Fanfic / The Life and Times of a Winning Pony

The Life and Times of a Winning Pony (also available at FF.Net) is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic by Chengar Qordath. The story tracks the life and times of Cloud Kicker, a fun-loving Ethical Slut with a tendency to have lots of random sexual encounters and end up in wild misadventures. The story weaves reasonably well into actual episode screentime, and also points out some of the cronyism inherent in Equestrian society. It is complete and also has a finished sequel, The New Life of a Winning Pony.

There is also a prequel, The Lunar Rebellion, set nine hundred years before the events of the show and focusing on Cloud Kicker's Famous Ancestor Shadow Kicker, one of Celestia's lieutenants during the Lunar Rebellion, when the pegasi of Pegasopolis rose in revolt against Celestia under the flag in Nightmare Moon. It is completed.

Side-stories and recursive fanfiction for this fic have been written by numerous authors, and these are collectively referred to as the Winningverse. They range from the comic tale of Pinkie Pie's attempts to make a romantically dense Rainbow Dash realize her affections, to the more serious story of Derpy Hooves running off to Ponyville after being kicked out from her family for an unplanned pregnancy. There is also a series of stories (beginning here) focusing on Sunset Shimmer during and after her stint as Celestia's student, centering mostly on her adventures in Freeport, and which are related to the main Winningverse mostly by a shared setting and backstory, although the narratives are quite separate, as the Sunset stories are set some years before the events of the show proper.

The side stories are collected here.

This fanon universe also splits off into six Alternate Universes:

  • The Dead-Derpy-Verse — Cancer kills Derpy, who leaves behind two daughters and Rainbow Dash as godmother.

  • The Phoenix Empire — Splitting off not long after The Lunar Rebellion, the Phoenix Empress, ruler of a much different Equestria at the time of the show, is born when a misunderstanding leads to Celestia accidentally crippling Sunbeam Sparkle, and the only way to fix it is if Celestia gives her immortality and her dominion over the Sun to Sunbeam, thereby cementing Sunbeam as the new ruler of Equestria. Currently, Tales of the Phoenix Empire is leading up to the Empire's version of Nightmare Moon's return.

  • The Road Not Taken — A pair of "What If?" one-shots where Fluttershy and Cloud Kicker did not break up over the Flight Camp incident, and instead got married and had a daughter. Also, Sparkler was adopted by Cloud's mother instead of Derpy.

  • The Incredibly Loyal Heart Of a Winning Pony sees Cloud taking Rainbow Dash's place during the pilot episodes, and carries the day just as well as Rainbow Dash.
    • It has an alternate ending where Cloud's guilt over running out on the Guard ruins everything at the critical moment, forcing Celestia to intervene and kill Luna. Ironically, this is what convinces Cloud to accept her commission to the Guard.

  • The Oncoming Storm series follows the Equestria Girls versions of an alternatenote  Cloud Kicker and Rainbow Dash as they deal with various magical incidents at Canterlot High School.


