• Member Since 26th Dec, 2012
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CartsBeforeHorses


Put the cart before the horse, mix things up, and look at them in a different way.

T

This story is a sequel to King Sombra's Rise and Fall


An eon ago when King Sombra overtook the Crystal Empire with powerful magic, Princess Celestia feared that a malicious unicorn might threaten Equestria, too. Thus, she passed laws with the secret intention of preventing unicorn threats to the kingdom. She locked many powerful spells in the Canterlot Archives, took over magical education, and prohibited unicorns from raising the sun as they once did. Prince Blueblood discovers this and leads a revolt to establish a unicorns-only kingdom.

Proofread and edited by SpaceCommie. This story now has a sequel, Brother Against Sister. Part of the Unicornverse.

Chapters (21)
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Comments ( 146 )

Alright. Forget the first comment I posted, this will be a much better indicator of what I think of your story. First, I like the way you portrayed Sombra's reasons for taking over the Empire, I haven't seen another story that's done it like this. I also liked how Sombra was the reason Celestia raises the sun now, as she was afraid of more Sombra's. Lastly, your portrayal of Blueblood was great. I like this version much better than the one in the show, he is far more respectable, and I like how it is because of him that Twilight becomes Celestia's student. Well played. Can't wait for more. Update soon! :twilightsmile: :moustache: :yay:

An interesting hypothesis, and accurate as far as your internal canon.

I wonder where your taking this, continuing along this path of Celestia repressing magical knowledge for some specific, self-supporting and possibly insidious purpose, or is there some grander, more selfless idea at work?

I mean, I could see it going both ways, that Celestia is trying to curb a unicorn's more hostile nature and incredible power, or that she's repressing unicorns for her own purposes.

2713861 Thanks for reading, and thanks for the fave! There will be an explanation of her motivation in the later chapters. She believes she's doing what's best for the future of Equestria as well as her own power... it's a balancing act. But what is really important is not her intentions, but how her actions are perceived by the public (I give away a little in the story's long description).

Take the recent NSA meta-data scandal. I have no doubt that most of the folks in power truly believe that what they are doing is to keep the American people safe. Some of them likely are on a power trip, but most of them probably are sincere. But most Americans, myself included, would see that as an infringement on our rights.

ZIG HEIL!! TO THE UNICORN MASTER RACE!!!!
Sorry, now that I've gotten that out of my system, this is brilliant! I love it! More please, give me more.

2714842 Thanks for the fave!

You're actually more on the mark with your comment than you may think.

Why is Pumpkin Cake on the poster?
Hint: Who are her parents? Blueblood's name has "blood" in it for a reason... :trixieshiftright:

This is getting very interesting....Wunderbar!

Wow; Blueblood basically asked every single question I had at the end of the prequel story. I also kinda have to agree with Blueblood on the weirdness of teaching friendship.
I also have to give you props for not depicting Blueblood as a total monster or strawman, as other fics often do. He was actually appears to be a good dean. So far, so good.
2273157 Oh god, your avatar!:rainbowlaugh:

They have aliens in Equestria? Also, didn't they establish that the timetravel spells are effectively harmless, as they cannot change the past?
Still, a very interesting chapter and a great look at social psychology in Equestria (I love it when people do that).

2771627 Well, a bullet could be a Musket ball, or a Mini Ball, there's really no way to tell.

Okay, I'm enjoying this story so far. xD

My "review" is just going to be a couple of little points (nitpicks, really) followed by my assessment of what I believe to be the underlying theme.

"Pony schools, unlike schools in the human world,"

I wouldn't have specified the human world, personally. The narrator shouldn't break the fourth wall.

"eleven young students perished at the hooves of a stallion with a rifle,"

At first I was going to question the existence of guns without any previous establishment of their presence in Equestria, but you refer to them several times later on, so I can let that slide.:twilightsmile:

Now, to the meat of it. Celestia's reasoning for suppressing magic here feels like a "fantasy gun control" in a way; only arguably it's worse, since unicorns are naturally born with the ability to use magic, and thus suppressing it is arguably like suppressing a human's ability to use its fingers (i.e. one of the keys to our rise to power and dominance over this planet, the other being self-awareness).

I'm not a fan of tyrant Celestia, and I'm not accusing you of playing her as such (you went out of your way to give her a well thought-out justification for her policies), but I must make mention of the double standard I'm seeing. She fears that the free, liberal use of all kinds of magic may give unicorns enough power to threaten her, and she's apprehensive about that. Thing is, she doesn't seem to realise that her power to move the sun gives her the ability to deny it. She's afraid of them? They have every right to be afraid of her too.

