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"Why," you ask? Because we want profile pages to have freedom of customization, but also to have some consistency. This way, when anyone visits a deviant, they know they can always find the art in the top left, and personal info in the top right.
Don't forget, restraints can bring out the creativity in you!
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(This is Semi-Canon to the Codexverse, though the opportunity to complete and put it in has yet to arise)
"We are all born pawns, my little apprentice; pieces or puppets to others' designs." The master and patriarch of the Summer Court stated, "And most would die as such as they live. Only those who had the insight to see the strings binding them - and the strength and will to break them - are worthy to rise and become the players and puppeteers themselves."
Cozy Glow, "But master, I tried to do just that!"
"Yes, you did." Empress Blackthorn replied. He added, without a shred of sympathy, "And you failed."
"But I was so close...!" Cozy Glow lamented.
Blackthorn sneered ever so slightly. "Being 'close' does not count for a slave attempting to usurp their master, or a puppet trying to cut their own strings. In the game of ambitions, either you rise or you fall. There is no middle ground."
Cozy Glow looked down. "It's just so unfair." She whispered to herself, not wanting her teacher hear it, and the weakness it implied - though he heard it anyway.
"And fairness is a delusion embraced by those hopelessly naive about the world. There is only the triumph of the will, and what you must do to accomplish it. Something which you were unable to demonstrate." Emperor Blackthorn said simply, not sounding impressed. "Consider yourself fortunate that you had been granted a second chance, which most would not receive. We would advice you not to squander it when the time comes."
"So... will you set me free? To try again?" Cozy Glow asked, a spark of hope in her heart...
And then it was extinguished by Blackthorn's cold reply, "You know what our answer would be."
Cozy Glow sank to the bottom of her cell.
"We believe we have stayed long enough. Reflect, and prepare." And with that, Blackthorn turned away, with one last look at Lord Tirek. "And do take care of yourself, centaur. One can only imagine how lonely it must be here by yourself."
"I'll keep that in mind, Oberon." Lord Tirek rasped, "And I'll give your regards to the other one if I ever pass his cell."
"You always are a being of your Word... when it suits you." Blackthorn replied, his disconcerting smile returning. And with a step into the shadows once more, he was gone.
Cozy didn't lift her head as Blackthorn left. For a moment Lord Tirek thought she was sulking... but then he noticed her face was one of pure hatred.
"When I get out... he'll be first." She swore under her breath, her voice venomous. "Right after Twilight and those Six. They'll pay, all of them..."
"Good luck with that; chances are, he's already expecting it." Lord Tirek commented. Then, he reran Blackthorn's words in his mind... and an idea came swimming into view. "But if you are inclined to try anyway, you're going to need all the help you can get... is that offer of friendship still open?"
Cozy Glow looked up at Lord Tirek. Then, she gave a most vicious smirk.
I am of the view, in regard to the Eqg 'Science of Magic' short, that magic as a naturalistic phenomena COULD be empirically understood. It certainly is the case for the Codexverse interpretation of magic.
So what explanation for Sunset's setbacks to learn anything about their Rainboom magic? My main hypothesis is that Rainboom's magic, being implicitly derived from the Tree of Harmony's magic, also inherited its complex magical spell-work (which was allowed to grow and diverge independently in accordance to Eqg world's unique circumstances).
And as part of the 'spell system', has various defensive 'routines' and 'firewalls' explicitly put in place, either by the Pillars or by the Tree of Harmony itself, that acts to stonewall any attempts to tamper with them, which Sunset unwittingly triggered while trying to assess them. That's what caused them to backfire on her spectacularly rather than magic itself being inherently beyond understanding.
Alright, I'll stop dancing around the issue. In the Codexverse, the Second Age is essentially analogous to RL Earth's history - especially in the last two centuries before the Void Aeon, which is essentially the Ponies' 20th and 21st century - and because of this there will be events there that essentially mirrors those from our world.
Their version of the 20th-21st Century is known as the Great Wars Era - which should tell you everything there is to know about that time - which was kicked off by their version of the First World War. Like WWI in our world, the outcome of this would define the rest of the Great Wars Era, so it is important for me to establish how it turned out.
