• Member Since 3rd May, 2021
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RangerOfRhudaur


Nai hiruvalye Valimar, nai elye hiruva; namarie!

Sequels1

T

This story is a sequel to Dripfeed


Low-pressure systems typically warn of cloudy, possibly stormy, weather to come. A simple warning, but one that has proven true time and time again. If the pressure starts dropping, it would be wise to prepare for storms.

Storms warned Thunderlane of the attack of the strange beasts that have been haunting Cloudsdale for the past weeks. Another simple warning, but one that seems to have proven itself; the beasts have only ever been seen in the rain, and the drumming of the rain was the drum to whose beat they marched on Thunderlane's camp. If storms arrive and you're in Cloudsdale, it seems to be wise to prepare for an encounter with the beasts, what some have begun calling Trogs.

Isolated scouts followed by a stronger attack typically warn of plans for an invasion. A less simple warning, but one that has proven itself time and time again. Isolated scouts have plagued Cloudsdale for the past weeks, and now news of a larger attack has reached Windy Hill. Now, Applejack, Fluttershy, and the unveiled Platinum Brilliance believe it wise to prepare for war.


Continuity: The Song of the Spheres
Branch: The Children of the Storm

Chapters (5)
Comments ( 92 )

Someone needs to smack Discount Denethor upside the head before he makes a bigger mess of things.

Wait, Clear Sky and Wind Sprint? PLEASE tell me we get to meet Quibble Pants. You have NO IDEA how much I need this.

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I wasn't planning for Quibble to show up, just like I wasn't planning for Tein to be so pleasant, or for the Castellot riot to go as it did. We shall have to see whether he decides to show up or not, both readers and author. :twilightsmile:

Also, yes, someone please give the unholy homunculus of the "You have no power here" meme and John Noble's most notable fruit-consuming role a good-sized thwack.

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One richly-deserved thwacking, coming right up.
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Be honest, you either laughed or squealed in delight when you first saw that.

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Tbh, my first thought was, "I don't remember that," shortly followed by, "Wow, Gandalf's got some moves."

But, yes, fully deserved.

Good old Fluttershy, silk hiding steel.

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"I know what they think of me; kind, sweet, gentle, quiet, meek, pliable, delicate, weak. They think of me like a cute animal, a bunny like Angel perhaps; cute, sweet, non-threatening, easy to bully. But even bunnies still have claws and teeth, though they may choose not to use them. Fleeing from a fight might be the better option for them, not because they're afraid, but because they know the costs of fighting, and know that a given fight isn't worth it. If it is, though, they will still flee, but from fear, not fighting."

“I am not blind, nor deaf. I know you all believe me weak, frightened, feeble. Your father knew me better. Oberyn was ever the viper. Deadly, dangerous, unpredictable. No man dared tread on him. I was the grass. Pleasant, complaisant, sweet-smelling, swaying with every breeze. Who fears to walk upon the grass? But it is the grass that hides the viper from his enemies and shelters him until he strikes.”

— Doran Martell, A Dance with Dragons (Source: Quote Catalog)

You just made Quibble Pants make me cry. Well played, Ranger. I hope he's okay.

Ah, Rainbow Dash Platinum Brilliance. She became the mask, and now she's starting to assimilate its strengths into her own being. Character growth is a wonderful thing.

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You just made Quibble Pants make me cry. Well played, Ranger.

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Jokes aside, I loved writing the Quibble bit. Also, don't worry;

I hope he's okay.

He is, though whether that's because he's staying somewhere safe or because he's off on a Flashman-esque adventure of his own is still up in the air.

Ah, Rainbow Dash Platinum Brilliance. She became the mask, and now she's starting to assimilate its strengths into her own being. Character growth is a wonderful thing.

It is, isn't it?

Whoops, definitely didn't mean to let this one slip by the wayside. Well, better late than never.

Fine, Wind Rider thinks they're all doomed and hope is a lie. But he's decided to let his entire state die weeping in their beds than standing and fighting. That may be a bigger source of shame than refusing to believe victory is possible. Still, getting him to do anything will be hard. And I can't help but notice Clear Sky never actually said his daughter's name...

It is fascinating to see both Platinum and Fluttershy change on their home ground, the friendly masks they wore at CHS removed by choice or by force. (Still feels really weird to have Middle-Earth abut a modern high school, but that's a different matter.) Applejack and I will both have to adapt to the shifts in what we thought we knew.

And, of course, there's the brewing storm. We'll see what happens when the skies finally do open up.

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Whoops, definitely didn't mean to let this one slip by the wayside. Well, better late than never.

An author is never late, nor are they early; they arrive precisely when they mean to.

Anyway, with regards to Wind Rider, yeah he's gonna be a stick in the mud. He has his reasons, though, however warped they might be, and one of them may not seem that way at all. Also, good catch on Clear Sky not naming his daughter. I can confirm that that was not a coincidence, though nothing more at the moment.

(Still feels really weird to have Middle-Earth abut a modern high school, but that's a different matter.)

Yeah, I understand. Most of the problem is just how deeply the headcanon of "Cloudsdale's an amalgamation of Middle-Earth's Rohan, ASoIaF's North, and the Scottish Highlands" is ingrained in my mind, but part of it is due to the specific circumstances of the state at the time of the story; if it weren't for the weird weather, they'd be about as internet-savvy as somewhere like Virginia or Wyoming, and electrification is under way, but for various reasons (namely lack of capital, the unique challenges of the landscape, and the remnants of Cinch's influence) modern infrastructure (internet/cell service, automobile access, electricity) is really hindered in its development. Cloudsdale is basically a high-magic, horse-rearing/ranching instead of farming, version of the stereotypical "left-behind" rural community. I do understand your concerns, though, and I'll try to keep them in mind going forward. I'm just not sure if I'll be able to do anymore than Wind Rider thinks he is.

How many stories are going to be in this series?

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Hard to say. I'd estimate we're about 1/3 of the way through the series, but it's not set in stone.

Clear Sky looked at her thoughtfully. "Between the weather, the invaders' resemblance to the 'Toad-Men,' and now your magic?" she whispered. "I'm not sure there is such a thing as 'just a story' in Cloudsdale anymore."

