• Member Since 18th Apr, 2012
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Jade Ring


The purpose of a story is that it's a story. It can be more, but it can never be less.

T
Source

Sunny Starscout has set out on the path of reunifying Equestria. She's found a circle of friends, showed the tribes that they can co-exist, and even restored magic to the land.

Yet, there are questions that remained unanswered. What led to the breaking of the tribes in the first place? How did things go so very wrong? And just what is the best path forward in undoing centuries upon centuries of damage?

Sunny seeks the answers from those who came before, but has failed to consider the age-old adage; be careful what questions you ask...

...because you may not like the answers.

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Cover art borrowed from rockhoppr3

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 28 )

Wow...

This was a pretty interesting, and it does answer many of the unanswered questions from the movie. I can definitely see the princesses removing the windigoes from the picture entirely, as (in their time, at least) it seemed like the best solution.

Well done! :)

This is a very interesting take on the history before g5. Flurry Heart especially. Releasing the windigos to recreate the tragedy that brought ponies together? Sounds like sequel potential, though I am ok the open ending as well. great stuff!

"Time?" Twilight nodded. "Do you know what I've realized about time, Sunny Starscout? Time is a flat circle. Time repeats. The ages that came before our recorded history? I have little doubt that they mirrored our own. Ages of harmony borne from untold ages of suffering. Because you cannot have peace forever. Strife must have her time at the table."

Everyone must die, too, yet the self-preservation instinct still exists. Eventually, peace will fail, yes, but that does not mean that strife should simply be accepted. Harmony needs to be worked at, fought for; it needs to be preserved for this day, and the next day, and the day after that, on until eternity. If you simply give up, don't put in the effort, of course strife will come, just like not putting in the effort to live will bring death. We will eventually fall into the abyss, either of strife or death. The point Twilight's missing is we can work to put that time off, and that there is value in doing so; we don't make friends or stay alive just because strife and death are bad but because friendship and life are good. Twilight and her friends didn't fight for friendship because the monster of the week was a villain but because friendship was worth fighting for, however short it may last. Like Aragorn said in The Return of the King, "A day may come when the courage of Men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day." Strife may return, yes, but not without a fight.

"Where are they?" is perhaps the most critical question of all. Because, when you get down to it, without them, there is nothing.

I've seen your kind, time and time again. Every fleeing man must be caught. Every secret must be unearthed. Such is the conceit of the self-proclaimed seeker of truth. But in the end, you lack the stomach. For the agony you'll bring upon yourself...

- Sir Vilhelm, Dark Souls 3.
Sunny sought the answers, but does she have the stomach?

I enjoyed this story for the most part, but I'm afraid you lost me with the "fear" moral towards the end.

Granted, fear can, in the right circumstances, bring people together. But what else did it do? It drove the other creatures away. It persuaded the denizens of Equestria to not only slay their ruler, but to do it ignobly in the dead of night. It convinced the earth ponies that the unicorns would fry their brains, that the pegasi would swoop from the skies to snatch them away, and that the only way to stop them would be to wage a cold war against those assumed enemies — a cold war that, were it not for Sunny and her friends' tidings of peace and magic, would have turned disastrously hot.

From that perspective, the alicorns' plan sounds bafflingly narrow-minded; especially coming from Twilight. What would happen if the rest of Equestria learned that the release of the Windigoes — a disaster that, by Luna's own admission, would undoubtedly kill tens of thousands — was a glorified confidence-booster entirely manufactured by their supposed heroes? It would undo everything. It's exactly what Discord tried with the Terrible Trio; not only did that almost end in disaster in and of itself, but the distrust the Trio sowed, in this story's exact words, is what kickstarted Equestria's decline in the first place. I don't understand why the alicorns — again, especially Twilight — can't see this.

Again, don't get me wrong, I loved the rest of the story (Flurry's parts in particular), but I just cannot get over its ending. Please correct me if I'm looking at it the wrong way, but it feels senselessly self-defeating on so many different levels.

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I feel like that part reveals the true extent of the damage brought to Equestria. Much like our own world, ponies need an existential threat to band around- just think of how many wars we’ve fought in the past century alone.

It very well might be a sacrificial task for Sunny, but without any wars to fight or any universal threat there’s no way the tribes will naturally reunite- and what happens after the G5 cast eventually pass? Wait for the next group of ponies to hopefully come along to fix everything again?

