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Fanfic / Under the Northern Lights

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Saga and Vigg, Luna, Spike and Twilight, and King Ukko on his throne.

Under the Northern Lights is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic written by CoastalSarv (formerly sieurin, and who calls himself Nattam on Princess Luna travels on a diplomatic journey to the cold reindeer kingdom Tarandroland, since reindeer pirates use it as a base to plunder northern Equestria. She brings with her Twilight Sparkle and Spike for help and companionship. The mission turn out to involve more action that politics, and, to quote the descriptive summary, Luna & Co have to deal with: "scheming unicorn courtiers, unfriendly surly reindeer, bloodthirsty pirates, ancient sorcery and dangerous monsters", not to mention old magic and beings born before Luna and Celestia. Every year, the reindeer have to fight Winter to make it go away — but this year it seems the battle is lost already in autumn... is it possible that this time Winter might win for good?

The story is a rather episodic fantasy story of the epic sort, with much Worldbuilding, not just for the country of Tarandroland but for everything from Equestrian comic books to the elder relatives of Luna and Celestia. It is ongoing, and until finished this page represents the unfinished story.

Under the Northern Lights contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: King Ukko is a bitter drunkard. Heavy drinking is socially mandated among reindeer, but he does it enough that even they react negatively.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: In-Universe. The reindeer have very different views from ponies (and viewers/readers) on the Mane Six. The reindeer believe the Mane Six are Celestia's personal wetworks squad, a team of hand-picked elite troubleshooters led by "the most powerful and evil sorceress in the world", who take care of all major unrest in Equestria, and let Celestia be the benevolent ruler of a perfect little sugar bowl as far as everyone else is concerned.
  • Anachronism Stew: The author refers to his world-building as "anachronism gumbo". It begins in the early chapters where a seer "predicts" her goddess will return to her people by seeing it on TV, and Viking-like raiders loot electronics along with food and cloth.
  • And I Must Scream: Wiglek the Wicked spent about a millennium as an immortal undead frozen within the Everfrost Glacier, constantly reliving the moment of his son's death.
  • Animate Inanimate Matter: Tursakalfar are large masses of living ice that calve off of the Jokulvakt glacier every winter; most fall into the sea and drift away, but a few go rumbling off across the landscape instead. They're mindless beings and normally wander about aimlessly until they melt or break up, but they as long as winter lasts their movement causes them to repair themselves as they accrete snow, ice and turf onto their bodies; they regenerate faster the colder it is, and during particularly harsh winters can actively grow in size.
  • Answers to the Name of God: When Luna is confronting Lord Eminence, the intimidated functionary swears by the Mare in the Moon, to which Luna replies by telling him not to take her name in vain when he's talking to her.
    "Mare in the Moon..." he mumbled.
    "Please don't take my name in vain when I am standing right here, Lord Eminence," said Luna.
  • Artificial Limbs: Wiglek has a crude one in the form of a spear tip jammed into his leg to replace a lost hoof, held in place by undead flesh grown around it.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: Magic that physically affects the world, as opposed to the inherent Sight of the reindeer, is seen as unnatural and creepy in Tarandroland. Therefore, sorcerers, be they reindeer who have learned magic or naturally skilled unicorns, are seen as sinister. The more powerful the sorcerer, the more evil they are assumed to be as a requirement for reaching that level of power and skill. The reindeer are practical enough to see this magic as sometimes useful and don't Burn the Witch!, but sorcerers are generally not trusted.
  • The Berserker: Most of the time, Heikko the Humongous is cheerful, absent-minded and generally a friendly Gentle Giant. When it comes time to fight, however, he quickly becomes a frenzied mass of sprinting, axe-wielding muscle with no interest in anything beyond throwing himself in battle to mangle the nearest foes, laughing and whooping all the while.
  • Blind Seer: Inverted. Reindeer Sight is dependent on their eyes working. Eira is slowly going blind, and hence losing her clairvoyant ability. The reverse is also true — if Sight is disrupted, a reindeer will be unable to see.
  • Breath Weapon:
    • Nidhoggs breathe out void-cold freezing wind.
    • The Skolls are an unusual example, in that they approximate the effects of ice breath but do so by inhaling heat rather than exhaling cold. This difference proves critical against Twilight's shield spell, which is designed to keep enemy attacks out while letting allies through — since the Skolls simply make a part of their prey move towards them, their attack isn't stopped by the shield.
