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The Shaper is a smith of unparalleled skill, her creations the most sought after in the fallen world. When a pony named Lyra comes to her with a unique commission she has to put all her skill to the test to craft a weapon of great power. For Lyra's goal is not an easy one, and it is not just any weapon that can kill a Dragon.

A story inspired by this and this image, as well as this challenge by CDRW (whose fic A Still More Glorious Dawn Awaits is quite good).

First Published
5th Oct 2012
Last Modified
5th Oct 2012
#1 · 115w, 17h ago · 5 · ·

I printed this off to read last night before bed. There were some typos, mostly places where you needed a comma and didn't have one, and some places that I would have liked to see developed more.

That's my criticism. Now for the other side.

I couldn't get to sleep for four hours after I went to bed last night.

#2 · 115w, 13h ago · · ·

Really cool. I'd like to see more of their adventures.

#3 · 115w, 10h ago · 2 · ·

Please write more. This is fantastic.

Your descriptions are crisp and evocative, your characters are developed fairly well with a minimum of dialogue, and the whole world you've created is awesome. There are a couple rough points, but I think those could be easily ironed out if you decided to turn this into some sort of series or multi-part, which I highly hope you do.

#4 · 115w, 9h ago · · ·

>>1391818

Have you been reading Sharaloth's other story, Harmony Theory? It's equally fantastic.

EDIT: Hey! Congrats on the EqD post!

#5 · 115w, 9h ago · · ·

I wanna know more! This is amazing and I really, really wanna know more about this world they're in. What happened? How did they get there? Who are these enigmatic people with their titles? (Would I be right in suspecting that they're the Mane 6?) Is the Shaper Applebloom?

#6 · 115w, 4h ago · 1 · 2 ·

You bastard, this was awesome. Two complaints, though:

*The initial part of Lyra's fight with the dragon... drags on for too long. This is the written medium, not animation, and it feels a bit gratuitous.

*It seems implausible that a tyrant such as the Sorceress would not keep very tight tabs on a weapons-making blacksmith, especially if she starts to behave in a strange way, closing her shop, asking for strange minerals... I honestly expected you tu pull off a surprise guard inspection on them at any time.

Now, time for joking: These TERRORISTS! Can't they see that this is the Sorceress's home, now? Such a spiteful bunch, can't they just accept when they're beat?

#7 · 115w, 3h ago · · ·

Damned good story.

#8 · 114w, 6d ago · · ·

I am incredibly saddened by how few views this has. I don't think it even got into the featured box.:ajsleepy:

#9 · 114w, 6d ago · · ·

>>1391880

Actually, it may very well make sense that it would be Apple Bloom. There lots of hints of how her talent had something to do with construction or building things. That and her physical appearance does seem to match that of AB. She even said that she was a filly around the time, so it stands to reason if the events back then were anywhere close to the original series timeline then it is more than likely it is Apple Bloom.

Also, AJ has for sure met Lyra.

EDIT: The color of hair being darker probably has to do with being in the forge for a prolonged period of time...If anyone was wondering.

#10 · 114w, 6d ago · 9 · ·

>>1397140 You spoke my basic thoughts, but there's more to it. The Grove of Truth, and the Druid - if my suspicions are right, these named beings, the Druid, the Sorceress, et cetera... are the Mane 6, but something happened to them, part of what brought about the fallen world. The Druid, with Truth, strikes me very strongly as a possible fallen Element of Honesty, aka Applejack. If that's so, then the Shaper's reference to "my sister" would be to the Druid, without judging possible meetings from before the fallen world.

#11 · 114w, 4d ago · · ·

That was a great read! :rainbowkiss:

With your descriptions you achieved something often pursuived but rarely attained, credibility.

The world and the characters were believable, I could lose myself in the story !

I have no choice but to read your other work now. :raritycry:

#12 · 114w, 3d ago · · ·

"If you're not a telekinetic Talent then you won't have the power to use it."

Hm. Now that sounds like... Hm. *starts digging through your favorites*

Yeah, there it is. Heh. It's funny to spot references like that.

So! Excellent story. Air Pirate pretty much outlined all the issues I spotted with this when I read it, and so I'll skip that. The tease at the end is great, but if you decide to continue your forays into this adventure world, I don't know that you'd do well to draw out the mystery beyond this story.

