6w, 6dTwo Previews5 comments · 86 views
...One from my own Divided Rainbow, one from Into The Hedge. Let's start with Into The Hedge...
Twilight instantly recognized him as a creature of influence. Having grown up in Canterlot and lived for many years in the Royal Palace, she had seen plenty of his type before; wealthy, pompous, bloated individuals who would trample anypony to accomplish their agendas. And always with smiles to distract you from the daggers they hid behind them.
Apparently, some trends were universal.
The goblin looked over each of the newcomers appraisingly before settling his gaze on the Lost. His smile seemed to grow wider as he walked forward.
“Do I have the pleasure of addressing the leader of this lovely company, good sir?” he asked.
The Lost exited the craft, stepping between several of the brutes, crossed his arms and squared his stance. “You do,” he answered neutrally.
The goblin bowed with a flourish of his hand. “Then I bid you good morrow and warm welcomes to the great township of Gladesrest, good sir,” he said. “Allow me to introduce myself. Among friends and partners, I am known Gilded Jack and I have the honorable distinction of bearing the title of Master of the Town.” He rose from his bow and offered a hand to the Lost. “To whom does this humble hob have the pleasure of addressing?”
The Lost offered his own hand. “You may simply call me the Lost.”
“But of course, good sir, an appropriate alias. I realize that men of your profession must keep a low profile. But let me assure you, unlike other, less civilized townships, Gladesrest is very accommodating to those that curry favor among the Gentry and procure merchandise on their behalf.”
“...Of course, Master Jack,” said the Lost.
The goblin turned his gaze back towards the rest of the group. “And shall I assume that these… very lovely visions accompanying you are your…”
“My compatriots, yes,” said the Lost. He positioned himself between them and Jack, forcing the goblin’s attention back on himself. “I must say it is rather curious that the Master of the Town would greet us personally.”
“But of course, good sir, but of course! I can always sense a grand opportunity when one comes across.” Jack tapped his elongated nose with a pudgy finger.
“And when one such as you, that is to say, a respectable man of the trade comes to my city, I am always eager to personally greet them.”
The Lost thought for a moment. Then an arrogant smirk crossed his face and he shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly. “I know the feeling, Jack,” he said. “Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to cross off some pack of punks thinking they can do business without a proper patron. Honestly, it’s bottom feeders like that that give my trade such a dirty reputation!”
As the girls glanced at each other in hidden uncertainty, the goblin burst into laughter. “Indeed, indeed! These so called ‘freelancers’, always thinking they can get one over on their betters. But you, Master Lost, you have the honor of such a distinguished patron. I knew instantly the moment the pixies alerted me that you were a gentleman that I could do business with!”
The Lost shook Jack’s hand again. “You said it, Jack,” he said, then jerked a thumb back at the women behind him. “Now then, we’ve got some good loot to trade and I’m looking for some fresh gear for myself and my crew. We need weapons, supplies, the works. Also some place to put our feet up for a while. None of this flea-infested crap, we want the best you’ve got.” The Lost’s arrogant smile showed off a budding set of sharp teeth that reminded Rainbow of a hungry wolf she once met.
Gilded Jack chuckled and motioned for the to the guards. A pair of brutes moved to a large spoked wheel and began turning it, raising the inner gate. “But of course, Sir,” said Jack. “Allow me to escort you and your companions through the canals. Since this is your first visit to our city, best that I show you where to go. Goodness knows we’ve seen our fair share of travellers get lost in the Market’s waters.”
The inner gate had been raised, revealing another enclosed area. This was a place teeming with more soldiers. Some were more of the large, brutish bipeds, while others were taller and more lithe, their long limbs holding wooden bows or, as the Lost instantly recognized, long muskets. Kyria was allowed to propel the punt forwards and the gate was closed behind them. The Lost followed Gilded Jack along the wooden docks to a spot where a few other, sleeker gondolas were tied off.
The red-skinned leader gave one last growl before stomping off towards the battlements. “Ogres,” commented Gilded Jack. “They are not very bright but they certainly have their uses. Now then, if you would allow one of my guards to accompany your own craft, you would be more than welcome to join me on my own craft. A simple precaution, I can assure you.”
For Full Context: Into The Hedge, Chapter 8: Welcome To Gladerest
Or read this story from its beginning here: Into The Hedge, Prologue: The Silken Harpist.
And now... an early sneak peek of Divided Rainbow's thirty-third chapter!