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     Core stories 
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Applejack and Rarity, to the point that arguing and foreplay are virtually indistinguishable.
  • Breakout Character: The author wrote a previous fan fiction, The Incredibly Dense Mind of Rainbow Dash. Word of God: 'Somehow, Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth really managed to steal the show in terms of what I enjoyed writing. To heck with RainbowPie, Cloud Kicker/Blossomforth is my new OTP. In fact, I will e-mail cupcakes to the first person who writes a good Cloud Kicker/Blossomforth story. Pinkie Promise.' Note that RainbowPie was the actual primary ship being built in the fic.
  • Cat Fight:
    • Blossomforth and New Fluttershy get into a particularly nasty one.
    • The fight between Rainbow Dash and Cloud Kicker from their flight camp days is an aversion. The sum total of the resulting injuries included a concussion, broken face bones, a broken leg, broken ribs, a dislocated wing, an eye injury, a collapsed lung, and a Groin Attack so vicious that it ended the fight and caused serious internal injury and near fatal bleeding.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Rainbow Dash' crashing is usually treated as a Running Gag. It's not so amusing anymore when it's revealed to be happening due to an eye injury that could possibly blind her.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: While Life and Times started as a bit naughty romantic comedy, it gets more and more drama-driven by time, with some serious character backstories and a complicated Love Triangle, only getting more serious the closer its story arc gets to The Canterlot Wedding.
  • Childhood Friends: Cloud Kicker, Derpy Hooves, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy are all old friends from Flight School.
  • The Clan: The Kicker family is big and almost all of them are in the military.
  • Conflict Ball:
    • Everyone gets hit with shades of this in chapter 16 of Life and Times, from Rainbow Dash growing incredibly violent and Blossomforth uncharacteristically trying to pick a fight with Derpy, with bug insults coming from both sides. However, it appears something else is at work here.
    • In later chapters, there's a growing tendency for characters to get into arguments, along with the trend for those involved to end on bad terms.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: It's left unclear if Cloud Kicker actually banged Princess Luna or if it was just a drunken sex dream. Further confusing things, the author has pointed out that even if it was a dream, it may have actually been Luna anyway, due to dreams falling under the domain of night.
  • Everyone Is Gay: All of the Mane 6 are gay, and mostly every other girl is too. In fact, only one couple is heterosexual. note 
  • Famous Ancestor:
    • Cloud Kicker, like all members of her clan, can eventually trace her (admittedly indirect) descent to Shadow Kicker, one of Equestria’s most celebrated heroes and a champion of Celestia’s during the Lunar Rebellion.
    • Twilight and her family are direct descendants of Sunbeam Sparkle, Celestia's vizier and the Archmagus of Canterlot during the Rebellion, and another prominent figure in the war, though her adoptive daughter Midnight Sparkle. Sunset Shimmer can also trace her ancestry to Sunbeam, by means of Sunbeam’s bastard son Daylight Shimmer.
  • Fantastic Arousal: Wingboners (a pegasus unfurling their wings when aroused) are present.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • Near the end of "The Pony Who Doesn't Fit Into Their Little Box", Chrysalis gives Cloud Kicker the following offer: giving up Shadow's armor in exchange for having her and her loved ones leave Canterlot unharmed. She then leaves to go gloat about her victory of taking over Canterlot. You are invited to guess what happens next.
    • Cloud and Blossom were stated to be the Official Couple of the fic, even though they don't become official until the final chapter.
  • Gilligan Cut: Sparkler makes a Pinkie Promise that she has no romantic interest in Cloud's cousin Star Kicker. "Less than two hours later, I caught Star and Sparkler making out behind the equipment building. So much for Pinkie Promises."
  • Godzilla Threshold: Anything that justifies taking Shadow's armor out of the vault at the Kicker Compound. Which includes the battle with the Changeling swarm once word reaches the Kicker Compound that Princess Celestia is down, though Shadow rejects Cloud and things work out without the armor anyway, and Tirek's attack on Equestria, though it's unknown if Storm kept Shadow's armor afterward.
  • Groin Attack: When it is delivered by a horse, it matters not if you are male or female. Played for Drama, since Cloud's desperation kick on Rainbow Dash resulted in Rainbow being unable to have kids. Ever.
  • Growling Gut: Pretty much every time eating is mentioned.
  • Happy Ending Massage: Rarity inadvertently sets one up for Cloud Kicker.
  • Has Two Mommies: It's possible in-universe for two mares to conceive a foal, provided access to high-level and hard-to-get (not to mention expensive) unicorn magic and/or The Power of Love.
  • Hive Drone: This is the nature of most of the Changeling race, with the vast majority of the swarm being puppets under Chrysalis’ control.
  • Hive Mind: The changelings have the variant where a single consciousness is distributed across the entire species, with Chrysalis serving as an Avatar of sorts, essentially being the hive mind’s self-aware consciousness.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Cloud Kicker tells Derpy off because she made Fluttershy cry, when she overheard Derpy implying that she was going to steal Cloud Kicker from her. Once she kicks Derpy out, Cloud sleeps with Fluttershy and discusses running away to get married afterwards. To be fair to Cloud, though, her only intent was to comfort Fluttershy. The sex... simply just happened.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every chapter title follows the format of: "The Pony (Adapted Charlie Sheen Quote)"
  • Innocent Innuendo: Cloud Kicker, at a party, chats up Derpy. The conversation turns to "eating muffins". After being reminded of innuendo, Blossomforth figures Derpy was talking about actual baked goods. Naturally ... they spend several minutes putting together muffins. Then they clean up the leftover batter, up to when Derpy accidentally spills some. All of it lands on very lickable parts of herself, and nowhere else.
  • Lethal Harmless Powers:Light refraction spells can be used to create pretty light shows, focus light for long range observation... or cut enemies into smoking chunks with laser beams.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth. Said word-for-word by Nurse Redheart.
  • Love Triangle: Blossomforth is Cloud Kicker's best friend hoping for a Relationship Upgrade, Derpy is currently in a very loose relationship with Cloud Kicker. That said, Blossomforth insists that it's a case Friend Versus Lover. After Chrysalis is defeated, Cloud finally makes things official with Blossom, and FINALLY gets Fluttershy all the way back at the same time. Sadly, it seems Derpy opted out.
  • Military Academy: Cloud Kicker went to one for four years, but dropped out shortly before graduation. Specifically, she ran off in the middle of the graduation ceremony.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Rarity when she finds out about Cloud's Happy Ending Massage, since she asked the Spa sisters to "give her special treatment" without clarifying that "special" didn't mean banging.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Applejack tries to run Cloud Kicker off the farm when she catches her talking to Big Mac.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Two big ones in Life and Times, both eventually revealed.
      • Something happened between Cloud Kicker and Fluttershy that destroyed their childhood friendship. As of Chapter 9, it turns out that Fluttershy and Cloud Kicker became a couple in flight school. Then Fluttershy created a misunderstanding that started a fight between Rainbow Dash and Cloud Kicker that left both with life-threatening injuries. Then Fluttershy panicked and broke up with Cloud Kicker as she was being flown to the hospital.
      • Also, the Lunar Rebellion. All that's really been established about it is that it happened 900 years ago, it started in Cloudsdale, and Cloud Kicker's family was one of the few pegasus families to remain loyal to Celestia. It was later covered by the eponymous story.
    • "This rope can hold a weight of a stallion the size of Big Macintosh, suspended from the ceiling."
  • One Steve Limit:
    • Cloud admits at one point that name duplication has been an issue in her clan, since there are only so many names one can combine with "Kicker" that still sound good.
    • The Lunar Rebellion also feature Nimbus Kicker as a character, while Cloud Kicker's mother is named Nimbus Gust.
  • Orphanage of Fear: Where Sparkler, Derpy's adopted child, came from.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Almost literally back in flight school.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In Chapter 6 Blossomforth starts out by calling Cloud Kicker out on her tendency to be a bit self-centered and inconsiderate, but before long it morphs into something nastier, and then things get worse.
  • Recursive Fanfiction: The page image for one. The author actually posts any Fan-Art of his works on his blog.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Cloud Kicker is red, Blossomforth is blue.
  • Tracking Spell: Star Kicker's special talent is tracking and location magic. She specializes in creating small gems enchanted with tracking spells. She also has the rather impolite habit of planting these gems on the clothing and persons of everybody she meets or talks to, for the purposes of being able to track them should the need arise. This does come in handy on some occasions, such as when a character goes missing and Star is able to use one of her gems as a focus for casting a tracking spell.
  • Sex for Solace: Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth finally do the deed in the wake of Cloud's mother being found dead at the hands of a Changeling Infiltrator.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Heavily utilized to keep the fic from entering mature territory.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the author's other works, there are one or two references to The Dresden Files.
    • The thing of mares' tails involuntarily twitching when they're aroused, seen when Sparkler is teased about her developing relationship with Cloud's cousin Star, is taken from Xenophilia.
  • Tap on the Head: Discussed — at one point Cloud Kicker finds herself in a situation where she needs to disable a pony without causing injuries and she finds her options very limited.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: Chapter 9 kinda gives us an explanation why Cloud Kicker doesn't want to have a romantic relationship.
  • Theme Naming: Cloud Kicker's family engages in this.
  • Threat Backfire: In Chapter 16:
    Changeling!Nimbus Gust: I suppose I should thank you, though. I admit, some of my plans did not develop entirely to my satisfaction, and the fact that you found my papers earlier than planned was unfortunate. However, I’m sure my queen will overlook such minor affairs when I present her with the corpse of one of the Element Bearers.
    Rainbow Dash: Over my dead body!
  • Twin Threesome Fantasy: When Rarity arranges an apology, Rarity arranges an apology. Well, accidentally.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Cloud Kicker certainly enjoys Derpy's muffins.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Rarity and Applejack. Also possibly Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Cloud Kicker and Fluttershy. Chapter 9 tells us why, and it's not cleared up until later.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Chapter 6 has Cloud Kicker pull Blossom's crush on her out into the open during a fight that seems to have torn their friendship to pieces.
    • And then we have Chapter 9...
    • At the end of Chapter 15, Cloud Kicker's mother has apparently betrayed Equestria, and Cloud intends to kill her.
    • The next chapter then hits us with a double-whammy: the traitor Nimbus Gust is actually a Changeling Infiltrator... who has already killed the real Nimbus Gust and dumped her body in a cave.
  • Wham Line:
    • In-universe, Derpy saying "I love you too" when Cloud tells her she turned down not one, but two threesomes.
    • The last line of Chapter 8, provided by Cloud. "Fluttershy was the first pony I ever banged."
  • Will They or Won't They?:
    • Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth. They do, and Fluttershy joins in.
    • Applejack and Rarity, too. They did... eventually.
  • Your Cheating Heart: When they start to get serious, Derpy starts to fear this about Cloud Kicker. She did admit to loving both of them, and she had spent most of her time with either of them instead of Derpy, after all. When Derpy expresses her concern to Cloud about her lingering feelings, Fluttershy overhears and breaks down crying, thinking herself the reason for Derpy's stress. Cloud Kicker angrily kicks Derpy out and then somehow unintentionally winds up sleeping with Fluttershy anyway, making the whole thing a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
    • To expand on that last bit in fairness to Cloud, she didn't kick Derpy out so that she could sleep with Fluttershy, nor was there any real motive in the deed itself. The admittedly cliché phrase "one thing led to another" couldn't have been more accurate in this case, it simply happened.