Truer words have never been spoken within these halls.

Also, your story of Storm almost reminds me of a cross between Helm Hammerhand and King Elendil. Hmm, "Helmendil"?

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Also, your story of Storm almost reminds me of a cross between Helm Hammerhand and King Elendil.

Hm, Helm was a heavy inspiration for Storm's story (originally, she would've just been a Hammerhand copy), but I can see where you got Elendil out of it.

Very nice stuff exploring Applejack's traditions and insecurities.

"And five great houses of the Hurricanias, the heirs of Commander Hurricane," she clenched her fist. "Warriors, knights, and leaders."

"Ain't that only three roles?"
"Well, it's more like warriors, warriors, warriors, knights, and leaders."
"Oh."

"Legend says that almost every tree on Sentinel Hill grew from the bones of a Cloudsdaler."

Ah. I get the feeling that we're already familiar with the forces behind the Wolf-Men.

Bulk and Octavia? There's a novel pairing.

Yeah, probably best to send everyone to the mystically protected fortress given the nature of the enemy. Of course, that does little good against Governor Doom-and-Gloom. This is going to be an exceedingly awkward dinner...

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"Ain't that only three roles?"
"Well, it's more like warriors, warriors, warriors, knights, and leaders."
"Oh."

This made me smile.

Bulk and Octavia? There's a novel pairing.

I remember there being something about it in one of the later episodes, and in my headcanon I could see it working, so why not?

Yeah, probably best to send everyone to the mystically protected fortress given the nature of the enemy. Of course, that does little good against Governor Doom-and-Gloom.

Amusing, isn't it? The biggest threat isn't the magic monsters at the door, it's the mundane foot-draggers who don't want to make the sacrifices needed to prepare for them.

Little Nighty... Night Rider? Really? :rainbowlaugh: I can only imagine what her car's like.

I met Celestia during the Gull Raids and she impressed me, and I hoped she could impress my daughter as well.

Well, that raises some interesting questions.

What good are knights and warriors in peace?

"Beggin' yer pardon, sir, but we ain't exactly in a state of peace."
"Don't you kids know not to interrupt a good melancholy monologue? I thought Celestia would teach you better."

Fascinating tidbit with the ring. Once again, we have some very curious questions. Likewise with that dream. I get the feeling that it wasn't meant for Applejack.

An unexpected break point here. We've got further context and information, plus a runner en route to Castellot, but nothing's resolved. We'll see here it goes from here.

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I have MANY questions. And I fully expect that the answers will only beget more questions. At least, that's what I'm used to in the world of science.

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Little Nighty... Night Rider? Really? :rainbowlaugh: I can only imagine what her car's like.

Close, but not quite; her "last name" and her family name aren't the same (like Lady Misty Fly of House Mist). Your guess is very, very close to her real name, though.

Well, that raises some interesting questions.

IMO, good worldbuilding should raise more questions than it answers, though the new questions should be less significant than the old ones.

"Beggin' yer pardon, sir, but we ain't exactly in a state of peace."
"Don't you kids know not to interrupt a good melancholy monologue? I thought Celestia would teach you better."

Aside from the current crisis in Cloudsdale, Homestria (seems to be) at peace; he's talking about the broader picture here, before going into the specific counterexample you mentioned.

Likewise with that dream. I get the feeling that it wasn't meant for Applejack.

I can neither confirm nor deny that.

An unexpected break point here. We've got further context and information, plus a runner en route to Castellot, but nothing's resolved. We'll see here it goes from here.

It's going to be a while before stuff other than personal issues gets resolved, be warned. It took Frodo a long time to get the Ring to Mount Doom, after all (or even to Rivendell). But the pace should pick up relatively soon, at which point it's probably going to seem to spiral out of control.

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Your guess is very, very close to her real name, though.

Oh. Oh. Yeah, that would explain why she fell off the radar. You don't get much more elite than a state governor; no doubt her new friends encouraged her to cut off all ties with her old life.

"And soon we'll drop with that other shoe," the governor cackled, a storm of humorless laughter. "You heard Thunderlane, bolts did nothing, and by the time we manage to get in range to use what worked, those nets and tridents of their's'll deal with us. Cloudsdale is doomed, and not all of Lord Skies' sunniness can change that. Soon, they'll strike, and for real, not just as a scouting mission or a raid. And when they do, all the 'valour' and 'courage' of the Stormlings will crumble and die, and fall screaming into their fools' tombs. But let those who want to fight; the end comes, and all should meet it as they think best. Let them die on the field if they wish; those who run won't be around long enough to care about their foolishness."

So those things only use nets and tridents? One of the sides need to upgrade their arsenal.

"Do you know how many of them there are?" Wind Rider cut her off. "If we mustered the state we could gather perhaps 50,000, but for all we know they have 100,000 or more. Even if they only had half as many as we did, it would still be a hard fight, and that's without taking the Men Thunderlane saw among them into account. And that's without the time it would take to muster, time we don't know if we can afford. We lack too much information to risk a fight, girl. We lack information, we lack numbers." A darker shadow fell across his face. "We lack hope."

You also lack the fire power.

"What I know is that there are 50,000 Stormlings waiting for you to give the order," Fluttershy said. "50,000 bravehearts ready to grab their spears and mount up if you tell them to, even if you tell them to ride to their deaths. Cloudsdale has faced threats before, your lordship, threats almost as great as this, and we didn't flinch before them. We held out hope, however slim it may have seemed, and fought on. Come," she stretched out a hand. "Let us do so again."

Fluttershy, I know that you’re the element of kindness, but can you think about what you just said?

"I am the governor of Cloudsdale," he said in a cold, clipped voice. "My business is guiding the state, and it is no one's business but my own, certainly not that of every carrion-eater from here to Manehattan. Only one hand may wield the state's stamp, and I will not surrender what I fought so hard for to a teenage, Pansy girl from the soft city. Go, Applejack and company; I give you leave to fight, or whatever else you need. Arm yourselves, if you wish; grab your spears and shields and mount up. Ride out to death and glory. But rule of the state rests with me, and I will not order it to its collective death." He slammed his shaking fist on the desk. "Go," he ordered. "This audience is at an end. Clear Sky shall see to your rooms, if you wish to stay and die. Dismissed."