As Twilight Sparkle lay face-up on the floor, staring at the fevered eyes and quaking cutie mark of Rainbow Dash, her rapidly-working mind jumped to thoughts of Spike and Discord.
Spike had gotten angry that one time and wrote to Celestia asking for Discord to put him under his Bewitchment. Through some means, Celestia had contacted Discord after getting Spike’s letter. And Discord had come to Spike to alter his memory.
Her conclusion: she needed to get to Spike, pronto, and have him write to Celestia, asking to have Discord alter Rainbow’s memories. The draconequus had already done it once… back after Lero had tried going to Rainbow’s cottage to show her all her old Wonderbolts and weatherpony stuff.
“Okay, Rainbow Dash,” said Twilight, in her most pacifying tone, getting up back up to a stand. “We’re… we’re going to get to the bottom of this. We’re your herdmates, there’s no need to lash out at us...”
“It’s wrong!” Rainbow moaned. “It feels like acid’s been poured onto my skull! Those moves… those moves I used on Honeydew… how could I have possibly…?”
“Don’t think about any of it,” Lyra told Rainbow firmly. “Just do not let yourself think about it. Refuse to.”
Rainbow’s face scrunched up, as if she was trying to shove the offending thoughts away… before she let go an anguished cry. “I can’t!”
A screaming Sicklefin ran past the three of them into the next room, her entire hindquarters on fire.
Their gazes followed the horrific sight, before Twilight snapped out of it. “Look, girls, this isn’t the place for chatter. Rainbow, Lyra, get yourselves up against me. I’m going to teleport us outside this building; then we can talk.”
The other two mares pressed themselves as closely against either side of Twilight Sparkle as they could. It was downright unnerving, how Rainbow Dash shivered against her as if she were standing in a freezer. As though to be extra-sure, Lyra Heartstrings wound her tail tightly around Twilight Sparkle’s. Rainbow Dash saw this happen and wrapped her own tail around Twilight and Lyra’s as well. The unicorns gave the pegasus reassuring looks.
Twilight Sparkle let her horn fill up with a large amount power. In her mind, she pictured the exterior of the quarry mill. When teleporting, it was always important to visualize a vacant, unoccupied area, away from other living beings… in order to avoid the horror that was ‘teleportation splicing.’
There had been a point southeast of the mill’s front entrance, a point that was quite a few yards away from where Corporal Wolf Pack and the ponies in her squadron would probably be standing. Wildflowers had been there...
* * *
Perhaps Twilight’s own agitation had distracted her. Perhaps Exit Wound had cast some sort of spell on the quarry mill, itself, preventing teleporters from teleporting in and out of the building. Perhaps all her recent injuries and fighting had fatigued her. Whatever the case, Twilight Sparkle and her herd-sisters now found themselves standing inside some sort of office instead of a small grove of wildflowers. Twilight knew immediately that she was still within the Boulder & Daughters Quarry Mill because she could hear Sicklefins in other rooms, yelling loudly.
This side office was a very unimportant-looking room; a metal desk, two filing cabinets, and lots of undisturbed dust. The door was closed, so the strange cold mist hadn’t crept inside. Twilight had a hunch that they could hide in this place successfully for a long time if they all kept quiet. But Rainbow Dash wasn’t really cooperating on that account.
“It’s wrong, it’s really wrong, the whole thing doesn’t make sense,” the pegasus was saying, baring her teeth in a hostile way, like one of her animals, breathing hard, foaming spittle building along her lips.
Cozy Flow’s Dreamless Doze; yes, that’d be the spell to use on Rainbow Dash. Not only was it a powerful slumber spell, Rainbow Dash’s sleep would need to be a dreamless one. With her sanity crumbling like this, Twilight didn’t want to think what kind of nightmares her subconscious might concoct.
“No matter how I look at it, I don’t understand it…!”
Then Twilight could levitate Rainbow onto her back and try teleporting again. This time, she’d try appearing at the quarry mill’s front entrance, and then…
“Of course you don’t,” Lyra told Rainbow Dash, reasonably. “You’re lacking a vital piece of information. Information I have.”
Both Twilight and Dash snapped their heads around at their aqua-coated herd-sister. “You have?” They responded in baffled unison.
When Lyra placed her hoof on the Swapped pony’s shoulder, she was not attacked for it, Rainbow’s attention focused on her, desperate for the explanation. “Now, Rainbow, I need you to keep it together, and stay with me on this. Can you do that? Because I am telling you the information you need.”
