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This story is a sequel to The Last Migration

Accipio was once the largest and mightiest empire in all the world, with ten birds to every pony in Equestria. They swept from one side of Equus to the other, conquering and enslaving all that they found. But Equestria held, held even when Mons Ignis rose from its ancient slumber and drowned Accipio in ash. A terrible war was nearly the result, as ponies and griffons struggled for what little resources they could. Were it not for the desperate struggles of a few brave souls, surely civilization itself would've ended.

But the next generation of both nations rise with no knowledge of the past, and that's something that Equestria's Princess Twilight Sparkle cannot abide. The Migration War is transforming into myth right before her eyes. She can't stop the flow of time, but she can send a historian, to take down an accurate record of what happened while the players still live.

But as Contrail will soon discover, history isn't just in the past. Whether he likes it or not, he's about to be part of the story.

Updates daily for the first week while it catches up to my Patreon, then on Mondays thereafter.

This story was commissioned by Vilken666, feel free to PM me if you'd like one of your own. Editing by Two Bit and Sparktail, my enablers. Cover by Zutcha.

Chapters (22)
Comments ( 183 )

By the way, one of the words in the summery is supposed to be italicized, but you got the formatting wrong and the /I thing can be seen.

Oh, right, The Last Migration was a thing. Kind of let that shift to the back burner. Or fall behind the stove. :twilightsheepish:

Still, this definitely promises to be an interesting read. And it's a good excuse to play catch-up with the prequel.

I recall that all happening, but there seems to be some lingering background questions that require answering.

Oh hey, more of this.

Eventide court, the electricity, those guns; seems like a bit of a time skip?

“It’s a little late for admissions,” he said, sympathetic. “Maybe you could try again next year. Oh, I’m Flash by the way. Flash Sentry.”

Not too much of one though, it would seem.

The ruler of Equestria—of the sun and moon and seasons themselves—looked up from what she was doing. Is that Daring Do she’s reading?

Yep, she's still Twilight.

Oh wow, and still very eager about knowledge and learning.

“Go easy on him Twilight,” rumbled a voice from behind the throne, almost in time with my thought. It was deeper than any pony’s voice I’d ever heard. Her dragon. “He’s obviously terrified. Listen to his heartbeat.”

Buck that’s creepy.

Spike's a bro, even if a slightly creepy bro.

It says good things about this guy's preparation that he was able to rattle off the requirements for the full trip even though he didn't expect to be able to go on it.

Still kinda miffed at the ending of the Last Migration with the weird 180 turn and magicking armour, but I'll read it.

This would be an excellent opportunity to find out whether the former Accipians still believe Equestria's pony tribes are a slave-like caste system. Especially if they formed a republic, contrasting their form of government to Equestria's... well, it's actually a Civillian Dictatorship, isn't it? Not like there is a generational ruling family. One immortal pony rules until they get bored and nominate someone else. That must seem barbarics to any true republican, even if Equestria's dictators tend to be warm and motherly.

My kingdom will not have a population of ponies ignorant to the trials we have overcome.

"Unlike certain abdicated princesses I could name."

It’s only the single most important event of recent history. How hard can it be to summarize the whole thing in one book?

A lot harder now that you've asked that question.

Yeah, this will almost certainly be Contrail's easiest interview. Looking forward to seeing the others, and the journeys he takes to reach them.

Tell me they got him the Wintergreen for a ship... Or I can just wait and see.

Contrail doesn't realise it, but his scholarly arrogance would not be looked upon kindly by Princess Twilight herself. One of her closest, bestest friends dreamed of "doing loops in the sky". Twilight Sparkle herself never looked down on her for it.

Even though they managed to bring weapons back with them?

If I remember correctly, whole one rifle that someone's brought was explicitly mentioned (cold weapons and their power armor weren't in treaty)

Come with me, pony.

That seems kind of an odd turn of speech for Spike. oO

I'm curious to find out what became of Starlight after that whole mess. :rainbowlaugh:

Oh boy...

It begins again....
Let's see where this goes. Into the rabbit hole once more...

I don't think it was ever explicitly mentioned exactly how many weapons made it through Starlight's screening. Most of the weapons were built in secret in Griffonstone after the migration, though.

