• Published 8th Jan 2020
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Golden Age of Apocalypse - Book III: Legacies - BlueBastard



Everything is finally ready for Sunset Shimmer to be crowned a ruling princess of Equestria, but not all is as it seems as the Covenant make their move and the history of Equestria itself is called into question as GAOA reaches its explosive end!

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Bonus Content: Study into the Nature of Dark Magic - by R. Beryl, ARCHMAGUS OF DARK MAGIC

Author's Note:

This is the full excerpt of the paper Razz passed on to Twilight for publishing in GAOA Book 1 Chapter 25. With some added character notes.

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/257905/26/the-golden-age-of-apocalypse-book-i/chapter-25-under-deconstruction

Twilight,
I finally wrote my first publishable paper! Sure, it's about the eternal, soul crushing damnation that can come to ponies who aren't as quote-unquote "fortunate" as me to have an immunity to dark magic, but I've waxed poetic about my magical handicap often enough. Regardless, maybe this might help convince some of the few ponies in the mage guild who still don't take me seriously that I'm capable of your old job. Obviously this thing needs to be peer reviewed and edited, but who better than the pony some of your former co-workers have said would have been happy being the headmare of some 'boarding school of friendship'? Let me know what you think!

Thanks,
~Razz

A STUDY INTO THE NATURE OF DARK MAGIC
BY R. BERYL, ARCHMAGUS OF DARK MAGIC

It is easy to say that there is still as much unknown about magic on Equus as there is known to pony kind. Of the gaps in knowledge, the biggest void is that which concerns the realm of dark magic. History is filled with examples of how dark magic, or as it is lesser known; Black Magic, was sought by those wanting to understand its properties or, more often, bend it to their will, but in both cases it was the magic which got the better of those wielders. Such dangers are an obvious reason as to why the founding laws of Equestria make no uncertain terms that the punishment for dark magic use will be considered an act of treason, with the traitor to be put to death. Of course, given the mental state of out of control dark magic users, it is ironic that the only one who not only survived long enough after being found out, but even willingly was put on trial, ended up having the death sentence overturned by the order of the princesses.

I, Raspberry Beryl, am the first pony since the days of King Sombra to openly wield dark magic, let alone in the same overwhelming capacity as he, and for that I was supposed to have been killed. However, I am unique in that while my state has rendered me powerful in the dark arts at the cost of being unable to use virtually any other kind of magic, my special talent as a pony is that I actually am mostly immune to the corruptive effects of constant dark magic use. And that is why even though my powers are the stuff of nightmares, my loyalty is to Equestria and to that end I use my abilities to help protect the nation in a way nopony else ever has before. After all, who better to study the unknowns about dark magic than the mare who has it running through her very veins? My experience with dark magic has given me an understanding first-hoof that helps explain the nature of the enigma that has been such a problem for pony kind.

To fully understand what dark magic is, one must first understand what magic in general is. That in essence, magic as is commonly used by ponies and other magical species is raw magical energy, gathered from an internal wellspring within their bodies or an external source of great power, refined through the power of will and thought into a more controllable, malleable form. There is a direct relationship between the finesse and power with any given spell - the greater the power of a spell, may it be having a greater effect on a target or simply more damage, the greater the finesse and thus skill level of the caster. This can also be limited by the wellspring of magic within the caster, as lesser amounts do not allow more powerful spells and thus must be built up with practice and teaching. It is why in magic schools, it is common for classes to provide existing magical storage units so the students can repeatedly cast low level spells without tiring out too quickly.

Dark magic, in contrast, breaks that rule by being able to provide great power almost immediately. Where most normal magic must draw from a source and is limited by it, dark magic can draw from multiple sources at once - if the caster’s inner wellspring is too weak, it is supported by drawing magic out of the surroundings, true raw, unrefined magic. Thus, a pony of normally weak skill and power could generate a far stronger dark magic version. The truth is thus revealed; dark magic is in fact a very primal and basic survival skill probably used by pony ancestors before civilization existed. When survival was all that mattered - being able to generate powerful spells simply and without regard to the actual magical capability of the caster would greatly improve survival chances. In fact, many lesser magical creatures do use a weaker version of dark magic to this day, but in amounts where the magic alone will not harm a pony. Likewise, even if the most susceptible pony used an overwhelmingly powerful dark magic spell, simply casting that one spell alone wouldn’t have much of an effect physically and in theory would suggest pony kind could actually safely use dark magic, extremely sparingly.

