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Fan Fic / The Apprentice, the Student, and the Charlatan

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“The stallion likes the mare, the mare likes the stallion. The mare is open about it, the stallion keeps it to himself, leading to all this unnecessary drama and tension. Really, this story just writes itself, doesn’t it?”

Freshly freed from her 1000-year imprisonment on the moon, Princess Luna takes a student of her own to train in magic for the first time since before her banishment. The unicorn she chooses, Nova Shine, is a rather reserved unicorn with a cutie mark of stars and a moon, a sign of his potential to become a powerful spellcaster. However, his ability is hampered by his own self-doubt and his issues with anyone who tries and succeeds at getting through to him to get him to open up, such as Twilight Sparkle, a mare he had met earlier on the day he was selected as Luna's apprentice.

Not long after his apprenticeship begins, Nova and Twilight are asked to come to Canterlot by their teachers to take a quick test and compare their abilities in magic. Nova and Twilight discover that they have been plagued by nightmares featuring old ruins in the Everfree Forest and a strange glowing vial. Nova and Twilight agree to investigate the nightmares and hopefully put a stop to them. Along the way, Trixie Lulamoon shows up, also suffering from the same nightmares, and as Twilight discovers, she and Nova have a rather rough history.

Together, the trio discover and investigate the ruin in the Everfree Forest and discover the subject of their nightmares: a shadow as old as Equestria itself, who has been using Trixie as a vessel and would like nothing better than to plunge a knife into all of their backs. Nova and Twilight escape and begin to work to defeat this shadow, rescue Trixie, maybe resolve their burgeoning relationship, and hopefully escape with their lives.

The Apprentice, the Student, and the Charlatan is an epic-length My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction written by FIMFiction user (and troper) Rytex. The fic was originally uploaded on 16 November 2012, and was finished a full year later on 16 November 2013, but he began rewriting the early chapters in early 2015 due to the contrasting quality between the early and later chapters, as well as to utilize characters that were fully fleshed out as opposed to not quite developed yet.

In February 2016, the first episode of an audio drama produced by TrueSailorComet was released on YouTube. Partly due to the wider audience of YouTube (and partly due to being featured on Equestria Daily), the audio drama quickly gained relative popularity, outshining the original fic by a good margin.

The fanfic can be read here, and the first episode of the audio drama can be viewed here. The fanfic does have a sequel, the link to which is found in the fic itself.


This Fanfic Contains Examples Of:

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    A-G 
  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Nova is dead set on staying loyal to Twilight during his time in the past, but due to just how similar she and Clover are, he admits he fell in love with her all the same. He does go back to Twilight, though.
  • Action Duo:
    • Nova and Comet Novus on Nightfall.
    • Sharp Eye and Aegis in the climax.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Nova takes jabs at his own expense very well, as evidenced when Princess Celestia quips at him toward the beginning of Chapter 6.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: future!Nova cameos in Chapter 5 in the rewrite.
  • Adaptational Expansion: There's more to Nova's cutie mark story and its fallout in the rewrite than there was before. The biggest is that the unnamed proctor who cost Nova his spot is given a name and a motive. It was Abacus Cinch, doing it in exchange for Tantalus Lulamoon backing her for the new Headmaster after Nocturnal Glow retires.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Referred to by name, when referring to Ponyville's Premier Party Planning Pony.
  • Adorkable: True to canon, Twilight Sparkle. She even geeks out over Nova's first edition copies of the Harry Trotter series.
  • Affably Evil: Lord Silverblood and Sombra.
    • Faux Affably Evil: Lord Silverblood quickly lets it go out the window when Nova pushes his buttons during their duel.
  • After-Action Patch-Up: After the battle with Envy, Twilight helps Princess Celestia patch Nova up from all of his injuries, and the Princess eventually leaves them alone.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Or Fluttershy does, in any case, as she ends up dating Sharp Eye, and Sharp Eye even alludes to it.
  • All-Powerful Bystander:
    • Celestia and Luna. At any point, they could go after Envy themselves, but they never really do. Then, Envy goes after Luna, leading to her becoming Nightmare Moon, and forces Celestia to act. Fast forward to the present day, and again, they do little until more of their subjects are actually threatened.
    • The Consciousness of Magic appears to be nigh-omnipotent but only seems interested in making sure her Elements are not misused.
  • Allergic to Love: Nova at first thinks the butterflies in his gut that started in Chapter 5 are some kind of illness. Luna thinks it's hilarious and congratulates him on falling in love when he asks her if she knows about them.
  • Almost Kiss: Originally Chapter 5 featured one of these, but the rewrite saw them actually go through with it, leading to a panic attack. Played straight in Chapters 8 and 9 (though Twilight exploited it to win their magic duel in 8).
  • Alpha Bitch: Shimmer Silvermane.
  • Altum Videtur: The Novus Clan has their own motto that Nova finds rather pretentious.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Night Light and Twilight Velvet enjoy teasing Twilight just a little too much, though they soon take it out on Nova too.
  • Ambadassador: In short order, Nova tracks down a missing princess, rescues a captured changeling child, defeats a rogue unicorn lord, and thwarts a plan to cause a war between ponykind and the changelings all while serving as Equestria's ambassador to the Unicorn Kingdom.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Or at least, it makes Abacus Cinch and Tantalus Lulamoon make a rather poor decision that costs Nova Shine his future as a colt.
  • Amusing Injuries: Nova, over the course of the fic, has been scared awake by Twilight's loud teleportation which led to him calling out of bed, had his back scalded by hot shower water, been sent falling down stairs by an Absurdly Bright Light, been dropped in ice-cold slush right where his coat doesn't cover him, gotten his arm burned after correcting Twilight's grammar, and been bucked in the face by Applejack for making a suggestive comment. And those are just in the rewritten chapters!
  • Ancient Tomb: More like a bank, but it has the appearance of a temple of some sort and it does serve to hold Envy's Soul Jar prison.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Envy has been imprisoned in that Soul Jar for over a thousand years, and it's implied she's been aware of the passage of time.
    • It's mentioned that any unicorn whose horn has been destroyed usually goes insane due to being cut off from magic, and we get to see Lord Silverblood's horn shatter.
  • And Then What?: By Nova's own admission, he had no idea what he was going to do if his plan got as far as it did. He has a general solution, and it turns out to work and keep things moving.
  • Angst Nuke: Multiple times, Nova gets so angry he blows up, dealing minor damage to things around him. With his increasing control over his abilities, he stops doing this entirely by the time he ends up in the past.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Magi-tech, which is seen in the form of a computer, an arcanograph (a device used to measure the depth and concentration of a pony's magical power), televisions, and even a magi-gun.
  • The Apprentice: Naturally. We meet two Night Apprentices in the story, and both from the same family tree. Our protagonist Nova, and his ancestor Comet.
  • April Fools' Day: A special chapter was released in 2018. Just over a thousand words, with Twilight, Nova, and Spike reenacting the memetic "Steamed Hams" sequence from The Simpsons.
  • Arc Words: "What will come will come, and we'll be ready to meet it when it does." Doubles as Book-Ends.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Nova briefly turns into this when he and Steelshod get off on the wrong foot.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • "The Night Apprentice offers many benefits. For starters, he or she is accorded the rights and privileges of the minor nobility until their graduation. He or she wilt receive the opportunity to learn powerful magicks directly from myself and my sister. He or she wilt receive an unparalleled education of the night, astronomy, and many other fields of science and magic, overall adding up to an education to rival many of the most educated ponies in Equestria. And finally, the Night Apprentice wilt receive a fancy title to include on resumes for job applications."
    • According to Rarity, a lady does not spit out all of her drink at any moment short of poison or seeing your friend having the gall to wear mismatched colors that don’t go together at a formal event.
    • Also according to Rarity, the Miasma of Muddling is perfect for suppressing magic and inducing sleepiness in its imbiber, and it tastes fantastic with earl grey tea if one has taken the antidote.
  • Art Evolution: By his own admission, Rytex's writing improved drastically over the course of writing the fic, which is why the earlier chapters are being rewritten to bring them up to speed with the later ones, both in terms of everyone's characterization and his style.
  • Asleep for Days: After Nova meets Sombra in the desert, he wakes up at least four days later in bed in his house, after having a Catapult Nightmare.
  • The Atoner: Trixie clearly is trying to make things up with Nova for what her father did to him years ago when they meet alone in Chapter 4. After that, she's back to her usual antagonistic self, with a side of Shipper on Deck.
  • Author Appeal:
    • Nova is a big fan of hoofball and Arsenal because Rytex is a massive Arsenal fan.
    • The three instruments Nova is described as being able to play in some vein in Chapter 8 (drums, trombone, and Prench Horn) are the three instruments Rytex can play to some degree.
  • Background Halo: Nova manages to catch Twilight at the right time to see her with one caused by Hearth's Warming lights. He falls in love with her that very instant, though he refuses to admit it to himself.
  • Badass Cape: The Night Apprentice and Faithful Student, as well as their graduate selves the Night Master and Prime Magus, all get a cape as a show of their position. Said capes are color-coded and imbued with spells and enchantments galore to help them in combat. Nova uses his to bat away spells and teleport multiple times in the fic, as well as an Invisibility Cloak.
  • Badass Teacher: Make any attempt to harm their students, and Celestia and Luna will stop sitting idly by and watching from afar.
  • Ballroom Blitz: At a party celebrating celebrating the completion of the Old Castle, Nova and Steelshod duel for everyone's entertainment and over Clover's hoof in marriage.
  • Basement-Dweller: Of the non-negative variety. Despite owning his own house three hours away, Nova spends the majority of the fic living in Twilight's basement while they figure out the source of the nightmares plaguing them.
  • Battle Couple: Nova and Twilight.
  • "Be Quiet!" Nudge: Twilight likes to elbow Nova after he says something stupid to someone else, like when he jabs Trixie verbally in their meeting in Chapter 4.
  • Beam-O-War: Comet Novus, Envy, and Nova all share one at one point.
  • Beautiful Dreamer: A subtle detail that shows how Nova's feelings about Twilight had changed. The first time he has an opportunity, after helping put her to sleep, he simply shrugs it off and tries to sleep himself. The second time, however, after she has a terrifying nightmare induced by Envy, he watches her for several moments, musing about how where she had been full of terror before, she was now snoozing peacefully.
  • Beneath the Mask:
    • Nova is not a fan of showing what's behind his Stepford Snarker exterior, but ponies like Twilight continue to find ways to get under it.
    • Clover likes to keep her thoughts and feelings hidden, but like Twilight to Nova, Nova is particularly adept at bringing them out in her. Not to mention, she's a very expressive alcoholic.
  • Berserk Button: For Nova, it's both managing to get him to reveal too much, pestering him to reveal more than he wants, or hurting children.
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • Per Word of God, Trixie was originally supposed to become the Veronica to Twilight's Betty for Nova's affections, but it never materialized. Considering Trixie and Nova were friendly rivals as kids, her and Twilight's positions could very well have been switched as well. By the rewrite, Trixie has even gotten rather supportive of Nova and Twilight ending up together, in her own antagonistic way.
