• Member Since 2nd Sep, 2012
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Braininthejar


T

This story is a sequel to Tales of a Hidden World: Book 1


Tales of a Hidden World is a compilation of short stories placed in the same alternative Equestria, a world where the magic of friendship shares place with dark mysteries of ages past. Book two takes the reader all around time and space, from modern Equestria to past long forgotten by all but a few beings.

Chapters (8)
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Comments ( 37 )

I just about never get to say this, but...
:trixieshiftleft: :trixieshiftright:
First! :trollestia:

I'm looking forward to seeing where you go with this one.

Ok, now that I've actually read it, time for a real comment.

So, it seems there are more than six elements, and they aren't all related to harmony? Does this mean they can be mixed and matched? How does this tie in to the existence of the Tree of Harmony, if it exists in this AU? Or maybe the element of Pride is a counterfeit, and is just a power amplifier like the Alicorn Amulet...

You're giving me a lot of questions, sir. Good questions.

That said, in my headcanon earth ponies have their own kind of magic aside from what the other tribes possess. Accordingly, a horned pegasus wouldn't be a true alicorn unless they also possessed this earth pony magic. What's your stance on that?

5541106 Between Season 4 finale and Maud Pie, it is confirmed canon. All ponies are magical in one way or another.

Already the story is off to a thrilling start! I see you packed plenty of world-building between the lines, hopefully culminating in an explanation for the utterly strange happenings in the last book.

I cannot discern exactly the racial politics of this alternate past, though. Pegasi and earth ponies seem to be looked down upon, so much so to be considered a disgraceful position in high society. But at the same time, the emperor has hopes and plans for the earth ponies; even though he just spit upon his son by callling him a pegasus (maybe just pegasi are hated).

On that note, several different key points are brought up including a war waged by the kingdom and a secret project that involved giving magic to the other races. It can be implied that a total war of sorts is currently being waged, so how can the royals and their famous alicorn warriors have time to attend a duel they consider pointless?

Then again, I have to expect that this stuff will all be given exposition in later chapters. A fine chapter, all the same!

5547878 Ok, just your comments make writing this worth it. :twilightsmile:

All the more reason to try my best in the puzzle I have gotten myself into.

Short version: now I need to think of what to put in the next chapters to answer all questions properly.

Long version: There are two main stories that make this world.

One is a saga involving the main six, an attempt to revive an epic project by another author that I used to work with as an editor. At the moment six chapters of it are written, but I haven't officially committed to publishing it yet (this is because my last large project suffered a horrible schedule slip and wasn't that much fun at the end - so I don't want to give my readers the first chapters until I am sure I can finish what I started)

The second is the prequel story of Obsidian and his friends. This one only exists as an outline I wrote for fun / out of internal need, while working on the original project in the past. This one I'm reasonably sure I'll never write in full (the outline ended up 48k words long), but now that I have interested readers, I want to share at least some of it. This is this story: hopefully enough to tell a story, but hopefully not enough to spoil anything for story no. 1. Some things need to remain a secret at least for now. (of course, if I ever decide that I'm not writing story no. 1 after all, I will fill in all the blanks for you here.)

5548106 Wow. That is certainly ambitious. I respect your decision to keep details secret; a little intrigue typically pays off in the climax.

Interesting choices as to who eats what, Brain and Mindblower. What are the ideas based on, praytell?

I made different choices myself, though that had more to do with where my ponies lived than on any sort of mythobiological knowledge on my part. My unicorns dwell in the mountains and eat a good amount of meat to supplement crops that can't hope to feed everypony. My pegasi wander through the desert and eat a little meat whenever they butcher a (non-sapient) sheep for parts, but mostly live off of dried fruit and grain between oases. My earth ponies, though, live in fertile swampland and never had a shortage of vegetable matter to eat, and thus haven't had reason to hunt game or raise livestock.

What's the story behind the choices here?

5632758 My creative process is a very chaotic thing, even if the final product is a thing of elegance. I often add things on a whim, only to realize, much later, that they fit surprisingly well.

For example, when MB first described Pin to me, (he intended to use him as a minor character in one of his stories, but then scrapped the idea) he told me that he's wearing broken sunglasses. He said it was just a fashion statement, but I wanted there to be some explanation - and gradually, ToTHW book one formed in my mind.

