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Twilight's got at least 99 problems. And they're all because of Celestia.

"I will not willingly take part in this plan of yours, Princess. I will do my best to resist you, body, mind, and soul. You've clearly gotten to my friends, and I hate you for that just as much as I hate you for what you have done to me."
Twilight Sparkle
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Lines and Webs is an Alternate Universe fan fiction of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. It is part one of the Sunfall Universe, a series of stories written by Airstream, where the magical land of Equestria is not all Twilight thought it seemed to be.

Years after her heroing days seem passed, her country is at peace, and her friends have begun to settle down. Twilight however, is soon caught in a series of events leading to a horrifying revelation that will shake the core of nearly all her beliefs. Friends will become enemies, and lives will hang in the balance, including her own in this cosmic chess game.

For Twilight, there is little choice, she can fight for her Freedom, or die for Celestia's Harmony.

But nothing's guaranteed in the Sunfall Universe.

Warning for Late-Arrival Spoiler(s)!


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Current works in the series:

  • Lines and Webs — The first book in the series, in which Twilight slowly learns the truths of Equestria and decides to fight back against tyranny.
  • Dusk's Dangerous Game — The second book of the series, set four years since the beginning of the Rebellion. Twilight wages a bitter and brutal shadow war against her former mentor, but neither can find the upper hoof.
  • Stormsinger — Set four hundred and fifty years following the Evening Rebellion, the kingdoms have found a way to maintain an unstable peace. But the forces of darkness are marshaling, and the fate of the world will once more be at stake.
  • Courts of the Magi — Serale has consented to Twilight's wishes that she travel to her rival's kingdoms on a diplomatic mission. But she will need the shoulders of her friends to bear the burden of her new found magic and the hidden daggers of traitors.
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  • On a Shadowed Sea the planned fifth installment.
  • Warbringer the planned sixth installment and finale.


Tropes found within...

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    The Series as a Whole 
  • Alternate Universe: The second book was nearly finished by the time the real MLP show revealed that Twilight became an Alicorn. Rather than shoe her transformation in to keep continuity, Airstream made it clear his work was an AU and was always bound to diverge from canon at some point.
    • Although, if he'd wanted to, he could've easily fit it in given Twilight's condition.
  • Another Dimension: Twilight's Equestria is just one Equestria in a huge multiverse, where all Equestria's eventually gravitate to a state of Order or Chaos. Twilight lampshades the stupidity of such a system when its creator intended for the universe to be "Balanced."
  • Anyone Can Die: Nopony is safe from the author. A fact which he takes great pleasure in reminding people of.
    • Some of the major character deaths include - Spike, the CMC, and Twilight herself.
  • Chess Motifs: Abundant.
  • Door Stopper: The series is already longer than JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (a common literary benchmark) and the third book has barely even gotten anywhere. In fact, the author declared that he expected Stormsinger would be so long, he decided to have it split into two different books, with two more books planned after that.
  • God-Emperor: Celestia ruling over Equestria.
  • Grey and Grey Morality: Aside from the shadow, which seems pretty clearly evil, everything in the universe seems to be varying shades of Grey morality, with nobody being purely good. Even the creator of the universe refuses to let Twilight rest in peace and basically forces her to take on the mantle of protector of existence.
  • Instant Web Hit: Averted. The series is actually somewhat obscure compared to big web hits like Past Sins and My Little Dashie despite being MUCH longer and MUCH grander. In fact, Airstream even wrote a small short story titled Minuette's Lesson (not related to the Sunfall Verse) which itself became an instant hit and actually got featured on Equestria Daily, much to Airstream's chagrin. Cue complaints as to why none of his Sun Fall series which he put so much more effort into never got onto EqD.
  • Light Is Not Good: Celestia, who is more than willing to do whatever it takes to make her vision of the world.
  • Mystical Pregnancy: Twilight learns that Cadence was conceived this way, her family was bred to be magically potent enough until an Alicorn could be born. It kills the mother. Twilight also learns that if she ever got pregnant, the same would happen to her.
  • Order Versus Chaos: One of the prominent themes of the series. Especially the first two books. Although Order is presented as evil, while Chaos is good. At least at first.
    • These concepts are literally personified in the form of Celestia (Order), Discord (Chaos), and Luna (Balance).
  • Physical God: Again; Celestia, Discord, and Luna. Although there is a higher Goddess than them, and semi-divine beings as well. Twilight becomes a semi-divine being after speaking to Mother, the creator herself.