The Wendigos ensure that friendship and harmony is practically mandatory for survival. And hopefully, it’ll be enough to keep the world intact and kickstart a new golden age after they are defeated.

Comment posted by Pipp Sparkle deleted Dec 10th, 2021

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Wait a minute, Sunny's ancestor was a pegasus who looked just like her. And the only pegasus with an orange coat and pink hair is...

:scootangel:

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Until the reason the Windigos were released is revealed, Sunny's overthrown, the tribes start wondering if any of what she did was real, the differences between earth ponies, unicorns, and pegasi become apparent again, and the cycle starts all over... The ends do not justify the means: if Sunny really wants to reestablish harmony in Equestria, and wants it to last, she needs to put in the work it requires, not just release and defeat an enemy that seems more prop than threat. If she does release the Windigos, whatever harmony she creates will be fake, a performance; the ponies will "learn the lesson," but it won't really matter to them, just like simply Googling the answer to a question on a test doesn't really teach you anything. Teaching Equestria about harmony, about friendship, about using differences as a bridge instead of a wall, is the way to go. Sunny can't simply use the Windigos to paper over the discord among Equestrians; she needs to fix the cracks, repair the broken bonds, bring friendship and harmony back. Yes, it will be slower, and it will be hard, and, judging by the vision Sunny was shown, it will not be without its costs, but compared to the short route's additional cost of having to reestablish harmony again after word of who released the Windigos gets out, it's no contest.

I've seen Architects of Fear and isn't this the exact opposite message the episode was sending that to create an imagined fear in the show's case an alien invasion to bring together countries on the verge of nuclear war never works out. That the first path only through love, hard work, and dedication to the cause can you truly bring about change. It sounds like to me this is a terribly misguided decision made by someone who doesn't truly understand the consequences of what she's about to do and driven to a decision by ponies who've had far too long to ruminate on their mistakes and it sounds like they never truly moved on. Hell Twilight binding the magic of Equestria to the stones was already an indication that her judgement was impaired.

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I think the point you are missing is that the time to put Strife off already happened for hundreds of years before the end of this "Third Age". Essentially the rubber band finally snapped after Twilight and Co was pushing it back for too long.

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Granted, fear can, in the right circumstances, bring people together. But what else did it do? It drove the other creatures away. It persuaded the denizens of Equestria to not only slay their ruler, but to do it ignobly in the dead of night. It convinced the earth ponies that the unicorns would fry their brains, that the pegasi would swoop from the skies to snatch them away, and that the only way to stop them would be to wage a cold war against those assumed enemies — a cold war that, were it not for Sunny and her friends' tidings of peace and magic, would have turned disastrously hot.

Agreed. It's strange to think Sunny wouldn't throw this idea right out, considering the fear he was taught led to one of her former friends, Sprout, becoming a power-crazed lunatic who declared himself emperor, destroyed her home and almost killed her.

Twilight took another of those deep calming breaths before she sat and began speaking. "We could never have imagined at the time that the beginning of the Third Golden Age would mark the end of everything we worked for. Of course, we never could've believed how deeply the seeds of distrust the villains Lord Tirek, Queen Chrysalis, and Cozy Glow had been planted." She looked to the stars.

And this is the moment where it falls apart. "Seeds of distrust" placed by Cozy, Chrysalis and Tirek. That is to say, it falls apart immediately. Imagine getting 'seeds of distrust', after facing and reforming a new type of creature (and gaining new allies) with the power of trust and understanding, defeating another being by standing together, and... also whatever kinda lesson facing the herald of the Great Void going by the name of Cozy taught people. That the Enemy can and will take many faces, so the outer appearance doesn't matter I suppose.

And this is also supposed to be cyclical? Potentially inspired by the edgy 'fluff' of Dark Souls? Well, you tried, there's that at least.

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I must respectfully disagree; the time to push Strife off is always. Twilight and co may be failing in that push, like you said, but that doesn't mean that they should stop pushing; they should keep fighting because Harmony is worth fighting for. Yes, they may fail and only preserve it for a day, a week, an age, before Strife returns, but that doesn't make their struggle meaningless; Harmony lasting for any length of time is good, a cause worthy of striving for. Even if the rubber band of History refuses to let their struggle push Harmony forward, even if it snaps them back all the way to Strife, their struggle will still be worth it because Harmony is worth it. What matters isn't that they failed, it's that they tried at all.

