A/N: Welcome. This is not the first chapter, but instead some notes to help you with the story since it contains so much original content. If you want to just start reading the story, go to the next chapter.
This story, My Little Pony: Darkness and Dawn draws its inspiration from the world of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Moreover it borrows many locations and elements from the setting of the "World of Equestria RP" over at Canterlot (dot) com. This page is just to keep track of places, ponies and everything else this story will offer. A lot of this info (particularly for the setting) is lifted directly from topics at Canterlot because I'm lazy. Credit goes to the original author(s) of the posts I took from.
Cloudsdale: City in the sky, home to pegasusi, weather factory, flight school, and the sky arena.
The Great Nimbusgait Lakes: The great lakes formed below Cloudsdale and their endless supply of pristine water falling from the city. The outside of the woodlands is beautiful and breath taking as the streams and rivers branch out from the lakes. But somepony says the deeper you go the more dangerous it gets... The lakes are a very mysterious place.
Trottingham: Just east of Cloudsdale and north of Canterlot they sit tucked in a little open plain by the Solstice Heights foot hills that reach out from Canterlot. This town is made of the finest things. The ponies here know it and act of it, no bigger snobs on the map.
Solstice Heights: These small hills and valleys reach all around Canterlot and up north towards Trottingham. Many of the lower class unicorns and ponies live here, only the more upper class and royal families live higher near Canterlot Castle.
Canterlot: A castle terrace from the largest mountain in Solstice Heights. This is where Princess Celestia calls home and watched over her little sister Princess Luna. Solstice Heights all around Canterlot are also home to many of the unicorn kin. Also known as the city of knowledge. Most ponies dream of coming to Canterlot to study.
Whitetail Wood: Feathering down from Solstice Heights the beautiful tall airy woodland begins that is Whitetail wood. Known for the many deer that roam this forest and said to be quite timid of ponyfolk. The annual running of the leaves is featured through out Whitetail Wood once a year to help change the seasons.
Hoofington: A smaller friendly town outside of Whitetail Wood and near the Beaches by Seasaddle bay. Many travelers pass through here while making their way to the island. Sailor ponies are often seen here since the docks are in the Bay. The ponies here keep an open mind.
Buckingshore Beach: A large rocky beach, not really recommend swimming here since this is where a lot of the sailor pony's market takes place just off of the bay.
Seasaddle Bay: Where all the docks are parked for transport of ponies and product. Lots of ponyfolk and creatures of all social-able sorts can be seen around here. Many of the trade is sold right on Buckingshore Beach, the rest is taken out to the other cities over Equestria.
Gallopocous Island: A large island that is a bit of a distance away from the main land. They can see each other clearly from a distance but still to far apart for any pony to swim to the other side. This is a tropical land where bananas, coconuts, coffee beans, and cocoa beans are mostly grown and sold for trade. Many ponies and creatures visit this island as some sort of get-away vacation. Who can blame them? The beaches are clean and beautiful with white sand and clear waters. Any pony would be lucky to live out here if they don't mind the dangers.
Coralwood Corral: A town on Gallopocous Island. this is where all the inns and resorts are to be had with tourist friendly markets and restaurants. The people here are always smiling, they are said to have a sunny personality. Lots of sea-loving ponies live here and work doing transports to the main land.
Thunderhoove Volcano: The biggest volcano on the island. Thankfully it's completely dormant. The volcano is so huge it takes up 1/4th of the island and reaches high enough into the sky that there is snow at the peak. Many risk loving pones try to climb it, only few have ever made it to the top. Even fewer made it back down.
Fireyfoal Volcano: The only other volcano on the island, just big enough to look like a bubbling red jacuzzi it is actually a big tourist attraction to see a living volcano. Though the dangers are still very real there is always a natural disaster watch of ponyfolk on on the job monitoring the little volcano.
Roughrider Ridge: The rocky edges of the ridge have a canyon like split where open ground is available to creatures to survive on meager means. This ridge divides the west and central maps locking away the major sources of water so desperately needed in the land over. It is a very dangerous place for normal ponyfolk to go...
Beakbreak City: The biggest city in the Ridge, it is dark and dirty. The empowered hoof of Celestia hasn't much to say in these parts and ponies know it. More than just ponies live in this city, it's home for many of the hippogriffs and other creatures of equestria who are which considered to be monsters to most. This is not a place a pony should go walking alone in, one might run into some trouble...
Bareback Gulch: A smaller town down in the ridge, this you can picture a lot like an old western town. Shabby and beat up after years of hardship, the creatures here are tough and cynical like the land around them, Not many ponyfolk. There is no such thing as hope, it is just a day to day living basis. The ones who stay are to stubborn to leave, the ones who try to leave almost never make it. Only the most daring of travelers visit this little dirt town.
