• Member Since 16th Jan, 2012
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Skywriter


loves tiaras.

E
Source

In the far-off Frozen North, a mysterious, long-lost empire reasserts its hold over Equestrian magic. Tasked with securing it for the betterment of Equestria, Princess Cadance will be forced to overcome not one, but two of its overthrown monarchs.

Part of FanOfMostEverything's Imposing Sovereigns II contest. Set immediately prior to Season 3, no relationships to any previous Cadance tale outside the show / comic / chapterbook canon. Special thanks to horizon and my beloved spouse for their pre-reading help.

Chapters (2)
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Comments ( 36 )

Wow, this is a beautiful first chapter. The imagery is absolutely fantastic, and paints a picture so vividly that I'm left with a sense of sadness that a place like this doesn't actually exist. Eagerly moving on to the next chapter.

And as a counterpoint to such beautiful prose, we have a thrilling debate between princesses that was a delight to witness from beginning to end. I do so love seeing characters getting to flex their wits and hearts against one another, and you've delivered that in spades. Good luck in the contest, and I really do hope that this story places.

I was giddy when I saw that you'd taken on the mantle of writing the Cadance/Coronation prompt. And it seems I was right to feel that way, because you've delivered beautifully. This story is everything I could've hoped for: gorgeous descriptions, thoughtful world-building, insightful and nuanced character exploration—all wrapped up in a tense little tale that fits nearly perfectly into canon. Expertly done, as usual!

The one flaw I could point out—and this is the nittiest of picks—is that Cadance knowing all about the Crystal Heart doesn't quite mesh with the show canon, since she probably would've mentioned it when Twilight showed up pondering for a way to protect the Empire. Though even this could be reasoned away easily enough, and it detracts zero from the story.

Thanks for writing this. Competition is quite stiff, so best of luck!

Sypher #5 · 1 week ago · · · Amore ·

Your Cadance stories always seem to carry a regal bearing, and this story is no exception. I enjoyed the many lovely descriptions and little sprinkles of worldbuilding that always make your story feel so alive. Also, I realize that I've never actually thought about how the situation at the start of the episode came about, so this is an excellent and welcome portrayal for it.

Haven't been following the contest, but I wish you the best of luck for it!

9933280
Thanks, I'm really glad you liked it! I obviously hope that it places too, but given what I've seen of the competition, I'm keeping my expectations realistic.

9933355
Glad I didn't disappoint your expectations. And yes, that's a legitimate beef with canon, if you incorporate both "The Crystal Empire" and Journal of the Two Sisters . J2S has Celestia and Luna knowing all about Amore and the existence of the Heart, so assumption must be is that she's withholding info from Twilight as part of her test ... but it stretches credibility to the breaking point that Cadance would be complicit in this. There are two routes we can possibly use to navigate this:

1. Celestia kept Cadance exactly in the dark as she kept Twilight, for unknown reasons.
2. Cadance knew of the Heart's existence, but thought that it was irrevocably gone and didn't bring it up. (She has no idea that the Heart is still somewhere in the castle with her.) This is what I'm trying for in this story; it presupposes that Twilight goes about researching The History of the Crystal Empire and making an ersatz Heart without ever mentioning this fact to Cadance or Shining, who could have immediately set her straight that the Heart is a real palladium, not a symbolic one. It's a pretty narrow path, but such is life when you try to glom a lot of disparate canon together.

Thanks for reading!

9933703
I know from experience what it's like trying to puzzle together canon from so many disparate sources—trying to reconcile show-Sombra with comic-Sombra is basically impossible, as of Season 9. Regardless, that second explanation was effectively what I had cobbled together in my head anyway. Considering Cadance's exhaustion at that point in the story, it's not too big of a logical leap.

Either way, this story's still a gem. :twilightsmile:

Nadnerb #8 · 1 week ago · · · Amore ·

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but The Crystal Empire pt 1&2 is my favorite episode of FiM. I’m not sure if I can pin down the precise reasons for this, my self understanding seems to shift over time, but among various possible explanations including perfect pacing, a lack of particular inconsistencies that present themselves in my mind, or just simply being aired at the first peak of my interest in the show, the one I most often come back to is the particular type of adventure story it tells. The blend of sudden trip to an unknown land where a small group must work out a solution to a surprisingly threatening problem in a fantasy inspired but modern setting is strikingly similar to the premise of many Stargate episodes, a show which ranks high on my personal list of entertainment media. The fact that it drops hints but not outright answers to the lore of alicorns in giving a place and a purpose to Cadence is a bonus.