     Winningverse side stories 
  • Alliterative Name: A couple of story titles:
    • Princess Twilight's Profoundly Peripheral Protector
    • Princess Twilight's Protector and the Prankster Pests.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The fey, naturally enough, operate on this sort of mentality. Their attitude towards contracts is a good example of this: to them, honoring a contract (regardless of its terms and effects, or of whether the other party even knew a contract was being made) supersedes all other considerations, and they're are genuinely confused at the idea that ponies might disagree with this. For instance, Musette made a contract with Vinyl Scratch after Vinyl idly said she'd "die" to be as good a singer as a famous performer, with Musette interpreting the contract to mean that she'd make Vinyl that good at the cost of her life — it's not her fault Vinyl didn't choose good terms! Of note is that Musette has come to genuinely like Vinyl and truly doesn't want to kill her — but she made a deal, and she simply can't conceive of not honoring their agreement.
  • Brainwash Residue: Cheerilee is worried her feelings for Big Macintosh might be this.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: When Twilight is startled out of an eavesdropping spell in Princess Twilight's Profoundly Peripheral Protector, she awkwardly tries to claim she was distracted due to thinking about "magic and friendship, and the magic of friendship."
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Fey cannot deliberately say anything they know to be untrue or go back on their word. However, they can still lie by omission, avoid answering, or give answers that are technically true but imply or suggest a conclusion that isn't, and likewise they can get very creative in how they interpret their contracts' wording.
  • Cold Iron: Contact with cold iron causes immense physical pain to fey creatures, and as a result the metal is often used as a way to determine if somepony is a fey in disguise. Cold iron also disrupts and impedes unicorn magic, something that has led to a lot of speculation in-universe about unicorns' exact relationship with the fey.
  • Creative Sterility: Despite their association with art and artists, and their need to feed off of the psychic energies associated with artistic creation, muses lack the creative spark required to create true art. As such, they cannot create original works themselves: the most they can do is imitate what's already there.
  • Curse of the Ancients: Normally a given considering it’s Applejack, but one in The Incredibly Blitzed Night of Rainbow Dash is particularly impressive and lampshaded.
    Applejack: “That dadgum sidewindin’ hornswaglin’ sodbustin’ tree-poundin’ corn-shuckin’ blockheaded barn-razin’ scruffy-lookin’ nerf-herdin’ bushwhackin’ cracker-croakin’ yellow-bellied galoot! What the hay is he thinkin’?”
    Lyra: “Wow. That was some authentic frontier gibberish.”
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The Incredibly Dense Mind of Rainbow Dash was originally written as a one-shot story without any indication of starting an all-out Shared Universe, and thus contradicts some of the later established backstories. It was afterwards rewritten to fit the current Winningverse canon, but the original version was also kept for comparison.
  • Enthralling Siren: The rusalka (essentially a ponified Slavic mermaid), whose singing hypnotizes ponies into dancing with it to alleviate its loneliness. This tends to lead to the ponies’ deaths, either through exhaustion or when the rusalka kills them on a whim.
  • The Fair Folk: The fey, a group of pony-shaped magical creatures known for their love of contracts (and... interesting and creative ways of interpreting them), their unique takes on morality, their inability to lie and their aversion to Cold Iron.
    • The rusalka in "The Incredibly Thrilling Investigation of Storm Kicker". It looks like an earth pony, but just slightly... wrong, and it's described as a trickster spirit that uses what appears to be a form of vocal glamour/mind control to turn ponies into thralls and force them to dance with it, and it's perfectly happy to kill them if they, say, miss a dance step, or if it gets bored. It apparently considers this a justifiable way to alleviate its loneliness.
    • Muses are fey that feed off of the psychic energy associated with artistic creation. As such, they often associate with artists, inspiring them to create more and greater works in exchange for, essentially, sustenance, although they lack the ability to create truly original works in their own right.
    • There is speculation, in-universe, that unicorns share a closer relationship with they fey than other pony tribes do, due to the fact that cold iron, which hurts and repels fey creatures, also disrupts and impedes unicorn magic. Theories presented in-universe include unicorns being descended from pony/fey hybrids, or from ponies who managed to steal the fey's magic.
  • For Want of a Nail: Incredibly Loyal Heart note  explores the question of how things would have gone if Cloud had been the Element Of Loyalty instead of Rainbow Dash. Its alternate ending shows what would have happened if the Elements Of Harmony had FAILED against Nightmare Moon in the pilot of FiM.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Free Minds were created by Chrysalis to have more independence and personality than regular Changelings, to serve as better infiltrators. This worked a bit too well—they had enough independence to resent being slaves to Chrysalis' will, and rebelled.
  • Grumpy Bear: In her story, Raindrops is a typical example.
  • Het Is Ew: Apparently. There are hardly any heterosexual couples, Applejack actively guards Big Macintosh from courting mares, and since magic can help with same-sex conception, some family trees are filled entirely with females.
  • Hero of Another Story: Since most of the side stories take place simultaneously and sometimes intersect, the POV characters are all this to each other.
  • Hunter of Monsters: The Long Patrol, an order of guardponies that patrol Equestria's wildernesses to hunt dangerous monsters.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: A good deal of the Winningverse stories are titled as some variant of "The [adverb] [adjective] [noun] of a [character name/descriptor]".
  • Involuntary Dance: Ponies who hear a rusalka’s song are forced to dance with it until they miss a step and the rusalka kills them, or until it gets bored and kills them anyway.
  • Jackass Genie: When they’re not being Literal Genies, fey tend to interpret wishes and contracts in the most convoluted, abstruse ways they possibly can, making full use of every loophole they can find. Which tack they'll go for generally depends on what would bring them the greatest advantage and/or amusment.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Rainbow Dash's mother Surprise and her fillyfriend Pinkie Pie are... remarkably similar. It takes her a good while to notice, and when she does she freaks out at the idea of dating her mom until Twilight and Pinkie calm her down.
  • Literal Genie: Fey tend to be very literal about enforcing contracts and agreements with mortal ponies. For instance, one of Octavia's teachers once idly mentioned to a muse that he'd trade his right hoof to be as good as the in-universe historical cellist Animando Assai.
    Octavia: Suffice to say that my teacher is the best three-hooved cellist I have ever heard.
  • Mind-Control Music: The rusalka's song in "The Incredibly Thrilling Investigation of Storm Kicker", which hypnotizes ponies and turns them into thralls under the rusalka’s control.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Rainbow Dash's parents are the G3 Rainbow Dash and Surprise, a G1 pony that was the inspiration for Pinkie Pie.
    • In Cadance's Lovely Misadventure, some of the schoolfillies Cadance visits believe that baby ponies are born from adults looking at their own reflections, in a nod to how it actually happened in the G1 My Little Pony continuity.
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently, after a drunken bender, Lyra once somehow ended up hanging from a statue of Celestia, asleep, and with her tail tied to her horn. Storm still isn’t sure how that happened.
  • Rogue Drone: The Free Minds, changelings created by Chrysalis to have actual personalities rather than being extensions of the Hive Mind, so as to be better infiltrators. They eventually got fed up with what was essentially slavery, rebelled, and broke away from Chrysalis' swarm.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Hospitality and guest and host rights/obligations are one of the various things fey find extremely important. For instance, while guests in someone else's home, they must abide by their host's rules.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Tortured Monster: The rusalka in "The Incredibly Thrilling Investigation of Storm Kicker", which uses Mind Control to enslave ponies in order to alleviate its crushing loneliness. Deconstructed, as it's stated that even though a Tortured Monster is tortured, it's still a monster. It doesn't matter why the rusalka is enslaving and killing ponies, only that it is, in fact, enslaving and killing ponies.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Rarity refers to Cloud Kicker's fondness for banging as "socializing".