  • Brutish Character, Brutish Weapon: The reindeer berserk Heikko the Humongous fights with a huge double-headed axe.
  • Carry a Big Stick: The stalu Kvalhissir keeps a huge mace which looks like a small tree whose roots grab a huge rock.
  • Casting a Shadow: Perytons can transform their shadows as they please, and interact with the physical world using them. The one in the story is seen transforming his shadow into a mass of razor-edged tentacles during a fight, and later into a large web to hold on to his ship during a storm.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Before Twilight leaves Equestria, Pinkie gives her a party grenade in case she needs to throw a party on short notice. Much later, this proves invaluable when Spike uses it to bluff a group of reindeer pirates into thinking that Discord has come back.
  • Complete Immortality: Luna's curse on Wiglek is that he cannot die, ever — no matter how badly mangled his body is, his soul will never depart its flesh, and given time he will invariably put himself back together. It's treated as a rather horrific fate, as he still only endures as a walking corpse and spent a millennium trapped and aware inside a glacier; Luna, who did this shortly before becoming Nightmare Moon, isn't proud of what she's done.
  • Culture Clash: Reindeer have a very negative view of magic (save for their Sight) and have problems with unicorn-heavy Equestria. Equestrians get nervous with both casual violence and the use of animal products, both common in Tarandroland.
  • Cutaway Gag: In chapter thirty-one, after Twilight and Spike hurry away after performing for which Saga insisted that the participants paint and dress themselves up like stereotypical necromancers, Eira comments that they should have washed themselves off first. The scene then cuts to Twilight and Spike, with the latter saying that they should really have washed themselves before leaving while Twilight fends off a crowd of counterculture teens who think that she's actually a wicked sorceress after the rest of the local crowd ran off in panic.
    "Crazy foreigners and their crazy hurry..." Eira muttered dourly.
    "What is it, Grandma? " said Saga.
    "They oughta have had a bath before they left!" she said. "Let's get us into the bathtub, at least!"
    "I think we oughta have had a bath before we left," said Spike, worried.
    "You're right, you're right, you were right the first five times," Twilight mumbled between gritted teeth before going back to her audience.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Part of the philosophy of the Temple of Hrimfaxi, along with "darkness is necessary".
  • Death Seeker: When the characters finally meet him, Wiglek is revealed to be seeking his own death — he has lived as a tormented undead horror since Nightmare Moon bound his soul to his flesh, and he's hoping to enrage Luna enough to make her kill him.
  • The Dragon: Twilight prepares to speak up when she overhears reindeer protesting about "her" being here, thinking that they're objecting to Luna. Nope; Skinfaxi's Shadow is the greatest sorceress in Equestria, Twilight Sparkle.
  • Doorstopper: The story counts 222,689 words, even in its incomplete state.
  • Ear Notch: Very tradtional and very hard reindeer notch their ears for both ceremonial and cosmetic reasons. Comparison can be made to Maori tattoos. The practice is stated to have been more common in the past, but fallen out of fashion.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The godlike beings who shaped the cosmos and the world predate both the existence of sapient races and the world being stabilized in response to their arrival, and thus their true forms and natures are difficult for them to comprehend — but is quite evident is that they're incredibly powerful beings who could easily wreck the world without noticing.
    • Luna's and Celestia's great-uncles and great-aunts are described in a vision as "lights... sounds... patterns of magic in a black sphere that itched the brain and made the soul cry". They decided the laws of nature, seemingly on a whim. The only hostile one seems to be Discord, though, and his reality warping powers are presumably because he never agreed to what his siblings decided.
    • The second generation of deity-like beings, Luna's and Celestia's aunts and uncles, are smaller-scale version of this, but still huge and unfathomable for regular mortals. The only one described in detail, Karhu-Akka, is just about visualizable as something like a cross of several different animals that's also a mass of living water at the same time. At the moment she sleeps in the form of the Everfrost Glacier, but her awakening would be catastrophic — just by waking up she would cause global flooding — and, even now, she unconsciously shapes the Tarandrian weather and spawns yearly plagues of monsters as she turns and stirs in her sleep.