Dragon's Mountain: The tallest mountain on the central map. Just near the base is the path to get into Roughrider Ridge. It is said that the Dragon's keep holds treasures beyond your wildest dreams, only the bravest of ponies dare attempt such a feat.
Foggy Bottom Bay: One of the more slummy water ways that is kept near the Everfree Forest and Dragon's Keep. The land is nothing more than weeds and mud, the air is foul, the foliage turned wicked... Strange creatures lurk in these mucky waters, it's said a Hydra dwells deep in the bay.
Everfree Forest: Deep and dark this forest creeps out onto the land from the rocky ridge to the west. Somehow without the pony's help this forest manages to live and thrive on its own. As do the dangerous creatures inside of it. Anypony fool enough to come in more than likely won't be coming out... Zecora lives in a tree just a ways into the forest. Near the ridge and Dragon's mountain the Ursa's Cavern sits quietly. And further down the Moon Castle ruins lay rotting in the darkness.
Ponyville: Home to most plain ponyfolk this town thrives on social society. Here is presently where the main cast lives. There features a Library, Marketplace, Sugar Cube Corner, Boutique, Bath house, Sweet Apple Acres Farm, and much more from this little pony town. The ponies here are very friendly and social-able, if you were going to make a friend it would probably be the place to do it.
Saddleveiw Plains: Out past the stretch of Ponyville and the Everfree Forest starts the rolling plains and flat land. The wind carries over it from the sea below and it seems that all land and sky are at peace with one another. More peaceful creatures and beasts can be seen roaming the plains.
Fillydelphia: A bigger of a city for ponyfolk, even bigger than Ponyville. But more than just ponies live here. Lots of social-like creatures thrive in Fillydelphia. The ponies here are accustomed to it and often socialize with them. Big city with lots of opportunity here.
Sandtrot Beach: Just off of the Saddleveiw Plains and a trot away from Fillydelphia this is one of the most active sandy beaches in Equestria. A long stretch of sand and blue waters, lots of ponies enjoy the beach experience here.
Raptorclaw Canyon: A large clash in the earth that leave wide open rocky cliffs with terrace openings to the dark insides. The walls of the canyon are warm to look at as the colors ride through the rocks, if this place wasn't so dry and wasted it could be considered beautiful.
Talonopolis: The largest city of Griffin civilization built into the very walls of Raptorclaw Canyon. This is the most prosperous griffin city in the west. They are Equestria's leading city in industrialism. The three leading family names Razorclaw, Silverbeak, and Goldplume all run the companies and iron working in Talonopolis. The city is very strict on keeping other creatures out, they don't care for non-griffin kind. But over some years of work they've come to accept few other creatures into their city to help with the work load. The once beautiful painted canyon is now stained with soot and muck from the excess of their work. The buildings and factories build up and away from the griffin homes which are safe inside of the canyon walls from the heavy smoke and pollution around them.
Rockwington: Another smaller city out a ways into the canyon, partially in the ground but mostly standing rock buildings cover the open ground of the bottom of the canyon. This is a more likely place to see a pony rather Talonopolis since they're rather exclusive with their kind. Other tougher creatures also live and thrive in this town making a means of the land around them. This place being similar to Talonopolis for their iron working they actually take it into a more artistic fashion. Here they have long open markets and all sorts of trades available to all folk, ponies, griffins, or creatures.
Painted Pinto Desert: A large expanse of bad lands and sand reaching from the Roughrider Ridge all the way to Raptorclaw Canyon. Almost nothing survives out here except the cacti and random desert creatures. It is said there are many lost treasures out in the desert but you would be a fool to go and search for them.
Appleloosa: Out of all the western towns and cities, this has to be the friendliest. Here is where ponies of the hard dry west thrive. They live with relatively good ease considering they live between the desert, cliffs, and plains. Rather rough terrain for most of the soft hooved ponies of Eastern Equestria. The ponyfolk here are very tolerant and open to new creatures around them, they have even come to accept the native buffalo heards to stampede through their apple orchards.
Neighple Marsh: Finally the land becomes moist and green again. Beating with life the wildlife here takes care of it's own on this side of the map, frogs, bugs, small animals... Even most serpents enjoy the land here as they slink in the marshes. Lots of grass and shallow water ways as the fish swim through. This is where most supplies is gathered from for the cities above that require hunting and water gathering teams. But even then lots of creature and griffin folk live on the outer reaches of the marsh making a living with fish farms and crops to sell into the bigger cities. This is more of a moist country side for them.
Soggalong Swamp: Deep into the marsh land the water deepens and thickens with more forestry. Here the bigger creatures live in a more feral state and considered to be highly dangerous of an area for griffin or pony to go. Even those who live in the area warn friends to stay well away. The things that lurk in the swamp were not meant to be seen by the light of day.