     The Lunar Rebellion 
  • Bling of War: The unicorn nobles, to a ridiculous degree. At one point, Shadow half-jokingly wonders if they plan to achieve victory by blinding the enemy with the light reflecting off of their adornments.
  • Blood Magic: Practiced by the lunar cultists. Among other things, they can use pony sacrifices to turn a normal pony into Nightmare Moon's Avatar.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: Hags can increase their power by devouring one another.
  • Cruel Mercy: This is why Sunbeam opposed Dusk Charger being executed at the end of the war. Letting him live while seeing the clans of Pegasopolis — clans around whose membership he had built his whole identity and which had been a central part of Pegasopolian culture since before Luna and Celestia were born — dismantled and broken up by wartime reforms, with the knowledge that it was his actions that led to this, was in her mind a far worse fate than any physical torture she could devise. Dusk himself agreed.
  • Death by Irony: Early in The Lunar Rebellion, the rebels create a constant rainstorm over Canterlot in an attempt to flood the city and force its surrender, using up most clouds in the local countryside. This diversion of clouds has the effect of causing a great deal of drought in the surrounding land. At the end of the war, the royalists, after adding to this a bit with some increased sunshine and draining of the remaining water, turn this against the rebels. A massive fire spell later, the entire rebel army is immolated in a tinderbox of its own devising.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Invoked. The Order of Sol Invictus deliberately employs this technique to confront dangerous foes. In Interlude 5, this is used to capture Rightly Doo.
  • Dramatic Irony: In a last-ditch attempt to keep Shadow from defecting to Celestia's cause, Cyclone says that if she does, the Kickers will forever be remembered as "blackguards and betrayers, lead into infamy by a madmare". In the Winningverse's present, as established well before this story was posted, the Kickers are remembered as the only clan that remained loyal during the Rebellion, and Shadow is one of Equestria's greatest heroes.
  • Droit du Seigneur: Jus primae noctis, the right for nobles to take the virginity of any of their subjects, is mentioned, although it’s noted that there’s no proof that it was ever a real thing beyond anti-nobility propaganda and exaggerated rumors of real events.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The pegasi consider being Clipped — that is, having their wings severed — to be this, to the point that most would prefer suicide than having to live wingless.
  • Flowery Elizabethan English: At the time of the Lunar Rebellion, nine hundred years before the show's events, all ponies are depicted as speaking like this as an extension of Luna canonically speaking the same way after her return from exile in " Luna Eclipsed". Unlike a lot of the times it's used in fanworks, the grammar and spelling are actually correct — the author even distinguishes between the use of "you" in formal settings versus the familiar or intimate "thou".
  • Footnote Fever: The Lunar Rebellion is presented as the most recent edition of Shadow Kicker’s in-universe memoirs as edited by Cloud Kicker, and is liberally interspersed with Cloud’s running commentary as she alternatively provides useful exposition or her own opinions of the various goings-on.
  • Giant Flyer: Rocs, birds that resemble an eagle twenty times larger than normal and fully capable of carrying off a grown pony in their talons.
  • Gray and Grey Morality: Both sides of the conflict have reasons to fight, and neither are exactly guilt free. It shifts more towards Black and White Morality by the third act, as Nightmare Moon and her followers take control of the rebel side using blood magic and pony sacrifice.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Early in the Siege of Canterlot, the rebels construct a permanent rainstorm over the city in an attempt to flood it. In so doing, they starve the surrounding countryside of rain and create a massive drought. This comes back to bite them at the end of the war, when the dryness of the battlefield allows the royalists to use a massive fire spell to burn the entire rebel army alive.
  • Honor Before Reason: This appears to be something of a recurring flaw for the pegasi, who value their martial and ethical honor so highly that they will always choose what they perceive as the more honorable path in a given matter, even if their other, less honorable options were objectively smarter, less costly or otherwise more expedient. It’s mentioned at one point that their tradition of never surrendering their city to outsiders and fighting to the last has resulted in a long history of needless last stands that got a lot of ponies killed for the sake of pride.
  • Human Sacrifice: In the epilogue of Rising Shadows, archmagi Copper Spark and Piercing Cry are sacrificed by the lunar cultists to power the spell that turned Bright Charger into the Avatar of Nightmare Moon.
  • Hypocrite: One of the main points of the rebels' cause is mortal ponies should rule themselves instead of bowing to immortal absolute rulers... and then they name Nightmare Moon their Commander, ally with her cultists and fight their entire rebellion under her flag. This is less the case at the beginning, when the flag is just a convenient symbol and no one expects Nightmare Moon to actually return or even still be alive, but it fully crosses into this trope when the rebels openly ally themselves with Lunar cultists and Bright Charger becomes the Avatar of Nightmare Moon and leader of the rebel armies. This is something recognized and remarked upon even by some characters on the rebel side.
    Dusk Charger: We no longer fight for our traditional freedoms. Instead 'tis a question of which queen we shall bow to when the war is done.
  • I'm a Humanitarian:
    • Turns out that, 900 years before the show, Griffons partook of pony meat when they took them prisoner. Too bad this seals an Archduke's fate when Shadow finds out.
    • Midnight's Shadow gives us Grandmother Carrot and the other hags in her coven.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: When Shadow arrives in the ritual chamber during the battle in Canterlot, she finds several warlocks impaled on massive spikes of ice around the ritual circle as a result of Midnight losing control of her magic in a moment of panic.
  • Irony: The rebel's attempt to flood Canterlot at the beginning of the story ends up biting them in a case of situational irony. At the end of the war, the drought caused by their using up the surrounding clouds for the flood allows the loyalists to destroy their entire army with a massive fire spell. What was meant as a way to force the war to end early with as few casualties on their side as possible ends up being key to the rebels' final, crushing defeat.
  • La Résistance:
    • Multiple small ones formed by Solar loyalists spring in earth pony territory controlled by the rebels, with their scattered and decentralized nature (as well as their ability to go to ground amongst the civilians whenever Pegasopolian troops come around) making it very difficult for the elite pegasus army to fight the otherwise inexperienced and poorly supplied earth pony militias.
    • A larger resistance is led by the unicorn magus Mossy Banks, who gathered a large number of loyalist earth ponies in his home in Froggy Bottom Bog and started striking rebel patrols and supply trains, keeping attacks at bay with a combination of ambushes, hostile terrain and using his magic to turn the very bog and its animals against invaders. It’s mentioned that in modern times, Mossy Banks has become something of a folk legend.
  • Last Stand:
    • The pegasi have a tradition of engaging any invader to the last rather than ever surrendering their city to outside forces. In a footnote, Cloud Kicker notes that this has historically resulted in a great deal of ponies dying needlessly over matters of pride, and that as a survivor of a near last stand herself she sees little appeal in the concept. A short while later in the story proper, Shadow concedes that it’s easy to speak of dying gloriously when you’re not the one who’s actually going to have to die.
    • After the Siege of Canterlot is broken, Steel Striker and his army choose to fight and die at the Maresidian Fields, caught between two royalist armies, knowing that the cause they fought for is already lost and preferring a honorable death to a humiliating peace through surrender. Steel even briefly wonders if there will be any stories about the last stand of the last ponies not to answer to immortal rulers. They don't get the chance. The royalists, taking advantage of a drought, burn the entire rebel army alive with a tremendous fire spell.