  • Equivalent Exchange: It is a central pillar of the reindeer worldview that there is a downside to everything. They don't trust magic because they think there has to be a price being paid by someone, even if it isn't the caster. They are wary of Equestria partly because it is such a nice place that whatever the downside is, it must be horrible.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Wiglek might be into cervine sacrifice to try and please Nightmare Moon, but he doesn't think highly on her betraying her own sister, calling her a "kinbetrayer" and "kin-slayer" — he cared very deeply for his own relatives, and despises the idea of turning on one's kin. It turns out that he is only (at least currently), supporting the sacrifice of sentients in an attempt to get Luna to end his undeath/
  • Fantastic Diet Requirement:
    • Nidhoggs eat nothing but frozen wood.
    • Skolls feed on heat, preferentially that within other living creatures.
  • Fantastic Nuke: In a Shout-Out to Fallout: Equestria, "balefire bombs" are mentioned. They are theoretical weapons that have never actually been employed in war.
  • Fantastic Racism: Ubiqutous. Ponies about reindeer, reindeer about ponies, the zebra Paki about both categories, etc. In many cases it is not just mutual prejudice, it is also relatively low-key and consists of misunderstanding and underestimating the Other rather than outright oppression. The latter happens, though. Reindeer treat the Russ (immigrant dwarf Earth ponies) and the Urox (native aurochs) as second-class citizens, and we learn that ponies used to do the same to cattle, sheep and so on, who used to be slaves. Not everyone is racist over the board, either: the pirates of the Crimson Kraken are happily multi-cultural, but have a very negative view of "primitives" like the reindeer and the ponies from Tropical Island.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Tarandroland is a mix of modern and medieval Scandinavia. The nomadic "Grazer" reindeer are obviously a counterpart to the Sami people, though with much more power and influence. Unlike modern Scandinavia, Tarandroland is pretty much a third world country, however. There are other examples: "camel sultanates" and ki-rin ruled by a "Mikado" are mentioned, and Equestria is treated as similar to the USA.
  • Flat World: The world is a flat disk, with a vast dark void beyond its edges and the sun and moon orbiting around it.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Wiglek named his huge, powerful ice golem Svipp after his old dog.
  • Genius Loci: Luna and Celestia's "auntie" isn't simply sleeping in the Everfrost Glacier — she is the Everfrost Glacier itself. As a being of living water, her body became a great mass of ice when it became still and at rest.
  • Glowing Eyelights of Undeath: Wiglek is missing one of his eyes, with a ball of blue flame burning in its empty socket instead.
  • God Guise: Played with when Twilight meets the Skoll in chapter forty-seven. When she calls for a parlay, they start bowing down and worshipping her and she thinks that they must have mistaken her for Luna. She quickly corrects them, but they explain that they were perfectly aware that she isn't their goddess — she isn't an alicorn, she's too small, and Luna wouldn't need to travel with escorts. They had however identified her as an agent and emissary of Luna, which she is, and were worshipping her based on that.
    "Oh," said Twilight, to her shame slightly disappointed. "But what was that about just now then?"
    "You are her prophetess, aren't you?" said the old Skoll anxiously. The other canines seemed to wait.
    "Well..." said Twilight, "...I'm just her hoofmaiden."
    "Close enough!" said the Skoll happily.
  • Golem: A mokkurkalfe, called an ice golem in Equestrian, is a type of construct created by reindeer worshippers of Luna. They’re large, powerful, mindlessly obedient, and can repair themselves by absorbing ice and snow that they walk upon. They're assembled from the butchered remains of living glaciers in a ritual involving clay from frozen rivers and the heart of an enemy. They're named after Mökkurkalfe, a giant clay man built by giants to fight Thor in Norse myth. Twilight mentions faceted golems from the Crystal Empire, although those don't require sacrificing anyone to make them.
  • The Great Flood: This is given as one of the possible dangers of waking Luna and Celestia's "auntie". She is currently sleeping soundly in the form of the great Everfrost Glacier; if she were to wake up, the process of going from stillness to activity would also turn this ice into water, flooding Tarandroland and much of the world in the process.
  • Grim Up North: Tarandroland is cold and gloomy land beset by monsters and wild weather, and its inhabitants are (at least stereotypically) gloomy and violent with tendencies to alcoholism.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Common, just like in the canon show, but even more is added since the fic deals with more than one species. Get used to "anydeer" as well as "anypony".
  • Horny Vikings: The reindeer, at least those living on the coast, are a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to the Norse. Going a-viking hasn't been common in a long while, that they start off again is the reason for Luna's mission. No actual horns are needed due to their antlers.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Teleportation takes those who use it through a distinctly alien region during jumps. For most people, this isn't strictly an issue. Reindeer, whose magic allows them to see things with supernatural clarity, find witnessing the true nature of this space to be a supremely unpleasant experience.
