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Journeyman


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Jul
27th
2013

At the End Commentary: Chapter 29 · 6:34am Jul 27th, 2013

This entry contains spoilers for its corresponding chapter of At the End. Be warned...

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Odd as it sounds, chapters 28 and 29 were meant to be a single chapter. I script everything out in my head and stop at points that "feel" right. The story kind of writes itself in a way. The script in my head started in the tent, and ended at Luna’s speech. However, I was taking longer than I wanted and cut it up in order to be able to deliver some content. Together, they would have surpassed 25,000 words. Oh, momma.

That’s not to say everything else turned out as anticipated. I don’t know how, but the chapter ballooned from roughly 5,000 words to 18,000 I have no idea how that happened. As I kept going through the list of scenes, recollection of the mansion, the search for the tunnel, the rest, diamond dogs, reaction to the mansion, etc., more and more just kept popping into my head and I needed to continue writing. More ideas, more necessary dialog and scenes kept streaming into my head. It was really weird. Overall, I liked how it turned out, despite the length.

One thing that most people missed was the return of our favorite misanthrope Brimstone, who has been keeping a close eye on the Crafter.

The prone mare soon vocalized her lullaby, a quartet of “la” sounds that wove beautifully together as the pegasus crept through darkened and musty halls of an ancient building.

Sound familiar?

“La la la la, la la la la,” Jetstream would have blinked in surprise. His body had started to sing a lullaby.  “La la la la, la la la la,” It had a relaxing, but at the same time, foreboding melody to it. It was a short tune, but given the context to Jetstream’s own situation, it gave him the chills, especially because it did not have lyrics.

It was just a hint of things to come, masked by Twilight teaching the Crafter more words and stories about past builders. This is a little building on the eventual naming of the Crafter. Yes, some of you won’t like his name. Guess what? You guys named him.

Hemos discovers something that I reference again later. Otherwise, the next segment revolved around the Crafter’s recollection. In chapter 14, the Crafter writes that he has built a mansion after the events of chapter 8. Because he had been with the ponies for such a long time, he had forgotten he built it, and alerts his guards to that forgotten fact. This sets up the premise of him getting a little exercise, sets up a little groundwork for character development, and shows just how much they are beginning to trust him. He’s shown remarkable restraint towards his captors and his good behavior is slowly winning him friends and trust.

I had wanted him to meet Rarity for the longest time. I had written a scene since about chapter two or three where the Crafter saves Rarity from Diamond Dogs. I had to rewrite the main points, but the two meeting and bonding was something at the forefront of my mind. He is hesitant at first, but over the course of the chapter, the two have more personal chats and he starts to like her. Spike was just a guy I put in to have someone say something to the Crafter when Rarity saying it would be inappropriate. Sorry Spike. On the plus side, it allowed me to put in two pieces of comedy. The first, Spike wanting a cannon. The second is his joke which everyone missed.

I squatted down to shake his hand. I still almost doubled him in height. “So you’re the guy who builds stuff?” I nodded.

“Really big stuff?”

Uh huh.

“And complicated wiring machine?”

Yeah.

“Good. Now I know some ponies who can provide you with lots of materials.”

Okay.

“Make a giant cannon!” he shouted with conviction.

Spike, trust me. With me building a TNT cannon, that will kill ponies more than anything. Rarity shared my concerns at the surprisingly strange a slightly alarming tone the youngling’s mind had wandered.

If you are not sure, it is a reference to the video “Llamas with Hats”. In fact, this is probably my most comedic, and yet most serious chapter to date.

That’s shown when they stop for rest; little else than his usual contemplations happen until then. I took this chance to actually give Rarity a reason to be down in the caves. The first is she would be familiar with them due to her job needing gems. The second is, because of her cutie mark, she has knowledge of gems and stone by extension. She warns the magi and the Night Guard that heating cold stone too fast will (correctly) make it slightly expand. If heated up too fast, it can crack. They are underground and would be buried under rock. The other two instance is when she talks to the Crafter about stalactites and stalagmites, and correctly picks the path he took after examining the structure and scent of the tunnels.

