Fan Fic: Triptych Continuum
The Triptych Continuum is a series of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Fan Fic
stories and shorts taking place within the same setting, written by Estee.
What partially distinguishes the group is that unlike several Alternate Universe Fics
, this one visibly follows the continuity established by the first three seasons, having every single event seen on the show through that point actually happen. But at the same time, it occasionally tries to look somewhat deeper into the consequences
of those events. There's some emphasis on worldbuilding the environment, the ways magic works (and doesn't) in Equestria, and how the characters have changed over time. There's also a degree of local vocabulary, hints at what appears to be an alternate history for the Princesses and, beginning with the main story, a full divergence into its own timeline.Triptych
is the central work of the setting, starting three weeks after Twilight's transformation. It initially centers around her personal aftermath from the change while sending the Mane Cast on a new mission - one launched by Discord
. Without being told what it is, where they're going, or anything about why.A Mark of Appeal
is another story within the setting, focusing on Celestia and Luna. It deals with the ramifications of what happens when a pony possesses a cutie mark which she no longer wants, as the talent turns out to be actively detrimental to her — because it's gone fully out of that pony's control.
The various other shorts can be found on the Author page, located here.
A number of them are meant to expand on ideas presented in the main work and have been described by the author as "things which were going on in the background while you weren't looking."
It's still Equestria, and it's not necessarily dark - but there are times when the shadows get a little deeper.This Link
is the timeline of the series as it stands so far. It's an updated version of this outdated blog on the series connected story continuum.
The author is also responsible for Tales Of The Canterlot Deportation Agency
, which is a separate continuity — although the rules of magic are the same, and backstories for characters appearing in both are shared.
Tropes generally present in the Triptych Continuum:
Tropes present in Triptych:
Tropes present in A Mark of Appeal:
Tropes present in the side shorts:
- Answer Cut: A Total Eclipse Of The Fun goes with this one:
Trial run... it still felt like unveiling a masterpiece before the official gallery opening. But really, what harm could it do?
The sisters looked over the wreckage in the Lunar Courtyard.
- Also hits in Chapter 4 of the same story, when Luna asks what the problem would be with having Twilight Sparkle write the one-sheet educational briefing on eclipses for distribution to the general public. One location switch later, she gets her migraine-inducing answer. Which included quantum.
- Arc Words: The Hypocrisy of Tolerance: Again. Always.
- Asshole Victim: The unicorn noble in Mechanical Aptitude is an entitled bigoted jerk who is completely dismissive of Ratchette's abilities because she's a pegasus and ignores her when she tries to warn him that his new Minder is transmitting his secrets to the Flim Flam brothers for future blackmailing purposes. The other ponies she reveals this to tell Ratchette to just let the jerk suffer the consequences.
- Badass Bureaucrat: Crossing Guard zigzags between this and Beleaguered Bureaucrat: he's competent and can get an impressive amount done under the right circumstances, but the Immigration Department is undersized, overworked, and short-funded. (Luna is working on resolving all three issues.) Being responsible for the majority of non-pony residents in Canterlot is a hard job, one which too often displays visible strain — but at the same time, being able to manage it at all shows just how tough he is. Still, when he gets tired, mistakes can be made...
- Bad Liar: Caramel, as seen in The Hypocrisy of Tolerance. It's not that the lies themselves are bad. He just can't come up with new ones, and he's been using the same ones over and over for years.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: At the press conference meant to explain the nature of eclipses to the populace through newspaper articles (which ultimately leads to the government still having to do its own one-sheet educational printing — just for starters), one reporter asks how ponies are supposed to get used to the idea, especially if this is going to be any kind of regular event. Luna then decides that from that point on, all daylight conferences in the Lunar Courtyard will be held under total solar eclipse, just to let that reporter get used to it.
- Bilingual Bonus: The stallion in Blessing who begs Celestia to save his daughter is named Fajr. It's Arabic, indicating the morning prayers.
- A mild version in Naked Lunch: two named Canterlot streets are Camargue Road and Przewalski Way — horse breeds. There's also a very obscure one deeper into the story, occurring when the formal name of the Griffon Republic is finally revealed. It's Protocera — and some human folklorists believe the Terran legends of griffons began when people completely misinterpreted the fossilized remains of the dinosaur species Protoceratops.
