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bookplayer


Twilight floated a second fritter up to her mouth when she realized the first was gone. “What is in these things?” “Mostly love. Love ‘n about three sticks of butter.”

  • TSun and Hearth
    Princess Celestia and Smart Cookie have watched Equestria rise. They share a dream that’s entwined their hearts for two thousand years, and a love that’s given them the strength to see it realized. Now they face the ultimate test of that love.
    bookplayer · 127k words  ·  121  7 · 1.7k views

More Blog Posts545

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  • 105 weeks
    Sun and Hearth is complete, plus post-update blog

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  • 105 weeks
    Sun and Hearth Post-Update Blog: Chapter 20 - Judgement

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Sep
20th
2019

Sun and Hearth is complete, plus post-update blog · 11:40pm Sep 20th, 2019

If you've been waiting for a complete tag before you read it, or are looking for a novel to start reading this weekend, Sun and Hearth is now finished and posted.

This probably demands some kind of reaction from me, but I've been thinking for months and I don't know what to say. Personally, I'm thrilled with it, but that seems like it might be… lacking in self-awareness? I think I need to wait a bit and see how to approach this. I also have people to thank and stuff to say about future stories. So expect a full follow up blog post this weekend.

For now, the spoilery post-update blog stuff you've come to expect below the cut.

End credits for A Gift too Common for a Princess:

End credits for Sun and Hearth:

A playlist of all the end credits will be posted with the follow-up blog.

Author's notes:
Chapter 21:

I worried a lot about flipping viewpoints here, but since I had two character arcs that needed to wrap up at exactly the same time I hoped I could handle it. 

I think Cookie's speech is one of the most important things I've written, with Puddinghead's recent speech a close second. While I have strong political views, I have much, much stronger "how you should treat the people you interact with" views. I've had this one done (more or less) from the start, and I've been tempted to send it to several people over the last two years. 

Tend your damn hearth's, y'all.

Epilogue:

And there's the explanation for Cookie's magic! It's in the epilogue because it was never actually part of the story. It doesn't affect anything that happened. Though I'll note it was right there in the first chapter, and I waved it at you a few times.

Obviously I couldn't write a story about pony politics without talking to GhostofHeraclitus about it. And Ghost is incapable of talking about pony politics without talking about how Dotted Line would react. So despite the fact that this is an AU Dotted Line and co (Ghost's Equestria has a much more complicated political system than mine) I asked if he'd mind me borrowing them and he loved the idea. It took me forever to figure out what to do with them, they're the most intimidating characters I've ever had to work with. See, I love Ghost's stories, and I knew he'd be reading this. But he seemed to feel I did them justice.

I'm only slightly less proud of the footnote than I am of Cookie's speech.

I also love that Cookie is now Kris Kringel from Miracle on 34th St.

...and they all lived happily for the time being.

World building:

I started writing about Cookie's magic, but there's a lot to talk about, so I'll do a blog post on it next week. 


Questions:

….So? Did you like it?

Report bookplayer · 883 views · Story: Sun and Hearth ·
Comments ( 19 )

:eeyup:

I’m astounded by how much ground this story covered, length aside. I’m normally loath to even start stories this long, so in a way it was good (for me at least) to have experienced it the way I did. It’s been a wild, amazing journey. Thank you for sharing it with us all :heart:

So very nice:

So very, very nice.

Mike

“It was no accident that Clover and Pansy and I found it. Left untouched by the glories of our kingdoms, without the strength to wield weapons, with minds ill-suited to the manipulation of other ponies, we found it because we had no other powers to reach for. Our only powers were trust, respect, understanding, consideration, empathy, and compassion. And from those powers, we drew life, and unity, and Equestria.”

He hazarded a glance at the other ponies, finding Twilight’s encouraging smile. He raised his head and went on. “Those are the powers we celebrate each year, not because they are awe inspiring and impressive, but because they aren’t. They are common and ordinary, things every pony possesses... and they are too easily forgotten or cast aside in the name of greater things… in the name of protecting one’s land, and loved ones, and defending one’s honor. And when that happens, a society rots and falls to darkness without a spell cast or a drop of blood spilled or a treaty broken.”

Meanwhile, on Terra:

Humans didn't evolve the big brains we have for survival, hunting, or any of that. No, we developed them so we could win at tribal politics. To team up against the alpha, cast him down, then eliminate potential rivals before they could do the same to us, and all without turning the rest of the tribe against us. We're born and bred for one thing, as the Great Khan put it:

The greatest pleasure is to vanquish your enemies and chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth and see those dear to them bathed in tears, to ride their horses and clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters.

We are all the children of Cain, and we owe everything we have, and everything we are, to his example. Cain, builder of cities. Cain, forefather of tent-dwelling pastoralists, all lyre and pipe players, and bronze and iron smiths.

