Where Loyalties Lie is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction series written by Loyal Liar. It currently consists of two stories, Where Loyalties Lie: Honor Guard and Where Loyalties Lie: Ghosts of the Past.
Honor Guard starts out with Rainbow Dash saving the life of Princess Luna. However, she begins to learn that there is more to the Royal Guard than she previously thought. As Rainbow faces down threats to her friends, her Princesses, and her country, she will have to decide exactly who she is loyal to.
Ghosts of the Past begins after Honor Guard. Rainbow Dash wants nothing more than to return to a normal life after saving the life of Princess Luna, and she believes that happened is in the past and she wants nothing to do with it anymore. However, a past forgotten is doomed to repeat itself, and with an ancient threat from before Equestria's founding rises from the snow, only Rainbow may be the mare that can save Equestria.
Where Loyalties Lie provides examples of:
- Ethnicity Monarch: Each race has its own immortal, deific ruler who governs a part of the natural world and serves as the psychopomp for its respective race. Besides Luna and Celestia, who govern ponies and the day/night cycle, the story describes Emperor Magnus, who governs griffins and the wind.
- Fantastic Racism: Griffons, being Roman Empire expies, look down on other races. It appears to vary from individual to individual, as the Emperor is pretty nice, while the griffon doctor is blatantly racist toward Rainbow, and cites pseudoscientific reasoning for his racism.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: In addition to zebras, who are very blatantly mid-africana, there are the griffons, who are roman.
- God-Emperor: Each race has its own immortal, deific ruler. The god part is meant literally here, as the rulers wield considerable power over part of the natural world and also serve as the psychopomp for their respective races. Other than Luna and Celestia, who govern the day/night cycle, there is Emperor Magnus of the griffons, who governs the wind.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Undead are made by binding the soul of the deceased to a body (doesn't have to be their original), but is very taboo. Undead must perform cannibalism to stave of decay, but this is the least of their problems, as their soul, who got a small taste of the afterlife, will feel great longing for the paradise they lost, but, being unable to return, will devolve into madness. Individual undead can also vary; Fallaner's zombie and skeleton guards are your garden variety undead, with seemingly fully decayed souls. Fallaner itself is a lich with Many Spirits Inside of One. Rainbow Dash is more akin to a Revenant Zombie, having been resurrected for a singly purpose, and intended to return to death once sait purpose is fulfilled. She also avoided the cannibalism thing.
- Psychopomp: The deific rulers of each race serve as this for members of their species.
Honor Guard provides examples of:
- Body Horror: Fallaner, despite being an undead, is not too bad. He seems to look like a very old elk for the most part... except for his lower jaw, which is lacking completely, leaving an open, festering wound.
- Broken Pedestal: Downplayed. While Twilight's faith in Celestia does take a hit when it's revealed that Celestia used very taboo magic, and kept Rainbow's resurrection hidden, it's not broken.
- Dirty Old Man: Deadeye was a customer of Rainbow's mom, who was a prostitute. He denies that this is the reason he's helping her.
- Disappeared Dad: Rainbow never knew her dad, since he joined the Guard and left behind his family. He's Commander Steel Lining.
- Fate Worse than Death: Being resurrected, ironically, is this. The soul longs for the small taste of the afterlife it got and, if it's not released from its bindings to the mortal world, it will descend into madness.
- Flashback: Dead Reckoning suffers the PTSD variant of these from time to time. When Fallaner starts messing with him, it causes one bad enough that it lasts for multiple chapters.
- Foreshadowing: Fallaner tells us the exact problems with resurrecting the dead: The souls still long for the afterlife, eventually causing madness. The same fate is in store for Rainbow.
- Love Triangle: Going Solo likes Shining Armor, Shining Armor is married to Cadence, Cadence doesn't do much.
- Our Liches Are Different: Fallaner was a healer named Unque who attempted to cure a case of insanity by killing the patient and resurrecting his soul in his own body. It... Didn't quite work out, and he's now a nightmarish undead formed of countless souls in his one, rotting body.
- Heroic Sacrifice: RD attempted one to save Luna. Celestia resurrected her.
- Revenant Zombie: Rainbow Dash herself. Celestia resurrected her for the sole purpose of finding a cure for her sister, and intended to send her straight back to the afterlife. This being Rainbow, she decided to say buck destiny.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Dead Reckoning suffers heavy PTSD from the war with the Griffons.
- What the Hell, Hero?: A solid one on RD herself. After basically kidnapping someone (with solid justification, but still), she proceeded to kill a peaceful dragon in the escape. The story had a few dark moments, but that was a solid turn toward the dark end.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The rare non-malicious example. Celestia originally planned to return Rainbow to the afterlife once she had completed a last quest on the mortal coil, since letting her stay alive would ultimately result in melancholy and madness. It didn't go as planned.