I just realized, looking back at your pictures of the semi-illusory Ten Moons ghosts, that Hoodwink's clan is comprised not only of unicorns, but of pegasi and earth ponies as well. Funny that I didn't comment on that before considering my interest in Night Bred Earth Ponies (sadly, I've yet to see one Night Pony earthie outside of your work.)
I've noticed that, among the "upper crust" or "nobles" that appear in the show, almost all of them are either Unicorns or Earth Ponies with very few, if any, Pegasi to be seen. I wonder if that has to do with strict breeding or marriage alliances within noble families or if most Pegasi were not naturally attracted to the life of an aristocrat due to cultural reasons. Or maybe it's just because Canterlot is primarily a unicorn/earth pony town with few Pegasi residing there. At any rate it's interesting to see how diverse Hoodwink's family is.
I sort of imagine Earwig's close family being almost entirely unicorns due to inbreeding with many of his more distant relatives being Earth Ponies. My concept of the area of Southern Hayseed (it's actually considered to be situated more in the border-lands between Equestria and monster-territory) where Earwig's family lives is completely devoid of Pegasi due to cultural and geographical barriers. Average Pegasi tend to fear and dislike the steamy, fever-wracked jungles of Earwig's home as well as the unstable weather conditions along the storm-battered tropical coast. Hence, without Pegasi influence, the weather conditions there are completely chaotic and prone to more deadly and destructive storms. Also, the lack of pegasi caused the ponies of the Southern Swamps to develop different methods of defense than those with pegasi to help with weather-based warfare. More on that later...
Now that I think about it, Earwig's hereditary "castle" and lands would probably look like an ancient and overgrown temple-fortress slowly being swallowed by the jungle marshes, with lots of weird, stylized statuary and exotic architecture everywhere and an abandoned, sunken civilization surrounding it.
Well on the matter of Earth Ponies I just designed one. One who could probably be described as a Timber Wolf farmer. I believe I may have given him a more traditional pre-Nightmare Moon Ten Moons look with a more obviously... "savage" appearance.
I know I've said this before, but the Ten Moons clan were rather feral and uncivilized by most ponies standards. That doesn't mean that they were stupid though. The Ten Moons clan had a fully functioning pony society even if they were somewhat "barbaric" from the viewpoint of contemporary mainstream pony culture. However they were quite adept at picking up and even improving technology any time anypony ever called them "primitive" to their face.
I suppose any land where the Ten Moons really built up shows a sort of "Savage" but technologically adept culture with very little interest in looking either noble, peaceful or heroic but more on looking intimidating and powerful. Like the sorts of ponies who just aren't going to roll over or be marshmallowy or soft in any manner at all.
So I suppose to describe their architectural style I would say that it would be defined varying between solid and sturdy in that powerful "unbreakable" looking manner and cunning, sharp and sleek. With various more primitive burrows scattered about since I imagine that Night Bred just generally don't like building where the sun will shine into their stuff. Buildings on the surface tend to be designed to provide lots of shade or otherwise minimize exposure to bright light. They skies usually are also rendered rather gloomy directly above their settlements during the day because they really don't like the light bothering them while they sleep.
But yeah, it makes sense that there might be locations without a significant Pegasus pony populace who need to find ways to deal with it...
I do wonder how your Hayseeds would react to the rather vicious seeming Ten Moons clan or what Earwig would think of them from a historical perspective. Also considering that not all current sources list them as having been real ponies.
On the matter of Pegasi, they really seem to have the most distinct culture of all of the ponies which I suppose makes sense seeing as how the other ponies are forced to live together on the ground while the Pegasi live alone in the clouds. I think that maybe due to preferring to live in the skies kind of keeps them somewhat separate from other ponies.
Since the Ten Moons were effectively in many ways Caveponies, even culturally to a degree but more in the sense of the non-stereotypical manner, their Pegasi used to live with the rest of them. Just more on the ceiling of the caves.
I do think it's fun to imagine some poor ancient Day Pony stumbling into one of their cave settlements and lighting a torch to see better only to have it's light revealing their reflective pupils all creepily staring in the day ponies direction. I don't believe the average pony would stick around long after that.