    • When he goes back to the past, Nova is a bit torn between the down-to-earth Betty that is Summer Blossom and the magical prodigy Veronica that is Clover. Clover as well has her childhood friend Steelshod and the mysterious pony that appeared out of nowhere in Nova.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Nova does not like conflict. He attempted to talk down Envy, Nightmare Moon, and Lord Silverblood before his respective battles with them. But when those fights got started, he demonstrated exactly how strong his prowess in magic was.
  • Big Bad: Envy.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Played with. Shining Armor never threatens Nova personally over Twilight's feelings for him and their relationship, but Cadance does, by using Shining Armor as a threat. Indeed, Nova and Shining never seem to not get along.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Celestia, Luna, Tantalus, and Ray all show up in the nick of time to rescue Aegis, Sharp Eye, Nova, and Twilight.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Nova and Twilight, finally resolving his romantic issues once and for all.
  • Big Entrance: Steelshod throwing open the doors of the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters' Grand Hall, clad in all the finery of a showy soldier, making sure to be extra-loud to get everyone's attention, which succeeds.
  • Big "NO!": Nova panics with one of these when he comes to his senses right in the middle of sharing his first kiss with Twilight.
  • Big Sister Mentor: Cadance tried to be this to Nova, but Nova wasn't having it. By the time the story rolls around, he's still not on good terms with her, but they eventually patch things up.
  • Birds of a Feather: Nova and Twilight are both very dorky, both enjoy reading, both enjoy magic, both appear to enjoy baseball, and are both students of the two diarchs. They end up together.
  • Bitch Alert: Shimmer Silvermane's first appearance has her flirting shamelessly with Nova, only to get turned down when Nova discovers her Seduction Scent spell and nullifies its effects on him. Then she demonstrates her inability to take being told no.
  • Blindfolded Vision: With his energy sensing, Nova is able to detect the energy of everything around him, including the plants, other ponies, and the spells everyone casts. He uses this to grand effect in his practice duel with Twilight in Chapter 8, until Twilight casts a spell so bright with energy that it blinds him for a moment and forces him to revert to normal vision.
  • Blue Blood: The Lulamoons and Novuses (and all related families) all possess a degree of influence in Canterlot society, with Nova's father being a member of the House of Nobles just for being head of the family, a position Nova will inherit years down the line, though he becomes the equivalent of a high noble simply by becoming Night Master.
  • Blue Is Heroic: Blue is Nova's motif, with his mane, his tail, his eyes, his magical resonance, and later on, his cloak.
  • Book-Ends:
    • The first and final chapters feature Luna offering Nova a position. First, as her Night Apprentice, and by the end, as the Archmage-in-Training.
    • Celestia tells Luna "What will come will come, and we'll be ready to meet it when it does" in Chapter 1, Ray Novus repeats it to Nova by the end of the climax.
  • Bookworm: Obviously Twilight, but also Nova.
  • Bowdlerize: The audio drama by necessity. The original fanfiction is rated T and features plenty of swearing, sex jokes, and other such, but the audio drama is cutting back on the swearing and double entendres to make it more family-friendly.
  • Boy Meets Girl: Played straight in an interesting way. The first half of the story is played straight. Nova and Twilight meet, Nova and Twilight fall in love, they lose each other, and they regain each other. The story as a whole as well. The same happens, but they lose each other as Nova forays into the past, and they regain each other yet again by the end.
  • Brain Bleach: Nova accidentally walks in on Night Light sitting on the toilet and immediately backs out, wishing he had some.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Nova teases Balanced Budget that he should be careful around Twilight Sparkle or else he will end up banished. Or put in prison. Or put in prison in the place he is banished to.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Nova, describing his life situation to his parents.
    Nova: Oh, you know, studied magic, started dating a mare, currently engaged in a life-or-death struggle between myself and an evil shadow that wants me and Twi dead…
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • Nova outright refers to the "backstory part of the chapter" they need to get past in Chapter 6 at one point.
    • Nova is also aware of the fact that the chapters are being rewritten, since he seems to recall the old version of Chapter 8, in which he mastered a spell in a day instead of over the course of a month.
    • The Interlude is full of them, from Lightning Lance remarking that if the readers want to hear the first part of the story of how he named his colt Nova Shine, they could go back and reread the beginning of chapter 1, to Envy noticing all five instances of ponies drinking tea across the many short stories and calling attention to it, even to her pointing out that this chapter's not canon unless it is.
    • Nova even references the Interlude by name when Twilight asks when Sharp Eye and Fluttershy got together.
  • Breakout Villain: According to the author, Envy wasn't supposed to be used as much as she was, but he liked the dynamic between her and Nova, and it just snowballed from there.
  • Breather Chapter:
    • Chapter 8, a fun chapter in which Nova learns some more magic and has a play duel with Twilight, which takes place between the backstory-filled Chapter 7 and Chapter 9, which spurs the shift into slightly more serious territory.
    • The Interlude chapter comes after the already-fun Chapter 8, but with less plot advancement and more fun, meant to celebrate five years since Apprentice was first published. Immediately after it is Chapter 9, which as noted above, is far more serious.
    • Chapter 19, which takes place between the serious Chapter 18 and the start of the climax in chapter 20, shows Nova enjoying a quiet stretch of days, and is even called "Semblance of Normalcy."
  • Broken Hero: In Celestia's own words, "[Nova] is about as broken as they come" due to his family issues and having lived life on the run.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Nova, with his severe confidence and family issues, is the brooder to Twilight, who is always the one to lift him from his moods.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Lord Silverblood tries this. It doesn't go well for him.
  • Burning with Anger: Twilight's Flame-light form shows up as a manifestation of Twilight's alignment with fire during particularly emotional moments, though unlike its appearance in the show, she can control it outside of said moments too.
  • Butt-Monkey: If something amusing happens at someone's expense, that someone is usually Nova, from incinerating his own back via hot water to getting tied down and forced to listen to The Cake Song.
  • Byronic Hero: Nova is a textbook case. Intelligent, likable, and a good-natured sense of humor, but all of that to mask his great insecurities and to avoid getting on the topic of his family issues and past.
  • Call-Forward: Due to the rewrite, there are a few moments that nod to what will happen in the sequel story, or just later in that one, such as Twilight talking to Nova about how the phrase "a casual event where two best friends can hang out in a completely platonic manner" might grow on him.
    • Call Forward to the show:
    • Call Forward to the sequel:
      • Envy accidentally calls Trixie "Trisha," which is her name when under the memory curse.
  • The Cameo: In the audio drama's fourth episode, Rytex voices the train conductor who appears for all of ten seconds.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Twilight Sparkle, at first. Once she does, she seems to enjoy saying it whenever she can.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor:
    • Nova appears to be good at it, though the reason he's plastered over the bar just makes him surly (which he was before he took up drinking).
    • Clover is not good at it. She spends the ensuing several minutes flirting shamelessly with Nova, and even making an overt sexual advance on him, before crashing in his bed.
  • Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them: Nova enjoys his solitude, but after a time, he enjoys spending time around Twilight far more.
  • Captive Date: Twilight keeping Nova with her via leash on their first casual event where two best friends can hang out in a completely platonic manner.
  • Captured on Purpose: Twilight in the climax.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Envy is a Type-3.
  • The Casanova: Ray Novus, in his youth. Shimmer breaks him out of it.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Nova's dream in Chapter 15.
  • Caught in the Rain: Subverted in Chapter 9. Nova and Twilight's first date is going well, and they're about to spend a romantic rainy evening at her home. But then Envy strikes by successfully manipulating Twilight into catching Nova "cheating" and it just about destroys the relationship.
  • Character Development: Nova goes from being an antisocial loner, who never lets anyone in, acts suspicious of everyone, and is intensely self-critical of his own magical ability, to being a very warm, open individual, engaged to Twilight, very quick to make new friends, and a very confident, powerful spellcaster.
  • Character Tic: Nova has a tendency to rub around his horn whenever he's in deep thought.
  • Characterization Marches On: Averted for the most part, thanks to the rewrite, but a few characters who haven't seen their revisions do get this, such as Steelshod, who was, in Rytex's own words, originally supposed to be a Gaston-esque suitor for Clover, and eventually evolved into one of Nova's more steadfast friends over the course of three chapters.
  • Chastity Couple: Invoked by Nova. At one point, when Twilight wonders why they haven't been physically intimate, Nova thinks it's better if they wait, simply due to his horrendous luck, their upbringings in Canterlot, and their positions of influence that would make an unplanned pregnancy a big deal if something happened.
  • Chekhov's Gag: Night Light jokingly threatens Nova with a magi-gun if he hurts Twilight. Guess what they use to give themselves and advantage against Envy.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Nova's knowledge and use of cryptography, which is what allows him to figure out what the gibberish in Nova Shine I's diary says.
    • The Royal Guard Armor Uniformity Enchantment, which protects Aegis' appearance matching Steelshod completely.
  • The Chew Toy: No one suffers nearly as many Amusing Injuries as Nova. It's almost to the point of being a Once A Chapter occurrence.
  • Chick Magnet: Nova, to his own dismay. Originally, only Twilight falls for him, which he eventually comes to return. Envy also has a thing for him. Then in the past, Shimmer Silvermane, Summer Blossom, and Clover the Clever all go for him, though the only one whose affections he returns is Clover, and then during Chapter 17 even Nightmare Moon makes a rather untoward suggestion that he's incredibly Squicked out by.
  • Child Prodigy: Not to Twilight's extent, but Nova became only the fourth student in twenty-four years to enchant every rock in the Runecrafting Entrance Exam to Celestia's School and earned his cutie mark in magic. In Professor Hoofman's own words, he was destined for greatness. But then everything went wrong.
  • The Chosen One: Twilight and Nova both are the ones who must defeat Envy, but that isn't to say they can't have any help along the way. Other Night Apprentices and Faithful Students did the same. However, they are chosen because Nova told past!Celestia about the future versions of himself and Twilight.
    • The Chooser of The One: Princess Luna and Princess Celestia both choose their students, so they are responsible for picking them both, though at the start of the story, Celestia chooses Nova for Luna because Luna is still getting accustomed to modern times.
  • Circling Birdies: After Nova gets his eye blacked by Applejack, his magic unconsciously makes literal stars dance around his head.
    • In the audio drama, Twilight sees literal stars after her first attempt at long-distance teleportation.
  • City of Weirdos: Neighton. Apparently, after everything Nova Shine has gotten up to over the three-year time-skip, they've gotten rather used to it.
  • The Clan: The Novus and Lulamoon clans, direct descendants of Nova Shine I and Star Swirl the Bearded respectively, are two of the most well-known unicorn clans with magical talent being very prevalent in their members. The Sparkle clan itself is a branch of the Novus line, and the Novuses and Lulamoons have been known to inter-mix through the generations.