- Lazy River reveals that the traditional earth pony period of mourning is called shiva, sharing its meaning with the original Hebrew.
- Blood Magic: Some of Sombra's more unique creations in Post Negative Comments Only have indelible rust stains at the bases.
- Call Back: In On The Application Of Time And Motion Efficiency Studies To Initial Relationship Formation, Lyra only participates in Twilight's Speed Dating experiment as a means of resetting library fines, because Bon-Bon can't admit she's lost the book. Nearly two years down the timeline in Orange Is The New Blue, Twilight gets Bon-Bon to leave a near-riot at Sugarcube Corner by asking her if she's willing to admit having lost the book yet.
- Capital Letters Are Magic: Played for Laughs in Scootalift. When Scootaloo starts pursuing Snowflake, the safest place to be becomes Very Far Away From Him and That Tree she's "hiding" behind, at least until It Finally Happens.
- Comically Missing the Point: Scootaloo does this in Cutie Mark Crusaders Alpha Pack Leader, getting through the following dialogue with no awareness of irony whatsoever:
"Get what? That you wind up with a mark because you do perfectly ordinary things you're already good at and love doing, instead of trying cool stuff which nopony's ever done before?" A long pause. "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard!"
- Note that this is perfectly in-character for Scootaloo, who has a similar sort of reaction in canon to the Cutie Mark-stories of everyone of the Mane 6 bar Rainbow Dash and who tends to lead the charge in the Crusaders continually failing to realise why their crusades just don't work.
- Crippling Overspecialization/Flat Character: Discussed in Pinkie Pie vs. the Soufflé. It's very easy for ponies to slip into the roles their cutie marks represent and never branch out beyond them.
- In The Hypocrisy of Tolerance, Rarity and Fluttershy discuss the possibility of becoming nothing but the virtue of their Element. Luna assured Rarity that it can't happen... unless a Bearer believes it could. Or wants it to.
- Cue the Rain: Rarity invokes this trope in Pony Up A Tree — deliberately. It's her final way of proving that Rainbow is lurking on a cloud overhead, because the weather coordinator can't resist a good feed line.
- Dartboard of Hate: Celestia is very curious to get a look at Murdocks' face, mostly because she wants to make one.
- Determinator: Snowflake's mark and special talent, with the weight representing the burdens he has to shift. When he sets his mind to something, it's highly recommended to get out of the way.
- Didn't See That Coming: Go ahead and demonstrate an eclipse in the Lunar Courtyard to a few ponies selected from both palace staffs, just to see how the public might take it. There's no way anypony would be freaked out by the sight of Luna performing a working which seems to be blocking out Sun... and cue riot. (To be fair, Luna asked for the demonstration as a means of finding out if any ponies would have bad reactions before the sisters brought the phenomenon to the general populace. It was better to discover the problem then and there — but neither anticipated the actual panic.)
- An angry Celestia then fires those who started it, which leads into a second instance of this trope. And thus the world's most incompetent counterrevolutionary cell was formed. When she eventually discovers all the layers of what had happened, she treats the prior gap in her knowledge as a personal failing. Luna makes a point of saying Celestia isn't omniscient (even if the older sister sometimes briefly manages to make her fall for it) and that there was no way to see this coming, but Celestia keeps insisting that she should have seen more. There may be a bit of a Guilt Complex there.
- Dirty Cop: Officer Cropski in One Tenth Bit abuses his authority to harass Rarity. By the end of the story, it's revealed that he's doing the store owner a favor through trying to embarrass her so badly that she'll never return. It also backfires, as Rarity's friends go a little higher up the ladder than his.
- The Dreaded: The Cutie Mark Crusaders are this for most of Ponyville's population. Ponies keep away from them like they were juggling nitroglycerin, even when they aren't.
- Princess Luna, on the other hand, terrifies just about everyone. Word of God states that the scariest line in Celestia's diplomatic arsenal is "Let me go see what my sister thinks".
- Mr. Flankington will be this in any setting where food service becomes remotely possible. He can empty out a banquet hall in nine seconds flat, and that as an invited guest.