Sorry for not writing back sooner. I saw your new Ten Moons Earth Pony and I am most pleased! For some reason, his plaited hair and beard and garb makes me think "dark dwarf" but he seems too large for that.
Also, I just realized that Hayseed Swamps is actually spelled "Haysead". Herp dee derp.
Ancient Hayseadling architecture would actually be just about the opposite of Night Bred architecture I imagine. You see, modern Haysead is actually the remnants of a once influential culture that was originally separate from Equestria, like the Crystal Empire, and was only incorporated after the alicorns consolidated their power in all three nations.
I doubt that Equestria was settled all at once by one single wave of migration like the Hearth's Warming Eve fable relates. I see the Hayseadlings, as well as other pony groups, as being descended from a somewhat earlier wave of migration from the Frozen North. I also have an idea of Palomino Pony tribes in the Western Desert (based on the canon map obviously) who are descended from another pre-H's-Warming migration.
The Hayseadlings were the sort of "civilized", but brutal and cruel, ponies that might have actually culturally and militarily dominated their less developed Equestrian neighbours to the North before the alicorns took over everything and forced everypony to get along. The sort of conquerors that would drag captured rebels and civilians from the fledgling Equestrian nation back to their tropical homeland and subject them to either a cruel and unusual execution/sacrifice or use them for slave labour on their plantations.
As opposed to Night Bred having "undertowns" or cave-like houses, some Hayseadlings would have giant "climbing cities" that would almost look like a massive network of stilt houses, reinforced by huge Earth Pony-bioengineered vine-structures and connected by catwalks and ladders, sprouting above the feverish, murky jungles and swamps to grasp at the sun and cool, fresh air while choking out the light to everything below it like strangling weeds. The hellish, malarial settlements below would only be occupied by field slaves and those who had lost their "place in the sun".
Later buildings, made for the nobility after alicorn colonization, would utilize towering, stepped structures made of stone and built on top of drained ground (also Earth Pony handiwork) in the middle of the swamps.
Their architectural style that Earwig's tribe favoured would also be quite different from the Ten Moons style. If the Ten Moons were "caveponies" with advanced technology and armor, The Mourning Sun clan (tentative name based on their necromantic abilities compared to other Day Ponies) were a "civilized" society that heavily modified their surroundings but mostly relied on Earth Pony bio-tech and stone-age tools to do so. As opposed to a sturdy, unbreakable look, the Mourning Suns' art and architecture would reflect a kind of ornate, spindly, almost lacy beauty with a bit of an eerie mystical feeling mixed in; much like an abandoned spider's web laced with drops of morning dew. Sinister beauty with a "flexible" aesthetic might be an apt description of their style.
Their armour and weaponry on the other hand was less beautiful and was neither designed to look intimidating or heroic-looking, rather it was designed with mostly combat practicality and ease of production in mind. Hence, their armies' war-gear gave off more of an aura of bland, vaguely sinister banal evil. They would probably seem to some ponies like an army of exterminators, gardeners, and butchers. As I mentioned though, they had mostly only biotech and very primitive tools to work with as there was little access to metals of any kind in their sphere of influence and so the only metal weaponry and armour they had would have been gained through trade with the northern kingdoms or plunder. Of course, the Hayseads were extremely good at utilizing biotech to a much greater degree than just about any other group of ponies, making their lack of metals a relatively small inconvenience to their empire-building and cultural advancement.
Of course, the fall of the alicorns and later political changes in general eventually caused their society to collapse with many "cityslicker" ponies now seeing them as primitive inbreds ruled by corrupt hicks occupying what is seen as a lawless, third-world hellhole within Equestria's borders.
So, basically, the Ten Moons were techno-savvy "savages" and the Mourning Suns were "civilized" stone-age conquistadors. That would make for an interesting meeting of cultures wouldn't it?
Ah, but size is no reason to dismiss such an aesthetic choice. I hope he looks sufficiently like a master of plants.
I think one Ten Moons clan saying probably goes something like, "Let those who refuse us at their side be made to cower at our hooves." It's sort of their way of saying that they will either be your equal or your superior, your ally or your conqueror. They used to be more or less prominent depending on exact time period and they've usually dealt with all diplomatic affairs through this concept.
It's true that they've been conquered themselves often enough but this "motto" so long as it's remembered tends to lead them towards rebellion and conquest if they aren't satisfied with their place in the world.