Yeah, Discord messed up ROYALLY, the fact that the tribes split up as easily as they did (albeit briefly) goes to show that despite all the friendship stuff, the ponies themselves were all too human. They had deep-seated prejudices and fears that were pasted over with a relatively thin layer of smiles and tolerance. I can count numerous examples where the Ponies preach friendship and tolerance except that it's pretty much a "By ponies For ponies" policy. Just like in our dimension, we have far too many who claim to "love thy neighbor" and all that other stuff, but that's only if the neighbor in question looks and thinks like them.

Now I wonder how things would have turned out if Discord had dang well left well enough alone and not tried to play at being a "teacher hero" or whatever.

The Architects of Fear

"Well, I called it the Aethernet. It made sense to me since it allowed various medias to be transmitted via the magical aether that fills the world and..."

"Small, tinny voices preaching messages of hate and disloyalty grew louder every year.

We all know who that is:
i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/728/100/5f1.png

In any case, the threat of the Windigoes was thus removed from the board.

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"I... I didn't see Pipp at the end there."

She was retired early:
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"We're going to save the world."

derpicdn.net/img/view/2021/3/4/2564553.png

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The only reason the windegos will kill so many is how bad everything got.
They are not the disease, but the symptoms.
When the tribs moved to disharmony in the past, windegos would start showing up. The tribs would stop fighting each other and learn to get along.
The wider the gop between the tribes, the longer it takes so ponies start dying.

What the princess did not tell her is that lily the long path would lead back to what happend to Twilgiht. With in a few years after her friends deaths; the world would be back to the tribes hating each other.

Maybe a combo of the long path and then releasing the windegos would be better. But sunny would lose Pipp.

Twilight was willing to doom the world to save friends, so why not doom some lives to save Pipp?

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When the tribs moved to disharmony in the past, windegos would start showing up. The tribs would stop fighting each other and learn to get along.

For a time, yes. But, as this story showed, the harmony created this way was unsustainable; it only lasted as long as the Windigos were a threat, becoming more of an alliance of convenience than a meaningful, long-lasting friendship. Harmony chosen out of fear is still better than disharmony, don't get me wrong, but it isn't as durable as harmony chosen out of reason and love. If Sunny does release the Windigos again, Equestria will reunite, just like it did under Twilight against the Terrible Trio, just like it did under Clover the Clever, Private Pansy, and Smart Cookie, just like it might have in all the Golden Ages before. Releasing the Windigos would only start the cycle all over; the only true way for harmony to be restored is to break that cycle, to free Equestria from the chains of fear that it forces itself to live under.

What the princess did not tell her is that lily the long path would lead back to what happend to Twilgiht. With in a few years after her friends deaths; the world would be back to the tribes hating each other.

Assuming that nopony learns anything from Sunny's struggle, something which I find highly unlikely. The war she foresees will teach Equestria the dangers of war, the mistrial of Izzy will teach them to be wary of injustice, the death (or disappearance) of Pipp will teach them where hatred always ends up, lessons that at least some will be likely to heed, even after Sunny's friends are dead.

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I do so love when my stories inspire such debate...

It might not feel like it with that last line (which I left in because I like ending my stories on single lines) but the ending here is very much meant to be open ended. We don't know just what Sunny's has decided. Sure, she might be ready to release the Windigoes to secure the shorter path, but then again maybe she has another idea entirely and just needs to ensure that somepony else doesn't stumble across the Casket in the meantime.

You have to remember that the images the Princesses showed her were of possible futures. There's no guarantee that Pipp survives in one and dies in the other. The visions were dreams, and dreams are fluid and ever-changing.

Now as to the nature of fear, let me explain. There are different levels of fear, different layers. The tribes were driven apart by fear of one another, yes, but fear of something else is one of the few concrete ways to keep them together. As Celestia says, fear is the foundation. It's just the beginning. While fear brings the tribes together initially, other links and bonds are borne from that initial union. In time, and with luck, those new bonds will grow strong enough that the initial fear, while not entirely forgotten, becomes a more sub-conscious threat.

