Fan Fic / Under The Northern Lights
Under The Northern Lights
is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
fanfic written by sieurin (who calls himself Nattam on fanfiction.net). Princess Luna travels on a diplomatic journey to the cold reindeer kingdom Tarandroland, since reindeer pirates use it as a base to plunder northern Equestria. She brings with her Twilight Sparkle and Spike for help and companionship. The mission turn out to involve more action that politics, and, to quote the descriptive summary, Luna & Co have to deal with: "scheming unicorn courtiers, unfriendly surly reindeer, bloodthirsty pirates, ancient sorcery and dangerous monsters", not to mention old magic and beings born before Luna and Celestia. Every year, the reindeer have to fight
Winter to make it go away - but this year it seems the battle is lost already in autumn... Is it possible that this time Winter might win for good?
The story is a rather episodic fantasy story of the epic sort, with much World Building
, not just for the country of Tarandroland but for everything from Equestrian comic books to the elder relatives of Luna and Celestia. It is ongoing, and until finished this page represents the unfinished story.
- The Alcoholic: King Ukko is a bitter drunkard. Heavy drinking is socially mandated among reindeer, but he does it enough that even they react negatively.
- Alternate Character Interpretation: In-universe. The reindeer have very different views from ponies (and viewers/readers) on the main six. The reindeer believe the Main Six are Celestia's personal wetworks squad, a team of hand-picked elite troubleshooters led by "the most powerful and evil sorceress in the world", who make all major sources of unrest in Equestria "go away", and let Celestia be the benevolent ruler of a perfect little sugar bowl as far as everyone else is concerned.
- Anachronism Stew: The author refers to his world-building as "anachronism gumbo". It begins in the early chapters where a seer "predicts" her goddess will return to her people by seeing it on TV, and Viking-like raiders loot electronics along with food and cloth.
- An Ice Wyrm: Nidhoggs are limb-less dragonlike monsters who breathe ice cold instead of fire. They primarily use it to deep-freeze wood and then eat it.
- Bad Powers, Bad People: Magic that physically affects the world, as opposed to the inherent Sight of the reindeer, is seen as unnatural and creepy in Tarandroland. Therefore, sorcerers, be they reindeer who have learned magic or naturally skilled unicorns, are seen as sinister. The more powerful the sorcerer, the more evil they are assumed to be as a requirement for reaching that level of power and skill. The reindeer are practical enough to see this magic as sometimes useful and don't Burn the Witch!, but sorcerers are generally not trusted.
- Blade on a Stick: Most reindeer who travel during the winter do so on skis, and use a single ski-staff which has a spearpoint (used for Mundane Utility as well as stabbing enemies or monsters). The legendary hero Sampo is said to have owned a magical spear. The informed opinion is that he must have owned a spear, since he was a reindeer warrior-noble, and as such he might have had it enchanted, but nothing is known. The Kings of Tarandroland carry a spear that is said to be Sampo's spear, but is a modern replica. It is enchanted, but mostly with a bunch of redundant magical attacks that are described as less than useful.
- Blind Seer: Inverted. Reindeer Sight is dependent on their eyes working. Eira is slowly going blind, and hence losing her clairvoyant ability.
- The reverse is also true, if Sight is disrupted, a reindeer will be unable to see.
- Carry a Big Stick: The stalu Kvalhissir keeps a huge mace which looks like a small tree whose roots grab a huge rock.
- Chekhov's Party Grenade
- Critical Research Failure: In universe, the reindeer have gotten a lot of facts about the Mane Six wrong. See the Alternate Character Interpretation example for specifics.
- Lord Eminence's plan fails because he didn't think to learn about reindeer Sight.
- Culture Clash: Reindeer have a very negative view of magic (save for their Sight) and have problems with unicorn-heavy Equestria. Equestrians get nervous with both casual violence and the use of animal products, both common in Tarandroland.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Part of the philosophy of the Temple of Hrimfaxi, along with "darkness is necessary".
- The Dragon: Twilight prepares to speak up when she overhears reindeer protesting about 'her' being here, thinking that they were objecting to Luna. Nope; Skinfaxi's Shadow is the greatest sorceress in Equestria, Twilight Sparkle.