Which I suppose to better describe their architecture it wasn't so much simply unbreakable looking, it was defiant and unsubmissive even when they made statues for others larger than their own that was only for ponies who they had accepted as more or less one of their own and worthy of their respect and loyalty and not one who they felt inherently deserved higher status. They're willing to serve and praise/exalt a pony who they feel has earned it, but they won't really submit to them.
They did have a strict honor code but not one typical to Equestria. They valued honesty primarily because a reputation for doing as ones says they will lead to others taking their words very seriously. "I would kill you if you did that" said in a serious tone from someone with a reputation for meaning what they say is a lot more effective than it being said by someone who you know is probably just angry and not truly meaning the threat. And an offering of ones services are likewise more readily trusted.
One other trait that stems from their motto may also be described that those who have accepted them at their side, as more or less "equals", were treated in turn by the Ten Moons(Also translatable as "Ten Months"). Any pony who claimed superiority or oppressed their "equals" were seen as insulting the status of the Ten Moons by claiming superiority to them by proxy. As such an insult to their allies was an insult to the Ten Moons and they could be expected to retaliate and put the offender in their place. Which of course was "cowering at their hooves".
So I suppose that once they're allied to you they prove to be quite loyal even if it's just to boost their own ego. Of course they're likely to try to prod you towards their ideal of perfection.
But yes, advanced savages sort of describes them. Well, advanced savages with dark magic and a sound knowledge of weapon smithing and building useful architecture. With necromancy.
So yeah... Unsubmissive is their style. It wasn't that they weren't capable of art or extravagance, they were fully capable of that and did indeed use artistic designs... It's just all of their style was essentially designed in such a way that it screamed "Don't #^%@ with us." Sinister beauty might be incorporated but not any sort of spindly or fragile appearance. Similarly their favored tactic was in fielding a relatively few powerful and skilled soldiers that had been suited in armor with strong weaponry.
A few nigh-unstoppable soldiers with enchanted weapons and armor composed of stronger and more expensive than average metal that other materials couldn't penetrate was just more effective in their minds. It didn't matter if the enemy outnumbered you ten to one if they couldn't put a dent or scratch in your armor. They might be in command of other Nightbred clans but their own forces would be an elite few. This tactic was also useful in scaring the hell out of ponies the second they were spotted upon the field.
Really, how the two would interact would depend upon how the Mourning Suns would treat them. I don't think the primitive weaponry of the Mourning Suns would really frighten them, the Ten Moons would probably consider it laughable.
I was just wondering how the Mourning Suns would view them from their own perspective.
Um, just so you know, I did write a comment as a reply to myself about how the Mourning Suns might interact with the Ten Moons but perhaps the comment isn't visible on your messages screen.
Yes, your earth pony certainly does look like a master of plants. His design was actually rather similar to an idea I had for the Hayseads having biomagitech implants that sometimes caused them to sprout weaponized plant growth from their bodies. An example might be flowers that release a kind of neurotoxin or pods that scatter an anthrax like substance into narrow airways where they could cause the most damage. Kind of like Bioshock Plasmids. During the Nightmare Wars The Mourning Suns were the first to use biological warfare. It's not that their weapons were all primitive, they just don't use much metal because they don't have much access to it and they are able to get along fine with plants and other more readily available substances. They do use metals, just not in as great amounts as other ponies. Their technology might be comparable to that of the Yuuzhan Vong from the Star Wars book series: incredibly advanced in its engineering and application but primitive in aesthetic and appearance. Hell, they could probably even have made primitive flying biomachines to firebomb cities using their biomagitech. Though, even then, I could still see the Ten Moons finding their biomagitech laughable just because.
Instead of using valuable metal to make armour the Mourning Suns might prefer to make it from the scutes of the Dread Turtles or the nigh impenetrable carapace plates of the giant crawdaddies that infest their swamps. The same would go for their cutting and stabbing weaponry. Their heavy utilization of animal products in the manufacture of their biotech would likely contribute to the perception of them as "butchers".
