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WednesdayFic recs, November 26th!13 comments · 180 views
Y’know what? Forget doing a “writeoff edition”. There’s too many damn stories to include, and they just keep pouring in. I’m just gonna post what I’ve already read and work on simply getting them all reviewed.
Blueshift’s Nineteen Neighty-Four now has a reading (part 1) (part 2) thanks to the Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality podcast. Looking at the site, it’s apparently dedicated to reading a Harry Potter fanfic based around the idea of rationality? I dunno, I’m only taking the cursoriest of glances. Anyway, I liked what I heard (before realizing I’d already read the story), but I have a feeling this won’t be delivering on the MLP fics in the future. Still, worth it if you haven’t read the story: it’s funny and this guy reads well.
(I'm kind of miffed that this one didn't end up all C's. Curse you, Admiral Biscuit for being such a good writer I guess? :B)
H: 0 R: 1 C: 7 V: 0 N: 0
Home for the Holidays by Silverquill
Genre: Holiday Horror
A mare, late to the train station and desperate to get home for Hearth’s Warming Eve, accepts a ticket from a mysterious stranger and boards a “secret” train. It’s a tale you’ve likely seen before, as trains of this sort feature heavily in many types of dark stories. Still, it’s the first time I’d ever seen it in ponyfic, and the writing is decent, barring a bobble here and there. If you’re into something a little Christmassy, but not overly cheerful, check this out.
Recommended for Horror Fans
Never by shortskirtsandexplosions
Imagine our surprise when word got around the writeoff: short skirts and explosions wrote an entry! It’s too bad I ended up hating this story; I mean, really hating it and the fact that it got second place. (Being over 20k words long is suggested to have played a part in that.) I think time has quelled that opinion somewhat, or else skirts just improved the story before publication. Maybe I enjoy sadfics more. Anyway, my old argument against this was that it manipulated the reader’s emotions; now I would amend that to “features an unending slew of pony death scenes”. But Celestia is there through all of them, feeling the emotions or not as required. This story, then, is about her relationships: with Luna, with their father, and with her students, past, present and future. We see clips of her life, in the distant past, interspersed with scenes from the present-day, on an airship returning from the Summer Sun Celebration. This is equal parts immortality tract, historical world-building, and future fic. (Just wait till you find out who the Admiral is!) Above all else, it is sad, sad, sad. But not, I think, sad without purpose. Watching Celestia and Luna essentially swap positions over the course of centuries is rather powerful. That said, I did feel like Luna’s characterization was shaky — granted, even in season 2, we didn’t have much to go on for her — and some of the non-Princess dialogue is… weird. This isn’t skirts’s best fic, but it’s certainly worth the read, if you don’t mind some feels.
Recommended If You Like Sad or World-Building Fics
The Order by Bad_Seed_72
Here’s another voice I know from Scribbler’s collabs! He’s a touch mumbly in the narration, which is highlighted by just how robust some of his guest readers are, but otherwise, I have no problems with him. It’s nothing a little volume on my end can’t fix. :) (Plus he outshines a few of his own collaborators with far worse microphone quality.) He goes on the list because his only other readings are partials of Inner Demons and a comic of The Unexpected Love Life of Dusk Shine, and a Kingdom Hearts fic. Okay!
Flash Sentry is desperately in love with Princess Twilight Sparkle. Unfortunately for him, he’s a pegasus and the Order says “no”. This story made me so angry, but in the end proved to be a lesson in why fanfic readings can be misleading. Had I known about the AU tag, had I read the description, I’d have been prepared to face the subject matter (and the out-of-character Princesses). Instead, my inability to trust fanfic authors came out full force and I got mad. Having calmed down now, I still have a few questions. Foremost is, how the hell could Twilight ascend if the Order keeps everypony apart? Are the Elements of Harmony all borne by unicorns in this continuity? Was she always an alicorn? Not to mention I just didn’t buy her reasoning for the existence of the Order in the first place. Then there’s the question of Cake family, and I don’t even want to get into that. What in the heck is the point of this story? As an AU, it is definitely a good look at a dystopian Equestria, but in the end it’s just your average 1984 sort of thing. You’ve got one guy who knows that the way things are is wrong but ultimately does nothing about it. This exists solely to torture poor Flash. (An early mention of him not belonging in this world made me wonder if he was somehow human Flash in pony form, but I don't think that's what he meant.) If the unrequited romance was the point, this could have been told many ways in actual Equestria. And if that wasn’t the point, I don’t know what was. With all that said, if you’re into this kind of thing, this is rewarding. Bad Seed is of course a good writer, and I was entirely captivated by a scene toward the end, when Flash comes back to his room. I also like the way actual Equestria plays into this story; it’s quite tragic. It all comes down to how you can handle the idea of a modern, segregated Equestria.
Recommended If You Like Dystopian AUs
Kicking Back by Loganberry
It’s always fun to hear an author read their own work. He’s maybe a bit fast, and there’s some background noise that a noise removal function could fix (actually, his mic quality is spectacular given that he recorded this on a phone!), but otherwise, he’s a keeper. His voice is overall quite charming. A worthy author, and a worthy reader as well! (Though so far, he only reads his own stuff. :B)
Genre: Reaction Fic
Cloud Kicker hires an image consultant; things don’t go well. I have yet to read anything of the Winningverse (though I have plans to!), but I have enough second-hand understanding of it to recognize this as a reaction to it. So if you’re not aware what this is lampooning, it likely won’t have any effect. It comes off as just a string of mild sexual innuendo and a mare rightly upset because ponies won’t stop hitting on her. That said, it is pretty funny, it just lacks overall appeal.
Recommended If You’re Into the Winningverse
Pinkie Pie’s Last Nightmare Night by Admiral Biscuit
Downsides: Mic is a little muffled and she left in a bobble with a word. Everything else, I like. Her Pinkie voice is fantastic, and her reading speed is just north of perfect. Plus, she only bobbled one word, so I suspect that was an editing mistake rather than a lack thereof. Good to go! (She doesn’t have many readings, though.)