- Dumbass Has a Point: The griffon in "Naked Lunch" who tries to open a butcher shop in Canterlot in a very public location is considered an idiot by Luna and Crossing Guard, but Luna claims that he actually raises a good point. The meat-eating residents of Equestria shouldn't be forced to buy meat in back-alleys and pet-shops just because meat freaks out ponies.
- Endangered Soufflé: The arc plot in Pinkie Pie Vs. The Soufflé, which has Pinkie attempting to bake her first successful baking of the stubborn dish for her master piece: the dish which will let her shed the "apprentice" from "baker" once and for all. It doesn't exactly go as first planned. Or second, third, fourth...
- Fantastic Racism: Sonic Rainbigot introduces Canterlot Unicorns Need Equal Treatment, later described in Luna's Lottery Lunacy as "the largest, best-organized, well-funded, and most delusional group of self-promoting racists on the continent." (It's also noted that they were originally named Canterlot Unicorns Negating Traditional Swears, but for some reason, decided that name wasn't working out.) Naked Lunch firmly establishes them as a unicorn superiority group which is forever trying to claim the victimization of a persecuted majority, and extends their racism to the other sentient species: they would love to see Equestria's borders closed (along with the expulsion of all non-ponies, citizens included), and a few members are so fanatical as to refuse usage of anything not created by unicorns. Which admittedly makes it hard to take pictures which might work in their favor: turns out cameras were invented by minotaurs.
- Fantastic Slur: One of the worst things an earth pony or pegasus can say about a unicorn is to tell them they're "horning in": it's basically calling that pony a powermonger who doesn't care about Harmony, based in a time when some unicorns tried to use their magics to take over. In the modern day, some unicorns will toss the slur at other unicorns if they think the target pony is getting full of themselves — but if anypony else uses it, screams of racism just might follow.
- Pegasi occasionally get hit with 'land swooper', a leftover from the era of sieges and raiding parties: it's calling that pony a thief or pirate. However, the term is also used as the name of a Las Pegasus sports team.
- Forbidden Friendship: Snips and Snails' parents believe that each is a bad influence on the other. The only place Snips and Snails can spend time together is school. They repeatedly fail their exams on purpose so they can spend summers together in remedial classes.
- Forced Sleep: Averted. In If Rainbow Dash Can't Sleep Twilight outlines just how difficult a sleep spell would be.
Twilight Sparkle: — you want me — to reach into a pony body — creating an overload of fatigue poisons in every single cell from a starting point of absolutely nothing — while simultaneously not just overriding the brain's natural cycle, replacing it — and you think that's going to be easy?
- "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In-universe example in Blessing. All of the Unwanted False Faith in the princesses began with a joke:
Fine... then I'll swear it on Luna's horn. Happy now?
- Historical In-Joke: As revealed at the end of Luna's Lottery Lunacy, Celestia had to ban tulips at some point in the past millennium, apparently because a strong pony herd mentality turned a fad into an economic bubble burst. It's a reference to Tulip Mania.
- In Chapter 4 for A Mark Of Appeal, Ambassador Torque Power of Mazien tries to fight his way to Joyous while carrying a bouquet of tulips (among many others), and one of Celestia's first reactions is that she has to get them out of sight before anypony else spots them, along with wondering where he got them because she thought she'd had all the suppliers closed down. Apparently Canterlot has an underground illegal flower trade.
- Hypocritical Humor: Diamond Tiara hates ponies who have enough power to get things all their own way. At least when they aren't her.
- Implausible Deniability: Caramel's explanation for how he could afford the latest piece of Magitek after claiming financial problems? He won a raffle! Then Flitter calls him out. And it is glorious.
- Innocent Innuendo: Twilight needs cash. Twilight has just received clearance to legally teleport with up to three ponies. Twilight has also noticed how unpleasant Ponyville winters are. Cue the posting of flyers advertising Twilight's Escort Service all over town.
- Insistent Terminology: If Celestia and Luna are sharing the morning meal together, the Solar Kitchen calls the result 'brinner'. The Lunar staff refers to that same meal as 'dinfast'. About two seconds after that, pots begin to fly.
- Insomnia Episode: If Rainbow Dash Can't Sleep..., which was written because the author couldn't sleep.