Same with the teeth. They fit the story. They make sense biologically - you can't grow crops in the sky, and if you fly, you want some high energy food. All big fliers on Earth are meat eaters. It also makes sense 'mythobiologically', with pegasi being fierce warriors, while the unicorns would be the sophisticated ones and so vegetarians. (It also makes the three tribes a "freudian trio" of the pony race, with earth ponies as ego, unicorns as superego and pegasi as id.)

But the actual reason for all that? I borrowed it from one of MB's projects. (for some reason I'm much better at modifying other people's ideas than coming up with my own from the ground up) And he made it so because he wanted one character to have an unsettling smile. :trollestia:

5633295
Ah yes, because the story called for it. One of the greatest reasons to do something, as it can lead to all manner of fun shenanigans.

“Mostly earth ponies, but well equipped ones,” said the officer. They have some quickload ballistas there. Also ice bows and at least some anti-magic armor... and some diamond dogs support, which means they’re already entrenched. My mages can clear the ground for the charge, but that is about their limit. That means we need some extra magic support in the attack itself. A pair of foci users is just what we need.”

Just something to note: you are missing a few quotation marks in the beginning third.

It is difficult to remind myself that this is the same author who wrote an engrossing crime fiction in a city's dismal underbelly. The shift to foci, racial politics, epic fantasy warfare, and an entirely new sort of world-building is utterly complete. I presume most of the world-building details were inspired, but the story, regardless, is truly separate from its prequel.

Obsidian and Diamond Dust bounce off one another with natural dialogue for comrades from different worlds. Each has a toleration for the other's idiosyncrasies and habits, yet they still keep one another in check. That balancing act is a rare part of character relationships I wish could be implemented more in stories.

The dialogue gets heavy on world-building after the battle, though! I understand you want to tell us about this alien Equestria, as to avoid having readers scratch their heads over certain details in later chapters, yet there was just too much you were trying to fit in that conversation between Diamond Dust and Obsidian. One can get a basic grasp for racial politics and Obsidian's view on alicorns by reading the first chapter: those aspects was subtly explained there.

It was not exposition, but it was not natural dialogue either. If there are details we need to know about this world, then they can be told through other means: habits, lore, visuals, offhand remarks, etc. The use of ballistas and alliance with the diamond dogs were good examples of how to explain the conflict without making the characters do so.

TL;DR, leave the dialogue for mainly character development and plot advancement. You excelled in that purpose in the first Tales of a Hidden World. The chapter was a step-up in quality, nonetheless. I hope you maintain the spirit to continue this series!

EDIT: Looking back at my previous comment, I can understand now why you went a little heavy on explanations. I apologize for the mixed message, but a balance between being ambiguous and telling everything flat out can be achieved.

5657687

I'm glad the character dynamics worked - I had been told earlier that "all of my characters speak with the same voice" and had been working on it.

As for the exposition part... Yes and yes. I knew it could be an issue. (I was glad to discover, after finishing the chapter, that the post-battle dialogue is less than half the length of it.) There were things I wanted to say and had no other place to do it right now and I didn't want to drop the fanged pegasi on the reader after he has already got through two 3k word chapters, building the image of the characters - that would be unfair.

Speaking of exposition - some bits of information in the dialogue are more subtle than others. :trollestia:

Next chapter exercise - trying to introduce 6 new characters into a scene without overusing race/color/gender/cutie mark descriptions. :coolphoto:

So many elements everywhere… I wonder how many end up destroyed, and how many just fade into the mists of time.

5752669 Foci is the word here. A focus is something you use to , well, focus your magic. It's not an "element", unless it's a part of a greater whole. :twilightsmile:

Any other thoughts? :coolphoto:

Well, like you said, you implemented six new characters without overusing simple descriptions.
How well it turned out really depends on how quickly the reader can figure out each character's key trait.

Characters like Evening Embrace, Libra, and Enigma were easy to distinguish by their dialogue; often times, I did not even need to look at the narration to figure out who the speaker was. Their nuances reflected their traits, which allowed for a smooth-flowing conversation for the most of the chapter.

