• Member Since 16th Sep, 2013
  • offline last seen Last Friday

Red B


A guy with epic ideas and short attention span.

T

Among all the nations on Equis, no nation has enjoyed such a peaceful existence like Equestria. Under the loving care of Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, Equestria has outlived many nations. Even when Princess Luna was banished, Equestria continued to exist as a land of peace and harmony.

However, nothing stays the same forever. Sooner or later great changes sweep the land, regardless of the desires or wants of those living there. And while Celestia's rule has ensured that Equestria has remained the same, a great storm of change is approaching. For better or worse, life in Equestria is about to change...

Cover image by anarchemitis. Used with permission.

Chapters (7)
Comments ( 28 )

Hi there, and congratulations on the release of your first story! That said, here's a bunch of points I'm going to make that you'll hopefully find helpful:

- Your short description from the New Stories tab on the front page is excellent. Consider this your first success as that was what pulled me in.
- Royal titles like "Your Majesty" are always capitalized.
- Your first chapter is a good hook. Celestia's scouring the frontier with her guards and happens upon Five Points, and as she mentions this isn't the first time and the subsequent revelation of the "survivor", it's clear there's a mystery here.
- On the other hand, you don't make it explicitly clear: are they there because they're searching the area for something else, or were they searching for the village? If the latter, then why wouldn't they already know where it was, since the amount of roads indicate it as a hub and it would most certainly be marked down on any map for posterity?
- There's a hefty bit of tell in the writing. Sections like where you first explain how Five Points got its name and the significance of the orchard to the village feel like extraneous details that would be better tucked in as a minor part of the imagery description rather than a whole chunk of direct exposition, like so:

As she continued on, Celestia caught the sight of the first of the five roads that crossed through center of the village as she passed a sign with the village's name: Five Points.

or something similar, short and sweet enough to relay what you want to say while not stretching it out. While these raw explanation sections are fine in small bits (very small bits), having too many will drag the story down with fluff.
- Piggybacking onto the last point, the ending: this one deserves its own point because you outright stated that "X is going to happen, and for Celestia, it's going to be big". You don't want to do that, because it's lazy and you're essentially repeating the gist of your story description. Let the story tell itself. Why not leave the chapter on a cliffhanger by having something dramatic happen, to leave the reader anticipating the next chapter?
- Lavender Unicorn Syndrome: there's a trio of paragraphs where you begin them with "Celestia", "the princess", and "the white alicorn", respectively. As a whole, you'll generally want to avoid them as using pronouns ("she") will work perfectly fine; paragraphs should also have a little variety in their beginnings, so try not to begin each one with a noun.
- Finally: what do you want this story to be? From the way it's set up, it feels like a Dark/Adventure story, but you have it tagged as Romance. Be careful not to have your romance shoehorned in, as I've had the pleasure of reading stories that tried to be both dark grand adventure and intimate romance story, and it felt like reading a work that didn't know which one it wanted to be and suffered for it.

It's a good start, though. The writing is decent, and most of the errors hang on the side where proper editing can fix. If you can, try to find someone to edit for you so that they can point out the awkwardness of prose and deviations from the flow of the story that you might not be able to catch.

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Wow, just a few hours and I already get such a helpful advice. Nice.

Thing is, I could play the "English is not my native language" card in order to excuse my errors, but that's a cheap answer.
Anyway, about your fifth point. I will admit, this is probably my greatest problem when writing ... anything. I just can't avoid it. I am easily distracted. As for the Lavender Unicorn Syndrome, I generally try to avoid referring to one character in he same way. Feels wrong for some reason.
As for the romance bit, perhaps adding it wasn't a good idea, since romance won't be the central part of the story. Oh, it will be there and it will play a fairly important role in character development, but the story won't be all about romance. I'll probably remove that.

Either way, I'll strongly consider your advice on a Beta Reader. Do you have any suggestions for a good editor?

4075317 Unfortunately, most of my works are self-edited with exception of one where I have the assistance of fan readers (but are not full-time editors), so I don't know of many that can help you. If you'd like, there are a number of proofreading/editing groups here on Fimfiction that may be able to help you with your works, but I don't know how active they are anymore.

If anything, always be reading quality works and constantly focus on improving your craft. I can't speak for other writers on this site, but looking for general writing resources not here on Fimfiction can also help, too. In addition, there's also the writing guide here on Fimfiction, courtesy of Ezn, that has a lot of important topics to help you improve your writing.

All of that said, you're not too shabby with your groundwork in English. Rarely do I see an author in the New Stories list that has a solid foundation to work on and only needs improvement on the flow and stylistic aspects of writing.

A bit on the short side as far as sample sizes go, but certainly not a bad hook for the premise. The solemn and lifeless atmosphere was conveyed pretty well and Celestia's walk through the empty town had an appropriate feel of eerie mystery about it.

Couple that with the dissolving black unicorn (or whatever that thing actually was), and you have my curiosity peaked - especially as Celestia seemed to recognize something about the incidents in the end, which, I imagine, means that she has seen something of similar nature taking place before. I'm looking towards the mystery being slowly unraveled. And one has to wonder what happens when The Thing runs out of small frontier towns to vanish ...

My one complaint would be that the chapter cuts off rather abruptly, as if the final sentence should have a second half to it that's missing as of now, like a thought incomplete. Other than that though, I always like myself a good mystery, so consider yourself being watched ...

