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In the far reaches of Canterlot Castle, high above in the towers lived the archmage. Everypony knew her, yet few had met her.

Twilight Sparkle sighed, having teleported away another noble seeking favors before reaching the top of the stairs for the second time today. They never learned. As the archmage, she already dealt with political squabbles far too often without inviting them into her home. Aside from personal favors for Celestia, she did what was required of her position and then returned to seclusion and research.

The nobility grumbled that no archmage should be a commoner, and Twilight’s disrespect toward them proved it. Each and every time they were forced to bow to her, they hated what they saw: the position, the status, the deference.

Was she not powerful? Was she not great?

Twilight, now reading through dusty scrolls and long forgotten tales, wrote in her notes — notes gathering dust of their own. A brief thought flashed through her mind.

Am I not powerful? Am I not great?

And then Twilight picked up The Tale of the Royal Pony Sisters.

Defunct side stories told in Across the Boundary. They can still provide a little context, but when in doubt, the main story here is canon.

Cover art provided by Lafiir

Chapters (31)
Comments ( 1201 )

I like this. 'tis interesting.

First comment! Loved this first chapter! Twilight was so cute! It was really well written.

Lol Twilight and Princess Celestia are so funny together!

Very good story! I cannot believe this only has 8(maybe more) likes, it should have WAY more! Either ways, keep up the good work.

Ooh, this Story is so very promising. It feels like a mix of other stories I've read, but something new entirely at the same time. This Story has the potential to be something big. I'm really looking forward to reading on.

This deserves a lot more attention.

What is the Alicorn Accord? I thought it was some rule that alicorns can't participate in warfare but now I can't tell.

That is exactly what it is, but it wouldn't be very enforceable if there were no one to enforce it. Hence the very old, very powerful dragons.

If you're a history or politics buff it's sort of like the 'Balance of Power' concept. Alicorns are very powerful and essentially everyone (at least, everyone not on their side) has pledged to fight against them if they get directly involved in a war, no questions asked. In real life, that philosophy was one of the many factors that caused World War One.

Nice chapter. I love the lore you've put into this so far.

Its also funny yo mentioned the MLP Time Loops, as i just finished reading their update, lol

The clock at the end of Sweetie Belle’s gaze showed it was barely past ten. That is going to take some getting used to. Kinda see where Luna is coming from when ponies go to bed this early.

Uhm... where did Sweetie Belle come from?

Like this story so far, interesting retelling of the events. Can't wait to see how it progresses.


Good catch. That's the problem with having two characters that are called Sweetie in a story, let alone the fact that it's also a pet name.

heard in the last paragraph should be herd.

Great so far! Looking forward to more!

AAaaand we have our Honesty!


The illusion mare is honesty.

Lyra replacing Applejack for Honesty, yay.

*knockknockknock* FetEx delivery! Did someone order a case of case of plot thickener here? :twilightsheepish:

Poor Applejack, I liked her. Though I wonder who will replace second in command since she was the unofically leader beside Twilight.... oh, what if she is loyalty instead for seemed to be more loayal then honest, especially to family and freinds.

Altering her utility function would be tantamount to killing her.

Ponies don't have utility functions, but now it's really, definitely confirmed that I'm reading a rationalfic.

Am I the only one who was hoping shining armor would faint to?:moustache:

“And especially don’t tell me your plan is to let your archmage stumble onto this book, go on a random quest, and figure everything out herself, because you’ve had a thousand years to get on this.”


Oh twilight, you just can't catch a break, can you?

4258254 Sorry, we made a mistake and don't need it any more. I don't suppose you have any thinner with you? We could use a would lot of that soon I expect.

I love constructive criticism, but this isn't quite detailed enough to use. My reviewer/editor hasn't said anything to this effect, but knows a bit more than already presented about where the characters and plot are going, so if we're not catching a blaring problem, that could be our fault.

Also, I can't figure out the pun in FetEx delivery, but it really sounds like there's one there to be discovered.


It...seems like a joke--a play on words for "the plot thickens". Don't give it any thought.

4271049 has it right. The story is similar enough to the original that Lyra being one of the bearers, rather than Applejack, is a bit of a plot twist, or a plot thickener. The "mistake" was that we don't need
4258254 's shipment of "plot thickener" anymore, and instead need something to thin it back out.

Criticism wise, I don't really have much more than read over your stuff. I just read the entire thing in a day, so anything more specific than that there is the occasional comma error or dropped word isn't sticking with me. :twilightsheepish: I'll be sure to point out anything I find in future chapters though!:twilightsmile:

4270942 Indeed, I was merely joking that the plot thickens. No story criticism intended at all. I'm enjoying this story.

As said by everyone above, very little to criticize here. Story is amazing and I wish it was getting more attention, cause it really deserves it. Damned feature box is reserved for poorly written clop these days.