  • Classical Anti-Hero: Nova. While legitimately powerful, smart, and cunning, he has severe confidence issues as well as issues with his family that he overcomes over the course of the story.
  • Cliffhanger: A few.
    • Chapter 12 ends with future!Nova arriving, and revealing that Envy had acquired the Alicorn Amulet.
    • Chapter 16 ends with Nova being pulled out form his Time Stasis early by Celestia, realizing what day it is (Nightfall), and then asking what happened to Luna.
    • Chapter 19 ends with Envy kidnapping the townsponies of Neighton with the help of the amulet.
  • Clingy Jealousgirl: Twilight tends to express annoyance when another mare expresses interest in Nova, even when they're just a filly. Envy exploits this.
  • Clocktower: Neighton has one, which Nova uses to hide some plot-relevant trinkets for when he returns from the past.
  • Cloth Fu: Nova uses his cape to smother a pony into unconsciousness, as well as to block spells.
  • Clothing Combat: Nova uses his cloak as a shield to deflect spells, and even at one point as a means to strangle an enemy into unconsciousness.
  • Cock Fight: The point of Nova's and Steelshod's duel.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Nova is blue, Twilight is magenta. In addition, due to magical resonances, every unicorn or Alicorn has a color that is uniquely theirs.
  • Color-Coded Wizardry: Magical resonances enforce this. Everyone's resonance is uniquely theirs. Even Clover the Clever and Twilight Sparkle have a subtle difference in the color of theirs.=
  • Combat Pragmatist: Nova. He chokes an enemy into submission with his cape, abuses trap spells, and isn't above physically striking an opponent in a serious duel.
  • Commitment Issues:
    • Ray had them, out of fear of what his life with Shimmer would look like.
    • Nova has them, stemming from having opened up in the past and being betrayed.
  • Continuity Nod: The story takes place before "Magical Mystery Cure", but after "Games Ponies Play." Due to it not being explicitly stated, much confusion was created in viewers of the audio drama. Even so, little nods to the show are made for the purpose of time reference.
  • Contrived Coincidence: We're supposed to believe that the exact book Nova and Twilight needed to continue searching for their nightmare source just happened to fall to the exact page when clumsily knocked off a shelf by Trixie. Subverted. It turns out Nova from the future rigged it that way to get him moving where he needed to be.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Aegis is forever thankful for it.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Rarity tortures Nova with the Cake Song from LazyTown in the interlude chapter. It's justified as being something Pinkie Pie is singing (and by the chapter not being canon except when it is).
  • Cool Big Bro: Spike seems to think of Nova as this a lot of the time, though that doesn't stop him from blaming Nova when Twilight barricades herself in her room in Chapter 4.
  • Cool Teacher: Princess Luna for Nova, full stop.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • Rytex's old OC, "Black Hat," appears alongside his brother "Pen Strokes" in Chapter 10. They even come back for the finale so that Aegis and Sharp Eye can beat the crap out of them.
      • His retooled OC "Quantum Bit" shows up in the Interlude, and even recites a few lines as the author himself.
    • The audio drama version features a number of OCs belonging to Truesailorcomet, the artists, voice actors, etc., as background ponies in various shots.
      • Some of the people who did reviews also turn up from time to time, such as Fast Track.
  • Crush Blush: Twilight does this several times when she's infatuated with Nova shortly after meeting.
  • Crystal Prison: If a non-authorized pony tries to gain entry to someone else's vault in the Everfree Vaults, they get stuck in a giant pink crystal that keeps them alive until they can be interrogated. Envy uses this to get behind Nova and Twilight and trap them in a room with only one way out.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Nova completely trounces Silverblood, though he gets hit by a cheap shot at the end.
    • Nova also completely wrecks Envy on Nightfall, even referencing the trope by name.
  • Curtains Match the Window: Nova's mane, tail, and eyes are the same shade of deep blue.
  • The Cynic: Nova starts out this way. Character Development helps him grow into much more of a realist.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Twilight has blunders into a trap right in the climax, (which is odd considering she has energy-sensing capabilities). It was actually all part of the plan, and she and Nova expertly take her down.
  • Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: In the fourth chapter, Nova gets startled by the bright sunlight, which causes him to fall backward down the stairs into Twilight's basement.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone has their moments, but mostly Nova.
  • "Dear John" Letter: Clover writes one to Nova in the epilogue, and it causes Nova to realize he wants to marry Twilight.
  • Deconfirmed Bachelor: Nova refused to grow close to anyone, and never felt that love was worth it. But then he fell in love with Twilight.
  • Defrosting Ice King: Twilight is able to get Nova to start opening up to her, and it coincides with him becoming a much friendlier and much more pleasant pony to be around.
  • Desperate Object Catch: In a Shout-Out to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, even.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Less "looking for a purpose" and more "looking for a way to study magic," but when offered the chance to learn directly from Luna, he accepts it in record time, and this marks the start of his growth.
  • Despite the Plan: Subverted, because though it first appears like Nova and Twilight blundered right into Envy's clutches, that was the plan all along.
  • Deus ex Machina: The Consciousness of Magic. When Nova, Celestia, and Comet need to take the Element of Magic temporarily to battle Nightmare Moon, she shows up and possesses Nova to lecture him and Celestia, as well as to restore life to Sunbeam, Comet's future wife and Nova's ancestor, who had been murdered by Envy, thus setting all right as far as history was concerned.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Nova falls for Clover in the past, but ultimately has to leave to return to his own time. He still gets Twilight, though.
  • Did You Just Have Sex?: Trixie teases Twilight about it in Chapter 4 in their first meeting. Though it's actually because a lack of nightmares finally allowed Twilight to get a proper night's sleep for the first time in months.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Nova uses an energy transfer spell to constantly give himself the energy to run back to Ponyville all the way from Neighton, a good three hours away at a moderate trot. It's only when he gets back to Ponyville that he realizes he could have caused serious damage to his legs.
  • Disney Villain Death: Nova kicks Envy into the chasm she created in a final attempt to kill them. She survives, however, thanks to Nova allowing empty Soul Jars to fall as the cost of allowing himself to be rescued.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Twilight uses this to her advantage to beat Nova in their first duel.
  • The Don: Tantalus Lulamoon, in his disgrace over the incident at Celestia's School, took control of a crime family and used them as a front so he could continue to fulfill his duties as the Bookkeeper (it's implied the Princesses knew about it too). In his own words, he turned the Silverblood family from an overtly black crime family into a much lighter shade of grey, but he still maintains plausible deniability.
  • Doorstopper: The original, non-revised version clocked in at over 242,000 words. At present, after chapter revisions and the Interlude, it currently comes in at over 300,000 words.
  • Dream Weaver: Luna, as per canon, and Nova. At one point, Nova even weaves a dream between himself and Twilight so that they can sleep on the train to Canterlot but still talk and catch up on his recent excursion into the past.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Nova ends up plastered all over a bar at the beginning of Chapter 10 due to what happened at the end of Chapter 9. His father manages to snap him out of it and get him on the path to making things right with Twilight. Despite spending a week in the bar attempting to stay drunk so he can forget, Nova doesn't exhibit any symptoms of alcohol dependence ever after, even though his enjoyment of alcohol never diminishes.
  • Dumpster Dive: Aegis, in order to retrieve a spare set of armor in Chapter 2.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Future!Nova appears very briefly in Chapter 5 as the unicorn in a cloak Present!Nova bumps into to watch the hoofball match made of lights.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Nova, multiple times, to Twilight. First, when he spots her under the Hearths Warming Lights tree in Trottingham, and that forms the moment when he falls head over heels for her. She was well aware of that instance. Second, when she emerges from a shower after washing prank paint off of her, and she catches him staring. Third, exploited by Twilight in their duel, where she managed to get Nova Distracted by the Sexy so as to win their duel.
  • Elemental Powers: Apparently, every pony has an elemental alignment, and if trained, they can tap into it for a very literal use of their element. They are also able to be changed. A pony born a Fire Elemental could undergo a personality change until their affinity becomes earth or even water.
    • Blow You Away: Mostly Pegasi, with a few earth ponies and a good amount of unicorns. They tend to be flighty and impatient, like to move around, and prefer to tackle their problems from all sides. Nova discovers he is one, which explains why he always seems to have sourceless wind blowing around him when he gets angry, as are Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie.
    • Dishing Out Dirt: Mostly earth ponies, but with a few Pegasi and a fair amount of unicorns. They tend to be firm and grounded individuals, who tackle their problems head on. Applejack, Rarity, and Cadance are described as Earth Elementals.
    • Making a Splash: Two different manifestations, either as cool and gentle spirits, or as cold and unforgiving types. They tend to wear away their problems with more patient tactics. Fluttershy is one, and Shining Armor is described as another.
    • Playing with Fire: Their passions burn bright and they embrace them fully. They find the easiest way to defeat a problem and then devote all their power into getting it done. Twilight is one, even to the point of gaining actual control over her Burning with Anger form, as is her mother.
  • Elemental Punch: Aegis, at one point, punches with lightning. It gets expanded on in the sequel, with Nova borrowing his technique and punching with magic itself.
  • Elemental Rivalry: Ponies with opposing elements generally butt heads a lot (but not always). However, those who overcome those sorts of conflicts are perfect for balancing the other out.
  • Embarrassing Nickname:
    • Luna really does not like being called "Lulu" by her older sister.
    • Twilight does not appreciate Night Light calling her by her baby nickname "Twinklesparky." He only does this because Twilight didn't call Velvet "Mom," so he thinks it's only fair.
  • Emotion Suppression: Nova at first is shown to fear his own emotions, partly because every time someone pushes his buttons, he blows up. Over time, he learns to control them and stop closing himself off.
  • Emotions vs. Stoicism: Twilight and Nova respectively. Where Twilight constantly cheerful or expresses herself a lot more readily, Nova tries to keep himself closed off. And when he does let slip something after his buttons are pressed, he tries to isolate himself so that it doesn't happen again as a punishment. By the time he travels to the past, he becomes the Emotional side, whereas Clover the Clever becomes the stoicism side.
  • Entitled to Have You: Shimmer Silvermane does not take it well when Nova turns her down.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Nova is introduced paying for a homeless pony's apartment completely out of nowhere, just because he felt Lightning Lance needed an apartment more than he needed a fun night of drinking. And also because he didn't think he'd be in good shape to meet Ponyville's representative for Trading Day if he had a hangover. When asked how they could repay him, Nova essentially just shrugs and says "Literally, don't mention it."
  • Eureka Moment: The first Sonic Rainboom is what startles Nova into finally really getting magic, which allows him to ace an entry test for Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns, as well as earn his cutie mark.
  • Everyone Can See It: Aegis, Trixie, Night Light, Twilight Velvet, and even Celestia and Luna can see plain as day that Nova and Twilight have a thing for each other. Sharp Eye explicitly tells Fluttershy he thinks they're just made for each other.
    • Celestia and Luna are also well aware that Nova and Clover have more than just platonic feelings for each other.
