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DannyJ


I'm just here to write.

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Mar
23rd
2020

Borderworld lore snippets 2 - Comments edition · 10:26pm Mar 23rd, 2020

After the response to my last lore snippets blog, I thought I'd do another, this time collecting random bits and pieces I've written in the comments of various Borderworld fics and the occasional other blog. Once again, these are not the exact questions that prompted me to write these responses, nor are they my exact answers, as both have been edited to give better focus and clarity, but I hope you enjoy them nonetheless.


Why did the Elements of Harmony work on Lyra in Just Dodge! when she was playing Discord's game?

Under normal circumstances, the Elements wouldn't have harmed Lyra at all, because she is an innocent mare. In that specific firing of the Elements, it especially shouldn't have worked, because the time loops began after the Elements already locked onto Discord. To facilitate the game, future Discord essentially tricked the Elements by overwriting his past self's mind with Lyra's, but without actually swapping out their souls: Discord's body, Discord's soul, Lyra's memories. Hence why Lyra used chaos magic in the story instead of her own (the soul is the source of a being's magic). Because of this, the Elements still targeted Lyracord, but crucially, they didn't care about binding her mind, only her body and soul. In fact, each time after petrifying her, the Elements specifically recognised Lyra's mind as foreign and sent her back where she belonged, which is actually the whole reason Lyra was able to return to her body at all once the game is over, rather than being stuck in those time loops for eternity like Discord would've been if he'd tried the same thing.

How do the Elements of Harmony determine their effect?

The specific effect that the Elements of Harmony have on their target is a result of multiple factors. What the bearers are trying to do to the target is one of them, of course, because the Elements have been deliberately invoked for reasons other than defeating villains. However, when using the Elements on a living creature, it is the Elements themselves that determine the target's fate, and they make this judgement based on who the target is, and more importantly, what they're feeling. This dependency on emotional state is most obvious in Nightmare Moon:

The first time she was hit with the Elements, Luna was in willing partnership with the nightmares that had corrupted her. The Elements made contact with her mind, and offered Luna absolution, but she rejected it of her own free will, and so was instead banished. In that case, she was bound to the moon, because it was the perfect prison for her. She was conscious for the duration of her imprisonment, but her magical affinity for the moon meant that it was a comfortable enough to not drive her mad. She could manifest a form upon the moon's surface, walk around, even still access dreams, but she couldn't return to Equestria. Not until her bonds broke, which they naturally would within a thousand year's time, due to Celestia's magic touching the moon twice every day to move it, each time gradually weakening the seal. So Nightmare Moon was given a specific, limited sentence, which she would be conscious for the duration of, and which Celestia would be able to predict the endpoint of. And the reason for that was that it would give time for Luna to realise her mistakes and turn against the nightmare.

By the time the Elements struck the second time, Luna was no longer a willing participant in Nightmare Moon's actions, and was actively fighting against the nightmare's possession. When they struck, the Elements made Luna the same offer they did before. This time, she chose redemption, and so the Elements complied and hit her with a different effect, separating her from the nightmare, burning away all her corruption by force, and subjecting her to something akin to those reforming spells Twilight Sparkle mentioned, to remove all the toxic negative emotions that led to her falling in the first place.

In the case of Discord, this was a little more complicated. He wasn't magically corrupted, so there was nothing to purge. He was just a dick, and needed to be shown the error of his ways. However, the Elements are just magical devices. They can't truly show Discord friendship the way that Fluttershy did. The best they can do is hit him with a reforming spell, and even then, only if he agrees to it (since just forcing it on him wouldn't be very harmonious). And Discord is ideologically opposed to the very concept of reforming spells, so that never would have happened. Basically, the only options it had were to kill or disable him. He could've theoretically triggered a kill response with overwhelming aggression if he had tried, but otherwise, the Elements always default to imprisonment.

Unlike Nightmare Moon, Discord's sentence was never designed to end, because it was assumed that he would never yield. So for him, the form of imprisonment was not chosen to be comfortable, but to be effective. Petrification bound his body, but was also chosen to nullify his powers as best as possible. The orderly, unchanging nature of stone means that it has naturally low levels of chaos magic. Discord can draw power from chaos in the environment, as he did with the Crusaders, but he couldn't get much through stone, and he could get even less from stone. Combined with several powerful binding spells woven into the stone, petrification was a pretty effective prison for Discord. At least, it was so long as those binding spells were maintained by the Tree of Harmony. The reset of the Elements eventually ruined that, and the plundervines killing the Tree could've potentially done the same thing.

What was Discord's plan with the plundervines, and where did it go wrong?