Is it bad that I would accept that offer? If I have magic all I need is some armor and weapons and I’m all good to go.

"The governor is a proud man," Soarin sighed. "Proud, traditional, and drunk. I'm not excusing what he did, but I do understand it why he did it. I'm sorry about it, though, Fluttershy," he dipped his head. "Your heritage is something to be proud of, not ashamed."

What does her heritage have to do with what he said?

"I know," she murmured, brows furrowing. "What worries we is why he said it. The way he put it wasn't just meant to deny my help, it was meant to deny my ability to help, to deny Cloudsdale the hope that I might be able to help. Combined with some of the other things he said, it felt almost like he didn't want hope. But why?"

Is he working for the enemy? If this is wind rider’s human counterpart then it may make sense.

Soarin nodded in acceptance, then said, "In that case, follow me. While I scrounge up some messengers, you'll need to scrounge up some armor." His face fell a bit. "Lord Rider was right about one thing, at least; magic alone won't be enough to win the day. I don't even know how much of a difference it will end up making, or if it will at all."

I just realized, do any of them know how to fight?

* A full account of which is given in Who Guards the Guards?

What is this for?

A hollow pang struck her gut as she looked into the eyes of that girl, saw the alien intelligence behind them; she hadn't realized how much she'd missed her sister until then. She hoped she was doing okay, her and her little friends.

Alien intelligence?

Wind Sprint nodded enthusiastically. "My dad was in it," she boasted. "Mom says he was the best Guard they'd ever seen, even better than Shining Armor. That's gonna change once I grow up, though; I'm gonna be the best Guard in the world, even better than Dad was. There aren't gonna be any bullies within a million miles of wherever I'm stationed, 'cause they'll be too scared of me. Burglars are gonna break in to put lost stuff back instead of stealing, and nobody's gonna hurt anyone else. Nobody's gonna lose their dad to an unlucky stab wound once I'm a Guard."

How does she know shining armor?

"Sorry, Sprint," he shrugged. "I know you've heard it before, but it does bear repeating. You don't learn how to do one of the Guard's special moves in one try, right? It's no different for this."

Special moves?

"Please, Mr. Skies," Wind Sprint pleaded, looking up at him with the dreaded watery eyes. "Mom's on another of her writing kicks. There's a whole three pages of it waiting for me on my desk, and she wants me to edit all of it, all three pages. I can't proofread all that, I'll die of boredom. Can I come with you instead, please? "

How old is she?

"I know you don't like it," Platinum said. "I know it's boring. But you want to be a Guard, and a Guard doesn't not do something because they don't like it or it's boring. Sometimes, you need to do the boring stuff, like patrolling or training or proofreading, just like you need to eat stuff you may not like to make sure you stay healthy. A Guard doesn't run from that kinda stuff, they run towards it so that other people won't have to. What's waiting for you on your desk isn't three pages of writing, Wind Sprint; it's a test, a test of whether you really want to be a Guard or not. If you don't, you can leave it and come with us. But if you do want to be a Guard, if you do want to follow in your dad's footsteps, then you need to do what he did and obey your orders, even if they're boring. So what'll it be?"

That is so weird to read.

"She's a good kid," Platinum replied as she stood back up. "Just needed a bit of advice, like I did after I got to CHS. Who is her mom, though, and her dad?"

What advice did she get?

Soarin's face fell. "Her mom's Clear Sky," he replied. "Her dad was a member of the Guard, riding a circuit through a few of the outlying villages back near the border. He died when she was five. I don't know his name; he worked in Showers territory, too far from Skyspear for me to have run into him, Wind Sprint barely remembers him, and it's too painful for Clear to talk about."

Those are territories?

Soarin shrugged. "I don't know. Clear might have been trying to build him up in Sprint's eyes, or she might have been telling the truth, I don't know which it is. All I know is that Sprint idolizes him, and saying or even implying that he wasn't really the hero she thinks he is will almost certainly end badly." His eyes were locked in a glare at AJ as he finished, clearly trying to remind her of the disaster with Platinum on the journey there.

So you mean to tell me no one knows?

She winced at the reminder and nodded; she knew she needed to be more careful about uncovering the truth, the mission had taught her that sharply. Besides, she'd been in Sprint's position before, she knew that talking to her about it would need to be done carefully if she didn't want to cause an explosion.

Honestly, I can’t really blame her, but I can blame her for not being more sneaky.

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So those things only use nets and tridents? One of the sides need to upgrade their arsenal.

At least the Men among them also use whips, and I don't think Cloudsdale needs anything worse to worry about right now.

Fluttershy, I know that you’re the element of kindness, but can you think about what you just said?

Cloudsdale is famous for its militancy; if Wind Rider gave the order to fight, a tenth of the state, at least, would answer him.

Is it bad that I would accept that offer? If I have magic all I need is some armor and weapons and I’m all good to go.

Nah, it's perfectly understandable. I mean, you'd be overwhelmed pretty quickly, but it's better to keep hope, however slim, and fight than give up all hope and simply let tyranny win.

What does her heritage have to do with what he said?

to a teenage, Pansy girl from the soft city.

It might be a bit hard to tell, but he was referring to Fluttershy here.

Is he working for the enemy? If this is wind rider’s human counterpart then it may make sense.

It is, and we shall have to see.

I just realized, do any of them know how to fight?

AJ can throw a punch, Platinum's picked up a few tricks from all her sports, and Fluttershy knows some self-defense, but none of them are trained fighters, no.

What is this for?

Applejack's jaw dropped as Thunderlane finished his tale*.

Near the beginning, there's an asterisk, which this is a footnote for.

Alien intelligence?

"Alien" in the sense of other, unknown, not extraterrestrial. I'll try to clarify that, thanks for pointing it out.

How does she know shining armor?

In this continuity, Shining is Captain of the Royal Guard, basically the equivalent of the United States' Secretary of Defense. While the Royal Guard is more of a police force than an army (hence why they seem incompetent against most of the threats the Mane 6 face), that does still give Shining the occasional opportunity to prove his valor and skill. He's a minor celebrity, basically, especially to someone as interested in the Guard as Wind Sprint.

