• Member Since 9th Mar, 2014
  • offline last seen March 20th

Lost_Marbles


I don't read your stories because I'm crazy. I'm crazy because I read your stories!

T

From far-off lands, the Mouse King and his knights infest the Everfree Forest and terrorize Ponyville. Twilight and company try to deal with them peacefully, and they don’t seem to be evil, even though they fight, steal, curse, and have no respect for public property.

They also keep whispering about “a game." Could this game spell trouble for the ponies?
Follow Hauteclaire, the Mouse King's bard and punching bag, as he puts up with his bizarre, sadistic, and diminutive King; Porthos, a drunk the size of a carriage; Marcus, his know-it-all and hack poet brother; Godiva, a violent pony-fanatic; and Knebryter, a pony head on a stick. Not to mention the nosy ponies, friendship, bad jokes, decapitation and pretty much everything else that pisses him off.

Mystery, Action, and "What in Equestria" moments await.

Story and art by Lost Marbles

Edited by the amazing AlicornPriest

Pre-readers:
QuillpenTheStoryteller
I'm looking for more pre-readers! PM me if you're interested.

Special thanks goes to:
YOU, the reader, for taking the time to read, comment, critique, and (I hope) enjoy my work. I'm always happy to hear what you think.
Daemon of Decay for proof-reading.
Abcron for editing and proof-reading.
TheWraithWriter for pre-reading
Ravencrofte for his advice/inspiration.
enti0 for their review
HapHazred for their review
The Dapper Guy for their review
Winter_Solstice for their review.
TheBandBrony for looking at the story.
Pusspuss for art advice.
The prereaders at Equestria Daily

Chapters (27)
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Comments ( 122 )

I think these guys need to see what pissed off purple princesses do when you terrify their towns

Very interesting start! I'll be curious to see where it goes.

Based on just this, I assume the characters are chess pieces, then? I assume "His Highness" is the King, and Godiva (being the only girl) must be the Queen, so which are the others? By my guess, Hauteclaire is the Bishop, Porthos is the Rook, and Marcus is either the other Bishop or the Knight.

5445968
Wow, I like how you noticed that.

Certainly, "chess" is a theme that will follow around the King. The title is a reference to the game of "chess" (The Game of Kings) and it itself is an allusion to what "game" the characters are talking about. Then of course is the current picture which blatantly shows a chess game with Twilight caught in the middle of it.

I only wish I had a better picture than that, but it suits the story to follow pretty well.

If I made a chess set: King is King, Godiva is Queen, Marcus is King's Knight, Hauteclaire is Queen's Knight, Aquinas (only mentioned once so far) is King's Bishop, and Porthos is Queen's Rook. The rest will be filled in time.

I used to be quite the chess fanatic and it surprises me how much chess has slipped into my story. I still have a marble chess set that I used everyday in high school.

5446047
Okay, well, by "this" I meant the prologue and the front picture, but yeah. :derpytongue2:

5446055
Oh, you thought they were ACTUAL chess pieces?:rainbowwild:

Ok, that is actually a pretty cool idea, but no. They are something else, although that might be a fun little idea to throw into the story at some point.

I wonder what pieces the mane six, the princesses, and Discord would be. (Discord would love to play Alice Chess, I bet.)

I have sad feeling that AJ would be the pawn.

5446114
What? No! Of course they're not actual chess pieces! :raritydespair: I just meant they each represent a different chess piece. Which, according to your edit, was totally right. :yay:

Ok, my first assumption would be a crossover fic with some villains dropping into Equestria, except none of these guys ring any bells.

It is rather hard to keep track of who is talking, though I see you tried to remedy the problem by giving everyone a distinct speech pattern. It would probably help if we got some descriptions of the voices at least (For most of the first page I was reading King in Luna's voice)

5503471
You know what, you have an excellent point.

My first intention was to have the reader feel like they were dropped into a conversation that they shouldn't be hearing, but they wouldn't see or hear anything else. This would have been expressed by the lack of speech identifiers. Then the characters would be slowly be revealed over time.

My editor has tried to talk to me about this, but I can see clearly now, the rain has frozen over in this gosh-darn cold front.