The scene where everyone is resting has to be the most important part of the entire chapter, right after I finally got the chance to make a punching trees joke. The Crafter sits back and absorbs the sights, sounds, and scents of the caves. He enjoys it, and this catches Rarity’s attention. I always envisioned Rarity as the most perceptive of the maine cast, even if she ignores her instincts at times to make her friends happy. I’ve always wondered about happiness, cutie marks, and the concept of predestination. Is it possible to get a cutie mark in something you are good at, but hate? Given my views of Rarity being more perceptive than most, I decided to give her those same contemplations. Rarity always wonders about the most horrible question in existence.

What if?

I hate the future, mostly because the future sucks and has the tendency to kick me in the sack until it passes out from exhaustion. The future is scary. The same can be said of the past. What if little blessings and miraculous happenstances didn’t happen? It’s a terrible thought. I hate those thoughts, and it’s often why I shove myself into a computer screen when I am depressed. It is this reason why Rarity is my favorite pony. I believe her to be the most versatile character of the six, and she is the one I can empathize with best. She is willing to sacrifice a lot for her friends. but the thought of ruination never leaves her thoughts. I believe we all remember the art of the dress.

Her goals and aspirations align with my own as well. I stretch what is canon and what is not a little, but bear with me for a moment. It is Rarity’s passion to make dresses in a world where clothing is optional. While there is a market for her work, it’s not for your average pony. We see in the song “Art of the Dress” the other five asking Rarity to make sure that the dresses are in their budget, despite her insistence that she will make them for free. This implies that even well off ponies like Pinkie (she sells a load of treats and baked goods every time we see her) and Twilight (She is at least from a noble house and carries the title of Celestia’s protege) do not have the disposable income for such clothes. Therefore, only the upper-middle or upper class have the disposable income to do so.

I stretched that a little to make it seem that Rarity was always worried about her source of income, mainly her dresses. Of course, she could always find gems, but in the show she runs through them as fast as – if not faster then – Spike. Despite her worries, she can’t help but be happy when others take her work and be happy when they use it? Sound familiar? She’s just like writers. Just like myself. Writing is one of the very few things that consumes my free time.

It’s why Rarity envies the Crafter so much. Despite having a thousand things to worry about, he is still carefree and happy. It’s a strange concept to her, but seeing him happy makes her happy by proxy. A person with many worries about the past, present, and future admiring someone who is not only carefree and happy, but lives life to the fullest? Holy crap, that was so meta and I didn’t even try. I just made the Crafter admirable to the ponies the same way they are to us. I only just realized that.

This is the defining point where he considers himself a part of the family. The sense of belonging he has been missing all his life was found in the confines of a small hamlet of ponies. The story has officially gone from two separate cultures, to two cultures finally blending into one. That sense of belonging was something he never knew he wanted, but now never wants to live without.

Afterwards, we get to the point Brimstone had been dreading the entire time: the revelation of his tormentor. The ponies never quite understood who attacked him. Deep underground, they discover they are close to the End portal, and that gives a big clue. They only knew he was frightened by a Royal Guardpony. That was it, and not enough to convict Jetstream. Now that they have a location where the scare took place, a magus goes through his mental list of events and comes to only one conclusion. The only pony who was ever alone in the caves was Jetstream. Brimstone’s host has been exposed.

The Crafter tries to hide that fact, but that same magus brings the conclusion to everyone. Brimstone, who was still unspokenly inside the Night Guard leader, momentarily loses his cool and assaults the magus, only to reign in his temper and divert his actions as a means to silence him for revealing potentially sensitive information. The Crafter slowly becomes afraid of her, mostly because she is reminding him of Brimstone in the body of Jetstream.

And then come the dogs of war. Honestly, I no longer like how the scene turned out. I think the fighting was a little short and could have easily been extended a little more to make it more realistic. I was fighting for both realism and brevity. My conscious mind told me the fight would last longer. However, the ponies weren’t pitifully armed themselves, and had several unicorns to help balance out the fight. Additionally, the chapter was already getting obscenely long as it was and I needed to keep the pace going. I still had a lot left to cover. I’m still not happy, but this is how it turned out.

I still needed a reason for the fight to take happen in the first place, and that’s how Tanis was born. I just picked a random name form my head, and for some reason, I picked that random guy from the crappy second Underworld movie. Corgi was just a dog and a guy I immediately forgot as soon as the scene progressed. The fight started after my mind conjured the scenario that Fido and his gang were working for a bigger boss, namely Tanis. It worked well enough. As Fido would have undoubtedly told his boss, that’s how Tanis discovered Rarity's identity and concluded that she couldn’t be trusted. Rather than having him motivated solely by monetary needs, I wanted something a little more complex. I made him more wolflike, wily, instinctual, and clever, rather than the relatively dim dogs.