Had the plundervines succeeded and killed the Tree while Discord was trapped in stone, he would have been retroactively freed, which was what he intended to happen when he first planted the seeds. He struck a pose, let himself be petrified, and if all had gone to plan, he would've been free again a day later, delighting in the crushed hopes of all the ponies who thought that their ordeal was finally over. Only, the plundervines failed, and Discord got a lesson in humility instead.

Where the plundervines specifically went wrong was in their power source. They didn't have sufficient chaos magic to overcome the Tree of Harmony on their own, even with the Elements of Harmony missing. If Celestia and Luna had just defeated Discord himself while leaving his landscape of chaos untouched, the plundervines might've worked a thousand years ago, but that didn't happen. Instead, they basically went dormant, until they were woken up again and supercharged on the Day of Discord.

From that point, they spent the better part of a year gradually tearing down the Tree's defences and growing in power, until eventually they got to the level they were at in Princess Twilight Sparkle. Discord's second release also sped up their growth, albeit to a smaller degree than his first. But regardless of how the reformation panned out, and no matter how long it took, the plundervines succeeding was almost inevitable after Discord's first escape. If he hadn't been reformed, Discord would have eventually broken out again. I like to think that Celestia saw that exact outcome in those prophetic dreams of hers, and that this was why she wanted him reformed in the first place.

Can the Elements of Harmony be destroyed?

The Elements are composed of both a physical and a magical component, but the physical part is basically just a formality. It can be destroyed or stolen, sure, but the Bearers can reform or summon it back any time, as they demonstrated while fighting Nightmare Moon:

However, the mane six are not actively aware that they can do this. As far as they know, this was a one-time ability. But this was partly the reason why Discord set up his gauntlet in the maze. His challenge was to misdirect them, and to get them thinking in terms of physically retrieving the Elements, to throw them off the idea of magically summoning them back. An active bearer can't be permanently separated from their Element by mere distance, and as soon as they realised that, Discord's situation would've been much worse. This is why he instead attacked their magical connections to their Elements and their friendships with each other, which was a far sounder long-term strategy, even if it ultimately didn't work.

Would killing the Tree of Harmony prevent the Elements of Harmony from working?

While the Tree is a part of the Elements of Harmony's "circuit," it's not an absolutely essential part like it seems to be in canon. Killing the Tree would certainly disrupt any magical locks from previous Element of Harmony uses, but it would not prevent the Elements themselves from functioning. In fact, they'd function more easily than ever, because one of the Tree's many roles is restricting use of the Elements. Without the Tree's restrictions, the Elements of Harmony can potentially be hijacked by corrupted or unworthy bearers, something the Tree normally prevents. And that's basically what Sunset's plan in the first Equestria Girls movie was; she could never brute force hack the Element of Magic in Equestria, but in an alternate universe outside the Tree's immediate sphere of influence, she could.

What exactly was Sunset's plan?

In Equestria, the Element of Magic would be useless for anybody but a true bearer, and an uncorrupted one at that, because the Tree needs to authorise their use. However, if one takes the Tree of Harmony out of the equation, such as by travelling to a world outside its reach, then there's nothing to stop a person from brute-forcing any Elements of Harmony they might have. This was central to Sunset's plan, and she even alludes to this in Equestria Girls when she asks Twilight if she knows how the Elements of Harmony would function in an alternate universe.

Sunset has this deeper knowledge and understanding of the Elements from previously studying the Tree of Harmony under Celestia's tutelage. Unlike Twilight, whom Celestia took a lighter touch with, Sunset was always fully informed that she was expected to eventually take up the Elements and defeat Nightmare Moon. This foreknowledge fuelled her feelings of entitlement and ambition to become an alicorn, planted the seeds of her eventual plan after she parted ways with Celestia, and was also what motivated Sunset to leave Equestria. After all, if she knew the Elements would return in a few years time, then skipping over the intervening decade by exploiting an unstable time gradient between two alternate universes would only make sense. Contrary to appearances, Sunset hanging around for two years in an alien high school was not just a curious waste of time, but actually a move to accelerate her plans.

As for what she intended to do with the Element of Magic, Sunset's initial plan likely consisted of simply forcing an alicorn ascension upon herself, and possibly hijacking the full power of the Elements of Harmony to potentially use against the princesses, though the latter would not have worked once she got back to Equestria. This changed with her sudden and unexpected transformation into a demon, and the plan to invade Equestria with an army of possessed high school students was improvised by the demon Sunset after gaining her powers.

Ironically, this more absurd-sounding improvised plan actually would've been more successful than Sunset's original one, as humans have naturally greater stores of magic than ponies due to not normally being able to use it, and an army of possessed and transformed humans controlled and coordinated by Sunset would've made for a fairly formidable force on Equestria's side of the mirror, especially since her soldiers would also effectively be hostages.

