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"Go to your friends. Look them in the eyes, talk with them, laugh with them, and tell me if lifting a duster is more magical than what you feel, truly feel, in your heart. Friendship is a force, Twilight Sparkle.
A fanfic written by AestheticB
Long ago, in the magical land of Equestria, there lived a powerful King and his dark Queen. Immortal and ignorant, their end came at the hooves of their daughters, Celestia and Luna, who sought to build a better future for ponykind.
Now ponykind’s old gods have returned.
Twilight Sparkle is trapped inside her own mind, slave to a cruel and impulsive consciousness built from everything she is not. Powerless and voiceless, she must find a way to stop the being that calls itself Nihilus from destroying everything she holds dear.
Luna is tasked with assembling the remaining Elements of Harmony in hopes of freeing their leader. For if ponykind is to have any hope, it is in Twilight Sparkle. And if Twilight Sparkle is to have any hope, it is in her five friends.
Facing her father in mortal combat, Celestia must do everything she can to ensure that ponykind has the tools to survive before she falls. With inevitable defeat bearing down upon her, she makes the first move in the oldest and deadliest game known to creation.
IMPORTANT NOTE: To avoid confusion after using the below link, take note of the fact that this story's author has renamed it "The Immortal Game".
The story can be found here
- Abusive Parents: Does not even begin to describe Esteem's relationship with Rarity, let alone Titan and Terra's with Celestia and Luna.
- Or Titan's with Terra, for that matter.
- Abusive Precursors: To say Titan and Terra's initial reign over Equestria (in the backstory) was nightmarish would be a major understatement. Their current rule is even worse.
- On the other hand, Titan's first wife Harmony (Terra's mother), did care about her subjects. Enough that Titan eventually killed her for ignoring her duties to protect them from Discord.
- Action Mares: Rarity, Applejack, Rainbow Dash and Princess Luna most notably, although Pinkie and Fluttershy have their moments as well.
- Twilight's mother Starlight counts as well -- until the Mane Six meet up with the Loyalists, she and her husband are the only ones who really stand a chance against Esteem in a fight.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Rarity’s blade, Vorpal. Rainbow Dash gets a sword like this later on.
- Actual Pacifist: Sparkle is literally unable to bring herself to attack anything, even Puppets.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: See Department of Redundancy Department.
- A God Am I: Said by Luna, before her fight against Nihilus in Cloudsdale.
- After the same fight, Nihilus wonders what defeating a god makes her.
- Ultimately subverted with Twilight Sparkle. After fully tapping into the power of the Elements of Harmony, she realizes that she's essentially become a god herself. The subversion comes from the fact that she's horrified by the idea, and decides that nopony should have that much power.
- Airborne Mook: The Pegasus Puppets
- The Alcoholic: Sir Unimpressive, who is never seen without a flask of whiskey. Twilight at one point wonders where he keeps getting it refilled.
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us:
- All Your Powers Combined: Each of the Mane Six has certain traits that make them a monster to face in battle. Twilight's trait? To use all her friends abilities at once.
- And I Must Scream: Twilight. She’s unable to stop her Super-Powered Evil Side, Nihilus, from trying to kill her friends.
- Also Rainbow Dash when she subjected to the Insanity, and is forced to watch as Wrong tries to help Nihilus kill her friends.
- A flashback shows Titan seemingly subjecting Discord to this after he causes the death of Titan's son. As canon shows, he eventually escaped, with this story implying that Titan's original defeat by Celestia and Luna is what enabled it.
- Apologetic Attacker: Wrong (Rainbow Dash subjected to the Insanity).
- Arch Enemy: Sir Unimpressive and the Cadet are an interesting example, in that they only fight twice (and we only see the second fight), but they see each other as their greatest enemy. There's also an inverted example of Unknown Rival in play, as they apparently already have a prior history that Unimpressive was completely unaware of.
- Titan and Discord were this back in the day which is why Twilight recruits Discord's help during the climax.
- Archnemesis Dad/Evil Matriarch: Titan and Terra to the Princesses.
- Esteem to Rarity.
- Artifact of Doom: The Sliver of Darkness, the object responsible for Luna's transformation into Nightmare Moon, and Twilight's into Nihilus.