Pinkie dresses as Celestia for Nightmare Night. I really enjoyed this story, but as I look back on it, I realize there’s not much to it. She dresses up, she pranks some ponies, the ending is kind of amazing. It’s a really solid comedy regardless of lack of plot elements, though, and I especially like Applejack’s prank. Biscuit’s pretty skilled with these one-shotober fics.
Remedial Lessons by ChromeMyriad
With princesshood comes new understanding of the evils of ponykind; when Twilight gets upset about this, it’s up to Princess Luna to calm her down. The middle third of this is a lengthy, in-depth exploration of magical headcanon, enough that I was almost willing to call this a hard fantasy. The story's purpose doesn’t reveal itself until we’re nearly at the end and Luna lectures Twilight on the difference between darkness and evil. (An admittedly good metaphor.) I suppose this is where the Random tag comes into play. And for all that it’s somewhat long-winded about magic explanations, I did enjoy this, right up until they talk about the guards’ inappropriate behavior, which is dismissed with, essentially, “boys will be boys”. That threw me, and I feel like it upsets the tone of the entire piece. Overall, I think this was worth the listen, but be warned that you’ll have to dodge narrative obstacles before finding the point.
Recommended If You Like Magical Headcanon
Infatuation by Malus Scriptor
Genre: Epistolary Shipping
Discord writes a letter to the princess he loves. I both love and hate how slowly this story unfolds. First, we find out that the writer is Discord, which actually flipped my opinion of it up to that point. The love letter is so creepy, but I expect that from him. My opinion flipped completely once more when it was revealed that the princess he’s writing to is not Celestia, as I’d hoped thought, but Twilight. Creepy. D: If there’s one thing this story doesn’t do properly, it’s convince me that Discord really feels this way. (But then, the only Discord ship I sail is Dislestia.) Thankfully, I think it’s meant to be fucking creepy, so the author has succeeded at that. This might actually have appeal beyond shippers.
Recommended If You Like Shipping or Dark Fics
Too Far by KnightMysterio
Genre: Anti-Bullying Tract
Diamond Tiara’s bullying crosses the line after Dinky Hooves kills herself. I have a lot of feelings about this story. I spent most of it rolling my eyes at how difficult it is to really do a convincing anti-bullying tract. For starters, there’s the whole suicide thing. It might just be headcanon, but unless Equestria is presented in a fic as darker than what we see in the show, I have a majorly hard time believing that anypony, least of all a filly, even knows what suicide is, let alone would consider it. I mean, the death of a single filly in Ponyville is enough of an event that Celestia and Luna come down to discuss Diamond’s punishment! In the story’s own context, Dinky's actions are a little hard to swallow. Second, there’s the question of “Who is this written for?” A bully isn’t going to read something like this, note their bad behavior, and then seek to make reparations for their actions. Anyone who believes this to be possible was most likely bullied themselves, and will quite possibly be angry that Diamond isn’t locked up, killed, or otherwise punished in this story. A naive approach to subjects like this only leads to a hokey story. (I had flashbacks to various morality cartoons I watched as a kid; anyone ever see that one where the kid falls asleep on the train and goes through a nightmarish ride with trains that talk and stuff? I loved that one.) And for most of this story, “hokey” is definitely the feeling I got, though I was impressed at the justification for use of the pathetic fallacy in Equestria. Like, seriously, bravo, it was unexpected.
This is all redeemed and recontextualized when Discord shows up. From that point, the focus shifts from “the sins of an indulgent parent” and “spoiled children are intractable” to something more along the lines of “the only solution to bullying is the willful effort of self-improvement” and “you, yes you, will never get a second chance”. Granted, some of that is still wrapped up in the — inasmuch as this is really just a ponification of recent tragic events — hyperbolic “don’t bully other kids or they’ll kill themselves” lesson. I think, in the end, I liked this, though I do still have some concerns. (Why are the Wonderbolts there save to increase the drama? Why make Silver Spoon less of a bully? Does the story want to redeem Diamond Tiara or condemn her? Why ship Filthy Rich with Derpy save to increase the drama?) A final note: The version I heard, linked in the description of the reading and possibly the same I linked to at FFN, is not currently available on Fimfic. You can search and find a journal from May of this year that tagged the story, but the story was taken down by the author to fix ”major issues”. So there’s every possibility that the story will return one day and be far different.
Recommended If You’re Concerned About Bullying
8 comments · 80 views
Hey, the writeoff's over! I finished 5th and 19th. This one's number 19. :B Just a silly random comedy that is me completely not trying to do anything like write good jokes or good stories or good anything really. The punchline is dubstep. And BDSM. Yes, my speedfic collection is now rated Teen, just because of this one story.
666 blog posts!
SundayIMDB is my TVTropes12 comments · 84 views
Pay close attention to the little girl in this promo clip:
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Andrea Libman.
Wasn't even her first role!
Isn't nature fascinating?
13 comments · 184 views
Ha haaa! I bet you thought I'd forgotten about this, eh? Well, fret no more! It's just the nature of the various reading projects I've set up that I do a little for each here and there before releasing one.
H: 0 R: 1 C: 5 V: 1 N: 3
You Learn by A Hoof-ful of Dust
Genre: Slice of Life
Three looks at Apple Bloom learning things. It’s not quite a kishotenketsu, I don’t think, but if you go into this expecting a normal mode of storytelling, you’ll be left scratching your head. Here’s the clue: the final scene is meant to be compared to the first two. Once you know that, the rest should come. Beyond narrative technique, this also features some really excellent writing (and hey, it even passes the Zecora test!) Not much happens, but it’s a very pleasant read and gets its point across in a refreshingly unique way.
