be fair, you see.”
Luna looked up to where a rather confused looking Sweetie Belle, Rarity, and the rest of the competitors watched. As they did they were treated to the sight of their ageless and mighty sovereign rolling to her back and waving the barrel through the air in attempt to free herself.
“Well, we can now all look upon this bunghole,” she said with a frustrated sigh. There was a collective gasp in the grandstand, and some older sisters clamped their hooves firmly across their little sisters’ ears.
“My sister!” gulped a shocked Luna. “I know thou art but disappointed in thine self, but such language is unbecoming!”
“What? Oh, oh no, dear sister!” blushed Celestia. “The bunghole is a hole drilled into a barrel and sealed with wax to allow the contents to be emptied at the appropriate time. See, one stands out on this barrel half.”
Celestia wiggled the barrel towards her sister… showing off her bunghole.
In the stands some younger sisters lifted their older sisters’ hooves from their ears and began to lecture them on the descent and evolution of contemporary language.
Back out on the course, the other participants had slowed their progress to watch in disbelief as their princesses struggled to even begin the race. They also slowed down to prevent themselves from coming any closer than necessary to where Granny Smith was making lurid noises as her massage progressed.
In the grass next to the grandstand Spike picked the single piece of popcorn out of the air, studied it, and then placed it back so that it once more floated in mid-air over the unmoving pegasus. It hovered over Dash’s mouth as her shock at the realization that the princesses might not win the bet for her continued to, apparently, emit supernatural anti-gravitational and time-compression forces.
“Whoa,” he said to no one in particular, “that’s freaky.”
Thud, thud, thud.
Together Luna and her barrel-encased sister ran and hopped towards the next obstacle… the crate climb.
Luna leapt to the top easily. At once the other sisters in the race remembered that they were scrambling against ancient and supposedly divine beings and took off once more.
They all came to an immediate stop as the sound of splintering wood reached their ears. They all turned to find Princess Celestia suspiciously absent from the course.
Luna looked down to discover that Celestia had crashed her way down through the entire stack of crates.
“Sister!” she called in alarm.
“Oh, I am fine,” came an embarrassed voice from within the stack of crates. “Do not concern yourself with me.”
“Come along then, my sister,” Luna said. “Rise up! We must carry the day upon this field!”
“I,” began the older sister in a rather sheepish tone. “I do believe I am stuck.”
Luna felt other ponies gathering near her. To her surprise many other participants in the race were returning back and gazing down into the blackness wherein rested the older Sister Sovereign of Equestria… apparently lodged in a crate and entrapped in a barrel half.
“Why do you not free yourself, sister?” asked Luna as more ponies gathered with her at the top of the stack.
“Oh, no… I can get out. It will not take but a moment. It is just that I promised not to use so much of my magic, you see. We must be fair, and all. I am just having difficulty with this one bit…”
Sounds of frustration arose from within the deep, dark reaches of the shattered crates.
“There, there is something wedged… oh, my. It has inserted itself among my barrel half.”
“Princess?” asked Applejack as she and Apple Bloom looked over the side. ”Ma’am? What’s the matter? Anythin’ we can help ya’ with?”
“Oh, no. It is wonderfully noble of you to ask though. Please, do not let me distract you from the race. I simply need to dislodge the part of the crate, that is… is stuck in…”
A silence arose once more.
“Ma’am?” asked the earth pony.
“The barrel is impaled upon some component of the crate, perhaps the metal band. I seem unable to remove it,” came a rather self-conscious voice from within.
“Sister?” asked Luna.
A heavy sigh arose from deep within the crate, followed by a somber declaration.
“I have something stuck in my bunghole.”
Luna placed her hoof to her face.
“Oh no!” called Apple Bloom, alive with worry. “The princess’s bunghole is all in peril and such!”
Applejack stifled a snort.
“Enough of this!” called Luna, and at once deep and powerful magic flew out across the scene. While the other sets of sisters went tumbling from the stacks of crates, Luna’s horn came alight. Soon most were off running again, each attempting to regain their position in the race, escape the onslaught of the Nightbringer’s magic, and get farther away from the splattering oils that flew far and wide from Granny Smith’s massage.
“I shall no longer brook such bungholery!” cried Luna, rising into the air as her magic gathered to her and her eyes shone. “Let what magic sits in me curse these obstacles of competition! Have at thee, cubical storage units!”
Magic as deep and black as the night sky erupted through the crates, and they were tossed high into the air, sailing away to the far horizon.
“Oh,” said Celestia, blinking in her sun, “that was easy enough!”
With that she hopped to her sister’s side, the barrel still stuck inexplicably in place upon her hooves, and together they made their way to the next obstacle.
In the distant fjord Rex kneeled in the bow of the longboat, watching the small flotilla of his diamond dog raiders make for the distant shore. Behind them the familiar frame of his prized warship stood serenely in the misty fjord.
The longboats pulled in time, their muffled oars silently propelling them through the calm waters of the foggy bay.
“Rex?” came the voice of one of his dogs. It was a large one, and his best friend and lieutenant. “Biscuit worry about omen of pony princess. Biscuit worry about what means.”
Rex leaned down and petted his friend on the head. “Biscuit need not worry. Rex knows pony princess cannot be in all places at one time. We go all sneaky now, and all will be…”
There was a whistling sound. The dogs gazed around in confusion, and it only grew louder. Rex looked up just in time to see what looked like a group of large apple crates come plummeting through the sky.
With that they smashed straight through the hull of his warship.
He and his dogs looked on as the Hambone upended itself, spun around on its stern, and sank into the crystal waters of the fjord with a single unceremonious glub, not unlike a toy boat being pulled into a bathtub drain.
Rex slowly put his head in his paws and finished his thought.