    Lines and Webs 
  • Achey Scars: Twilight gives one to Cadence, a symbol branded onto her face. Any attempt to heal or hide it causes terrible pain.
  • Awful Truth: Twilight was a lot happier not knowing that not only was she basically a product of eugenics, but that her beloved teacher had lied to and manipulated her her entire life with the end goal of sacrificing her life to bring about her envisioned utopia.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Invoked by Celestia to Twilight, who regards forcibly brainwashing Twilight as part of her holy mission to create utopia. Defied by Twilight.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Celestia has some limited ability to watch over the ponies of Equestria, but she isn't omnipresent.
  • Care-Bear Stare: One thing the Elements are capable of, and are overtly used to Brainwash Twilight. Covertly they've been doing the same to all ponies for centuries.
  • The Chessmaster: Luna, who seems to be manipulating everyone around her, including her supposed allies. She in fact literally explains her plan to free Twilight in terms of chess pieces. She sacrifices the 'queen' (herself) so that the 'pawn' (Twilight) can reach the end of the board to be promoted.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Why is Equestria so peaceful, happy, and prosperous? Because ponies have had their free will suppressed to do it.
  • Death by Childbirth: This was the fate of Cadance's mother, as her body was unable to handle the sheer power of a deity. And this was intended by Celestia to be Twilight's fate as well.
  • Death by Despair: Not two days after the death of her mother, Cadance's father was killed by the sheer magnitude of his grief.
  • Deal with the Devil: Twilight receives a magic spell to break Celestia's mental control on her from Discord. There's no deal, but when Twilight tries to explain how she knew about the mental condition of the Elements to her friends, she has to explain Discord's help, which simply convinces them she's played this trope.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: From Twilight to her friends, Twice. Also Celestia. Also Luna. The constant betrayals really take a toll on her psyche.
  • The Evils of Free Will: Celestia believes free will leads to violence and antagonism. She's not exactly wrong.
  • Faustian Rebellion: Twilight isn't aware of what it entails when she becomes Celestia's student, but when she does learn the truth, uses all the magical ability in her power and her Element against Celestia.
    • Additionally, the other Element bearers are swayed to her side.
  • First-Episode Spoiler: Twilight is defeated by Celestia and Brainwashed in the prologue chapter.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Yes Celestia manipulated noble families marriages to create Alicorns, but it was all in the name of Utopia, and they were happy marriages anyway so why complain?
  • Infant Immortality: Heartbreakingly averted in the vision Twilight is shown in the Grove of Truth. When Golden Radiance and her husband are murdered and their house burned to conceal the evidence, their infant son was left to burn to death in his mother's saddlebag. The narrative makes it worse by describing the progression of his crying from alarm to pain as the flames engulf the saddlebag he's in.
  • Kick the Dog: Celestia had Luna tortured following her betrayal. There does not appear to be any tangible reason to do so other than to get back at her.
  • Meaningful Name: A stallion who shares Twilight's interests and is apparently her perfect match? What could possibly mark him as evil? How about being named Morning Star? Who else has that name? Oh yes...
  • Path of Inspiration: Celestia rules Equestria like this, planning to force all ponies to become Harmonious.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Celestia threatens she will have it done to Twilight to get her pregnant if she won't willingly submit to her Harmony Plan.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Celestia is using the Elements of Harmony to slowly kill negative emotion from ponies via Subliminal Messaging. Since other races can't be brainwashed with the Elements, Celestia plans to slowly push them into extinction.
  • Watching Troy Burn: Twilight and Spike after fleeing the near destroyed Trottingham. Made all the more powerful by the fact that they're the ones who caused it in the fight with the elements.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Celestia. All she wants is a world with no war, starvation, poverty, and crime. She just needs to control everything to do it, and destroy everything that can't be controlled.
    • Twilight herself. Once she pieces the puzzle together, her goal becomes to foil Celestia's plot, even if she has to kill over a thousand ponies to do it.
  • What Is One Man's Life in Comparison?: Twilight is suppose to die giving birth to the fourth Alicorn who can control thought and usher in a new age of paradise for ponies. Twilight of course heavily objects to this. When Celestia makes her speech at the end, she deliberately invokes this and gets many ponies to agree that letting Twilight die for the Greater Good is okay.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Twilight eventually has Cadence at her mercy. Rather than kill her and remove Celestia's most powerful pawn, she leaves her fate up to Spike (since she hurt him). He decides to spare her. Although she gets a rather fitting consolation punishment.
  • Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide": Celestia takes offense to the idea of murdering off entire races. Her goal is to peacefully cause their civilizations to shrink until they cease to exist. Of course, her policy is really just causing lots of death by starvation (as one Griffon complains) since Equestria is slowly encroaching on other species' lands.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: After Twilight outs Celestia's plan using the Elements to directly speak with all ponies minds, Celestia is forced to publicly confess...and manages to convince a huge amount of her citizens that her methods will lead to a paradise, even if they're giving up free will. The crowd she speaks to cheers for her.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Twilight to her friends.