    "There were... things there!" [Vidar] panted. "They... looked at me!"
  • An Ice Person:
    • Nidhoggs are limbless dragonlike monsters who breathe ice cold instead of fire. They primarily use it to deep-freeze wood and then eat it.
    • Skolls have ice-cold blood, and can freeze opponents by swallowing their heat.
  • I Have Many Names: Reindeer know Luna and Celestia as Hrimfaxi and Skinfaxi (the horses of Day and Night in Norse myth), Stalu call Luna Daggmule ("dewmuzzle"), and the Skoll call the sisters Nattmara ("nightmare") and Dagbränna ("dayfire").
  • Imagine Spot: Saga and Luna have a few early in the story, mostly consisting of comedically exaggerated or off-topic reactions to the goings-on of the story.
  • Insistent Terminology: Most characters refer to Wiglek the Wicked as a draugr or a generic undead; Twilight insists that he is properly speaking a lich. Since only one lich ever existed and will ever exist — only Luna can create liches, she only made the one back in her bad old days and has no intention of making more — she fails to make much headway in convincing people that they should use "lich" as a category of things.
  • In-Universe Factoid Failure:
    • The reindeer have gotten a lot of facts about the Mane Six wrong.
    • Lord Eminence's plan fails because he didn't think to learn about reindeer Sight.
  • Jackass Genie:
    • When describing her past interactions with the sorcerer Wiglek, Luna explains that his undead state is a result of her doing this when he magically summoned her and tried to ask her for everlasting life in exchange for creating a temple for her in Tarandroland. Luna was furious at being summoned and wanted to destroy Wiglek for his impertinence, but also really, really wanted to be worshipped; granting Wiglek's wish in a way that screwed him over was her way of reconciling her vindictiveness with her egotism.
    • Discord put a curse on the Sampo that makes it work so that it turns every request made of it into a cruel joke — for instance, a reindeer who wished for the deaths of her enemies died multiple times in succession, each time in the way one of her foes was fated to die. It's even described as a genie with his personality.
  • A Kind of One: Several of the monster species in the story are based on singular beings from Norse myth, which the author compares to how fiction usually handles Greek monsters.
    • Hraesvalgs, flying, wind-shaping spirits resembling a cross between eagles and maggots that possess corpses, are based on Hræsvelgr, a giant eagle that creates the wind and whose name means "corpse-swallower".
    • Mokkurkalfes, ice golems created by reindeer magicians using clay from a frozen river and an enemy's heart, are based on Mökkurkalfe, a man built by giants out of clay and the heart of a mare.
    • Nidhoggs, ice-breathing, wood-eating serpents that try to devour Tarandroland's forests each winter, are based on the dragon that gnaws on the roots of Yggdrasil.
    • Ratatosks, squirrel-like gossip spirits used as spies and informants, are based on Ratatosk, the squirrel who ran up and down the World Tree to ferry insults between Nidhogg and an unnamed eagle.
    • Skolls, northern relatives of the diamond dogs that breathe ice, eat light and heat, and want to make winter last forever, are based on Sköll, a wolf that chases and tries to eat the sun.
    • Tursos, in a break from the Nordic trend, are plague-spreading sea monsters based on Iku-Turso, a sea-dwelling horror said to be the father of disease from The Kalevala.
  • Lady of Black Magic: Due to a combination of news becoming corrupted as they pass down the international grapevine and a cultural distrust of magic, the reindeer view Twilight as a cross between this and an Evil Sorceress — scheming, deceitful and dangerously powerful, but also courtly, alluring, and elegant.
  • Lovable Jock: Prince Vigg can be an immature brat but is usually quite a nice guy. His greatest interest seem to be winter sports, mostly skiing both cross-country and down-hill. He and his friends have apparently invented the snowboard as well.
  • Magic Is Evil: The inherent magic of reindeer is The Sight, a form of passive divination that tells them things about the world. Magic that physically acts upon the world seems creepy and unnatural to them. Hence, all sorcery, whether it is learned by some reindeer or the kind that is inherent to unicorns, is seen as sinister. However, the reindeer are also practical enough to see it as sometimes necessary.
  • The Magnificent:
    • The reindeer king and his companions are still known by the titles they accrued during their glory days — Mustikka the Tracker, Heikko the Humongous, Skiold the Bold, Kol the Singer, Galderhorn the Sorcerer, and King Ukko the Piercer.