- Ascended to Carnivorism: Esteem indulges in eating meat, which is an anathema to most ponies.
- As You Know: Used to show what's happened during the Time Skip, as the Cadet uses these exact words to start a briefing with Esteem. And the narration takes a moment to lampshade this trope, as it points out that yes, Esteem does already know all this.
- The Atoner: Princess Luna.
- Twilight, following her release from Nihilus' control.
- Axe Crazy: Nihilus in spades, Wrong as well.
- Badass Princess: Celestia and Luna both qualify.
- BFS: Equinox. Most unicorns have around 9 pieces to their blade. Sir Unimpressive is trained for ten years and has an amazing thirteen. Rarity and her father General Esteem (the most powerful mortal warrior on the planet) has fourteen. Twilight Sparkle? Twenty Effing Seven.
- It also has the added benefit of serving as a focus for the Elements of Harmony.
- Big Bad: Titan
- Big No: Nihilus lets one rip when Twilight retakes control of her body long enough for the Elements of Harmony to be used on her.
- Blood Knight: Nihilus and Esteem both fit this trope quite nicely
- Blood Is the New Black: Esteem "spreads" a helpless pony all over himself and Rarity. Then he apologizes for not considering that the color doesn't go with her mane, like it does his.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Wrong, Rainbow Dash after Nihilus implants a spell called the Insanity into her skull that constantly tears at her sense of self, resulting in a nigh-amnesiac assassin who divides her time between hunting down the Mane Six and begging them to run.
- Titan inflicted the Insanity on Terra to turn her from a nurturing pony into a Complete Monster.
- Brainwash Residue: Although Dash is freed from Nihilus' mind control, she's still subconsciously compelled to obey Twilight Sparkle.
- Break the Cutie: Pinkie Pie gets hit hard by this after she thinks that Wrong!Dash killed Fluttershy.
- Brick Joke: In the Mane Cast's first scene (before everything goes to hell), Rainbow Dash makes an Accidental Innuendo about Fluttershy's dancing. Much later, after breaking free from Nihilus' mind control to save Pinkie Pie, she makes another one about the latter situation.
- Broken Ace: It's established right at the beginning of the story that Twilight is, in addition to being Celestia's prize student, the most powerful Unicorn alive (and by the end of the story is practically a god), but that just ends up making her a target for the villains, and later leads to her being appointed leader of the Loyalists. The stress of all this practically drives her insane and leads to the Broken Pedestal below.
- Broken Pedestal: Twilight eventually realizes that Celestia was manipulating her for years, subtly training her to be warrior and Rebel Leader in case she was ever deposed. This shatters Twilight's image of Celestia, and she ends up hating her for it.
- Brought Down to Normal: Happens to Celestia twice. First, she's completely stripped of her power at the beginning of the story, and only gets it back near the climax. Shortly thereafter, most of her magic is drained again, leaving her only slightly more powerful than the average pony.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Rarity.
- Once Celestia is restored, Twilight rips into her, calling her out on her manipulations.
- The Chessmaster: Celestia.
- Twilight becomes this as well after her Split Personalities merge back together.
- Climax Boss: Nihilus. She is the primary threat for roughly the first half of the story, and it is only after her defeat that Luna and the Mane Six can focus on taking the war to Titan.
- Co-Dragons: Nihilus and Esteem. After Nihilus' defeat, Esteem takes on full Dragon duties.
- One could argue that Terra has shades of The Dragon as well, though she doesn't do much for most of the story. Though following Esteem's death, she steps down into the role.
- Cosmic Chess Game: The titular Immortal Game referred to by Celestia and Titan at points in the story.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Inflicted on the depowered Celestia by Terra, her own mother.
- Titan tortures Sparkle for personal information he can use against Celestia.
- Convenient Coma: Twilight ends up in one after Nihilus' defeat, and doesn't wake up until after the Time Skip.
- The Corruption: Discord's MO back in the day -- he'd turn ponies into mindless, hideous creatures called creechlings who the Royals wouldn't hesitate to Mercy Kill. And this ended up including Terra's brother/husband, the original Empyrean.
- Crazy Prepared: In the entirely possible event that Titan can withstand the Elements of Harmony, or that they don't all even live long enough to use them, Twilight has a backup plan. His name? Discord.