The Lucky Ones by Educated Guess
A scene during the siege of a fortress. This was written for one of the World-Building Alliance things, but the world-building is really haphazard. It comes off as a list of names that refer to nothing at all, and there isn't really anything pony about it, aside from a horse pun and the mention of the pony races. I like that seaponies are a major part of this, but I can’t say the actual details of their society were terribly interesting. Mostly, I just couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on. Only attempt this if you don’t mind everything being completely alien.
The Baltimare Chase by DegeTheMighty
Genre: Chase Scene
Shining Armor pursues a fugitive through town. For just being a long action scene, this is really intense and it grabbed me immediately. There’s no real explanation for how they got into this situation, but the action flows smoothly and the writing is evocative. That said, it could also use some cleanup; this feels like a first draft, with typos, LUS, and some passages that need tightening down. Still, if you like action scenes, this is pretty short, and has a couple neat ideas to boot.
Recommended If You Don’t Mind LUS
Winter Threads by Dreamy Days
Genre: Slice of Life
A pegasus walks around Manehattan and thinks about all the ponies who he could help, but can’t. He does end up helping one, thank goodness, because this would have been very dull otherwise. I once wrote a story where the narrator wandered around his town, commenting on the bleak bleakness of everything about him, and the first third or so of this made me think of it (and how awful it was). Instead, what we get is a lesson in the value of kindness, wrapped in some fairly lackluster and unfocused writing. Not to mention, it’s very Earth-analogue. (I can’t imagine a pony threatening another the way the bellhop does; also why is it the bellhop’s business who’s paying what for their room?) I suppose this might be worth it if you need something to restore your faith in humanity.
On a Cool Summer Night by psp7master
In the early days of Equestria, a stallion from Saddle Arabia is called under the tutelage of Star Swirl the Bearded. What caught my attention is that, when writing about ancient Equestria, we usually just write about, well, Equestria. I’ve never even considered what the zebras or anyone else might have been doing at that time. That said, this does have some problems, all of them conceptual. (Well, I did tire of the continual stream of honorifics directed at the Queen, but that at least fits.) I was charmed by the idea that Saddle Arabia is matriarchal, just like Equestria, so the slightly less appealing aspects snuck up on me. Yeah, Islamic culture is just sort of copy-pasted into this as world-building, and while the ending is nicely surprising, well… The confluence of the events with what goes into them is problematic, to say the least. I did at least enjoy it while reading.
Recommended If You Like World-Buidling
Leaving the Ground Behind by q97randomguy
Genre: Inner Monologue
A pegasus mailpony — no, not that pegasus mailpony — makes a delivery and contemplates the joys of flight. I’m surprised by this, because it gets somewhat poignant by the end. I mean, this is just a character sketch for an OC, but the character ends up being pretty compelling. Interesting.
Recommended for Slice of Life Fans
Folksong by Adda le Blue
Genre: Personal Writing
Most of this reads like free-verse poetry, with a staccato, otherworldly feeling to the writing. It’s very hard to figure out what’s going on, but in a way that only makes you want to read further. Here’s what I know: the main character is a pegasus, part of the Royal Guard, and, I think, was originally human. Or else visited the human world once. She plays guitar. She’s learned that her father died. She has tumultuous sex with an unknown stallion. She blacks out from drinking too much and wakes up in Princess Luna’s bed, which is where things get considerably more concrete. Given the mental impairment, I think the scattershot writing really fits the mood, if nothing else. I do feel like there are one or two details this might need, just so we can draw solid conclusions by the end, but I’d recommend this just for the experience. I’ve definitely not read any fics like it. Check it out if you're up for a challenge!
Recommended for Fans of Experimental Writing
What Color Are My Eyes? by Protopony350
Vinyl Scratch sets the record straight about the color of her eyes. Do not read this without heeding the warning in the description, it is very a propos. I wish I had more positive things to say about this. The idea is creative, and the final line is just perfect, not to mention I got a perverse kick out of Vinyl’s thinking that a pony with a scalpel cutie mark was a doctor. Unfortunately, this doesn’t have much going for it other than shock value. The writing is rushed and full of typos, and there is definitely room for expansion. I think the only people who would want to read this are those who enjoy gorefics.
Eyes on the Road by Art Inspired
Lightning Dust tries to redeem herself in Rainbow Dash's eyes and be recruited into the Wonderbolts. This gets off to a poor start with a telly prologue that lays out just how things have changed since Wonderbolt Academy. The writing continues to be telly, and in need of a good proofread, as we move into the main portion of the story. Now, this does set up some good interpersonal tension, and I liked Spitfire’s dynamic with Lightning Dust. But all of that is dropped for chapters two and three, which are a lengthy action scene involving a race to determine the next Wonderbolts recruit. This is a setup I have some issues with, but really, it’s not the worst part of this story. Rather, the author attempted a “it doesn’t matter who wins, the important thing is they make up” ending, which would have been the right thing to do if so much attention hadn’t been put onto the race. I didn’t like the race segment, but I wanted to know who won! That kind of ending only works when the personal drama is front and center. Suffice to say, I found this story supremely unsatisfying to read, and it would take a lot of work to improve it.
Ra Ra Raspberry by Loganberry
Genre: Historical Crossover by Way of Musical Reference
The tragic tale of Raspberry Ripple, who loved too much. If you are not up on memes — and I mean really up on them — you will miss out on this story’s central joke. However, you might still get the historical references, so there’s something to be said for this; knowing the referenced song will thus explain why certain odd choices in telling the story were made. I was charmed by the storyteller approach, which helped wave away some of the flimsier parts of the story, as well as the “alternate Equestrias” framing narrative. I can’t really think of anything else to say that wouldn’t spoil it. I guess, if you read it and are still confused, click on this for the answer. (But not before, I’m serious!)