Mutually assured (nuclear) destruction works both ways. You fear your enemy, but they fear you too. The mistrust you place in them can easily be placed right back in you; you know you won't start a crisis, and chances are they won't either, but you can't read each other's minds!

Since in real life I'm a huge proponent of proper education as opposed to censorship (and that if a child does something stupid or abusive, the root cause is bad parenting), I'm not sure I agree with her idea of subtly suppressing the more advanced unicorn magics. But, on the other side of that coin, I can appreciate (to an extent) the "fantasy gun control" aspect here; give knives and guns to the people, fine, but you might wanna restrict the WMDs, tanks and fighter aircraft to military hands.:rainbowlaugh:

That's why I ended up siding with her in the end. The moment she made the point about being able to track who has what magic, she'd won my support. Despite my strong favour of civilian ownership of guns, I don't oppose the idea of needing a license and government registration. That just makes sense, really, as it helps keep track of dangerous resources.

I smiled when Discord appeared.:twilightsmile:
I swear, any scene gets a few notches brighter for me when Discord enters it. Although his actions are really making me wonder where this story's going.:twilightoops:
(I figured at first that maybe the drought was because Twilight screwed up and didn't move the sun properly, but alas...)

Keep up the good work. I look forward to reading more! Those downvotes aren't warranted, my friend. This story is fine.

2826726 Thank you for your kind words and detailed feedback :pinkiehappy:

You mention "fantasy gun control," which is funny because I actually wrote a satirical article about that for The Ponion entitled "Magic Control Debate Rages In Wake of Latest Mass Hypnosis." It was essentially about a massacre committed through use of the Want-it, Need-It spell, and the resultant "magic control" debate. That one was meant to be funny and this story is mostly serious (with some comic relief thrown in), but either way I do believe that in a world with dangerous magic and evil or crazy ponies, both of which Equestria has, that conversation would eventually take place.

I deliberately wrote this story to where the reader ultimately has to make that decision for themselves. I'd imagine that if this story were a bit more popular, there'd be a lively debate about it going on in the comments. After all, it's a question as old as civilization itself. How do you balance the need to maintain social order against the need to preserve freedom? :unsuresweetie: Wars have been fought over it, after all.

If I were Celestia, I would take the steps that she took in regards to the more dangerous spells, but I would very clearly and publicly lay out the steps required to learn these spells legally. I wouldn't do what she did and require ponies to go through only her school, but then make it as difficult as possible for them. That sort of thing would breed resentment, I would think.

In terms of education of more mundane spells such as teleportation, telepathy, dowsing, or what have you, I'd probably allow it. As mentioned many times in the story, those spells are entirely harmless. But as Celestia said, each unicorn who finds out that cooking or sewing is their special talent instead of magic is one less potential threat to her rule, and to peace :trixieshiftright:

Also, I'd allow unicorn-exclusive cities, or if "racial segregation" as such were controversial in Equestria as it is in real life (which it doesn't seem to be), I'd just ban the other races from having their own cities like Cloudsdale or Appaloosa. You have to apply the same standard to everyone.

As for raising the sun, King Sombra's Rise and Fall delves a bit more into that. Essentially, she did exactly what you said and she wanted to have a sort of "last resort" to hold onto power.

In this story, I will address that *MINOR SPOILER ALERT*
.
.
but eventually the unicorns will take over the task once more. It's not quite as challenging as some other spells, and doesn't require any special training in anything other than telekinesis (and enough knowledge of astronomy not to mess up the natural order, which is what the book that Twilight read was about) as the action is mere levitation, but it does require either a multitude of unicorns who are skilled with levitation magic, or a single alicorn, who have advanced levitation capabilities as multiplied by their earth-pony-derived physical strength.

You mention the unicorns fearing and mistrusting her. That comes later, and in a quite spectacular fashion, I might add. :trollestia:

2827590

Ah, yes, there was one last thing I forgot to mention (plus anything I haven't yet seen in the prequel, which I will also take a look at) - the issue of unicorns raising the sun and moon.

This actually comes up in my story as well. I'm not sure if you're ever going to read it (or care to), so I'll stick it in spoiler tags here - Celestia is temporarily overthrown, her horn is broken off; this has the result of freezing the sun, and the new ruler has to assign a small council of unicorns to try and get it moving again.