And I do hope that you'll continue. You did a great job on hinting at worldbuilding without belaboring the point, giving us just enough to know that the world is big without needing to turn this into a slog.

I'm not personally a fan of how many passive descriptors you use, as I feel like your language could be stronger, tighter, but all in all, this story was a very enjoyable way to spend 12K words. Well done, and I hope to see more of your work soon.

#13 · 114w, 1d ago · 1 · ·

What Drakmire said, and additionally, I greatly enjoyed this story. The hints as to the identity of the Sorceress, Druid, and Tempest make for intriguing world-building and a clever idea. Are the two who are "even worse" the Glamour and the Jester? Anyway, I found the strongest part of the story was the dialogue, which was straightforward and yet designed to lead the reader toward an understanding of the characters and their world that could only be found between the lines. An exciting, gripping, and to-the-point tale. Fabulous. :raritywink:

#14 · 114w, 1d ago · · ·

*sigh* And once again, I'm struck with a desire to go wallow in my inferiority.:raritycry: That up there is how descriptions are supposed to be written. Quite unlike the trainwrecks that I seem to produce. Such a long way to go yet.

Good job, pony! Good job indeed.:twilightsmile:

#15 · 114w, 1d ago · · ·

This is one of the best stories I've read in a while. My body needs more of this setting; this works on every single freaking level.

#16 · 114w, 1d ago · · ·

Congratulations on getting on EQD!

Pi
#17 · 114w, 1d ago · · ·

I feel so proud of myself for suspecting the twist at the end in advance. :moustache:

Very well-written indeed! The pacing was excellent and the descriptive sections, especially the first few paragraphs, were perfectly worded!

#18 · 114w, 1d ago · · ·

Fitting not only great Charaters, but also a highly interesting world they live in into just 10000 words while still giving a meaningful and entertaining story. I raise my hat to you sir. I really just did that, I even got my hat beforehand.

#19 · 114w, 1d ago · · ·

This easily makes my top five. It's a full story in its own right with a perfect model for delivering a sense of progression. The hints about the state of the world and the identities of its new rulers were a great touch (I wonder if we've seen that gem Lyra shows to the dragon before), and the action was pretty solid. I liked the knee slide and the tail ride.

Good writing, too. It's hard to take a mundane task such as smithing and make it so interesting, but you do it well by making the Shaper really love her craft and by conveying that love through your use of language.

It also helps that you slew a dragon. That's sort of a favorite of mine.

#20 · 114w, 1d ago · 1 · ·

>>1424134

>It's hard to take a mundane task such as smithing and make it so interesting,

People love to read about crafting. I think it's because it's so far removed from what we do day to day that it has a sort of exotic, magical quality in itself, and it lends itself well to sensory descriptions that make it easy to feel the heat of the forge, the ringing of the hammer, the smell of the flux.

I keep thinking back to Perrin Aybara, but I forget which book it was that devoted a healthy amount of time to him smithing.

#21 · 114w, 1d ago · 1 · ·

I'll admit, I liked this story, and I even gave it a thumbs up, but the story is dragged down by its own world-building. Which surprises me, because I usually love world-building.

But in this case, the story mentions so many other things (Druid, Tempest, Grove, other lands, the history) that are, in the end, a tad bit superfluous and distract from the main conflict that I can see: killing the Dragon. And yet, not far into the story, we're told the Dragon isn't even really the  main antagonist. He's just an enforcer, a tool used by Lyra to get back at this mysterious Sorceress who is the actual problem. It's like being told that while there is an actual story in the works, we're just going to read about this other thing that Lyra does first that, in the grand scheme of things, amounts to little more than "doing something." And then the story ends!

If we're told why exactly the Dragon, who is not presented as particularly threatening other than the fact that he's a Dragon, must die, or why the Sorceress is so evil that it's worth killing her second in command just to make her angry, it would've worked better for me. The first parts of this story, the preparation and whatnot, were what I enjoyed the most.

But don't let that take away from your writing: the descriptiveness was beautiful, and I got a very good sense of a rather cold, lonely world that they inhabit where everything is stark and gritty. If and when you come back to this, I certainly hope all of this world is expanded on more, as it doesn't quite reach full potential when read as a one-shot.

Keep up the great work!

