Okay, guys... I did my best, but this next chapter just isn't where I want it to be at this point. So, I regret to inform you that (as some of you predicted), the next chapter will not be released today.
On the plus side, the reason it's being delayed is so that I can provide you with a much better chapter than if I just released the convoluted mess I currently have willy-nilly! So, there's that.
In lieu of a new chapter, I will instead use this opportunity to plug some tragically under-read stories (from other authors) which I both love and firmly believe are worth your time (if you have not seen them already). Also, it'll give my obviously rabid fans something to distract themselves with until I deign to grace them with an update. Please don't eat me.
Mass Effect: Dissension by RandomEncounter
Commander Ashley Williams, Council Spectre, has seen a lot in the seven years since the end of the Reaper Invasion. Even though the Reapers themselves are helping to rebuild the war-torn galaxy, the peace that Shepard bought with his life is tenuous at best. Many individuals still hold onto their lingering hatred of the machines that butchered millions and feel the Council has betrayed everything the war was fought over.
And when a species is discovered that posses abilities that seem almost impossible, it falls on the shoulders of Commander Williams to keep their power from falling into the wrong hands...
What can I say? I love the cut of this guy's jib. The author has clearly put a lot of thought, planning, and attention into this story. There's only one chapter out, but you get a wonderful introduction to a very original choice for a main character: Ashley Williams. A badass female human for a lead... I know, right? Well, it works. Her characterization is cut right out of the games and doesn't create that troublesome little issue of the fact that Shephard's character is (by design) undefined, which always creates dissonance for people who didn't play the version of him/her that's getting crossed over.
I won't say anything about the narrative, pacing, or characterization besides that they're all exceptional. I wouldn't be recommending this if they weren't. What I will say is that the author actually took the time to merge the two universes. That's right. This isn't Pony on Earth. This isn't Human in Equestria. This is a true, sensible, thought out merger of two very different universes, and it works. Give it a go, you won't be disappointed.
Outside the Reaching Sky by Karazor
Eighty years after the events of The Dread Chitin, Equestria is a radically different place. The arcane science of the late Duran Thirk and the information found on the Star League library core have combined to catapult the nation's science ahead by hundreds of years.
Now, facing the possible aggression of a completely unknown alien power, Twilight Sparkle and her friends have to gather together once more, leading a crew of the best ponies they could assemble in a voyage outside their own star system. They seek to learn about their potential foe, to explore the galaxy around them, and possibly find allies and friends to stand alongside them. Who knows what they will actually find?
For those of you who haven't, you'll want to read The Dread Chitin, because this is a sequel (though the prequel is only necessary to understand some character references and why the ponies have space-ships). Also, The Dread Chitin is quite possibly one of my favorite fanfictions of all time, so... you know... there's that.
This author is incredibly talented and tragically under-read. Seriously, I seethe with jealous fury every time I read his work, which is professional quality. Then I seethe with incandescent rage when I realize each of his stories has under 100 ratings (and a grand total of 2 thumbs down between the 3 of them) The story itself is based on what appears to be an original universe, which is crafted and presented brilliantly. This guy has taken the concept of "magi-tech" and developed it to a point far beyond anything else I've ever seen on this site. The universe that's partially revealed here just reeks of vibrancy and complexity, and the ponies themselves felt so genuine in their actions and motivations, it hurt. You'll be on the edge of your seat and drooling for more, by the end.
Across the Sea by John Hood
The Defiance of Nightmare Moon was long ago enough that most ponies consider it more legend than fact. But Equestria's history goes much further back, to an age half-remembered in myth and mystery. In ages long past, the race of man emerged from the fog of the unknown, a time so distant that even the Princess's grandparents were young.
But it is at the dawn of Celestia and Luna's rule we lay our scene, as Equestria threatens to tear itself apart, and the human nations across the sea grow ever stronger in their reach and influence. Both are on a collision course. This is the tale of Tempest Blackwind, a young pegasus exile, of Aharôs Loiar, a man against the world, of the two alicorn Princesses, struggling to be the leaders their subjects need in a time of crisis, and many more who would leave their mark on a time now forgotten by all but a few.
Riveting narrative. Wonderful characterization. Vibrant world-building. Only the very occasional typo or error... but certainly not nearly enough to distract or break immersion.
Oh, yeah... and it's high-fantasy in an original setting.
I should elaborate on the "original" bit: this IS Equestria. But it ain't your daddy's Equestria. This one's expansive, chaotic, complex, violent, and incredibly, utterly fascinating.
Interestingly enough, the style feels amazingly fresh, in spite of its obvious and venerable inspirations (Sword of Ice and Fire, Tolkien, Wheel of Time, etc.). Perhaps because this is the first time I've genuinely felt like I was reading high-fantasy (good high-fantasy, no less) while I was, in fact, reading a fanfiction. The premise of human civilization pre-existing in Equestria, wielding cannon and arquebuses, and its clashes with an angry, young Celestia is also new to me. And the story does a good job of establishing relatable, three-dimensional characters on both sides (no "humans are the real monsters" tropes here).
This story sank its hooks into my interest from beginning to end, leaving me so utterly entranced with the narrative that I practically devoured the whole thing in one sitting. I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for each new chapter to bring new revelations, which I recognize as the sort of emotional investment that is only brought about by a great story.
So, there you go kids. Now you have plenty to tithe you over until my triumphant return sometime next week with a finished, polished version of the most climactic chapter of Magic, and Mayhem, and... Murder? Oh my... yet! And if you've already read all of these... well, I congratulate you on your excellent taste. Now, go outside or something and let me work!
This is your friendly neighborhood drunken bum Invictus, signing off.