There are some familiar names. It really does give a sense of the catastrophe. You can't really envision the sheer devastation of that sort of disaster without seeing it for yourself.

Worst part is: nopony knows if she’ll ever wake up again.

Well that's definitely not a concerningly ominous foreshadow...

Okay, I'm hooked. Staying the course on this one!

This is the Daughter of Wintergreen, isn’t she

Sweet, I called it. So good to see the old bird still flies.

Yes and no. Back then we didn’t know how much we could trust them. You probably know their reputation for honor today.

Wow, it really has been a while.

She levitated something down onto the table in front of me—the scroll she’d written on. Her horn flashed, and her royal seal burned into the parchment, smoking briefly. “There are conditions. You are as of this moment an official scholar of my court. You will represent the Crown everywhere you go. And when your work is published, I wish for the original for my personal collection.”

Big research grant, big responsibility. Representing the Crown brings with it the chance of really screwing things up.

Spike the dragon rose from behind the throne, standing fully upright on just two legs. Now I saw a creature that was larger than a princess. He was still a young dragon; in that he was small enough to fit in the building without too much difficulty. His spines were wicked sharp along his back, his wings wide and with a few scars.

Looking good, Spike.

IIRC from the last story, Ignis was a supervolcano. In the real world, supervolcanos do not erupt frequently (Yellowstone erupted over 600,000 years ago, and another 700,000 years before that), and this story is taking place just 24 years after Ignis erupted in the last story.

While of course you should expect some conflict (It is tagged, [Adventure], [Drama], and [Violence], after all), I wouldn't expect that conflict to come in the form of Ignis erupting again.

I opened my mouth to ask why this pony might think I had questions for him—but then I remembered. The reason the name of this ship had seemed so familiar had been staring me in the face the whole time: it was the same one Starlight Glimmer had taken to Accipio, twenty-four years before me. Now it would take me to the kingdom that she herself helped rule.

Now that's quite the ship to assign to him for this trip. I'm not sure if it's auspicious or ominous.

“Even with such good creatures on the throne? I’m told that our relationship with the emperor and his wife is excellent.”

"Emperor and his wife" doesn't really sound particularly republic-esque. Maybe it'll be some sort of hybrid model of government.

I’m sure you historians have other ideas, but to me: everyone who died during the Migration War was killed by Ignis. Worst part is: nopony knows if she’ll ever wake up again.

That's certainly a way to look at it, but I kind of feel like it gives some monsters too free of a pass for their actions.

The thing about a world as magical as Equestria is that the explanations for those howls seem equally likely.

Suddenly they’re all stuffy and they tell me about their noble lineage and how loyal their families are to the state.

Hmm. Is disloyalty punished, or do they just want to make sure the heiress to the throne doesn't tell her parents anything unpleasant? Or both. They're hardly mutually exclusive.

In any case, hopefully Contrail won't be busy, ahem, seeing the sights that he misses some interviews.

Radiant Dawn. If I'm remembering this right, then I'm pleasantly surprised to see Velar's and Starlight's relationship grow stronger with time (Sorry, Sunburst. Not this time.). Nice to see some Pony-Griffon hybrids. Should help bring the two societies together. Literally and figuratively.

Me thinks it might be a little bit of butt-kissing and a little bit of "I can give you an heir worthy of the throne". Ugh.
Though it looks like good ol' Contrail has entered the ring.

I could hear strange sounds coming from the city below as we flew overhead, and I went to Bluejacket for his input. “Do you hear… howling?” I asked, camera hanging from around my neck. If I was coming all the way out here anyway, there was no way my book wouldn’t contain photographs.

“It’s nothing,” he said, unable to meet my eyes. “Don’t think about it. If the crew is telling you superstitions, ignore them. They speak when they shouldn’t.”

I have concerns!

Not a bird, not quite. A hippogriff, mixed pink coat and white feathers. I’d never seen such a beautiful creature in my whole life—not the models that performed in Manehattan shows, not the posters put up in seedy districts. I couldn’t tell what she was doing here at such a distance, or who she might be.