So the fact that this is a direct extension of that particular moment in canon is definitely an advantage. Also, while you may say that this is not part of your ongoing Cadence writings, but it carries many of the same themes and characterization details, including Cady’s relationship with Celestia and her desire for her own domain, and also that recurring thing with the castle reflecting the desires of it’s owner. (and not just Sombra)

As always, you do an impressive job helping the reader inhabit the headspace if your POV character. I really felt that bit about it being a miracle she could talk through her parched mouth when Amore showed up.

The addition of yet another banished ruler makes me hungry for a (possibly far future) resolution to this situation. Can Amore really be restored somehow? Would she be fit to rule again if she did? Also what about her resemblance to Cadence herself?

Oh and that bit with the oracle saying Sombra could only be defeated when the heart had been returned to dragonkind? That’s peak cleverness. Classic mythic prophesy. Worded just cheekily enough to make whoever hears it look for exactly the wrong solution, while still being teeeeeechnically true. That’s showing off.

Overall I heartily approve of this surprise Skywriting.

9933819
I think those episodes would be my favorites as well, if it wasn't for a few minor jarring things, like the unexplained label of Cadence as "The Crystal Princess!" (I get time constraints, but possibly the most interesting mystery was just... never expanded upon.)

But the episode as a whole, from the mystery style to the reversal of what we had come to expect from Twilight in the narrative sense (not only did she not fully save the day, but gave up her potential future so that someone more suitable could do so). And while many didn't like how Sombra was portrayed, I felt that a vague evil that was menacing enough of a presence, even just psychologically, was perfect for a "solve the mystery in time" type episode.

And it was another two-parter that didn't involve a friendship rainbow, and was the first to display a defeat that was on paper within ratings, but in implication... not so much. It was the most "final."

Good story, I wonder if things could change if Cadence managed to keep contact with Amore

You tease me too much with lore and Sombra-never-actually-appearing across your worlds of words good sir.

9933691
Thanks! I wanted to go back to my fanfic roots with this one and find an empty space in the show that hadn't been explored. Glad it worked out for you!

9933819
It's one of my faves too, and not just because Best Princess gets quite a bit of screen time. I've always liked the "habitable little bubble in a harsh terrain" aesthetic, and this episode delivered that in spades. It got some frowns when it was released because of how ill-defined the villain was, but let's talk about the intricate character nuances of Sauron from LoTR. (As he presents himself during the events of that story, not the more interesting satanic trickster spirit of The Silmarillion, mind you.)

9934044
I agree with all those points! :pinkiehappy:

9934171
It's certainly something to ponder! Thanks for reading!

9934388
I've got this long-stalled Cadance of Cloudsdale prequel piece on the way way back burner that features him extensively, but I just can't go there yet. It irks me.

9934550
I’m now taunted by delicious hype. 👀👌

9933748
The S9 finale timeline is completely irreconcilable with Siege of the Crystal Empire, absent some sort of massive memory loss on Chrysalis's part. The personality of the character himself is only reconcilable if you make the leap that ... well, maybe I should spoiler this, just in case?

The personality of the character himself is only reconcilable if you posit that Discord was just jerking people around and pretending to resurrect Sombra in order provide an object lesson to force the others into line. This sounds like brilliance until you have the fridge logic moment that this hypothetical fake Sombra managed to take out the Tree of Harmony, which seems dubious. Of course the alternative remains that Discord can for all practical purposes resurrect the dead so that's a whole 'nother can of worms.

Basically, the S9 overplot threw a number of wrenches in a number of works, is my takeaway.

Wow Amore is a terrible Princess.

"Hey person I think is a usurper! I'm going to let you know that I exist while I'm still totally powerless, go out of my way to make you hate me as much as possible while largely ignoring the smoke monsters made of evil that wants to consume my kingdom that I stole from Godzilla in the first place!"

9934653
She was probably saner and more reasonable before being turned into a statue, shattered, seeing her people enslaved, seeing her kingdom vanish, and being left completely alone in a frozen wasteland for a thousand years. Probably.

9934713
I figure that to be the case.

Otherwise, it's possible she's just a manifestation of Cady's frustration/impostor feelings, in which case the nastiness is built right in.

9934562
Yeah, as much as I loved S9, it did make quite a few aspects of canon and lore much harder to reconcile—Sombra's really only the beginning. I have fun trying to wind together as many sources as I can, though, so I don't terribly mind.

On the topic of Sombra, technically Discord might not have raised the dead, since Sombra may not necessarily fit the description. In the premiere, Rarity said that the Crystal Heart "banished him into the ether." What "ether" refers to in Equestria is certainly up for debate, though. And even that is a flimsy argument and does nothing to help the actual problem of reconciling his character. Admittedly, I'd never consider the possibility that Sombra in S9 was a fake, created by Discord. That's not really a satisfying answer for me, mainly for the point you already acknowledged. But it's definitely an interesting thought.