Several things:
1. You can hear what the voices are saying, but you also hear the qualities of the voices.
2. All the big players' names are said.
3. Tie the voices by their qualities to names, and viola~, now we can guess who's talking.

So you're comment was very helpful. I'm going to go back and edit this prologue.

If only I realized this when my editor tried to point this out.

So, they are a bunch of weird creatures, incridibly ancient and about as sane as the cast of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

There is still stuff we don't get to see, like the full idea of how they look like. The "gradual clues that change our idea" thing is good when we have the knowledge to give us the full picture at the end. (I must remember that one in my own works. Hmm... )

Also I had to go up and check the tags because at some point I wasn't sure if Godiva had just squeezed the guts out of Derpy.

It would be good to get a chapter from the ponies' perspective to clarify things.

5503587

So, they are a bunch of weird creatures, incridibly ancient and about as sane as the cast of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

YES!

Also I had to go up and check the tags because at some point I wasn't sure if Godiva had just squeezed the guts out of Derpy.

She popped her back and farted. I may need to rewrite that to be something other than just onomatopoeia.

It would be good to get a chapter from the ponies' perspective to clarify things.

When they start to interact with the ponies after they learn to speak "horsy" will eventually unveil to the reader just what happened off screen. The unusual stuff about these characters that is usual to Hauteclaire (and therefore not mentioned by him) will also be brought up such as who wears what.

The next chapter, which is at 99% complete, delves more into Hauteclaire's psyche and things get, well...
s
h
fan i
t

Would you be interested in being a pre-reader?

5503670 I'm not sure. I am doing this comment for comment thing a lot recently and my time is limited.

One more thing I remember. At some point, one of the creatures swears by God. I wonder what god they have in mind - since they also mention eons, which would make them older than all real and most fictional civilisations.

5504143

At some point, one of the creatures swears by God. I wonder what god they have in mind - since they also mention eons,

They are of an entirely different culture and world which is represented by their language.

What they say and how they say it are clues to their backgrounds.

Even their names have meaning in some shape or form.

5504313
When you solve this puzzle, I wonder if your mind will explode or you'll facepalm.

Only time will tell.

I'd split it in two. I know from my experience as a reader that chapters I can't comfortably get through in one sitting tend to slide down the 'read later' list.

5520140
Here's a little fact. This chapter ended where I originally wanted the first one to stop, but I just felt I found a good stopping point while writing the first.

I understand what you mean about chapter length. I like to read through chapters on one go to, and if a chapter is longer than ~4,000 words, I tend to put it aside for later reading or download it to my ebook so I either have the time or I can put it down and come back to it.

However, this chapter had a lot of info and didn't really have a good stopping point until, well, the end. If I stopped halfway, I felt that the chapter would have been incomplete. There needs to be some content there for the reader to chew over while I finish up the next chapter, and I just couldn't bring myself to cut it anywhere.

Edit: The next chapter is ~4,200 words but full on content. I hope you enjoy it when it's ready.

Hee hee hee, Luna messing with them, ohh I approve. yes Lu isn't as impressive as Celly but she's dammed sneaky, and knows every trick and trap in the castle, why directly confront them to prove she's got the upper hoof, mess with them and show em who's boss.

Probably Godiva. Hautclaire is so annoying.

Are the mice named after obscure chess terms? I've found a Sicillian defence Godiva variation

5748412
Not quite, but I do wish I thought of that!

No, it's much more simpler than that.

Ok, so the story is taking a turn to the creepy.

Between the comment on there being nothing in Hauteclaire's head and the changing languages / disappearing body parts, the logical assumption is that the mice are not really here - they are being channeled from somewhere else and whataver serves as their 'true forms' (perhaps a set of toys or something) is probably left in the world they originally came from.

Also, how smart is Porthos exactly? He seems to change between scenes.

So it was Big Mac after all. I was beginning to think you had forgotten about that one.

Wearing armour with no underwear must chaff.

Oh, that brings me to two of my pet peeves that I noticed some chapters prior:

1 Parchment is made of dried animal skin, usually cows'. Ponies would use paper.

2 The cutie mark is on the rump, not on the flank - only schoolfillies call it that. The actual flank of a horse is its side.