- Cry for the Devil: Terra gets a flashback chapter that shows how she became the way she is: she had to Mercy Kill her brother/husband after Discord corrupted him, then Titan killed her mother for "betraying" him, forced her to be his new wife, and subjected her to the Insanity so that she'd become as brutal as him. It's kind of hard not to pity her after reading that.
- Curb Stomp Battle: God-mode Twilight Sparkle versus anypony who isn't Titan (the real Titan; the Puppet avatars don't count).
- Nihilus' first fight with Luna, as the latter was severely weakened at the time.
- Esteem vs anypony in a blade fight who isn't Rarity, Twilight's mother, or Twilight herself.
- Terra delivers one to everypony during the second battle of Ponyville but they keep fighting, and eventually reignite the Elements of Harmony to even things out.
- Dark Fic: And How! War Is Hell, the corruption of Ideals, Rage Against the Heavens and Rage Against the Mentor, Mad God predecessors, Mass war, Brainwashing.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Luna, especially in later chapters.
- The Dead Have Names: Pinkie lists the names of all the ponies killed in Terra's attack on Ponyville when stating her reason for voting to kill her when she's imprisoned.
- Death Faked for You: After Nihilus is defeated, the world at large thinks Twilight is dead. And while she's recuperating, Luna and the other Mane Cast members do nothing to counter those rumors, in order to keep her safe.
- Death Glare: The Stare becomes this literally when Fluttershy uses it on Puppets -- apparently, it works by bending a pony or animal's will, but since the Puppets don't have any will of their own, it burns through them instead.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Nihilus Nix Naught? Somepony's got a zero fetish.
- Despair Event Horizon: Twilight crosses it on the eve of the Final Battle, as she deduces that they don't have a chance of winning. Luna gives her hope with the speech that the page quote comes from.
- Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Part of Nihilus' flaws as a minion is that she's a complete inversion of Twilight -- up to and including Twi's ability to focus on a goal, meaning she often gets distracted by new ways to torture her targets -- giving them time to escape.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Rainbow Dash kicks Titan's avatar in the face. It doesn't do much, but it distracts it long enough for Luna to slice it in half with her blade.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Twilight managing to nearly kill Terra during the second battle of Ponyville. Then Terra heals and proceeds to return the favor.
- Disc One Final Boss: Despite her important role at the beginning of the story, Nihilus is the first major antagonist dispatched, bridging the way to greater battles and war.
- Disney Death: Fluttershy.
- The Dog Bites Back: There's shades of this when Rainbow Dash breaks free of the Insanity and goes apeshit on Nihilus.
- Elite Mooks: The Unicorn Puppets.
- Enemy Civil War: In the Backstory -- during Titan and Terra's original reign, she eventually tried to usurp his position, and they fought for (possibly) decades, until Celestia and Luna got so tired of all the pointless death and destruction that they stabbed both of their parents in the back and sealed them away.
- Enemy Mine: Allying with Discord against Titan. Celestia describes the situation as "better the devil they know".
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: In his own sick, twisted way, Esteem actually seems to care about Rarity. Likewise, Terra seems to genuinely love Titan.
- Terra (and Titan too, before he snapped) also loved Harmony (Terra's mother and Titan's first wife) and the original Empyrean (Terra's brother/first husband and Titan's son).
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: All of the main villains have this to varying degrees.
- The Evils of Free Will: Titan ultimately decides that the main "problem" with ponies is their free will, which allows them to defy him, and resolves to remove it once he's crushed Twilight and the Loyalists.
- Eye Scream: It must not have been a pleasant experience for Twilight to have an Artifact of Doom shoved into her eye
- Fighting From the Inside: Dash struggles with the Insanity, trying to resist it's control over her. It doesn't go well until Fluttershy uses The Stare, which weakens the Insanity enough for Dash to break free.
- Twilight also fights Nihilus passively by providing her bad information and distractions whenever possible, but it isn't until her friends are all in a position to defeat her that she can resist long enough to provide them help in the form of the elements.
- The Fighting Narcissist: General Esteem, widely recognized as the greatest bladecaster in the world -- when Titan grants him a boon in exchange for his loyalty, he chooses eternal youth.