    Dusk's Dangerous Game 
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Ponies are just short of literally reduced to mere chess pieces between Twilight and Celestia. The biggest example has to be when Twilight has a train full of explosives detonated in Canterlot just to cause as much chaos and death as possible to distract the city (but especially Celestia) from her rescue attempt.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Twilight. Who dies, goes to the afterlife, speaks to the creator of the universe, and bargains for enough power to defend herself from Celestia to go along with her plan. Twilight then becomes her avatar.
  • Back from the Dead: See above.
  • Came Back Strong: See above.
  • Becoming the Mask: During the mission to rescue Luna, Sweetie Belle and Night Light posed as a newlywed couple and genuinely fell in love.
  • Dark Messiah: The only way for Twilight to even fight Celestia on even terms is to basically stoop to every low she needs to. Even massive amounts of civilian deaths are okay.
  • Dying as Yourself: As she died at Sweetie Belle's hooves, it was implied that Apple Bloom regained control of her mind, and was once again the friend Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo once knew in her final moments.
  • Double Agent: Luna is still working for Celestia, even going so far to orchestra Twilight's death.
    • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Luna, At first she looks like she's working for Twilight when she's actually working for Celestia, then it turns out she helped kill Twilight to send her to Spirit World to have her talk to Mother, the creator, who Luna might actually be working for, eventually Twilight agrees to help Luna maintain Balance (of which she is the archetype for) in exchange for Twilight getting her own power, then Luna goes off and forms her own civilisation on the moon as it turns out she was working for herself all along.
  • Eye Scream: Tarantella held Celestia back for a few seconds by jamming her twin daggers into the tyrant's eyes.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Tara and her squad try to fight Celestia to keep her from a downed Twilight, and are quickly slaughtered except for Tara. Even though Tara managed the above Eye Scream, all she really did was piss Celestia off.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Despite the war, Twilight and Celestia have nice tea time chats via mental link. Twilight actually hates this however for a variety of reasons (least of which because she hates Celestia's guts) but can't bring herself to stop because she secretly yearns for her more idyllic past and the chats help remind her of that.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: While in Lines and Webs, Twilight and Luna seem to be firmly on the side of "Good" they certainly find themselves in the mud during this story when they have to make difficult choices that often see innocents dead or harmed.
    • Celestia of course, eventually becomes this in her own right when she gets serious, by making the Sun Born.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Twilight herself, almost. She doesn't become quite a monster, but she gets close to it. There's also a case to be made that the success of the Evening Rebellion has merely resulted in an exchange of hats rather than true freedom since an immortal still rules the new Rebel kingdom.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Sweetie Belle makes sure a young filly is safely evacuated from the crumbling Ever Free base at the cost of her life.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: How Scootaloo goes out.
  • Pregnant Badass: Even carrying a foal, Sweetie Belle still went into the final battle and kicked plenty of ass. Including matching the Sunborn.
  • Karma Houdini: Celestia. Big time. Despite being responsible for countless amounts of death. Brainwashing pony society for centuries. And trying to drive all non-ponies to extinction. She...is not punished at all for her actions once she's defeated. In fact, she's still allowed to keep ruling her kingdom, so long as Twilight and the rest of the ponies who disagree with her methods can secede.
    • Luna also gets this. Despite being a "Good Guy" she plots behind Twilight's back, helping her while at the same time setting her up to fail Twice no less. In fact, she intentionally gets Twilight killed as part of her gambit.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: Twilight gets to deliver one to Celestia during the Heath's Warming Waissailing side story when she points out that mortals don't need gods, just each other.
  • Redshirt Army: Both sides essentially. Although Twilight does point out that every time there's an open battle between the Rebels and Royalists it's because they screwed up (since they know they can't win a straight up fight). Averted with the Sun Born though. Most of the actual victories in the series are won by the main characters though.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Refer to Million is a Statistic above. Twilight is in it to win it, and that means fighting dirty if she needs to.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Twilight is still pretty damned bitter about what her friends did in the last book. When they attempt to reconcile with her, she throws their own words right back into their faces; but even though she points out she's got every right to kill them where they stand, she actually decides to give them a chance because she's got principle.
  • "World of Cardboard" Speech: A villainous example given once or twice to Twilight by Celestia, stating that her efforts to defeat a physical goddess are basically pointless. Twilight eventually gets her comeback.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The Ever Free rebels, who are portrayed as terrorists. Though they are unapologetic of civilian casualties, they don't go out of their way to kill indiscriminately. In fact, the Equestrial Government actually employs terror tactics instead.