This one's going to be short:

- Wow, an 18k word chapter. That's ludicrously hefty, especially for a starting author. Generally, you'd want to chop things down a bit, section off segments or even remove parts of the chapter that you might think are slowing the pace down. The easiest thing to do would be to write in a proper buildup so that you can split the chapter into two parts. I bring this up for consideration because high word count chapters are generally a turn-off for new potential readers as they don't want to invest a substantial amount of time into a chapter from an unproven author.
- The beginning is confusing. First, she's fallen into mud and she's traveling through the brush, and then she's suddenly making dresses at home. It doesn't help that both situations are laden with superfluous details that give the impression that both scenes are important, but we don't know which one Rarity is actually in. I assume one is a flashback and the other is in the present day, but there needs to be a better job done to portray the distinction between the two.
- I'm only into the first twelfth of the chapter so far, but the superfluous details bear mentioning again. You could cut a lot out of these paragraphs to make them feel less bloated, as you often repeat details to reinforce a point in the same paragraph that had already been made or stretch them with "tell" statements that should go without, like this:

“Is anypony there? Please, I am in need of assistance and I would greatly appreciate your help.” The white mare hoped that a more polite request would yield some results. No such luck, she was still standing all alone, with nothing but the forest and rain to keep her company. She Rarity waited a few more minutes before deciding she decided to act. If there was no pony else nearby then she had to keep on moving. As for the lantern, she glanced down, since it was of no use to anypony while standing in the middle of the forest, she might as well take it and use it to get home. This way she wouldn't have to worry about blindly stumbling around. Rarity was just about to lean down and grab the lantern when a voice spoke from behind her.

Do note that this is a very, very rough fix and should not be considered a complete revision, but this is generally what you should be working towards.
- Flashbacks: first the dresses, and then the gem hunt. These heavily detract from what is going on and are really confusing since you keep jumping back and forth. At the end of the gem hunt, it's impossible to tell whether she's in the "present" or still recalling the flashback, and then it goes on for the next half dozen paragraphs without anything clarifying.
- The whole reason why Rarity is there: this chapter has a terrible hook. Where is she? How did she get there? Why is she there? How is this important in context to the previous chapter? These are all important questions that should have been answered at the beginning to make it clear to the reader what her task is. Instead, there's only lots of description of every action she does, every thought she has, and none of them contribute to the story in any way. It took me until I finished an eighth of the story (where she first runs into the pony holding the lantern) to see something actually progress. To be blunt: don't bore the reader with exposition. Cut to the heart of the matter and get rolling.

I stopped reading around the encounter with the lantern, so there won't be anything more beside what I have here. Besides that, I'm certain that there would have been a huge chunk of page space dedicated to my comment alone if I had offered critiques of the whole chapter, as it's very rough and needs a lot of edit and polish. This will most likely be my last comment as I don't have enough time to dedicate to crunching out the whole chapter to remain informed for the rest of the story, but good luck and always work on improving yourself.

4087265
Ouch, that bad, huh?
Yeah, this chapter kind of got away from me. I usually write the chapter until it feels ready. Until all the points have been addressed, regardless of how many words it takes. Though I do try to end it around the 10k word mark, there are exceptions. This chapter is one such exception. I couldn't find a spot where to cut it off, so it turned into a 18k monster.
As for the other major issue, that's one of my biggest problems. I'm still struggling to find a balance point between detail and progress. Obviously a lot of extra details must be shaved off.

An 18k word chapter? Good - I like it when there is a lot of material to sink my teeth in to. And from the looks and of it and overall pacing, this will be a fairly long-ish story, yet another plus in my eyes. Anyways, on the actual chapter.

I admit the opening part of it, focusing on Rarity's plight and explaining how she got in the situation, wasn't the most exciting read - it felt like you spent a wee bit too much time on catching us up with "present", and the whole segment felt somewhat rough and unruly in the way it was structured and some of the sentences felt a bit awkward.

If you could go over it with a fine toothed comb and clean it up a bit, along with shortening some of the descriptions here and there and trimming some of the slight excess, it would feel much more naturally flowing.

Things definitely took a turn upwards with Lumberjack's entrance though, and it's from this point onwards (Rarity finding the abandoned lantern on the road) that I started truly enjoying the chapter. The dialog was flowing pretty well between the two and since you took your time with introducing Lumberjack and left the reader plenty of chance to observe him and his mannerisms, I have a pretty good mental image of his character. This is good, as often enough I see OCs introduced in such quick-shot ways that don't allow me to get a feel for the characters.

And Lumberjack is a pretty interesting character, and obviously raises a lot of questions about himself. A seeming gentlemen and likes helping other ponies on one hand, but scared and almost paranoid about meeting others? That's an interesting contradiction, and I can't help but feel there is more to it than him just being shy/embarrassed about his broken horn.

It almost sounds like he is hiding from something, what with him moving around constantly ... through granted, him doing heavy duty research on history and various obscure bits of lore, which we actually saw taking place in his house, does lend credibility to his claim of having to travel a lot due to his research. Still, there is obviously more to it than that, and I imagine the guy is searching for something specifically (and I'd be surprised if Lumberjack is his actual name - he did hesitate before naming himself to Rarity after all).

Though I imagine the poor guy isn't about to get his privacy after all. Once Rarity informs Twilight about her new acquaintance, as I am sure she will (who better to get information from regarding horn injuries and potential causes after all, along with inquire about that war history book she had never heard about) and mentions that his house is a veritable library of obscure books, a certain purple bookworm will tear a path straight through the forest in her rush to get at the potential newfound knowledge, heh ... or at least will be adamant about meeting him, heh.

All in all, this chapter was slow to get rolling and the start felt somewhat unruly and cluttered, but once we got to Lumberjack things smoothed out considerably and turned in to an interesting read and a good introduction to what is likely to be a major (main?) OC, or so I imagine, and I look towards seeing more of him.

Also, it's pretty amusing to see that Rarity has become something of a local horror story to the Diamond Dogs, heh.

A few typos here and there as well, like this one:

"I am a fashion designer and I often incorporate games in my designs." - gems, not games. Also, our zebra friend is called Zecora, not Zechora.

That aside, looking towards the next chapter with anticipation.