#22 · 114w, 1d ago · · ·

The Sorceress... Twilight Sparkle?  Luna/NM?

The dragon is a red one... so unless Spike was transformed quite a bit, it wasn't him.

Grove of Truth certainly implicates Discord as the primary causative force behind this.  

I wonder how many ponies are dead.  :fluttershyouch:

#23 · 114w, 1d ago · · ·

This looks interesting. I'll have to read it later!

#24 · 114w, 1d ago · · ·

The stakes in this really aren't high enough. Lyra only seems to want to kill the dragon because... killing dragons is cool. She doesn't even seem to care if she fails. And if the main character doesn't care, why should the readers?

Still, the world they live in seems interesting. And I'm curious to whether Lyra and The Shaper will become more than just friends if you ever decide to continue this.

#25 · 114w, 1d ago · · ·

>>1424562 Did we even read the same story?

#26 · 114w, 1d ago · 2 · ·

This was a brilliant story, one I would compare to device heretic and Chromosome. It's slowly unfolding world building leads it to beg for a sequel or prequel. On a related note, I honestly cannot figure out who the Druid is when using the Mane Six hypothesis. Her name implies :fluttershysad:, but the mentions of truth, and the ending also implies :ajbemused:.

#27 · 114w, 1d ago · · ·

>>1424872

Okay, then. What would've happened if Lyra had chickened out on the way to the dragon and decided not to fight him?

#28 · 114w, 1d ago · · ·

>>1424971 Nothing, but that's a completely different question.

A good chunk of the story was devoted to Lyra explaining her motives, mostly revenge and good old "fuck all this shit." And they hooked up halfway through the story.

#29 · 114w, 1d ago · 9 · ·

I've been debating whether to just out and explain the world I built to contain this story, but I decided that the speculation was too much fun and just telling everything would ruin it.

To add some background information, though: There are five rulers of what was once Equestria. The Sorceress rules the heartland (where Canterlot was), the Druid rules the south, the Tyrant rules the east, the Tempest rules the west, and the Madmare rules the north. They are indeed the Mane 6, and the Druid is Applejack. There are two clues to the identity of the Sorceress in the story, but they're near the end and pretty easy to miss.

There are no strict borders to these lands, but within their realms the rulers are absolute and unassailable. The Sorceress, the Tyrant and the Tempest have set up governments, while the Druid and the Madmare have not.

It's probably going to be a while before I write another story in this world, but when I do it will explain a lot more of what's happened to make it this way.

#30 · 114w, 1d ago · · ·

>>1393278

That or the Sorceress didn't give two wings (see what I did there?) about anything. Pride comes before the fall, and I bet the Sorceress thought she was all that in a bag of chips. Her reaction would be priceless to see...

#31 · 114w, 1d ago · · 1 ·

I'm afraid this comes up rather empty for me. The descriptions at the start, as others have noted, are really great, but it just didn't do anything for me. I found it very hard to concentrate during the action, and the dialogue was rather lacklustre. You only have two characters, yet upwards of 80% of the lines have direct attribution, and almost all the rest use a beat. It makes it a bit heavy to read (which always feels like such a horrid thing to say when I was twice as bad just a few months ago, but I guess I have Air Pirate to thank for that).

The real kicker for me, is that the whole thing just feels so detached. The writing is very good, but feels clinical (bar the start, as stated). The progression felt formulaic, although I think that was more to do with giving far too much away than any fundamental writing limitations. There's no investment in the characters for me, so I just didn't get any feeing of victory at the end. It was just some fairly predictable stuff that happened.

All of that aside, I would agree that it's an excellent example of word building. The scenes were clear, and the things not shown felt every bit as clear as the things that were shown. Almost an ironic reversal of show versus tell, because you didn't show any of it, but you told us exactly the right amount to let our minds fill in all the blanks. For my money, that a much bigger plus than any of the negatives I have mentioned. It makes me think of that annoying assumption so many people seem to make that I like Tolkien because of the kinds of stories I like. I dislike Tolkien because he has spectacularly failed to do what you have done here. And I mean that as directly and honestly as it can be taken.

No, in the final analysis, I'm afraid that I did not find it terribly interesting. But I can still marvel at your imagination.

