• Member Since 29th Jan, 2012
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Chengar Qordath

I write lots and lots of horse words; everything from comedy to drama. If you like what I write, please support me on Patreon.


Sunset Shimmer, the Magus of Freeport, has always been of two minds regarding Strumming Heartstrings. The Equestrian spy is irritating, difficult to work with, and does a lot of things Sunset doesn't approve of. However, when an old enemy leaves Strumming on death's door, Sunset will have to decide how far she's willing to go to bring her attackers to justice.

Chapters (5)
Comments ( 179 )

hell yes this and last day of 10 grade tomorrow with 3 months off can life get any better

Late May: Freeport Venture: Blood Debts Pt 1

Cutting it a little close are we? Actually, I use GMT, so this was released on June 1st for me.

I'm gonna slink away and go read now.

one of Freeport Magus Sunset Shimmer's friends

Uh... okay, I wasn't aware that she classified as a friend, but sure, why not?

Well, this should prove interesting. Looking forward to the adventure!

That's a long list in the authors note, I'm glad you have so many supporters but maybe don't dedicate a line of text to each individual.


Already off to a great start. Let the adventure commence!

Comment posted by Cold in Gardez deleted Jun 1st, 2017

Huzzah, Freeport is back! Time for more Shimmer-Mare adventures!

Yay, new Freeport story! And while Sunset's current problem is mysterious too, I'm honestly a bit more interested in Sunset's long term plans. If she were an immortal alicorn she would have enough time to build up a magus corps, but otherwise... I wonder how much Sunset will have to compromise her values. She's kept her hooves relatively clean so far, but sounds like she won't be able to stay like that with how Puzzle is talking.

Oh gosh yes, new Freeport story!


I took a deep. “Well ... this’ll be interesting.”

Well said, Sunset. I love these Freeport Venture stories, but I think this one's gonna be better than usual

inb4 Not the blood stripes at all, but someone who wanted a war between Zebrica and Equestria.


I have to disagree. Puzzle and Kukri have certainly developed pretty positive relationships with her, but Strumming? Her relationship with Sunset has largely been portrayed as antagonistic, with Strumming flat out manipulating and taking advantage of her on numerous occasions. And not even just in some misguided attempt to help her that ends up backfiring, but to achieve her own goals. Even ignoring that she's generally unpleasant, with Sunset consistently being portrayed as disliking most of her interactions with Strumming, the consistent (and completely justified) distrust for Strumming on Sunset's part makes for a pretty negative relationship.


Hoping to become friends with someone isn't the same as being friends with someone. It also isn't the same as having a positive relationship with them.

Strumming has abused Sunset's trust purely for her own gain on several occasions, and made no real effort to hide it. She has consistently lied to and manipulated her, and in at least one case this led to her nearly driving Sunset to committing a crime involving dark magic that would effectively prevent her from ever returning to Equestria as anything but a prisoner. She has consistently been such a condescending and generally unpleasant individual when dealing with her to such a degree that Sunset has openly displayed that she doesn't even like being in her presence, much less interacting with her. Pretty much the only times when she actually does consent to interacting with Strumming have been when she either had no choice in the matter (such as only being able to receive a present from Celestia by retrieving it from Strumming) or when she was being paid a lot of money to do so. What Strumming wants is irrelevant if Sunset doesn't reciprocate, and the series has made Sunset's distaste for Strumming abundantly clear in pretty much every entry that has featured the two characters together.

The "it's her job" argument doesn't really work very well either. In fact, it really just serves to make Strumming look like a complete idiot. Even if her job was to stop Sunset from becoming a threat (it initially wasn't - her first job was to befriend Sunset in order to protect her), that doesn't remotely excuse her treatment of Sunset. Not for moral reasons, or because of my opinions on the characters, but entirely for pragmatic reasons. If your goal is to stop someone from becoming a threat (particularly to you or your nation), you should not behave in a way that is practically guaranteed to make them hate and distrust you. Which is exactly what Strumming did. She was constantly behaving in ways that made Sunset distancing herself from them pretty much inevitable, and did in fact indirectly (and later directly) push Sunset closer to becoming a threat. "She's supposed stop Sunset from becoming a threat" doesn't work very well to justify Strumming's actions when those actions constantly conflicted with that goal.

8204266 Not really. They're using each other because they're mutually aligned and it's in their interests to cooperate. Their relationships do extend beyond simply using each other, but at their heart that's what they're all about. Strumming is using Puzzle for intelligence and to keep close to Sunset, Puzzle is using Strumming for Equestrian int. (I guarantee you that some of their pillow talk involves trading infromation). Puzzle is using Sunset because she's a wild card that he can more-or-less control if she's close and a useful tool. Strumming is using Sunset as both a tool to her own ends and because Sunset's safety is her primary mission. There are some levels of trust and understanding between the three of them, to the point where they actually care about each other, but they're not friends, not by a long shot.