A mystery story with dark elements? Count me in. The first chapter caught my attention with the ghost town straight away. Second felt slow, but thigns picked up for sure here. I cant wait to learn what the deal with lumberjack is, because those two rude assholes for sure are not detectives. Maybe he survived one of the ghost town incidents, and those responsible want him silenced?

Good start so far, and i feel like it wont be long before the dark and gore tags kick in. A shame this chapter didnt cover Lunas response, would have been interesting i bet.

Well, that certainly took a turn for the unexpected - and I'll happily eat my own hat if those guys looking for Lumberjack (or Stardust, as the case might be) are actual detectives or government operatives of any sort. Don't appear to be too bright either - they might have been able to sell the story if Storm Chaser wasn't so blatantly messed up. The smart thing to do would be to leave him behind (or have him combing the woods) while the rest pretend to be actually civilized operatives.

Instead he ruins their credibility by being as vulgarly crude as he is, and his blatant disrespect of Twilight and not even knowing who she is ("who are you two nags supposed to be") completely blow that claim out of the water - you'd think a detective from a crown agency would know of the latest addition to Equestria's monarchy. Behaving like this in front of Twilight is all but asking to get their story blown out of the water, which is what I imagine is going to happen now that she penned Luna. Besides, like Rainbow said, the story being passed around regarding "Lumberjack" is almost painfully over the top.

Actually I'm surprised Rarity reacted as calmly as she did in the face of as much vulgarity as Storm was throwing her way - I imagine that's not the sort of language she would be used to hearing, never mind be on the receiving end of. She took it remarkably calmly ... though I guess not agitating the psycho in front of her might have attributed to her trying to keep a clear head and get that whole ordeal over with as soon as possible.

On another note, that's an interesting bit about some underlying tension still being there because of the whole swapped cutie mark thing and Twilight blaming herself for putting her friends through that. Rainbow seemed to be more irritable in this chapter as well than she normally seems to be and came off as bit more biting at times than usual - now I wonder if that has to do with this unresolved tension as well. I'm looking towards this issue being explored more and where you plan on taking it.

Also, Rainbow and Soarin? Interesting - color me intrigued, as I imagine the relationship will end up playing a role one way or another. As something other than means to get under Twilight's skin anyways - based on the reactions of the others, I have to wonder if what Rainbow was "boasting" about actually happened, or if she just came up with it on the spot to ruffle Twilight's feather.

Anyways, color me intrigued and waiting for the next chapter - with those would be "detectives" in town and Luna's response incoming, I imagine Twilight and co will be spurred in to action soon enough. Somehow I am imagining a race between them and Storm's squad to get to Lumberjack and learn what the hay is going on, unless Luna can shed some light on him (Stardust) as well.

Hell yeah, its good to see this story updated, i wish i hadn't been busy and could read it sooner. And thats a lot of stuff to read - i hope you continue with such big and juicy updates. Anyway, it was nice to see the Royal Guard actually taking Twilight's report seriously - i was expecting the Mane 6 having to handle this on their own, as things typically tend to happen, so its a nice change of pace to see the mysterious and dangerous crap thats happening around ponyville being taken seriously.

And it certainly looks like things are about to kick in to high gear. Lumberjack(Stardust?) seems to be a bit of an idiot with the whole "you can't arrest me / i want my lawyer" tantrum - you don't say stupid stuff like that to a princess and expect to get away with it - but the mysterious crew arriving on the airship in the end certainly caught my interest. Especially Black lotus. Is she the same black ghost pony-thing that Celestia saw during chapter1? Because if she is, does that mean Ponyville is going to have its citizens disappear as well? I thought thouse guys only targeted outskirt and border towns, not trying something right under Canterlot's nose? Or perhaps this is another group. What was she saying anyway? Is that supposed to mean something or is it just random stuff to appear mysterious and enigmatic or whatever?

And ooh, i wasnt expecting Flash sentry to show up with the guards - does that mean we might get some romance between him and Twilight? That would be nice, i usually like it when stories include some relationship stuff to spice up the plot. I hope more of the guards stick around as well and we have a bigger cast than just the mane 6 doing stuff. Maybe some stuff between Rarity and blitzkrieg as well, if he manages to survive around her? The scene with him being used as a dress stand was hilarious.

And yeah, its just like Rainbow to rush ahead and get in to trouble. I wonder if that's going to come up again - seems like flash was angry for it, but didn't say anything. I guess she kinda did save that other pony by being there as fast as she could, so all is well i guess. I also liked that Twilight took the matter in her own hands, not just sitting around and letting the guards do the work - i hate stories with passive mane 6, because thats not how they act in the show.

And i already forgot what else i wanted to say lol, this chapter was huge and awesome. I cant wait for the next one and how the nightmare night celebration goes (was the red moon Luna's doing or Black lotus?)

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The thing with Stardust is that he's not thinking too clearly or rationally when he is upset. He went through a lot of crap in the previous night, so he is obviously worked up and when he get's like that, he isn't thinking clearly.

Yes, Black Lotus is the same pony from the prologue. And they are there to capture Stardust. As for what she was saying, let me just tell you that the words aren't some random letters. I am using an existing language (with tweaks) for her words.

And yes, I am and will be using Flash Sentry and I don't think I'll be spoiling any major secrets by saying that, yes, there will be something between Twilight and Flash. Although many people dislike him, mostly because they see him as a completely blank character with no personality, I like him. Mostly because of the lack of characterization. I can shape him in almost any way I wish, but still give him the weight of a canon character.

Glad you like Blitzkrieg, he will be hanging around for a while. In fact, there will be plenty of original characters. Some of them will play major roles, others will be less important, either way, this is won't be a story where the Mane 6 solve problems on their own. Not the ones I have in mind, not if they want to survive.

And yes, Flash was upset about Rainbow flying off on her own. After all, sticking together is an important thing when it comes to avoiding danger.