This is actually supported by the show, by the way. Way, way back in the very first Hearth's Warming episode, the episode ends with the Mane 6 bickering... until a Windigo's icy howl reminds them of what the real threat is and they quickly make up.

And yes, the denizens of Equestria were united against the fear and mistrust planted by the villains in the series finale... but to not think that on some level, perhaps the minutest level, there are some who believe that "Yeah, they were wrong to make us distrust the other tribes... but were they entirely wrong about (insert tribe here)?" is simple folly. Just look at the world around us. No ideology based on the hatred for another group ever goes away. Anti-semetism, racism... it's all still here. And, as time flows and the horrors of the past fade from public memory, those ideologies tend to grow in strength. Time is a flat circle. History repeats. That's what happened in Equestria. Because you can't kill an ideology.

Hence the need for an ever-present threat. In this case, the Windigoes. In the case of the original 'Outer Limits' episode, we never see the plan come to fruition. But we do in 'Watchmen,' both the comic and the film. Presented with a greater threat, the world unites. It's not perfect, and the ideology of hate will still persist, but so long as there is the sword of Damocles hanging over our collective heads, we can try and aspire to more.

It occurred to me in the final stages of editing this that there was still one significant mystery that I hadn't addressed; why did the pegasi and unicorns lose their magic in the interim between generations? Thus there is going to be a follow-up to this (working title 'He Who Remains') wherein Sunny will get the living's perspective on what she should do as opposed to just the dead's. No concrete release date, but rest assured; it's coming.

The plague only infected Equestrians, so the dragons, the griffons, all the other creatures who had learned our ways of friendship? They saw the way they were now being looked at; with suspicion and rage. They withdrew from us, far from our borders. They still dwell in the lands beyond, most in the peace and harmony that has long abandoned our world."

It's good to know that at least the other species still live in peace and harmony.

Absolutely fantastic story, the way that the rule eventually broke down for the Alicorns, the disaster that affected them and the creatures that opposed them. All of it was written extremely well and delightfully done.

Except, of course. The ending. And this incredibly strange idea that 'Fear is the basis of Friendship'. Which just has, no basis in reality in the slightest. Fear drives people apart. It doesn't unite them

Extraordinary. The meat of this story is in itself an exposition dump, but as you yourself said in the comments, you wanted to keep the momentum and you kept it.
Sheesh, the story hits hard with the individual endings of each of the princesses. Cadence, Twilight's and Flurry's hit particularly hard, but I was kind of left aloof with Luna and Tia's reasoning basically boiling down to "I guess I'll die". The ending and the way each princess parts ways did tug at my heartstrings
A really good story, glad I got to read it!

Thank you for writing it!

Twilight took another of those deep calming breaths before she sat and began speaking. "We could never have imagined at the time that the beginning of the Third Golden Age would mark the end of everything we worked for. Of course, we never could've believed how deeply the seeds of distrust the villains Lord Tirek, Queen Chrysalis, and Cozy Glow had been planted." She looked to the stars. "Small, tinny voices preaching messages of hate and disloyalty grew louder every year. My Council of Friendship did what it could, but there's only so much five mares can do... especially when they're aging." She quickly wiped a stray tear as soon as it appeared. "My friends passed, one by one, and I filled their places on the Council as best as I was able. But within a generation? It just wasn't the same. And as the bonds between us weakened, so too did our influence."

that makes sense, 500 years and more can reaaaaally mess trust up.

"Friendship is magic, Sunny." Twilight leaned down and looked hard into Sunny's eyes. "But the foundation of friendship? It's fear ."

The? No. A? Yes. The enemy of one's enemy, the ally of convenience can become one's closest friend or may take the opportunity to end you once the bigger problem is dealt with. It is a rare event indeed, for fear to unite those caught in her grasp, no matter their origin, that they might drive her off once and for all. Rather, each usually only questions if he is faster than the slowest.

That aside, this is a good theory of how Equestria could end! I like how it's very much a case of one bad egg, over time, ruining everything.

Dang...this story got me deep...

The second sphere didn't do justice the depths of depravity that ordinary moral people can reach when their actions are driven by fear... What a ruthless way of eliminating those who disagree with you, especially when the option of converting them with ideas is supposed to be open.

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