Today’s story delves into Secrets Ponies Weren’t Meant To Know.
At the Mountains of Discord
[Adventure] [Crossover] [Dark] • 40,699 words
North of bountiful Equestria and beyond the Crystal Empire lies an icy land of cryptic mystery. Its inner reaches have never been explored, but a Canterlot University expedition is set to change this. The plan is simple: penetrate the unknown depths of the Uncharted North and discover its most hidden secrets.
It’s a noble undertaking, but a dark cloud looms on the horizon. Princess Luna’s dreams have revealed a great but shadowy threat. To minimise the danger, Princess Celestia requests that her most loyal student, Twilight Sparkle, join the expedition and keep everypony safe. With the aid of her number one assistant, Spike, and mailmare Derpy Hooves, Twilight will attempt to do exactly that.
FROM THE CURATORS: “Somehow, Lovecraft crossovers seem to become a small but integral part of every fandom,” Chris said when introducing this story to us. “I never was particularly enamored of Lovecraft’s writing … this, however, is very nice.” It didn’t take long for us to agree. “I was pretty much sold on this one by the end of the first chapter,” Horizon said. “Strong worldbuilding is so crucial to an adventure that shows us the world beyond Equestria, and this has that in spades — not just in translating Lovecraft to Equestria, but in all the original material that reconciles and expands the two.”
That was best exemplified by this story’s attention to detail, Horizon said: “‘The Stormwalds.’ ‘Svalbarding.’ ‘Aeolipyle’ as the airship name — it was the word used to describe the Greek world’s first steam engine, and Aeolus was the god of the wind. Oh, man, so much care has gone into this.” But it wasn’t just the mythology that drew us in. “Even beyond that, it’s the hints of essential Equestrianity,” Chris said, “from big stuff like the use of magic to tiny asides like ‘feathers sounded against coat, that uniquely pegasus sound that spoke to their dual natures’ to everything about Derpy in this story.” And while the Lovecraftian prose was a challenge for some of us, AugieDog thought it fit the story well: “It’s got a great narrative voice, the way it mixes the Twilight we know from the show with those hapless first-person narrators who inhabit most of Lovecraft’s stuff.”
That mixing, in fact, was what we unanimously agreed to be the biggest strength. “This shines when it expands beyond its inspiration, and makes itself its own,” Chris said. “This is no mere ponification, and the way this story uses the Elder Ones, and how it reveals more about them and their creations, is deliciously enticing.” Horizon agreed: “Its commentary on the relationship between ponies and Elder Ones is really remarkable — and it does some fascinating things as a fusion of two messages about the nature of reality that by all rights should be incompatible.” In summary, as AugieDog put it, that fusion was exemplary: “That the author manages to combine Lovecraft and Pony without either completely destroying the other is just this side of sorcery.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Glimmervoid discusses occult computers, Roman sacrifices, and the flowing rivers of fandom.