As for Twilight taking matters in her own han.... hooves. You could say that it is partially how I see her, as well as my wish to avoid passive Twilight that often creeps up in some stories. Granted, having this shy, dorky librarian princess is cute and all, but I want to write her differently. Although she does prefer to do things carefully, her sense of responsibility will make her take the initiative, especially if she thinks she can solve the situation in a productive, reasonable manner.

That first paragraph certainly brought a smirk to my face - that's Twilight to a T.

Anyways, color me somewhat (positively) surprised and quite eager - after the tempo set by the previous chapters I was expecting the search for Stardust to take a while, and then some more until any sort of answers began their forthcoming, but it looks like a certain group of individuals have something to say about that and things are about to shift gears ... probably towards chaotic and frantic. I am somewhat surprised the villains are preparing (or so it seems) to assault Ponyville - the place is practically under Canterlot's nose, and one letter from Spike would see reinforcements arriving real quick, up to and potentially including Luna herself. That's quite the shift from their previous modus operandi, what with only attacking border towns and isolated villages, where it would take days for anyone to notice.

I guess that says something about how badly they want Stardust if they are making an open move like this, which begs the question of what, exactly, does he know/posess that these villains want to much - for a group that can make whole towns disappear and are skirting with some sort of demonic forces (or whatever Black Lotus is), they have to be pretty well off already. I'm looking towards finding that out, nothing like a little bit of mystery to keep things interesting.

Speaking of Stardust, color my first impressions "not impressed". I can understand being angry and stressed, but basically telling your local monarch and her entourage of guards to sod off after they find you beating someone to death, suspect or not? Yeah, like THAT is going to convince them to leave you alone. Rather counter-productive. I guess the guy is about as sharp as a brick when under pressure ... if he sticks around the cast and isn't simply ferried away by the bad guys, I wonder if that's going to be a recurring character flaw (which would be interesting in its own right) that gets him in trouble where cooler heads would have prevailed.

Speaking of getting in to trouble, I liked the bit with Rainbow - rushing ahead is just like her, and the whole bit with her looking towards her time with Soarin was a good way to set that up. Sure, her being hothead would be reason enough, but it's always nice to see there is that extra bit of motivation that drives characters to do what they do. I can certainly see this setting her at odds with Flash sometime down the road - he wasn't pleased with her, but I guess didn't want to say anything bad about her in front of Twilight (Don't mess with the friends of your boss, heh) and the only flank she almost got kicked was her own, so no harm done ... kinda. I can certainly see this being a recurring issue though.

Speaking of Flash, I liked both the appearance of the Guard (because that's how it should be - when a princess reports strange/hostile happenings on her doorstep, you move in to secure the area and the situation) and the fact that they have been, apparently, learning from the wedding fiasco. Time will tell how much of an improvement has been made - not sure how I feel about them splitting up in the forest and leaving their unicorns behind, though I guess the situation is kinda mitigated by having Twilight along for all your spellcasting needs. Regardless, I look towards having Flash and his buddy Blitzkrieg (someone get the guy a tank) around, they seem like an interesting duo ... especially Blitzkrieg with his whiplash personality changes.

You handled Twilight pretty well as well - all too often have I seen her portrayed as passive or hesitant to take action, when her portrayal in the show is almost the opposite of that (During a serious situation, not when she is being egged on to a showmanship contest with Trixie or something). She is typically very much hooves-on and proactive when a situation calls for it, so it was nice to see her springing to action when Rainbow was in danger and employing the stunning spell when the guy wanted to flee. She is very much someone who would "lead from the front", so to speak, if it comes to that.

It's also pretty interesting that you included muskets in the Guard arsenal, which probably implies other gunpowder based weaponry as well. Makes sense I guess - it can't be that these guys only have access to spears (I guess that, along with the golden armor, is the ceremonial getup), given that the overall technology level of Equestria seems to be somewhere between 1750-1950 level, depending on the tech in question. They certainly can do better than pointy sticks, if the need presents itself. Better than muskets as well, though I wouldn't be surprised if their warfare related technology lags somewhat behind - I imagine that Equestria hasn't seen a war in a loong time, so naturally it wouldn't have been a priority.

All in all - good chapter that established a few new characters and is rearing up to kick things off with a bang. Looks like Nightmare Night celebration is going to be more about nightmares and less about celebration in Ponyville and I'm certainly looking towards the action, however much or little of it there is.

One thing though, I'm somewhat surprised the whole "bumping in to each other" incident wasn't brought up between Flash/Twilight during their introductions - unless both have forgotten about it? (Or are you pretending that Equestria Girls didn't happen in this timeline?).

Anyways, looking towards more.

Well, I'm looking forward to where this is going. There were a few errors: some of the words 'wonder' should be 'wander,' you spelled 'ignore' with an 's' in front of it , and you spelled the word 'for' as 'fro'; but it's understandable enough. On a personal note, I thought I would never get done. I mean four chapters in and you have close to 48000 words. This was my reaction: :twilightoops:

*reads over the guard segment*

Yeah ... Canterlot's finest indeed. Considering they were effectively on assignment (peaceful as it might be) and not on downtime, I would have expected at least a little bit more professional attitudes than drooling over females in their heads. It's little wonder these guys have failed miserably up to now whenever there was a crisis - and from the looks of things, whatever reforms they are trying to introduce to the guard, are still some good ways away from taking hold, heh.

Beyond that though ... I have a feeling this will be a Nightmare Night that Ponyville won't soon forget, because that turned real vicious real fast. I wonder if the celebration will be held at all next year on this very same date - there's going to be lots of bad memories associated with it.

The action itself though ... I'm somewhat conflicted as to how well I liked it. The descriptions of combat and flow of battle itself were good, but the darklings themselves were frankly bordering on overpowered seeing as how they are completely disposable summoned creatures that can be pulled out of thin air at any time on a moment's notice at Lotus' discretion.