  • Everyone Is Related: Nova is the heir to the Novus clan, the descendants of Comet Novus' oldest daughter, and Twilight is a part of the Sparkle clan, the descendants of Comet Novus' youngest daughter, making them very distantly related. And as the Lulamoon family is said to have often intermarried with the Novus family at many different points in the past, this makes Nova and Twilight descended from Star Swirl the Bearded and related distantly to Trixie. It also makes Nova Clover's and Steelshod's own descendant.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Envy may be a homicidal shadow who gleefully admits to wanting to stick a knife in the backs of two ponies, but how dare Trixie even think she stole something!?
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Averted, despite them all being the same age and familiar with each other. Nova did go to school with Trixie, and clearly knew Aegis before he ran away, but everyone had a separate meeting with each other than simple school.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: At one point, it's mentioned that indulging in hate physically changes a pony. For Envy, her eyes turned a bright red, though she didn't go to the depths that Sombra did.
  • Evil Redhead: When she isn't possessing anyone, pretending to be someone else, or in shadow form, Envy's normal mane color is maroon.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Silverblood, the only unicorn we see cast Black Magic.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Nova and Steelshod meet with an exchange of these.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!:
    • Nova cracks up when Twilight mentions that her teacher is Princess Celestia. When he sees she isn't laughing, and she calls herself the Princess' faithful student, he manages to make himself realize exactly who he is dealing with.
    • While in the past, Nova and Clover had a duel for fun that resulted in him accidentally blasting her into a tree with a wayward spell and gashing open her head. Without pausing to think, he used a spell that wouldn't be invented in several centuries to heal her, and when she's recovered, while she marvels at the spell, she manages to realize just how it is Nova would know that spell, and dashes off to be alone.
  • Face Hoof: Just about everyone's standard reaction to someone else's stupidity.
  • Fan Discontinuity: Invoked within the story. Apparently, Twilight and Nova disagree over whether Harry Trotter and the Cursed Foal is canon or not. Twilight doesn't seem to think so.
  • Feuding Families: Averted. While it has long been theorized that the Novuses and Lulamoons had a legitimate feud, especially in light of the incident involving Nova Shine, they never were outright feuding.
  • Fighting from the Inside: Trixie, while being controlled by Envy, is able to keep Envy from killing Nova by preventing her from stabbing him with her knife at the end of Chapter 9.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: Nova and Twilight in Chapter 3, when talking about the nightmares they had, are able to just run on each other's statements to say what happens next. Night Light lampshades it.
    Night Light: How cute. You both can finish each other’s sentences. Truly you’re made for each other.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: A non-romantic example. Nova closes himself off because the last time he trusted someone, he was betrayed.
  • First Love: This is the Twilight pre-Equestria Girls, so she hasn't ever met Flash Sentry. Nova, however, has misguided views on love, so his feelings for Twilight are a very new experience for him.
    • Nova was also Clover's, and in Steelshod's words, Clover never would have even considered love something to be taken seriously if she hadn't fallen for Nova and opened her eyes.
  • First Girl Wins: Played straight and averted at different times.
    • Twilight gets Nova, full stop.
    • Summer Blossom does not get Nova when he travels to the past.
  • First Kiss: For both Nova and Twilight, but Nova has a panic attack in the middle of it. He even laments ruining the moment, as though for the both of them it were a Sacred First Kiss.
  • First Time Feeling: We get to see Twilight's first experience with energy sensing, and she finds it irritating in the extreme. According to Nova, that's rather standard, considering it's like opening an eye that's been closed almost your entire life.
  • Flare Gun: A magical example, as Neighton and Ponyville implemented emergency beacons so that in such an event, they could fire a magical beacon into the sky so that Canterlot would see and send responders.
  • Fleeting Passionate Hobbies: Nova apparently is into a lot of things, including three musical instruments, but isn't close to mastering any of them.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: The way Envy acts around and when talking about Nova is far from subtle. Turns out it's feelings leftover from when she loved him in the past before she turned homicidal.
  • Force and Finesse:
    • Nova and Steelshod duel, with Steelshod attempting to subdue Nova with force, and with Nova more elegantly dancing about and countering with his own spells.
    • Celestia and Nightmare Moon allude to this, as the latter attempts to overpower Celestia, but Celestia uses finesse to outwit her opponent.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the rewritten opening scene, there's a unicorn casting some kind of magic on Nova, Twilight, and Trixie as they sleep, making them dream of memories before turning it into a nightmare. His magic is blue. He also apparently is able to close Luna off from her own dream realm, and according to Twilight, he would have to really know all three of them inside and out to be able to cast this kind of magic. All of it to eventually reveal that future!Nova was the one responsible for the nightmares, not Envy.
    • Nova notices that his magical resonances, which are supposed to fade over time, are still around in his home when he hasn't been there in at least two months. There's also a mysterious, cloaked pony that he runs into at the Hearths Warming Lights festival in Trottingham.
    • "He wouldn't have me, anyway. Not after what happened in the past."
  • Forgiveness: All but an explicit theme of the first half of the story is Nova letting go of his grudges and forgiving those who had wronged him.
  • Forgot About His Powers: Envy steals the Alicorn Amulet from Zecora, but she doesn't really do much with it. It's implied she needed it to mind control every one of Neighton's townsponies, so it does play a small role, but beyond that it does nothing.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Averted. Nova and Twilight have been dreaming about the day they first met before they meet again on the first train ride to Canterlot.
  • Freudian Trio: Played With in the first half, played rather straight in the second half.
    • There are times where Nova will serve as the superego, and there are times where he will be the ego, with Twilight filling in the other role, and Aegis or Trixie firmly serving as the Id.
    • Nova switches to a clear ego come the past arc. Clover takes the superego position, while Steelshod and Summer fill the id.
  • Friend to All Children: Nova is really good with foals. He is able to get Sweetie Belle to (briefly) control her magic before the other Cutie Mark Crusaders startled her, and although he starts a food fight, he is able to entertain the foals at Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Not even Celestia and Luna, who were alive before Envy existed, knew who she really was before she became the eternal nemesis of the Night Apprentice and Faithful Student. Nova even goes back in time to find out her identity and weakness. She turns out to simply be one of Nova's friends who had a romantic interest in him, and she lets her fury and jealousy of Clover "beating" her lead to attempted murder, and then to her transformation thanks to the Elements of Harmony.
  • Game of Nerds: The one sport both Twilight and Nova like is baseball. Twilight is a San Franciscolt Giants fan, courtesy of her mother, and Nova is a Trotston Red Sox fan, out of spite for Cadance, who supported the Manehattan Yankees the one game she took him to.
  • Gentleman Snarker: Aegis. Also, Rarity whenever she makes an appearance.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The rewrite features cleaner writing, more coherent characterization, a few extra scenes, and even a few calls forward to both the rest of the fic and its sequel.
  • The Gift:
    • A cutie mark of stars is an explicit indicator that a pony with it has a talent for magic, and as such, Luna and Celestia seek out unicorns with these marks as their students.
    • Just like Twilight is very gifted in the magical department, so too is Nova, if slightly less so. His special talent, like Twilight's is magic itself, but he struggles to cast spells at first until, as Twilight puts it, he finds his niche. However, this is counter-balanced by Nova having prodigious talent at understanding the way magic works. After receiving a shock from the Sonic Rainboom, he is able to decipher and enchant every rock in a runecrafting test in mere seconds (becoming only the fourth student to do so), and is even able to comprehend and cast a time stasis spell alone (though with some energy reserves), when precious few ponies could comprehend it at all, and had to cast it in groups.
  • Girl of My Dreams: Nova and Twilight both have dreams about the day they met as Trading Day representatives thanks to future!Nova's attempts to warn them about what's coming, but it isn't played for any romantic tension. It's mostly to establish Nova as a character and his role as Princess Luna's Night Apprentice. They do fall in love later, though.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Envy has them in shadow form.
  • Good Is Not Nice: From being particularly snarky to being absolutely vicious if angered and in combat, you would do well to be careful around Nova.
  • Grammar Nazi: Nova corrects Twilight's grammar in Chapter 8 rather patronizingly. She responds by igniting herself to burn him. In fairness, Nova had been trolling her all day.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: Steelshod challenges Nova to a duel, in an attempt to win Clover's hoof in marriage. He loses.
  • Gratuitous Iambic Pentameter: Chapter 8, Nova trolls Twilight with it, even to the point where she lapses into it herself, much to her consternation.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: Nova visits Clover's and Steelshod's graves during a lull in the action on Nightfall.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: The Consciousness of Magic, a being to whom even Celestia bows.
  • Grey Eyes: Steelshod has them. Later, after we finally get a chance to see Aegis without the armor uniformity enchantment, we see that Aegis, who looks exactly like Steelshod sans horn and plus wings, also has them.
    • Ray also has them, and this plays into him saving Nova's life.
  • Guilt Complex: Nova comes back blaming himself for Envy's existence when he honestly could not have done too much to prevent it.

    H-M 
  • Hair-Contrast Duo: Where Twilight's mane is long and neat, Nova's is short and untidy. Twilight's is multicolored, Nova's is monochromatic. Et cetera, even regarding their tails too. Despite what this would normally represent, he's only slightly less organized than Twilight is.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Nova and Celestia both use Royal Canterlot Voice to shout each other down at one part, but it takes a third party shouting even louder to break it up.
  • Hammerspace: Played straight in one case, and justified in another. Justified, in that unicorn ponies are able to store things in their Source, the storage space of which is limited by its depth, and can be brought out or put back at will (such as Rarity's fainting sofa). Played straight, in that Pinkie Pie, however, still uses hammerspace with zero explanation.
  • Has a Type: To date, Nova Shine has been attracted to two powerful unicorns (both of which coincidentally were identical in appearance except for cutie mark), and may or may not have been attracted to a third unicorn who wasn't a slouch in the magic department herself.
  • Healing Potion: Twilight keeps Elixirs of Energy on hoof for all-night study sessions, but they come in handy when Nova overexerts himself on a run back from Neighton. While they don't heal in the normal sense, they do help the damage in his legs to heal after some overnight rest.
  • The Heavy: A number of antagonists appear in the story, such as Sombra or Lord Silverblood, but Envy is out and out the one who causes Nova and company the most grief.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Nova has some serious self-esteem issues for the first half of the story. Comes to a head in Chapter 9, when Nova feels the need to ask Twilight why she wants him, and describe exactly why he thinks she deserves better.
  • Hidden Depths: A good portion of Chapters 6-8 is showing more aspects of Nova's personality beyond "snarky self-conscious closed-off magic-user who likes books and hoofball." He's really good with children, enjoys music, theatre, and poetry, and can even lapse into conversational iambic pentameter and haiku. Chapter 9 continues the trend by revealing a lot more about what he thinks of himself, and it's not pretty.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Nova's Establishing Character Moment in Chapter 1.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Nova originally opts to hide in alleys as he explores Canterlot to avoid his parents, but later on, to head to the Sparkles', Twilight forces Nova to take the main roads where they would be less conspicuous by blending in with everyone else.