5752756
Welp, looks like I got some fixin' to do. :applejackunsure:

I always thought parchment was like a thicker paper, but that's what happens when you fail to research something.

Same goes with the flank bit.

Thanks for pointing these out!:twilightsmile:

The King strikes a weird balance between obliviously crazy and intelligently manipulative. Also is a total sociopath, but we have known that already. I wonder what artifact they shattered to get their powers?

5752549
Nah, I just haven't really gotten around to that stuff.

Plus, Big Mac plays a much smaller role in the story than when I originally planned it. He interacts a lot with Porthos, but since the story is now being told from Hauteclaire's view instead of the omnipotent (is that the word?) view that I had originally planned.

He does have a significant role in Porthos' story though.

There are still many things mentioned in the first few chapters that I haven't brought back up yet since they were first established. In time, all of these will slowly be expanded on.

As always, thanks for the comments!

5752452
Did he come off as smart?

I was trying to make him more "empathetic."

His background, which I will hopefully get to do some exploring from Hauteclaire's new view of the story, has quite a turbulent event that made him focus on how people and things perceive him. Thus, he is quite focused on how he appears to others. However, he turns to drink because of the stress it causes him, only making his problem worse.

In the scene I believe you are talking about, Porthos is well aware that his size and scars (which are under his clothes) likely terrifies the ponies. I tried to use that moment to add depth to the relationship between the characters more than on just a shallow comedic-device-tool-thingy (insert correct term here) and show that these characters are more than just bonkers.

I think of Porthos as a rather insightful being, but lacking in smarts. He's my favorite of the five.

Yes! confusingly incomplete flashbacks! I love it! (mostly because I love doing that too)

Greetings and welcome to one of our reviews. I am Simon o’Sullivan, and this is my beard, appropriately called Beard. Here are our thoughts on your story.

Of all things shown, I must admit there were several of them that called my attention. The first is the cover art; there are so many characters and so much happening at the same time, but it doesn’t really say anything aside from which characters are going to appear in the story. That’s alright, though. Not every cover art has to be a picture of the synopsis or have any story-related scene that might be a bit of a spoiler. I will say that it’s a bit clustered, and might act as a small deterrent for some readers. But it’s not that much of a problem, as I mentioned. Now, off to the story.

If there was something that called my attention as a reader was the extreme difference between how each one of the mouse-characters talk. This is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it is usually a good aspect that shows some build. However, during a quick read through the comments to get a better idea of what I might find, I saw you had changed their manners of speech willingly to make sure readers knew who was talking at every moment. Noble as it might be, there are other ways to fix this issue where readers don’t know who’s talking. Aside from taking the Doctor Seuss route and using “(name) said” every time someone speaks, the best option would be dishing away the telliness in the descriptions and give the characters some body language as gestures as they speak. You need to make them something more than talking heads.

With this said, I had a slight concern when I began to think I had been lied to. In the synopsis, Hauteclaire is openly introduced as a punching bag. Imagine my surprise when I see this supposed doormat throwing witty comebacks most of the time. It might have been a decent scenario if it was at the end of the story or even close to eat. Instead, even in the prologue there’s enough insubordinations and insults towards the king I am surprised he has his head on his shoulders. Not even royal jesters could get away with that, and those guys could (and HAD to) openly mock the lords they served and their guests with a mastery of wit that outsmarted most people back in the day. And may God had mercy on those who insulted the court jester for mocking them. I was about to let it pass, assuming this bard was actually a jester, but threatening to kill someone while unsheathing his sword is far from what I would find acceptable, even in this dysfunctional family we have here, so to speak.

I said I considered Hauteclaire a jester for another reason, though; his brother is a poet. There’s not really that much of a difference when it comes to what they do. If you want to be nitpicky, bards are stereotypically portrayed as fond of using instruments to accompany their singing, but that is far from the rule, especially if you go for the skaldic branch of bardic poetry.