One reason I suppose the Mourning Suns would prefer a softer image is because they are seen as overly pliable, bland, and "common" by other alicorns and have grown oddly proud of this. Few creatures take pride in being seen as boring and unlikeable, the Mourning Suns have made it their philosophy. If you aspire to heroic appearances and airs you'll be painted as a hypocritical villain and if you're big and intimidating, they'll mock you as insecure bullies and fools. But if you present yourself as boring and dull? How can anyone turn that against you? It's hard to find anything to make fun of and use as propaganda against you and if you prove yourself worthy in battle then your bland appearance and manner itself will gain prestige and be feared on its own merit. They don't see themselves as nice or even good ponies but they aren't really dishonest either, they would also be the sort who would really only say something if they meant it. In fact, they mostly are a tight-lipped bunch and only speak when they feel it appropriate. However, they would attach little importance to seeming intimidating as that, to them, would be seen as just another kind of dishonesty anyways. Why act intimidating when there is nothing truly intimidating about you? Of course, that wouldn't apply to the Ten Moons because they actually are intimidating. I suppose the Mourning Suns just see themselves as glorified peasants who help run an admittedly unpleasant system whose highest rulers would have viewed their family as mangy, repulsive curs to be kicked when they got out of line, but which they supported anyways because it benefitted their subjects.
When I described their artistic style as spindly or lacy-looking, I meant to imply that it would still look rather unnerving to some ponies. Mourning Sun bioengineered spears, for instance, would probably look a lot like these: [link]
They wouldn't kill instantly or do massive damage like big, heavy metal spears but thanks to their biomagitech poisoned tips they could be used to do alot of very nasty things to a pony's nervous system and the ornate, lacy but severe design would reflect that.
Basically, they preferred eerily light but dangerous-looking weapons. Even their necromantic skills were mostly limited to simple evocation of ancestral spirits in a mystical "wisp" like form. However, with a talented evocator, such spirits could be marshalled and attached to certain structures and organisms in a manner akin to possession, wherefore said spirits could cause great havoc among enemies by taking control of their war machines or causing the very trees, rocks, and water to come alive and attack them. They tend to have a "light-themed" but primitive society at the same time.
Too delirious to write any more right now, sorry. Talk to you later.
Slight reworking of history, I imagine the Ten Moons had created what they saw as their own little eternally dark paradise on a patch of Dragon owned land that was later gifted to Equestria. The Ten Moons weren't a hugely populous clan as I might have mentioned earlier, really the Ten Moons was more comparable to say the Apple clan than anything else. Just focused more upon martial might than apples.
One of the reasons they particularly dislike day ponies was that their land was taken from them by the more numerous diurnal types and transformed from the dark and gloomy environ that the Ten Moons preferred into the standard happy pony bright land. While most ponies might have seen this as an improvement the Ten Moons saw it as a "rape" of their land as it was transformed into a more hostile environ that was no longer welcoming to their kind.
I actually imagine that the Ten Moons would have tried to deliberately grow their preferred ecosystem wherever they conquered, likely involving large and often bioluminescent fungal structures. They were certainly the sort of ponies who had reached the point where they no longer cared much if the Day Ponies had their little magical "Happy land", they used to have their own version and they wanted it back.
So to make things a bit clear, they weren't the sort who were very happy with any pony who they felt might try and take their stuff. A pony who wasn't intimidated by them would have been considered slightly "foalish" or viewed with suspicion. And Lord Blackmail at the very least wouldn't take any remotely alcoholic beverage at any diplomatic meeting, offering him a mentally debilitating drink, at an occasion where subtle political maneuvering could be expected no less, would only result in a cold hard stare lasting until the drink was taken away.
That's not to say that he wouldn't meet with Blowhard, it's just that Blackmail would be unlikely to do anything on his part to make it particularly comfortable. The other Ten Moons might have been a bit more talkative at such meetings but while they might have loosened things up none of them would have been very subtle about their desires or threats.
I think one of the Ten Moons largest flaws was their hypocrisy in many ways and they certainly were that. They may have despised the nobility and their ways, but in many ways they saw themselves as a sort nobility anyhow. Just nobility that actually did things for their subjects. They disliked other ponies presuming superiority over them but had little issue doing the same to others. Nor did they have a problem with justifying conquest of lands that had never been theirs after they lost their own.