If it was that easy to get soldiers of such a high combat capability, I would expect the ponies to have some sort of an "instant army" spell as well that does all the fighting for them - no need to dirty your own hooves if you can simply wave a horn and pull masses of obedient creatures out of the aether that are individually superior to your actual trained soldiers. I hope this whole process is revealed to have some serious drawbacks if that isn't the case, otherwise this was a bit ...yeah.

That aside, rolling with what we got for now, there were a few other things that didn't sit well with me. Namely - the guards apparently managed to hold the town hall and only suffered 4 casualties while doing so.

This doesn't seem at all feasible - they were outnumbered several times (twelve guards against dozens of darklings) and got swarmed by an enemy that's superior to them on an individual level both speed, strength and endurance wise. That "fight" should have been over in 30 seconds considering what we saw of the darklings and the town hall slaughtered empty a minute afterwards. Considering how strong the darklings were made out to be previously, the dozen guards had no business putting up much of a fight while being outnumbered several times, let alone holding them back with minimal casualties.

Another thing is this:
"The pony screamed in a mixture of pain and rage, and started squirming in Twilight's grasp. It's movements were so strong that it managed to actually slip out of Twilight's grasp, something which had never happened before."

I don't find this to be plausible - or more like, I don't see how squirming, thrashing or jerking about actually plays a role in breaking free from telekinesis or how it would contribute towards that goal (aside from the fact that, if Twilight was serious about holding them down, they'd be stiller than statues in Celestia's garden considering the strength of her TK and would have no leverage to even attempt any movement from a still position).

At best the darkling could plod towards slowly if it could exert more force than Twilight's TK (which, again, should be very much impossible) as it pushes back against the force exerted against it, not "break free" for some reason.

Or better yet, why not levitate them in the air and have them flail uselessly? You can have the strength to literally tear the world in half, and it wouldn't do you the slightest good if you have nothing in range to apply it against.

Speaking of Twilight overall, I can't help but feel like you made her (and her group in general) purposefully hold the Idiot Ball - the things broke free of her hold effortlessly, all her magic attacks missed, and she neither teleported out of the way when she was charged nor put up the "defense field" we know she possesses, nor flew up - she just stood there dumbly and allowed herself to get bitten.

Then there was the whole "sneaking through the town" part, which again raised an eyebrow from me. Twilight can easily teleport across the town. She can group-teleport. She can teleport inside buildings. There is no reason for them to spend all that time and effort skulking through the streets when Twilight could have taken five seconds to set up the group teleport (if she can do so while still a unicorn and being chased by dragons, she can surely do so now that she's an alicorn and after the commotion has died down) and have them all appear right where she needs them.

Yes, I realize that this makes Twilight (and potentially the other princesses) hard to deal with when fights roll about, but that's something you have to account for and deal with smartly - yes, the "good guys" have a very powerful Swiss army knife with them that can circumvent much of the conventional obstacles a group might face in many situations.

You have to account for that and deal with it smartly. Trying to make your villains look more "awesome" via having the good guys act incompetent isn't going to win any credibility score, nor does it make for immersive or intense fight scenes - when I have to spend most of the fight thinking "why aren't they doing the obvious and intelligent thing", then I can hardly appreciate the combat taking place, well written as it might be.

Competent and smart villains and idiot ball holding protagonists that forget their own abilities do not make for a good story.

So ... yeah. This certainly has potential, but I'd urge you to do some serious considering about how to both portray the darklings and (from the looks of it) any of the stronger characters on the equestrian side - throw a hundred enemies at them and have them loose through sheer weight of numbers if must, but don't have them lose because of blatant incompetence and being slow to react.

Other than that though (and hoping much of this get fixed in the future), I'm very much looking towards the fallout of this attack and the conclusions the characters will draw from it. And I have a feeling Stardust is going to have some information beaten out of him one way or another after this slaughter of civilians, even if they have to use magic to pry it from him.

5019567

Okay, time to reply to some of the points you ... pointed out.

About the guards and they're daydreaming, they were just bored. Professionalism doesn't matter when you're cramped up in a small room, doing pretty much nothing at all, while others are free to walk around and have some fun in the process.

The Darklings do seem powerful and I will not deny that maybe I went a bit too far with them. And while they do feel like an "instant army, just add water" type of deal that would allow you to solve every single problem, it isn't as simple as it looks. It's just that the whole thing was from the main character's perspective and they (an by extension the reader as well) know almost nothing about them. Don't worry, more information will be revealed about them.

As for the town hall fight, there were more than just 12 ponies there. There was a 12 pony squad under the command of Bastion, which was reinforced by 9 ponies from Blitzkrieg's squad when he sent his remaining forces to help out. That brings the number up to 21 ponies, which were reduced to 8.

The squirming part is something that, in retrospect, gives the wrong impression. The Darkling didn't break free because it was squirming and thrashing around. It would have slipped free even if it remained perfectly still, the squirming was merely a reflexive response of being suddenly grabbed. They have a limited resistance versus magic, which makes them a bit problematic to deal with when using magic. Twilight could have kept her hold on the thing if she had used more power. Problem is, as mentioned, she has never experienced a pony having a resistance versus magic. She was caught off guard.

As for the teleportation thing, Twilight needs a clear line of sight when teleporting. Or, she needs to be very familiar with the target destination if she can't see it. Otherwise, she risks teleporting inside something/someone. She didn't know what was going on inside the Sugarcube corner until Pinkie opened the door and let her see a safe spot. Same thing for the library. There was no telling if there was someone inside her house or if the place hadn't been trashed. She didn't want to take that risk.

Furthermore, they were trying to be quiet (as much as possible) and teleportation is kind of a noisy affair. No need to make noise when you can't tell what's around the next corner.