- Doorstopper: Currently at 214,532 words. According to the author, it's nearing completion.
- Ear Notch: Very tradtional and very hard reindeer notch their ears for both ceremonial and cosmetic reasons. Some comparison could be made to Maori tattoos. The practice is stated to have been more common in the past, but fallen out of fashion.
- Eldritch Abomination: Luna's and Celestia's great-uncles and great-aunts are described in a vision as "lights…sounds…patterns of magic in a black sphere that itched the brain and made the soul cry". They decided the laws of nature, seemingly on a whim. The only hostile one seems to be Discord, though, and his reality warping powers are presumably because he never agreed to what his siblings decided.
- Equivalent Exchange: It is a central pillar of the reindeer world view that there is a downside to everything. They don't trust magic because they think there has to be a price being paid by someone, even if it isn't the caster. They are wary of Equestria partly because it is such a nice place that whatever the downside is, it must be horrible.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Wiglek might be into cervine sacrifice to try and please Nightmare Moon, but he doesn't think highly on her betraying her own sister, calling her a "kinbetrayer" and "kin-slayer". And it turns out that he is only (at least currently), supporting the sacrifice of sentients in an attempt to get Luna to end his undeath.
- Fantastic Nuke: In a Shout-Out to Fallout: Equestria, "balefire bombs" are mentioned. They are theoretical weapons that have never actually been employed in war.
- Fantastic Racism: Ubiqutous. Ponies about reindeer, reindeer about ponies, the zebra Paki about both categories, etc. In many cases it is not just mutual prejudice, it is also relatively low-key and consists of misunderstanding and underestimating the Other rather than outright oppression. The latter happens, though. Reindeer treat the Russ (immigrant dwarf Earth ponies) and the Urox (native aurochs) as second-class citizens, and we learn that ponies used to do the same to cattle, sheep and so on, who used to be slaves. Not everyone is racist over the board, either: the pirates of the Crimson Kraken are happily multi-cultural, but have a very negative view of "primitives" like the reindeer and the ponies from Tropical Island.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Tarandroland is a mix of modern and medieval Scandinavia. The nomadic "Grazer" reindeer are obviously a counterpart to the Sami people, though with much more power and influence. Unlike modern Scandinavia, Tarandroland is pretty much a third world country, however. There are other examples: "camel sultanates" and ki-rin ruled by a "Mikado" are mentioned, and Equestria is treated as similar to USA.
- Grim Up North: Tarandroland is cold and gloomy and the inhabitants are (at least stereotypically) gloomy and violent with tendencies to alcoholism.
- Hold Your Hippogriffs: Common, just like in the canon show, but even more is added since the fic deals with more than one species. Get used to "anydeer" as well as "anypony".
- Horny Vikings: The reindeer, at least those living on the coast, are a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to the Norse. Going a-viking hasn't been common in a long while, that they start off again is the reason for Luna's mission. No actual horns are needed due to their antlers.
- I Have Many Names: Reindeer know Luna and Celestia as Hrimfaxi and Skinfaxi. Stalu call Luna Daggmule ("dewmuzzle").
- Imagine Spot: Saga and Luna has some.
- Jackass Genie: Discord has put a curse on the Sampo that makes it work this way, it's even described as a genie with his personality.
- Lady of Black Magic: Twilight is seen that way.
- Lovable Jock: Prince Vigg can be an immature brat but is usually quite a nice guy. His greatest interest seem to be winter sports, mostly skiing both cross-country and down-hill. He and his friends have apparently invented the snowboard as well.
- Magic Is Evil: The inherent magic of reindeer is The Sight, a form of passive divination that tells them things about the world. Magic that physically acts upon the world seems creepy and unnatural to them. Hence, all sorcery, whether it is learned by some reindeer or the kind that is inherent to unicorns, is seen as sinister. However, the reindeer are also practical enough to see it as sometimes necessary.