  • Lighter and Softer: The side story The Great Snowball War is a story involving Midnight participating in a snowball fight with foals and going overboard to win, eventually involving the other significant players from the Lunar Rebellion including Princess Celestia herself. It's a rather lighthearted slice of life story that shows a glimpse of what old Equestria is like without war and politics looming over.
  • The Mole:
    • In Rising Shadows, the first major rebel victory is revealed to have been due to warlocks among the Solar forces allying with the rebels and feeding them info on Solar troop movements.
    • In Ascendant Shadows, the Unicornian noble Pure Line is revealed to have sworn allegiance to the Avatar in secret in order to allow rebel forces a way into Canterlot.
  • Motive Decay: The rebels. They start out championing democracy, self-rule, and freedom from tyranny, and make sure to fight and campaign with honor. Eventually, they start to tend more towards championing Pegasus rule, and freedom from non-Pegasus tyranny, while using increasingly dubious tactics to promote their cause. Ultimately, they become nothing more than a front for lunar cultists seeking to bring back Nightmare Moon.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: One of the first moves of the Ephorate during the rebellion is to assist the earth pony populist movement in overthrowing the upper class elite and forgiving the debt of working farmers, which Celestia had previously refused to do. Shortly thereafter, we see exactly why she thought it was a bad idea: unable to collect on the money owed to them, the banks of Manehattan almost immediately go bankrupt. The new earth pony government, meanwhile, proves to be as uneducated, stubborn, and shortsighted as they are idealistic, and have absolutely no idea how to handle the situation.
  • Old Master: Played straight by characters like Grandmaster Crossguard and Steel Striker, who are noted to have been skilled warriors in their youth, but are now well past their physical prime. Played with more interestingly by Shadow Kicker; although she's still far from old, she is implied to be in her mid-forties or so. Despite being extremely experienced, skilled, and battle-hardened, it's noted more than once that she's not quite as fast, durable, or strong as she used to be. When forced into a direct confrontation with the extraordinarily gifted and physically in-her-prime Lance Charger, she needs to use every dirty trick in the book to keep up.
  • Praetorian Guard: The hetairoi, a unit of elite pegasus warriors chosen to serve as the bodyguard of the Commander of Pegasopolis, as well as serving combat roles in situations too important or specialized for the common troops.
  • Principles Zealot: Fair Deal, the provisional chancellor of the aforementioned Earth Pony populist movement, who refuses to compromise with the magnates in any way, even if it’s the only way to get the funds to finance the revolution he’s fighting, or to prevent a civil war among the Earth Ponies. This gets him and his lot killed when pre-Avatar Bright Charger authorizes Swift Blade to do whatever is necessary to get what the Lunars need from him.
    Fair Deal: Neigh, I say. I am not backing up, not one step, ever.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The pegasi, to even greater degrees than what was shown in canon. Their entire culture is dedicated to supporting their army in some form or another, their system of morals was clearly created to apply to war and the battlefield first and foremost, and they’re obsessed with personal honor.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn:
    • Griffon reivers menace Equestria’s shores early in the story, attacking coastal settlements, sacking them and kidnapping their inhabitants, whom they either enslave or eat.
    • The Avatar uses the possibility of this as a threat to try to force Shadow to convince Celestia to surrender Canterlot, claiming that it’d be impossible to control victory-drunk soldiers seeking retribution for a long, hard siege and the deaths of close companions.
    “If I take the city by storm, half of it will burn to the ground, and a year later most of the surviving mares shall have new pegasus foals.”
  • Red Herring:
    • In the first few chapters, Sunbeam’s and Shadow’s constant clashes, together with the initial focus on the politics of the three Equestrian governments and Sunbeam’s less than stellar reputation and methods, make it seem as though Sunbeam will be the chief antagonist to Shadow with her attempts to force her authority over Pegasopolis, but this fades out around the end of the first act, when Pegasopolis goes into open revolt and Sunbeam and Shadow end up as allies (if reluctant ones).
    • Throughout Rising Shadows, it’s hinted that the pony who would become the Avatar of Nightmare Moon is Lance Charger. Nope! She dies by accidentally swallowing some tanglehoof, and Bright Charger becomes the Avatar instead.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: How Shadow and Sunbeam work together... at first.
  • Understatement: Shadow’s summation of Gale’s impression of Dusk Charger.
    Gale turned to her new foster brother, a displeased frown on her face. “First and foremost, I think I will need to beat the foolhardiness out of him. He is an artless churl with the fighting skills of a goat and the manners of a timberwolf. Of all Bright Charger’s many foals, he is clearly the runt of the litter, and unworthy of being fostered to our clan. In all my many years, I’ve not seen a more clod-brained canker blossom that claimed to be a warrior of Pegasopolis. He is so dull of wit that to call him an arse-breathed mewling miscreant would be a compliment. The best use I could imagine for him is to toss him to the ground, so that he might at least be of use as a tail-leasing profligate.”
    I began to suspect that my daughter was not overly fond of Dusk Charger.
  • Unperson: Damnatio memoriae, a posthumous punishment in Imperial Rome Pegasopolis during the era of the Lunar Rebellion. A pegasus who has particularly shamed their clan is completely expunged from their clan's records after death.
  • Upper-Class Twit: The Canterlot nobility in general, being as a whole a bunch of foppish, self-centered and superficial aristocrats who contribute absolutely nothing of value to society, but most centrally Duke Polaris, especially once he’s given command of the loyalist armed forces and keeps treating war preparations and tactics as another political game, discarding valuable wartime allies and hurting the war effort to gain personal glory and advantages in Canterlot’s internal politics. This is somewhat mitigated in Polaris' case, as although he is factually unqualified for leading armed forces, he is aware of this and makes a point of surrounding himself with advisers who are, allowing him to command his forces with a surpassing degree of competency.
  • Wham Episode: The twelfth chapter and the epilogue of Rising Shadows: Shadow Kicker is by all appearances dead, and Bright Charger has become the Avatar of Nightmare Moon.
  • Wham Line:
    • In The Manehattan Crisis I chapter:
      Swift Blade: ‘Tis simple, Skilled. We are to launch a coup ‘gainst Chancellor Fair Deal.
    • In the epilogue of Rising Shadows:
      "Yes," the alicorn Bright Charger answered me with, a cold smile upon her face. "But so much more as well. I am Equestria's salvation from the evils of the Sun Tyrant. I am freedom. I am a goddess's will made flesh. I am Luna reborn, her avatar on this world!"
    • At the end of the prologue of Ascending Shadows:
      Bright Charger/The Avatar: “How can it be that Shadow Kicker lives?!”
  • Written by the Winners: The Ephors, and Swift Blade and Bright Charger in particular, are of the belief that Celestia rewrote much Equestria’s official history to make herself look better. They make it clear that they believe the tale of Nightmare Moon to be a smear campaign created by Celestia after unjustly overthrowing her sister to make herself sole ruler of Equestria, and further justify their alliance with warlocks and lunar cultists by the reasoning that assigning such titles is simply a way for Celestia to discredit political opponents. Subverted in the end, as this is all portrayed as being completely incorrect — Nightmare Moon is still a Mad God, the warlocks are genuinely horrible people, and this belief in general seems to be more than anything a way for the Ephorate to retroactively justify their rebellion against Celestia — and not all ephors buy much into this line of reasoning, for that matter.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Most characters act like they’re in a fairly realistic military low fantasy story with Gray and Grey Morality. They’re not exactly wrong, especially in the early part of the story, but this is still part of the Black and White Morality high fantasy setting of My Little Pony, and discrepancies show, especially in how a lot of ponies assume that Nightmare Moon’s rebellion was just a dynastic power struggle, and Celestia killed Luna and covered it up. The Wrong Genre Savvyness start to show more as the story goes on and the Gray and Grey start to markedly lighten and darken.