Special moves?

Nothing fancy or flashy, just the techniques they're trained to use in their line of work, like disarming strikes.

How old is she?

About Apple Bloom's age (~12-13).

That is so weird to read.

Any particular reason why?

What advice did she get?

Quite a bit, but the gist of it was "keep an eye on your teammates, not just yourself." (The My Little Pony Annual 2013.)

Those are territories?

What Soarin's saying is that Wind Sprint's dad worked in the area under the jurisdiction of House Showers, while he stayed near the city of Skyspear, the ancestral home of House Skies, his family's house. Because Skyspear's in the northern half of the state and House Showers' lands are in the southern half, Soarin was too far away from Wind Sprint's dad's workplace to have encountered him.

So you mean to tell me no one knows?

Only Clear Sky knows Wind Sprint's dad's name, and like Soarin said, it's too painful for her to talk about.

Honestly, I can’t really blame her, but I can blame her for not being more sneaky.

I can't blame her either, but I would personally say that your conclusion is the exact opposite of the one that the debacle on the journey to Windy Hill should have taught you. AJ tried to be sneaky by eavesdropping on Platinum's and Fluttershy's conversation, and by talking with Soarin, but in the end it backfired; it took Platinum gathering up the courage to come clean for AJ to learn everything, her attempts at investigating secretly coming back to haunt her. This isn't to say shout whatever you're doing at the top of your lungs, but it is to say that secrecy isn't a cure-all; if you need to, investigate in secret, but first try being honest with the person you're investigating. Trying to sneak out the information you're looking for first might allow you to circumvent your quarry entirely, or it might end up harming you a lot more than simply talking to them would. Yes, AJ could've been more sneaky, but in the end...

"I was so careful. How could he know?"

"Someone told." Hotah shrugged. "Someone always tells."

-George R. R. Martin, A Feast for Crows

Honesty's not just an Element because it's morally better than lying, but because it actually works better. Being completely honest with Platinum and Fluttershy might have avoided the crisis in their friendship, or at least help mitigate it; being sneakier would've just made the betrayal that much worse when (not if, when; someone always makes a mistakes, someone always tells) Platinum and Fluttershy learned what she was doing.

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So they don’t have guns or anything?

I meant that she said they faced threats almost as great, but doesn’t almost make a big difference?

Honestly, it depends on how many there are and what my magic is.

So her heritage is based on being pansy?

What about the other members of the rainbooms?

So it’s like a way of showing you where the author’s note comes into play?

I almost thought there was an alien spy.

So she is 12 or 13 editing a three page paper?

Because it’s rainbow/platinum saying it. You know, the one that hates study, school work, or anything that involves writing or using her brain.

Is that some sort of comic?

That’s one crazy analysis.

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So they don’t have guns or anything?

Neither side has developed guns. Homestrian military technology is focused on preventing deaths, not inflicting them.

I meant that she said they faced threats almost as great, but doesn’t almost make a big difference?

Ah, good point. Yes, almost can make a world of difference; whether it will here remains to be seen.

So her heritage is based on being pansy?

She's a member of House Flutter of Rainbow Vale, a region where the descendants of Private Petunia Pansy primarily live. The line of descent is not clearly direct as it is for some of the other houses (House Rider can trace its lineage straight back to Commander Hurricane), but the nearby presence of the great houses founded by Pansy's children (Prism, Showers, Skies, and Storm) makes it likely that they are at least indirectly related to her.

What about the other members of the rainbooms?

Rarity's showed her fighting skills already in The First Fall Revolution, Pinkie is Pinkie, Twilight's not very skilled in combat, and Sunset knows a thing or two from her time on the seedier side of Crystal City.

So it’s like a way of showing you where the author’s note comes into play?

More a way of letting the reader know what the story's talking about without having to use an author's note.

I almost thought there was an alien spy.

Nah. The alien comes later.

So she is 12 or 13 editing a three page paper?

More giving it a once-over for her mom, but yeah.

Because it’s rainbow/platinum saying it. You know, the one that hates study, school work, or anything that involves writing or using her brain.

But was that her true self or merely her doing what she thought the mask would do?

Is that some sort of comic?

Yes.

That’s one crazy analysis.

You know, it's kind of funny; I basically came up with it on the fly, but it's really something that seems to connect all the different branches in this story. Gaea kept information from Wallflower, possibly distracting or even turning her away from her mission, Minister Chip dug into Sunset's past without talking to her, causing trouble there, and AJ tried to sneak information about Platinum without her or Fluttershy learning about it, which almost broke the party. So many characters in this could've been well-served by being told, "You know, maybe being honest with this person is the best way to go."

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Well, that may suck for them.

My faith in the rainbooms winning this has decreased, drastically.

I guess that kinda makes sense.

Poor girl

Honestly, I don’t know anymore. This identity crisis situation she’s having is too much for my brain right now.

Haven’t read it

Yo, your brain works ten times faster than mine.

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Well, that may suck for them.

It has its good and bad points, though the bad points are more pronounced now, yes.

My faith in the rainbooms winning this has decreased, drastically.

Yeah, the chance of them winning has to be somewhere in the region of a million to one.

Poor girl

It's not that bad, just not what she'd prefer to spend her time doing (practicing to get into the Guard when she's older).

Haven’t read it

S'alright, neither have I. (Wiki summaries are wonderful things.)

Yo, your brain works ten times faster than mine.

Aw, thanks for the kind words!

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I was thinking a billion to one, but I guess I can be generous.

That makes sense.

If you were able to come up with that on the fly, then you deserve them.

She'd asked Soarin if they needed to change out of their regular clothes, if the armor couldn't be worn over them, and he'd told her that it was actually recommended to wear something under them, both to prevent chafing and to offer at least some weak protection if the armor itself was breached. That probably wouldn't happen, though; made using Gleaming Shield's 'foam-mail' design and the almost alchemical materials of the High North, the armor would turn almost any slash aside and absorb most of the force from a direct blow. Soarin's description of how it worked mostly went over her head (far over it), but from what she understood the mail was like a solid wall of water, turning any attempt to break through it using sheer force into harmless ripples ringing across its surface. It wasn't invincible, it could be overloaded with ripples or pierced by a small or sharp enough blade, but it was very strong.