What does Discord's heart in Rest in Chaos actually look like, and why does gazing upon it cause auditory hallucinations?

Discord's heart is living crystal, in a similar manner to the crystal ponies. He made it that way so that it could hold a permanent enchantment that would activate in the event of his heart's destruction, sending out a message across the universe to notify all relevant parties that he is currently dead.

The auditory hallucinations are the voices of the disharmonious. All conflict echoes within Discord, and if he can hear your voice, then he may grow stronger from you.

What is the Borderworld version of Screwball like?

Screwball was created by Discord, but he doesn't really consider her a daughter. He just made her and sent her on her way. She's one of those many contingency plans that he made and then mostly forgot about, because Discord is fond coming up with multiple complex plans, setting them in motion, and then delighting in the unforeseen chaos as they all bounce off of each other in unexpected ways. As explained in Rest in Chaos, her primary purpose was to serve as a temporary replacement Spirit of Chaos if Discord were ever incapacitated.

Was Aspen right in A Word With You, My Friend? about Discord being involved in Well-To-Do's Everfree construction project?

Aspen was right about this. Discord did have a hand in Well-To-Do's scheme. He suggested the general plan, and he ran interference to distract Fluttershy. He was only trying to piss off Aspen, not cause a massive international incident, as I doubt even he could've predicted that Aspen would leave Well-To-Do alone and go attack Ponyville instead, but yes, that whole incident actually was Discord's fault. Not that Aspen actually knows this. Kind of like the mane six with the plundervines incident, he has no proof, but he correctly assumed Discord's involvement anyway, just because it would be in-character for him.

How did Well-To-Do get away with developing in the Everfree for as long as he did?

Essentially by a combination of excessive caution, refuge in audacity, and Discord distracting Fluttershy and Zecora.

The scenario was that there was a dark, spooky forest which not only has a reputation as being incredibly dangerous, but is also inhabited and guarded by another sovereign nation, and a literal god (the Tree), and it's illegal to develop there anyway. It's probably the last place on Earth anyone would expect a property developer to even ask to build upon, let alone risk everything to illegally build upon in secret, particularly because even if they did manage to construct something there, they'd still get in legal trouble afterwards.

Thus, nobody would have ever expected said illegal property developer to sneak his entire company into the forest under cover of nightfall, there to be confined for the duration of the work so as not to tip off the nearby settlements of Ponyville or Hoofington. They especially wouldn't have ever expected him to then begin actively intercepting any communication attempts from Thicket, the sovereign nation whose territory he knew he was intruding upon, risking all kinds of potential disasters or legal consequences, all on a gamble of some diabolical plan involving kidnapping and blackmail.

In other words, everything about Well-To-Do's plan was so insane and out of left field, Equestria never could have anticipated anything like it until it actually happened. Or at least the plan appears insane to an outside observer, one taking it at face value as a corporate scheme by a greedy idiot; as a deliberate strategy by Discord to enrage and humiliate King Aspen, it's actually fairly sound, but trying to predict and account for acts of Discord is a fool's errand.

If Aspen is opposed to the Tree of Harmony, why doesn't he attempt to destroy it?

Because the Tree is on the grounds of the Castle of the Two Sisters, and Equestria has prior claim on the land. Aspen never would have let that castle be constructed back in the day if the deer had inhabited the Everfree at the time. Thicket was founded later, sometime after the Reign of Chaos, as an enclave in what was Equestrian territory. By the terms of Thicket's treaty with Equestria, Aspen is bound to respect the borders of the Castle of the Two Sisters, even if it is no longer inhabited, and as a worshipper of Order, he would never break a treaty.


Hope you liked. I will once again shill for my Borderworld group if you're interested in seeing more lore, as I doubt I'll have enough material for a third blog for a while. Thank you to all the numerous commenters who prompted me to write most of this, and thanks especially to Alara J. Rogers and Oliver, both of whom I borrowed at least some of these ideas from.

Comments ( 6 )

After all, if she knew the Elements would return in a few years time, then skipping over the intervening decade by exploiting an unstable time gradient between two alternate universes would only make sense.

... Huh. This pretty much lined up with my own interpretation of Sunset's tutelage under Celestia up until this point, but then you took it further into areas I'd never even considered. Well done!

And the whole blog is quite fascinating. Thanks for another bundle of lore snippets.

5226747

I am the FanOfMostEverything now.