There’s something that really put me off, and it can be a very strong deterrent, and that’s the huge chunks of capslock text. Yes, they are shouting, there are several ways that tell us they are doing so, like exclamation marks. If you really need to further emphasize that they’re screaming their lungs out, use italics instead of caps. It looks cleaner and leaves a better impression. You should also try to limit the “emphasizing” to a minimum to maximize the impact. Choose key words in the sentence, or short segment of it, the one that carries most, if not all the weight of the sentence.

One of my biggest turn-offs in the story came in one of the first chapters, when Godiva is telling her story about how she met the ponies and whatnot. The narration was extremely annoying, because it really felt like Godiva was the narrator, but she wasn’t; it was in third person. For all we knew, the narrator was the same one we have had from the beginning, so I felt a massive slap in the face when the narration goes crazy and throws himself at me screaming:

HOW COULD SHE GET A PONY? WHAT WOULD IT COST FOR SOMEBODY TO PONY UP A PONY? PONY, PONY, PONY!

That is the narrator speaking. It’s not even a thought Godiva has. Considering how serious the narration is up until this moment, it’s really a kick in the back of the head and shatters the immersion completely.

Now I will tell you something; while the story in front of me might not be the most alluring for my tastes, I will admit that the characters themselves have potential. Even if they are extremely overpowered, but after seeing Superman and Doctor Strange, there’s definitely a market for that. What I would recommend, just a guideline, is following the maxim “a hero is as great as his enemies.” You have a story justifying how powerful these guys are? Cool, then send them against an enemy that can give them a run for their money. Of course, that doesn’t mean they can’t show off and mop the floor with some dudes as if they were nothing. Powerful as a ruler might be, goons are always much weaker in most aspects, save for the classic second in command and personal guard. Videogames seldom have that because most of the time, especially in RPGs, the world becomes stronger with you, so the fights are equally tedious. Play with the opposite. An AU where they are able to defeat Tirek during his first stages, but are defeated easily when he absorbs Discord and the Mane 6’s powers? Sure, go for it! Eager to have the mouse king dissing the changeling horde like dry leaves but then being forced to get serious and have a hard time when Chrysalis herself steps in to defend her hive? That can work too.

It feels like this is only a book of a whole saga waiting to happen, the game and the training, with all of them hoping they will become strong enough to return home, even if it’s something everyone thinks but no one wants to be the first to admit it. If you focus on fixing the narration, that is, which I will admit is the most troublesome aspect of your story. Although it’s third person narration, you seem to allow part of the perspective and personality of whatever character is on the spotlight to stain the narration. It’s not necessarily a bad thing (unreliable third person narrator exists), but the changes between styles (altered depending on the personality of whoever’s on the leading role in each scene) distracts a bit.

Don’t let my words discourage you, though; keep on writing and keep up the good work. You might even prove me wrong and make this awesome.

Simon o’Sullivan and Beard, WRITE’s Manly Reviewers of Manly Fics, signing out.

5777706
Thank you very much for your criticism. Now that I've had time to think and talk about it with someone, here are a few points I'd like to refute.

With this said, I had a slight concern when I began to think I had been lied to. In the synopsis, Hauteclaire is openly introduced as a punching bag. Imagine my surprise when I see this supposed doormat throwing witty comebacks most of the time.

The whole prologue and first two chapters show Hauteclaire getting verbally degraded, reduced to doing humiliating work, and being bullied outright. He is even insulted by being called "weak." How is this not being a punching bag? And it's not just by one character, but by two! And Hauteclaire is the only one that the King (and Porthos) target. Sounds a lot like a punching bag to me.
And just because Hauteclaire is a surly bastard in return to this abuse does not make him less of a "punching bag."

Instead, even in the prologue there’s enough insubordinations and insults towards the king I am surprised he has his head on his shoulders.

In a private conversation, I've confirmed you've read the first two chapters and the prologue. Here are things that are made clear in that timeline:
1. Hauteclaire was THROWN OFF OF THE TALLEST TOWER.
2. Very early in the first chapter, an incident is mentioned where the King CHOPPED OFF AND HID HAUTECLAIRE'S NOSE just because he accidentally knocked the King's crown off.
Hauteclaire does get burned for things he may (or may not have) intentionally done. There is more to list, but carrying on.

but threatening to kill someone while unsheathing his sword is far from what I would find acceptable, even in this dysfunctional family we have here, so to speak.