Who’s gleaming shield?

"And trying to do so would leave them vulnerable," Fluttershy added as Soarin finished teasing her hair into shape. "either to you or your allies. It's faster and safer to try to work around plate. And it will be possible; no wall is perfect, and plate is simply a mobile wall. No matter how strong, there will always be a gap or flaw somewhere in it, something a dagger or lucky strike can slip through. Even Grief Giver had his weakness."

Grief Giver?

"There is a difference between trying to fight and trying to frighten," Fluttershy replied. "I wasn't trying to start a fight with you, I was trying to daunt you, stop you from digging up Platinum's secrets or using those you'd already learned. If I'd really thought a fight with you was worth the cost, you would have known."

Well, frightening didn’t work.

"What 'bout Sunset in the old days?" AJ raised a brow. "Seems to me that fightin' her would've been worth it."

Why didn’t you?

Fluttershy smiled sicklily at that. "Not all fighting is done with staffs and strength," she whispered. "If the Formal hadn't turned out so... strange, Sunset Shimmer would still have been toppled from her tyrant's seat. Celestia and Luna, contrary to her expectations, are not blind, nor were the other teachers; they'd been watching her since she broke her first friendship. They were not blind, nor stupid, and neither was I the pushover she thought I was. That too many think I am.

Yeah, f*ck that. Sometimes you gotta run them hands. Speaking of running them hands, that’s exactly what celestia, luna, and the other teachers need to do.

"I endured the old Sunset's reign of terror, protesting either feebly or not at all, because every tyranny of her's, every time she bullied me, was another arrow in my quiver. Celestia and Luna were trying to build a case against her, and every day would give me more evidence to give them. By the Fall Formal, if we were willing to weaponize secrets like she did, we could have forced her to do whatever we wished. I may not have fought her as flashily as you would have liked, Applejack, but I still fought her, and if it hadn't been for Twilight my blow would have needed none to follow it."

I’m not so sure.

"Huh," AJ furrowed her brow after a few seconds of silence. "Never thought of it that way before. Interestin' way of lookin' at it, though."

I don’t, but it might be because I have f*cked up morals.

"Head back to the governor's keep," Soarin told her, Platinum, and Fluttershy. "The guards should let you in, and if they don't ask for Clear Sky, she'll clear things up. We'll go see if we can't scrounge up any messengers."

Who’s clear sky?

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Who’s gleaming shield?

The most common name I've encountered for Shining Armor's R63 (genderbent) counterpart, included here as a little reference to some of those works that I've enjoyed (namely the tragically hiatused Dear...Princess Celestia? and The Other Side) that use the genderbent characters.

Grief Giver?

A possible origin for the name Achilles is a compound of achos (sorrow, distress, grief) and laos (people), resulting in Akhi-lauos, "he who has the people distressed"/"he whose people have distress." Either way, this potential root indicates that Achilles is a bringer of sorrow-in other words, a Grief Giver. Grief Giver is thus a ponification of Achilles, though a very poor one, and the weakness in question their Achilles Heel (though Homestria calls it a Grief's Heel).

Why didn’t you?

In my headcanon, the main way Sunset seized power wasn't by simply bullying everyone into submission; instead, she conducted disinformation campaigns in order to break up friendships and tear down her opponents' reputations, carefully orchestrating it while making sure to cover her tracks or at least give herself plausible deniability. For example, she didn't bully Rarity and Fluttershy into stopping being friends; instead, she worked to seed doubt and mistrust between them through the careful release of information and some faked communications, giving them the tools to fight amongst themselves, doing her job for her. This meant that, while pretty much everyone had a suspicion that Sunset was up to something, none of the students felt that they could definitively pin anything on her. The teachers had more evidence, but even they were uncertain; they knew she was acting antisocially, but to what extent they couldn't tell, and her reign's positive effect on cheating and other bullies (mentioned back in Ms. Shimmer Goes to Castellot) made it hard for them to tell whether she was a bully or simply someone who occasionally had bad-day-influenced episodes of antisocial action. This period of her life is one of the weakest in my headcanon, at least to me, primarily due to the aforementioned story; those journal entries praising what Sunset was doing in her bad old days make hard to justify Celestia and Luna keeping an eye on her to the degree that Fluttershy describes here, as either they would have commented in their private journals about their suspicions or wouldn't have kept so keen an eye on her.

Basically, Sunset managed to cover her tracks to the degree that no one could prove that she'd really done anything, (a degree of political competency that makes her lack of political performance in her current arc a bit questionable; the best explanation I can think of is that Sunset thinks that politics shouldn't threaten the response to an emergency situation, combined with wanting to distance herself from as much of her old self as possible, no matter how useful it might be) so if Applejack fought her it would look like she struck first.

Yeah, f*yay* that. Sometimes you gotta run them hands. Speaking of running them hands, that’s exactly what celestia, luna, and the other teachers need to do.

Sometimes, yes, but not here; there were other ways they could've dealt with Sunset, ways which, while nonviolent, would still have been able to deal her ambitions a heavy blow. Also, regarding that last sentence, do you mean what they should've done in the past or what they need to do now? If the second, against who? Starlight?

I’m not so sure.

You might be surprised. :trixieshiftleft:

I don’t, but it might be because I have f*yay*ed up morals.

Two things:

1. Who says that they're wrong? What proof do they have that they are?
2. Even if they are, the fact that you recognize that is a very positive sign. Recognition is the first step on the road to change, after all.

Who’s clear sky?

The person they encountered with Wind Rider, the steward.

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And she made the foam mail?

So grief giver is inspired by achilles?

So why is she questioning why fluttershy didn’t do anything?

True, but it depends on how fast you want it over with. What I mean by the last last sentence is that they knew what sunset was doing in the school and didn’t do anything. So if I was a student at CHS they would have to those hands with me.

How surprised?

It’s either that or I’m just petty as f*ck.

Are some of these characters gonna be relevant or are they just characters that are gonna be killed off?

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And she made the foam mail?

Yes.

So grief giver is inspired by achilles?

Also yes.

So why is she questioning why fluttershy didn’t do anything?

