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  • 1 week
    Time to Help

    And so we begin what one might reasonably call the last bit of G4.

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  • 4 weeks
    On the End: Addendum

    I realized there's another notable moral one could draw from everything that happened with the Elements of Patriotism. It's one you likely won't notice without some thought, a fridge moral if you will; normally I'd say that a moral that takes effort to find is no moral at all, but in this case I feel it's significant enough to break that rule.

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  • 5 weeks
    On the End

    Though, like what I said a little over two years ago, that's not exactly true. There's still the Generations comics—people who aren't incessantly complaining about slow shipping already have one of those by now—and of course it's a safe bet that when we get more G5 we'll also get more references to ancient Equestria. But endings are still endings, whether or not they're total.

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  • 9 weeks
    On Renewal

    It remains to be seen what my habits will be with regard to G5, but I've decided that there are at least some thoughts I want to write up about the movie.

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    2 comments · 35 views
  • 12 weeks
    On Patriotism

    The end approaches.

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On Harmony · 6:35am August 5th

So. It has come to this.

Those are the words that popped into my head, and they're a valid observation in literally any situation.

But let's talk about issue #100 before we get too wrapped up in past events.

As always, we begin with the moral, and in this case our moral is that you can't force emotional bonds to form. You can certainly help them along by arranging situations that are conducive to bonding, but nothing you could do is guaranteed to work, and in particular the simplest option of pretending the bonds already exist until they materialize is frequently going to be ineffective. You can't build something on nothing no matter how much you insist it's there.

Of course, we bring this up while visiting the Tree of (Romantic) Love because that's the arena where it comes up most; there's a rich array of tropes around arranged marriages and people who are desperate enough for romantic love that they resort to faking it. But the principle applies just as much to other relationships; friends and family may not be as much of a general obsession, but that doesn't mean one can't still try and fail to force them.

But naturally, we've all got questions on our minds. Questions like:
- What happened to the original Knights of Harmony?
- What did Equestria allegedly do to Cunabula, and how much culpability and involvement did Equestria actually have in whatever happened?
- Why do even the secret histories contain no record of the other Trees of Harmony (and the temples thereof)?
- Are those histories similarly ignorant of Cunabula's existence?
- How many Trees of Harmony are there?
- How does Equestria's Tree of Harmony relate to the others?
- Are the birds correct that the lights in each temple do not include a status light for that temple, and only report how other temples are doing?
- Where are the Temple and Tree of Patriotism?
- Why were the other Temples of Harmony lost?
- Why does the king of Cunabula care so much whether or not all the temples are restored?
- Why does the ancient carving show the Knights of Harmony as a mix of different species, when other indications seem to show just a group of Ceridwen's species?
- How old are the Temples of Harmony, given that whoever saw the Farasian light come on in the Cunabulan temple said it had been "thousands of years"?

And I can answer a few of these confidently: Ocypete never clearly said it, but I am confident that she intended to indicate that the Temple of Patriotism is in Cunabula. And despite the behavior of the lights in Farasia (where a second light lit up in the reactivated temple once it was reactivated) I think we can safely assume that the behavior in Orinthia, where there were five lights before there was a full set of champions, is intended to be authoritative (This of course implies that there are at least six Trees of Harmony).

For the rest of the questions, we must speculate. And it's tempting to speculate that the original Knights of Harmony journeyed to Equestria to set up the last temple and disappeared there, causing Cunabula to develop a grudge against Equestria, but I'm not convinced that aligns with what Ceridwen said about "meddling princesses," and more importantly it has confusing implications for how many Trees of Harmony there are. One will note, after all, that the birds report that there's been exactly one light consistently illuminated on their temple status indicator for a very long time, and that no light turned on about five years ago (by my estimation) when the Mane Six fought Nightmare Moon. This implies that either Celestia qualified as a champion for all of Equestria's elements during Luna's banishment (severely questionable, and also carries the assumption that the birds didn't notice any disruptions when Equestria's Tree was attacked by plunder seeds or shattered by Sombra) or that there isn't a light for the Tree that the Pillars planted and that the Knights of Harmony did actually set up a proper sixth temple somewhere. If they did that in Equestria, why would there be no record of them?