Clopton Shore: This isn't a very pretty shore line, it's dull and almost always cloudy. The winds tug and pull at the land and sea, the sand is thick with muddy clay. But this is a wonderful resource for the people in this land who often come here to harvest the claw into making useful tools and objects. Very few creatures live out on the shores here.
Reigntight Sea: A sea of which no pony has ever crossed. No one knows what lies out there... Even the greatest of dragons seem to avoid this line.
Important terms: (this is a spot for me to define plot elements not defined in the show; pretty much all the REA/military setup comes courtesy of Diomedes at the Canterlot forums, and is being used with his permission. Info will be added as it becomes relevant to the story):
Royal Equestrian Army: The Royal Equestrian army is a small cadre of regulars augmented by militia volunteers. Combat tactics rely on strength of individual soldiers and use of force multipliers such as unicorn mages and Pegasus weather control to offset enemy advantages such as superior griffon numbers and superior dragon firepower. Despite their dominance in melee and territorial occupation, lack of ranged firepower and overall airmobility continues to be a hindrance to REA combat effectiveness.
Special operations forces (SOF) in the form of the Honor Guard are nonpareil. SOF units rely on surgical strikes and strategic application of force to win wars, even if individual battles are lost. All army levels are of mixed composition, with some units favoring one species of pony over another depending on their mission. For example, reconnaissance units may favor Pegasi, Heavy infantry may favor Earth ponies, and certain Honor Guard orders may prefer unicorns.
REA Garrison Forces: Garrison forces are purely defensive in nature. The highest concentration of Garrison forces are present in Canterlot, though small units maintain a presence in larger cities such as Manehattan and Fillydelphia. Smaller towns rely on their militia for protection.
Key Characters (in order introduced):
Dazzle Dawn: the hero of the story. A bright unicorn pony with a sunny disposition attending Canterlot University as a student. Though a bit of an airhead, she is hard working and ultimately compassionate. Her pelt is deep blue and her mane is green and cut kind of short and stylish. She had a rising sun as her cutie mark.
Arcana: Dazzle's childhood friend. Also a unicorn and also a student of Canterlot University. Dour and jaded from a life which hasn't always been fair to her, Dazzle is her only friend. She has vanished without a trace. Her pelt is a very dark pink and her mane is dark gray and long. A swirl of black fire is her cutie mark. She typically wears a pointed black hat and a matching black scarf as accessories.
Hopesong: A cheerful, if lonely young pegasus filly in tune with nature. She fears nothing more than worrying or upsetting her mother. Loves reading, singing and playing with her pet cat Sable. Her pelt is light green and her mane is pinkish-red and wavy. She doesn't have a cutie mark yet.
Midnight Brand: A somber and distant Earth pony, once famed as a ruthless soldier in the Equestrian Royal Army. Retired from service now, she tends to her beloved daughter, Hopesong, trying desperately to hide from her past darkness while being forced to rely on her old talents to find the money to raise her child. Her pelt is very dark green while her mane is bright yellow and wavy. Her cutie mark is a sword at an angle shrouded in darkness. As an accessory she usually wears some sort of cloak
Radiant Steel: A newly appointed member to the Equestrian Royal Army Garrison Forces. This pegasus is a proud and unforgiving fighter as tough as the armor she wears. That is until you show her something cute... Her pelt is white and her mane is long and very red. Her cutie mark is a sturdy shield with a silver and black stripe across it. Typically she wears armor. Either the golden ceremonial armor of the Garrison Force or, when in the field, a more combat friendly matte gray armor. She foregoes head protection in both cases though.
Rufous Steeledge: A strict and militant aged pegasus of the REA Garrison Forces. He is a major by rank and is respected far and wide in the army. Perhaps too focused on his job, his standing with his family has become somewhat marred, especially with his three children. Has a white, scarred pelt and a very short red mane. Almost always wears the ceremonial gold guard armor.
Borrowed Characters: These are RP characters designed by the great people at Canterlot (dot) com who I have received permission to include in this story in cameo/small roles. Massive thanks to anypony who let me use a character! I will add ponies (and non-ponies) to this list as I use them in the story.
Stormsong: A unicorn mare working as proprietor of a restaurant called La Fleur Canterlot in the heart of Canterlot. Her true passion however is music, and she wishes to pass the restaurant on to her younger siblings when they're of age to handle it. She is quite shy around other ponies, to the point where she doesn't care to perform music publicly. She has a blue pelt and a long silver mane. Her cutie mark is four black sixteenth notes, beamed together by two white lightning bolts. Stormsong was designed by Armony.
ShadowMist: A unicorn filly who is almost a mare yet still has no cutie mark. She lives in Ponyville but is very often seen in Canterlot. She works at the Ponyville library with Twilight Sparkle, and is often responsible for taking books to and from the Twilight's library and the Princesses' castle library. Shy and kind of lonely, she hasn't really found her place in the world. She has a black pelt and a short silver mane. ShadowMist was designed by MyLittlePonyTales.