I could also point out that she wasn't thinking rationally. Probably none of them were, since their celebration was cut short in such a violent fashion and pretty much everyone saw, for the first time of their lives, ponies actually being killed in front of them. However, I admit that it sounds like an excuse, mostly because you're right about Twilight. It is hard to strike a balance between a powerful enemy and Twilight solving everything in an eyeblink. This was my first attempt and it's obvious that things need a bit more tweaking.

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Alright, the "limited resistance to magic" bit clears that up - you're right, the way it was worded in the chapter sort of gives the wrong impression as to why the darkling broke through. Perhaps you could elaborate the scene a bit more, adding a few lines how Twilight could feel it "slipping" from her grasp (assuming that's how it works) like a wet fish or some such?

Though admittedly, this kinda makes the darklings even more powerful - instant summoned soldiers that are stronger, faster, tougher than regular soldiers, and magically resistant to boot, and apparently available in flying versions as well? That's pretty overwhelming for, as you called it "instant army, just add water" - especially as it sounded like Lotus didn't summon more simply because she didn't think there is a point with Elements in effect, rather that because she couldn't do so if she wished. Though I'll wait for more info if you say there is more to them than that (and by more I hope not more powers, heh).

Still, it seems odd that the guard managed to hold out for as long as they did, even if there were twice as many as I assumed. The darkling group that passed Twilight and co was "dozens" strong alone, so the soldiers would have been outnumbered already just from this group. The fighting also took place in close quarters / enclosed space, which seems to favor the darklings immensely - especially if unicorn magic wouldn't have been all that effective against them. And each of them is superior to the guards 1 on 1. All in all ... it's pretty weird the soldiers didn't get butchered, given the performance those couple of darklings gave against Twilight and her group.

Regarding teleportation, Twilight doesn't actually need to be all 'that' familiar with the location if she can't see it - Dragon Quest is probably the best example, when she teleported the whole group miles away, on to a road which she had probably crossed only once before her in her life (when chasing after Spike).

Though I suppose it would have been potentially risky to teleport on top of someone - actually this would make for an absolutely deadly (and absolutely messy) attack spell that pretty much bypasses whatever durability a target might normally have - given what happened to the CMC's ball when Twilight teleported 'on top' of it during Lesson Zero, it seems like teleporting simply ... displaces ... whatever is in the way at the arriving point and shreds it apart as the opening rift expands. Teleport on top of a person and watch the gory bits rain as you exit the teleport that occupies a space where a person used to be ...

And yeah, I guess the "weren't thinking straight" can be applied for this whole situation because of how gory it was compared to all the other situations they have been in, but like you said - that's pretty much an excuse and won't really fly the next time. Kinda like a one-time "get out of jail free" card.

If that means that Twilight generally happens to be much stronger than anything else around ... well, sorry, but war isn't supposed to be fair, and just because you stuck a skull on your head, donned an evil cape and hatched a dark and evil plan doesn't make you the most ultimate badass around, nor does it guarantee that there aren't "good guys" around could simply smash through your plans if given the chance.

There are plenty of ways to make the villains menacing and powerful (cunning, trickery and opportunism mostly), but don't overdo it by trying to present them as the stronger force by default, especially by underplaying the heroes as the method - like I said, that doesn't make for the most compelling of reads.

It's the cunning and planning ones that make for the most interesting and compelling reads, that manage to push through despite their apparent disadvantage in certain areas, not the red-and-black alicorn OC (for example) who strutts in to town and everyone is powerless to stop him thanks to his sheer unquestionable awesomeness that he is entitled to because he is the villain.

Erm, what the heck - where has my review disappeared, the one I left almost two weeks ag 0_o ...

Alright, let's do this again *sigh*

My favorite part of the chapter was probably the little bits staring Flash during the start of it - it's going to be very interesting to see how the guy copes with his newfound command, especially with such a disastrous start. On one hand, he can't be really blamed that things went this far south with no prior notice - fighting those hellspawns was not what his squad were expected and briefed to do.

On the other hand ... excuses, valid as they might be, probably won't make him feel any better about all the ponies he lost during the night. Unexpected and unpredictable circumstances or not, they were still his responsibility - and now most of them are dead. Even if no one else will blame him (much), I imagine he will indulge in plenty of self-blame over it. I look towards seeing how this affects his future command approach and tactics employed, because it certainly sounds like this has left a nasty scar.

Regarding Stardust's flashback though ... well, that was nastier than I expected. While the notion of elitist unicorns isn't surprising, I am somewhat shocked that a prominent (and thus visible on Canterlot's stage) Noble house manages to retain such a level of tribalism straight under Celestia's nose - after all, it was mentioned she had made an effort to stomp out such notions as best she could, so it's a bit surprising her own school manages to be such a den of vipers and intolerance. Obviously she can't be all-knowing and ponies are probably smart enough to behave prim and proper in her presence, but still ... if things are this bad, I would have expected her to be more aware of the situation.

Regardless, it was interesting to see Argent's group in the past, and you managed to surprise me here - I had expected Stardust's actions to be the tripwire that set them down a darker path, but from the sounds of it they were already scheming something way back then. A bloody bunch of angsty and arrogant teenagers with delusions of grandeur. I had expected to feel sorry for them, but now - I actually don't.

Stardust was (still is?) a tribalist a-hole, but it sounds like Argent's group were even potentially worse than that. Considering what they are up to now, it's almost (ironically enough) a shame that Stardust didn't succeed in his murderous intentions - probably would have saved the country a lot of grief. Probably a good thing he managed to get one of them, at least.

A bit of a premature judgment, perhaps, considering we don't know yet what led to them pursuing the book in the first place, but regardless - they were but a bunch of teenagers at the time, they have no business messing with much of anything. The fact that Argent felt more cowed by his precious book being in danger than about the safety of his friends being threatened, shows how messed up the lot of them were even back then.

