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Fanfic / Rites of Ascension

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Rites of Ascension is an ongoing My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction by CVBrony.

Rites of Ascension follows the adventures of Twilight Sparkle fifteen years after the events of the second season of Friendship is Magic, for the most part ignoring anything happening after "A Canterlot Wedding". The story chronicles her ascension to alicornhood and the political turmoil that surrounds her, from coup attempts to scheming aristocrats, to the fallout of millenia-old mistakes.

There are currently several side-stories in the Rites of Ascension Expanded Universe.

This fanfic contains examples of:

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  • Adaptational Jerkass: Twilight Velvet goes from the benign nonentity seen (briefly) in canon to a tribalist, neglectful harpy of a Social Climber, for the sake of realism and a Freudian Excuse for her daughter's neuroses. Although some of her social obsession was (at least according to her) in order to defend her daughter from jealous attacks, and she gets better after Twilight Sparkle banishes her to Ponyville to learn about friendship.
  • A God I Am Not: Celestia and Luna are very insistent on this one, and with some pretty good reasons.
  • The Ageless: Alicorns are immune to physical aging, but they are still susceptible to injuries and sicknesses like anypony.
  • Ambiguously Evil: The Inner Council. At least one of them is involved with the people behind General Towers.
  • Apocalypse How: The aftermath of Discord's reign was a Class 2: full societal collapse/destruction, with those capable of undoing the damage driven mad or worse. Celestia and Luna had to wait a generation first, before they could even start rebuilding from scratch.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Solidified magic, used as a general fuel source for machines. It's also rather volatile, as Applejack and Spike find out.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Several nobles are contributing to the breakdown of Equestria by both overtaxing their own citizens and taking more power from Celestia, who in turn has been trying a long game to work against this, as part of being The Chessmaster.
    • It's revealed that several nobles are fearing Twilight's alicorn ascension because, on top of being a powerful pony magic-wise, she is too smart to be influenced by their political schemes, so they plot to have her future authority undermined or physically eliminated from the game entirely. The Coup General Towers pulled on Canterlot was supposed to be Twilight's assassination.
    • Charlemane seems to be subtly manipulating things behind the scenes towards some ulterior goal, most likely involving the well-being of Equestria.
  • Aroused by Their Voice: Cadence is apparently turned on by Shining's new and deeper voice after Luna inducts him into her Night Guard.
  • Back from the Dead: Rainbow Dash kills one of Farrier's Mooks during her escape from his flagship, and he is resuscitated with CPR offscreen. This dispels the geas on him and allows Twilight to interrogate him about Farrier's operations.
  • Badass Baritone: Shining Armor, already a badass par none and the second most powerful unicorn after his sister Twilight, gains a deeper voice after he is made High Cardinal (i.e. leader) of Luna's Night Guard following his firing from the Royal Guard.
  • Barrier Warrior: Shining Armor, who possesses magic powerful enough to produce strong and durable force-fields. He later passes onto Twilight his notes on how to make them, which saved her during a harrowing mission in Zebrica.
  • Becoming the Mask: Celestia has trouble with letting Luna and the others in on her secrets because she was alone for so long. She couldn't trust anypony for so long she forgot how.
  • Berserk Button: Celestia's is tribalism, as Duchess Bismare and Twilight Velvet find out. The only reason she hasn't made the fine two hundred million bits is because there is a legal maximum.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Shining Armor will do anything to protect his little sister. Even using the Royal Guard to set up a spy system of sorts so he can keep tabs on Twilight during her stay in Ponyville. He's also aware that Twilight's status as an ascendant alicorn will make age a problem, so he makes Spike, whose species are longer-lived than ponies, promise to look after Twilight in his stead.
  • Blackmail: Apparently the current gryphon King Morvana did something that would warrant shame on her family for generations to come. Charlemane uses it to his advantage by threatening to expose her secrets if she does not voice disapproval towards Equestria's impending war with Zebrica.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Just before banishing her to Ponyville, Twilight calls her mother out on never being there for her and using her as a stepping stone for social climbing, including making it perfectly clear she would rather have had Celestia as her mother.
    • Duke Esteem tries this with Celestia and Luna just before being sentenced for his crimes, asking why being immortal alicorns gives them the right to rule and why Luna hasn't been punished for her actions as Nightmare Moon. Then he gets his answers.