- Meaningful Name: Many. "Saga" can mean both "seer" and "fairy tale": Saga has flights of fancy and is an actual seer. Lord Eminence is a gray unicorn: an "éminence grise", gray eminence, is someone having political power behind the scenes or informally, which is what Lord Eminence tries to achieve.
- Must Have Caffeine: A cultural trait of the reindeer of Tarandroland. It is also Klatchian Coffee, at least according to Spike. This is of course because their real life counterparts, the Scandinavians, are heavy coffee drinkers.
- My God, What Have I Done?: The spy Lord Eminence when he realizes that his plot has been found out because he has been very careless because his special talent for being unobtrusive and even turning invisible doesn't work on reindeer, meaning there are lots of witnesses to his acts. He acted alone, convinced his success would force his superiors to accept a job well done, but Princess Luna is not only against the plan per se, she is also furious that he was so careless as to be found out. He doesn't say the actual phrase, but falls to the floor and moans "Mare in the Moon!" which prompts Luna to chastise him further for taking her name in vain when she is standing right there.
- Nightmare Fetishist: Saga and Luna. It seems to be the proscribed aesthetics in the Temple of Hrimfaxi, which looks like a "haunted stable on Nightmare Night" according to Twilight Sparkle.
- Oh My Gods!: Twilight swears by Celestia's socks. Also, Luna admonishes a swearing pony for "taking my name in vain" while she is standing right next to him. The temple-fawn Saga swears "Oh My Goddess" - the goddess in case being Luna.
- Our Liches Are Different: Wiglek the Wicked was infused with a piece of the Nightmare while still alive, which turned him into a Lich when he died. He had asked to live forever when making a Deal with the Devil with Luna, when she was on her way to become Nightmare Moon, but was screwed over ("you will never die") and made into potentially undead instead.
- Our Titans Are Different: Luna's and Celestia's "aunts" and "uncles" (and presumably, parents). They are vast elemental beings which created the world and its intelligent species (learning the latter from the much younger Luna and Celestia when their toys turned into the first ponies because the sisters loved them so much - so yeah, ponies originated as toys of two little girls). The one we have seen in the fic is the water being called Karhu-Akka by reindeer. She combines traits of bear, cow, squid and whale and now sleeps in the shape of a huge glacier. If she awakes, horrible things will happen. Her rolling over in her sleep when Discord got free is one of the causes for the crisis in the fic, one which might kill all life in a country. Luna, however, remembers her as a kind aunt who played with her and Celestia by the sea and gave them wonderful toys.
- Our Trolls Are Different: Tarandroland is home to trolls called Stalu (after a Sami myth in real life). They are huge, misshapen cervines who live deep in forests and use forest lakes for gardens. They are infamous for eating reindeer. They are actually moose, driven to hiding after the genocidal efforts of the reindeer. While they might be hostile in self-defense, they most certainly don't eat people.
- Perky Goth: Saga is a Nightmare Fetishist with a love for dark heavy makeup and macabre jewelry who works as a temple maiden in a temple to a goddess of night and darkness. She is also chirpy, happy and carefree most of the time, Spike even calling her a "goth Pinkie Pie". She claims that "goths are posers" so she probably wouldn't like the moniker herself.
- Pirate Girl: Crimson Coat (actual name Sudden Gale), captain of the Crimson Kraken. A renegade Equestrian Pegasus, she is not a nice mare: besides being a violent criminal she can add casual racism and sexual molestation to her resumé.
- The Power of Friendship: Unsurprisingly a theme, although focused on the groups of Vigg, Spike, and Saga or Ukko's True Companions. Parodied when Twilight Sparkle, while pretending to be an Evil Sorceress, receives the Mother of All Friendship Musicals from Princess Ljufa.
- Psycho Sidekick: The deer see Twilight Sparkle as this to Celestia. The evil sorceress who does the dirty deeds that are needed to support Equestria's power and prosperity, but would sully Celestia's holy and pure reputation if she did them herself.
