It's the sound of
...WARNING: TL;DR FANWANK FOLLOWS. SCROLL TO BOTTOM TO SEE ARTIST'S COMMENTARY
Here, have some fitting background music: [link]While historians generally agree that the current state of affairs in Equestria is best described as "Pax Equestria" (Equestrian Peace), this was not always so. The Elements of Harmony, the ultimate trump card, are powerful magical artifacts, and the Royal Sisters did not create them overnight. It took many years to forge these relics, and back then Equestria was a very different place.
Shortly after the thirtieth anniversary of Hearth's Warming, a new force for disharmony came to the land. Not from within, and not from the heart this time, but from places unknown. Discord came to Equestria around 1770 BNR like some terrible natural disaster, overwhelming all in his path. His armies consisted of Dragons, Ursas, Manticores, Cockatrices and a verisimilitude of ponies corrupted by his chaotic powers. The only defense available were the pegasi warriors, but they had grown soft after so many years of peace and tranquility. They were swept aside like so much chaff in the wind.
Discord completed his campaign in 1765 BNR and secured his place as the supreme authority in Equestria. He ruled the land with an iron grip. Disharmony was the rule, not the exception, and the places that ponies call home today were hostile, mind-warping environments.
In the midst of all this, the Royal Sisters heard the plight of their people and descended from the heavens. In one day, they reclaimed a small portion of Equestria, an oasis in the chaos. It was a small fledgling nation, consisting of the city-states of Canterlot, still under construction, Trottingham, Hoofington, and numerous smaller villages. Ponies who had thus far been able to escape Discord's corruption flocked to the protection of the Royal Sisters, and Equestria grew.
This did not escape Discord's attention, however. He needed non-corrupted ponies to be the victims of his pranks as well as breeding stock to fill the ranks of his armies. The massive flight from his lands was proving to be a thorn in his side as population growth in his domain shrunk precipitously. At this rate, Equestria might one day be strong enough to challenge his rule. He vowed to crush Equestria and enslave or kill all of its inhabitants, the Princesses Celestia and Luna included. The ability of the Royal Sisters in protecting their realm was limited. They needed a strong hoof to reign in Discord's forces while they went about the process of nation building. While most of the villages had their own militias, and the cities had vast conscript defense forces, these were woefully inadequate to protect a nation.
Thus the Equestrian Regular Army was formed, cobbled together from various militias and conscription tithes. At the time, this rag-tag band of blacksmiths, stonemasons, farmers, and students could do little more than delaying actions or diversions. They were a guerrilla army with little training and no standardized armor. Often times, it took one of the Royal Sisters' personal intervention to prevent the ERA from being utterly destroyed even in small engagements. Casualties were appalling, and victory never really entered the strategic considerations of ERA commanders.
But they were determined to save their homes or perish trying, and more importantly, they were the only thing keeping Discord from winning by default.
The ERA steadily gained battle experience throughout the closing years of the pre-Classical era and grew in numbers. For every five ponies that entered battle, three emerged as hardened veterans. Over time, training improved as these veterans climbed the ranks, especially for unicorn battlemages. Steel armor was introduced to the ordinary solider after rich deposits of iron ore and coal were discovered outside what is now Ponyville. New technologies, such as the repeating crossbow or the lightweight catapult, allowed pegasi and earth ponies to participate more directly in battle.
By 1560 BNR, the army had turned from a small militia into a feared fighting force, capable of bringing down Discord's strongest champions. The struggle for survival had become a war. The historians of that era described it as "Pax Equestria Per Bellum", or "Equestrian Peace Through War". By the ERA's blood and steel was Equestria kept from falling into the chaos that surrounded it.
Discord saw Equestria growing stronger everyday, steadily becoming impossible to conquer with his usual tactics of simply burning, pillaging, and corrupting. He drew up a new plan. The ERA was far too good at fighting defensive wars, where one soldier could hold off ten or more of Discord's minions. He would have to draw them out into his realm and then destroy them in a large set-piece battle. This would hopefully so weaken the ERA that it would never be able to recover in time and he could simply steamroll his way into Canterlot without much resistance.
He was in for a rude surprise.