  • The Chessmaster: Celestia. She does admit that due to working on her own for a millennium, it is hard to counsel with other ponies, even her own sister. She even considers the current head of the Council to be excellent at this. Thuis comes back to bite her in the cutie mark in chapter 20; Twilight calls her out on it in their next scene in chapter 22.
  • Cool Airship: The Bellerophon. A top-secret airship with solidified magic powered engines. Also the duplicate.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: The punishment for the neglectful, shallow, elitist, racist, and borderline abusive social-climber mother of the new Grand Mage for what amounts to blatant lèse-majesté (Princess Celestia regarding herself as much "Mud Pony" as anything)? Twilight Sparkle giving Twilight Velvet her old job as Ponyville Librarian... and her old assignment of weekly friendship reports.
  • The Coup: A renegade faction led by General Towers is seeking to overthrow the Alicorn diarchy because they see its leadership - namely Celestia's - as weak and ineffectual. It's implied that someone from the Inner Council is behind this coup.
  • Doorstopper: As of August 2021, the main story is 691,536 words long.
  • Dressed to Plunder: Captain Farriér dresses in a suitably stereotypical pirate fashion.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: According to members of the Royal Guard and anypony currently serving in the military, Shining Armor was this. Twilight, who knew Shining's softer side, is incredulous and horrified that her BBBFF could be so brutal, but everyone had high praises for him because his training methods turned them into efficient soldiers.
  • Emotion Eater: The changelings in general.
  • Enemy Mine: Twilight doesn't think very highly of Prince Blueblood (with good reason), but both of them don't think very highly of the Inner Council and its political scheming, either. When suspicions of Cloudsdale's Duchess Artfeather's weapons smuggling arise, Blueblood proposes an alliance with Twilight to help expose her without the Council getting to Artfeather first. She accepts.
  • Fantastic Nuke: A weapon deployed by Celestia during the lunar rebellions, capable of wiping out cities and leaving behind unlivable levels of thaumic contamination.
  • Fantastic Racism: The unicorn nobility tend to have this view towards earth ponies, thinking of them as "mud ponies". And at least one assassination attempt involved an earth-pony supremacy outfit.
  • First-Name Basis: Celestia and Luna are trying to get Twilight here. It appears that, behind closed doors, Charlemane is already there with "Tia".
  • Foreshadowing: Celestia pumps in a lot of magic into Twilight to show her what she'll look like at the end of it.
  • From Bad to Worse: Equestria's sociopolitical standing, and Twilight in particular, can't seem to catch a break. One of the first things Twilight learns after her ascension is that the country is slowly breaking apart due to outlying subjects being maltreated by their nobles and believing Celestia cannot secure them from threats such as those seen in canon. Then there's a coup attempt during which the Elements of Harmony are stolen, and then- after Twilight begins to take a more active hand in dealing with international matters- two successive routine reconnaissance missions pull Equestria into a war with Zebrica and retroactively invalidate the entire government of the griffon lands (to which the above malcontents were defecting). A criminal investigation leads to the effective destruction of Cloudsdale and loss of most of the industrial production of that city as the wrongdoers try to cover their tracks and destroy the evidence.
  • Funetik Aksent: Twilight's father, who comes from Germaney.
    • Gustave, a grpyhon chef speaks with a Phrench accent.
  • Gossipy Hens: Twilight's mother Velvet Sparkle is an infamous gossiper among the Canterlot nobility, so much that she makes Rarity, a gossiper herself, look like she took a vow of silence in comparison.
  • Groin Attack: This happens to a poor guard in chapter 27 when he is sent to wake up a sleeping Rainbow Dash with a bucket of water.
  • Handshake Substitute: Frequently between Rainbow Dash and Spike, of the "Fist Bump" variety.
  • Happily Married: Shining Armor and his wife Princess Cadence, 'nuff said.
  • Healing Factor: All alicorns have it, but Luna's seems especially potent. So much that she cuts off her own tongue after her and Celestia's tongues touches because she couldn't clean it off.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Common for MLP in general, but actively defied on one occasion here.
    Twilight: Palms, Luna. Grease some palms. It's a Minotaur expression.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: A minor version. Chapter 26 reveals that as bad as Charlemane's interrogation of Shining Armor was, other members of the Council had wanted to do even worse, and so Charlemane was "as gentle as [he] could be without leaving an opening to allow another to take [his] place."
  • Improvised Weapon: Twilight's swords. Yes, they are normal swords, but she frequently instead uses them as improvised explosives.