  • Hideous Hangover Cure: Nova's dad uses one to jolt him out of his drunken stupor. The one in question is the one Brom and Eragon use in Dras'Leona in Eragon.
  • High-Altitude Battle: Celestia and Nightmare Moon.
  • Hint Dropping: Twilight in Chapter 5, in an attempt to get Nova to stop reading his book and explore the town with her.
  • Historical In-Joke: Nova references a joke affair with Queen Elizabeak I. Queen Elizabeth I in real life was known as the "Virgin Queen."
  • Holding Hands: Hooves rather than hands, but Twilight is rather fond of curling a hoof around Nova's.
  • Hooked Up Afterwards: Nova thinks this of Aegis and Trixie, due to their insistence they're not on a date.
  • Humble Hero: Nova just ants a normal life being left alone, free to study magic, and he also wants to avoid attracting the attention of his parents. As such, when he is seen performing acts of kindness, he is always very nonchalant about it and insists they don't mention it.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Twilight Velvet whips Nova with her towel for asking "What the fuck just happened?" and tells him to watch his mouth. Before proceeding to comment that "stallions are just so damn thick sometimes."
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Nova stops holding back when it's just him and Envy alone on Nightfall.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Nova is more than a little angry and hurt from the time he was cheated out of a position in Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns, especially since his special talent is magic, and with such potential, he was destined for greatness.
  • I Didn't Mean to Turn You On: Nova doesn't like that Twilight truly loves him, as he initially would rather have simply stayed friends.
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Nova doesn't want to risk his relationship with Twilight at first, though admits the status quo has already been demolished by Trixie's meddling.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: After spending his childhood as a "Well Done, Son!" Guy, he has shades of this deep down, though Twilight brings them to the surface and it ultimately causes him to fall head over heels for her.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Nova's greatest desire is a normal life, free from running away from those chasing him, and able study magic to his heart's content.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Averted at first, but Twilight is able to make Nova realize how alone he really is, and this is one of the events that triggers him becoming much friendlier and warmer as time goes on.
  • I Like My X Like I Like My Y: "I like my coffee black. Like my soul. Just kidding. Cream and two sugars. Like my soul."
  • I Love the Dead: Nova is rather squicked out by the thought of it, when Comet unwittingly makes a joke about it.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: The main reason Ray fell for Shimmer is because Shimmer didn't let him bed her as easily as other mares. He took it as a challenge, and it slowly developed into feelings.
  • I Miss Mom: Nova seems to bear very little ill will toward his mother, but it's overshadowed by his hatred for his father.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Make no mistake, Steelshod wants nothing more than to be with Clover. But he would rather Clover be happy with Nova than she be unhappy with no one by the time he loses to Nova.
  • Identical Grandson: Zig-zagged.
    • Played straight with Twilight and Rarity, who all look like their ancestors Clover the Clever and Princess Platinum.
    • Averted by Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, as Private Pansy and Commander Hurricane are referred to as male.
    • Unknown in the case of Applejack and Pinkie Pie, as Smart Cookie and Chancellor Puddinghead aren't described enough to know.
    • Also unknown, in a different way, is Nova's friend Aegis, because we don't know if Steelshod is his ancestor.
  • In the Back: Envy manages to stab Nova right in the back the day he's going back to meet Twilight after being in the past for 2 years.
  • In the Hood: Nova's Night Apprentice/Night Master cloak has an invisibility spell activated when he puts it on.
  • In Vino Veritas: Averted in Chapter 6. While Celestia brought Twilight to the castle's pub for a drink, it was as a pick-me-up after the events of the previous chapter and ensuing week. Before she interrogates Twilight about her feelings for Nova, she takes time to make sure she isn't inebriated before they speak. As well, under the influence, Clover reveals her attraction to Nova by shamelessly flirting with him.
  • Inconvenient Attraction: Nova doesn't admit he loves Twilight for a solid five chapters after it happens, simply due to it meaning he's grown close to her when he's done everything he could to prevent that from happening.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Night Light's Dad Joke.
  • Ineffectual Loner: Nova, at first, stemming from betrayals and issues from his past. By story's end, he's made his peace with all ponies involved, and made several rather good friends.
  • Info Dump: Chapters 6 and 7. Backstory, backstory, backstory, with plot advancement reserved for the end of the chapter. The first three chapters do a lot of setup as well, but with a lot more actual plot advancement by comparison.
  • Innocent Cohabitation: Nova lives in Twilight's basement while they investigate the nightmares, despite having his own expensive home in the nearby town of Neighton.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Cadance, upon telling Nova about Twilight's feelings for him, cautions him to watch what he says to avoid being this.
  • Insecure Love Interest:
    • Averted by Twilight. Despite her neuroses and occasional freakouts, she's very comfortable being in love with Nova, and never once does it make her any less adorkable.
    • Played straight by Nova. Even when it's becoming clear that he's falling for Twilight, he lets his Heroic Self-Deprecation and perfectionism hamper any progress he makes in growing close to her.
  • Intangibility: The Princesses used the Elements of Harmony to curse Envy to become a living shadow, unable to affect the lives of others, after her attempted murder. However, this backfires, as Envy learns how to compose herself back into pony form and keep going, until Nova Shine I sealed her in a Soul Jar. Celestia believes it is because they misused the elements that this happened.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Nova's Night Apprentice cloak, and later, his Night Master one as well.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Nova doesn't think "a casual event where two best friends hang out in a completely platonic manner" will grow on him. It does.
    • Also a Call-Forward for readers of the original version, since they are well aware that it does, indeed, grow on him.
  • It's Not You, It's Me: Nova doesn't want to enter into a relationship with Twilight not because he doesn't like her, but because he isn't ready to open up to anyone.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: Nova has a very cynical view of the world, but that doesn't stop him from helping others at no personal benefit.
  • Jerkass Façade: Nova does care about more than just himself and his desire to stay away from his parents. He just doesn't like to admit that he does, as Twilight and Celestia figure out.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: For all the sarcasm and shade he's not afraid to dish out, Nova truly does want to help others when he can.
  • Kansas City Shuffle:
    • Twilight lets Nova go about his ploy of rearranging her trap spells in their first duel, only to subvert it in her own way at the end.
    • Twilight and Nova "fall" for Envy's trap, only so they can get close to her and implement their own plan to take her down.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • If Trixie's POV segment in Chapter 8 is anything to go by, Envy has been playing rather cruel pranks on her over the month that she has been imprisoned in the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters, though other lines show that Envy has had some Pet the Dog moments as well.
    • Envy recites this trope by name after verbally musing that Nova seems to just lie down and take her orders like a dog.
    Envy: Well, in that case, let's kick the dog!
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Nova doesn't let Clover do it to him.
  • Knife Nut: White she doesn't use it at first, Envy really likes using her favorite knife in the later encounters.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Expect the humor to vanish whenever Envy shows up.
  • Lady and Knight:
    • Twilight and Nova, to an extent, made more obvious after her ascension.
    • Clover and Nova play it straighter, where she is the Lady-in-Waiting and he is Princess Luna's loyal apprentice.
    • Played absolutely straight at the end of the past arc, where the aforementioned lady ends up with the literal knight Steelshod.
  • Lady-in-Waiting: It's stated and then shown that Princess Platinum rewarded Clover for her heroism by elevating her to this position for her.
  • Lady Killer In Love: Ray, once he met Shimmer.
  • Language of Magic: The verbal precursor that Princess Luna uses to comedic effect on Nova and Twilight in Chapter 8, as well as the language of magic used to arrange traps and other enchantments.
  • Large Ham:
    • Nova really loves his theatrics.
    • Also, Trixie by virtue of being a showpony.
    • Princess Luna, as per usual, with the ROYAL CANTERLOT VOICE (which Celestia also uses at a couple of points, and Nova is able to tap into at one point).
  • Last Kiss: Nova and Clover share one before he activates his Time Stasis trap to return to his own time.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Literally.
    “Well, obviously,” Nova commented dryly, glancing at the wall with the hearth, the wall with the door, and the wall with the window as he attempted to organize his thought. “The stallion likes the mare, the mare likes the stallion. The mare is open about it, the stallion keeps it to himself, leading to all this unnecessary drama and tension. Really, this story just writes itself, doesn’t it?” he asked, leaning on the fourth wall.
  • Let's Wait a While: Twilight puts the question to Nova, and Nova's response amounts to this, just due to their positions of influence, the possibility of scandal, Nova's horrid luck, and the fact that like it or not, they're looked up to by foals, which Nova seems to really take seriously.
  • Like a Son to Me: Luna's relationship with Nova goes far beyond mere teacher-student. Their relationship is very close to parent-child, seen as such by both parties.
  • Like Cannot Cut Like: One of the rules of magic.
    • The First Fundamental Law is that, no matter how powerful one source is compared to the other, magic cannot pierce or go through magic through natural means. Magic can push other magic back, but it can't go through other magic. Given the author's attempt at having magic operate under quantum physics, it's justified In-Universe by magic automatically snapping to particle state when interacting with other magic. However, enter the magi-gun, which somehow manages to force magic into wave state when around other magic, making all forms of magical shields useless, and it's treated as such a dangerous weapon that the protagonist resolves to have it destroyed when its usefulness has run out.
    • It explores the ramifications of this trope a bit, as well. Enchanted clothing by default comes with spell-shielding (though there are specific enchantments that give its article more energy to repel magical attacks, given that magic particles annihilate each other on contact), enchantments have to constantly be repaired after every run-in with magic, and ponies can't teleport through shields, but can teleport around them if it isn't a full encasement.
  • Living Lie Detector: Anyone who has basic energy-sensing, apparently. A being who lies generates a physical reaction that causes a change in the energy the body is giving off, referred to as "the telltale flareup," that an energy-senser can detect. But it's not infallible. If someone knows what to shield, then there's no telling whether or not they're lying, but the presence of shielding magic makes it suspicious all the same.
  • Living Shadow: Envy.
  • Loner-Turned-Friend: Nova. Eventually, turned lover to Twilight.
  • Longing Look: At one point, Steelshod does this when Nova suggests he go comfort Clover himself.
  • Love Confession: Four total times.
    • Aborted Declaration of Love: Twilight tries to hype herself into confessing to Nova multiple times, but it fails each time until Chapter 7.
    • Anguished Declaration of Love: Two of them.
      • First, when Twilight tells Nova she loves him for the first time, while she is expressing her concern about Nova refusing to allow himself to forgive Tantalus Lulamoon. Nova doesn't take it well, going into a full-blown panic attack.
      • Second, Nova and Clover to each other on Nova's final night.
    • Love Confessor: Twilight confessing her love for Nova to Princess Celestia.
    • Played totally straight by Nova in Chapter 11, when he finally admits to Twilight why he came back instead of continuing to stay away.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Nova and Steelshod love Clover, who only loves Nova. Summer Blossom also loves Nova. Shimmer Silvermane is also in the mix, but her's is less love and more lust.