Recommended If You’re Knowledgeable About Memes
The Elements of Awesomery
It was a fine spring day in the magical land of Ponylandia. There were no clouds in the very blue sky and the birds were singing and everything was wonderful and everypony was happy. Well, except for one pony. A pegasus pony with rainbow mane and a cutie mark that was an awesome rainbow lightning bolt coming out of a thundercloud who was named Wondercloud Lightningbolt was talking to her friends. She was kind of sad, because even though she had a lot of friends, and they were pretty cool, she thought that she was really lame. This wasn't true, of course; Wondercloud was a totally awesome pony, but for some reason, she didn't think so, and she wouldn't listen to her friends when they tried to convince her otherwise.
"You should cheer up, Wondercloud," said Fashionface. She was a pretty unicorn with purple mane, and she tended to whine about things a lot. Her cutie mark was FASHION. "You're really a very cool pony. I wish I was half as cool as you are!"
"Fashionface is plum right," drawled Johnniepear in her funny accent. She was a really strong orange filly and not a colt like you might think from her name. Her cutie mark was a pear that had a big mouth with lots of teeth. "I don't know anypony else who's as cool as you, 'ceptin' fer me o' course, I reckon."
"Wondercloud, I'll bake you the biggest, most bestest cake ever if it makes you stop being so sad," added Sugar Rush, who was the pinkest pony ever and Wondercloud's closest and very best friend. On her butt was a big pink firework, exploding with sugary candy-coated goodness and sprinkles. "You're so cool, you deserve a hundred cakes! Also, I think you're really hot." She spoke the last part really quietly so no one would hear.
Wondercloud's fourth friend, a yellow pegasus named Whisperlite, didn't say anything, but that was okay, because when she talked you could never hear what she said anyway, and she was really cute so it didn't matter. Her flank-a-dank was a butterfly with a flashlight for a body.
"Gee, girls," sighed Wondercloud, "it's really nice of you to say all those things to me. It's just that I haven't done anything really cool lately and I'm pretty sure that means I'm lame." She sighed again. All her friends thought it was a really cool sigh, but it didn't matter. She just went off to mope on a cloud.
Later that day, a new pony showed up in town, and Wondercloud was the first one to meet her. She was a weird purple unicorn with a cutie thing that looked like a brain reading a book, who wore black clothing and said her name was Midnight Twinkle.
"Wondercloud Lightningbolt, I demand you take me to whoever runs this town immediately, because I know a lot of important things that have to be told to that pony right now and no one else!" Midnight Twinkle was kind of bossy and didn't like telling other ponies what she knew.
Wondercloud shrugged and showed Midnight Twinkle to the city hall, where Mayor Sexynickers lived. Once Midnight Twinkle was talking to the Mayor, Wondercloud gathered up her friends and told them about the weird new pony.
"She doesn't sound very nice!" whined Fashionface. "And her fashion sense is awful!"
"I woulda kicked her hindquarters right back to where she came from, consarnit!" Johnniepear frowned. She flexed her hooves and somewhere a bird exploded.
"Well, I think we should throw her a party!" squealed Sugar Rush, bouncing around in a circle. "Parties are the best way to make weird new ponies love everyone!"
If Whisperlite said anything, nopony heard it.
"Maybe we should find out what it is this new pony knows," Wondercloud thought loudly. "I mean, she seemed kind of agitated. Maybe it's something important."
Just then, Midnight Twinkle burst out of city hall! "Just you wait, Mayor Sexynickers!" she yelled behind her. "I'll show you that I'm right and we're all in terrible danger!" Behind her, the mayor, who was really sexy looking in a totally mature way, slapped her flank with a hoof and closed the doors.
"Terrible danger?" asked Johnniepear. "Why, I reckon that sounds downright mighty dangerous!"
Midnight Twinkle stuck out her tongue. "Well, duh! I was reading some moldy old books, when I found out that aliens from the planet Badhorsia are coming to this town, tonight, to destroy the whole world!"
"Oh noooo!" wailed Fashionface. "Whatever shall we doooo?"
"They can't destroy the world!" cried Sugar Rush. "That's where I keep my stuff!"
Whisperlite whimpered and hid underneath Wondercloud because she was scared.
"We have to stop them!" declared Wondercloud firmly. "We can't let the world be destroyed!"
"That there's the spirit, Wondercloud!" Johnniepear whooped, slapping Wondercloud on the back so hard her teeth rattled. "We'll kick them there aliens in their cotton-pickin' teeth! Tarnation!"
Midnight Twinkle rolled her eyes and scoffed. "Ugh. What a bunch of dummies you guys are. Obviously, you can't just go around kicking aliens or whatever. We have to go to the Everlame Forest and find the Elements of Awesomery first. They're the only things that can save us!"
Everypony gasped again.
"The Everlame Forest? But it's the worst place in all of Ponylandia!"
"Yeah, nothing fun ever happens there! It's totally lame!"
"Lame is right, Sugar Rush. I'd never want to go there!"
"Fine," Midnight Twinkle said, rolling her eyes, "whatever. You all can just stay here and let the world get destroyed. I'm going, and don't let me say I told you so when flying saucers burn your house down with exploding laser beams!" She turned in a huff and sauntered off toward the dark, spooky mouth of the Everlame Forest.
"We'd better follow her, girls. There ain't no tellin' what'll happen if'n she moseys on into the Everlame Forest by herself, gol durnit!" Johnniepear charged ahead. The rest of the friends looked at each other and shrugged, and then they all followed.
The Everlame Forest was really dark and really creepy, but mostly it was just lame. The plants were dark and had all kinds of spikes and stuff on them, but up close they were all veiny and covered in warts and junk and looked really dumb. Sometimes an animal would jump out at you, but then you'd realize its teeth were dull and it was way smaller than you first thought. Still, most ponies stayed away from the forest anyway, because it was totally nerve-wracking to be there, what with all the not-dangerous animals jumping out at you all the time.