At the end of the day, trying to tie it all into something satisfactory just doesn't seem doable. Won't stop me from trying, though! Such is the life of a fanfic author—forever trying to cobble together a pretty picture using pieces from completely separate puzzles.

Excellent job! Even though some people have taken exception to it, I always enjoyed the comic’s lore about Princess Amore and her fate, so it was fun to see that incorporated here (as well as stuff from the Journal of the Two Sisters, which I respected more than the contradictions of it that have come since.) Plus, I’ve always found stories exploring the implications of Cadance and Shining simply coming in and becoming the rulers of an entire other race of ponies to be interesting... Cadance offering herself and her descendants as Stewards until the rightful Princess can return is a new and uniquely mythic take on it. (As well as the tease that such a transition in the far future could be quite the story in its own right.)

And beyond that, the hissing slithering mass of shattered crystals that was Amore was just cool, hallucination or not. Good stuff!

9936433
There's definitely a story here where future Flurry Heart goes full Denethor to Amore's Aragorn. Perhaps for Imposing Sovereigns 3...

God dammit, you did it again.

This was absolutely magnificent. If you don't win the contest, it's a tragedy.

9936492
Thank you! But have you seen some of these other stories? Competition is stiff!

Although Equestria's Beethoofen had greater ambitions for his version of the piece — writing it for an orchestra instead of for solo piano — it turns out our world has a waltz in E flat major, too. And so this chapter has a soundtrack!

9936495
One of the man's very few waltzes! I guess he just wasn't a waltz kinda guy.

I always assumed the Crystal Heart was nothing less than the petrified heart of that dragon's mate. Such a cool interaction between Cadance and Amore.

9936439

If this story is comics -compliant, as it seems to be, then Amore is an orphan -torturer, and I should hope Flurry doesn't pay her too much mind.

9937841
THAT WAS A SUPER QUESTIONABLE THING FOR HER TO DO.

The story appears to be canon-adjacent but not 100% compliant—Amore makes words like Sombra was actively horning in on her at the moment of her death/dissolution/whatever, and that's not how the comics portrayed it. However, Amore is not the most reliable storyteller at this point, so who knows? I gotta say, if true in-universe, this would really ratchet up the gray area for the Flurry/Amore standoff proposed below.

Oh, and cool idea for the Heart's origin!

Any new Skywriter story about Princess Lovebutt is officially a Good Thing. Now, to actually read this one... :twilightsheepish:

A wonderfully evocative and atmospheric first chapter!

Shining and Cadence make for a lovely adventuring hero couple.

9937841
Yah, Princess Amore was a butt trumpet. Much better than Sombra, in the sense that she wasn't a tyrant feeding on hate and fear, and planning on world conquest using slave armies and geomantic encroachment, but still fundamentally a brass instrument of the fundamental sort.

It's great to see this in its final form. And I think it really encapsulates, in remarkably few words, what makes Cadance such a compelling character. That tension between the divine gift that makes her something bigger than she is, and her ascension into a world of powers even greater — where she will forever be struggling to define herself out of the very long shadows of Equestria's past.

9939087
She is, indeed, my fave. Many thanks to you for helping to better it.

Oh, this was excellently done. Gorgeous prose and fascinating work in building on the Fisher King/psychically moldable architecture we've seen in the Crystal Palace. And even with the chapter titles, you still got me with the resonating crystal. Even if this wasn't in continuity with your other Cadence stories—and I feel I should apologize for that requirement—it was still some fantastic Lovebutt fic. Thank you for it and best of luck in the judging.

Also, that is some quality vague prophecy.

9934562
Counterpoint regarding Sombra: Resurrection: The Tree pulled an Obi-Wan and came back stronger than Sombra could possibly imagine, which may or may not have been part of Discord's plan, for a given definition of the term. I could definitely see him remove the Elements with an ersatz Sombra as a way of removing another crutch as part of the quest for Twilight's self-confidence, knowing that the tenacious little causality twister that is Harmony would find a way to persist. Plus, it explains how Sombra survived; Discord just made a new one.

9941746
No apologies required! It's clearly its own story from the ground up (despite some world building similarities), since C of C canon suggests that Cady is, in fact, the heir apparent to the throne, whereas here she takes a more canon-friendly role for her as "protector" of the Empire, carrying emotional resonances for her that she never would be forced to feel in my other works.

Interesting point about Discord; I'd been taking the idea that Harmony would basically be his Kryptonite and that a chaos-created puppet of his couldn't possibly have busted it; but who knows? He's certainly capable of acting to destroy it indirectly, witness: plunder seeds, but on the other hand you could say those were a natural force he harvested for their potential rather than a chaos thing. Around and around we go.

Above all else, the Discord idea would explain Sombra's new voice. :pinkiehappy:

9938273
Thank you so much!

That was quite delightful from start to finish.

9942070
Great to hear, thanks!

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