If the whole eternal night thing had gotten finished the Ten Moons would have probably effectively become an influential Noble House of the Empire of Eternal Night, Equestria converted to a perfect nocturnal habitat with a good chance that the Night-Bred would have Nightmarified a good portion of the former Daypony populace.
That would actually make an interesting alternate timeline, a Nightmare Moon victory that resulted in something more than everypony dying from a lack of crops but rather resulting in a successful Empire of Eternal Night. An empire whose ponies were feared and respected by even the Dragons, one the Changelings never would have invaded but if they had they would have likely been soundly defeated without the power of love. Simply put, a proud martial empire with unique conditions its populace has adapted to and eventually learned to thrive within.
And it could have a very interesting version of the Mane six as well... A very, very interesting one. Events would of course be somewhat different, Twilight would have likely been summoned to prevent a recent dungeon escapee Celestia from stealing a set of artifacts capable of toppling the Empire... The rest of the Mane Six would just be Ponyville's local militia that Twilight was assigned to take command of...
And what Nightmare Moon would do to Celestia... Well I think power draining and brainwashing might be in order though that might have a very different emotional impact... And as a reward for her loyal services Twilight might just be given command of the Ponyville militia permanently and effectively become the true ruler of Ponyville with the mayor no more than the one assigned to handle trivial matters...
Well, isn't that all a delightfully grimdark thought experiment?
Oh, and some ponies would just be dead of course, never having been born due to their ancestors being dead. So no Blueblood! And the Gala would be in the Everfree Forest... And as mentioned earlier, the nobility would have been effectively replaced by prominent Night-bred military families who while a bit less stuck up than standard nobility would almost certainly have their own issues.
And I just realized that Cadence would never have been born, so a Canterlot Wedding would probably have been replaced with a diplomatic marriage between Shining Armor(Former "day" ponies could still gain prominence) and Queen Chrysalis. Undisguised. To form an alliance after some period of conflict, though both sides are suspicious of eachother and the slightest misstep could cause everything to blow up in everyponies faces.
And Discord would probably be used as a Power generator.
I hope that sets a good mood!
It's also the exact Environment the Ten Moons would have loved.
Regarding the general appearance of Earwig's ancestral castle, here's a better picture that demonstrates the basic desired look: [link]
Basically, the Mourning Suns liked elegant, decadent, but kind of primal-looking architecture rather than "fragile". As I may have mentioned, they could care less about seeming either intimidating or heroic and were more interested in displaying their wealth and their control of others as well as their environment. Being viewed as "not really Equestrians" and not having taken part in the Hearth's Warming event gave them a sense of needing to outdo their neighbours in terms of social and cultural advancement in order to show them that a "declining" older culture can keep up while maintaining its distinctiveness. Despite living in a much harsher, semi-chaotic part of Equestria, they often made their palaces even more opulent than their northern neighbours just to rub their noses in the fact that "ugly, outdated semi-foreigners" like them could do some things much better than they could. As a culture, the Hayseads could be compared to the street-smart old guy who wants to prove to the younger crowd that they still have their mojo and that they aren't just "past their prime".
One example of Haysead cultural influence bequeathed to Equestria was the introduction of sea-travel. The Hayseads not only mastered the rivers and lakes of Equestria, they also were the first to take to the seas, chart the unknown areas of the world, and engage with foreign, overseas nations. This was part of the reason for their rather "exotic-looking" architecture.
Blowhard himself was often involved in marine warfare against the Nightmare Armies and their foreign allies. His powers of wind could whip up severe storms and whirlpools, wreck enemy ships, and fill his own vessel's sails with speed-giving wind while leaving his enemies' ships dead in the water and ripe for plundering. He was kind of a privateer before it was cool. *hipster*
Anyway, I'm sure Blowhard would have been intimidated by Blackmail but that wouldn't stop him from registering his displeasure, no matter how reserved and polite, with being threatened and his manner would make it clear that he didn't like to be pushed around either. And Rousing Speech was a huge, barrel-chested alicorn with hooves the size of dinner plates and ugly, ragged buzzard-like wings. He was maybe close to Blackmail in height, though maybe a bit shorter, but his impressive barge-like girth and boar-like face was enough to terrify most other Day Ponies. I imagine, though, that he would view Blackmail and his clan more as equals on the opposite side of a conflict rather than just "evil Darkspawn savages".