  • Informed Ability: One of the story's few recurring criticisms is that Twilight, despite having supposedly expanded her magical knowledge even beyond that from canon and in fact pushed the boundaries of magical theory, is only briefly shown as such in-story by her channeling magic through her hooves at the beginning (only possible because she has unknowingly become an alicorn) and developing a new method for producing solidified magic (which is suppressed by Celestia in order not to cause upheaval, thanks to unpleasant past experience). Otherwise she seems to mostly react to others' feats and knowledge, frequently being blindsided by the techniques of both antagonists and supporting characters. Even one of her most awesome feats ( entrapping a volatile portal and preventing worldwide damage) is dependent on a shield spell which Shining Armor had shared with her. The author has stated an intent to correct this in later arcs.
  • Ironic Hell: Twilight's mother is a social climber who looks down on "mud ponies". She is later exiled by her own daughter to Ponyville - or, as she calls it, a "po-dunk, backwater mud pony town".
  • It's Personal: It's implied that Prince Blueblood chose to preside over Foible Plinth's trial because many of the extremely shoddy and hazardous buildings Foible Plinth built happened to be occupied by children, many of whom were orphans like Blueblood.
  • Kangaroo Court: In the wake of the attack on Canterlot, Shining Armor is subject to one by the Council and removed from command of the Guard, despite demonstrating that he and the Guard could not have been better prepared (and if anything, the Council themselves were more to blame for the state of things).
    • Prince Blueblood does this to Foible Plinth (the mobster that made shoddy schools and orphanages). The whole trial lasts for five minutes, if that.
  • Lady of War: Cadence almost casually knocks out a few enemy soldiers during the coup. She might not be a powerhouse, but she knows how to regally kick ass.
  • Lampshade Wearing: Pinkie is passed out, wearing one of these at the party to celebrate Twilight becoming Grand Mage.
  • Like a Son to Me: Celestia sees Twilight as her own daughter, as alicorns are biologically barren. In turn, Twilight treats her like a Parental Substitute.
  • Lost Technology: Sums up what Discord did to the world. It's unknown to anypony but Celestia and Luna how much they lost, exactly.
  • Low Culture, High Tech: Actively defied by Celestia, who tightly controls what technologies and magics are allowed back into pony society in an effort to keep Equestria stable.
    • Justified. During Nightmare Moon's rebellion, both sides tried to give themselves an edge by giving their troops advanced knowledge that they weren't yet ready for. In Celestia's words, "It was like giving a foal a stick of dynamite and a match."
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Both Prince Blueblood and Princess Cadence's parents died in an airship accident when an engine exploded. Both of them believed the incident was produced by outside forces, but they don't have any evidence to prove it.
  • The Man Behind the Man: For all the terror he inspires and all the irrevocable damage he's done, Discord accidentally lets slip that he may answer to an even higher power. Meanwhile, the mortal conspiracies just keep going deeper and twisting in on themselves as Twilight investigates.
  • Manipulative Bastard: There are hints that Charlemane has ulterior plans for Equestria and the Crown, and has been subtly influencing political relations to achieve his goals.
  • Mathematician's Answer: Before the Wham Line, Celestia tried to break the news to Twilight by asserting that A) unicorns can only cast spells via their horns, and B) the fact that Twilight was able to cast a spell through her hooves did not contradict (A). It doesn't work.
  • Meaningful Name: The warship Bellerophon is named after the hero in Greek Mythology who captured and rode Pegasus. The one here? Captured and ridden by pegasi.
  • Meaningful Rename: Shining Armor has his name changed to "Obsidian Armor" after he is fired and subsequently recruited into the Night Guard, and gets awesome armor to match his new name.
  • Medieval Stasis: Enforced by Celestia for almost a thousand years after Luna's imprisonment. Averted for the actual story, as the industrial revolution is finally getting kicked off with airships and Magitek.

  • Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy: So nebulous that it's not even clear how many there actually are or how much they may or may not be connected. There's the well-hidden group of apparent corporations and nobles of which General Towers's coup attempt was an offshoot, referred to as the Robber Barons. There's the Equestrian Inner Council, each of whom has his/her own schemes and syndicates going (just one appears to be linked to a Cloudsdale arms manufacturer, a Zebrican smuggling organization and a substandard housing developer) while working in concert to grab power from Princess Celestia, at least one of whom is allegedly involved with the Robber Barons. Then there's the group of illusionists who imprisoned and tortured Trixie. The myriad missions Twilight ends up on may or may not tie back to any of these.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Luna pulls this on Celestia after Shining Armor is fired from command of the Royal Guard by inducting him as the leader of her Night Guard, to allow him to secretly continue investigating the conspiracies. Celestia had seen the attack on Shining coming and had been grooming him as a populist voice in the courts, which was central to most of her near future plans, but she didn't tell Luna because they always ended up butting heads over long-term strategy and she didn't tell Shining so he, and their enemies, would believe he was no longer a threat. Not only does Celestia's plan go up in smoke, but she worries that the relatively unsubtle Shining will be caught doing more than is strictly legal for the Night Guard, at which point Luna's crown and authority (and Celestia's own, if she steps in) would be pretty much bucked. Celestia's setup of all this also means that she played this trope on herself, but since Luna acknowledged Celestia might well have a plan but was tired of being left waiting in the dark, she really has no excuse.
    • Twilight thinks this of herself after her espionage mission triggers a war between Zebrica, Saddle Arabia and Equestria. Considering things had been volatile for a while, and she stopped a cult leader from wiping out the whole Zebrican continent and triggering worldwide damage, no one else agrees.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Because the Illusionists published fake news about Twilight Sparkle wanting to arrest Trixie Lulamoon, the unicorn surrendered herself to Twilight Sparkle. Giving the Grand Mage both confirmation of the group existence and an anti illusion spell Trixie created that, with some modifications by Twilight Sparkle, has made the Illusionists less effective overall and even lead to some of their plans being ruined.
  • Omnibus: Although technically one continuous work, Word of God is that Rites of Ascension is meant to be broken up into approximately five books.
  • Parental Abandonment: Both Prince Blueblood and Cadence's parents died in an airship accident when they were young. Both of them believe that the incident that claimed their parents' lives was planned, even though they don't have proof.
  • Parental Neglect: Twilight Velvet frequently neglected her children Shining Armor and Twilight Sparkle in favor of getting into the nobility's good graces and elevating her own social status, so much that Shining (and Celestia herself) did the raising for most of Twilight's life. In chapter 25, Twilight calls out her mother for her poor treatment, and sentences her to learning friendship in Ponyville.
  • Parental Substitute: Twilight sees Celestia as a mother for raising her in place of her social-climbing birth mother Twilight Velvet neglecting her.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: The reason Princess Celestia doesn't get into big fights. She has only two settings: Off, and Nuke. See the page image? That's what's left of the army she foughtnote . That's not water, it's glass.
  • Powered Armor: Given to Twilight during the invasion, it normally looks like a simple torc, but activates into full-body armor with dozens of enchantments. The princesses have their own versions.
    • Also qualifies as both Evolving Armor and Empathic Armor.
      Luna: Your torc will grow and change as you do, and your connection with it, as it develops, will let you command it more easily.
  • Promotion to Parent: Shining Armor raised Twilight whenever their parents weren't available.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Prince Blueblood angrily rips into the Inner Council for voting against Shining Armor during his trial despite the latter saving Equestria numerous times.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Princesses, obviously, but so are Shining Armor and his wife Princess Cadence. Twilight counts as she is elected Grand Mage, giving her authority and respect second only to the Princesses themselves, while learning the responsibilities of ruling and being an alicorn. Prince Blueblood also counts; despite being a Jerkass in public, he deeply cares for the state of Canterlot and Equestria as a whole, and is one of the few nobles who has a strong moral compass in politics.
  • Refrigerator Ambush: Princess Luna hides in the refrigerator to ambush Twilight Sparkle and Spike as part of their Training from Hell.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Played straight with every single Royal. Celestia is busy running the country, Luna is trying to get her political power back, both Cadence and Shining have important duties to the Crown, and even Blueblood is shown to be an important political pawn for Celestia. Twilight is on her way to becoming this, but her "Royal" is still unofficial.
  • She Is the King: The current King of Gryphonia is a gryphoness named Morvana.
  • Sky Pirate: Captain Farriér and his crew.
  • So Proud of You: Shining Armor says this to Twilight after she saved Zebrica from a black hole portal and narrowly survived severe injuries.
  • Spanner in the Works: It's implied that a unicorn named "Ionos" set up a plan by allying with an evil dragon and giving him a geas that will grant control over the town Wintervale. Said plan relied on Luna's impulsiveness and willingness to kill, but it did not anticipate Twilight Sparkle banishing the dragon to the void for his evil deeds.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Zig-zagged with Cadence. In the TV show it's "Cadance," but in Rites it's spelled like the musical term.
