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The Moon's Apprentice - Chapter Twenty Four Author's Notes · 4:20pm Mar 27th, 2015

If you have not read the relevant chapter yet, it would be unwise to read these notes.

Since someone asked me to give my reasons for writing the last chapter as I did, I shall do so here.

In order to get a full understanding, we first need to take a short look at the history of this story. This story was originally posted as a one-shot. I had little enough interest in developing it into a complete story, but peer pressure has a way of making authors write.

Anyway, when I wrote the one-shot, I had several details of the story in mind that I never intended to actually write out, only hint at. Ascension was not one of those details. Regardless of Luna’s moral disposition, ascension was the perfect bait for Twilight. She could grow up to be like her wonderful foalsitter and like her new mentor. Of course, this meant I needed to work out the mechanics of ascension.

So how did ascension work? It was utterly ridiculous to suggest that Star Swirl’s unfinished spell in an ascension ritual. If it were, every unicorn in Equestria would be knocking on Twilight’s door, or failing that, plotting to steal the scroll. I suppose this is a bit of a hyperbole, but it gets the point across. There needs to be something more at work, and it does not suffice to say the elements simply decided Twilight should have wings.

Since I was working with the extended canon for Cadance’s ascension (which is quite lacking in detail), I asked myself what the two events had in common. Both ascensions involved a nearby powerful magical artifact and (presumably) a high level of competence on Cadance’s and Twilight’s end. Further, they were both surprised to be ascending, so the actual ascension itself must be automatic on some level (perhaps the unfinished spell was a kick-start to Twilight’s ascension, demonstrating her friendliness, but Cadance fighting Prismia is hardly a demonstration of the kind of love Cadance embodies in canon).

No other important details presented them to me, so I decided to work with a simple idea: ascension requires skill in your field of magic (synonymous with your special talent), and it requires a magical power source which will do the actual ascending for the pony once the pony’s level of talent (automatically, since Cadance never reported casting an ascension spell of any kind).

I might point out that I have no memory of anyone saying this was ridiculous or unreasonable at any point up until things went wrong for Twilight.

Anyway, as an added bonus, this ascension process vastly reduces the amount of hand waving needed to understand Luna’s and Celestia’s origins. Since we have no evidence otherwise (or at least I know of no evidence otherwise), Occam’s razor suggests there is only one way to become an alicorn.

While Luna and Celestia were (probably) already alicorns when they first found the Elements of Harmony in canon, I have a tendency to fudge some canon historical details in my writing to get a more coherent history of Equus. One such change is the Discordian Era, which my fanon has ending with the ascension (whatever that means in the relevant story) of Luna and Celestia. In this story, that is them ascending off of the Elements of Harmony (after first spending quite a long time trying to keep a sane day-night schedule with a large team of other ponies) and later using them to petrify Discord.

So when it came time to polish the outline for the rest of the story to start writing the other chapters, I found myself with an ascension process which could easily go wrong.

One of the first things you learn as a writer is how important it is to wish – no, to desire the most terrible things to happen to your protagonist(s), for it is only in her darkest hours that we truly see what lies within her. You hurt them, not for the sake of hurting them, but because they need to learn from their mistakes.

I regret to say I am a nice person. It hurts me to hurt my characters. I freely admit that I have literally cried myself into a feverish state twice now over the course of this story. And yet I know I must. Twilight has made mistakes, she has much to learn, and she will grow if put into bad situations. She has that strength within her.

So then, what will hurt Twilight the most?

“Luna abandoning her.”

Okay, yes, obviously, but that will not happen unless Twilight first gives Luna due cause to. Perhaps Luna would put Twilight to sleep for a thousand years and convince the poor filly it was for her own good, but Luna would not truly betray or abandon a completely loyal and dedicated pawn at this point, whatever her initial intentions toward the filly known as Twilight Sparkle were.

Now let’s bring Dash into the picture. She’s obviously talented; she’s done plenty of amazing things already, and Twilight herself describes Dash as ‘breaking all the rules’ and ‘the pegasus equivalent of myself’.

Twilight doesn’t really like Dash. Dash is an extrovert (which is a huge annoyance for Twilight already), she’s a show off, she tends to act instead of think, she operates on instinct and muscle (or in this case ‘magical/muscle’) memory, and she and Twilight have incompatible learning styles. Dash and Twilight are opposites in practically every way, even in relationships.

Dash came with Fluttershy; she is not a pony Twilight would have approached for an extended trip together under normal circumstances, no matter how useful Dash could prove to be in the future. As a consequence, Twilight rarely interacts with Dash when she can avoid it.