Fluttershy's making herself sound impressive as a fighter, and AJ's wondering, if that's the case, why she didn't show that against Sunset.

True, but it depends on how fast you want it over with.

As well as what consequences you're willing to accept. A quick strike against Sunset would have resolved things quickly, yes, but it would've caused immense complications elsewhere.

What I mean by the last last sentence is that they knew what sunset was doing in the school and didn’t do anything. So if I was a student at CHS they would have to those hands with me.

They knew that Sunset was doing something, but the exact extent of that "something" was unknown to them. And they weren't doing nothing; they were keeping a close eye on her, waiting for her to show her true colors. She was basically walking through a minefield; one false step showing her hand in the social situation, and she would be punished faster than she could blink. And the teachers weren't completely alone, of course; some of the students helped them, keeping an eye on Sunset and recording anything she did to them until they had enough evidence to banish her to the Moon.

How surprised?

Very surprised, as surprised as Sunset would've been if the portal had stayed closed for another year (i.e., No Twilight, just a regular crown as the prize):

"For just a moment, she tasted it; victory, confirmation, vindication. The cheap, false crown that rested on her head was a poor substitute for the royal regalia that was her right, but the triumph, the vindication, the taste of her destiny to come, was still sugar-sweet.

And then, as the lights dimmed and the spotlight bled red, it turned to ash in her mouth."

It’s either that or I’m just petty as f*yay*.

Either way, 2's still true, which is very good. :twilightsmile:

Are some of these characters gonna be relevant or are they just characters that are gonna be killed off?

Some of them will be joining the main cast, so to speak. (Namely Soarin and Clear Sky.) But even those who don't are still relevant, if only for a small bit of the story, like the door guards; aside from conveying information, they also work to reinforce the theme of trust/distrust that's central to this branch of the story, just like the shopkeeper back near the beginning of The Children of the Storm served both to provide the party transportation to Cloudsdale and to reinforce the themes of the importance of friendship and the danger of isolationism.

Also, regarding whether a character's going to be relevant or killed off; Adagio was (and is going to be) relevant, and she still died. It is possible for a character to be both.

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And the foam mail will protect them?

You know what? I think I could handle that.

Then why didn’t they? Why keep her at the school?

Where is that from?

Oh so they’re not completely useless?

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And the foam mail will protect them?

Don't let the name fool you, it will.

Then why didn’t they? Why keep her at the school?

Because they didn't know if what she was doing was enough to warrant expelling her, or if they could bring her back to the light.

Where is that from?

Just came up with it in the comment. :twilightblush:

Oh so they’re not completely useless?

Nope.

Comment posted by Pete100 deleted Aug 17th, 2021

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Why would they call it that?

But, what about the other students? Sunset couldn’t have been the first one to be in danger of being expelled, right? What about the other expelled students?

You just came up with that?

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Why would they call it that?

Basically, foam mail is a 'foam' of several interlocking layers of fine chain mail, designed in such a way that the force from an impact is distributed through the 'foam' as opposed to simply going straight through it. In addition, like foam, there's enough space between the layers of chain mail to allow them to collapse on themselves if enough force is applied to them, further dampening the impact of brute-force blows (like from a hammer, for example). Let me know if this still doesn't make sense, I'm a bit tired at time of writing this.

But, what about the other students? Sunset couldn’t have been the first one to be in danger of being expelled, right? What about the other expelled students?

They took the same time and care with them, and Sunset never tried to get anyone expelled (in my headcanon); there are other ways of removing someone as an obstacle, ways that still allow her to keep an eye on them.

You just came up with that?

Yep.

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So it’s not actually made out of foam?

I mean before sunset came to the school.

That’s awesome.

10941992

So it’s not actually made out of foam?

Nope.

I mean before sunset came to the school.

My prior comment holds true; they took as much time and care dealing with their cases as they did with Sunset's. They were treating her like a run-of-the-mill trouble student, not realizing the true extent of what she was planning.

Comment posted by Pete100 deleted Aug 21st, 2021

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I guess what you’re saying kinda makes sense.

So they’ve never expelled a student before?

"Really?" AJ asked, surprised. "From the way Soarin described him, he sounded..." Abruptly, she realized that, once again, she was about to put her foot in her mouth. "... a bit more laid-back," she hastily finished.

What does that mean?

"Is his load so heavy?" Fluttershy asked. "When I was growing up in Rainbow Vale, people said that the governor only had to work one week a year. Have things changed? Were they wrong?"

How does that work?

"His daughter's an only child," Clear Sky sadly shook her head. "He and his wife had hoped to have more after the election, but there were... complications in childbirth." She bowed her head in grief. "That's partially why he refuses to simply retire, you know; he bought this position with August's blood, in his mind, and he refuses to give it up until he's repaid her."

Repaid her for what?

"Even a hawk can miss things," Clear Sky sighed. "They only learned about her disappearance the morning after she left, and they know nothing more about where, why, or how she left than we do. Cadenza's best guess was that she simply ran away for some reason, though what that reason might be she had no idea. Even now, over two years later, we have no clue what happened to her or where she went. It's like she simply vanished into thin air."

Did she discover equestria?

Clear Sky snorted a laugh at that, then covered her mouth with her hand. "Officially, that never happened," she said. When AJ and the others nodded, she sighed in relief, then said, "Unofficially, then, you'll find that few in Cloudsdale disagree with you; after the Friendship Games, her reputation was torn to shreds, and it was never that solid beforehand. Cloudsdale sent Crystal Prep a lot of students, but no love. We didn't like Sombra, we feared Cinch... hopefully Cadenza proves herself to be better than them. Of course, proving herself better than Cinch won't be hard; honestly, it feels like most people see her as worse than Sombra. He did a lot of things, most of them bad, but at least he didn't make children his pawns."

Why fear cinch?

"No, no," Clear Sky shook her head. "No, that-that sounds like it would be helpful, thank you." She took a deep breath, then said, "I'm touched that you were willing to help Sprint like that, and thankful that you made my job easier with regards to that. I'm grateful that you were willing to pay attention to her interests, and think the way you used them like that was really clever. But at the same time, I'm a bit annoyed that you just came in and tried to, and I don't know why it feels this way, take my place in her life, and all that while I'm angry at myself for not thinking of doing what you did earlier; I'm her mother, I should think of things like that. To top it all off, you mentioning the armory reminded me of my fears of my little Sprint joining the Guard and dying like her father, and my fears of overreacting to those first fears and smothering her with overprotectiveness, preventing her from spreading her wings. I... I'm just a mess right now."