    • The ancient reindeer sorcerer Wiglek is still remembered in infamy as Wiglek the Wicked.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: On first finding Wiglek, Tuva buries an axe in his head. The former, who is an immortal undead, just looks at the weapon for a moment and then drily comments that he thinks that seems to want to kill him.
    Tuva gave up a little shriek and first tumbled backwards, then leapt forwards and buried her hatchet in Wiglek's head, down to his balefire-filled eye socket. She stumbled backwards.
    Wigleksort of rolled his balefire eye-replacement upwards and looked at the hatchet with mild curiosity.
    "So," he said, "correct me if I'm mistaken here, but it seems like you want to kill me?"
  • Meaningful Name: Many.
    • "Saga" can mean both "seer" and "fairy tale": Saga has flights of fancy and is an actual seer.
    • Lord Eminence is a gray unicorn: an "éminence grise", gray eminence, is someone having political power behind the scenes or informally, which is what Lord Eminence tries to achieve.
    • Luna's name among the Stalu, Daggmule, means "dewmuzzle". The Skoll instead call the sisters Nattmara ("nightmare") and Dagbränna ("dayfire").
  • Must Have Caffeine: A cultural trait of the reindeer of Tarandroland. It is also Klatchian Coffee, at least according to Spike. This is of course because their real life counterparts, the Scandinavians, are heavy coffee drinkers.
  • Monster in the Ice: A variant. Karhu-Akka, an ancient godlike being from the dawning days of the world, is at first implied to slumber within the Everfrost Glacier, but this isn't strictly correct — she is the Everfrost Glacier itself, her watery body having become ice when she became still and at rest. Either way, Celestia and Luna are very careful not to wake her up, as this would result in considerable destruction from both her inadvertent movements and the thawing of all that ice.
  • Mother of a Thousand Young: Karhu-Akka produces a significant portion of the monsters of Tarandroland, mostly unintentionally. Every winter, she spawns hordes of linnorms and calves off living glaciers from her icy body, which then wander off into surrounding lands and often come into conflict with their civilized natives.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The spy Lord Eminence when he realizes that his plot has been found out because he has been very careless because his special talent for being unobtrusive and even turning invisible doesn't work on reindeer, meaning there are lots of witnesses to his acts. He acted alone, convinced his success would force his superiors to accept a job well done, but Princess Luna is not only against the plan per se but is also furious that he was so careless as to be found out. He doesn't say the actual phrase, but falls to the floor and moans "Mare in the Moon!" which prompts Luna to chastise him further for taking her name in vain when she is standing right there.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Saga and Luna. It seems to be the proscribed aesthetics in the Temple of Hrimfaxi, which looks like a "haunted stable on Nightmare Night" according to Twilight Sparkle.
  • Oh, My Gods!: Twilight swears by Celestia's socks. In another scene, Luna admonishes a swearing pony for "taking my name in vain" when he swears by the Mare in the Moon while she is standing right next to him. The temple-fawn Saga swears "oh my goddess" — the goddess in this case being Luna.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Nidhoggs, whose name means "ill-that-gnaws" in Poatsi, are draconic beings, but not true dragons, resembling immense serpents that breathe icy wind and eat only frozen wood, preferring the worked timber of buildings over wild trees. They are spawned yearly from Karhu-Akka, a godlike being whose slumbering shape forms the great Everfrost Glacier, as part of the yearly onset of winter; most perish battling the reindeer, but some survive and grow stronger and larger with each passing year.
  • Our Liches Are Different: Wiglek the Wicked was infused with a piece of the Nightmare while still alive, which turned him into a lich when he died. He asked to live forever when making a Deal with the Devil with Luna, when she was on her way to become Nightmare Moon, but was screwed over ("you will never die") and made into an undead being instead.
  • Our Perytons Are Different: Perytons are winged deer with the legs and tails of birds, and come from a distant archipelago far to the south. As a result, they're very rare in the lands around Equestria. They can transform their shadows as they please, and interact with the physical world using them; the one in the story is seen transforming his shadow into a mass of razor-edged tentacles during a fight, and later into a large web to hold on to his ship during a storm.
  • Our Spirits Are Different: Spirits are incorporeal beings common throughout Tarandroland; they can be helpful or dangerous depending on their nature, and dealing with and calling on spirits forms a major part of reindeer magic. They are almost impossible to harm with physical means, but are vulnerable to magic.