To describe things simply, I think a Ten Moons fortess city would probably resemble something like Mordor. And speaking of Mordor...
I've really been thinking of how the Ten Moons would look humanized and how they wouldn't simply be Dark Elves. And then I realized, they would probably look like a cleaner, handsomer mix of Uruk-hai and creatures like those from the Descent with similar ears, greyish skin and all with the additional trait of slit pupils.
[link] [link] [link] [link] I'm sure there are other orcs, Uruk-hai and stuff that could also be applicable to their appearance but this is just for general features.
But you know, healthier and less distinctly ugly but still bearing the same sorts of traits. Basically the sorts of people whose uglier members would indeed look much like "orcs", or at least the more human looking ones.
For an example of how I'm beginning to imagine the Ten Moons as "humanized"... Well it works best if you see the traditional depiction of the Uruk-hai/other ugly underground human as a sort of racial caricature that they differ from the same way any population differs from the insulting caricatures that depict them.
Please note that this isn't a resemblance to any bulky or green orc variant that many fantasy universes use though Bulwark might come close to resembling such a thing.
I imagine that all of the Night-Bred would have that same sort of look, but just as the Ten Moons are larger and harsher looking than the average pony on average they would also humanize as large harsh looking people. With strange nocturnal features.
And so I feel it would make sense for any meeting with the Ten Moons and Blackmail to feel at least slightly discomforting, while in human terms Blowhard might have been an impressively sized and rather burly fellow Lord Blackmail would seem like a rather refined and intelligent Uruk-hai. Perhaps even regal if that doesn't seem an oxymoron.
And even if not quite as outright ugly in some of his features, mostly in lacking the needlessly ugly qualities like excessive wrinkles, crooked teeth, sparse hair, loose skin or an asymmetric face, he would still be the sort to come across as something like an Uruk-hai. One not as savage or primitive a one as they're typically depicted but only more dangerous for that fact.
On that note some portions of "humanized" Hoodwink's face would probably resemble this handsome fellow here, differing mostly in the nose and jaw regions with less straggly hair. The point is, Hoodwink's skin while less slimy looking would look similar and so would his eye region(Hoodwink has big eyes) and ears.
To put simply, the Ten Moons weren't so much Dark Elves as they were Orcs. And not the bulky type of Orc but rather the creepy and often slender sort.
Anyhow the Ten Moons probably wouldn't have any real marine warfare talent though they probably would be excellent at subterranean combat.
One question however, how exactly did the Mourning Suns come in contact with Equestria? Your ideas are shaping up to be quite nice.
My own ideas seem to have solidified over time, the Ten Moons effectively being an ascendant Orcish Clan, in humanoid terms, that grew tired of being seen as savage beasts and being pushed around by "heroes". As such they became determined to become more intelligent, sophisticated and powerful than those who mocked them. Basically transforming themselves into Orcs who could look down upon the average human and consider them woefully ignorant and irrational, but still orcs nonetheless. Orcs that could successfully seem respectable and regal in a very non-savage but still highly martial manner.
The point of putting that into Human terms is of course that it's easier to explain how other ponies would see them that way.
In contrast to it seems the Mourning Suns were already a sophisticated sort to begin with, perhaps even a bit elvish seeming with the biotechnology even if they would have made rather ugly elves, they would have begun interactions with other ponies on a very different hoof than the Ten Moons. Or so it seems to me. Sop, how exactly would you describe the Mourning Suns in humanoid terms?
I'm always reworking my backstories and design concepts anyhow. That's the main reason, besides my lack of literary and artistic training and talent, why I haven't done anything with my characters yet. I've had a lot of free time lately to sketch things and as soon as I can access a decent scanner, I'll upload something. I should mention that I'm writing this from my dad's sailboat in Key Largo, Florida. I'll be here for about two months so I might be a bit slower in responding than I normally am. Don't worry though, I'll still keep in touch.