It is VERY interesting to see Puzzle go all cold revenge seeking warrior here. Still, this was a FANTASTIC opener and I GREATLY look forward to seeing what happens next! <3

8204544 Sunset's more of a Claymore Mine. This side towards enemy, and step back. This time she'll need to use all of her intelligence and cunning.

Or she could blow a hole into their records room and start igniting things until they tell her what she wants to know. You know, the subtle approach.

Boy howdy.

I haven't read a lot of these stories, but I pray that Strumming is tolerable. Or even better, just becomes someone I want to read about. I have to believe that at some point she won't be the worst pony ever. Her official title should be "Sunset's Protector and Friend, Except Only One of Those and Not Good at it."

As for the plan itself, it’s really quite simple. <...> This one is going to find whoever is responsible for what happened to the Heartstrings-mare and then it will destroy them. Permanently, and utterly.


8204757 Pretty much what I was saying, either Strumming or Puzzle can use her as their claymore, but only if Sunset is willing to work with them. Puzzle is close to her because, let's be honest here, if he wasn't one of Sunset's 'friends'/Sunset liked him... they'd be enemies. So he gets close to her and makes her (at least partially) dependant on him (until she starts liking him, but even then she still depends on him for a lot of her int. and some jobs), that way she's an asset/friendly claymore, not an enemy.

Freeport is my favorite on this site! I'll bet it's that zebra prince who was trying to start a war with the griffins.

8204266 Oh I'm sure Puzzle has MANY plans to betray Sunset. He just doesn't plan on acting on any of them unless he has to!

I took a deep. “Well ... this’ll be interesting.”

a deep *breath.
8202598 She's a little more of a frenemy.

8205781 Well, she kinda acts like it, but at the end of the day she has a job to do. She can't outright be Sunset's enemy and oppose her, but she's not Sunset's friend either, just a protector.
So yeah, sociopathic fenemy isn't a terrible description.

I like this mage school plan, it would probably pay off quite well if Sunset could find a way to make the funding work. She could even name it Freeport High, and have wacky adventures a group of strangely familiar students.

Dang, Puzzle is all wound up to kill what might turn out to be a lot of people.

No, this was all because he didn’t want to leave his girlfriend’s side. I guess it was kind of sweet, in a really stupid and annoying way. He and Strumming didn’t even really like each other that much.

Considering Puzzle's response to the assassination attempt, I'm not sure this is a true take on their relationship at this point.

The subtle approach for Sunset thus far would probably be to isolate and incinerate them one by one until somebody gets the message. I doubt anyone really wants cold piles of ash for employees... There can't be that many pyromancers in the city... Still, some intelligence gathering would be best done first in case someone wants to frame the Blood Stripes for the attack to throw them off the real danger.

I do wish Sunset could get her morals/ethics in line with some kind of code and less about how she is emotionally at the moment. She had no issue opening up that other dude's mind with a can opener just to have a look inside and was none too kind to the changelings and now she's got qualms about taking out a few mercenaries? Either she's very conflicted or the author should be more confident in setting a tone/direction. It just seems kind of flip-flop-y.

Looks like Puzzle just found out one of the big problems with being a spy/information broker, when the enemy knows who you care about, then you are vulnerable.

I agree. So far as I've read, she's a royal pain in the ass that isn't worth much. She seemed alright at the stealth bit but not so great at reading the situation and acting appropriately.

In a way, I think it still part of Sunset's character that she is impulsive and emotional. She doesn't think things through long enough to actually have a code of ethics or morals. It's probably a matter of character development that still needs to happen before she gets to that point. Until then, she just goes in and does whatever appeals to her at the time.

I'd say this is exactly it. She's generally not a fan of lethal force, but she's willing to use it when she's backed into a corner or if someone really pisses her off.

There's been more than enough story so far for some character development.
Authors are entitled to their views and depictions, but I think that's just too shallow for a good character. It makes her feel like some kind of stereotype, whereas real people are very nuanced creatures. Also, in my opinion at least, the character should grow over time and in some ways Sunset seems only marginally improved since the initial events. Maybe I'm missing something, but learning not to be a hothead should be step one... Tangentially her sudden disinclination to bloodshed seems kinda counter the thread thus far so as to be slightly confusing.

I don't think it's shallow at all, since that's how actual people work. She generally doesn't like killing, but will if she's backed into a corner or someone she cares about (generally Kukri) is in danger. That's more-or-less the standard moral viewpoint on using lethal force.

Most people don't have a fully written out multi-page code of ethics, unless their profession requires one (Hippocratic oath, etc). Sunset's no exception to that. She's taken moral stands and made exceptions, but generally has a pretty consistent set of principles she more-or-less follows. Those beliefs have grown and evolved since coming to Freeport, and will continue to do so over the course of her stories.

In a way, Sunset reminds me of early series Harry Dresden, when his method was 1.) find the bad guy, 2.) set the bad guy on fire, 3.) barely survive a poorly-planned fight, 4.) rinse and repeat.