- Lethal Chef: Mr. Flankington. Aside from his infamous "Saddle Arabian delicacy," Cutie Mark Crusaders Alpha Pack Leader demonstrates how his test kitchen has the literal ingredients for a town-wide biohazard. Oddly, for most of the timeline, he was The Ghost of Ponyville: he's mentioned as being in the crowd in front of Sugarcube Corner during Orange Is The New Blue, but he was never described or heard to speak — until Twilight's Escort Service: a male pegasus stallion in late middle age, with a dark green coat, red eyes, and a mark showing two crossed, bubbling test tubes.
- Word Of FanFic Author is that he's meant to be a gentle tribute to Plankton, with his restaurant constantly losing money until tourist season hits and unsuspecting travelers who assume any eatery must be run by somepony with a cooking mark wander into exactly the right location for proving themselves horribly wrong. He truly doesn't mean any harm: he just can't get a recipe right to save his life and possesses a good amount of self-delusion regarding his efforts. The next one will surely work out...
- If the food preparation phase counts, we can now add Celestia and Luna to the mix. In Princesses Can't Cook, the sisters attend their first culinary lesson. The results are edible: it was the creation stage which managed to blow up most of the kitchen. Twice.
- A more minor version in 100% Move = 50% Fire, when Pinkie Pie sees Twilight's original kitchen.
[W]ell, I can see you're alive, but I'm not sure how ...
- Lethal Joke Spell: So there's a spell. And all it does is change the color of anything available to a hue of the caster's choice. Harmless, right? Well, what if you took a few random spins of the color wheel on every visible dress in the Boutique and the effect never wore off? How about using it on food? Making ponies look Red and Black and Evil All Over? And that's just the beginning for the possibilities...
- Like Brother and Sister: Snowflake and Fluttershy are explicitly described as "near-siblings" in The Hypocrisy of Tolerance. Triptych revealed that they had both been delivered by Doctor Gentle, and he recommended that they meet when Snowflake first moved to Ponyville. There's no romantic connection: they simply have a lot of things in common.
- Logic Bomb: Luna launches one (referenced by name) in A Total Eclipse Of The Fun which nearly takes out an entire press conference. Upon being repeatedly challenged to prove that she's incapable of enthralling ponies, she agrees that the never-seen ability would in fact be a danger and refuses to release anyone from the gathering until they've proven they can't do it - through attempting (and failing) to use the spell on her. If it doesn't work, she'll simply tell the gathering "I am not enthralled' and let that pony leave.
"Of course — if you could enthrall me, that would be the very first thing you should make me say..."
- Mercy Kill: Fluttershy, as part of her role as animal caretaker, over and over again, taking the burden on herself every time. Made all the worse by the fact that Ponyville's only licensed vet refuses to perform the act (supposedly in defense of her success-only reputation) and sends anything fatal or even somewhat risky to the cottage. Mentioned in Triptych with off-screen example and given extra detail in Five Hundred Little Murders, which was inducted into the Royal Canterlot Library.
- The Moving Experience: Somewhat distorted in 100% Move = 50% Fire, which is set near the end of Season #1. The move is very real, but the purpose is to complete Twilight's transition into Ponyville by clearing out the last of her things from her rooms at the Canterlot Archives.
- Never My Fault: It's amazing how much the world conspires against Diamond Tiara, making it seem like the kind, considerate, perfect filly is responsible so many of her undeserved hardships.
- Noble Incognito: Ratchette is a member of the oldest and most powerful House of pegasus nobles on the continent — and would much rather be a mechanic in Ponyville. She's actually told a few of the local ponies, but only if she was sure they would either understand or just laugh it off.
- Not So Different: In Stupid Direction-Face, Rainbow Dash and Garble are strikingly similar to one another, both in attitude and accomplishments. Through the current point in the story, Rainbow appears blissfully unaware of any irony.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Snips and Snails fail their exams on purpose, since summer school is the only place they can spend time together during the summer due to their parents believing that each is a bad influence on the other.