- Red Baron: Twilight Sparkle is called "Skinfaxi's Shadow" by the reindeer.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Luna (as well as Celestia, but we se very little of her). Princess Ljufa, though her work is equally off-stage. Prince Vigg wants to be one, but his family thinks he should grow up and get an education first (he's only fifteen). The only titled person we see who doesn't work much is King Ukko, and that's because he is an alcoholic who spends his days either drunk or hungover. He sharpens up later in the story, when his life and throne are directly threatened.
- Running Gag: "Artifact means a magical thingamajig!" "I know!" Among others.
- Sadly Mythtaken: Within the story. The Equestrian comic book hero Sampo the Warrior-Prince is based on the mythical Tarandroland hero Sampo. Based very loosely it seems. (The comic spoofed is rather obviously The Mighty Thor.)
- The Sampo: The Sampo, from Finnish myth, occurs in Tarandroland myth as well in a similar form. The hero who used it became known as "Sampo", his actual name forgotten.
- Shout-Out: Twilight mentions when some of her friends met some deer
- Similar Squad: King Ukko and his five companions are pretty similar to the Six Bearers of the Elements of Harmony, though Ukko & Co are male, reindeer and old enough to be grandparents, of course. Twilight and Spike wonder about it. The equivalents seem to be King Ukko the Piercer = Applejack (honest, stubborn, family stag/mare), Mustikka the Tracker = Twilight Sparkle (sharpminded, No Social Skills, master organizer), Skiold the Bold = Rainbow Dash (brave, loyal, impulsive), Kol the Singer = Rarity (artistic, Large Ham), Galderhorn the Sorcerer = Fluttershy (shy, soft-spoken, cares for spirits/animals) and Heikko the Humongous = Pinkie Pie (constantly happy, hedonistic, Cloud Cuckoolander)
- Smug Snake: Lord Eminence
- Stop Worshipping Me: Luna and Celestia, especially the latter, who says she outlawed the worship of herself centuries ago in Equestria. They both reluctantly accept foreigners worshiping them, though Luna gets outright livid when she hears reindeer not only worship her and Nightmare Moon as the same entity, but used to practice cervine sacrifice. Despite this, she keeps supporting the Temple of Hrimfaxi through the fic, though that seems to be for their social work in a poor nation and because of their claims that Dark Is Not Evil. And maybe because she in her youth actually encouraged the forming of the cult, and feels responsible for it.
- Suicide by Cop: Twilight theorizes that Wiglek, tired of his immortality (having been trapped under a glacier for centuries and all), is only supporting things like sacrificing sentient beings so that Luna will end his undead existence once and for all. This is confirmed with his rant to Twilight.
- Talking to the Dead: The deer of Hrimfaxi's temple can do this. They even try it to summon Wiglek's ghost to talk to him. It doesn't work. Note that ghosts in this universe were scientifically proven TO exist. Then think about why this wouldn't work.
- Talk Like a Pirate: Mr Moccus, first mate on The Crimson Kraken. He is the only pirate to speak like that, which Spike points out. He claims the Pegasi he learned Equestrian from long ago just happened to have that accent.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You" Inverted with Wiglek, who insists that Luna, and no one else, should be the one to take him out.
- Translator Microbes: Twilight Sparkle knows a spell, developed using combined unicorn and zebra magics, that temporarily learns a language from a native speaker instantly. It has some minor issues: you automatically gain the "teacher's" dialect and vocabulary, and the casting process is potentially embarrassing. Of course, Twilight causes misunderstandings due to the latter.
- Uncanny Valley: Invoked within the story. Spike finds nidhoggs disgusting because they look very similar to dragons but clearly aren't dragons.
- Villain Has a Point: Even Twilight admits that maybe the pirate leader would be a better king than the current one who has spent much of his reign in a constant state of inebriation.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Kol objects to Vigg bringing an entourage on the quest to find the Sampo on the grounds that it doesn't fig what happens in the heroic quests in sagas. Celestia is able to placate him by convincing him that the situation is more like a war epic.
- Your Costume Needs Work: Spike has to get into a place and the management would certainly let him in if they only knew he was Spike the Dragon. Unfortunately, there has been several people dressed like him trying to get in already, and everybody says he must be a reindeer kid in a bad dragon costume.