How many d'you reckon it'd take?

2830211 Yeah, I'll definitely give it a read. (I don't mind spoilers usually, I had Breaking Bad and Dexter spoiled for me and I still watched)

Um, 15-20, maybe? That's how many it will be in my story.

Discord you sneaky devil; even when you lose you win.

2827590

In terms of education of more mundane spells such as teleportation, telepathy, dowsing, or what have you, I'd probably allow it. As mentioned many times in the story, those spells are entirely harmless.

I'd have to vehemently disagree that any of those could be considered harmless. Teleportation in particular can bypass vast amounts of security, create alibis easily, and allow instant arrival and leaving of a crime scene. It would make apprehending a criminal almost impossible, and any fight with a criminal a very, very dangerous affair.
Telepathy can be used to drive others insane with low volume, rapidly changing noises, and prevent someone from going to sleep. Eventually very, very effective and untraceable torture.
Dowsing could be used to track prime targets for mugging/murder, witnesses for a trial and people under witness protection. Combined with Teleportation it would be terrifying.

These are still very dangerous spells if you put a bit of thought to it.

Okay!
I shall comment as I read. With an eye toward constructive criticism, since that seems to be what you wanted, in the thread you posted. Looking at this fic, I wouldn't downvote it, but I'll endeavor to pick at it, as if I was going to.

I promise I'm not really a jerk. :twilightblush:
That said, overly critical mode engaged!

First off, this takes place, I'm assuming, a year in advance of Cutie Mark Chronicles, the episode where the cutie mark origins were told. Sonic Rainboom is the episode where they go to the Best Young Flyers competition, and Dash has a psychological meltdown.

That being said, there's no need to go for a meta author's note at the start.
You could easily say, like:

Celestia's School For Gifted Unicorns, Canterlot.
Five/Ten/Fifteen years before the return of Nightmare Moon.

Or something. No need to boot people out of the headspace for the story, right at the start.

Speaking of metaness: I recommend reining in the comparisons to 'human schools'. There's no sign this is a HiE fic, so stay in-universe with your narration.

Blueblood as a dean is weird. Blueblood as a vaguely respectable professional is even weirder. Blueblood as a vaguely respectable professional dean that cares is straining my suspension of disbelief a bit. I don't mind gentler reinterpretations about characters, but this one is rather... drastic. There's essentially nothing of the character we know there. Maybe something happens to turn him into a total vain jerkwad later, so I'll not complain too much.

I saw one of the other comments mention a prequel. Maybe that's required reading, and makes everything more relevant. But without that, this opening chapter isn't much of a hook, really. Opening a story with exposition about a school system (and Blueblood's bowtie) isn't ideal. You only have one chance to grab attention, so providing something interesting is a must.

Really though, all of that is a bit minor. At the end of the day, the biggest issue I could find was with the dialogue. It doesn't feel... natural. It's overly stiff and formal. Especially for people that probably know eachother well. And certainly so for Celestia, who has a bit of a casual streak under her regalness.

So, that's bad. But why? Because it messes up the tone. Instead of an intiguing opening to a fic that tempts us to read more, the tone is more like 'The Minutes of the Interdepartmental Meeting on University Policy, June 22nd, chaired by Princess Celestia.'. Which is... not ideal, to say the least. There really has to be a better way for you to provide the required exposition than a dreary academic meeting between Blueblood and Celestia. A prologue is all about being able to take a chance to step back from the time and characters of the story to set up an interesting teaser for the plot, or to introduce a key bit of information in a way you otherwise couldn't.

The main plot is a cool idea. Celestia engineering society to prevent the rise of evil unicorns is neat! Heck, the idea of Celestia's School vetting people for responsible magic use is something I mention in my own fic, so clearly we're in accord there. Also, there's obviously no technical reason to prevent you from making it neat. Your writing seems to be pretty damned good. So, make the opening as cool as the premise, and give us something we wouldn't otherwise see.

...or, at the very least, after peeking ahead, I can't see why you don't just fold this into Chapter One. You repeat a lot of the information presented here in a far more concise way there.

2842527 Thanks for the fave!

You know, it's funny that you'd mention that. One of the news articles I wrote for my satirical periodical called The Ponion was "Canterlot Stumped By High Unsolved Murder Rate," and was essentially about how there's a lot more unsolved crimes in Canterlot, but no one can figure out why (though it's obvious in the story that unicorns using magic are behind a lot of it):rainbowwild: The story was of course meant to be funny, but I figure that if Equestria existed in real life, that's what would happen.