No, I'm pretty sure the original Knights of Harmony set up a seventh Tree in a sixth Temple of Harmony somewhere that we haven't visited (at least seventh to us, though likely sixth chronologically); one will note that there's a carving in the Ornithian temple that includes a cat, a bird, and a dragon, which could suggest the last temple is in the dragon lands, but I have serious doubts about it being among the famously individualistic dragons for reasons I'm about to get to. And one will further note that if we trust (most of) the lights to be accurate, that sixth temple is the one that has been consistently maintained; if the Cunabulan temple were the one with current guardians from the start then their own display would have shown one fewer light every time we saw it. Thus we must conclude that the Cunabulan temple was monitored but not active until the Mane Six started visiting the lost temples. And we are free to go further and speculate that the Cunabulan temple was the first light to go out, presumably as a result of whatever they blame Equestria for. It may be that they were then responsible for the other three lights that went out, but if so we must ask how (so far as I can tell, the other temples are merely neglected, not attacked) and why they left the Ornithian temple and the sixth temple alone. And the best guesses I've got for those are that they went after the champions rather than the temples, but (after presumably losing the original Knights of Harmony, the only ones who had been there) were unable to find Orinthia at the time and similarly could not get into the mystery sixth location.

Ultimately all I'm reasonably confident about is that the Knights of Harmony disappeared, the Cunabulans blamed it on Equestria (despite the Knights never making contact with any Equestrians) and on the harmony that the Knights had gone out to spread, and that they fear the power of too many Trees united. I can't come up with a plausible guess about what specifically happened to the Knights; I find myself fond of the idea that they became sirens and got banish to another world, but that does have the minor problem that there's half as many sirens as that theory requires. And I don't know what connects the Pillars and their Tree to the other Trees without their knowledge, other than that I assume it relates to the mysterious fate of the Knights of Harmony.

By the way, since I've been typing it a lot, I should mention that "cunabula" is a word. Cunabula is the cunabula of harmony.

Also, Ceridwen is, as the name suggests, a figure from Celtic mythology. Like the Cunabulan Ceridwen, the Welsh Ceridwen wields magic including shape-shifting power (being either a sorceress or a goddess), albeit less externally directed (at least intentionally). It's unclear if there's any further similarities and there will be anything involving wisdom or a hideous sibling of a beautiful child.

And to round out our roundup of names, Aello (or Podarge, Nicothoe, or variants of those three), Ocypete (or Ocythoe or Ocypode), and Celaeno (or there are only two) are the name of the three harpies according to various writers, with Thaumas and Electra (or Ozomene according to Hyginus, or maybe actually Pontus or Poseidon and Gaia) being their parents, and with either Zephyrus or Boreas along with Aello being the parents of two horses whose identities vary as well. (Confusingly, one is often Xanthus, but is not the same as Xanthos, one of the mares of Diomedes.) And Thaumas is a sea god (brother to the more famous Nereus), Electra (who may or may not be the same as Ozomene) is an Oceanid (a water nymph), and Zephyrus and Boreas are of course the west and north winds respectively.

Actually, I lied. Some of you might not know that Huginn and Muninn are Odin's two ravens who keep him informed about everything that goes on, so I'd better tell you. Their names translate as "thought" and "memory" (or "mind") respectively, and I'm a bit disappointed that this fake Huginn doesn't even have a brother.

Don't you think it's weird that the beginning of the comic establishes that Orinthia has a caste system between different types of birds and is largely segregated and then the rest of the comic completely fails to address this because there's bigger stuff going on? Bon-Bon even starts to ask about the situation before they all get distracted by the royal wedding. It feels like something that ought to be dealt with, but with an imminent attack looming and likely to take up the final two issues I just don't see how we'll have time.

I have to compliment Ossie on her princessly diplomatic training. I'm pretty sure that face she made on the balcony was how she wanted to react the moment Cellie waltzed back in like she hadn't run away without so much as goodbye, but you'd never have guessed it while the foreign dignitaries could see.

Not that she was lying about being happy to see her old friend, of course. But she can be happy and pissed at the same time.

You know, I've got one more small question: what made the royal family think Huginn was a suitable champion of perseverance? Certainly he didn't have much actual interest in persevering when he found out that ponies might interfere.

I would love to know why Bon-Bon has never taught her wife how to sneak in a manner that isn't simultaneously painful and counterproductive.

I've long been one to say that political marriages get a bad rap in modern media. They're a time-honored way to solidify alliances, and any marriage that can prevent a war or get a country through a famine is a good marriage in my book.

But I'm not a fan of political marriages that aren't actually going to accomplish anything, since they're in pursuit of something that either doesn't matter or can't be achieved with an arranged marriage. I'm not a fan of things that are unintentionally pointless.

I guess it turns out I was wrong about why Celaeno and her crew were pirates. At least a little wrong. Ornithia is too hidden to be a tributary state, and Celaeno was after adventure, not better job opportunities than were available back home.

Her crew still might have been after a better life, though. I'm not sure how much of an underclass parrots who aren't personal friends with royalty are.

I can't identify where I've seen the logo that Celaeno makes as she crashes through a hill after saving the ponies, and it's driving me crazy.

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