    Stormsinger 
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Invoked. Ponies from the Evening Kingdom don't have talent marks (what cutie marks have become), only ponies from the Celestial kingdoms. Readers will know Twilight objects to cutie marks because they're manipulative of free will.
  • Deuteragonist: Serale is this to Cobblestone, although the story isn't about her, she receives almost half as much point of view time as Cobblestone.
  • Disabled Means Helpless: Defied by Serale. She views Twilight's over protectiveness as because of this (even though it isn't).
  • Drowning My Sorrows: After the attack on the arena, Twilight indulges herself as she was indirectly responsible for letting it happen.
  • Eldritch Abomination: It's not clear what Hob is, but a 'cat' he most certainly is not.
  • The Good King: Averted. You would think that being designated Big Good by the creator of the universe, and just after finally defeating Celestia, Twilight would want to shun the methods both she and Celestia had used during the rebellion. But nope, Twilight finds herself becoming more and more like Celestia. And she hates it.
  • Hiding the Handicap: Serale can't use magic. Since this would create incredibly negative stigma against her in court (due to her at least superficially resembling a unicorn) Twilight has her mostly secluded and kept her education mostly secret. This actually causes people to believe Serale is a secret magical badass.
    • Hidden Badass: In a later chapter, we discover that Serale is, in fact, obscenely powerful - she has the ability to move the magical leylines of the world, a power that even Twilight denies is possible. This leads to the assumption that Serale really is a magical badass, and all the ponies of the Evening Court are right.
  • Hypocrite: Celestia objects to Twilight going through with a plan that could potenyially ruin Cobblestone's life. Remind us again how Twilight and Cadance were born, Celestia.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Twilight has to explain the reason for her over protectiveness of Serale is this, as she seems not to grasp that Twilight has made a lot of powerful enemies.
  • Lost World: Of a darker variety. A new mysterious island appears halfway across the world where there was never any land and those who try to find it are lost at sea. Even Discord can't get to it. All but assumed to be the location of the Shadow.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Hob becomes this for Cobblestone
  • Not So Different: Twilight dejectedly remarks that she has become this to Celestia during her Drowning My Sorrows above, as she has also succumbed to The Needs of the Many.
  • Put on a Bus: Radiant Zenith, who was abducted and fate of which is uncertain.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Twilight is this ever since her ascension. She's died a few times, and not all of them peacefully either.
  • Rotating Protagonist: Cobblestone becomes the new Protagonist for the story, with Twilight becoming a background character. Though through POV shifts, it's fairly clear she's a Supporting Protagonist.
  • Supporting Leader: Twilight assumes this position both in narrative as a secondary character and literally - as she is the Avatar of Creation, basically the designated leader against The Shadow.
  • Title Drop: It literally takes 111,748 words before the title of the book is used, finally explaining its meaning.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: Serale manages to unlock her hidden magical potential with the help of Cobbelstone.
  • Wonder Child: Serale was born from a crystal containing a portion of her mother's soul. As such, her horn is clear as crystal, instead of the color of her coat.

    Courts of the Magi 
  • A Fate Worse Than Death: Radiant Zenith is taken to the shadow...which possesses her and imprisons her mind.
  • Bus Crash: Radiant Zenith...in the worst way possible.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Radiant Zenith is one of the few most powerful characters in the story...she is defeated rather unceremoniously off screen and...see above.
  • Never Learned to Read: Cobblestone. Which is only found out after Libra assigns her a book on Magic Theory.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The shadow, as expected. In its first appearance it literally calls itself hate and death (as in incarnate).
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