The first decisive battle in the Harmony Wars took place in spring of 1554 BNR as an ERA counter-offensive against Discord's repeated assaults on Hoofington in the winter of the previous year. As Discord had hoped, the ERA marched out of their fortified cities and into his lands. It was at that time that he sent in his forces in hopes of achieving an encirclement from which he could dictate the terms of how the ERA was going to be destroyed. The disorganized hordes of chaos crashed against the ERA's battle formations while powerful swarms of pegasi and dragons poured stones and fire into the lines. Distracted by the aerial bombardment, the battlemages and seigework troops were unable to prevent Discord's ground forces from surrounding them in a classic pincer movement. The battle appeared to be lost, as now the ERA had to fight on all sides. Three days passed, and casualties piled up on both sides, but the ERA refused to break. Magically propelled gem shards, a fairly new innovation, proved especially useful in bringing down dragons. Meanwhile, the ERA's air forces, armed with brand new 10-shot repeating crossbows, pursued their chaotic counterparts in vicious dogfights. When the skies had been cleared, the encirclement was swiftly broken as multiple rocket propelled arrow launchers fired into Discord's ranks at point blank range, clearing paths for earth pony cavalry to exploit, breaking up the large hordes into smaller, more manageable groups.
Discord's forces attempted to retreat, but it soon turned into a rout as the ERA's shock troops pursued them all the way to the Everfree Forest.
This marked an unprecedented escalation of hostilities. Discord's reserves were virtually unlimited, and he would raise more armies to throw against Equestria, and the ERA would invent more methods to increase their martial prowess to repulse new offensives. The ERA steadily expanded Equestria's borders with one victory after another, only stopping during the winter months to fortify their holdings and replenish their numbers. Things finally came to a head in the autumn of 1501 BNR when Discord, now in control of less than half of his former territory, used his powerful reality altering magics to open a portal right outside Canterlot for his armies in a last bid to destroy Equestria. Four out of the ERA's five regiments were leagues away, performing border sweeps against his diversionary forces. Canterlot was under siege, with just 5,000 soldiers defending her walls against Discord's untold millions.
Pressed for time, the Royal Sisters and the ERA generalship prepared a hasty defense. The castle had just been completed not three days before, and it was decided that the civilian populace would be safest in the palace keep. Even the throne room was opened for refugees. There was no shortage of food or drinking water, as the keep had vast stores and hidden aqueducts. The walls had been enchanted with magic meant to outlast the stones it was made from, and there was little chance even Discord's champions were going to smash down the main gate, not with thousands of pounds of shoring behind them.
Discord had anticipated all this in the heart of his enemies' power and he pressed his assault relentlessly. For three days, he pounded entire city with a meteor shower of untold proportions, until everything except the palace grounds had been reduced to burning rubble. The outer defenses, at the time just wooden palisades, were abandoned when dragons began attacking en-masse. Now there was just the main wall and the keep left. But the Royal Sisters were not keen on going down so easily. They saved the meteors and stones that Discord and his troops had rained down upon their city and curtly returned fire. ERA troops made frequent excursions using secret exits to harass larger hordes, drawing them away from the keep. It was enough to prevent Discord himself from taking the field, but it was not enough to make a dent in the vast hordes outside.
When the rest of the ERA finally arrived a week later, they fought the very fabric of reality. Discord took no chances, turning the air inside the lungs of the first cavalry wave into fire, killing them instantly, but he and his armies were not able to make any progress against the ERA's defensive emplacements. Heavy trebuchets threw enormous barrels of flaming pitch, discouraging Discord's forces from attacking in force while pegasi archers picked off particularly dangerous enemies. A stalemate had been reached. Neither side could achieve victory through strength of arms or magic.
Two months into the siege, Luna and Celestia retrieved a large amount of gold, several of the smaller meteors from outside, six gemstones from the treasury--an orange citrine, a pink opal, an amethyst, a blue topaz, a ruby, and a magenta tourmaline, and disappeared into the castle smithy. From these mundane items, they forged the Elements of Harmony. They imbued these artifacts with what they had discovered embodied Equestria best over the course of the war: the friendship of the three races for the benefit of all.
The Siege of Canterlot was broken in spring of 1500 BNR with a blinding flash of light. With Discord imprisoned in stone, his armies rapidly collapsed and fled into the Everfree Forest. There was no longer a need for a large standing army. Most of the ERA was disbanded, its soldiers were given generous stipends and they returned to their family trades as civilians.