How long has it actually been since Sunset came to Freeport? I have to admit I haven't read all of them, but I wouldn't be surprised if less than a year had passed since she left Equestria. That isn't all that long to change, and I think Sunset has changed. She's become more mercenary, for one, and started getting more comfortable dealing with the shadiness of Freeport.

Sensing Puzzle's compromised emotional state will deal him some nasty consequences. In the meantime...

8206242 I suspect it's a bit of character development, combined with her wanting to do things the right way. Though the right way in her mind and the right way in Freeport seem slightly at odds.

I have to laugh when I read people's reactions to Strumming since they're often so counter to my own. I wonder if it's an age thing, because I more easily relate to the older spy and so have less sympathy for Sunset when Strumming mocks her for what she is... a rebellious teenage edge-lord. Don't get me wrong, I love Sunset, but the whole point to her character at this stage is to be severely flawed.

So really, when push comes to shove, I trust Strumming more than I trust Puzzle, if only for the fact that she doesn't try to ingratiate herself to Sunset. I'm also inclined to take her word when she said it wasn't her call to try to arrest Sunset that one time, personally.

8207784 I have to agree with you, I'm much more inclined to trust Strumming than Puzzle, because Strumming's goal is to ensure Sunset's safety and wellbeing (okay, she does place Sunset's life in danger, but they can always get out of it and Sunset dying is probably what's known as a career-limiting situation), whereas Puzzle is a sociopath and someone that just about outright states that he's using Sunset.


Personally, I think both are equally amoral.
The difference between Puzzle and Strumming is, the first one is what the second was supposed to be: a competent, charming manipulator, who can silver-tongue his way in most negotiations and trick even the ones who can see beyond his facade into lowering their guard. Guess who is the one who suceeded in gaining Sunset´s trust.

Always glad to see another Freeport story! What do you mean I'm a week late to the party?

I imagine this will be Puzzle and Sunset in the near future:

Looking forward to chapter 2!

Aww, no Sunset Academy for Making Sun-Mom Love Me Again Gifted Spellcasters. Not without orders of magnitude more investment capital anyway.

But that's not the main focus of the story. Instead, we have Sunset having to face the monstrosity of one of her coosest allies and helping him get bloody revenge on those who wronged him. This could get awkward. Fun to read, but awkward.


Oh man, can’t wait for the next chapter! This was great to read and now we can finally see what Puzzle can really do.

When Puzzle was talking about destroying the Blood Stripes all I could think was him going John Wick on the headquarters.

Nice idea for a story, but what if it's a simple of case of her getting g hurt by being at the wrong place at the wrong time? She is a spy after all.

im a little sad strumming dosent match the cover art more dramatic finding her half dead on his doorstep in my opinion

Ah, late night postings. Gotta love them.

or tragically committing suicide by stabbing themselves in the back three times with a longsword.”

I haven't read a line that made me laugh this hard in quite a long time. Thank you for that.

“Seeing things for yourself adds that extra touch that you’d never get by burying your nose in dusty old books.”

:twilightoops: What! Blasphemy! :twilightangry2:

(Quick, hide Sunny from Twilight :pinkiehappy:)

I never would've pegged Kukri as the one to finally shine some light on the moral mess that Sunset's adventures in Freeport occasionally devolve into. Still, as they say, "Out of the mouths of babes..."


Still, Kukri is understandably biased: while all the things she accusses Strumming about are mostly true, Puzzle isn't anything better either; as the Council points out, Affable Evil is still Evil.

Also, I find amusing Freeport Council is far more reasonable regarding Sunset 's activites and collateral damaged (usually by fire) than Chicago White Council with Dresden. :twistnerd:

I trotted up a full-scale recreation that showed a pegasus and changeling standing atop a cobbled-together barricade made of furniture, defiantly holding up a banner

Do you hear the ponies sing?
Singing the song of angry mares?
It's the singing of a people
Who have come to war prepared!

(Of course, in this case, the barricades actually worked.)

Sunset won't say it, but Strumming's become a friend of hers.

One theme of the Freeport Venture I especially like is how Sunset is often given a morally dubious easy way which she refuses. After the desperate lengths she went to in her escape, it shows the integrity she's trying to hold to is still there.

Hmm... It seems like someone's trying to get Puzzle to do something perilously stupid. The question is who. I suppose we'll have to wait and see if the rest of the investigation team turns up anything useful.

There were times when I wondered why the hay Celestia had sent Strumming to keep an eye on me rather than ... well, anypony else. You’d think she would’ve sent the best agent she had after me, not one who I’d figured out was a spy after talking to her for five minutes. The only way I could make any sense of it was to say that either Celestia had screwed up or she was playing some massively complicated game of chess I couldn’t hope to understand. For all I knew, Strumming was actually here for a completely different reason, and all the talk of her being here to watch me was just a smokescreen.

Well if you have such an obvious spy maybe you don't look quite as hard for the hidden spy.

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