But over time, dark magic has been refined as a craft as normal magic, improved runes and casting techniques by those ponies who recognize that what works on light based magic to make it stronger, so it does on dark magic. But even light repeated practice of dark magic is enough to send a pony down the left hoof path. Young unicorns are particularly vulnerable as no doubt they’d want to show off their ‘cool new powers’ to their friends. No matter the reason, if the threshold is passed, then the magic begins to corrupt the user in subtle ways as the effects of a body subjected to magic well in excess of what it should handle is forced to adapt, or in very extreme cases mutate, to handle the substantially greater magic load. The result primarily is that their internal magic well becomes much greater, faster than if they used normal techniques to improve magic proficiency, relying less on the surrounding magical energies to make up the missing difference. But that in turn simply makes the pony able to do more dark magic, as they will want to as the power of dark magic becomes addictive. Due to how magic is a biological function, any magic species usually has the magic pass through their brain and then whatever part of their body is used to cast the magic - unicorns in particular have their horns connected directly into their brains for this purpose, meaning every time they cast dark magic, they get it shot through their brains like an addictive drug. And because dark magic is by nature more uncontrolled, this normally warps their minds. Weaker willed users simply become more violent, feral even, but the stronger willed become far more dangerous. They become far more sinister and desire to lord their power over others. Or, essentially, King Sombra was a textbook example of what can happen both in the mind as well as in body, because his horn was warped by so much darkness being cast through it. Unfortunately, while I am lucky to escape corruption in the mind - somehow, my talent allows dark magic to pass through my brain and into my horn without ill effect to it or my sanity - my mastery of dark magic came from troubled beginnings where my horn was broken off and I didn’t have skilled control of my powers - in unleashing my dark inheritance, I grew a new horn much like Sombra’s (which is why I can not cast light magic) and the sheer overflow of power rendered my body permanently a darker color all around right down to my cutie mark, and my incisors lengthen to become fangs. By the same token, I am able to hide my true appearance and use a disguise spell to look like my colors as when I was born, but having to live with a perpetually razor-sharp horn and looking like a monster every morning in the bathroom mirror is something I honestly could live without.

The wild nature of Dark Magic is evidenced in its appearance, no matter if the user is a first timer or a mentally twisted veteran of the left hoof path. Of note is that dark magic’s primary appearance is often confused with that of Alicorn Magic, as both involve the aura of magic overriding the natural color of the caster’s aura with that of a purple and green bubbly haze. This is because Alicorn Magic is very similar in that it uses almost entirely raw magic, meaning the color comes more from the essence of energy more than anything else - the key difference is that Alicorn Magic must draw entirely from within the wellspring of power within the caster, who themselves must be an alicorn - or that’s what Princess Twilight says, the only pony to wield the power of all four alicorns at once after Princesses Celestia, Luna, and Cadence willingly lent their power to her in a bid to keep it away from Tierek. Since I am not an alicorn, I obviously can’t confirm this, but as Princess Twilight has both performed alicorn and very limited Dark Magic (to help defeat King Sombra’s resurrection), I trust her word on the matter. Additionally, the raw power, which would overwhelm a normal pony, is not outside the realm of how much power an alicorn can handle, even multiplied four times beyond normal limit (if a limit truly even exists for alicorns). A further difference is that alicorn magic can have its appearance on the user’s horn change as it is simply that powerful as to override its own physical properties, and if merely being used as super-powerful telekinesis, the aura of the caster is unchanged. In contrast, the aura of Dark Magic can only have its color be changed through external light manipulation through a being such as a phoenix (a well trained one at that), but the bubbly gaseous effect does not go away, and the aura around a telekinetically grasped target is pure black. Where Dark Magic further differs is that it has the addition of a purple mist-haze that comes from the eyes, with the eyes themselves shifting to become green with blood red irises. The exact reason for the color change may have to do with the colors being related to the true color of magical energy when viewed under more conventional, safer conditions, but these side effects are less intense than the aura - speaking as somepony who has to deal with this every time she has to use magic period, they can be suppressed at the cost of limiting maximum output, and must be allowed to manifest for full potential. I find this troublesome in my line of work because while the eye color change certainly doesn’t bother me, that mist does - it’s very irritating on the eyes after a few minutes.

An addendum should be made for the behavior of the most infamous of the dark magical charms - the Alicorn Amulet, another legacy of King Sombra as he created it to augment his already fearsome power. How and why it survived the fall of the Empire and wove its way through Equestria for centuries is unknown, particularly since no concrete stories save one were found by the time of this report’s publishing, but of its most recent use before I was able to secure it is more than enough to know it behaves differently than what has been observed of dark magic. The amulet itself is a wellspring of incredible stored dark magic, much like the magical amulets used in magic schools as mentioned earlier in this report. But when used to augment a normally non-corrupted pony’s power, it shifts their aura to red regardless of their natural color and accentuates it with random red eye flashes. Additionally, it has a nasty little lock spell rendering it only able to be removed by the wearer themselves - no doubt because Sombra wanted to ensure nopony could rip off his new favorite toy. But on a normal pony, this almost ensures they will drive themselves to ruin because the dark magic still passes through their brain, giving them the ecstasy of power and driving them more insane unless they are quickly stopped or convinced by any means to remove the amulet, instantly returning them to normal. While more research would help understand it more, at the same time due to its evil origins and purpose, as Archmagus of Dark Magic, I forbid it on the grounds of how quickly dark magic can be corruptive and it is my sworn duty to prevent that from happening wherever possible. Likewise, when I use it, the effect merely makes my magic stronger - the fact I’m Sombra’s descendant simply underscoring the obvious there - and so I can not use myself as a test subject.

Razz,
I'm so proud of you! I think it goes without saying that you've come such a long way from the skittish mare selling gem forgeries - well, I suppose they weren't forgeries in the sense they were gems of a sort, just not the kinds you were saying they were, but that's besides the point - and I'm happy to be your proofreader! However, just reading the first paragraphs, I'm afraid that your, ah, 'lack' of a formal education - not that you are to blame for any of that given your foalhood - is showing and I'm afraid none of our professional peers in the field of magic would be willing to read it and heed its warnings. Let's have lunch together sometime to discuss it.

Your friend,
Twilight Sparkle

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Comments ( 3 )

10619194
Cross it Auto correct I was trying to reference beyond light

Nice Excerpt and thanks for giving it.

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