    • Hraesvalgs are flying spirits resembling a cross between eagles and maggots. They possess and animate corpses and are driven by a constant ravenous hunger, and are among the monsters faced by the reindeer every winter.
    • Ratatosks, or gossip spirits, resemble squirrels covered in eyes and ears. They are naturally attracted to places where gossip and news can be found, and are often used as spies and scouts.
  • Our Titans Are Different: Luna's and Celestia's "aunts" and "uncles" (and, presumably, parents). They are vast elemental beings which created the world and its intelligent species (learning the latter from the much younger Luna and Celestia when their toys turned into the first ponies because the sisters loved them so much — so yeah, ponies originated as toys of two little girls). The one seen in the fic is the water being called Karhu-Akka by the reindeer. She combines traits of bear, cow, squid and whale and now sleeps in the shape of a huge glacier. If she awakes, horrible things will happen. Her rolling over in her sleep when Discord got free is one of the causes for the crisis in the story, one which might kill all life in a country. Luna, however, remembers her as a kind aunt who played with her and Celestia by the sea and gave them wonderful toys.
  • Our Trolls Are Different: Tarandroland is home to trolls called Stalu (after a Sami myth in real life). They are huge, misshapen cervines who live deep in forests and use forest lakes for gardens. They are infamous for eating reindeer. They are actually moose, driven to hiding after the genocidal efforts of the reindeer. While they might be hostile in self-defense, they most certainly don't eat people.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Holdraugr are the corpses of any good-sized creature, often thinking ones, possessed by spirits known as hraesvalgs. They're ravenously hungry for flesh and incredibly difficult to put down, and even if they're destroyed the hraesvalg will simply fly off to possess another corpse. Hordes of these things are among the monsters faced by the reindeer each winter.
  • Perky Goth: Saga is a Nightmare Fetishist with a love for dark heavy makeup and macabre jewelry who works as a temple maiden in a temple to a goddess of night and darkness. She is also chirpy, happy and carefree most of the time, Spike even calling her a "goth Pinkie Pie". She claims that "goths are posers" so she probably wouldn't like the moniker herself.
  • Pirate Girl: Crimson Coat (actual name Sudden Gale), captain of the Crimson Kraken. A renegade Equestrian Pegasus, she is not a nice mare: besides being a violent criminal she can add casual racism and sexual molestation to her resumé.
  • The Power of Friendship: Unsurprisingly a theme, although focused on the groups of Vigg, Spike, and Saga or Ukko's True Companions. Parodied when Twilight Sparkle, while pretending to be an Evil Sorceress, receives the Mother of All Friendship Musicals from Princess Ljufa.
  • Princesses Rule: Discussed. There's some confusion and theorizing in-universe over why Celestia and Luna use the title of "princess" instead of "queen". Some believe that this is because the title of queen would rightfully belong to their missing mother; Celestia eventually explains that the actual reason is that she and Luna figured that only one person could be queen at a time, and neither wanted to elevate herself over the other.
  • Psycho Sidekick: The deer see Twilight Sparkle as this to Celestia — the evil sorceress who does the dirty deeds that are needed to support Equestria's power and prosperity, but which would sully Celestia's holy and pure reputation if she did them herself.
  • Pulling Themselves Together : Although he never looks better than an ancient corpse, Wiglek can restore any damage to himself and simply reabsorb any parts of him that are cut off.
  • Red Baron: Twilight Sparkle is called "Skinfaxi's Shadow" by the reindeer.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Luna (as well as Celestia, but we see very little of her). Princess Ljufa, though her work is equally off-stage. Prince Vigg wants to be one, but his family thinks he should grow up and get an education first (he's only fifteen). The only titled person we see who doesn't work much is King Ukko, and that's because he is an alcoholic who spends his days either drunk or hungover. He sharpens up later in the story, when his life and throne are directly threatened.
  • Runic Magic: One of the reindeer's main magical traditions is rune-crafting, which consists of imbuing special properties into objects by carving them with specific symbols; this can range from carving runes of death onto a weapon to make it deadlier to carving runes of seeing into a building's walls to create a surveillance system. It is one of the few methods of magic that the normally sorcery-fearing reindeer trust.