In remembrance of their sacrifice, a high relief mural was carved into a wall near the palace labyrinth where it still stands today, a silent reminder of what it had taken to create the unbroken peace we know and love today. The castle itself became more of a museum, as a new palace was constructed in the newly cleared portions of the Everfree Forest.
Post-war law enforcement became the responsibility of the 5th Cavalry Battalion of the East Canterlot Regiment, now retrained. These new Royal Guards were to become the public face of security.
At last Equestria was at peace, and so began the Classical Era.
-Feather Quill, "A Brief History of the Classical Era", Prologue, 1200 BNR
The ERA's Commanders-in-Chief are the Royal Sisters, but they are not concerned with strategic details except in dire situations. Often times, they will task the Commander-at-Arms, usually a general, with an objective. It is then up to the CAA to determine how these objectives will be achieved.
The CAA has at his or her command five regiments, two for Canterlot, two for Hoofington, and one for Trottingham. Each regiment is led by a brigadier and consists of 5,000 soldiers and support staff. Every last pony is trained and expected to fight in the event of a battle, even the cooks. A single regiment consists of five battalions of 1,000 ponies each, which are led by colonels.
The battalion is further broken up into ten companies. The company, 100 strong and led by a captain, is the highest level of organization that consists of a single troop type. A battalion might have 7 cavalry companies, 2 siege-works companies, and an engineering company.
. . .
A cavalry battalion is never completely cavalry, as this is contrary to the Combined Arms Doctrine laid down by General Sunshield in 1565 BNR. Rather, a cavalry battalion is a rapid reaction force with only light siege-work support. They often follow behind reconnaissance elements to take advantage of undefended areas or thin spots in the enemy ranks.
Because a cavalry battalion's siege company carries only ballistae, often times battlemages and pegasi archers are relied upon completely for ranged support. While this makes the battalion more mobile, it leaves unable to combat fortified positions. Hence, they prefer to avoid slugging matches if possible, leaving more formidable enemies for a heavy infantry or siege battalion to mop up.
. . .
A lance corporal is the lowest rank for a soldier to be considered a non-commissioned officer (NCO). Commonly called "lance jacks" among the troops, they are generally second in command to a full corporal or a sergeant in a section of ten ponies.
. . .
Battlemages are the heavy hitters in any full-strength cavalry formation. While other units serve their own vital purposes, the battlemage has the unique ability to kill a very large number of enemies in a very short period of time at a very long distance. On the defensive, they may raise magical shields or heal their comrades, even dispel minor curses. But this comes at the cost of speed. Battlemages require gem shards for maximum combat effectiveness and often times must carry this burden alone. Very few of them can fly, making them the slowest element during advancing and retreat. Like all unicorns, they may use their horns in melee, but are weak compared to an earth pony's enemy tossing charge.
-Brigadier Russet, "The Civilian's Guide to the Equestrian Regular Army", 1550 BNR
Yes, I do watch this show. It's a Faust cartoon.
No, I'm not the "OMG PONNIIIIIIEEEEEZ" type.
Yes, I have had the need the scratch this artistic itch for the better part of a month now.
Though, to be honest, bronies are pretty creepy IRL.Moving on.
This piece presented numerous opportunities to experiment, now that I've gone back to using my t/rusty old HP Officejet. I had done glow effects with dodge and burn, but this is the first time I've gone without the assistance of Photoshop's blending options.
In an attempt to remain faithful to the show's art style, I've followed a step out of
's tutorial that I had skipped previously, namely recoloring the linework. The results are...mixed.
The anatomy is partly based on Big Macintosh, but I have stretched his neck out a little and changed his eyes to not look quite so...laid back. Also, because of the armor, his torso changed quite a bit.
The armor is based off of Royal Guard armor from the show and medieval horse armor beaten into shape to fit a body for which it was most definitely not designed for. The helmet is based off of the midde-Roman galea (the Centurion model, not the footsoldier's).
Different views of the same character has always been an impasse for me, since I suck at replicating things in pencil, MLP:FiM's simple character construction gives me more or less a slim chance of pulling this off. I'd say it turned out alright.
This is also my first time working with this sort of text placement. A lot of clutter, not a lot of room to put it.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic belongs
Philomena vector done by
, modified by me.
Pixel ID template from
but I don't think I followed the instructions very well...
Linework done in 0.7 and 0.5 mm mechanical pencil. Colored in Adobe Photoshop CS3. Total time spent: 5 hours.