Equestria has windigos. Terra has the Gods of the Copybook Headings.

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

5124448
How are you doing at murder and tribe leading?

I'm not doing so great, but I've got a lot of awesome friends who help me, a beautiful daughter, and a wonderful husband. And I think I like it better.

5124465

How are you doing at murder and tribe leading, buddy?

My skills lie closer to "bronze and iron smiths". Unless there's great need, I'll let those who choose police and military service handle the "murder", and get the popcorn ready for the next round of "tribe leading".

I've got a lot of awesome friends who help me, a beautiful daughter and wonderful husband. And I think I like it better.

And the Sons of Martha are glad for the Sons (and daughters) of Mary:

THE Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary's Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

They say to mountains, " Be ye removèd" They say to the lesser floods " Be dry."
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd - they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill tops shake to the summit - then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.

They finger death at their gloves' end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.

To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden - under the earthline their altars are
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city's drouth.

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not teach that His Pity allows them to leave their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren's days may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with blood some Son of Martha spilled for that !
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd - they know the angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the Feet - they hear the Word - they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and - the Lord He lays it on Martha's Sons !

5124477
The "Sons of Martha" need to be as thankful for the "Sons of Mary" as vice versa. Because they really need to realize, while they're moving the sun, that without a hearth, children can't be cared for. And without a hearth, children can't learn. In fact, without a hearth, people can't learn. Without a hearth the elderly can't be cared for and their wisdom dies. Without a hearth the sick and injured can't be cared for, including the "sons of Martha" who want to get back to serving. Without a hearth, there's no one to write stories or poems about them, or to comfort them on long nights. Because the hearth is where people connect, and without that connection, we are nothing.

And someone needs to tend that hearth, to facilitate those connections, to show respect and offer trust and empathy and consideration and compassion.

If you fancy yourself the heir to bronze and iron workers, you learned at a hearth, from a long tradition of people over a hearth talking and sharing and building on knowledge, respecting the skills and lessons of people who came across their hearths. You're definitely descended from families who tended hearths together, who shared wisdom with each other and other families and made sure your ancestors didn't die as infants, or starve before they had a chance to have children.

So if I had to sum it up, for humans on earth, I might say (metaphorically speaking) that the sun must be guided, and there is glory in that, and it casts its light on all people. The hearth must be tended, quietly, for the people we see each day. But both are needed to light the darkness and keep away the cold.

Fucking congrats on finishing bro, that's awesome!

5124424
There will be more thanks and effusive praise coming, but thank you sooo much for all your hard work on this.

5124435
Thanks so much! It makes me feel good just knowing that you read it. I love it when authors I love read my stories. :twilightsmile:

5124517
Thanks, man. Maybe I'll finally have time to chat now! I mean... it could happen.

5124510
I just watched the Sons of Mary take a man who was (no hyperbole) personally responsible for the existence of a large chunk of the world's IT infrastructure and eat him alive because he offended them. After securing his resignations, they're now searching for new scalps to take.

Mark my words: if we continue like this, the airplanes will start falling out of the sky. Oh, wait. It’s already happening.

Humanity can, and indeed almost always has, survived by "cast[ing aside trust, respect, understanding, consideration, empathy, and compassion] in the name of greater things… in the name of protecting one’s land, and loved ones, and defending one’s honor." Trust, respect, understanding, consideration, empathy, and compassion are for those within the tribe, not those without. The Sun is for all. The hearth is for kin. The door on the house is there to keep the heat and light in, and various dangers, threats and outsiders out. We leave it unbarred and unguarded at our peril.

In less metaphorical terms: "that which can be destroyed by the truth should be." Reality gives not one solitary care for anyone's feelings. If they come into conflict with one another... well, "reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

5124533
I think you're misunderstanding me. Anyone who takes scalps is not tending a hearth. That's kind of specifically my point. And I'm sure some of those scalp takers could learn a lot from the former owners of the scalps they collected, but... now they won't.

Don't be like them. Learn a lot, from people inside and outside your kin group. Offer help to, and accept help from, individual people inside and outside your kin group at your own hearth. Offering respect, and hoping for it in return, is one of the scariest things you can do, but it is indeed how we got airplanes into the sky, and it's what we need to keep them there, even in the face of warriors of any tribe trying to bring them down.

I quite enjoyed the story, and I'm glad to see it finished. Thank you for sharing it with us!

5124535

I think you're misunderstanding me.

I think it's more of a fundamental political, philosophical, and empirical disagreement. You believe the hearth can be shared with all. I do not:

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

[...]

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!"

(OK, enough Kipling quotes from me for one night.)

Staying in the realm of stories, I'd say that while Hearth's Warming might work for ponies, The Last Article is more accurate for humans. Spoiler for the story, but summarizes the point if you don't care to read it right now: Gandhi was able to use passive resistance against the British because the British considered violence against a non-violent opponent shameful. Against the Nazis, it would be suicide, pure and simple.