When I say harmless, I don't mean that they can't be used at all in the commission of harm. What I mean is that the spells themselves can't be used to directly harm, at least in the canon which I've set up. You'd need to use those spells either in conjunction with another spell or in conjunction with criminal prowess to commit harm. We don't know enough about these spells in the show (other than that they exist), but I know what my internal canon is, and I've pieced together evidence about how magic works from the show, so I can address your concerns given that.

Dowsing, you have a point on, so I won't give a comment other than say it doesn't violate the "direct harm" rule. I'm sure that if Rarity used her gem-finding spell, she could scope out quite a few ponies with gems in their purses and target them. As for prime witnesses in a trial, though, I don't think it could be used for that. My idea of dowsing is that it's used for a general class of small, inanimate objects (such as gems, and not as big as a pony) in a limited-range area.

Teleportation has a lot of restrictions in my internal canon. For one, it can't be used to teleport through solid matter, i.e. bypassing a locked door or teleporting inside of a pony, so no "telefragging" or breaking into vaults. There has to be a passage of air between you and your destination that your body could normally fit through. I figure that this is consistent with the show, as we didn't see Twilight teleport into the restricted section of the Canterlot Archives when it would've been useful for her to do so. (Then again, we don't see her just ask to be let in, so it's obvious that she's not in her right frame of mind.) For the purpose of my fic, though, until I see someone violate this rule in the show, it'll be included for the sake of not having teleports be way OP. Sort of like how a lot of stories used to prohibit unicorns using levitation magic on themselves, until it was in the show.

Telepathy can be blocked, though I haven't quite worked out the mechanism by which that would work. Also, it's very short range. You'd have to be in the same room with someone to communicate with them telepathically, if not within a few feet of them. (The only exception is if you know them very intimately, such as a brother/sister or son/daughter, and they are ALSO a unicorn, in which case the range is considerably longer.) The times we've seen Twilight do it in the show, she was standing mere feet from the pony in question. It was even a plot point when they had to catch Discorded Rainbow Dash in The Return of Harmony, Part 2. Twilight could use the memory spell on Dash only when right next to her. In Magical Mystery Cure, the longest distance we ever saw her use the memory spell was from a few feet.

2842918 Thank you so much for your detailed feedback! The things that you've mentioned that can be easily fixed (mentioning "human" and "For the readers' reference...) I've gone ahead and removed immediately as per your advice.

The prequel is not required reading, and I briefly explain the events of the prequel later in this story.

I will go back and revise some of the dialogue. I'll change things like "As she is one of my prime students, I will take concerns with her into close consideration" to "I care deeply for her, so please tell me what's wrong."

I'll also take the chance of having a prologue to introduce some characters who show up later. I'll have Twilight complain in person to Blueblood about being bullied, and I'll have Sunset Shimmer complain in person about all the friendship courses she has to take (which I'll have be the reason that she leaves the school) and then I'll have Blueblood bring these concerns up with Celestia, but in a less formal way. That way I have the chance to bring in some emotional connection and drama (and more than just two characters) as opposed to "minutes of the university meeting" as you pretty accurately put it. I guess I never realized how dry it was to read until you pointed it out.

I'll also introduce a few "selfish" motivations for Blueblood in the prologue Yes, he cares about his students, but he also cares about his reputation and wants his school to be good for his own sake as well. Given the interpretation I give of him later (wanting to be a King), and that the show gives (a vain, self-obsessed narcissist) I figure that would make sense.

I'll let you know when I've re-written it, and see what you think.

Well, I can't argue that Celestia is a bit of a bitch in this one. Keeping an entire species from realizing their abilities because she's scared of what they might do is a bit lame. Especially as the presumed civilizing process continued and Equestria and its people became more stable. To say nothing of pulling the fangs of the entire country. Considering all the existential threats we see in FiM, it seems to be a rather dangerous game she's playing.

Still though, the story does seem to be picking up!
It was a genuinely interest chapter, and I want to see what Blueblood will get up to. This is more the sort of thing I was hoping to see from the beginning!

2842780 So, I've entirely re-written this chapter, with an eye on removing a lot of the dry, technical, and overly-detailed conversation between Princess Celestia and Prince Blueblood. I've also added in a bit more of his personality from the show into his motivations and actions. For instance, it mentions a bit of his vanity and adds in a few selfish motivations now that I think was lacking.