- Origins Episode: Snowflake Shoe-Hare provides one for the title character, making his wings into the results of a birth defect injury. (In this continuity, nearly all pegasi foals have hard shells of translucent tissue called caps covering the wings at birth, protecting fragile bones from damage caused by the pressure of contractions. Snowflake was a capless birth who survived.) His unusual build is explained as a deliberate effort to substitute for missing wing surface area with raw power.
- Paint It Any Disturbing Color Available: The antagonist in Orange Is The New Blue possesses an apparently-unique spell which allows her to change the color of any object. Early on, it's used to alter Rarity from her usual white-and-purple into... red-and-black, which quickly turns into a mild TakeThat for the flood of identically-hued alicorn O Cs to appear on FIM Fic.
- Perpetual Poverty: Caramel's is self-inflicted. He constantly buys incredibly expensive gifts for his latest fillyfriend, and thus has nothing left for little things like bills.
- Also applies to Fluttershy across the story group: her feed costs are high, she has to purchase some rare substances for certain medicines, new medical reference texts come out every year... and some of her clients skip out on their bills in the certain knowledge that she won't take them to small claims court. She has the benefit of owning the cottage and surrounding land outright, but there's always property tax...
- Pony Up A Tree: Rarity in the eponymous story. Ponies are among the worst climbers in the world and know it: unless you're a pegasus, being stuck in a tree too high up for a safe jump generally means being stuck there until somepony shows up to help. Triptych notes similar problems with falling into holes: if the width doesn't allow a chimney-climb, the pony is probably in trouble.
- None of this stops two non-pegasi from climbing trees to keep away from Scootaloo in Scootalift. Admittedly, there was a pegasus there who could have provided a potential boost. Or as Snowflake notes, they might have just discovered a panic-induced talent for high-jumping. It's amazing what you can do when you're scared enough...
- The Ponyville Debris Field: After the events of the last few years, the mayor uses a stack of disaster relief forms for a pillow.
- Triptych notes that the national disaster relief fund makes up eight percent of Equestria's budget "in a slow year." Just how much of that goes to Ponyville is perhaps best not thought about.
- Furthermore, the town bankrupted the nation's fledgling insurance companies in fifteen moons.
- Raised By Griffons: Naked Lunch reveals that griffons have a cultural imperative which dictates that to bring a child into the world is to take responsibility for raising it to adulthood — and if the parents die, someone else must take over. This belief extends to the children of enemies — and in the deep past, when the Republic and Equestria went to war, the griffons would scoop up the foals of the fallen and bring them to their new homes. Centuries later, this has led to Protocera possessing a significant pony population, nearly all descendants of those original children — and most of them were raised as and consider themselves to be griffons. Equestrian visitors to the Republic who think they've spotted another traveler on the street are often in for a major culture shock.
- It's also worth noting that this applies to any intelligent species the griffons have ever fought. Which brings up the question of just what else holds Protoceran citizenship...
- Read the Fine Print: Trixie does (against the seller's will) on Equestria's first-ever texting contract in 0G Network Coverage. It's implied not to end well for the salespony.
- Royal Brat: Diamond Tiara, of the Nouveau Riche variety. The beginning of A Confederacy of Dunce Caps makes it clear that she considers wielding her father's money, influence, and lawyers to be her princess-given right. The headgear probably doesn't help.
- Scrapbook Story: Permanent Record, presented as a series of incident reports written by a Ponyville police officer who has to deal with the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Her sanity doesn't survive for long.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money! / Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Deconstructed by Diamond Tiara. She gets away with a lot of bad behavior by threatening to sic her father's lawyers on others. Her dad is actually fed up with this and points out that she is hurting his business. He mentions that almost everypony related to her classmates, barring Silver Spoon's family, has stopped doing business with him. Even the Apple family, who still honors their long expired contract due to Filthy Rich's own good relationship with them, won't actually visit his store anymore just to avoid Diamond.
- Shout-Out: In On The Application Of Time And Motion Efficiency Studies To Initial Relationship Formation, Flitter gives this little speech after deciding that Rarity being a whole seventeen moons older than her means the designer is effectively deceased:
"You've booked passage for a permanent vacation in the shadowlands! You've designed your own funeral shroud! You've closed the shop and had your dumb flunked vet friend teach her birds a dirge! You are an ex-pony
- Son Of Sombra Scam: Twilight gets to read the Equestrian version of a 419 in Dear Friend, after Spike fires off a number of ersatz scrolls following the ingestion of "griffon-made canned lunch meat". The scroll in question comes from somepony asking for aid in recovering twenty million bits deposited in Ponyville, and is signed "Sucker Bet."
