• Member Since 26th Dec, 2012
  • offline last seen February 26th

CartsBeforeHorses


Put the cart before the horse, mix things up, and look at them in a different way.

Sequels1

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How did King Sombra take over the Crystal Empire? What were his motivations? How did the princesses defeat him?

This story is a prequel to The Trouble With Unicorns, and is part of the Unicornverse.

Chapters (3)
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Comments ( 20 )

keep up the good work!:pinkiesmile:

Well that escalated quickly. :twilightsheepish:

This is amazing! Keep up the good work!

So King Sombra wasn't always a bad guy? He just kinda got addicted to these crystals? Crystal meth, if you will?
It was pretty clever of you to notice how horrible it would be to get there without the aid of a train though. Twilight was so lucky.

2768080 Yep. He wasn't always a bad guy; he just was weak enough and had a sucky enough life to fall prey to an addiction and had a large enough sense of entitlement to believe it was his right to have others feed it for him. Only then did he actually start doing villainous things.

I admit that things really did escalate rather quickly, but that scene with the King was really intense. The part afterwards, while realistic and funny in a meta-kinda way, wasn't nearly as good though.

2768263 Yeah, I didn't much like that scene myself, but I did need a way to establish Sombra's followers. I also kind of wrote it as a supplement to the story (I added it in after the story was already complete) They weren't ever meant to be major characters.

You are not even a crystal pony, so how can you inherit the throne legitimately?

Oh, the irony.
An good story, overall. I always assumed Sombra ruled longer than just a month, however. I also got the impression that, with rare exceptions like Twilight, a unicorn's magic was very weak. If someone was powerful enough to do those, they'd probably get into Celestia's school anyway, so those restrictions seemed kinda unnecessary.

2768386 I'm glad you enjoyed my story! And thank you so much for the detailed feedback :raritystarry:

The way it works in both this story and The Trouble With Unicorns, its sequel, is that unicorns CAN learn a lot more magic than many of them think that they are capable of, but not many of them actually do. But that ultimately changes.

2768436 Ooh. I'm starting on that fic right now, I'll see what happens.

The end felt... rushed. The rest of it was excellent, though! And good, it's not at all like my story about Sombra's rise to power.

2795472 Thanks, I'm glad you liked it! I'll go and check yours out, too.

Done!

As mentioned by another, the only scene that dragged on a bit for me was the establishment of Sombra's followers. It felt like a fade-to-black was warranted at certain points. But otherwise, bravo!

It's interesting finding even more overlap with our headcanon/fanfic continuity and the way in which we differently portray similar ideas.

-In my story, the two castles are mentioned. In fact, chapters 1 and 2 (if/when you've read them) take place in Everfree - obviously, since that's where the Elements of Harmony wind up. Celestia simply leaves them there after defeating NMM. In my headcanon, there have always been two castles (one for Celestia, one for Luna) and they simply switch between them for administrative reasons. However, Everfree itself is only a small village rather than a whole city.

-Sombra's rule is briefly brought up, but all that's really stated is that he's a unicorn from Canterlot who became dissatisfied with his magical potential being "wasted" and, after discovering some texts on dark magic in the library (more on that in a sec), departs to seek providence in the Crystal Empire knowing full well his magic will go mostly unopposed. Your idea for the crystal addiction is sound, though, and my own story makes no mention of it.

-Dark magic itself isn't taught in schools. Rather, it's elaborated on in certain academic texts for the purpose of teaching ponies how to defend against it, like Defence Against the Dark Arts in Harry Potter. Dark magic itself originates from one source and, to crank the spoilers up, that source is the villain; any mention of him in a text allows him to wriggle his way into a reader's mind and imbue them with powerful dark magic in exchange for turning them evil. Sombra was his first, followed by Nightmare Moon, and then a few other OCs in my story that you'll eventually see if you follow it. In fact, the more interesting aspect of my story in this sense is that I go into detail about how the Crystal Empire was formed, who created the Crystal Heart, and for what purpose.