As I had mentioned earlier, the war was a much closer conflict than Second World War; had the conditions are just right, the German Empire actually had a much better chance of winning it than even the ****ing Nazis ever did.
So here is the million-dollar question for the Codexverse Second Age: Who wins? The Entente-analogue or the Central Powers-analogue? I ask this because my disposition is for novelty, and as easy as it would be to copy-and-paste the 20th and 21st Century into this era, I want to be at least a little bit more original. I want my version of the Second Age to be distinguishable from other portrayals in the MLP fandom right now and leave readers constantly guessing what would happen next, filled with details and twists readers will NEVER see coming.
And believe me, owing to my other disposition to make things more epic and complex, and my love for alternate history, I have such GLORIOUS plans for this time...
But seriously, should I stick to Fuhrerreich (Entente wins), or go for Kaiserreich (CP wins)? The latter is more original, but comes with the consequence of 'No Nazis' as we know them - and much as everyone sane and reasonable hates them, taking them out would remove such a good source of villains for that era. On the other hand, going for the former keeps them and has the additional bonus of making the whole set-up recognizable for the average readers (And I CAN work with Fuherreich; throw in an original spin and still lead to the Great Wars Era depiction I have in mind), but it would be... much more generic.
I am REALLY torn between the two right now, so I'm putting this up for fellow readers/writers to decide. Which direction do you think we should go?
I had been thinking about Stygian and his quest to recruit the Pillars of Equestria ever since I watched "Shadow Play" two-parter and read the Legends of Equestria comics; specifically, the circumstances of his downfall.
Now, we all know by now that there was a great misunderstanding, and that Stygian was kicked out of the Pillars who jumped to conclusions too early when he took their artifacts (Though Stygian also holds responsibility for not making an effort to let them know his anxieties or at least tell them what he was planning to do with said artifacts BEFORE he took them). The one thing that bothered me was how quickly Stygian seemed to have gone off the deep end after being rejected by the Pillars.
Sure, it would had led to despondency and resentment, and if those two festers he might had turned to villainy because of it. But he hasn't exactly lost EVERYTHING due to the rejection by the Pillars, does he? He still got his life in his village that he had before the Sirens appeared and he gone off to his quest. Well, the village was saved, so he still at least have his old life left, right?
That's when I suddenly noticed something seemed off about the whole scenario. Horribly wrong, I'm inclined to say.
It took me a while to triangulate exactly what, but it boils down to this: In the cartoon, we were shown Stygian being there when the whole crisis began, the Dazzlings descending upon his village and using their magical singing to mind-control the villagers into unreasoning hatred and attacking each other, allowing them to feed upon the conflict. Stygian runs off, and a few seconds later, he returns with the Pillars of Equestria, who proceeds to kick the snot out of the Sirens and banished them to the Canterlot High world.
In the comics, the whole quest was significantly expanded; Stygian is shown to have went through a lot of effort getting the the Pillars to help him and get them together, and the recruitment process is not without difficulties due to Stygian and the Pillars having to deal with whatever issue they were facing at hoof - with Stygian even having saved several members from the calamities on one or two occasions (Not that any-pony noticed. At all). They were visibly shown going on a long journey that took them across the width and length of the land as Stygian raced to catch them all. And as of last comic I read, they still haven't got Mistmane or Starswirl yet.
That's when it hit me: Between the Dazzlings attacking and the Pillars arriving to fight them, how long was Stygian off on his quest to recruit the Pillars?
We're not talking about modern-effing-day Equestria here, with its railroads, its airships, its oceanic liners and other forms of modern transportation. We're not talking about Equestria which is explicitly shown (At least in the comics) to have telegraphs. Stygian and the Pillars are explicitly shown to have lived at least around a thousand years ago (Because OF COURSE it is, according to Hasbro) and back then things were still primitive. There could had been pegasi chariots or dragon-fire mail back in the day, but they were never explicitly shown on screen or in the comic, and given the time period and the likely quality of life for the majority of ponies back then, I don't know if some village kid, even a well-learnt prodigy like Stygian, could had possibly afford or have access to those means.