- Speed Dating: Don't tell Twilight that you can typically decide if a chance meeting or date has the chance to become more within three minutes, or she just might decide to test the idea with a group of forty-four ponies while making you part of it, Rarity. Just... don't... too late...
- Stop Worshipping Me: In Blessing, Celestia tries to convince a stallion that she is not, and has never been, a deity and cannot help his dying filly no matter how much he prays to her. She fails. The stallion misinterprets her providing some final comfort to the dying filly with her light as a blessing and prays harder than ever. When his daughter dies anyway, he tries to commit suicide, blaming himself because he "didn't have enough faith..."
- Stuff Blowing Up: The reason why students from Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns are in the castle in Luna's Lottery Lunacy. The budget wasn't able to cover rebuilding that much of the school for the fourth time. That semester.
- In 100% Move=50% Fire, Twilight says it's almost traditional to damage some part of the Canterlot Archives once you get into the better portions, which is why there's (still) no railing on the ramp leading up to her old residence.
- Luna has made ice cream explode. She wasn't attacking it or experiencing any degree of Power Incontinence during an emotional moment: she was trying to create the dessert. Princesses Can't Cook showed her grumbling about the slow method of aeration, to the point where she decided the best way of shortcutting past it was to make the air already within move faster. As in 'internal storm system'. Complete with lightning. Boom. By contrast, Celestia took out the oven in a much more conventional way.
- Super Speed: While not too overt in its manifestations, both Celestia and Luna seem to have reaction times well above that of the average pony, and Luna's land speed is far beyond typical.
- Surrounded by Idiots: "Naked Lunch" makes it clear that Luna does not have a very high opinion of the general pony population's intelligence. The events in the story seem to validate that opinion.
- Total Eclipse of the Plot: Drives A Total Eclipse Of The Fun, which is built around Celestia and Luna's plans to create an eclipse to celebrate the second anniversary of Luna's Return. (Despite the actual timing of events, the associated holiday is held three days after the Summer Sun Celebration, to give Luna her own time.) This has to be a deliberate, planned event: due to the normal cycle for Sun and Moon, the two celestial bodies are never in the sky at the same time unless the sisters carefully arrange it. Portions of the public don't take well to the proposed celebration, mostly because the Princesses are bringing back something from the age of Discord which blocks out the Sun.
- Unwanted False Faith: The Princesses, full stop. A number of ponies (and not a small one) see them as entities not only to invoke in vows, but who can be actively prayed to — and they're not. Blessing shows Celestia desperately trying to explain her lack of divinity to a stallion truly in need of a miracle — an attempt which appears to have never worked.
- On a lighter note, the Cutie Mark Crusaders' reign of terror has led to at least one shrine among Ponyville's realtors and moving supply salesponies.
- Wrench Wench: Ratchette. Very attractive, almost perpetually dirty, happily tinkers with whatever's available, designs her own tools, and she's the only qualified repairpony for devices and conveniences in all of Ponyville. There's just the minor matter of her being a pegasus.
- Yes Pony: Every single resident of the Crystal Empire at the beginning of Post Negative Comments Only. They remember enough of Sombra's reign to fear the retribution that will follow any display of less-than-perfect devotion and competence. Cadance just wants them to think for themselves.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Comes as a group effort towards Twilight from the other Bearers in 100% Move = 50% Fire after the real reason for her procrastination in completing the exit from her former Canterlot Archives apartment emerges. She's so afraid of saying or doing one wrong thing and losing everypony, she's been hanging onto a retreat point.
- There's also a bit of it in Chapter 4 of Orange Is The New Blue, again directed towards Twilight, this time from Rarity: Twilight works out a possible emotional motive for the outbreak of color-change castings, immediately starts to second-guess herself because she feels she's no good at judging such things, and Rarity gently tells her how much she's changed since arriving in Ponyville, very nearly using the trope name in the process.
a price to pay for every gift...