The six ponies stayed together as they wandered down the path, and the dark, lame trees pushed in closer and closer from every side. Suddenly, an enormous fire-breathing dragon jumped out! It gnashed its huge, pointy teeth and roared and snorted flames at them! All the ponies screamed, except Johnniepear, who strode forward and snorted back at the dragon. Then, they all realized that it wasn't breathing fire at them so much as it was lobbing fiery, explosive boogers. That was kind of lame, since they were expecting actual fire breathing, but it was still dangerous.
Johnniepear didn't care, though. She knew she had to protect her friends. A flaming booger got snotted right at her, and she did a jumping spin-kick over top of it and kicked the dragon right in its lame face! She looked way cool while doing it too, and landed on all fours like a boss. The dragon roared and backed up, trying to hit Johnnie with its wing, but she ducked at just the last minute, making all her friends gasp in fear. But Johnnie wasn't worried; she flip-kicked into the air and smacked the dragon right under its stupid head! She kicked it so hard it went flying up and spun around end over end! And before it hit the ground, Johnnie did a cool-ass spinning dragon punch uppercut and knocked it out! Then she put a cigarette out in its eye, because she didn't give a fuck.
"That was so scary!" cried Fashionface. "I thought I was going to diiiie!"
"Wow, Johnnie, that was so cool!" gasped Wondercloud excitedly. "I wish I could do cool stuff like that."
"You can, Wondercloud, I believe in you," said Sugar Rush quietly.
Johnnie nodded sagely and put on some sweet shades. "It's easy. Y'all jist gotta believe in yerself an' stop givin' two shits." Johnniepear spit on the ground. "Hayseed." And then she walked on and they all followed her.
Soon they came to a bunch of big stone pillars that blocked the path and made them have to go in single file. There was a gate at the end of the path. All of a sudden, a big mean demon dropped down in front of the gate and said, "Halt! You shall not pass!"
The ponies all gasped. They looked at each other. Johnnie tried kicking the demon, but it blocked her kick with its enormous hand. Sugar Rush tried tickling it, but it wasn't ticklish. Fashionface moaned, "Ohh, come on, just get out of the way, we're really in a hurry here!" But the demon ignored her.
Finally, Whisperlite stepped forward. "Um, excuse me, Mr. Demon, sir," she murmured. It was really hard to hear. "We'd like to move past you, if you wouldn't mind. We have something very important to do on the other side of this gate." Then her eyes got really big and watery and she looked at the demon.
The demon looked at Whisperlite. Suddenly, its eyes got all watery too. "Oh my!" it exclaimed. "You're so adorable! I just want to pick you up and cuddle you forever!" It did so, much to Whisperlite's surprise. But it didn't really cuddle her forever, only for a little bit. "Since you're so cute, I'll let you all go on ahead," it continued saying, and put her back down. It opened the gate for them and bowed gracefully. "Bye-bye, you adorable pony! I hope you come back this way soon!" And it balled up its hands and made a happy face and did a little dance, thinking about how cute Whisperlite was.
"Wow, Whisperlite," said Wondercloud in awe. "That was some trick!" Whisperlite didn't say anything.
Sugar Rush murmured to herself, "I think Wondercloud's cuter," but nopony heard her, except that Wondercloud blushed a little, and she didn't even know why.
Then they came to a wide, wide river, and it didn't look like there was any way they could cross it. Suddenly, Wondercloud shouted, "Look!" and pointed to the middle of the river. There were three big Diamond Dogs in a big boat paddling their way.
"Maybe they'll take us across," mused Midnight Twinkle.
"Yes, we will!" the first dog said, rubbing its paws together. "Please, climb into the boat!"
They all climbed in, and the Diamond Dogs began rowing back across the river. But halfway to the shore, the leader dog started laughing.
"Hahaha, you foolish ponies! You have fallen into our trap! Now we will sink the boat and you will all drown and then we will eat you! Hahahahaha!" He started rocking the boat back and forth and all the ponies were scared that they were going to drown.
"Oh nooo!" cried Fashionface. "Whatever shall we doooo?"
"Stop that!" cried the leader, putting his fingers in his ears. "Don't do that!"
"What do you mean?" she whined. "What don't you want me doing? You're loud and mean and smelly, and I just want to get across this yucky river and out of this awful, dirty boat and onto the other shore so we can find the Elements of Awesomery!"
"All right, that's it!" yelled the dog. "We kill you first!"
"Like hay you will, ya dirty varmint!" shouted Johnniepear, and then she kicked the dog in the face and he fell out of the boat. Wondercloud and Midnight Twinkle kicked the other two dogs and they fell out as well and they all drowned in the river. No one ever said that Diamond Dogs were smart. I mean, what do they even do, really?
"Fashionface, you almost got us all killed!" Wondercloud yelled. "You suck!"
"Well, it isn't myyyyyyy fault!" Fashionface cried. "Those stupid dogs tried to drown us all!"
"Just can it," huffed Midnight Twinkle. "We're almost there."
"Hey Midnight," asked Wondercloud, "what are these Elements of Awesomery supposed to be, anyway?"
"Yeah," added Sugar Rush questioningly, "and what do they do?"
Midnight Twinkle blushed. "Actually, uh, I dunno."
"What???" everypony shouted questioningly.
"I just know that we can find them here, in this forest, and they'll help us stop the aliens. I swear I didn't make it up or anything!"
"So you mean we're risking our lives for something that might not even work or exist?" Wondercloud clucked her tongue. "Sheesh, you suck too, Midnight Twinkle."
Midnight Twinkle got a really indignant look on her face, and then she hmphed and turned her back on them and kept walking without saying anything.
"Don't look now," whispered Sugar Rush to Wondercloud, "but I think you just got 20% cooler."
Wondercloud blushed a little more.
They all decided that they would keep going, because they'd gotten this far. If Midnight Twinkle was wrong (even though she didn't think she would be) then they'd all go home and laugh at her. Eventually, they came to a really really deep, really really dark part of the forest. There was no light except for some glowing mushrooms, but they were lame because the light was plain old white and not blue or pink or something neat like that.