Very good work. Looking forward to more! :pinkiehappy:

This story is great so far. Keep up the good work.

I think you made the Apple family accent too thick.

Also noticed that Sweetie Belle never used a single contraction while speaking. She's only what, 9? 10? Why is she talking like that?

It could be that the accent is too thick, but I'll probably keep it going at the current level unless it's actually difficult to read(?). After all, the Apple family is filled with stubborn ponies.

On the topic of Sweetie Belle, my best guess of the age of the crusaders is around 11 based on how unsupervised they are in canon along with a few other social cues. As for why she speaks with an elevated tone, she's Rarity's little sister. She's had lessons.

I prefer Aspirations of Harmony as a system myself, but then I had a hand in developing some aspects. So I'm biased.

Wow, Luna is not what I expected. Are the elements even going to be necessary?

Heh, Luna, don't ever change.

Oh man, I really hope Luna doesn't come back insane. It would be so anticlimactic, the good kind of anticlimactic. The kind where you wipe your brow and go, 'phew, that was close'.

Also dream-roleplaying FTW.

Luna is certainly not the crazy Nightmare Moon from the show, but now we have to see how much of her personality is real, and how much is playacting. I really am liking your take on this world. I can't wait to see where it goes next.:twilightsmile:

Also, on a picky side note, you mixed up to/too and your/you're a few times. The ones that I noticed were the first letter to Spike and the first meeting with Luna. It's not a huge issue, I'm just a bit of a grammar nazi.:twilightsheepish:

4288981 It's all a trick! With Twilight in Luna's dream, she can't wake up. So she will be trapped there, while Luna can walk out of the dream and wake up and take over the world with the element of Magic sealed away in dream land! :twilightoops: :trollestia:

Great story! Love your take on Twilight, and how the butterfly effect has changed Equestria.

On a different note, I have no idea where the idea of psychopathic seaponies originated from. My best guess is the fanfic MLP Time Loops (which is very good and worth reading) by Saphroneth and several other authors which infrequently features them.

:yay:Yay! Shout out.
I'm one of the "several other authors" who write for The Infinite Loops, and I am glad to see the Loops inspiring people. :pinkiehappy:

I like what I've seen so far, and I'm interested to see where you take it from here. You do seem to be taking liberties with the chronology, but I suppose for an AU fic that's fine.

I love how this is just the more realistic grown-up version of what would have actually happened, but with slightly different element bearers. Love your portrayal of Twilight in this.

4361414 Pfft, screw Twilight, :twilightangry2:. Sweetie Belle is the main character of this story! :unsuresweetie:

4361564 I'm sorry that Sweetie "FanGirl" Belle isn't up to par with hero potential in the story yet but you don't need to be so huffy. Clearly Twilight is best pony, and only getting better with time. Sweetie Belle will learn a lot from her, to be sure. :twilightsmile:

HA!! loved it, all three of them fainted.:heart:

"...was the8 saddlebags."
That's a lot of saddlebags! Anyways, this is a great chapter. I hope Sweetie feels better, Twilight seems to have made her really unhappy. Can't wait to see where all this story goes!


Twilight. T. Why can’t ponies pick names like…Zel…

yes, i wonder that too.

Comment posted by Mänic deleted May 9th, 2014

Triple Twilight Time! Ah, Existential Twilight is a good Twilight.

Why would she need to think in another language if Generosity is missing?

'polar opposite of Celestia near sweets' :trollestia:

noticed was the8 saddlebags

Extra 8.

A-A-A-And Sweetie Belle is Generosity.

Oh Trixie, never change.

So Generosity gives mindreading? Why?

1-2 weeks, gotcha!

… I'm really not sure what to think about Luna. On one hand, it'd be easy for her to be lying and getting trust for when she comes back; she outright said she's in the Nightmare Moon form. On the other hand, there is no Nightmare Moon tag.


So, why does Generosity give mind reading? That's a very good question that I pounded out with my editor a long time ago, way back when this story was just an outline with a bland first draft covering the plot up to the summer solstice.

The short answer is because it is convenient plot wise.

The long answer is a bit more involved. The other five elements were pretty straight forward, but we couldn't come up with anything for Generosity that screamed "This is it!" without it being something I don't want the magic system to do.

Also, so far you only have Twilight's word on Celestia's word on what Generosity does. The same goes for all of the elements really.

noticed was the8 saddlebags

Now updated to feature over 9000 saddlebags! All custom designed by Saddle Arabians, sewn by the finest mares the world has to offer, and all for the low, low price of 200 bits a pop!

...Or not. I have no idea how that got in there.

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