  • The Spymaster: Shining Armor has elements of this as per his royal position.
  • Stylish Protection Gear: The Day Guard and the Night Guard both wear armor enchanted to make everypony look exactly the same.
    • When Shining Armor is fired and joins the Night Guard as Obsidian Armor, he gets similar armor that just makes him look awesome. Cadence is... suitably impressed.
  • Suicide Attack: one particularly unfortunate changeling mook during the manehatten arc, ordered by chrysalis to prevent capture and interrogation.
  • Super Soldier: One newspaper calls Twilight this after her brutal, magical takedown of General Towers.
  • Taken for Granite: It's possible to be turned into a statue if you have done a very serious and strictly forbidden crime, such as using a geas.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. Celestia and Luna are currently seeing a therapist for any issues that resulted from the Lunar Rebellions and Celestia's banishment of Luna to the moon.
  • Third-Person Person: Trixie, like her canon self. She's trying to break the habit, though.
  • Title Drop: In Chapter 20:
    Luna: Twilight Sparkle, the Rites of Ascension are yours and yours alone to endure. Anypony else that tries will be ground to dust by the gears of fate.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The small mining town Wintervale is controlled by an evil dragon who put its residents under a geas and forced them to mine gems for him. Any outsiders who come to visit Wintervale are driven out, while those who show disobedience are eaten.
  • Training from Hell: Luna, to the point of combining both a high-explosive boot-camp for Twilight and Spike. This includes fighting a legion of clones, Luna herself being their own personal Cato, and stopping a volcano from exploding.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Celestia is more powerful than Luna in regards to magic, but she doesn't have anything in her arsenal other than "burn everything in sight". Case in point - a powerful sun spell she used against Discord turned an entire area (ponies and all) into shiny glass.
  • Visual Pun: After admitting to Twilight that her long-term plans for/involving Shining Armor's political career were wrecked because she did not keep her sister in the loop, Celestia overturns her massive and paper-strewn desk (flipping the table) before noting that she will need new plans from a clean perspective now that everypony is off balance.
  • Warrior Poet: Luna, full-stop. Besides being the sister who is supposed to support the arts, she an accomplished painter. That, and she can take an army with her wings tied.
  • Warrior Prince: Shining Armor is currently the most powerful unicorn on the planet.
  • Weak, but Skilled: While Luna is far from weak herself, she doesn't have the raw power that her sister Celestia possesses, and instead has actual combat experience and lots of ways to use her own magic to fight her foes without causing collateral damage.
  • Wham Line: The first chapter has so many in Celestia's and Twilight's conversation on the cloud that it could be classified as a Wham Episode. The biggest one was:
    Celestia: Twilight Sparkle, welcome to the alicorn race.
  • Willfully Weak: Celestia keeps herself from fighting at full power because doing so means everything will literally go up in flames. Because of this, some members of the Inner Council think she has become a weak and inefficient ruler and stage a coup so they can overthrow and replace her with someone "stronger".
    • Luna counts as well. The "Nightmare" form she took on in Mare in the Moon? That was her true form. Her canon appearance from Season 2 onward was a glamour seal to keep her own power restrained and prevent ponies from freaking out and thus losing whatever little reputation she had since the Lunar Rebellion.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Celestia, although throughout the story, the mask is slipping, and she's trying to take it off in front of Twilight.
  • Worthy Opponent: Celestia sees Charlemane as this. In Chapter 26, as Charlemane is revealed to be the only pony on the Council (other than Blueblood) that Celestia can actually implicitly trust.
  • Wreathed in Flames: Celestia during the coup attempt. This, of course, is her trying not to freak out and burn down Canterlot.
  • Yakuza: Duchess Watercolor Suisaiga of Neighpon is implied to be part of this, but Suisaiga insists that her family broke away from them years ago. When another Duchess brings it up to prove a point, Suisaga is angered enough to point bladed wings at her.
  • You Fool!: Twilight Sparkle in response to her mother squarely striking Princess Celestia's earlier-mentioned Berserk Button. 'You damn fool.' And a follow-up of 'Are you really that stupid?' Deserved, thoroughly.
  • You Know I'm Black, Right?: The reason why Celestia is unhappy with the term 'mud-pony'. Alicorns embody all three tribes. It's not really played for laughs either time that Berserk Button has been hit (aside from the audience laughing at an idiot getting her comeuppance).