Love and respect,

-Scott 'Inquisitor' Mence

#32 · 114w, 1d ago · · ·

>>1424200

Fairly certain Sanderson said it was book four.

Edit: actually book three. My bad.

Given that the process of making something comes with a natural sense of progression (something that fantasy can have trouble with, if you ask me) and as you stated feels fantastic as well as immersive, I guess it's just a really good card to play. Sharaloth certainly used it well here.

#33 · 114w, 1d ago · 4 · ·

It's weird.  I saw Background Pony as being perfect as a oneshot, and that's several hundred thousand words long now.  Meanwhile, this story absolutely could (and would, if I ran the world) be an immensely long epic tale, and yet I reach the end of it only to find the word "fin" staring out at me.

Such is life, I guess.  I can't deny a few of the criticisms Drakmire brought up--namely, the few places where the language could've been stronger or more evocative--but your characters are just as vibrant as the world they inhabit, and entire stories written around a solid, consistent central metaphor are far too rare on this site.  I might just come back and read this again one of these days.  Especially if you start teasing me with more chapters.

#34 · 114w, 1d ago · · ·

Ok, this was a really epic story. The fight with Ferriotrax was very captivating and well written, and the rest of the story flowed very nicely. It definitely did a good job of conveying hope as well.

#35 · 114w, 18h ago · · ·

I had a lot of trouble reading it. The prose is extremely forceful; not a bad thing in itself, but there's just too much strength in this tale to take in in one single reading session. And I got very distracted during the fight and had a lot of trouble concentrating... I find that, in written media, it pays to make fights short, and decisive, rather than complex and involving lots of movement. Though I appreciated the back and forth and the uncertainty of victory; given the grim tone, defeat seemed like a definite possibility.

#36 · 114w, 18h ago · · ·

I expected the last arrow to go up his mouth :heart: but that won't kill him :ajbemused:

I enjoyed this tale :twilightsmile:and hope you would do sequels in the other kingdoms of the mane6 but its all up to you :twilightsheepish:

I thought the druid would be fluttershy but guess shes the tyrant:flutterrage:

Edit:  WHO THE HELL DISLIKED THIS :flutterrage::flutterrage::flutterrage:

#37 · 114w, 17h ago · · ·

>>1427567

Well, there are five rulers and six of the Mane six, so one of them is either not a ruler, or dead/otherwise absent. I'm assuming that the Madmare is Pinkie (because, well, y'know) and in my head "Tempest" sounds too much like Rainbow Dash to be anyone else, but that's just speculation. And if one of the Mane 6 were to not go crazy evil, Fluttershy is probably who I'd put my money on. If Sorceress is Twilight (which most people seem to think she is) then that leaves the Druid (confirmed as AJ) and the Tyrant. So, if my random guesses are correct, Tyrant is either Rarity or Fluttershy and, at least in my head-canon, the title fits an evil Rarity more.

Now enter Sharaloth's next fic in this world which proves me completely wrong DX

On another note, I totally loved this too. I agree the fight scene started out a bit overly cinematic, but it's honestly a minor thing. The Shaper feels like a very real person, and you've crafted the relationship between her and Lyra extremely well. Two thumbs up!

#38 · 114w, 12h ago · · ·

>>1427686

Oh no, the Tyrant is definitely Fluttershy.

>"You're going to love me!" :flutterrage: towards the end of Best Night Ever.

>Discorded Fluttershy

>Putting Your Hoof Down

Rarity would be the Thief or something.

#39 · 114w, 11h ago · 5 · ·

ok i *finally* registered so I could comment, which doesn't sound fair on all the other stuff from here I've been downloading, reading and loving anonymously for a while now...

Count me among those that loved it. I want more. Although I'm not sure if it might be best left as a one-shot. I thought that way about Background Pony too, after reading the (then marked-complete) chapter 1.

I think I spotted the clue to the identity of the Sorceress though: blue light from the windows is *Rarity's* horn-magic colour. Fluttershy would make a convincing Tyrant in her "you're going to LOVE ME!" mode. The others are obvious.

So actually Twilight is the *missing* one of the mane 6; the one not accounted for. So yeah, there's a story to tell there. What happened to Twilight?

The Shaper's coat being described at the very start as "dark orange" made me resist concluding it was Applebloom but eventually there was just no-one else it could be. Presumably the colour description comes from the picture that inspires you.