Damn, that’s a lot. She kinda reminds me of rainbow-haired girl.

"Wow," AJ whistled teasingly. "Platinum talkin' 'bout feelin's an' bein' a mom? Just how much were you hidin' from me?"

Platinum winced at that, while Fluttershy glared at her. AJ winced in sympathy, then sadly murmured, "Sorry, sugarcube. Was just tryna make a joke."

Is it bad that I would tell a joke like that?

"It's a bit soon to joke about that," Fluttershy sternly said.

No it is not. You guys might as well joke while you still can.

"My boyfriend," Clear Sky giggled. "He came out here one day to do some research for a book he was writing, and we just hit it off. It was rough at first, me feeling guilty about dating after my husband's death, Quibble's career forcing him to travel, and poor Sprint. She was so afraid that Quibble was trying to replace her father's place in our hearts, she did everything she could to break us up, and she almost did. But before that had a chance to happen, right before I was about to send him a letter telling him I couldn't be with him anymore, he," she wiped her eyes. "he came by and tried to talk with Sprint. He knew something was wrong, and he reached out to her, but the poor thing was so scared she lashed out. 'I don't care how many people care about you!' she shouted, 'They're not gonna make me forget about Dad!' And Quibble," she wiped them again. "walked up to her, knelt down, put his hand on her shoulder, and asked, 'Can you teach me about him? He sounds like an incredible guy. He has to have been, to have married your mother and raised you.'

Wait, does she mean quibble pants?

"And then," she sniffled. "he said, 'I know you miss your dad, and that's good; if we miss someone, that means we loved them, and I can see that you loved your dad very much. But I'm not trying to replace him; I'm not good enough to fill the hole he left in yours and Cleary's hearts. I'll never be able to; only your dad can fill that gap. I can't replace your dad, nor do I want to; I want to give you and your mom new love, not take away the love you two have for him. I'm trying to build a new room in your hearts, not paint over his. I don't want to replace your dad, Wind Sprint,'" she sobbed. "'I want to join him, in your heart. Are you willing to let me in? Can I give you love,'" she cried. "'like your dad must've given you?'"

That’s an emotional speech.

She nervously rubbed a burnished ring of bronze on her finger, her wedding band, a reminder of love enduring beyond death.

Is that from quibble pants?

"Actually," Platinum said. "I was thinking you and I could bunk, see about..." She winced.

AJ's eyes softened. "Helpin' me get to know the real Platinum Brilliance?" she offered.

Is now really the time for that? Shouldn’t they be training?

Platinum smiled gently in thanks, then turned to Fluttershy, who nodded in approval.

Why would she need fluttershy’s approval?

She crossed over to the door to her room, but, before she entered, she gave AJ one last warning glare. That glare burned into her even after the door closed.

Fluttershy does realize that applejack is the one with the super strength, right? I can’t speak for everyone, but I wouldn’t be glaring at someone that could break me in half if they want to.

"I have a lot of fun helping coach people in football," Platinum replied. "I love being a big sister to Scoots. The thought of being able to be more than that, to do more and for more of someone's life..." She lifted a shaking hand. "...It just sounds incredible. And I know what you're gonna say, how being a mom's about more than just games or being awesome, and I know. But all that, all the pain and arguments and not-fun stuff, none of that scares me off; I think about that, and I think about how many attempts it takes for someone to learn how to dribble in football, or how much it takes to convince Scoots to do something she doesn't like. But more than that, I think of the payoff, and how more not-fun stuff is just going to make it even sweeter. It's like, seeing Scoots get the hang of one of her scooter tricks makes me feel all warm and fluttery inside, even though all the times I had to see her not get it or convince her not to give up didn't feel like that at all, they felt bad. If-if being a mom means that all those failures, all those problems, hurt even more..." She looked up at AJ with awe-filled eyes. "...I can't imagine how awesome it makes the good moments feel."

They dribble in football?

"A smart person," AJ retorted. "wouldn't've tried to snoop on their friend in the first place."

No, they would’ve. They just wouldn’t have been caught so easily.

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So they’ve never expelled a student before?

If they did, it was in the past and only after careful review.

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What does that mean?

Laid-back, adjective: having a relaxed style or character. (Source: Merriam-Webster.)

How does that work?

The blog post attached to The Children of the Storm provides some explanation regarding the government in Cloudsdale.

Repaid her for what?

He believes that she lost her life to give him his daughter and the governorship; until he manages to do something to, in his mind, settle that debt, he won't allow himself to retire and, again, in his mind, make her sacrifice be for nothing.

Did she discover equestria?

I can confirm that she did not.

Why fear cinch?

The woman had connections and the will to use them to make other's lives easier (her offer to help Twilight get into Everton from Friendship Games) or harder (her threat to Twilight from Friendship Games). To defy her would make one's day-to-day life a lot harder, while rendering faithful service would be richly rewarded. And, if worst came to worst and her regular connections didn't work, she retained Lightning Dust and the Washouts to basically act as hired muscle, of course making sure to cover up any involvement with them.

Wow, that’s a lot. She kinda reminds me of rainbow-haired girl.

Clear Sky's more saying that she's feeling a lot of emotions simultaneously, while Platinum's problem is more based on having difficulty expressing certain emotions when not in a certain persona.

Is it bad that I would tell a joke like that?

Nah.

No it is not. You guys might as well joke while you still can.

The problem is that the wound it's joking about is still sore, so making those specific kind of jokes may do more harm than good.

Wait, does she mean quibble pants?

Yes.

That’s an emotional speech.

Indeed, it was.

Is that from quibble pants?

Her first husband, actually. It's her old wedding ring (Sprint has her husband's).

Is now really the time for that? Shouldn’t they be training?

They spent most of the day on horseback, and it's drawing near night. Overexertion is just as bad as underexertion; they'll rest, then train in the morning.

Why would she need fluttershy’s approval?