     "Dead Derpy Verse" 
  • Children Are Innocent: Dinky, oh so much, in "From the Mouth of Fillies" and its sequel "Changes".
  • Driven to Suicide: Sparkler stops eating and drinking after Derpy's funeral and throws away her food to cover it up. While it's not clear if it was an intentional suicide attempt or just a side-effect of depression, the end result is that she nearly dies before Rainbow Dash figures out what's going on.
  • Please Wake Up: When Dinky finds her mother's body in Changes, she thinks Derpy is just sleeping and cuddles up with her. Then she realizes she won't wake up and this trope happens.
  • The Plot Reaper: While not technically an example, this does solve the Cloud Kicker/Blossomforth/Derpy love triangle.
  • Promotion to Parent: In "Changes" Rainbow Dash finds herself no longer acting as the world's greatest baby-sitter, but a mother, and isn't quite prepared to cope with the promotion and the death of one of closest friends.

     Road Not Taken 
  • An Arm and a Leg: Rainbow Dash lost one of her hind legs defending a town from a dragon attack during her stint in the Long Patrol.
  • For Want of a Nail: In Chapter 9 of Winning Pony, we see Cloud Kicker and Fluttershy break up over the former's fight with Rainbow Dash during Flight Camp. This Alternate Universe explores the "What If?" of how things would be if Cloud and Fluttershy had NOT broken up. Other examples include:
    • Rainbow Dash briefly joins the Guard before being forced into early retirement due to a hind leg getting mangled to the point of amputation.
    • Sparkler's foster mother becomes Nimbus Gust, not Derpy, creating Sparkler Kicker instead of Sparkler Doo.
    • Cloud Kicker does not fly out on the Guard, rising to the rank of Major as of the original one-shot.
    • Rarity and Applejack are ex-wives, as Applejack kept sponging off Rarity's success to fund Sweet Apple Acres, which no longer exists as of the original one-shot due to the Apples going bankrupt after Rarity divorces AJ.
    • Cloud Kicker and Fluttershy eventually marry and have a daughter, whom Rarity and Rainbow Dash are tasked with watching over in the original one-shot while Cloud and Fluttershy go out somewhere.
  • Happily Adopted: In this continuity, Sparkler is Cloud and Alula’s adoptive sister, after being adopted by Tornado Kicker and Nimbus Gust after Nimbus rescued her after her foster father broke her leg.