... How the hell did that become a spiel about my own work when we're talking about yours?:facehoof:

Anyway, good story! Besides the loyalist scene, the only other minor gripes I have are-

1. Maybe Sombra's slippery slope is a tad too slippery. Desperation can drive a person to do questionable things (and I kinda feel sorry for him), but the way he suddenly indulges in full-on, almost cartoonish supervillainy was a tad jarring.
2. The final battle. I'm not gonna say it was rushed per se, but it felt like it started off giving a lot of detail (like a war fic would) and then suddenly "Celestia and Luna did this, this and that spell, and it was over."

I'm not trying to sound like a prick. I just want to try and say something that may be of use to you, even if that use happens to be disagreement! Otherwise, I enjoyed it.:twilightsmile:

It's meeeee!

Dun dun dun!

Okay, so...

This does confirm my suspicion that Celestia in this 'verse is a complete and utter moron. Why is mind control magic legal to begin with? From what I gather, Celestia only made mind control magic and dark magic illegal in the end, right? Well, why wasn't it illegal from its inception? You're telling me that 1. Sombra was the first guy who used it in a bad way or 2. Celestia never foresaw how teaching this magic would go wrong.

And why is she still allowing the four categories of magic in the school? Hey Celestia! That's where Sombra learned everything he needed to take over the Empire in the first place, something that you know because you know he was from Canterlot and graduated from the school. So maybe average Joe isn't going to be learning about mind control magic, but guess what? They weren't anyway. Why would, say, a unicorn watchmaker or gem hunter learn about mind control magic? Especially in a place as idyllic as Equestria? You know who would have use for that? Exceptionally powerful unicorns at the school. I wouldn't be surprised if 1. something bad has happened before because they taught this magic at the school and 2. it happens again between now and the show.

And Celestia says that she's never going to let anyone but the most trusted of ponies to learn the magicks. Well, what if they get corrupted somehow? Well, then there's a newly evil pony who knows time travel, mind control, and black magic. Whoops.

Again. Why did she teach this crap at all? Ever? I got the feeling that Sombra just kind of learned it in the same way a guy would take a history course in college. Or at least, it seemed far more open. What the heck are ponies going to do with any of those fur spells except the celestial bodies one? All it takes is one unicorn to screw up with time travel, and things go horribly wrong. Some with black magic and mind control. Oh look, that's the plot of this story. Celestia was too dumb to see this coming? Or Starswirl? Not likely. Not buying it.

Also, why make a giant, sweeping decree about it? She's a smart politician. Wouldn't it be way better for her to just quietly make those spells illegal? That way 95% of the unicorns aren't going to care. They never really knew much about those spells anyway. The 5% that are affected by that may be mad, but if she does it quietly, then any speeches that they make about the subject are going to have a heck of a harder time gaining steam. Why? Because 99% of Equestria has no idea what they're talking about, or why they should care. But if Celestia does exactly what she did, then it's on the minds of the entire nation, and the unicorns who aren't happy can jump on the "this is baloney" train immediately, and since everybody is talking about it, they can force their opinions much easier. I know that the first one is a viable option because you said that that's how Celestia does things 99% of the time anyway!

I did like Sombra's motives and backstory, though. That was good.

5425316

Hey, I'm glad that you're reading the prequels! I'm still pretty proud of them, but please do bear in mind that I wrote them over two years ago and have drastically improved as a writer since then, so don't be too harsh on me :twilightblush:

From what I gather, Celestia only made mind control magic and dark magic illegal in the end, right? Well, why wasn't it illegal from its inception?

In general, laws are often more reactive than proactive. A lot of laws have unintended or unforseen loopholes that are exploited by clever criminals, and it requires the lawmakers to close in order to prevent further abuse. Very rarely will the law be 100% airtight the first time it is passed. Almost every law that is ever passed is amended and tightened multiple times.

There wasn't a law before that point, because there hadn't ever been a unicorn take over an entire empire by himself with that magic before. Celestia felt that the prior laws were inadequate in light of the incident that occured, so a new law was needed to address that situation. Sure, there had been ponies use those spells for evil before, but nothing like on the scale of Sombra.