- Godzilla Threshold: That's all you can really call it when the group recruits Discord.
- Hammerspace: Twilight/Nihilus' null-space
- Hannibal Lecture: Terra is very fond of these whether she's the captor or the captive.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Luna, though it gets better the more she fights alongside the Loyalists.
- Healing Factor: All Earth Ponies and Fluttershy seem to possess this in varying degrees, Applejack's in particular seems to be rather powerful.
- Hellish Pupils: Nihilus gets a glowing red iris around a slitted pupil where Esteem drove the sliver through her eye.
- Heroic Second Wind: During the battle of Canterlot castle, Twilight gets gutted by both Titan's avatar and Esteem, and it looks like it's all over. Then, Twilight uses the link between the bearers of the Elements to tap into Applejack's Healing Factor, and she gets back up.
- He Who Fights Monsters: The reason for Sparkle's pacifism is that she's afraid that she'll start enjoying violence, and become no better than Nihilus. When her mind fuses back together, Twilight Sparkle realizes that was foolish -- she is nothing like Nihilus, and will never let herself sink so low.
- I Am Not My Father: Rarity
- I Have No Father: After calling him out, Rarity effectively disowns Esteem, and shows no signs of having a problem with the possibility of having to kill him and is far from upset when Twilight does just that.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Nihilus ate Celestia's ear, though aside from that there aren't any other signs of this trope being in play.
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: Depending on how you look at it, Twilight's "God Slayer" outfit might count, with her wearing a piece of the night sky on her body. (Then again, since it's designed to never come off, this might get a little awkward after the war)
- Incest Is Relative: Titan doesn't appear to have a problem with forcing Luna to marry her brother, or himself being married to his daughter.
- And Terra was originally married to her own brother, before he and her mother both died and Titan forced her to marry him.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain/Minion with an F In Evil: Empyrean. He really has no clue how to run Equestria or fight the Loyalists, and it's clear that Esteem hates having to work for him. It makes his death at Titan's hooves even sadder, really.
- Insistent Terminology: Titles are very important to some of the ponies.
- Internal Reveal: After Nihilus' defeat, Equestria at large believes Twilight to be dead, until she (and the rest of the Mane Six) hook up with the Loyalists.
- Ironic Echo: "Titles are important," is practically Esteem's Catch Phrase. Twilight shoots this back at him during the Final Battle by pointing out that while he may be a General, she's a Master General. Similarly, he gives her a "The Reason You Suck" Speech when he thinks he's beat her, and later she gives a similar one to him right before killing him.
- After being stripped of her power, Celestia refuses to answer to her mother's mocking nickname of "Sunshine". When Terra sees that Celestia has regained her power, she's so shocked she can only choke out her name, to which Celestia smugly replies, "Call me Sunshine".
- When Terra is imprisoned by the Mane Six, she tells Fluttershy that she performs cruel acts because "It's what I do. It's who I am." When Fluttershy shows her an act of kindness anyway, she replies to Terra's inquiry as to why with the same line.
- It's Personal: Naturally, Rarity's rivalry with her father Esteem. Though that ends up taking a backseat to Twilight's vendetta against him, the stallion who turned her into Nihilus.
- Jerkass Gods: Titan and Terra don't really care much about for their subjects.
- Karmic Death: Esteem, who forced the Sliver of Darkness through Twilight's eye as she begged for mercy, is killed by Twilight pushing a (very large) sliver of metal through his eye while his attempts at begging for mercy are cut off by Twilight forcing his mouth shut.
- Kick the Dog: Esteem mocking Twilight's parents about how he turned her into Nihilus.
- Kill It with Fire: Averted. Celestia tries to incinerate Terra, but Titan intervenes before she can finish the job.
- Averted again during the second battle of Ponyville; Twilight tries to kill Terra with a beam of concentrated molten iron, but only manages to wound her before running out.
- Lady of War: Rarity
- La Résistance: The Loyalists.
- Last of His Kind: As it turns out, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie are part of -- and are possibly the last -- of very rare, naturally evolved, pony subspecies that Titan ordered destroyed for not fitting in his design.
- Legacy Character: Empyrean turns out to be one; he was modeled and named after Titan's first son, who was also Terra's brother/husband.