Point is, even if Stygian knows where to look for the Pillars (And in the comics, he does), when he had gone off to acquire their help, he would still have to do so by his own power - he would had to walk there, to where they live (And that's what the comics shown him doing), first by himself and then with those Pillars he recruited on each stage of the journey. Even if we go by the frankly silly canon interpretation that they were merely living in different parts of Equestria (Because OF COURSE Equestria is the whole world, according to Hasbro), one can only walk so far within a set period of time.
In short, it would had taken him at least weeks, if not months, tops, to set out from his village, find all the Pillars, help them through whatever troubles affecting them, recruit them, before finally bring them along back to his village to defeat the Dazzlings, and save his...
You probably can see where I am going with this, right? By the time he got back, would any one of his fellow neighbours and villagers still be alive?
They had been enthralled by the Dazzlings' songs and set on each other, frothing with aggression and hatred, while those gluttonous sea monsters fed upon the emotions and conflict that was generated. They hadn't been shown to stop on screen, and I don't know how the comics would depict the finale, if they bother to depict it at all. Assuming they haven't stopped fighting all this time, they would had killed each other off by now. Even if the Dazzlings were smart enough to hold them back (forward thinking of which, I must remind you, they were NOT DEPICTED to have that I can recall), the population is only going to go down from the word go - accidental deaths does happen in non-lethal sparring between martial artists, or just two random idiots beating the crap out of each other.
So how does this tie with the original premise/question I was talking about? Simple: when Stygian had set off to fetch the Pillars, it would be impossible for him to return with the Pillars in time to save his village, barring them living quite literally right over the hill from where the village is (Which isn't the case, whether on TV or in the comics). He won't be returning home to his family and neighbours; he would be returning to a graveyard, and whatever beat-down the Pillars delivered to the Dazzlings afterwards, all it would had done would is avenging their deaths and preventing the Sirens from repeating their atrocity in another part of Equestria. Despite all his hardships, all his efforts, all his sacrifices - everything he did - Stygian had FAILED. He would had lost everything, nothing else he would had done would had made any difference.
When we look back at Stygian's fall with this context, his rapid slip off the slippery slope suddenly makes a lot of sense: The Pillars wouldn't just become a major part of his life and existence, it would literally be the only life he has left. He putted them together, he planned strategies for them and read all he could about the foes he faced; all this and other ways he dedicated his efforts to supporting and being part of the team would be the only thing that mattered to him anymore. Perhaps it would had helped distract him from the horror and guilt of not being able to save his village, of being the only survivor - who only made it out alive because he ran off. And of course, when he found he couldn't contribute as much as his more powerful Pillars - in fact, he doesn't even consider himself to be one of the Pillars because of this - and felt becoming neglected and sidelined in terms of recognition and respect, his anxiety would had hit him significantly harder since, being the only life he has left, how much he could give to the group would be the measure of his own self-worth, the only thing defining his existence.
No wonder he was so desperate to want their respect and being able to stand by their side in battle - desperate enough that he went off to steal the artifacts of the Pillars and imbue their powers into himself. And what happens when his comrades, the ponies whom he had gathered, befriended, helped and was helped by, completely and utterly rejected him over the misunderstanding? What would that do to him?
I think it would had BROKE him. It would had broken anyone. Everything that happens after that - the Well of Shades, the Pony of Shadows - would had come naturally to him, because he would had, quite literally, nothing left to live for - nothing save, perhaps, hatred for his former comrades, and the world which had so unfairly taken everything from him. Who wouldn't want to make the world suffer in the same despair as he did after all this?
Now, I know this bleak, disturbing premise would had upset many fellow fans, and I wouldn't blame anyone if they couldn't stomach it. But we cannot simply dismiss this out of hoof just because it's uncomfortable to consider, especially when one considers all available facts pointing in this direction. Of course, they would never show this on any media - whether in real life or in-universe.
This is definitely going into my Codexverse, that's for sure. What do you all think?