     Phoenix Empire stories 
  • Altum Videtur: Apparently, Old Unicornian is known to us as Latin, and was the spoken language back when Nightmare Moon was banished, hence her gratuitous use of it when she possesses Just Cause after he is cornered by Strumming and Lyra.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Circle, founded by Celestia not long after she abdicated, led by Cadance in the Present, and Twilight Velvet is a member. According to Cadance, when she tries to recruit Rainbow Dash, the Circle's purpose is to "keep Sunbeam honest." That is, to keep her from Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and becoming the tyrant many feared she would after her Ascension. And thanks to some magical Brain Uploading, is actually STILL being led by Celestia in the present.
  • Badass Teacher: Rarity as the Sapphire Guardian, the Phoenix Empire's version of Mare-Do-Well.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: The Ministry Of Heart, led by Lyra's father. Doubles as The Men in Black.
  • Brain Uploading: Sort of. Celestia somehow transferred her spirit into the Tree Of Harmony around the time her body died. This allows her to be the true leader of the Circle even though on paper it's currently Cadance.
  • Classified Information: Whatever the hell Lyra was doing in the Everfree, or at Cloudsdale and Appleoosa, before she was assigned to Aedile Pinkie Pie's assassination. To the extent that, when Strumming asks her about it on behalf of her uncle, Lyra's father, who is the Minister Of Heart himself, Lyra says that, if the Minister Of Heart doesn't know about whatever their intelligence says she was doing, then the orders must have come from the Empress herself, which would mean that both Strumming and Minister Heartstrings are overstepping and risking getting into scaldingly hot water with Sunbeam by prying into "a top-secret matter of Imperial security" which is blatantly relevant to Nightmare Moon's return and Sunbeam's attempts to locate and recruit this universe's versions of the Mane 6.
  • For Want of a Nail: An unusually harsh training session between Sunbeam and her daughter Midnight makes Celestia hastily jump to the conclusion that Sunbeam was either actively abusing Midnight, or starting down that road. As a result, Celestia attacks Sunbeam, crippling her. Later, Sunbeam reveals to Celestia that she is Secretly Dying of her wounds, and Celestia realizes the only way to save her is for her to Ascend and become an Alicorn. Sunbeam expects to replace Luna, but Celestia double-crosses that idea and instead has Sunbeam replace HER instead. Introducing... the Phoenix Empress!
  • Married to the Job: Lyra Heartstrings, to the point where she now answers directly to Empress Sunbeam and doesn't have much of a social life, which worries her father and cousin to the point where, after she joins the Phoenix Cult, they investigate her and are blocked by the Classified Information above.
  • Meaningful Name: The Ministry Of Heart, a sort of Family Business in that the headship is passed down through House HEARTstrings. The incumbent Minister in the Present is revealed by Strumming Heartstrings to be her cousin Lyra's father.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Rarity has sold out to Sunbeam in exchange for a special license that eliminates any trouble she'd have with the usual law enforcement.
  • Not Quite Dead: Turns out Celestia is still alive, having transferred her spirit into the Tree Of Harmony the day she supposedly died. Cadance was the only one we know to have known this in the present until she revealed it to Rainbow Dash in Chapter 16 of Tales.
  • Oh, Crap!: Cadance when Sunbeam reveals that she knows about the Circle, and that Cadance herself is the current leader (see Not Quite Dead above), hence why she's being given the title of "aedile" and relocated up north to settle a dispute that will conveniently last just long enough for whatever Sunbeam has planned for Nightmare Moon's return to bear fruit.