- Les Collaborateurs: All the nobles and soldiers who side with the royal family after Titan takes over. Though it should be noted that aside from Esteem and the Cadet, who joined for power (and the former's respect in the Cadet's case), this is presented more realistically than most examples -- many, like Captain Crunch, only sided with Titan out of fear and the belief that they had no other choice.
- Load-Bearing Boss: When Nihilus is defeated, her floating fortress falls apart.
- Mama Bear/Papa Wolf: Don't mess with Twilight, or you'll have her parents coming after you. Especially her mother Starlight, who, before Rarity hooks up with the Loyalists, is the only pony able to match Esteem in a sword fight.
- Master Bladecaster: Esteem. As he notes that Rarity is the strongest bladecaster he's ever met other than himself, Rarity may fit this trope as well.
- Meaningful Rename: Titan was originally named Order, but changed it when he snapped from the fallout of his war with Discord, and went from a strict but well intentioned ruler to the monster we've seen in the rest of the story.
- Mercy Kill: As flashback's show, this is the only thing to be done for Discord's creechlings, since there's no way to return them to normal. Then Terra had to do this to her brother/husband.
- The Messiah: Due to being Celestia's prized student, Twilight has a reputation like this among the Loyalists, which causes their ranks to swell after the Internal Reveal that she's still alive. And after her He's Back moment, with the awakening of her true power, she really starts to live up to it.
- Mighty Glacier: Applejack
- Mind Hive: Celestia can split her mind into at least three separate consciousnesses, each able to concentrate on a different train of thought. Twilight also acquires this skill after being freed of Nihilus, and Terra implies Titan has the ability as well.
- Mind Rape: The Insanity does this to Rainbow Dash whenever she even thinks about resisting one of Nihilus's orders. Or remember she's Rainbow Dash.
- Mooks: The Puppets
- Mook Lieutenant: The Cadet.
- My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Twilight Sparkle gets a moment like this when Titan's torture forces her fractured mind back together.
- Mythology Gag: Out of the Mane Six, the first two to use another race's abilities are Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy, who use pegasus and earthpony magic respectively. This hearkens back to their original G4 designs which in turn were based off of two G1 characters. And as a cherry on top, immediately afterwards we get:
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Titan puts Sparkle in such a bad situation it forces her to reintegrate her minds.
- Terra's assault on Ponyville, which serves no strategic goal and is only to hurt her enemies emotionally, ends with her losing her godhood and the Elements of Harmony re-ignited.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: Terra would appear to qualify, as she believes that the only purpose in life is to survive, and that any other goal is meaningless.
- Never My Fault: Titan blames ponykind for the deaths of his wife and first son, even though Discord was responsible for the latter, and he himself was responsible for the former.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Since there is a war going on and all, naturally no one's holding any punches. Still, that being said, the key fights always seem to be a bit harsher than most of the others.
- Not Now, Kiddo: The moon turning red.
- No Sell: Applejack is able to do this due to a combination of her strength, her Healing Factor, and her armor (especially after Twilight enhances the latter).
- And both Titan and Terra have a spell that neutralizes other ponies' magic including the Elements of Harmony.
- Not What It Looks Like: After Applejack and Fluttershy end up sharing a bed for the night, Rainbow Dash walks in on them the following morning lying on top of each other. She quickly leaves the room, and Applejack just as quickly follows after to explain.
- Offing the Offspring: Titan and Terra have no problem with doing this as proven when Titan kills Empyrean for failing him.
- Ominous Floating Castle: Nihilus' floating citadel.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Sir Unimpressive and the Cadet.
- Orcus on His Throne: All of the royals. Empyrean stays in the palace, officially ruling in his father's name, but never fights the Loyalists himself until the Mane Six burst into his throne room and depower him (which is justified by him being young and having no knowledge of combat). Meanwhile, Titan and Terra are off "restoring order" to their creation and torturing Celestia, and don't fight the protagonists directly except at the very beginning of the story and during the climax, though Titan did intervene a few times via Puppet Avatars.
- Paint It Black: Nihilus starts out looking exactly like Twilight, but eventually ends up looking like the picture above. In a faster example, when Rainbow Dash is subjected to the Insanity, it turns her fur black and her mane and tail white.