The same could not be said for someone like Gloria, whose dialogue is mainly exposition with little in the way of inflections to really distinguish her among the other voices. The same problem sometimes occurred between Lightbringer and Absinthe, who have much more commanding personalities. As such, both characters utilize similar nuances in their dialogue, which forced me to look back to previous narration to figure out who the speaker was. While not a major flaw worth stressing over, it does temporarily break the immersion of the scene.

As for the unfolding story...
few fictions on this site are able to depict our colorful equines in a war without a little cognitive dissonance. I was never a fan of epic wars in greater fantasy novels like the Lord of the Rings; the stark contrast between the gruesome reality war implicates and the limitless idealism fantasy embodies is not something easily reconciled.

But as I have seen from the past two chapters as well parts of the last book, you have the ability to underplay that dissonance. I think one of the ways you manage to do so is the more subtle approach you take toward the reality side of these stories. While the war and the racial politics that started it lay the foundation of the story, they are often put to the side. A lot more focus goes into the experiences of our characters and the mystery behind the grand project Libra and her friends pursue.

Because this is a story above all about characters and unknown magic, the reader will find no trouble tolerating the fact that the ponies are having a civil war. Sorry I could not examine the language as much as I had before. I will try to provide more of my feedback on the next chapter. Write on!

5767833 I just remembered that at some point I wanted to write a chapter with second battle of Pax - but then I realised I'd rather write dialogue scenes instead. They're just more fun. (and there are some battle scenes I'll need to write later anyway)

Same goes for my Daring Doo short story (it is a part of this continuity, although a peripheral one)

Wow. That was quite a first chapter. I'm already liking this one.

And these names, pretty good ones. I'm horrible when it comes to names. I just pick and choose from others I've seen or heard before.

And the action in this chapter was pretty easy to follow. Good job on that. I was leaning forward towards my computer monitor, eager to see what happened next!

But one thing:

“And now, after all that boasting, after all that talk of what an alicorn is… you lose to an earth pony.

It's probably just me, but I see this as one hell of a backhanded compliment towards Obsidian.

5812467 Most of the names are Mindblower's though most characters they were made for have been totally reimagined since.

And it isn't just you. Obsidian really doesn't fit in the palace and he has to keep dealing with stuff like this. That's how he got himself into the duel in the first place.

So there's a whole war going on, and it seems to be a one on race as well?

There is a whole lot going on in this chapter. Maybe I'm just tired because I had a long day and didn't get a lot of sleep last night, but I kind of felt this chapter was a bit heavy on the exposition.

I'm really more interested in what the other side is fighting for. I was particularly surprised about the reveal of the ball-bearing soldier. I'm not sure why, but I really liked that scene.

A few more things:

He quickly trotted towards the cook, taking a mixed bowl of food before making a beeline to Diamond Dust’s table.

This is really more of a nitpick, but I find myself constantly typing the word "quickly" in my work only to delete it a few seconds later. I hate that word. There is usually a better way to get rid of this word. I do my best to avoid using adverbs.

but well equipped ones,” said the officer. They have some quickload ballistas there.

Missing opening quotation marks. quick-load needs a hyphen.

Then he fall down to his hooves,

Tense: fell

FIghting as part of the glorious Northern Alliance

Capital I in fighting

Keep up the good work.

5824482 It was heavy on the exposition - you can read other people's comments for context

5824482 Implemented the corrections. Say, would you be interested in becoming my proofreader?

5827021
I'm not a great with grammar (that's why I have an editor) but I can be more of a pre-reader and point out whatever I notice and give you my comments.

Sure.

Wow, you have really upped the stakes in this one. The ending too had quite a punch to it.

Just a few things I noticed:

seemed to have just finish cleaning his wings.

I think it should be "finished."

I could fight against his Ambition

If "ambition" is something important, like an element, then there is no problem here. Or if it is a name. Otherwise, this shouldn't be capitalized.

but he can’t be there every time they take a shot. . Despite

Extra period.

“And you have an idea on how to change that..

Ellipses are three periods. "..."

5894983 Yes, Ambition is a focus, and a rather infamous one (negative emotions are very good for a quick power boost, but we both know how these things always end up)

I love what you did with the curse and how it stunted healing. Burning the soul to warp the body is just the sort of thing that black magic would do. I may have to steal this idea for my own work in the event I write a story exploring the nature of magic.

6066296 I like to make sure that my technobabble makes sense (credit to Terry Pratchett for the concept of the morphic field, which I repurposed here.)