Suddenly, there was an enormous, ferocious beast in front of them! It had the body of a lion, the head of an eagle, the ears of a rabbit, and the butt of a monkey! It was big and mean and ugly, and even though it was really totally lame, it was also really dangerous, unlike the rest of the monsters in the Everlame Forest!
"Oh no!" cried Midnight Twinkle. "It's a nifforg! The most powerful creature in the Everlame Forest! We're doomed!"
It roared loudly and all the ponies shrank back, scared, except for Sugar Rush, who stepped forward (even though she was scared too) and said in a brave voice, "Hey you big, mean meanie-pants! Why don't you go away and leave us alone? We've come way too far to stop here because of some dumb ugly monster!"
The beast sneered at her. "Huh, as if. What's some stupid pink pony gonna do, huh?"
Sugar Rush smiled back. "I'm gonna play a game with you!"
"A game? You think I'm playin' here or somethin'?"
"Yup! It's called, 'Where's Sugar?'!" And then she zipped behind a tree.
The nifforg roared and sliced the tree in half with one giant swipe! All the ponies gasped in fright because they thought Sugar Rush was dead for sure, but she had disappeared!
"Yoo-hoo!" cried the pink pony, sticking out from another tree and waggling her hooves. "I'm over here, you big dumb, ugly, dumb thing you!"
The nifforg turned around and swiped at that tree, but once again, Sugar Rush was gone! She appeared inside another tree, and then she came out from under a rock, saying, "This one time, I saw a thing that was ugly and slimy and totally stupid, and I thought it was the dumbest thing I ever saw, until I saw your gross butt just now, and now I know that's the ugliest thing ever!" And then kicked the thing in its big, ugly butt!
She appeared out of the foliage and stuck a pillowcase over the beast's eyes, and then she showed up in its mane and gave it a huge noogie!
"Argh!" cried the nifforg. "I'm outta here, you weirdos! I thought this place was lame, but you're dorking it up!" And it spread its huge, ugly, stinky, dumb wings and took off over the trees.
"Hooray!" cried the ponies, and they all gave Sugar Rush a hug.
"Wow," Wondercloud said, "that was really random, Sugar Rush! But it was really funny to watch!"
"Thanks, Boltie," Sugar Rush said shyly. "I'm glad you liked it." And then when nopony else was looking, she mustered up her courage and gave Wondercloud a tiny peck on the cheek. Wondercloud blushed really deeply this time, and her wings stood up straight, and she couldn't get them to go back down for five minutes, and she didn't really understand why.
They crossed a big chasm on a rickety, swaying rope bridge. It was scary and high, but they did their best not to look down, and somehow they all made it across.
That is, they almost did! Just as they reached the other side, another pony showed up out of the mist. He was an earth pony, who was all grey, and he was way bigger than any of them. He was even twice as big as Johnniepear! He scowled at them and grumbled, "My name is Hokey Smokes, and I'm here to stop you all from getting to the Elements of Awesomery!"
"Oh yeah?" cried Johnnie. "You wanna fight or somethin'?"
"Pfft, please. You look kinda girly and shrimpy. I'd probably kick your flank from here to Badhorsia."
"Hey!" cried Wondercloud. "You can't talk to my friends that way! If you wanna fight one of us, you gotta fight all of us!"
Then something weird happened. Hokey Smokes' jaw dropped and he stared at Wondercloud.
"Whoa," he breathed breathlessly, "where'd you get that awesome rainbow color in your mane?"
Wondercloud almost didn't know what to say. "Uhh, it's natural, I guess. I mean, I've always had it."
Hokey Smokes started freaking out and jumping around. "Wow, dude, that's so awesome! Oh, I wish I was as cool as you! I mean, I'm just grey all over, what kind of color is that? Bo-ring! I totally can't stand up to a pony as cool as you! I mean, I'll have to let you through to face my friends, and they'll probably tear you apart because they're cooler than I am, but gee! You just look awesome! Remember me, okay? I'll totally be your biggest fan when you get famous!"
And he stepped aside and let them pass. Wondercloud looked kind of bewildered, but Sugar Rush gave her a hug.
"That was awesome, Wondercloud! You did great!"
"But... I didn't do anything!"
"I guess you didn't have to," smirked Midnight Twinkle with a smile. "You do look pretty cool, after all."
"Gee, thanks," Wondercloud blushed.
In front of them was a big huge castle, made out of moldy old blocks of stone and covered in portcullises. I mean portcullises everywhere, it was just crawling with 'em! Anyway, they were trying to figure out a way in when suddenly a big black pegasus with a monocle swooped down and landed in front of the gate!
"Who goes there?" he cried, his voice all snobbish. "I am Black Snooty, and I am here to see that none may enter the castle!"
The ponies all looked at him. "We could fight ya," declared Johnniepear.
"Oh please," Black Snooty huffed. "While I absolutely detest fisticuffs of any sort, I believe that my superior skill in the martial arts would render your actions most ineffective."
"Well, how can we get past you then?" asked Midnight Twinkle.
"If you can impress me somehow, then perhaps I'll consider allowing you to pass."
So Johnniepear kicked over a tree, but Black Snooty yawned, "How crass!"
Whisperlite tried making big, cute eyes at him, but he snorted, "Oh please, you're so common!"
Fashionface whined, "Oh please please please, let us in! We're so close to our goal, and we've come all this way, and my hooves are sore and my legs are tired, and my eyes have those yucky crusty things in them, and I'm hungry and I'm cold, and I just want to find these Elements and go hoooooome!"
Black Snooty made a disgusted face. "My dear lady, your manners are simply atrocious!"
Sugar Rush made funny faces at him from every angle she could think of, including a few that don't really exist, but he ignored her. Midnight Twinkle even tried to cast some magic at him, but at the last second a bug flew up her nose and all that came out was a puff of smoke and a noise that sounded like a fart.