  • Running Gag: "Artifact means a magical thingamajig!" "I know!" Among others.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Within the story. The Equestrian comic book hero Sampo the Warrior-Prince is based on the mythical Tarandroland hero Sampo. Based very loosely it seems — among other things, the comic has him be the son of the reindeer king while the sorcerer Wiglek the Wicked is his uncle, while in reality it was the other way around. (The comic spoofed is rather obviously The Mighty Thor.)
  • The Sampo: The Sampo, from Finnish myth, occurs in Tarandroland myth as well in a similar form. The hero who used it became known as "Sampo", his actual name forgotten.
  • Sea Monster: While they're not physically described in great detail, tursos are reptilian sea monsters that spread pestilence around them, feed on anything that dies to their plagues, and attack the coasts and shipping of Tarandroland each winter.
  • Sexy Slit Dress: As a part of her impersonation of the evil sorceress persona that the reindeer of Tanadroland think she is, Twilight ends up wearing a dark purple dress with long slits intended to draw attention to "those parts a stallion's eyes might linger on".
  • Shout-Out: Twilight mentions when some of her friends met some deer.
  • Similar Squad: King Ukko and his five companions are pretty similar to the Six Bearers of the Elements of Harmony, though Ukko & Co are male, reindeer and old enough to be grandparents, of course. Twilight and Spike wonder about it. The equivalents seem to be King Ukko the Piercer = Applejack (honest, stubborn, family stag/mare), Mustikka the Tracker = Twilight Sparkle (sharpminded, No Social Skills, master organizer), Skiold the Bold = Rainbow Dash (brave, loyal, impulsive), Kol the Singer = Rarity (artistic, Large Ham), Galderhorn the Sorcerer = Fluttershy (shy, soft-spoken, cares for spirits/animals) and Heikko the Humongous = Pinkie Pie (constantly happy, hedonistic, Cloud Cuckoolander)
  • Smug Snake: Lord Eminence is arrogant, superior in attitude, and very manipulative when he has a mind to be.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: Luna and Celestia, especially the latter, who says she outlawed the worship of herself centuries ago in Equestria. They both reluctantly accept foreigners worshiping them, though Luna gets outright livid when she hears reindeer not only worship her and Nightmare Moon as the same entity, but used to practice cervine sacrifice. Despite this, she keeps supporting the Temple of Hrimfaxi through the fic, though that seems to be for their social work in a poor nation and because of their claims that Dark Is Not Evil. And maybe because she in her youth actually encouraged the forming of the cult, and feels responsible for it.
  • Suicide by Cop: Twilight theorizes that Wiglek, tired of his immortality (having been trapped under a glacier for centuries and all), is only supporting things like sacrificing sentient beings so that Luna will end his undead existence once and for all. This is confirmed with his rant to Twilight.
  • Talking to the Dead: The deer of Hrimfaxi's temple can do this. They even try it to summon Wiglek's ghost to talk to him. It doesn't work. Note that ghosts in this universe were scientifically proven TO exist. Then think about why this wouldn't work.
  • Talk Like a Pirate: Mr Moccus, first mate on The Crimson Kraken. He is the only pirate to speak like that, which Spike points out. He claims the Pegasi he learned Equestrian from long ago just happened to have that accent.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Inverted with Wiglek, who insists that Luna, and no one else, should be the one to take him out.
  • Translator Microbes: Twilight Sparkle knows a spell, developed using combined unicorn and zebra magics, that temporarily learns a language from a native speaker instantly. It has some minor issues: you automatically gain the "teacher's" dialect and vocabulary, and the casting process is potentially embarrassing. Of course, Twilight causes misunderstandings due to the latter.
  • Uncanny Valley: An in-universe example: Spike finds nidhoggs disgusting because they look very similar to dragons, but clearly aren't dragons — they have too too-flat faces, too-small eyes, no limbs, and pebbled skin that looks like scales but isn't, resulting a very unsettling feeling of subverted familiarity.
  • Villain Has a Point: Even Twilight admits that maybe the pirate leader would be a better king than the current one who has spent much of his reign in a constant state of inebriation.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Kol objects to Vigg bringing an entourage on the quest to find the Sampo on the grounds that it doesn't fit what happens in the heroic quests in sagas. Celestia is able to placate him by convincing him that the situation is more like a war epic.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: Spike has to get into a place and the management would certainly let him in if they only knew he was Spike the Dragon. Unfortunately, there has been several people dressed like him trying to get in already, and everybody says he must be a reindeer kid in a bad dragon costume.