#40 · 114w, 9h ago · · ·

I'm wondering if Shaper is Applebloom...

>>1427513

I can relate. Action is perceived as quick and sudden, although I believe detail was off the essence here.

Now if it had been short: (too lazy to reword below because I wrote it wrong originally)

All the details in building up to a massive climax, only to be undone by a possible <1,000 word fight scene. Kinda anti-climatic, wouldn't you think? Overall, I think it's more of a "reader's opinion" situation, and how patient and awake you are. Reading it with less than 50 minutes of sleep like me? Catastrophic, to say the least.

#41 · 114w, 9h ago · · ·

Me at the end:

...*reading*..."...OH, COME ON!":flutterrage:

#42 · 114w, 9h ago · · ·

Great piece. Great descriptions, and Great characters. The fight seen dragged on just a bit, but other than that, a flawless story, one I do hope gets expanded upon.

#43 · 114w, 8h ago · · ·

I agree with pretty much everything everyone else has said, I thought this was a fantastic fic, the world building in particular. I got a very Dark Souls vibe from the world you created, which is a very good thing, in my opinion. Please, please write more in this universe, I want to know what happened to Equestria... Or, y'know, keep writing Harmony Theory, which is also fantastic. I'm good either way ;D

#44 · 113w, 6d ago · · ·

>>1428745

Missed that bit about the blue magic, but that does make an interesting point. Thinking in a slightly too meta way, Twilight is fairly likely to be the one to not go evil, being the central character.

#45 · 113w, 6d ago · 4 · ·

>>1425068

The amount of potential in this world you built probably lies around halfway between Fallout Equestria and any other fic you could name. The untapped potential is certainly right up there with Fallout Equestria. Keep this as a oneshot, but you could easily make a separate epic with all the back story, along with 2-4 more oneshots in this universe.

Don't fuck this up.

#46 · 113w, 6d ago · · ·

I once forged a knife out of an old file. It was like beating the iron into submission with brute strength; clearely I'm no shaper.

I noticed you forgot the process of tempering in your description of smithing. Quenched und untempered steel is brittle like glass.

Other than that great story! I have the feeling there is more where this came from. :raritywink:

#47 · 113w, 6d ago · · ·

Added to my reading list. All the stories with Lyra in it that I have read have so far been excellent so I hope this won't be any different :D

#48 · 113w, 6d ago · 2 · ·

>>1428745 :twilightsmile: Glad to see that I'm not the only one that thinks Twilight isn't one of the 5 rulers. :twilightsmile:

Anyways though... I really would love to see some more work from this world. It looks like something that I'd LOVE to read more about, and I'd say you've built up a really cool and interesting world! I'll be watching for more of your work! :twilightsmile::twilightsmile:

#49 · 113w, 6d ago · · ·

I really liked this fanfic... So I made some fanart. http://fizzyflatsoda.deviantart.com/art/The-Shaper-and-the-Tough-customer-332277204?ga_submit=10%3A1350181537

Thank you for this awesomeness!

#50 · 113w, 5d ago · 3 · ·

Well, time to replace my placeholder comment with something more substantive.

First off, I'm going to echo some of the other commenters above me when I say that this could very well be the first entry of a profitable series of short stories. Confronted with the Mane 6 ruling different parts of a sundered Equestria, I'm rather curious as to how this arrangement came to light. And I'm going to congratulate you on your challenging of fanon regarding the name of the Druid (and her sister, apparently), since I was certainly misled hard enough by my own prejudices to miss the obvious clues. You've also opened yourself up to a world of different songs beyond those of metal and trees, and if you were to continue this line of stories, I'm curious as to what other tunes the Archer and the Smith will encounter along their travels.

I can recall one time when I thought your language was getting away from you, since near the beginning you repeated the point that the Shaper waited for her spearhead to sing her where to begin hammering. There was certainly a marked contrast between this style of mythic narration and the dialogue sections, which tended to be a little more terse--whether or not you believe this distinction is a productive one I'll leave up to you; I certainly don't have an answer for it.

Other than that, this was an enjoyable read. Lyra's exuberance really carried the fic all the way through, and I didn't have any problems with her reasons for going dragonslaying -- that whole "hope and spite" dichotomy is fertile ground for thematic exploitation.

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