- Pay Evil Unto Evil: Twilight's rather brutal killing of Esteem would be a Moral Event Horizon if he didn't totally have it coming.
- Ponies Are Bastards: Titan and Terra both firmly believe that Ponies are naturally vicious, violent creatures, and the paradise that Celestia created is a falsehood.
- Physical God: All the royals, obviously. Also Twilight, once she fully taps into the power of the Elements of Harmony.
- Pony Abomination: Discord's creechlings from the flashbacks definitely sound like they fit, going by the description.
- Pony of Mass Destruction: Goes hand in hand with the Physical God line.
- Psychic Link: It turns out that the Elements of Harmony grant one to their bearers, and the Mane Six end up using this to their advantage during battle.
- Rage Against the Mentor: When they're reunited, Twilight really tears Celestia a new one, calling her out for all her manipulations. Celestia tries to mend things between them, but Twilight points out that the way she's doing it is just another manipulation.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Applejack gives a rather simple one to Esteem when they meet for the first time:
"Ah know knights and generals. You're just a jackass."
- Esteem himself gives one to Twilight when he thinks the villains have won, telling her that she was foolish to think she could win, and that all she'll be remembered for is failing. When Twilight kills him, she gives a similar speech about how all he'll be remembered for is his treachery.
- Rebel Leader: Twilight's parents seem to have been, if not the leaders of the Loyalists, then at least among them. Until the Mane Six hook up with them, and Twilight hesitantly accepts Luna's decision to appoint her General of the Armies of Equestria, which makes her leader of the Loyalists by default.
- It turns out that Celestia was subtly training her for this position should the need ever arise, something Twilight resents her for, though she really gets into the role once her mind heals.
- Red Baron: After her He's Back moment, Twilight Sparkle takes up the title "The Godslayer", to serve as both a symbol of hope for the Loyalists, and a figure of fear for the Royals.
- Redemption Equals Death: Captain Coconut Crunch, who performs a Heel Face Turn when she realizes the Loyalists have a chance of winning, and ends up being unceremoniously killed by Esteem.
- Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: As a final "screw you" to Twilight before his death, Esteem tells her her killed and ate Spike. Turns out, Spike was just in the dungeon the whole time.
- Revenge by Proxy: Titan sends Terra to destroy Ponyville after the Loyalists retake Canterlot. As Luna puts it, it's not about winning, it's about punishment.
- Rogue Protagonist: As suggested in the picture and mentioned in the picture's caption, Twilight Sparkle but only for about the first half of the story.
- Royal Brat: Prince Empyrean, who -- as Esteem is quick to point out -- is just a petulant child who happens to have the power of a god.
- She's Back: Rainbow Dash breaking free of the Insanity in order to save Pinkie, performing a Sonic Rainboom in the process that restores her normal coloration.
- The personalities of Twilight and Sparkle being fused back together, and the true Twilight Sparkle emerging from it, proceeding to curbstomp all of Titan's forces arrayed against her.
- Celestia regaining her powers, and taking the fight to her parents.
- And then there's everyone when they manage to reignite the neutralized Elements of Harmony to use against Terra.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: Well, Pinkie's still involved, so this trope isn't in full effect. However, the CMC are quickly removed from the story after a quick mention as they're shipped off to safety, thus allowing the story to focus on the more serious characters.
- Shut UP, Hannibal: During the second Battle of Ponyville, while Terra is beating the Mane Six and Luna into the ground, she's also ranting about how survival is all that matters, and doesn't understand why they're fighting her even though they have no chance to beat her. They shoot her down simply:
Terra: What could possibly be more important to you ponies than survival.
- This is immediately followed by Terra stating that she's still more powerful than all of them and trying to finish them, only to be stopped by the previously-neutralized Elements of Harmony reigniting.
Terra: I have more power than all of you combined. Against me you have nothing. No weapons. No magic.
- Split Personality: The minds of Sparkle and Twilight.
- Split Personality Merge: Titan's torture causes Sparkle to accept Twilight's offer of fusing back together, and the real Twilight Sparkle emerges as a result.
- Social Darwinist: Titan and his disciple Esteem
- The Starscream: Nihilus only follows Titan's orders as an excuse to hunt down the Mane Six and get her hooves on the Elements so she can use them to overthrow him and place herself on the throne.