I like the explanation for the Nightmare Moon/Princess Luna treatment over the years, especially the issue of consent (when the Elements strike), and her being tied to the moon in more ways than one. The fairy-tale-esque logic of Nightmare Moon's obstacles in the S1 premier always struck me as bizarre, to the point where I did legitimately wonder if Luna was rebelling from within, or else had somehow psychically collaborated with Celestia beforehand to engineer a win. Nightmare Moon on her own could win simply by directly attacting the Main Six at the first opportunity instead of messing about with cliffs and manticores and sea serpent moustaches, but this way the Bearers get tested and Nightmare Moon isn't made unduly suspicious (she probably rationalizes her own peculiar behaviour as "toying with them", little realizing she's being manipulated).

I also like how Discord has much more cosmic significance in this incarnation. It's an angle I've always wanted to tackle, and it pleases me to see someone else spot the same opportunities (and more!). Although I personally wouldn't associate his heart with crystal; given the order-like nature of crystals, I'd have maybe tried an organic mish-mash to reflect the "living chaos" of... well, life itself (like a Frankensteinian heart made out of multiple species' hearts, or a creature itself with a will of its own). But I'm just floating ideas, not mounting any particularly strong counter here.

Probably my favourite part is both making sense of a particular comic's plot with Discord's involvement and doing it in such a delightfully backhandedly way ("Discord wanted to piss someone off" is now my favourite answer to nonsense and plot-holes). :rainbowlaugh:

5447675

The fairy-tale-esque logic of Nightmare Moon's obstacles in the S1 premier always struck me as bizarre, to the point where I did legitimately wonder if Luna was rebelling from within,

This isn't something I specifically thought of, but is a sound enough explanation for Nightmare Moon's actions on Luna's side. On Nightmare Moon's side, she was also personally cautious of the mane six, as she already suspected that they embodied the Elements, and was wary of attacking them openly in case they could already call upon their power. I'll split the difference and say that both contributed something to her light touch with them.

I also like how Discord has much more cosmic significance in this incarnation.

Yeah, that's kinda what I built most of my world around, actually.

I'm somewhat biased on the matter of Discord.

Although I personally wouldn't associate his heart with crystal; given the order-like nature of crystals, I'd have maybe tried an organic mish-mash to reflect the "living chaos" of... well, life itself (like a Frankensteinian heart made out of multiple species' hearts, or a creature itself with a will of its own).

It's certainly not an ordinary crystal, but its orderly aspects are somewhat of a necessity. This version of Discord outright cannot use non-chaotic magic, and one of the major weaknesses of chaos magic is that it's generally impermanent. Making an enchantment last for the entire duration he expects to be alive for is a difficult feat even for Discord, because he just doesn't do order. So tying the enchantment to a material which is orderly is his way of cheating it.

Probably my favourite part is both making sense of a particular comic's plot with Discord's involvement and doing it in such a delightfully backhandedly way

Thank you. While I'm shilling my writing anyway, I wrote an entire fic trying to make sense of that comic. The explanation in this blog mostly concerns Discord and Well-To-Do's plan, while the fic itself is more about Aspen's actions and motivations.

5447696

I'm somewhat biased on the matter of Discord.

That's not logically possible. :trollestia:

In all seriousness, I want to do that in my own fanfics someday. Ever since his introduction, I've always been a fan of the idea that Discord's ties to chaos play a significant role in how the world works (way back when, I basically explained all mythical species in Equestria as Discord's primordial creations).

It's certainly not an ordinary crystal, but its orderly aspects are somewhat of a necessity. This version of Discord outright cannot use non-chaotic magic, and one of the major weaknesses of chaos magic is that it's generally impermanent. Making an enchantment last for the entire duration he expects to be alive for is a difficult feat even for Discord, because he just doesn't do order. So tying the enchantment to a material which is orderly is his way of cheating it.

Huh, at first I thought you were describing it as a power-limiter, like the world would suddenly end in chaos if it was ever fully unleashed. I like the idea that it's Discord's way of cosmically gaming the system. A living cheat code seems oddly appropriate for a guy who hates playing by the rules.

5447769

(way back when, I basically explained all mythical species in Equestria as Discord's primordial creations)

It does fit his character. I use a variation on this myself, actually. He's not solely responsible for all the monsters (he has allies and enemies who were also doing their own things), but he certainly played his part.

Huh, at first I thought you were describing it as a power-limiter, like the world would suddenly end in chaos if it was ever fully unleashed.

...Well... that's not wrong either? I mean, Discord doesn't have a power-limiter, but he absolutely could end the world in chaos if he let his full power loose. He doesn't do that, because mass destruction isn't the way he does things, but it can happen by accident... such as if he attempts to use order magic.

In fact, that's exactly what happened in the season five wasteland timeline in this world.

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