"Offering respect, and hoping for it in return" is the prisoner's dilemma, and the correct way to approach it depends on what you know about the other party, whether or not you expect to interact with them again (and how often), what you believe the other party knows about you, and what the stakes are. "Always cooperate" is the most successful strategy... in a utopia. Otherwise, it loses horribly. Even a "tit-for-tat" strategy fails if mistakes can happen. In the most realistic configurations, the correct strategies cooperate when cooperation is offered, retaliate immediately when provoked, occasionally forgive but never forget... and always cheats the other guy if the opportunity presents itself. And if you know the other guy will cheat you (if he's smart) or never retaliate (if he's naive), then you adjust your strategy accordingly, and avoid assuming or employing universal good will.

5124552

I think it's more of a fundamental political, philosophical, and empirical disagreement. You believe the hearth can be shared with all.

The hearth can't be shared with those who refuse to share a hearth with you -- who refuse to offer those values in return. But you don't know who those people are until you invite them. If you refuse to invite whole tribes of people, even those individuals who are obviously harmless or in need, you might be protecting yourself now, but at the expense of sowing animosity later. Small things form the cracks in our foundations. Each slight is met with confirmation to the other tribe that you're not worth considering.

But I believe that you probably have a friend, or co-worker, or family member who's liberal. And I believe you probably smile at them, or help them with their computer, or would jumpstart their car or loan them a buck or whatever. And they don't cancel you or punch you for being a nazi or get you fired or whatever, they smile back and say thanks, and think that people like you aren't that bad.

I think that's what we should aim for in our interactions, in the real world and online, no matter our politics. I think that's the only way to keep the airplanes in the sky.

But that's just me.

I don't log in much these days, but for this I had to. It's a great, great, great story with the best character work (especially for the Founders!) I have seen in ages. I'm proud my characters (or suitably alternative versions of them, I guess) could make an appearance.


5124552
I would like to point out a counterexample to your philosophy. It consists of all of recorded history. The history of humanity is bloody and dark (what else would you expect of self-assembling chemical soup with pretensions towards godhood!) but it seems to bend the other way than you'd claim.

I honestly do not have time for an argument—forgive me, thus, for this barb in passing—and this is not the place to do it anyway, so I will allow myself, instead, to be gnomic:

The opposite of a trap is a garden.

5124674

The opposite of a trap is a garden.

And a good garden needs a good fence or wall.

….So? Did you like it?

Throwing a loose collection of printed words on copy paper on the floor and demanding another isn't quite as impacted as a coffee mug...

That I'm saying here is yes, yes I liked it.

Magnificent stuff. And any story with Dotted in it is made all the better by his inclusion. As I said in the story itself, thank you for this.

….So? Did you like it?

I'd debated a lot with myself if I should post here. In the end, I thought, it's just me. You can take what I note and dismiss it, I'm just one guy after all. Hardly important in the grand scheme of things. Well, whatever. The answer is... Yes, and no.

I was drawn in by the conflict. It was something I'd never seen before. And you gave Celestia the grace to be mortal underneath the mask of the chessmastering princess, to be the caring figure canon has always presented her as. That's quite an accomplishment, it would've been so easy to just paint her as cold and unfeeling and only in the wrong.

And here, we might come to the problem I had. It's how things proceeded after their conflict, how things went towards the resolution. I did not feel convinced, and I held less and less affection for Cookie the more things went on. To the point where my favourite part these last few chapters was Celestia finally confronting him with his demands of her, his need to control her, while also refusing any true responsibility in turn. The fact that so little was made of it while Celestia castigated herself before all the ponies present left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. You probably don't see things as that, or that Cookie's words, to me, could be summarized as "I'm sorry you failed me, I just expected too much of you."

So at the end, I should want them back together, but... I don't, I can't, and I feel so bad for wasting your time with all this crap of mine. I'm not sorry for reading, or for the upvote I'd given it, I'm only sorry for not 'getting it', I guess.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel outlook on both the Princesses and the founders, a muddled mishmash of imperfect idiots (yes even Clover had her share of stupidity) who through either luck or fate stumbled upon something truly wonderful: camaraderie, friendship, and harmony. Their failings could easily be our own (granted we don't have magical friendship tactical nukes) but we all have problems with pride, jealously, selfishness, etc. in some fashion or degree. Stars above know I am anything but perfect, but just as the founders I strive to muddle my way through life as best I can although perhaps not as effectively as I could being something of a chronic procrastinator (I could very well use a well intentioned and frankly deserved buck in the rump every now and again or a friendly lecture from the elements of magic and kindness :wink: I hope you decide to someday return to this imperfect Equestria either exploring more of the ancient past or more of the present or the future any of these (or combinations thereof) would be entirely welcome in my book.

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