  • Love Informant: Cadance. She tells Nova that she managed to get Twilight to confess her feelings for Nova to her, and then tells him about them as part of an If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her... threat.
  • Love Is in the Air: Shimmer Silvermane uses a special scent-producing magic to muddle thoughts and convince stallions to do what she wants. Fittingly named Seduction Scent. Nova manages to make himself immune.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Summer Blossom's love for Nova and her (wrong) belief that Clover used dishonest methods to win his heart ultimately drives her to try to kill Clover while she sleeps. This leads to her becoming Envy.
  • Love Triangle: One-sided, but Steelshod pines after Clover, who pines after Nova, who has feelings for Clover but doesn't act on them till the end.
  • Mage Tower: Star Swirl has one at the very northern edge of Everfree when he takes residence. In present day, it's fallen to ruin and its purpose is speculated to be a tower meant to keep an eye on Sombra's northern empire, which is partly true.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Depends on whether or not you're reading the older or newer chapters.
    • Zig-zagged in the older chapters. They make references to fundamental laws of magic, one of which is that magic can't go through other magic, but it sometimes lapses.
    • Played straight rather well in the rewrite. Magic sticks to the rules as discussed by Twilight, Nova, and co.
  • Magical Guardian: Cadance was responsible for keeping Twilight safe until she became Celestia's student, and Nova safe while he was on the run.
  • Magitek: Lots. A television, a magi-gun, computers...
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: As noted before, the Princesses mostly stay out of the way and let Nova and Twilight (and whoever they invite along) handle everything to do with Envy's scheme. Until Envy goes after Luna directly on Nightfall and at the end, where they step in to make sure everyone survives relatively unharmed.
  • Mary Sue: Invoked in-universe. Chapter 8 features a lengthy bit on Nova's many talents and hobbies, leading Twilight to suggest he sounds like one. Nova only uses the fact that he only likes some of his hobbies in passing as opposed to being perfect at them as a defense for why he isn't one.
  • The Matchmaker: Celestia, to Luna's irritation.
  • Medals for Everyone: Twilight gets promoted to Prime Magus (and then becomes a princess not long after), Aegis gets a promotion, Nova is offered a new position to work for, and everything ends rather well... until the story ends with a glowing Soul Jar in the rubble of Everfree.
  • Medium Awareness:
    • Nova displays quite a bit, referencing "the backstory part of the chapter" at one point, and even commenting about the original version of certain chapters that had been replaced and rewritten.
    • Several ponies in the interlude, but it gets Handwaved due to the chapter not being canon (except when it is).
  • Milestone Celebration: The Interlude, which is a 5-year Anniversary Celebration chapter.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: In Chapter 21, everyone Envy is controlling has their eyes turn red.
  • Minored In Ass Kicking: Nova didn't learn any combat-oriented spells at first, and once he does know them, he prefers to try to talk down his foe, but he still can and will take you to school if a fight gets going.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: How Envy manages to drive Twilight and Nova apart, through the use of magic and catching Nova in a moment with his guard down.
  • Mood Killer: At one point, Nova and Clover are having themselves a moment, but Nova ruins it with a poorly-timed comment, which infuriates her. It's made up for moments later, though.
  • Motor Mouth: Pinkie, as usual.
  • Mr. Exposition: It always seems to be Celestia (and sometimes Luna) who give off great Infodumps.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Nova gets angry a lot in the earlier chapters, and he resorts to alcoholism when he's particularly down in the dumps.
  • Muggle-and-Magical Love Triangle: Steelshod isn't any slouch in the magical department, but he's much less competent than Nova Shine as they both go for Clover.
  • Mundane Utility: Nova's cape comes with powers of invisibility, teleportation, spell-shielding, and a few other unspecified perks. While he does use it in combat, Nova likes to use it to teleport between Twilight's library to his house in Neighton to save six hours round-trip of hiking.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: How Summer Blossom plans to "rescue" Nova from Clover's (nonexistent) Seduction Scent.
  • Mysterious Mercenary Pursuer: Sharp Eye, at first.

    N-R 
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Nova Shine is named after the patriarch of the Novus clan, Nova Shine I. Nova Shine I is actually named after Nova, due to the current Nova having traveled back in time and fallen in love with Clover, who became Nova Shine I's mother.
  • Name's the Same: Invoked but with no purpose. Nova's mom and his stalker in the past are both named Shimmer. Turns out to just be a coincidence.
  • Nerd Action Hero: Nova is intelligent, Adorkable, and capable of tearing you a new one if you piss him off.
  • Nerf: Believe it or not, it happened in the rewrite. Nova's energy-sensing got brought down in the rewrite. Originally, it was a bit of a Story-Breaker Power, making him easily able to detect someone lying, or using magic, laying traps, etc. It still allows him to do all of that, but now it's a lot more like a supernatural form of eyesight that can even be temporarily blinded with an intense enough burst of magic close enough, and mostly keeps Nova from seeing everything coming before it does.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Nova doesn't just toss a few bits to the homeless pony he finds huddling near his favorite pub; he buys them an apartment for a few months.
  • Night and Day Duo: Twilight and Nova respectively, since their mentors are the Solar and Lunar Princesses themselves, Nova Shine and Twilight Sparkle have this dynamic. It even extends to their personalities, where Nova is colder and tries to stick to logic rather than let emotion in, where Twilight is much warmer and more readily embraces her emotions. Clover takes Twilight's place come the past arc.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Nova even alludes to the trope as they explore the crumbling Everfree Vaults, though he noted that there could have been enchantments and other magical safeguards to offset the lack of physical edge protectors.
  • Noodle Incident: Nova once somehow managed to get his house floating upside-down on a cloud. No one knows who or what caused this.
  • Not a Date:
  • The Not-Love Interest: Trixie to Nova. They are old friends, tease each other instantly on meeting and in their second encounter, and Nova seems dead set on rescuing her when Envy takes over. However, they have no romantic interest in each other, and Trixie is more than happy to see Nova and Twilight together.
  • Oblivious to Love: Nova, at first. It takes Cadance explicitly telling him that Twilight likes him to get him to notice that she acts rather bashfully around him on occasion.
  • Odd Friendship: Almost referenced by name. In the epilogue, it's mentioned that Large Ham Narcissist and massive showpony Trixie hit it off with the subtle Deadpan Snarker Aegis. Come the sequel, they've apparently become a couple.
  • Offscreen Karma: Abacus Cinch got instantly fired and ended up in total disrepute after word spread that she was the one who screwed Nova in his backstory.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: How exactly does Ray stop himself from crashing after literally diving into the Everfree Vaults in the finale?
  • Offscreen Villainy: We don't get to see Envy take control of all the townsponies of Neighton.
  • Only in It for the Money: As part of his Jerkass Façade, Nova makes it seem as though the only reason he even took up the Trading Day job was because of this.
  • Open the Door and See All the People: At one point in the first chapter, Nova opens his door to find not a bunch of people, but rather, Princess Luna standing on his doorstep. He reacts exactly the same way regardless.
  • Orphaned Punchline: Aegis gets teleported in front of Celestia and Lunain the middle of telling a story.
    Aegis: —and so I told her ‘Who the buck do you think I am? Princess... Celestia...?' Oh bollocks, I'm in trouble, aren't I?
  • Pair the Smart Ones: If you hadn't guessed already, Nova and Twilight end up together.
  • Pals with Jesus: Nova has Princess Luna as a magical teacher, Princess Celestia as a friend, and Princess Cadance as a lesser friend.
  • Papa Wolf: Night Light, when it turns out that Twilight got accosted by a bounty hunter, very nearly assaults one of the most influential and accomplished magic users in Equestria completely on his own when it turns out said magical master was behind it.
  • Parental Neglect: Ray and Shimmer to Nova, though it's implied Shimmer didn't want to neglect him but didn't know what to do.
  • Parental Substitute: Nova makes it no secret he sees Luna like the mother he never had.
  • Peace Conference: The Principality of Equestria facilitates these between the Earth Ponies and Pegasi in the past, with Nova serving as mediator, before eventually going to represent Equestria itself to the Unicorn Kingdom.
  • The Perfectionist: Nova, at first. He's immensely self-critical of how he was able to match Twilight Sparkle's spells during their first assessment but not the ease at which she could cast them, punishes himself for yelling at Twilight after she pushed his buttons one too many times, exiles himself to her basement for a whole week after he failed to make peace with his parents, and won't even talk to her during that time.
  • Personal Raincloud: After the disasters in Chapter 4, Skeletor sticks one over his head.
  • Pet the Dog: Even with Trixie being her prisoner, Envy seems to want to reward her for being a compliant captive even though she's been playing pranks of a Kick the Dog nature.
  • Pie in the Face: Rarity's Hearths Warming present to Nova.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Red rather than pink, but Nova serves as the blue to many mares' red as far as magical resonances are concerned. Twilight's magical resonance is a bright magenta like in the show, Clover's is implied to be close to the same, Trixie's is the pink that it has been in the show to play it straight, and Envy's is straight red.
  • Poke in the Third Eye: During their duel, Twilight is able to subvert Nova's energy sensing by simply letting loose an intense blast of magic to overwhelm his sense and leave him blind in that regard.
  • Pony Popsicle: In a non-ice way. Nova freezes himself with time stasis to wait to return to his own time.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: For all her moments of pettiness, Envy never does evil for evil's sake. Trixie is treated well in captivity, because Envy needs her alive and well. She also doesn't steal food when she could have, but pays for it, since thieves attract suspicion.
  • Pretentious Latin Motto: The Novus clan has "Ex stellae, magicae. Ex magicae, lux." (From stars, magic. From magic, light.) Nova even refers to the trope almost word-for-word.
    Nova:: My family's pretty damn pretentious, aren't they?
  • Priceless Ming Vase: Not priceless, or a Ming vase for that matter, but Sweetie Belle does accidentally break a vase of Rarity's, and Rarity holds Nova at fault for it.
  • Produce Pelting: Trixie gets hit with a tomato in Chapter 4.
  • Power Nullifier: Star Swirl knows of a spell that can neutralize the intangibility of monsters like ghosts or creatures of shadow. Nova learns it and uses it to create an amulet that can force Envy into physical form so that she can be hurt and can't heal herself.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Sombra's game, before Nova's intervention, was to instigate a pony-changeling war, let the war end with one side's victory at great cost, and then sweep in and conquer all of Equestria. The war would eventually come to pass, but Nova was able to delay it so that Sombra couldn't profit off of it.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Three instances in the first half thus far for Nova.
    • Cadance refusing to back down from lecturing him, leading to him just screaming at her.
    • Twilight continuing to ask how it was that he lived in so many different places and did some level of university magic, until he yells at her too.
    • His parents setting him off by focusing on Nova's accolades and titles when they meet again for the first time in ten years, rather than asking about his experiences, though Nova comes into the meeting already primed to explode.