Anyway, one of my reworkings regarding the Mourning Suns is that they aren't really "stone age" ponies, however, their artistic styles tend to reflect a kind of primitive-looking, stylized statuary and architecture that would seem to be below their tech level, which is on par and in some cases superior to other ponies. They use metals for weapons and tools but wear little armour because they find it unsuited for their home terrain which is full of quicksand and bogs and criss-crossed with multiple rivers and streams. Hayseads don't like wearing anything that will pull them to the bottom of a marsh even faster. The Mourning Suns fighting style and cultural role could basically be summed up as "Pony Vietcong". They are the sort who prefer sneaky, "cowardly" attacks and guerilla warfare designed to erode the morale of their enemies rather than terrify them or put on a real show of power. They would actually be considered weaselly and weak by alicorn standards. The Mourning Suns would often make use of primitive traps like poison dart tripwires or bamboo-stake pits disguised with magic. The kind of thing you would see in a Daring Doo novel. This would reinforce the idea of them as primitive and dishonourable knuckle-draggers, a reputation they would be proud to uphold.
One of the reasons suggested for why the Mourning Suns chose such an exaggerated, primitive, "tribal" look for depictions of themselves, as opposed to the fairly life-like statues of the Ten Moons, is that they were ashamed of their hideous faces and couldn't bear to see themselves as they actually were. However, though they certainly were ugly by Day Pony standards, they were still better looking than the average Haysead and were in fact proud of their ugliness and seemed to revel in the revulsion they inspired in other Equestrian nobles and their subjects.
Blowhard had kind of a Huttese-like manner about him and would probably greet Blackmail with an exotic slavegirl (or boy if he was feeling especially squicky) of varying species on each hoof to demonstrate his wealth and power gained from overseas trading and might even offer one of his younger daughters as a concubine or "wife" for Blackmail or one of his male relatives, just as a sign of goodwill. I could see Blackmail being rather put off by such a grotesque display of wealth and perversity though.
The "over a bottle of rum" analogy was just a metaphor for the way Blowhard would conduct a meeting. Instead of a mentally debilitating drink, Blowhard would probably offer Blackmail a single bowl of some harmless but vile-tasting swamproot juice which served no purpose but testing the character of the drinker. Said juice would probably look like a bowl of bubbling poison and be immediately off-putting to any sensible pony. If refused, Blowhard would snatch the bowl away and down it with one gulp and would proceed to bemoan the guest's rudeness and lack of trust and cultural sensitivity.
Celestia's first encounter with her "most loyal Swamp-Lords" and the ensuing "Swamproot Ceremony" would have been a rather amusing thing to watch.
The Mourning Suns' ancestral castle probably had kind of a Disney's Jungle Book look to it now that I think of it:
I now have a question for you regarding escaped prisoner Celestia and those artifacts in alternate reality Equestria: Do the Elements of Harmony really have any ability to detect, defeat, or differentiate between different types of "good" or "evil"? At least in your universe? Or do they work for or against a pony regardless of their alignment as long as the user embodies their own element to a sufficient extent? Could they hypothetically be used against misunderstood good guys, neutrals, or "harmonic" but hypocritical "evil" like the ancient alicorns as well?
I imagine that the Elements of Harmony are designed to disable highly disruptive forces. I imagine that if a good guy were a powerful enough disruption to the harmonious status quo it might work on them.
However I think most non-supercharged "evil" ponies are likely too insignificant for the Elements to really register them. A pony like Hoodwink would probably just fly under the radar or at worst get temporarily blinded by a bright blast of rainbow that he could easily recover from. And I also imagine that it would be extremely difficult to get the Elements of Harmony to directly target him even for that. Worse case scenario, lowering the targeting standards of the Elements would probably get quite a lot of bystanders blasted at random.
To put my theory in simple terms, the Elements only work effectively on truly powerful threats to Harmony. Trying to force a blast on anypony else would cause... unfortunate results. And possibly turn everypony in a quite large radius into a bunch of Stepford Smilers. Or stone. Very much not a good idea.
Speaking of Stepford Smilers... Well, I think that's what drained brainwashed Celestia could be. Constantly crying with a horrified expression in her pupils but other wise behaving as if she was perfectly content with the way things were. And since every other pony besides the rebellion and its sympathizers are perfectly fine with their Empress' actions they simply see it as Celestia's just and rightful punishment and a sign of Nightmare Moon's power. I actually think that even with the highly Grimdark elements involved it might not be too unpleasant a timeline for the majority.