Look at all the new counter-terrorism laws that they passed after 9/11. Why weren't those laws always on the books? Because nobody saw a need for them before. Terrorists exploited serious vulnerabilities in our country to pull off an attack. Sure, there had been terrorist attacks in the US before, but nothing like on the scale of 9/11.

Why haven't fire codes, or child labor laws, or civil rights laws, or abortion laws, or smoking laws, or laws against slavery, or pick any sort of laws, always been there since the dawn of time? People's attitudes change, and events (either drastic or gradual) happen that prompt lawmakers to change the laws. The law isn't set in stone and it's not ever perfect. Not even in Equestria is that the case. Celestia is a quite powerful alicorn, but even she can't forsee every circumstance.

Oh look, that's the plot of this story. Celestia was too dumb to see this coming? Or Starswirl? Not likely. Not buying it.

Please be careful to avoid hindsight bias, or "the inclination, after an event has occurred, to see the event as having been predictable, despite there having been little or no objective basis for predicting it, prior to its occurrence."

Celestia can not predict every single event that can go wrong in Equestria. For instance, she didn't predict her sister turning into Nightmare Moon. She didn't predict Discord teaming up with Tirek. That doesn't make her dumb, any more than every single congressman before 9/11 was "dumb" for failing to predict 9/11 and trying to pass appropriate legislation that could have prevented it. There should have always been a law banning overflights over New York City and permanently stationing fighter jets nearby to shoot down any highjacked airplanes before they could be used as missiles to take down buildings.

By your logic, any leader who didn't pass that law was "dumb." No, they weren't dumb, they just were blindsided by a really oddball event. Even brilliant strategists who otherwise are right most of the time, can still be blindsided sometimes.

It is impossible to forsee every circumstance and everything that could go wrong.

And why is she still allowing the four categories of magic in the school?

You should ask the show writers about that, because Twilight Sparkle is a student of Celestia's school and uses both time travel (It's About Time) and mind control (want it, need it spell from Lesson Zero) in the show. She also used what appeared to be dark magic in the crystal empire episodes, saying that it's "something Celestia taught me." For whatever reason, Celestia saw fit to keep those sorts of advanced spells legal, but under heavy restriction.

This is because the spells could possibly have benign, non-evil uses. For instance, perhaps time travel could be useful for historians, anthropologists, etc. to travel back in time and see how things used to be. Also, it's never really clear if it's possible to alter the flow of time in the show or if it's just set, if Twilight's experiences are anything to go by. For all we know, it's impossible to alter the past, since "you already changed the past."

As for mind control, I can see at least a few legitimate uses for it, such as psychotherapy, controlling dangerous criminals, etc. I mean, there had to be some reason that Twilight knew the Want It, Need It Spell, and I doubt that it was just so she could fuck with everypony and get her homework done on time.

Again, I just fill in the details as a fanfic writer, but those questions do eventually come down to the show writers themselves. Why do you think that Twilight knows the want-it, need-it spell? Surely there must be legitimate reasons for her to know it. That, or the show writers didn't really think that bit through and they were just phoning it in as a gag for Lesson Zero, which was already a very wacky episode, and now I'm here left to try to make sense of it all.

In the context of the show, it is kind of a plot hole in and of itself. Why would a nice pony like Twilight bother to learn a spell to make somepony desperately want something against their will? Isn't that really evil and manipulative of her? What was she using it for, before? She even says when she casts it, and I quote "The want-it, need-it spell, works every time."

What other times? When had she used it before, and for what? How did she know the spell and why?

Also, why make a giant, sweeping decree about it? She's a smart politician. Wouldn't it be way better for her to just quietly make those spells illegal?

Normally, that is what she would do, as pointed out in the story. But bear in mind that an entire empire had just been buried to the north of Equestria. Not just any empire, but one that was a true friend and ally to Equestria the same way that Canada and the US are linked. I mean, imagine if Canada just disappeared tomorrow in a series of nuclear blasts, caused by some rogue nuclear scientist from the USA.