She grinned, sticking out a claw. A little like a griffon claw, though the talons weren’t nearly as long or sharp. Pony-griffon hybrids. Makes sense they aren’t as dangerous. “I’m Radiant Dawn, by the way. I watched you fly in— Wintergreen , just like my mother said. I’m supposed to take you to the castle. It’s… family tradition or something? Mostly I think she’s bored and wants a pony from her old home to talk to.” She sat back on her haunches, puffing out her chest again and tilting her head slightly to the side. “Who are you?”

I thought so.

How I was going to get anything done in the city now, with a creature like this nearby… I had no idea.

He's doomed.

Huh. Well. The years have not been kind to Starlight. Or she's not been kind to them.

Also, gender-occupation discrimination's still a thing. Contrail's not going to make a lot of friends. And the flightlessness won't help there. I'd have thought his parents would've at least torn him away from the books long enough for flight camp.

At least he has Radiant... though it's clear she's having as much trouble grasping his culture as the other way around. This should be very interesting indeed.

I'm semi-surprised with Starlight though it must be expected. Being exiled from performing a spell completely for the sake of the greater good would have caused bitterness. That bitterness wouldn't have faded if she had to spend decades with a race that's still pretty much rivals with the one she came from. I wonder what the years have done to Velar?

And it looks like Contrail has suddenly become the interviewee. Looks like he's completely stuck with Radiant. Though this isn't a bad thing. She's a better prospect for fostering Equestrian-Accipian relations. Not to mention all the shipping that could be done between the two.

I mean... He's the Starlight to her Velar. If they don't end up together I'll be amazed. Careful Starlight, 1 generation of internation marriage is an oddity 2 may be setting a precedent.

We should not forget this very important fact: Starlight Glimmer used to be Princess Twilight's protégé. Twilight was a lesser princess back then, she was groomed to become Equestria's sole ruler one day, which she did.

Imagine how that looks to the birds. Their new empress was until right that moment one of the Alicorn's personal underlings. Not too difficult to interpret this as Equestria putting the Griffons under their thumbs. In light of this, banishing her might've even been a gambit to make her more acceptable to Newcippio since that should break all ties of loyalty, or so the reasoning would go.

So, it's a possibility that Starlight is putting up a tough act for her subjects. She can't be overly warm to this pony sent by her old mentor or it'll be fodder for whatever opposition forces there are.

Also, she could even be jealous of/feel sorry for Contrail, what with him being Equestria's envoy, the position she had back then...

I can see both interpretations be possible at the same time. Accipian politics would certainly demand Starlight to be somewhat belligerent to pony visitors. The pain of losing the love and respect of her homeland as a result of her service to it would probably make it easier to keep up the act (if it was an act at all). Starlight would certainly have strong feelings regarding Contrail (Starlight 2.0). If it's negative, then hopefully a friendship (or something more) developing between Contrail and Radiant would soften her.

It'd probably be a good precedent.

“Ponies can fly,” I agreed. “But I never learned how. I was…” I turned away. “More of a scholar. Time spent in the air was time away from my books.”

“That’s ridiculous,” she said.

It kind of is, to be honest.

“How long are you going to be in Caesarea, Contrail?”

“A few weeks, probably,” I answered. “Long enough to conduct all the—”

“Long enough to learn how to fly,” she responded.

Let the hot princess teach you how to fly, Contrail.

There were far more than I’d seen at Canterlot Castle during my single visit there. I couldn’t forget that the Republic was an entirely different form of government. Their emperor and empress weren’t absolute the way Celestia and Luna were, but they relied on an assembly.

Ahh, there we go.

Starlight raised a hoof, waiting for me to fall silent. “Now isn’t the time, scholar Contrail. It’s possible I’ll be able to find time in my schedule, stars permitting. But even if I don’t, you have the run of the palace while you’re here. My daughter has little exposure to ponies outside of Equestria’s formal ambassadors, and I have no doubt she’ll harass you endlessly for information. Consider it my special pleasure to grant her full permission to do so as long as you’re in the capital.”

She leaned in, just over the edge of the throne. “You’re not in Equestria anymore, Contrail. Learn quickly, or this trip might get you killed.”

Never mind about the hot princess, run away.

>There aren't as many ghosts
This remains uncomforting.