This chapter has achieved tremendous characterization for the characters I wanted to learn more about, and it added to the world in subtle and marvelous ways. Fantastic work on both! I do hope you receive more exposure for your work on this story.

The one flaw that stuck out to me was the mention of Celestia and Luna as a guiding light for the empire. If this story takes place "4000 years before [present I assume]" as stated in the first chapter, then how could the two sisters be idols of the past? I may be mistaken about the rules governing time in this alternate universe, but I doubt the emperor could foresee the future 3000 years later.

6086947 So, someone noticed. :coolphoto:

Have you read my other story "adventuring archeology"?

It might give you another piece of the puzzle.

6086947 also, please elaborate on the characterisation thing. I'd like to know if the parts I think worked are the same that did for you (in other words, whether I achieved what I intended or succeeded by accident)

6087800
I hope my thoughts on these lines help you with your writing.

What should I say? I’m not good at this. They’re both so pretty, they don’t look their age at all. Is it healing magic or are they just using illusions?

Indicina's thoughts just seem to jump around all the time. From etiquette to pretty appearances (which she takes note of quite often) to what sort of magic they used for said appearances, I suppose a magic scientist (i think) would have digressive thoughts as a tic.

“Your Majesty,” she said, trying not to be too loud. “is the injury still bothering you that much?”

The two female alicorns looked at Indicina with a frown.

You actually made use of those two female alicorns! Given what the emperor says about keeping an appearance, the frowns add more to the social norms implied in this kingdom. Not quite characterization for an individual character as much as a hint toward the alicorns' standing and position.

Indicina blushed. “Yes, I am. And I saw you during that… duel,” she said, the last word barely audible. She could almost feel the atmosphere becoming colder.

Fear not, Indicina, for your feelings are just the result of cultural dissonance! Also, the fact that no one else seemed to react the way she did is telling of just how strange the nobility's social norms must be to her.

By the time he is big enough to fight, the great war will have ended. The conquered nations will all acknowledge the mandate of the Holy Herd, by which we’re destined to rule. When Concilio leaves the palace and joins his brothers and sisters, it will be as a diplomat and an administrator, his task to heal the wounds of the war and turn the new territories into a peaceful and prosperous land. In a way, he is lucky to be the youngest of my children.

Perspective is really the defining factor toward looking at a character. The same guy who banished his defeated relative for his arrogance and lack of horn wants to ensure his son does not have to become a warrior. In one instance, the emperor is maintaining the image of omnipotence that the alicorns need for their rule; in the other, the emperor is showing genuine care for the future of his loved ones and his kingdom. Hypocrisy? Why that exists only in the mind of an observer.

The flower isn’t here. I left it in the tower. Obsidian might use it to look at me.

Keeping up appearances is not just reserved for the nobility, it seems.

Hooray for burial rites!

Wonder what those for earth ponies look like...

A great many graves. Many names Surprise must have known. And there is even an alicorn grave. The whole chapter just gives one the feeling that any of the characters could die, no matter their importance to the story.

On that note, Enigma's denial of an escape and Lightbringer's belief in his coming death just shout, "Better prepare x coffins for our characters." It seems like their situation will only get worse from here, and I do not see it getting better any time soon.

6341044 Well, it is a war. Though I do admit I went Martin on the characters at a couple points. The "class" that originally underwent the enhancement program had 40 ponies, but between the nameless extras who got crippled by side effects, or simply failed the training, and those that ended up in the graveyard, there are 14 still left, 13 of them in active duty. (the last one lost a horn in battle, and though a prosthetic crystal allowed him to recover some, the command decided that putting him back alongside his friends would make him a red shirt, and that's bad for morale.)

6344014 Command was certainly genre-savvy.

6344479 Not nearly enough, sadly. Just like book one, this is like a Greek tragedy on some levels.

I haven't read the original one (yet), but I gotta say that this is looking good!

the way they are structured, they can be read in any order - it just makes a different experience

Pretty good chapter.

I think you did a good job setting up the mood, especially with the descriptions within the graveyard. It was moving at times.

I especially liked Surprise in this chapter. Optimistic, but not childish, even though she seems that way. She does what she does to lift the spirits of others, but seeing her in that setting is a bit tragic.

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