Would the president just quietly issue an executive order or "memorandum" tightening restrictions on nuclear scientists and hope that he could just sweep it all under the rug, or would he go onto the TV and explain what happened and why people weren't in any danger here in America? I have a feeling that he would try to reassure people, tell them what happened to lead to Canada's destruction, and how America was planning on keeping itself safe from similar attacks. If he didn't do so, people would freak and panic and lose faith in his ability to lead. In the same way, Celestia did exactly what she felt that she had to, in order to prevent a panic, and to restore the public's faith in her leadership.

I did like Sombra's motives and backstory, though. That was good.

Thanks! :pinkiehappy:

2831436 Where can I read this story?
Have you ever considered submitting this story to Equestria Daily? You can find out how to do so here.

5553867

My story?
It's here (and it's on EqD too).

Celestia is really a piece of shit in this story.

What part of ¨defence treaty¨ don't you understand? It certainly does not involve the annexation of the country you are supposed to defend. ¨tiring of debating with Sombra over the finer points of investiture,¨ This simple choice of words shows that she is a bitch, you don't talk (or even think, like in this case) about the fate of an entire nation like that.

She then goes on to destroy valuable knowledge. Lock it all up and don't destroy a thing you dumbass! destroying knowledge does not destroy what that knowledge was about. If someone learns it by themselves and uses it for bad, congratulation, you just destroyed the scrolls that could have helped you.

She then pretty much goes on a repression on the unicorn race. There are still Earth Ponies and Pegasus cities, but fuck you Unicorns you can no longer have a home, when a race have nowhere to call home, it dies off, Its pretty simple, especially if the others are still protected.

And she is a freaking huge hypocrite at that, Alicorns like her are more powerful than Unicorns, Yet they rule Ponykind, if having great potential equals having to be kept in line, then she should resign, get a new leader for Equestria and put a ring to supress her magic. Yet she doesn't do it, even after her sister proved her that Alicorns weren't infallible.
Not only that, she actively tries to create more Alicorns! So there goes the argument ¨she trust herself¨

9653287
Yeah, I basically wrote her to be the world's biggest asshole. At the time I wrote this story, around S3, there were several inconsistencies in the show as to how unicorns were portrayed, vs. the other two pony races (there still are, but now we know more about them). I kind of explained it as, Celestia laid down the law after how powerful she saw the unicorns were becoming. She knew that even a single ultra-powerful unicorn could threaten her rule--as later happened again with Starlight Glimmer.

Back in 2013, I was almost hoping that the progression of the show would make some of this story non-canon, which it kind of does, but not in the way I was hoping. If, say, we'd seen some super-powerful earth ponies or pegasi threaten Equestria, then Celestia's focus on unicorns would seem too narrow and myopic... but that's the opposite. FIM introduces crazy new unicorn spells every new season, and pegasi and earth ponies... still control the weather and grow crops, for the most part. They're clearly not threatening, which I think is sad, frankly. I mean, EARTH ponies, if properly trained, should be able to create earthquakes, build golems, control plants and animals to make giant monsters, use magnetic propulsion to fly, and do all sorts of cool earth/plant-related stuff. But nooooo, all they get is farming and allegedly enhanced strength. I don't see it, Applejack admitted in one episode that Twilight Sparkle could do a better job cleaning a bunch of weeds from the land than she could. Maud Pie can break boulders pretty well, but Twilight or Starlight could just do that with an energy beam. And Pinkie is... Pinkie.

Maybe instead of introducing a bunch of random new non-pony characters and locations, the show could spend some time developing the ponies and locations that have already been introduced. Instead of seeing earth ponies do some cool shit, we get to see... yakyakistan and the kirin. Like, come on!

Now with this story, I could've perhaps put more emphasis on Celestia's heart being in the right place, because it would be more consistent with her character in the show. Her approach here comes off as heavy-handed, but she's also the same pony who banished her own sister to the moon for a thousand years. Which, as we see in a flashback, was a snap decision and not a well-considered response. Were I ruling Equestria, and I had to guess who the next villain or terrorist would be, my money would be on a unicorn. Of course, I wouldn't use the exact same approach to deal with it that Celestia did.

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