What's up with male scholars??

(I haven't readen the previous book, so don't answer this question please. I'm going for the full clueless historian experience)

“We’ll see.” One of them got out of our way. “One thing not many ponies know is honor. Your word mean anything, horse?”

Ahahahahah, look at this joker over here. Contrail needs to understand that just because the birds insist they're all about honour now doesn't make it true. Old Accipio had truly remarkable skill at self-serving delusions and moving the goalposts. I hope, I HOPE Starlight taught her daughter better than that, that it wouldn't take the same amount of methodical breaking down of her ignorance that her father had to go through.

Woops, sorry. Ignore my post.

“Outsider, please ,” Radiant Dawn muttered, exasperated. “He lives in books and can’t even fly. He’s more dangerous to papyrus than he is to me.”

Hahaha, ouch.

“I guess.” Dawn still sounded distant, and a little annoyed. Not with me, I hoped. “That right there is the citizen’s district, and they can all fly. In the old days they used to be on the ground, because most households had slaves. But we don’t do that anymore, so…”

So, all the citizens are gryphons?

“Caesarea,” she supplied. “I know ponies don’t have houses and stuff. Caesarea was the fortress aerie of house Virtue—my house. It’s further from Mons Ignis, so the damage was less severe. And there aren’t as many ghosts.”

Interesting. Also, I'm still concerned about the ghosts.

“We’ll see.” One of them got out of our way. “One thing not many ponies know is honor. Your word mean anything, horse?”

Oh good lord, they're all still like...that.


Contrail needs to understand that just because the birds insist they're all about honour now doesn't make it true.

It was mentioned that honour is a big thing at the beginning of this story, and I can't remember big counterexamples for that from previous story. So with that, his previous knowledge and what Twilight told him it may as well be his most robust piece of information yet.

Think back on how they did everything in their power to circumvent the treaty they signed with Equestria, from loopholes to outright breaking it when they felt like it. Plus, the way Accipio dangled the prize of freedom in front of all slaves but it was obvious the system was set up so only Griffons could actually benefit, under the guise that other races could if they didn't lack the work ethic. They treasure the warrior's honour, but it really only meant honour=winning and winning=honour, conduct isn't unimportant. They only truly honoured selfishness but didn't want to admit it.

Huh. Perhaps ponies actually don't know anything about the birds' "honour".

Old Accipio's honour meant "Me, myself, and I!", first and foremost. They need to prove it isn't so anymore before they get to run their beaks. Perhaps ponies don't understand or don't want to because it tends to leave a bad taste in one's mouth.

Part of the griffon culture in the previous story was that the males did the fighting and the females did the scholarly pursuits. Most males were (and apparently still are) completely illiterate. IIRC Velar (Radiant Dawn's father / current emperor) was fairly unique as being a male that even could read at all.

Most of what they explicitly promised was done. Expecting from any politicians to think like "we promised Equestria to do X, but we think that they actually wanted Y (because it's better for them), so we'll be nice guys and do Y" is a bit weird, because, well, it's not in their interests. Honour forbids them to explicitly and demonstrably lie, but if you thought that they promised you something they didn't actually promise, or asked them to promise something vague that you later can't put finger on and say "hey, you lied to me right here", then from their point of view you brought it on yourself. Which is kinda the only way it could practically work in society where lies are taboo.

About freedom for slaves: well, rules are known, same for everyone and actually enforced (there was that scene with Gina where she actually risked her own ass to make sure slaves are treated like they should be). It's just "same rules for everyone" is not nearly enough by our modern moral standards.

They only truly honoured selfishness but didn't want to admit it.

They lack notion of "selfishness" being a "bad thing" so there's nothing to admit. Average griffon Joe (if he understand what are you saying at all) would probably scratch his head and reply "maybe you'd also say that sun is warm?". Velar is exceptionally nice and fair guy for their society that it appeared to him at all that all that stuff needs some excuse. They do have notion of breaking their honour rules being a bad thing, though.