She didn't need it necessarily, she was just making sure that her old friend was okay with the rooming arrangement.

Fluttershy does realize that applejack is the one with the super strength, right? I can’t speak for everyone, but I wouldn’t be glaring at someone that could break me in half if they want to.

Fluttershy knows that, yes, but she also knows that AJ isn't liable to turn it on her over a simple glare. Fluttershy knows her friends' strengths, as well as many of their weaknesses.

They dribble in football?

Europe has it right, soccer = football. Basically, whenever you see "football" in one of my works, unless context indicates otherwise assume it means soccer.

No, they would’ve. They just wouldn’t have been caught so easily.

Perhaps. A wise person, though, would have realized that the dangers of snooping on their friends are higher than those of simply making their feelings known and asking their friends about the issue.

Edit: Could I please remember that the little green button in the bottom of the comment box is "Post Comment," not "Save Comment to Post Later?"

10946505
But, what makes sunset different from the others? It just kinda odd.

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I meant abruptly.

And no one stood up to her?

Oh boy. Then that old wound would have been destroyed if that was me.

So this is the same clear sky and wind sprint from season 9?

If you say do, but I know who I’m putting my 20 bucks on if an all out brawl happens.

Honestly, I feel like it depends on the person your friends with.

Is that what you thought it did?

10946634

I meant abruptly.

Ah, sorry. It means suddenly.

And no one stood up to her?

She was friends with Queen Chrysalis, ruler of the neighboring nation of Oddo. Then, when she fell into madness, Cinch provided aid to her son, Thorax, who rebelled against her and, eventually, won. Cinch effectively helped depose the ruler of a sovereign nation-state next door to Homestria, winning herself an ally in its new ruler. If she can weave such webs at the national level, what would she do to a local revolt? The sheer intimidation of her reputation, as well as the fact that, under her rule, Crystal Prep and the surrounding city prospered, meant that those few that rose against her almost always rose alone. It took the Friendship Games shattering her disguise of perfection (and, to many, rationality) for revolt against her rule to become anything more than an idle fantasy.

Oh boy. Then that old wound would have been destroyed if that was me.

Once again, recognition of a weakness is a good thing; recognizing that there's a problem is the first step to fixing it. :twilightsmile:

So this is the same clear sky and wind sprint from season 9?

Yes.

If you say do, but I know who I’m putting my 20 bucks on if an all out brawl happens.

Depending on what they had available, I would probably do the same. Cunning is useful, but not necessarily against a charging bull.

Honestly, I feel like it depends on the person your friends with.

Of course, context does matter. I'm just saying that secrecy is more dangerous than it might appear at first glance. I'll always come back to this quote regarding this:

"I was so careful. How could he know?"

"Someone told." Hotah shrugged. "Someone always tells."

-George R. R. Martin, A Feast for Crows [Emphasis mine]

No matter how carefully tended, no matter how well-kept, no matter how perfectly planned, secrecy will always eventually fail. Someone always tells. This isn't to say don't try to keep a secret, there are legitimate reasons to try, simply recognize that, eventually, the truth will win out. And the harder you try to keep it secret, the worse it will be for you when it breaks free. Clear Sky was honest about her concerns with Platinum and got a nice, therapeutic cry out of it; AJ was secretive about her concerns with Platinum and almost shattered her friendship with her. In Dripfeed, the secret Gaea kept from Wallflower devastated her when it was revealed, while in Politics by Many Means Cadance and Chip's secrecy regarding their concerns about Sunset almost (and should have, only failing to thanks to the author's hand pushing down on the scales) made their efforts to talk with her not work and almost killed Cadance. There's a reason Honesty's an Element; in moments like this, lying and keeping secrets does way more harm than good. Trust is vital to friendship, especially in matters as significant as this, and it's impossible to cultivate that trust while simultaneously not giving it by keeping relevant, important information secret. You can't have your cake and eat it, too; either you can trust (and show trust to) a friend or you can keep relevant, important information secret from them. It can't be both.

Is that what you thought it did?

Many a time. :twilightblush:

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But, what makes sunset different from the others? It just kinda odd.

What made Sunset different was the field she was playing on; most of those Celestia and Luna had to discipline were interested in having others do their homework for them, establishing social dominance, or simply making others suffer. Sunset was trying to use magic to ascend to immortality and incredible power before returning to her homeworld and overthrowing the princess. Most bullies (or suspected ones) lived in the world; Sunset wanted to rule it.

As for why they treated her as gently as they did, before the Fall Formal they weren't sure what she was doing (she was pretty good at covering her tracks most of the time), and her occasional acts that helped reduce bullying and cheating made what she was up to even less clear. After the Formal, the Elements and their aftereffects made discipling her unnecessary, as well as much harder; how exactly were they supposed to punish a teenager who transformed into a monster (not a demon, BTW, demons are a completely different thing) using something that they weren't even aware existed until that day? The headache of trying to classify that, as well as Sunset's genuine reformation, meant that no immediate action was taken, and as she grew as a friend, eventually it just... dropped out of sight, her case disappearing out of inertia. Celestia and Luna kept their records of what she did (which she added to, to their shock) around in case she reverted or turned out to be deceiving them, but after the Friendship Games they judged that she'd truly changed, and gave the papers to her to do with as she wished. She gave them back, saying that she never wanted to forget what she'd used to be, what forsaking friendship eventually led to.

TL;DR: Sunset was qualitatively different from other bullies at CHS by virtue of her goals (ruling the entire world as opposed to simply having fun in her corner of it) and was treated the way she was by the staff because of the lack of clarity surrounding her actions before the Formal and the clear effects of the Elements after it.

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This story is making me realize I have a lot of issue that may not be normal.

How did I not piece that together?

Charging bull is actually the best way to describe applejack.

I may have to remember that, but with a lot of things happening it might be tricky. Also, when did that part with cadence happen?

Yikes. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.

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Honestly, I don’t know. It could just be me not thinking logically, but it kinda just sounds like favoritism.

10946943

Honestly, I don’t know. It could just be me not thinking logically, but it kinda just sounds like favoritism.

Not favoritism so much as her circumstances made most of the other courses available to the principals... shall we say, inconvenient.

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