As mentioned before, there have been body parts chopped off and characters thrown from lethal heights. Drawing a sword and threats should hardly register. You do realize by that point that these characters are more than dysfunctional, but broken?

I said I considered Hauteclaire a jester for another reason, though; his brother is a poet. There’s not really that much of a difference when it comes to what they do.

There is a huge difference between a jester and a bard. Hauteclaire hardly acts like a jester. He doesn't make fun of the King in lite, but scorns and is very passive about his hatred. He isn't even jolly, and HE is the butt of the King's (and Porthos') jokes. Not the other way around.
And yes, I am well aware of the difference between a bard and a poet. The very next chapter has him playing instruments. Also, they are "brothers of the arts" for a reason. Read on further in the story and it should become clear that this similarity is a way of differentiating them.
This point really seems to lack in substance or reason.

There’s something that really put me off, and it can be a very strong deterrent, and that’s the huge chunks of capslock text.

Ok, this one I kind of agree.

it really felt like Godiva was the narrator, but she wasn’t; it was in third person

But she WAS the narrator. Just as Hauteclaire is the narrator for the rest of the story. The observations and focus on details is altered by WHO IS TELLING THE STORY. This is very common in literature.
Have you read "Catcher in the Rye"? I have, and the whole time I read the story I kept thinking, "Holden is a real dick." BECAUSE HE WAS. (Or at least, I thought he was) Seriously, the whole story is about him bitching about being alienated and thinking of other people as lesser than him or perverts. I felt really bad for his little sister because I was able to see through his warped perception that his sister is really innocent and is unaware of what a douche her big brother, who she really looks up to, is.
So, I understand that the sudden change in narrator may have been a bit jarring and perhaps could have been handled a bit better. But I liked how it turned out.

That is the narrator speaking. It’s not even a thought Godiva has.

Godiva is the narrator and these are thoughts that she is having. Just not actual thoughts she has, but a reflection of her views of the world. The story is being affected by her personality/wants/views/etc. Just like how the narration of "Catcher in the Rye" suddenly got tense when Holden was being patted on the head by a teacher that he, for some odd reason, thought was a pedophile. Godiva is just over excited about seeing ponies.

Even if they are extremely overpowered, but after seeing Superman and Doctor Strange, there’s definitely a market for that. What I would recommend, just a guideline, is following the maxim “a hero is as great as his enemies.”

So you bring up Superman.
How overpowered is Lex Luthor?
Superman is incredibly tough, to the point of being a god, but what makes him great isn't his raw power. He could rip every criminal in half and say "Screw your laws, I'm Superman. I do what I want," but he doesn't. What makes Superman great is that he doesn't do that. He fights for ideas and beliefs.
Superman doing his best to uphold justice and stop Luthor, who uses loopholes and the flaws of human society to keep Superman from doing so, is much more interesting than Superman and Doomsday just trading punches until one falls over.
Yes, my characters are incredibly powerful for a reason. And it will be quite logical when that aspect of the story is finally revealed. HOWEVER, the point is that raw power can't solve all of your problems. If you have been paying attention to the first two chapters, or at least the prologue, you should know by now that the Mouse King is all about getting stronger and better to take back what was taken from him. And in the dialogue, we learned that many mice close to him have DIED. Do you think becoming stronger or better at any kind of "game" will be able to solve his problems?

It won't. It will only make things worse.

That is the overall focus of the story. (Other than Hauteclaire's story, which is the center of the big picture)

If you focus on fixing the narration, that is, which I will admit is the most troublesome aspect of your story. Although it’s third person narration, you seem to allow part of the perspective and personality of whatever character is on the spotlight to stain the narration.