    Sunset Shimmer stories 
  • Adult Fear: In The Hunted, Kukri’s parents have to deal with the fact that there’s something that can pass any defense, is unhinged at best and actively sadistic at worst, has very likely ties to someone who wishes their family harm, and seems to have a marked interest in their eleven-year-old daughter.
  • All Trolls Are Different: In Come and See, Heritor Azurite's palace is guarded by enormous ice trolls. Going by the description, they resemble fairly typical mythological trolls, with shaggy hair and thick fat to ward off the cold.
  • Base on Wheels: In Come and See, Heritor Azurite has a mobile crystal fortress pulled by a hundred yak thralls. Its mobility means he can move it to reinforce whatever battle he needs to be at, while also making it impossible to attack it with conventional siege weaponry.
  • Bad Future: First discussed in Blood and Iron, before being explored in the side-story Come and See. In the timeline where the war against Sombra takes place, Sunset Shimmer (before she becomes a lich and renames herself Magus Rising Fire) successfully convinces Freeport to join the conflict and helps Equestria turn the war around... only for the events told in Blood and Iron to occur.
  • Black Magic: Mind control and necromacy are specifically stated to be illegal black magic. Unlike other cases, black magic here is not stated to be inherently corruptive or addictive—rather, it’s more of a case of Slowly Slipping Into Evil, since dark magic provides such quick, easy, and (at first) cost-free options, it becomes too tempting to indulge in to resist.
  • Breather Episode: Freeport Venture: Shimmer-mare's Birthday. The two sequels revolved around, respectively, an undead monster hunting a child for being a Free Mind and an attack by time-traveling necromancers. This is a story about a child panicking over being unable to find the perfect gift for her mentor.
  • Curse Cut Short: In Blood and Iron, the bokor doesn't get the chance to get past the first letter of his curse, but the rhyme makes it clear what he meant to say.
    "You didn't even tell me what you want!" the bokor snarled through a heavy accent. "You have some nerve attacking my home, you upstart c—"
  • Demoted to Extra: In Freeport Venture: Shimmer-mare's Birthday, everyone but Kukri and Sunset are demoted. Puzzle and Strumming both only play a minor role, with only a few lines each.
  • Dark Is Evil: In Freeport Venture: The Hunted, Kukri swiftly develops this view, since the Monster prefers to attack in the dark.
  • Dramatic Irony: The Equestrian Intelligence Service intends to keep tabs on Sunset on the off-chance she might go off the deep end and, say, return to Equestria as a false alicorn at the head of an army of brainwashed minions or something like that.
    Sunset Shimmer: "Yeah, there’s no way that would ever happen."
  • Eldritch Abomination: The demon in Freeport Venture: Auction Night is positively Lovecraftian.
    There were tentacles. There were claws. There were gaping mouths full of needle-like teeth. And none of them were arranged in anything remotely resembling natural or sane anatomy.
  • Elemental Embodiment: Numerous elemental spirits appear, and in their natural state they seem to be formless beings inhabiting their native element, but can adopt and maintain physical form as long as they're in contact with their element. They're usually seen when they've been bound by magic to serve as magical security systems, such as a wood spirit bound within a door or a stone spirit in a wall. So far, stone, air, wood, water and metal spirits have all appeared or been mentioned.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: The feared pirate Metal Mome was apparently rather fond enough of his mother, Granite Mome, to name his ship, the Granite Heart, after her. Insulting his mother is also one of the few ways to get him visibly pissed.
  • Foil: Starlight Glimmer is one of sorts to Sunset. Both are very powerful unicorns, both are extremely dedicated to a goal (equality or alicornhood) and won’t shut up about it, and both have gone back on their ideals when faced with imprisonment (Starlight using her family’s wealth and connections, Sunset using dark magic). The main difference is Sunset is more aware of her failures and much less of a hypocrite.
  • Future Me Scares Me: The necromancer in Blood and Iron is heavily implied to be Sunset Shimmer from an alternate future, which is later confirmed in Come and See. Said character isn't too fond of this notion, preferring to believe that the nercomancer was just insane.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Ponies and griffins can interbreed to make hippogriffs. Zyphons are specifically zebra-griffin hybrids.
  • Healing Factor: The Monster has one. It only works as long as its target is afraid of it.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: It’s mentioned that warlock hunters are the likeliest demographic for becoming warlocks themselves.
  • Kill It with Fire: Ice trolls turn out to be rather vulnerable to pyromancy, as the thick hair and fat they use to ward off the cold are both highly flammable.
  • Mage Tower: Sunset ends up building one made of obsidian to live in in Freeport, partly because it’s traditional, partly because it means she has to buy less land.
  • Mind Rape: Most forms of mental magic edge at least somewhat into this. For a specific example, in The Freeport Venture there’s Sunset destroying Metal Mome’s mind and reducing him to a permanent vegetable state.
  • The Nicknamer: The independent changelings/Free Minds are a bit odd about names, and prefer to use titles or nicknames on most occasions. They refer to themselves as "this one", other Free Minds are some variation of "the other one", Chrysalis is "the Old Mind", ponies are nicknamed with constructs of their name and gender (such as "the Shimmer-mare" or "the Heartstrings-mare"), and Celestia is "the White Pony".
  • Not-So-Safe Harbor: Freeport, run by greedy merchant-princes and with guards so corrupt they are expected to supplement their income with bribes, is a notorious haven for Black Market deals in every sort of banned good, a hotbed of espionage and counterespionage, and a nest of organized piracy.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: The Monster in Freeport Venture: The Hunted. Numerous species of such beings are stated to exist.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Black Codex, written by a cabal of warlocks and lunar cultists during the Lunar Rebellion and containing information on every form of Black Magic in existence.
  • Revenant Zombie: The skeletal revenant of a pegasus with metallic wings appears in Blood and Iron as an elite soldier in the undead horde. Besides being self-aware and able to talk, it is an extremely fast and agile flier, and is single-mindedly obsessed with killing Starlight in revenge for Starlight having killed her friends. In life, it was the Rainbow Dash from the Sombra timeline seen in "The Cutie Remark", which was retconned out of existence by Starlight and Twilight, and was part of a small group of "survivors" who went to the "main" timeline for revenge.
  • Shout-Out: One of the perks Strumming lists for being a spy is the right to be really snooty about ordering your milkshakes shaken, not stirred.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Slave-owning and the slave trade are noted to be some of the few activities to be completely illegal in Freeport, a city that otherwise fully deserves its reputation as a Wretched Hive.
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: Black Magic works this way, rather than being actively addictive: at first, a pony might use dark magic to escape an otherwise hopeless situation, then maybe use it in another dangerous or desperate moment, eventually using it more readily and more often, without necessarily realizing what’s happening. Eventually, it starts becoming their preferred recourse to issues, and by then there’s no turning back.
  • The Undead: Mutiple varieties of undead exist, including basic zombies and skeletons (mindless corpses controlled by necormancers), draug (feral undead created from the bodies of drowning victims), revenants (intelligent if single-minded undead obsessed with righting wrongs they suffered in life) and liches.
  • You Killed My Father: In Blood Debts, the zebra who tried to assassinate Strumming did so to avenge the death of his uncle, the In bokor Strumming murdered in Blood and Iron.
  • Weakened by the Light: Direct sunlight interferes with necromantic energy, and as a result undead creatures are weakened (or in some cases outright destroyed) by being exposed to daylight or daylight-based spells.
  • Wretched Hive: Freeport is a Not-So-Safe Harbor ruled by greedy merchant-princes, its guards are so corrupt they are actually expected to supplement their income with bribes, most people prefer personal blood feuds to get “justice” anyway, and it’s a haven for mercenaries, spies, and legalized piracy. There’s a fairly good justification for why a major port city is allowed to go on like this — it sits on an archipelago right between Equestria, Gryphonia, and Zebrica, meaning none of the nations can make any move on it without the other two seeing it as a threat.