After planning it out, I absolutely had to work in a single tribute. I had to.

I searched and searched for a reason to have this, and I finally found it. It’s why I kept mentioning the big Diamond Dog in the back, right before the Crafter makes a diamond cube and punches him right in the face.

The fight concludes, and it is here where I must come back to the point above when speaking about Hemos. The Crafter breaks a few knuckle bones by punching the dog in the face. Rarity begins to clean his wound, but not before she checks for a pulse. Why does she do that? Although there is blood on his hand, and although she can feel his pulse, he is not hemorrhaging. For the uninformed, after every heartbeat, you heart sends blood pulsing down your arteries and into the capillaries, until it goes back up through the veins. Every beat sends a burst of blood, and if you are wounded, every beat makes you hemorrhage. Although the Crafter has blood and a noticeable heartbeat, he is not hemorrhaging. This concerns Rarity, as bleeding but not really bleeding is kinda something no one really can do. He, of course, fixes this by eating a loaf of bread to heal himself and regain his strength.

Next, I clarify a little something. During the fight between Barricade and the Crafter, Barricade gets critically injured. The Crafter offers her one of his last loaves of bread as a sign of goodwill, but she denies it. From a tactical perspective, this is a good idea. She had only just met him and had no idea what the full extent of his powers entailed. Even if she did, she would have no idea if he poisoned it or not. In the current chapter, the ponies have had time to learn and trust him, so the offering is not nearly so intimidating. One of the ponies has a nasty cut, and the Crafter gives him a loaf. It doesn’t work, however; the guard does not heal from eating the loaf.

Also, I managed to squeeze in a joke about MREs, which I was more proud of then I really needed to be. If you have had an encounter with MREs, you know exactly why the soldier says this:

“Well?” the cusser asked.

The wounded smacked his lips in thought. “I’d put it between the jambalaya and beef stew MRE rations.”

“Ouch.”

MREs, know as Meals Ready to Eat by most and Meals Ready to Excrete by others, are notoriously malignant to digestive functions. Those things go right through you, although it is pretty cool to set the dairy creamer on fire. Seriously, that shit is explosive.

After a brief line where Rarity corrals a Diamond Dog to show how badass she is and why she is best pony, they continue on. They get to a point where the normally oblong and water-carved tunnels become flatter and cubed, a sure sign he has been in the area. This is another point where I needed to get the scene right: the sheer scope of what he is capable of. Some of the most famous Minecraft works are either the oddities like the Herobrine and Israphel legends, or the superstructures. Now there has obviously been no time to build Enterprise-E in the world of Equestria, but he can build something huge by normal pony standards. If you looked in the deleted scene above, you see that Rarity finds that he had built a mansion. I ripped a lot of the lines in that chapter and put them in here, but I still needed to show just how grand and fantastic his skills truly could be. The wonderful awe and splendor at seeming a god among you should be something special. He created a fantastical work in about a day, something that would take teams of builders, masons, cobblers, architects, and carpenters weeks if not months to build. It needed to be more than something cool, it needed to be an experience, a treasured memory that you would see and never let go.

Then came the other scene. If  Rarity’s speech was not the most important aspect of the chapter, then a very close second is the Crafter’s own speech. It was the talk I had been avoiding for quite some time. Well, I touched upon it here and there, but I never explained in full why the Crafter never talks. Just about every crossover or human in Equestria story has the human or alien or whatever capable of conversing with the ponies in a relatively short amount of time. Even if a dialog takes a while to be established, their intents are made clear rather quickly. It is what makes my story unique. It took 23 chapters until the Crafter conversed with the pony language. Despite him being much better now in chapter 29, he still doesn’t talk. Language has been an important aspect of my story since day one.

I gave him an important reason not to talk: loneliness. Long ago, after eons of long, lonely years, he sees the Endermen. Little does he know, seeing the Endermen provokes their killer instinct. The only souls he has ever met, and they can’t stand the sight of him looking at them. It was an emotional wound that cut deep. Keep in mind, the Crafter can talk, he just doesn’t. Despite having the ability to learn a thousand times faster, he never talks because it has become ingrained into his personality. Just like some people cry when happy or fawn over adorable creatures, the act of silence became a part of him.