Regarding the fight itself ... hm, I feel like you overdid it a bit in terms of how proficient you portrayed the lot of them - at that point in the past, they are still only a bunch of teenagers who can't be considered experienced in any sense of the word (and I doubt Celestia's school teaches combat magic and dueling in any real capacity). I'd expect that sort of fighting from the now, in the present, not in the past while they are still a bunch of angsty teens. Especially having them teleport was overkill, they really have no business employing that skill during combat circumstances way back then.
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Regardless, I'm looking towards what Luna has to say now that she has arrived; I imagine she has a few insights and suggestions to share (if nothing else, she probably has a better idea how to deal with a bloody fallout than anyone currently alive, save her sister). And Stardust is probably looking at a long stay in a cell when this is all over - admitted murder and attempts at several others? Yeah, that's going to get him the bars ... in fact, considering the testimony he has given, it may be enough to strip his whole family of noble status, considering the apparent values they teach their members, along with torture spells (I wonder if Harry Potter served as an inspiration for that one, heh)

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Glad to hear you liked the part with Flash.
Anyway, He certainly doesn't have it easy. His first mission and it ends up with half of his squad dead. That's not a good way to start a military career. This minor sub-plot will be getting more attention in the future.

Regarding tribalism, there is a difference between what goes on in public and what happens inside a family, between closed doors. The situation generally is similar to what we have today. Officially discriminating against other tribes is prohibited and you could get in a lot of trouble for it. However, there are still plenty of ponies who look down upon other tribes. Sure, they don't shout it from the rooftops, but it's still there. There will always be ponies who consider themselves better than others. Besides, Stardust wasn't even 18 during the flashback and you know everyone is at that age. This was simply an extreme case.

Yeah, it's funny how things work. Sometimes your actions can have even the most unexpected consequences.

As for the fight scene, I think it's debatable. After all, they are supposed to be the best and brightest unicorns in all of Equestria. They are young, talented and excellent students who have been studying there for years and while the school doesn't cover actual combat training, considering the bond unicorns have with magic, it's no wonder that some of them figure out how to apply various lessons in a more combative way.

No, Harry Potter didn't have anything to do. Though I did realize the similarity between the spells when I was done with it, so maybe it was a subconscious thing. Considering how big everyone is on forgiveness (the episode with Trixie enslaving Ponyville comes to mind) I think prison sentences in Equestria would be slightly different. In fact, I believe that they would prefer to work with the same model that is used in Norway, where the focus is on rehabilitation rather than punishment. And Stardust does regret his actions. Then again, it won't be like he'll get away with it.

As for his family, thing is, I am not planning to include Stardust's family in the story. I might do a small side story for it sometime in the future.

Crap, sorry for not reading this sooner but somehow I missed the update! I

And wow, stardust was a complete asshole when he was younger, i'm not sorry at all he lost his horn, the irony that he has been reduced to less than an earthy pony now is sweet.

I wonder about the other group though, were they planning this whole darkling scheme even back in the school with that grimoire? What exactly caused them to do that? I mean - they are not even adults at that point, why would a bunch of kids have a reason to plan something fucked up like that? Or did the grimoire mess with their minds somehow?

The fight between them was good, but it was weird to see that stardust won against 5 of them - argent alone was supposed to be as good as he, right? Add to that being outnumbered, and they should have overrun him, no? It was also weird to see them teleport - in the show we have only seen the princesses use teleportation, and twilight (student of the princess) - and even then it took her until season 2 or so when she could teleport quickly enough for it to be useful during combat situation. A bunch of young weaker unicorns with inferior schooling shouldn't be able to do that, imo.

Anyway, i want to see what Luna has to say now that she is here. A shame we didn't get to see her reactions now, as this chapter was pretty much one big flashback, so i hope the plot advances more the next time around. Was still good though, can't wait for more!

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Thanks for the comment, I really appreciate it.

Yeah, Stardust wasn't a nice pony when he was younger. I kind of wanted to avoid the often used noble guy with a tragic past who was wronged by others theme. Yeah, he went through a lot of crap, but this time it's his own fault.

I can't really answer your second question, since that would ruin the whole plot. Don't worry, you will find out.

There's a few reasons why Stardust was able to defeat them. First, his special talent: he can "tear" apart spells into raw magic - from stars to dust. Though it does take a large effort. Second, though I couldn't find a place to properly mention it, he has been trained in the art of combat casting, to a degree. It will be explained in more detail as the story progresses. And he is... was just that good. Despite his arrogance and asshole ways, there was a good reason for him to behave like that.

The teleportation part was tricky, I'll admit, though I will point it out that Twilight was able to teleport in the second episode of the first season. The main difference is that for Argent and Stardust, teleportation required more effort than it does for Twilight, and they only covered a few meters.

Keep in mind that the fight took place when they were 18 years old, the same age Twilight was in episode 1. That and they were excellent students in the best school in Equestria. While they don't have the innate talent in regards to magic like Twilight does, these unicorns were far from pushovers.

As for Luna, don't worry, you will find out.

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I dont know why this doesn't have more comments, its an awesome start :(

So the stars to dust refers to his special talent? Huh, I had assumed it was a reference to how he went from a skilled unicorn to a hornless sod who can't even cast spells any more. Or is it both? Though it that an ability unique to him? I mean, if he can do it, others should be able to learn it as well, after all magic type one can do isn't strictly tied to cutie mark.

It didn't seem too difficult though - he was stopping 5 unicorns casting at him at once and when spells take like a second to hit or less, the fact he can hold out against 5 others means it can't be that hard, no?

On teleportation - yeah, but twilight is meant to be the strongest unicorn Celestia has ever seen (by a gap big enough to make the princess take her as personal student), so just because twilight can, isn't a guarantee others will - and at start of season 1, it took twilight a couple second of concentration to buildup the spell, not that useful in combat. Yeah, she can teleport around effortlessly now, but it took her a long time to get there, and she is by default stronger and more skilled (and taught by celestia herself) than any of them.