2 comments · 77 views
Do you believe cutie marks are a manifestation of a pony's destiny or a representation of a pony's driving interest?
My personal belief is that the former stems from the latter, that a pony’s driving interest plays a large part in determining her destiny. Here’s an example: if swimming is my passion, then I am destined to get wet. If garbage collecting is my passion, I am destined to get stinky.
And I believe that cutie marks play into both.
If a cutie mark is linked to destiny, would that mean a pony's destiny is undetermined until his or her cutie mark finally appears? Or is it set at birth and later revealed through the cutie mark?
It can be tempting to believe that one’s life is ‘set at birth,’ but I don’t. I think back to some of those alternate universes which I saw in my dreams. Like me, those other Twilight Sparkles were born as unicorns with a phenomenal level of magic power. But one became a farmer. One became Captain of the Wonderbolts. And I became the Element of Magic.
So it’s not so much who you were born, as how you decide to use the abilities you were given at birth. As well as your overall attitude, and how you react to things. And birth is too early for anything like that.
If a cutie mark's meaning has to be interpreted, does that mean a single cutie mark can have multiple meanings?
It can. Depends on the pony.
How does The Swap know which meaning to use as a compulsion for the affected pony? How does The Swap even know how to interpret the cutie mark in the first place?
(laughs a little)
You don’t wanna know HOW close I almost came to saying, ‘You should go ask the Swap.’
She sits herself on the couch.
Let’s see… I think The Swap first considers what’s possible on a PHYSICAL scale. Take Rarity, as she is now. The old Rainbow Dash… her biggest ambition was to become a Wonderbolt. But unicorns can’t be Wonderbolts, any more than they can live underwater. So the Swap settled on having Rarity refocus on weather. From there… um… it interprets the cutie mark like… like a… what’s it called… like a caricature! Yes! Let’s say you have a nose that’s slightly larger-than-average. Sit in front of a caricaturist, and she’ll make that nose your entire face. Whatever’s most conspicuous about you as a person; it’ll take it and exaggerate it further. That’s how the Swap would interpret your personality traits, and pass them onto another.
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“Wow,” he said raggedly. “That… that was…”
“Unbelievable,” she finished.
A moment passed as they caught their breaths, Rarity’s perfect breasts heaving beneath the furs.
She truly was an angel. She made him feel so blessed. Being in love with a girl as sweet and good and unconditionally loving as Rarity felt absolutely soul-cleansing. And that was no small matter in a hell like this.
The voice now speaking in Lero’s head wasn’t that of the Lost, nor that of any telepathic ‘outsider.’ The voice was that of Lero’s own self-condemnation.
Hell is for sinners… like you...
But he wasn’t any such thing! He was an innocent victim in all this. His memories of this place might not all be there, but he still knew enough to know that whatever he might’ve done, it had been done under duress, it had only been necessary for survival...
No! He was a-
...Killer… Murderer… what else…? The Lost WAS you. Is STILL you.
Unwelcome grief and shame threatened to flood his heart.
On one hand, there is no denying this fact: when you escaped to Equestria, you did everything in your power to turn over a new leaf. But while your self-induced amnesia may have erased your memories, nothing can erase your deeds. Did a man such as you even DESERVE the luxury of a second chance to begin with?
Equestria was such a funny place. With all its many reversals, The Swap was practically just a drop in the bucket.
A world where magic was a legitimate science. A world where equines were not beasts of burden, but the dominant species. A world where unicorns, pegasi, minotaurs and dragons existed, but men didn’t, (or at least hadn’t for the longest while.)
And then was the matter of the girls acting as valiant bodyguards of the boys. How wholeheartedly his own girls had embraced that role, especially his sweet lead mare! First Rainbow Dash, and then Rarity… each proudly playing ‘knight’ to his ‘princess.’
But… pony or human, male or female… one thing could not be denied: his lead mare made for a far nobler, worthier ‘knight’ than HE ever had. Just ask Old Mossbeard.
Perhaps this is simply karma, finally catching up to you.
“What’s wrong, darling?” asked Rarity, who sensed the gnawing doubt in her lover.
For Full Context: Into The Hedge, Chapter 7: The Frozen Marshes
Or read this story from its beginning here: Into The Hedge, Prologue: The Silken Harpist.
Kindly leave all commentary on the Into The Hedge page, instead of this blog.