- The Stoic: Twilight becomes this after her Split Personality Merge. From then on, the only times she shows emotion is around her parents, the other Mane Six, and occasionally Luna.
- Stop or I Shoot Myself: When Nihilus captures the Element bearers and is trying to take the Elements from them, Rarity threatens to slit her own throat with a diamond (that she hid in her mane) if she doesn't release the others. Nihilus agrees, but the point ends up being moot anyway.
- Storming the Castle: The Loyalists attacking Canterlot castle. By the time it's done, they've retaken the castle, Empyrean and Esteem are dead, Celestia's power has been restored, and Titan is pissed.
- Talking to Themself: Twilight Sparkle ends up doing this a lot after her mind splits in two.
- Time Skip: After Nihilus' defeat, the story skips ahead a month, and after a couple of chapters bringing various plot threads together, subtly skips ahead roughly two weeks for the Final Battle.
- Title Drop: For both of the story's titles:
- For the original title: Ponies Make War is the name of a book of war magic written by one of Twilight Sparkle's ancestors, and the phrase itself is dropped a few times.
- The "Immortal Game" is how Titan and Celestia refer to their Cosmic Chess Game.
- Treacherous Advisor: General Esteem was this to Celestia.
- That Pony Is Dead: Sparkle referring to the old Twilight Sparkle
- Also how Terra refers to her original, kind self. She even goes so far as to say that even if there was any of the old her left buried inside her, she'd gladly destroy it.
- Try Not to Die: Just before they storm Canterlot castle, Twilight orders Sir Unimpressive not to die, as a contingency plan (specifically, he can lead if she dies).
- Took a Level In Badass: Rarity is the most notable, though most of the mane cast take a few levels themselves
- According to the author, all of the Mane Six will take multiple levels in badass, yes even Fluttershy.
- Torture Technician: Terra seems to be this when she's not busy creating Puppets unfortunately for Celestia.
- To the Pain: A subtle example, but Discord's threat to Titan during their confrontation qualifies:
"I'm going to make you feel, old friend. I'm going to make you feel everything."
- Unfortunate Names: One of the Loyalist commanders is a Pegasus named Noble Steed. When he introduces himself, he comments that he doesn't know what he did to his parents when he was only a day old that they decided to punish him by giving him that name.
- Ungrateful Bastard: When the Mane Six defeat and depower Terra, they vote to spare her life. She mocks them for it and calls them weak.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Terra comes off as this in her flashbacks, until... well, see Cry for the Devil.
- Villainous Breakdown: Nihilus completely falls apart (not that she was all the stable to begin with) after Rainbow Dash breaks free of her control, and it's revealed she didn't manage to corrupt the Elements, as she thought she had. In the end, she's left a terrified wreck begging Twilight to spare her, which obviously doesn't happen.
- Empyrean totally loses it when the Mane Six break through his defenses and enter the throne room and tries to incinerate them only for the Elements to neutralize his attack to depower him.
- Villains Want Mercy: Both Nihilus and Esteem end up begging Twilight for mercy, and don't get it. In Esteem's case, it's really just implied, as Twilight is forcibly keeping his mouth closed.
- War Is Hell: You better believe it!
- We Can Rule Together: Esteem tries this with Rarity. She refuses and proceeds to call him out.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: The Cadet has this attitude towards Esteem. Sir Unimpressive uses this against him in their fight.
- Empyrean has shades of this as well.
- World of Cardboard Speech: Celestia gives a brief one after regaining her power, in the same vein as the Trope Namer.
"Centuries of boiling water for tea when I knew that I could boil the seas. Of lifting quills when I could life mountains. Of breaking wax seals when I could break anything I please. My power is too much for this world. But it isn't too much for you, is it, Terra? Now I get to find out what I'm really capable of. No lives to save, no plans to make, nothing to hold me back. I am divinity unleashed."
- World's Most Beautiful Mare: Terra.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Following her loss of power and imprisonment, Terra pretends to have an emotional breakdown in order to lure Fluttershy close to her cage so she can try and kill her.
- You Have Failed Me: When Empyrean is stripped of his power by the Mane Six, Titan doesn't hesitate to kill him.