I mean, its kinda fine that others can teleport, but these were still school kids at that point, not exactly experienced soldiers, so it was kinda weird, like trying abit too hard to make your OCs look awesome or something. Not a too big deal overall, but still.

And yeah, i didn't expect you to answer about the book, i can't wait to learn more though! I imagine Luna will want to meet and interrogate stardust herself?

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That's the beauty of his name and the reason why I am so proud of it. There is more than way to interpret Stardust's name. His ability is not unique to him, he merely is very good at it, since it is his natural talent. Any unicorn can learn it, the only difference is that for Stardust this ability is easy to master.

As for how Stardust and Argent compare against Twilight, thing is, there are several ways to interpret strength. Just because Argent and Stardust know how to teleport does not put them in the same league with Twilight. The way I see it, magic is like any other skill in Equestria. Any unicorn can learn any spell. If they work hard enough they can, eventually, be able to teleport all over the place. The only difference is how long it takes them to learn it.

For example, I know how to drive a car, just like my brother. The difference is, he got his license at 18 years, while I only managed to do it at the age of 22 and it took me several tries to do it. Though the end result is the same, the amount of effort invested is different.

Same thing for Argent, Stardust and Twilight. Though they know how to teleport, two of them spent a much longer time learning the spell than the third one. In a way, that is what Twilight's talent is, it takes her a minute or so to learn a spell other unicorns spend at least a day or two of hard work to learn. She is that talented at learning spells. That and the ability to display broken levels of magical "muscle" at critical moments.

I have to admit, I didn't see this chapter unfolding this way. It's probably been overdone, but this fits so adequately.

There were a few typos, but nothing that takes away from the enjoyment.

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Don't think of that scene as overdone. It was a good movie.

5394017 I meant using the phrase. :twilightsheepish:

Well, that was unexpected - I think I recall some hints pointing at the fact that things were strained between Twilight and Celestia (and somewhat with her friends), but I hadn't expected things to be this bad between them. And I very much look towards this angle being explored - having the events of Magical Mystery Cure last for a whole month before Twilight managed to fix the mess is a very interesting approach, as are the consequences that would have for everyone involved.

And would certainly account for Twilight being this pissed with Celestia - not only were her friends miserable (though this obviously struck home the most), but the whole town ended up suffering as a fallout. She would have spent a whole month living in pandemonium central, watching everyone's daily lives going off the rails and knowing she is in the center of it - because Celestia decided this was a good way to "test" her.

Indeed, the more I think about it, the more appropriate Twilight's harsh words seem for the occasion. One thing I'm wondering about though - we had Twilight saying she never wanted this position. If that's the case, why not simply renounce her title as a Princess? It's not like anyone can force her to be one (or any job she doesn't want to do), and if it's a position she neither wants nor approves of how it came about, then there seems to be no better way to send a "No, this is wrong and I won't stand for it and you have a lot to think about" message to Celestia than rejecting the ill-gotten fruits of Celestia's labors.

Either way, this is a pretty fascinating chain of events that promise all sorts of interesting character interactions and interpersonal drama in the future. Hell, personally I found this part of the chapter much more interesting than all the strategy musings and information about the book and its possible origins, though obviously these things are important in the overall scale of things.

And obviously Luna isn't right about the things being demons from Tartarus - that there is a link between the disappearing ponies and these darklings is a given, so I'm going to hazard a guess that these ponies had the runes/brands/sigils engraved on them in order to "bind" them the same way one would bind a demonic minion, resulting in an obedient nasty servant without having to consort with actual demons (which probably isn't good for anyone involved).

Going to be looking towards what Twilight's research digs up - and what Celestia makes of this attack and what actions she will take when the news of it reach her. I hardly imagine it to go well, because indeed - if such an attack can happen right under Canterlot's nose, nowhere is particularly safe.

The bit with Twilight and Spike was also nice - on one hand, with all that has happened and all she has had to do in the chaos, I can see why Twilight could forget about Spike. Hell, I did. On the other hand, ouch, I can see why she would hate herself afterwards for doing so - I guess she will be keeping extra attention on him for quite some time now.

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Yeah, Twilight's reaction to the whole test thing was something I wanted to explore for quite some time. I was very surprised by how calm Twilight was, when she found out that it was all a test. Then again, it's not like it's the first time Celestia did something questionable. However, when Celestia decided to turn Twilight's friends into a test, she crossed the line. Twilight is a patient mare, especially when it comes to Celestia, but mess with her friends and there will be consequences.

As for the title, it's somewhat tricky. Yeah, refusing the title would be a nice "fuck you" to Princess Celestia. However, Twilight still loves Celestia. After all she has done for her, Twilight couldn't bring herself to hate her, even though pretty much everyone else would hate Celestia's guts. Therefore, no matter how angry Twilight was, she retained enough control over herself to avoid doing anything permanent.

There was so much she could have done, ranging from telling everything to others, to cutting off all contact forever, to rejecting absolutely everything. However, like she said, Twilight did not want to do anything irreversible in the heat of the moment. And none of those things are easy to fix once they are out in the open. Instead, Twilight merely said what was on her mind, and requested that she got some time alone. Thing is, in several ways that is even worse, because there is no closure from where the healing can begin. The issue is still hanging in the air.

As for Spike, I'll admit, it's frightening how easy it is to forget about him and leave him as a bench warmer.

Whilst I didn't feel this was a bad story by any stretch of the imagination, it lacked a sort of 'drive' I tried to explain in my review, which made it hard to properly get into until Nightmare In Ponyville, taking a lot of the enjoyment out of it. For this reason, I'm rejecting it from Submissions, although if you try adressing some of my concerns, I'd be happy to take a second look.

Details are here.

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