Also, it introduces Twilight Sparkle and Sunset Shimmer.

I changed Celestia and Blueblood's meeting to be 1. A lot less formal, 2. A lot shorter, and 3. Not at the beginning of the chapter. The chapter now begins with Blueblood finding out about the problems with the school, and THEN he calls the meeting.

The prologue as a whole is also a bit shorter.

Please tell me what you think!

2843553 Thanks, and actually, the Princess does explain her motivations later on. I did as much to give her a plausible reason for what she did as I could.

I've even had a couple of readers post that they agreed with the actions that she took, as you can see if you browse the comments. I'm just waiting for people to start debating each other in the comments section of the chapters, lol :derpytongue2:

2844252
It's... a bit better, I guess?

I'm not sure if the underlying problems are really addressed, though, truth be told. I think I shall move this to PMs to avoid cluttering up your comments box.

Probably should have done that to begin with. Apologies. :twilightoops:

I smell a trap set by maybe, Discord.

And Twilight's being sent in to spy on them.

.... and a little green pony sits behind the door with a little window to look outside.

Pinkie: We came for the party.

Green pony: NOPONY GETS IN! *slams window, then opens it again* Except for unicorns.

Funny how neither the music nor the guest speakers are Unicorns only...

2885344 It's sort of like at those old clubs when they didn't allow black people, but sometimes they'd let in a black jazz band.

Yup, that's karma for you. All hail Prince Blueblood :)

the mane 5 were acting too ooc , they wouldnt have left twilight to her fate even more if she is hurt.

What'd he say his name was?
Blueblood.
All hail Blueblood! Blueblood!

2888147 I think that they would've done exactly what they did in the story.

Yes, they could have tried to save Twilight and get her out of the hooves of that angry mob. They would have had to take her unconscious body someplace safe, which would have taken time. And they would also be putting themselves at risk from the angry mob, who might see them trying to help her and retaliate. All the while they'd be wasting precious minutes in trying to stop Discord from gassing hundreds of ponies to death.

Also, it wasn't very likely that Twilight would die, whereas it was almost certain that the hundreds of ponies being gassed by Discord would die.

I think they would've done exactly what they did, which was to stop Discord as soon as possible, and then immediately rush back and find Twilight.

She'll live, by the way.

2888162 These twelve chapters have all been about laying the groundwork for his rise to power. Tyrants and despots, presidents and princesses, they all have one thing in common: They never rise to power in a vacuum, as there are always other elements at play.

As you can probably tell:
1. No Windigoes left to keep the races from fighting each other
2. Outrageously high taxes directed at Canterlot, a mostly-unicorn city
3. Princess Celestia's public acknowledement that she distrusts unicorns

Are all to set the stage. :raritywink:

2888253 That music plays in the background.

Twi: My fellow magic users, I Twilight Sparkle, as your new Princess-
*is cut off by a teleportation*
Twi: Who dares interupt my coronation?
Blueblood: Coronation Twilight? This is bad comedy.
Twi: Blueblood? Is that you?
Blue: Here's a hint!
*Blueblood hits Twilight with a both a spell to turn her into stone then cause that stone to crumble*
*The Element of Magic tumbles down towards Blueblood's hooves, he stomps on it and crushes it*
Blueblood: Anypony else wish to fill her shoes?
Spike: What'd he say his name was?
Blue: Blueblood!
All: All hail Blueblood!!!!

Are you intentionally using a different calander than normal?

2898890 By my dating system, Season 3 took place in the pony year 2013. Season 1 took place in 2010-2011. Years in Equestria are the same length as years on earth, and progress at the same rate.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I do admit that is a douchebag move, but considering some of the spells... Go back in time and kill celestias mom, teleport a glass of juice into your enemies heads... Running from the guards? Teleport them into a dimension of pure lava! Celestia banishing you to the moon? Lol no problem, I just broke her horn off by sending a piece off that guards chain mail armor towards it at 40x the speed of sound. :pinkiecrazy:

Ouch.

So Unistorm is a terrorist group...and Blueblood just joined?

This is going to get interesting.

Not sure who I should cheer for. Blueblood because he's fighting for equality but at the same time, he joined a terrorist group. Celestia and her supporters because she's trying to restore order, but at the same time, she's an unabashed bigot and stifler of knowledge.

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