Most of what they explicitly promised was done. Expecting from any politicians to think like "we promised Equestria to do X, but we think that they actually wanted Y (because it's better for them), so we'll be nice guys and do Y" is a bit weird, because, well, it's not in their interests. Honour forbids them to explicitly and demonstrably lie, but if you thought that they promised you something they didn't actually promise, or asked them to promise something vague that you later can't put finger on and say "hey, you lied to me right here", then from their point of view you brought it on yourself. Which is kinda the only way it could practically work in society where lies are taboo.

Except that they even broke the literal wording when it suited them. Gina broke it, for example, when she brought Isabel through Equestria, nevermind those slave ships smuggled through that weren't used as decoys.

If "honour" means doing whatever the hell I want, then the term is useless. And that's exactly what happened back then. Scythia's understanding of honour was pure arrogance and selfishness. Honour could be complete different one day to the next. It couldn't be trusted because no bird could be trusted. They had no honour because honour had no meaning.

Caesarea... Hmmm if my Romanian has taught me anything I can't help but hear that as chow-say-reea

I swear the more I learn about Caesarea the more I think it's an elaborate Transylvanian castle fortress high in the Carpathians

"Who doesn't learn from history is doomed to repeat it." 😞

He's coming across very preachy for what should be a neutral scholar. I hope he learns fast or his book is going to sound very... let's go with old fashioned to be generous.

The one thing about society: Stability and peace does not necessarily mean or even require equality or freedom. The Republic will certainly be tested in the coming days. If the Imperials rise again, that will certainly spell trouble for Starlight. Even more so for Radiant Dawn.

Oh Gaius, if you were still alive what knowledge and understanding could you have bestowed upon Contrail on his quest?
Oh Contrail, are you truly certain Radiant is even inconveniencing you?
Oh Radiant, do you realize you may be at the center of a possible cultural clash in the future?

Cultural differences. It's nearly impossible to be completely neutral. Especially if the system you've lived with works just fine.

Rhymes right?

true but there's bias in anthropology and then there's The British Empire in the 1800's level of it.

Oh yeah, but now it's a bit more subtle. There might be examples that are blatant too if one looks hard enough. No way to get past it and be completely objective.

It's funny to think that future people might think of us now in exactly the same light and they might be totally right.

I don't think it's funny. I think the same people we ridicule in the past would find us to be reprehensible in our behaviours too. We're all products of our times and civilizations. Understanding our flaws and how to improve them is the best thing we can do.

Too bad that's easier said than done.

I banished that thought, true though it was. Radiant Dawn might be getting me into more trouble than I would’ve faced otherwise, but she was still the prettiest creature I’d ever seen. I could put up with a little inconvenience if it meant I got to see her smile.

He's dooooomed.

What I'm mostly getting from this interview is that it's hard for barbarians to civilize without conflict and generational change forcing the issue.

I’m momentarily distracted watching my companion, who has begun stalking a mouse that somehow got into the room. She’s completely uninterested in the interview, and hasn’t said a word since it started.

At least the princess is cute, however.

It's just the reality of the situation. As much as we can learn from the past and our future can learn from us, we are mostly irrelevant to their society because we'll be dead and our views ultimately outdated. They can model their society and such after us but that will mostly be of their own doing. Their ideas. Molded with our help, our knowledge, but still their own version. I just find it funny that people in every age claim they are the apex of civilization. The exception. When time and time again their children proved them wrong. Our children will do the same to us.

It might be both depressing and uplifting if humanity today is not the apex of our species.


He's dooooomed.

Pretty much but at least he's doomed to a pretty face.

What I'm mostly getting from this interview is that it's hard for barbarians to civilize without conflict and generational change forcing the issue.

Also that pretty face is most likely the key to getting it done. In other words, Contrail's doubly dooooomed.

At least the princess is cute, however.

Is she cute to the male griffons? Does she like griffons at all? Might help in keeping the peace in a strange sort of way. Also, poor Contrail. She would be way out of his league if this is true. Then again something tells me the society won't exactly like a griffon-pony hybrid as a ruler. Go for it, Contrail. I'm rooting for ya.

Caesarea is totally a Transylvanian style castle, you've got the name, the location, The natural feel to it, the unnaturally large throne room. Come on! You might as well call it Targoviste

If you can't tell I'm a Romanian geography nerd and I love your fictional cities

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