Rather than pick at scabs, Rarity asks another question I have been avoiding: the nature of the Nether portals. The Crafter doesn’t know the pony word for Nether, so he uses Aether instead, but the word is conveyed nonetheless. For the uninformed, the Nether is a hellish place where even the terrain can’t be trusted. Holes in the rock spring up everywhere, it is easy to get lost, and everything is capable of killing you. However, the never has some pretty rich resources.

He talks a little more about his suspicions that the angry Endermen in chapter 2 is actually some other monster. He is correct, but he does not know that. He also says that he can make portals between the Overworld and Nether, and vice versa. The path between the Overworld and Nether makes a violet portal. Equestria and the Overworld makes a crimson portal. Rarity questions why he would put himself in such a dangerous place, but his answer is that risking your live when you live forever is a small price to pay.

Then HE comes. After the Crafter leaves Rarity after the conversation topics become uncomfortable, he heads below, where we see him make eye contact to everyones favorite friend Herobrine. What is he doing back from Canterlot? We’ll see soon. It freaks him out and he begins to suspect that the monster in his visions was the one who sent hi through the portal, but he continues and we get to see how the Minecraft chests work. I had a little fun with these. Given I have already established the switching and conversion of items into internal inventory is similar to a energy transfer, I had the chests full of massive amounts of energy. Chests are pretty much massive batteries. I took the time to show some more of my Symbol Conlang, and give Rarity some of the loads of gems the Crafter collected. No one is better at mining then the Crafter. No one, not even Diamond Dogs.

I reinforce the bonds between cultures immediately after this scene. The Crafter has learned a lot from the ponies, but I had yet to show the other side of that coin. The Crafter explains his concerns about Fluttershy's attacker and he thanks her for all she has done. She replies by saying “You’re welcome” in his own symbol language. It was a simple but much needed aspect.

The last major scene was between the Night Guard leader, who is still possessed by the Brimstone entity, and the magus who figured out Jetstream was the one being naughty. The magus doesn’t know, but Brimstone was trying to manipulate him into dropping the matter on legal technicalities, but when he insisted, she retaliated (Brimstone was in a female body). The Crafter overhears their conversation and steps out at exactly the wrong time. Brimstone was all but ready to kill the magus to hide the evidence, but could not do so while the Crafter was watching. Begrudgingly and holding back every impulse to murder him in the face, she hides her intent to kill and agrees with the magus to cover her own ass and throw away suspicion.

There were two more things of note. The first was, after all the magi were done with their ony science wizardry, they had back up to the surface and get there just in time to catch the end of a speech by Princess Luna. The full context of the speech does not matter, only the last few lines. Everypony possible was in the town square. Luna needed as many ponies there as possible for a very special reason: she wanted to send a message to Brimstone. In chapter 26, Luna expressed interest in talking to him. She had no idea how to do so, so she used the only thing she could, and that was Brimstone's own words.

“Stay in the light.”

Brimstone does understand, and that’s why the Night Guard chuckles at the end. Brimstone acknowledges Luna wants to meet with him/her/it.

Lastly, there was the short scene with Ambrosia. I don’t know what inspired me to make Ambrosia a bit of a perv, but I’m rolling with it now. The little scene with her had the additional responsibility of showing just how much the trust in him has grown. He’s being trusted alongside other ponies and is being granted jobs to help him gain public trust, and maybe work for a few bits on the side. And what kind of pony gets drunk at five in the afternoon?

Wait, there was one more. Excuse me, but I am really sleepy right now. I put up the cliffhanger about his name. Yeah, that’s happening within the next two chapters, depending if I switch the two of them around or not. I might. Why would I? I’ll explain in the next commentary.

One more thing. Someone wrote a fanfic of my fanfic! It’s just a modified Diamond Dog fight, but I am still pretty stoked that someone likes my work enough to write their own work around something I’ve created. It really does make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I have this power over people now, and it’s weird. Hopefully I won’t become a supervillain.

One more thing, I left a little something for eagle-eyed fans. I don’t believe I will be making a sequel or prequel to At the End. However, I am well aware that my mind is a fickle mistress and might conjure up a decent story down the road. On the off chance such a time comes to pass, I have been leaving stepping stones in my story, tiny unresolved issues and plot thread, that I can use. I have left two such hooks. I’ve hinted at the first one before, but I’ll leave the one in this chapter completely unknown. Trust me, if you find it, you will know what it is. Can you find it?

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