Anyhow the reason for the Ten Moon's realistic statuary was sort of as record keeping rather than art. The reason records can still be found from them is that they liked records. Or grew to like them as a sort of way to leave a mark. Their art art wasn't always so simple.
Anyhow when it came to gift trades the Ten Moons would probably prefer weaponry or armor when it came to such occasions, to both give and receive. Any attempt to make them seem foolish for refusing a gift would be met with just another stare until the effort to insult them was halted. Blackmail was the sort of character who stared quite a lot as you can gather, but he also was capable of giving threats and ultimatums after being talked at a lot. An offering of a concubine might merit a polite refusal of said offer if only because it got the offering out of their face quicker than a stare would.
Anyhow got to go sleep, will answer the rest later.
Just so you know, I'm going to be away for the next few months and getting in touch might be a bit more difficult, though I should still be able to reach you from time to time.
As for how my Hayseads would see the Ten Moons... Well, lets just say that they were never much like the standard Equestrian ponies. Hayseads certainly couldn't be described as "nice" or given to waging war with much sense of honour or fairness like their northern neighbours but they probably would be more understanding of certain kinds of "barbarism" than other ponies. The Mourning Suns themselves were probably less offensive to Nightbred than other lesser alicorns as they couldn't give a toss about anything to do with "dark magics", whatever the hell that is, and were mostly concerned with just keeping the peace with the other alicorn fiefdoms in Equestria and keeping their vassals content, mostly by keeping the foreign slave supply-routes open. The nobles of the swamps were rather "vicious" themselves though they would be considered to exemplify a kind of "semi-civilized viciousness".
A common Haysead stumbling into a Nightbred Undertown would probably feel like a "rat among bats" if you will. Upon seeing those reflective Night Bred eyes they might step back, bare their yellowish-orange incisors and chitter a warning in their squirrel-like code-language while watching everypony warily. However, once they were given some token that they would not be attacked undeservedly they would probably be willing just to stay put and observe them in a semi-detached manner and maybe even try to initiate contact. Hayseads prefer the light but they wouldn't be quite as put off by "creepy" things simply because they just. couldn't. care. less. Honestly, they probably wouldn't really like Nightbred that much but would see most other ponies' avoidance of them as being ignorantly wimpy and see them as unable to confront their fears.
I suppose a member of Mourning Sun tribe's reaction to the Ten Moons would be one of cautious tepidity and maybe some annoyance at the thought that somepony was trying to intimidate them. They don't like being threatened but they would be willing to discuss things with anypony if they could gain something from it. During the Nightmare Wars they would probably have acted as if the whole thing was just a blood sport with no real hard feelings. They would still carry on trade with the Nightmare aligned settlements and foreign entities just out of practicality and not really caring what anypony else thought of them for doing so. I could see Rousing Speech carrying on in some conversation with Blackmail more like two enemy generals negotiating a ceasefire over a snifter of rum rather than him confronting the Lord of Ten Moons as some monstrous evil spirit that he would heroically defeat as some nobles might do. Earwig himself is a different case. He has a number of reasons to dislike everything to do with Luna and her, as far as he is concerned, absolutely unjustified and stupid attack on his family's possessions. Plus, Earwig is considered to be rather soft and "mushy-headed" compared to the rest of his family. Earwig would probably view the Ten Moons' attack on the chief body of the Lesser Alicorns as fairly justified though, much to his chagrin.
Speaking of Rousing Speech. I've decided on his alternate name and title: Blowhard the Wind Mage. For both the pun and the description of his magic talent. As I've mentioned, the Mourning Sun clan had no pegasi among its ranks. Therefore I've considered that in areas with no pegasus ponies, unicorns might take over the weather based magics when absolutely necessary. Rousing Speech aka Blowhard's magic talent is related to the wind directing and windspeed altering spell used by Twilight in Boast Busters, except Blowhard's magic would be much more specialized and dangerous.
Anyways, I'm off to bed now. Hope to hear from you soon.
I suppose you could say she's a distant ancestor of Hoodwink's. Or rather a member of the same clan from a thousand years ago. I haven't come up with a name yet but she probably would have held the rank of Chief Weathermare of Ten Moons or something to that effect.
Of course that;s more in the Equestrian sense of being the one in charge of directing the weather and in her case it was a military title...