I don't think there is a problem with my narration. Maybe I could have written things better, but to have a third person narrative that is affected by the main character is incredibly common in modern literature.
This story's narration style is "third-person limited narrator."
Wikipedia:

a limited narrator, in contrast, may know absolutely everything about a single character and every piece of knowledge in that character's mind, but the narrator's knowledge is "limited" to that character—that is, the narrator cannot describe things unknown to the focal character.

with a "Stream-of-Conscious Voice."
Wikipedia:

A stream of consciousness gives the (typically first-person) narrator's perspective by attempting to replicate the thought processes—as opposed to simply the actions and spoken words—of the narrative character. Often, interior monologues and inner desires or motivations, as well as pieces of incomplete thoughts, are expressed to the audience but not necessarily to other characters. Examples include the multiple narrators' feelings in William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, the character Offred's often fragmented thoughts in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, and the development of the narrator's nightmarish experience in Queen's hit song "Bohemian Rhapsody."

The creation of this mode of writing is often attributed[by whom?] to Irish writer James Joyce by virtue of his novel Ulysses.

So, in conclusion, thank you very much for taking enough interest in my story to give it some criticism.

I don't agree with much of what you had to say, and my story may not be your cup of tea (I prefer Earl Gray), but it means a lot to me that you took the time to express your thoughts and feelings.

wow, I feel really inferior when I read those last two comments...:rainbowderp:

I will up-vote this story without reading it because is April fools!:rainbowwild:

~Leonzilla

5780841 Damn... you just accomplished the politest "Take that!" I've ever see...

Well done, my friend... well done.

In all seriousness, I kinda have to agree with your response (especially the cap locks—that crap really gets annoying). I will not clame that this story has no flaws (as it, along with ever other story, does them) but I feel that his main review focused more on your false characterization on your own characters, rather then actual main points of the story. Now, I can understand people having issues with stuff like Twilight being too outgoing, or Celestia being too much of a troll (she is, but that's a given), but this is kinda silly.

His criticism was read, swallowed, process, farted out, and then flown off to bug someone else (I take great pride in that matophore!).

Anyways, I've already forgotten the point of my comment, so I'm gonna go before I digress further. Love the art and love the story.

~ Neon "Master Of Swag (TM)" Lights

Xenophobia even exists in a land of magical talking ponies. Who would have guessed?

:coolphoto:

I haven't finished the chapter yet, but I felt it necessary to add this little comment...

5752756
Actually, while animal based parchment is the most common form, there is the Papyrus plant that is used for an alternate form of parchment.

5860167 if it's papyrus, it's called papyrus. Not the same. (plus, papyrus was made absolete by the invention of paper - these two would not appear alongside each other.

5886531
Thank you very much for your review.

A little something:

(whom I believe is the advisor: Hauteclaire,

From the description:

Follow Hauteclaire, the Mouse King's bard and punching bag

From chapter IV - Meet the Ponies

Marcus. The Mouse King’s Poet, Advisor, Knight, Archer, and Cook.”

“Godiva! The Mouse King’s Black Knight, Cavalry and Scout!”

“Porthos. The Mouse King’s Knight, Sheriff and Bodyguard.”

And I’m Hauteclaire. The King’s Bard.

“And I am the Mouse King, Supreme Monarch of the Isle of Mouse. It is a pleasure to meet you all.”

Stupid, stupid titles.

For all the extravagant shenanigans that occur regularly, I like the bard the most when he's being subtle.

I suppose the snake demon must have been something lovecraftian, but sadly, I'm no expert.

5894962

I suppose the snake demon must have been something lovecraftian, but sadly, I'm no expert.

You're right!
This one is one of the two "references" I talked about. Much of these "snake creatures" are inspired by a work that Lovecraft worked on (I can't remember if he edited it or if he wrote it. He was a notorious editor who would completely changed the stories he worked on until it became more of his stuff than it was the original authors). It is a rather obscure one called "The Mound" about the disappearance of Native Americans in the American deserts of the Nevada area.

It has suddenly occured to me - how can Hautclaire talk fluently, let alone sing, with a slice of his face missing?

Reminds me of a quote from one of the early the Witcher short stories: "Careful there, I know a cut that will leave you with one ear, one cheek and half the jaw. You'll live, but you'll never play the flute again."

5895075
His mouth is fine, he just has a gaping gash in the top left of his face.

Plus, that little thing he carries with him was able to cure you-know-who's you-know-what, so there's that.

I can't wait to see how you'll react to the big reveal.:trollestia:

Login or register to comment
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!