  • Real Dreams Are Weirder: Nova gets both a strange, random dream, followed immediately by a plot-relevant vision in Chapter 5. The strange dream is full of Shout Outs, such as a guard's armor being painted with hot rod flames and bunnies, and is purportedly serenaded with Luna and Celestia playing a set of bagpipes and a vuvuzela respectively.
  • Rebuilt Pedestal: Nova starts off hating Cadance, his father, Tantalus Lulamoon,
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Summer Blossom's eyes change to red after she tries to commit murder.
  • Red Herring: Nova's parents are played up to be the villains up until about halfway through Chapter 3, after which it shifts to Envy. Shimmer Silvermane also qualifies, as she exists solely to make the readers/viewers think she will become Envy.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Nova's inner mental selves Logic and Emotion love to comment on certain situations. Sometimes Snark also shows up.
  • Redundant Romance Attempt: Spike manages to convince Nova that he needs a mustache in time for his date with Twilight, when Twilight seemed to enjoy Nova just fine without one.
  • Reference Overdosed: The Shout-Out entry got so long, a page for it was made. And this is without the times artists reference things in the audio drama.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Twilight and Trixie, distantly, both being distant descendants of Star Swirl the Bearded and Nova Shine I.
  • Relationship Sabotage: Envy to Nova and Twilight.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Roundabouts Chapter 11.
  • Renaissance Man: Nova, who displays aptitude for magic, music, theatrics, diplomacy, and different schools of learning.
  • The Reveal:
    • Summer Blossom was standing in the door to the stairs. Summer Blossom was the pony who would become Envy.
    • In the Epilogue, we find out that Aegis, without the uniformity enchantment on his armor covering it up, looks exactly like Steelshod.
  • Rich Bitch: Shimmer Silvermane.
  • Rocky Roll Call: Between Nova, Twilight, Trixie, and Spike in Chapter 4.
  • Royal "We": Luna, as usual. Celestia uses it briefly too. Nova is only confused the first time.
  • Rump Roast: More like "Boiled Back." Nova tried to wake himself up from his early-morning half-awake mode by turning the water as hot as it would go. The next we see of him is him sprinting out of his house with steam issuing from his back.
  • Running Gag:
    • "A casual event where two best friends can hang out in a completely platonic manner."
    • Whenever Twilight and Nova are around a collection of books that one of them owns and it's not a serious moment, expect the other to rearrange them to the owner's irritation.
  • Rushed Inverted Reading: After enduring constant teasing from her dad in Chapter 3, Twilight slams a book onto the dinner table to hide her face, barely trying to pass it off as her reading. Nova notices, and teases her about the fact, that it is upside-down.

    S-Z 
  • Sadistic Choice: Envy gives one to Nova in the climax. Either shoot Trixie with his magi-gun and maybe kill Envy, or shoot through Twilight to hit Envy and most likely kill her. If he tries to not play her game, she kills them both. However, Twilight is able to distract Envy long enough to escape her clutches, making his choice a lot easier.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Aegis to Nova, and Nova to Princess Luna.
  • Secret Underground Passage:
    • Tantalus Lulamoon has one in his house that leads to the Canterlot Underground.
      • The Canterlot Underground are implied to have several at different places in Canterlot.
    • Lord Silverblood had one build into his manor in Canterlot to allow him to get into the crystal caves without going through the regular cave he said was shallower than it actually was.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • Nova will occasionally make an off-hand comment about himself from time to time.
    • Nova also occasionally comments about the story and author. See Leaning on the Fourth Wall above.
  • Sensory Overload: An effective way at neutralizing energy sensing is shown to be simply letting loose an intense but harmless bit of magic, so that it temporarily blinds the one doing the sensing. Both Twilight and Envy use this to their advantage.
  • Sequel Hook: The vial is glowing at the end, hinting at Envy's survival, and that business with Sombra hasn't been wrapped up yet. A sequel was, indeed, released, and remains in progress.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Nova and Clover confess their feelings, climb into bed and... present!Nova interrupts the tale to assure Twilight that it was 100% chaste.
  • Shame If Something Happened: Lord Silverblood invokes this.
    Lord Silverblood: Funny thing about these crystal caves. They’re so unstable, it is not uncommon for slight cave-ins. What a tragic accident it would be, should such a fate befall you and Clover, were you to turn down my offer of peaceful amnesia.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Nova's reflexive shout at Aegis every time Aegis teases him about it.
    • Played with in the past, Nova is quite adamantly refusing to give into Clover's advances, but apparently Clover told Star Swirl that they were in a relationship, leading to no shortage of irritation on Nova's part when he has to set the record straight.
    • Inverted in the Epilogue, Aegis insists he is not going on a date with Trixie.
  • Shed the Family Name: At one point, Nova disowns himself from his family.
  • Sherlock Scan: Subverted. Nova is able to deduce that Applejack is an avid player of Buckball based on some really obscure surrounding evidence in the West Orchard clearing they are practicing in, such as the lingering apple smell on the target. And then he reveals that Applejack left a buckball behind a tree, so that's how he knew.
  • Ship Tease:
    • Nova and Twilight start off subtly, but it soon develops into a full relationship.
    • Fluttershy and Sharp Eye comes in the Interlude.
    • Aegis/Trixie, which only happens right at the end.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • Celestia is well aware of how the many different pairings of students ended up in terms of romance, and implies she may or may not have used it in such a way at one point or another.
    • Bellatrix, Twilight Velvet, Tantalus, and Shimmer all conspired to patch the relationship between Shimmer and Ray back together after what Ray did.
    • Trixie, when not being controlled by Envy, seems to enjoy pushing Nova and Twilight together in her own antagonistic way.
    Trixie: Just balls up and ask her out already!
  • Shout-Out: Holy hell are there shout-outs. Especially in the rewritten chapters. Between the audio drama and rewritten chapters, it got to the point it needed its own page.
  • Shrug of God: Invoked. Envy notes that the stance of the Interlude chapter ("It's not canon except for when it is") is basically this, so that if Rytex wants to make it canon, he can, but if not, he doesn't have to.
  • Sleep Cute: Celestia and Luna seem to think so, the few times they scryed Nova and Twilight and found them asleep together on a train or some other place.
  • Sliding Scale of Fourth Wall Hardness: Roughly semi-permeable. Pinkie Pie is as aware as ever in her few appearances, Nova shows some Medium Awareness and at one point even literally leans on the fourth wall, but everyone else is blissfully unaware as ever. Except in the Interlude, where everyone seems aware of the fourth wall, but the chapter is not canon unless it is.
  • The Slow Path: Subverted, as Nova does wait the full 1,250-ish years to return to his own time, but he does so by putting himself in Time Stasis.
  • Snark Knight: Nova, full stop.
  • Snow Means Love: Nova's and Twilight's first casual event where two best friends can hang out in a completely platonic manner takes place in gentle snowfall on a Trottingham evening. This also marks the night where Nova falls head over heels for Twilight.
  • Snowball Fight: Between the Council of Gentlestallions and all the schoolfoals in Chapter 19.
  • So Much for Stealth: Nova and Clover's sneaking around the crystal caves comes to an end when they happen upon a number of Lord Silverblood's goons abusing an enslaved Princess Chrysalis.
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: Nova is a rather mild case, since he's usually limited to being sarcastic and biting, but when he and his father finally make their amends, he gets so much less biting.
  • Spam Attack: To Nova's chagrin, Steelshod managed to modify Starfall, adding explosive properties to each individual star, which he then proceeds to shoot by the hundreds. Steelshod also bans trap spells during a formal duel, which Nova loves to abuse.
  • Spanner in the Works: Nova completely upends Sombra's and Silverblood's plan to cause a war between changelings and ponies in the short-term. The war still happens in the distant future, but Nova's intervention prevented Sombra from profiting off of it.
  • Spider-Sense: Nova's energy sensing serves to help him detect multiple magical attacks before they happen.
  • Stable Time Loop: Nova's delighted that he manages to make one. His own name. He was supposedly named after one of Equestria's magical pioneers, but it turned out said pioneer was Clover the Clever's son, and he was in turn named after Nova.
  • Stage Dad: Sort of. Through a combination of parental neglect, misunderstandings, and bad timing, Nova's opinion of his father is that this was all he wanted of him, and if he wasn't going to be successful, he believed Ray wanted nothing to do with him.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Shimmer does not take Nova turning her down well.
  • Stellar Name:
    • Nova Shine Novus, obviously.
    • Ray Novus, as in a ray of light, which fits with the Pretentious Latin Motto.
    • Bellatrix Lulamoon, named after a star in the Orion constellation.
  • Stepford Smiler: Nova tries his hand at this in Chapter 15. It doesn't work for very long.
  • Stepford Snarker: Nova's modus operandi when it comes to dealing with uncomfortable topics.
  • Still Got It: Celestia is more than a bit pleased she's still good at flustering people with implications by the epilogue.
  • Stock Visual Metaphors: In Chapter 7, Nova finds himself standing in the shadow of a statue of Nova Shine I, his namesake and idol.
  • The Strategist:
    • Nova, who will often utilize trap spells to maneuver his opponents where he wants them.
    • Sombra, who came dangerously close to pitting all four pony nations and the Changelings against each other in a war, after which he would come in, clean up, and rule a continent. It take's Nova's intervention to thwart him, though the Grey Monarch notes that rally, he's only delaying the inevitable.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: Generally, Nova serves as the wise guy when around Twilight or Aegis. Occasionally, he'll switch roles with them, but mostly he's the more goofy of the pair.
  • Stuffed Into A Trash Can: Sharp Eye is locked in a dumpster by Nova to get him off of Nova's trail.
  • Stupid Sexy Friend: Starting in Chapter 5, Nova becomes very attracted to Twilight, though he has no idea how to react to the feelings and constantly tries to convince himself he's not. Even leading to a moment in Chapter 8 where he catches Twilight emerging from a shower, notes that she's cute, and then mentally chastises himself for thinking like that.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Nova is a Deadpan Snarker and Troll under normal circumstances, but when ponies like Twilight can dig beneath the surface, they find that deep down, he's really rather sweet.
  • Super Senses: Nova's energy sensing, which allows him to sense anything that gives off any sort of chemical or arcane energy. It's stated to be an ability anyone can learn, but not many choose to. It can even be used to detect when someone is lying (to a degree), and he's able to tell someone is following him from the air very quickly, and that the same pony is in a compartment next to them on a train. Nova compares it to having another set of eyes, which can be blinded by powerful flashes of energy, among other things, and we see that it is far from infallible.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: When Celestia taps into pure sun magic, her eyes start to glow with the sheer intensity of the power she's channeling. Once she uses up all the magic she borrowed, her eyes go back to normal. It also makes her hair go from pink and inanimate to multicolored and wavy, like the show.
  • Take That!:
  • Taken for Granite: Apparently Sharp Eye ran into the cockatrice from "Stare Master" when hunting Fluttershy's missing chicken Elizabeak. Said cockatrice is now spending its days as one of Zecora's garden ornaments. Sharp Eye's wing had a delayed petrification too, but a gold needle fixed that.