"Laughable," coughed Black Snooty, polishing his hoof on his cravat. "If only it weren't so pathetic. So, does anypony else have any tricks up their sleeve, or shall we call it a night?"
"I do!" declared Wondercloud. She reared back and launched herself into the sky, and started doing all kinds of somersaults and making the clouds spin. She zoomed over the treetops and shook all the leaves down. She even wrote her name in the sky with a rainbow contrail. The ponies all began cheering, and Black Snooty's monocle popped right out of his eye!
"My word! Such aerial skill! In all my days, I have never seen anything so breathtaking! Please, I must insist that you all go inside. There is one more pony waiting for you, of course, and you will no doubt be unable to impress her so easily, but I am defeated! Enter!"
And he raised the portcullis in front of the gate and bowed deeply as they went inside. Then the gate shut behind them with a huge BOOM and they were in the castle. It was cold and dank and dark, so Midnight Twinkle made a light on her horn.
"That was really cool, Wondercloud," she gasped. "I didn't know you had it in you!"
"Yeah, me neither!" said Wondercloud, feeling a little embarrassed.
"You were really cool, Wondercloud!" exclaimed Sugar Rush excitedly. She wanted to give Wondercloud a big kiss on the lips, but before she could do anything, a giant trap door opened underneath them and they all slid screaming down into the basement!
"Welcome to my dungeon!" called a hideous voice. They all saw a dark purple unicorn, dressed in leather and holding a whip, standing atop a platform in front of a throne. She laughed evilly and declared, "I am Queen Meanie, and your quest for the Elements of Awesomery ends here!"
She cast a spell, and they all found themselves being wrapped up by vines and chains and tentacles! Wondercloud was able to avoid the spell by flying up super fast, but the rest of her friends got caught. Fashionface was tied to a rack, while Midnight Twinkle was chained spread-eagled to a rotating wheel. Sugar Rush had a blindfold over her eyes and was tied facedown to a table, and Johnniepear and Whisperlite both were trussed up and hung from the ceiling with big red balls shoved in their mouths! It was awful!
"What do you think you can do to save them, little pegasus?" crowed Queen Meanie. "I defeated all of your friends easily. One pony is no match for me!"
"That's what you think!" cried Wondercloud. But inside, she was afraid. What could she do against this powerful, evil sorceress? Suddenly, she had the answer. She thought about all the things that her friends had done to help get them through the trials of the Forest. They had all done something really awesome (well, maybe except for Fashionface, who just whined a lot about everything) but it was her, Wondercloud, who had been able to defeat two ponies in a row, just by being cool!
"It all makes sense now!" she smiled. "All this time, my friends have been telling me how cool I am, but I ignored them because I thought they were only trying to be nice to me! But it's true! I really am cool! In fact, I think I might be the coolest pony in all of Ponylandia!"
Suddenly, there was a bright light that shone from inside of Wondercloud. When it faded, she had gotten her cutie mark a second time! Only this time, instead of a rainbow lightning bolt on her flank, she had rainbow lightning bolts everywhere! She looked 120% cooler than she used to, and she could fly faster too, because rainbow lightning bolts make you fly really fast.
Queen Meanie screamed and tried to hit Wondercloud with another spell, but she was faster than magic now! She swooped down and knocked Queen Meanie off her throne and into an iron maiden, which closed on her up to the neck. Screaming, but also making oohing sounds, she screeched, "How can this be? How did you defeat me?"
"It's simple," said Midnight Twinkle. "She harnessed the power of the Elements of Awesomery!"
"What? I did?"
Midnight nodded. "I figured it out just now. The Elements aren't some kind of treasure to be found; they were in all of us the entire time! We just needed to realize it for ourselves!
"Johnniepear, who gave not a single fuck when fighting that awful dragon, represents the Element of... Badassery!"
There was a glow, and Johnnie was freed from the chains that had held her to the ceiling. When the light faded, she was wearing awesome shades and a huge fucking gold necklace with a ginormous bit sign on the end.
"Shee-it," she said, chomping on a fat cigar.
"Whisperlite, whose unending adorableness charmed the pants off a demon, represents the Element... Moe as Fuck!"
Another light, and Whisperlite was freed from the black, gooey tendrils that had held her captive. She was now wearing a bunny costume, and it was too adorable, you really have no fucking idea omg.
"Fashionface, who couldn't fucking shut up for two fucking seconds the entire fucking time, represents the Element of... Whining!"
Fashionface was suddenly free, and wearing a baggy jogging suit. It looked like she might have suddenly put on a few pounds, too, and her hair was all up in curlers. She screamed and fainted.
"Wait," said Wondercloud haltingly, "whining isn't exactly awesome."
"Shut up, okay?" rumbled Midnight Twinkle irritably. "I didn't just make this shit up or anything, this is old magic, dammit. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, Sugar Rush, who confounded that nifforg by breaking every damned law of physics, represents the Element of... Randomness!"
Sugar Rush was freed, then, and she appeared wearing a pair of funny glasses, a fake arrow through her head, and a big red nose. She tweetled on a party tickler and flopped around, wearing big blue swim fins.
"And because I figured all this crap out, I get the Element of Smartypantsitude!" Midnight Twinkle smirked and rose up from the wheel, landing gently on her hooves. She was wearing a big, grey wig, a bushy grey moustache, and really thick, horn-rimmed glasses.
"That's not even a real word!" Wondercloud grumbled.
"Shut up already, I said!"
"Well, then what about me? What's my Element?"
Midnight Twinkle looked at the rest of the ponies. They smiled at her. "Isn't it obvious?" she said.
"Y'all done wowed that Hokey Smokes feller. He's yer biggest fan now, hooves down!"
"You impressed the heck out of that snobbish Black Snooty," mumbled Fashionface, who had woken back up and was trying to get the curlers out of her mane.
"You beat Queen Meanie without so much as batting an eye," Whisperlite added.
"And you look totally freaking sweet!" Sugar Rush yelled, jumping up and down and making floppy noises with her flippers.
Midnight Twinkle nodded. "So your Element is..." All together, they yelled, "120% COOLER!"
Suddenly, Wondercloud was wearing an awesome rainbow helmet that swept to a point in the back, and a cool red lightning-bolt cape and gold wing shoes. Fashionface stuck her tongue out.
"Eew, that's so tacky!"
"Shut up, Miss Tracksuit," yelled Wondercloud, and pulled on some sweet shades out of nowhere. "Deal with it. Let's go kill some aliens!"
"Hah!" barked Queen Meanie, who everpony had forgotten about. "You'll never stop the Badhorsia invasion fleet! My people will swarm down from the skies and rain fire upon your homes! You will never--"
"Can it, lady!" shouted Wondercloud, and she bucked the iron maiden that Queen Meanie was in. It toppled backward and landed in a pool of acid that was also on fire, and then Wondercloud used her Element powers to throw lightning at the burning acid. Queen Meanie exploded. Twice.
They all cheered, and then Wondercloud busted a hole all the way through the roof of the castle and they all took off after her (because the Elements could make them fly). And when they got back to the city, the alien invasion fleet was coming down out of the clouds! Ponies were running and screaming through the streets, and lasers were making explosions that burned their houses down! But then Wondercloud and her friends swooped in, and through the powers of sheer Awesomery, they created a sweet, sweet rainbow beam that destroyed all the flying saucers and sent the aliens packing!
And when it was all over, there was a big parade for them, with Wondercloud at the head. The parade went all through town and ended right at city hall, where Mayor Sexynickers gave a speech.
"Citizens of Ponylandia, I present to you your saviors! Also I need to apologize to Wondercloud and Midnight Twinkle for not believing them about the Elements of Awesomery!"
"But I was the only one who told you about them," objected Midnight Twinkle.
Wondercloud elbowed her in the ribs. "Shut up, already. Rude, much?"
"In honor of our heroes, I must ask -- nay, demand -- that Wondercloud choose one of her friends to kiss, right now, in front of everypony!"
Wondercloud turned bright red. "R-really? But who?"
"It should be me!" whined Fashionface. "After all, I am the prettiest pony in Ponylandia!"
"Yeah," grumbled Wondercloud, "but you're also really whiny and kind of a bitch. No offense."
Fashionface gasped. "Well, if not me, then who?"
Wondercloud considered. Midnight Twinkle was really irritating. Johnnie was too... manly. And she'd never really heard Whisperlite say anything before today.
But wait, she didn't have to think so hard after all! There was only one answer. It should have been obvious from the start.
"It would have to be my bestest friend ever in the whole wide world," Wondercloud cried, her eyes filling with tears. "The pony who was there with me every step of the way, to cheer me on and encourage me and believe in me, even when I didn't. Sugar Rush, would you do me the honor of this kiss?"
Sugar Rush's face turned from pink to bright red. "Oh yes, Wondercloud! I love you so much!" She wrapped her hooves around Wondercloud and they kissed, tenderly. The crowd cheered. And then Sugar Rush tackled Wondercloud and they started making out.
It was hot.
"It... was... hot. There!"
Pinkie Pie hit 'save', smiling in self-satisfaction. As she savored that last scene, the glow from the computer monitor illuminated bright red spots on her cheeks. It was a masterpiece. If Rainbow Dash saw this, she would certainly be cheered up, no matter how bad she was feeling. Not that Pinkie would ever show her, of course...
She closed her eyes, thoughts turning to her friend. Rainbow Dash had been so... un-Dash-like lately, moping around and complaining that she was no good at anything, for no reason at all. It tore at Pinkie's heart to see her so sad. Rainbow meant so much more to her than just a friend. She'd tried throwing Rainbow Dash a party, but when that hadn't helped, she'd been at a total loss. Writing was the only way to work through those feelings. There was just no way that she was ever going to show it to...
"Hi, Pinkie Pie."
"AAAAAGH! RAINBOW DASH!" Pinkie, in a single motion, hit the power button on her monitor and spun her chair around until she was nose-to-upside-down-nose with her friend.
"Don't scare me like that, Rainbow Dash!"
The rainbow-maned pegasus laughed softly. "Sorry, Pinkie. What were ya doin'? Not writing creepy slash fiction about your friends again, I hope?"
"No, Dashie, of course not!" She giggled and put on her best 'I wasn't doing anything' grin. "I learned my lesson last time, remember?"
Rainbow Dash stuck out her tongue. "Ugh, I'd rather not think about it. Anyway, well..." She grew quiet, rubbing her hooves together nervously. "There was no one downstairs, so I let myself in, I hope that's okay. I just... Well, I made you something."
Pinkie Pie's smile relaxed. She took a deep breath. "You did?"
"Yeah, some, uh... cupcakes."
Pinkie's face split into a huge grin. "Rainbow Dash, you made me cupcakes?"
"Well, Applejack helped," she said quickly. "The muffins didn't go so well, you see, and..."
Pinkie threw her hooves around her friend. "That's so sweet, Rainbow Dash! Nopony ever makes me things like that!"
Rainbow blushed deeply. "And I thought, maybe, we could talk for a while too."
Now Pinkie was just a little worried. Baked goods, from Rainbow Dash, and a 'talk'? She swallowed the sudden rise of fear, replacing it with something from deeper inside herself.
"Okie-dokie. And afterwards, maybe I can show you something too, okay?"
Rainbow Dash nodded. "Well, hey," she said with a slightly nervous laugh, "those cupcakes aren't gonna eat themselves! Let's go!"
Pinkie smiled. "Okay, Rainbow Dash, lead on!" She smiled as she watched her friend trot back downstairs, and wiped at her eyes.