  • Taking Advantage of Generosity: Nova even says it to Twilight's face to explain why he thinks him staying at her library is the best course of action, though it's not in any malicious sense.
  • Taking You with Me: Envy tries this at the very end. It almost succeeds.
  • Talking in Bed: Night Light and Twilight Velvet in Chapter 3.
  • Talking to the Dead: Nova to Clover's and Steelshod's graves.
  • Tears of Joy:
    • Ray, when he and Shimmer make their amends and she forgives him.
    • Nova, when he and his father make their peace, as well as when he finally realizes he loves Twilight.
    • Aegis teases Nova about it during Twilight's coronation, though Nova doesn't seem remotely embarrassed.
  • The Tease: Shimmer Novus in her youth. She knew Ray was attracted to her and would constantly lead him on, and then shoot him down, until finally they ended up dating and married.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Trixie and Twilight in Chapter 5.
  • Teleport Cloak: Nova's Night Master cloak allows him to "tag" a temporary location, so he can teleport to a more permanent fixed location and back. He mostly uses it to teleport between his house in Neighton and the Golden Oaks library in Ponyville, since a round-trip hike would be six hours long.
  • Temple of Doom: The Everfree Vaults, built to look and function like a Pegasi temple, but used for banking. All of the still-functional traps and mechanisms are Hand Waved with magic.
  • Theme Naming:
    • The Novus family all have some reference to light or stars in their names (Ray, Shimmer, Nova Shine, Comet, Sunbeam).
    • The Lulamoon family (and predecessors) are named after celestial bodies. Tantalus is an asteroid, Bellatrix is a star in the belt of Orion, Lucia is an asteroid, Bacchus is an asteroid, Star Swirl...
  • Theme Tune Cameo: At one point, Twilight hums something that Nova suspects sounds like something out of a television show. The text in question is linked to Spike humming the main show's theme.
  • There Are No Coincidences: Ray does not believe in the existence of luck, and tells Sharp Eye he believes he was led to Nova for a reason, rather than randomly hearing Twilight call after him.
  • Think Nothing of It: Nova makes sure to impress upon Homen Hearth and Lightning Lance to keep Nova's deed to themselves.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: "We got you, you little bitch."
  • This Is Reality: Twilight makes sure to remind Nova that he isn't going to master a spell in only a day, noting that "This isn't some story, this is real life." It is then used for Nova to note that in the original version of the chapter, that's exactly what he did.
  • A Threesome Is Hot: Nova jokes about Twilight supposedly asking Applejack for one. Applejack isn't amused and bucks him in the face.
  • Through His Stomach: Nova is positively floored by how good Twilight Velvet's cooking is, and even entertains the thought of marrying Twilight Sparkle just to experience Velvet's cooking from time to time.
  • Throw the Book at Them: Twilight smacks Spike with a book for saying "No shit," even though he has no idea it's a bad word.
  • Throwing Down the Gauntlet: Nova to Silverblood, Steelshod to Nova.
  • Time Travel: A significant portion of the second act of the story is spent in the past.
  • Time Travel Romance: Nova and Clover
  • Title Drop: In Chapter 5.
    They strode forward, up the steps, and the apprentice, the student, and the charlatan entered the Everfree Vaults.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Between Chapter 2 and 8, Nova demonstrates that his ability to use utility magic for his odd jobs is rather good, but his combat is woeful (he is only barely able to ward off Envy just due to the sheer intensity of the raw, uncontrolled burst he lets loose in Chapter 5). Come a few months of training, some time travel, and Chapter 14, he decimates a group of ponies and even takes down a unicorn lord who is no slouch in the magic department himself, making it look easy.
  • Training Montage: As much of one a literary work can have. Chapter 8 features several short paragraphs spanning different days, detailing Nova's progress learning the energy beam and shield spells.
  • Troll:
    • Nova. He switches Twilight's sequential books to alphabetical order just to get her to talk to him (and rearranges alphabetical encyclopedias to spell TWI'S A DORK in Chapter 8), and puts Balanced Budget off balance by implying he should be careful around Twilight or else be banished/put in prison/put in prison in place he's banished to.
      • At one point in Episode 2 of the audio drama, a shot with Nova's face even features a trollface in the corner when he's teasing Princess Luna.
      • He seems to go out of his way to irritate Twilight in Chapter 8. He manages to get Twilight speaking in conversational iambic pentameter, does the standard "No I'm not" argument to Twilight's "Yes you are" when she insists he's being immature, and at one point, he gives her some hell about the "casual event where two best friends can hang out in a completely platonic manner."
    • Aegis enjoys getting a rise out of Nova. He's first introduced scaring Nova into thinking he was going to get arrested.
      • He and Nova even combine their powers, on occasion.
    Twilight: It's an entirely different kind of pay structure altogether.
    *beat*
    • Celestia, too. She constantly makes suggestive implications to Nova, Twilight, and Luna in an attempt to get them flustered, though it never works with Nova. Apparently, by the epilogue, she's still got it after managing to fluster Twilight.
  • Unbroken Vigil: After Nova is found unconscious at the edge of the San Palomino Desert, Clover stays with him until he wakes up.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • Twilight to Celestia, as usual. She doesn't exactly enter enthusiastically into the agreement to look into their nightmares without telling their teachers.
    • Nova eventually grows to have this toward Luna and Celestia both.
  • Vertical Kidnapping: Rather than up, Princess Platinum was kidnapped downward from her bedroom to be held captive in the crystal caves under Canterlot.
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: Envy is not at all shy that she has a thing for Nova, especially during Chapter 17 after The Reveal.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Lord Silverblood, seeing himself beaten by Nova, resorts to Black Magic in a final attempt to defeat him.
    • Envy, in a last-ditch effort to kill Nova, Twilight, and Trixie, self-triggers a Fissure trap in an attempt to collapse the Everfree Vaults and bury them all.
  • Villainous Crush: Envy has a certain fascination with Nova that carries over from her time crushing on him as Summer Blossom.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Star Swirl the Bearded, while not overly violent or belligerent, is incredibly grouchy and is described as having a voice that reminded him of an angry Trotscolt.
  • Virtual Soundtrack: Rytex uses a lot of Kingdom Hearts music to add to moments, though he used a version of "U.N. Owen Was Her?" and the victory fanfare from Pokémon Stadium at one point.
    • Due to copyright reasons, this will be averted in the audio drama. All music will be composed by Truesailorcomet.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Nova and Aegis, Nova and Twilight, Nova and Trixie, and eventually, Nova and Steelshod. Basically, Nova's friendships are built upon mutual insults.
  • Was Once A Pony: Envy, before she gave into hate. the Elements of Harmony were what did the transforming, though.
  • Waxing Lyrical: Nova and Applejack in Chapter 8. Their exchange matches the G1 song "Who's A Silly Pony?"
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Nova, before he ran away.
  • Well, This Is Not That Trope: One of the opening likes of Chapter 7, describing the few buildings in Canterlot Nova has good memories of as he stands outside of Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns..
  • Wham Episode: Being a story-driven fic, every chapter in some way alters things, though there are several moments that hit particularly hard.
    • Chapter 5 - Nova starts to fall in love with Twilight, and Envy makes her first appearance, nearly killing both of them.
    • Chapter 9 - Envy succeeds in driving Nova and Twilight apart.
    • Chapter 12 - Nova discovers that he and Nova Shine I are the same person, thanks to having invented and recognizing the code used in what they thought was Nova Shine I's diary. He goes back in time, but then his older self is brought in wounded by Envy drops the bombshell that she has found and taken the Alicorn Amulet for herself.
    • Chapter 16 - Nova and Clover finally confess their feelings for each other, and Summer Blossom is revealed to be the one who becomes Envy.
    • Chapter 17 - Just about everything. It's Nightfall, Nova and Comet Novus take on Envy, Celestia takes on Nightmare Moon, Nova takes on Envy solo for the first time and absolutely destroys her, Nova temporarily becomes a bearer for the Elements of Loyalty and Magic, and serves as a temporary vessel for the Consciousness of Magic, and they all work to seal Nightmare Moon in the moon with the elements.
    • Chapter 18 - Nova graduates and becomes the Night Master, and we find out the Princesses were guiding him toward becoming a Prince, which he rejects and storms off.
    • Chapter 19 - Envy initiates her endgame by kidnapping every single townspony in Neighton and holding them hostage.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: In Chapter 6, Nova seeks Princess Luna's medical expertise regarding the strange jitters he feels in his gut every time he's around Twilight that started after their night in Trottingham, and he refuses to simply accept that he's fallen in love as an answer. He doesn't even know how to react when Twilight confesses she truly loves him just one chapter later.
  • Wizard Beard: Subverted by, ironically enough, Star Swirl the Bearded. Throughout the canon series, he's portrayed as having a really lengthy beard, but in his appearance in this story, he's got a rather short one, though it's implied he grows into the famous one later. Despite Star Swirl's irritation at Nova's expectations, he's also never referred to as Star Swirl the Bearded at that point in time, either, but only as Lord Star Swirl.
  • Woman Scorned: What prompts Summer Blossom to attempt to murder Clover and become Envy.
  • World of Snark: Everyone gets one or two cheeky quips at everyone else at some point in the fic.
  • Wretched Hive: The Canterlot Underground. Just looking around makes Nova queasy.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Twilight, in one memorable instance, thinks that because the Everfree Vaults go down a full 1000 vaults, the one they seek must be at the very bottom "because that's how this thing works." Turns out, they only need to go roughly 11% of the way down.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Celestia knows a spell called Hyperbolic Time, in which time within the area of the spell moves many times faster than time outside it. She uses it so that she, Comet, and Nova can all rest and recuperate before their final battle with Nightmare Moon.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: A significant portion of the first few chapters feature Luna and Twilight trying their darndest to get Nova to realize this. Even after finding out he's an Alpha+ unicorn, he never really seems to get it until after he returns from the past, and even then he refuses point-blank to believe that he is anywhere near Twilight's level in magic when Luna believes wholeheartedly she wouldn't stand a chance in a duel before her ascension.
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry: Nova has times where he snaps somewhat harmlessly at other ponies, merely by shouting at them, but if someone really manages to get under his skin, he may subconsciously tap into his magic and completely wreck the room you happen to be standing in.
    • Over time, this evolves into more of Tranquil Fury, but Envy manages to bring the explosive rage back out by pressing the right buttons.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • Exploited by Envy, who pretends to be Rarity and deliberately leads Twilight to think Nova was cheating with her.
    • Ray intentionally got himself caught cheating because of his commitment phobia.
  • Your Eyes Can Deceive You: One of the reasons Nova and Twilight pick up energy sensing.
  • Your Worst Nightmare: The original premise is that Nova and Twilight are investigating a source of nightmares. The source of them turns out to be future!Nova.
  • You're Not My Father: Nova, to Ray.
    Nova: I'd rather be a bastard than be your son.

Nova: A sequel, a rewrite, and now a TV Tropes page? We really are going up in the world, aren't we?
Twilight: TV Tropes? I've never heard of it.

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