So then, all the way back before chapter one was written during outlining, what will hurt Twilight the second most?

Anyway, from a narrative perspective, these two chapters (this one in particular) will allow two very important things to occur which need to happen if Twilight ever wants to grow: they will allow her to shine as an intelligent agent in her own right, rather than as a semi-autonomous limb of Luna (her “wings and magic”, if you will), and they will let her learn several lessons she would never learn without something going catastrophically wrong.

These was the primary (immediate) narrative objectives of these two chapters. The secondary narrative objective – which was accomplished through the first – was to let Twilight have a chance to open her heart properly to others (non-family) for once, because there was no way I was going to let Twilight not ascend off of the Element of Friendship.

Now then, there are also a few other narrative objectives occurring by ascending Dash, among them a hefty lump of parallelism, but these are far less important to this discussion – except for one. Twilight has asked herself a certain question several times, and it is a question that needs to be explored. Now if you know what that question is, do not jump to any conclusions; Dash will not infringe on Twilight very much.

On a more meta note, there are very few situations that matter which could actually cause Twilight to act truly independently without being impossible for her to resolve. Twilight has placed too many safety nets below herself (with Luna and Chrysalis having prodded her to do so) to be troubled in any normal way.

Finally, as a writer, the primary lesson I shall take away from these two chapters is to be more transparent with my foreshadowing. I’m relatively new to first person perspective, and foreshadowing in it is…not necessarily more difficult, but different. I think the fundamental problem here is that there was no chapter between twenty-two and twenty-three. I had grown as impatient as my readers to have Twilight finally ascend, and that chapter would have been nothing but foreshadowing filler for the next chapter. I should have simply gritted my teeth and gone ahead and written it anyway, and I think I probably will take the time to do so after I finish up Twilight's ascension and a few other details.

Alright, you may now feel free to throw rocks, roses, or to gaze impassively. If this chapter has failed in the above goals, I will likely rewrite it and the end of the previous one, but please do not automatically reply negatively for the same reasons people had for hating Twilicorn at the end of season three, which to this day I do not fully understand. Most of issues brought up then should have appeared when Cadance was introduced, not when Twilight ascended.

*shrug* I was not part of the fandom at that point in time, so I may be biased. Twilight has always been an alicorn to me, and I entered into the fandom primarily on MLP Time Loops and Sharing the Night, both of which only reinforced that perception.

Rewriting would be very frustrating, and without spoiling the rest of the plot, I believe the story will become weaker as a whole for it. I know some people have essentially told me exactly that, people who it was clear to me were not having a visceral reaction to the events, but it is…not impossible should the need present itself.

P.S. For those readers who are unaware, the ending and a few details in the midst of the last chapter have been altered slightly since it was first posted.

P.P.S I know there are some legitimate objections to Twilight’s ascension in canon MLP due to the themes involved in the show, objections which often do not reapply well to alternate universes which usually contain different themes. Please, please do not turn the comments into a firestorm over this.

P.P.P.S For those readers who have already spotted the other big remaining reveal coming up in the next chapter, and I know such people exist, yes, I am very irked by the vague similarity it bears to that other popular fan fiction. It seemed like the obvious thing to do when I outlined this story, if I were in the same position. Perhaps I would make a good villain.

Report Forthwith · 2,029 views · Story: The Moon's Apprentice ·
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Comments ( 43 )

I liked this chapter very much, and it ended up making sense of when Dash ascended, which I admit upset me quite a bit because darn it, I wanted Twilight to ascend!! Sorry for contributing to stressing you out, Forthwith. I should've had a little more faith that you knew what you were doing. I'm REALLY happy Twi is ascending, though, and it will be really interesting to see what happens next.

I'm a bit angry you mentioned some people being right about speculations in this post, now I almost want to go and spoil it for myself if it's in a comment...

Can't wait for the next one.

DO NOT rewrite any of this. Stories on Fimfiction have the dubious twinned benefit and curse of serialization. If the chapters had existed at the same time rather than there being a delay between them, then far fewer people would have had a problem. Maybe the chapters should have been released as a unit?

Personally I really despise season 4 for what it did to Rainbow Dash. I always thought of her as a smart pony, but different, a true paragon of what it meant to be a pegasus. In season 4 they robbed her of a TON of depth. It shook me when she fell apart in Daring Don't, and Testing 1-2-3 just... To say she has no interest at all in the history of pegasi and the wonderbolts and that she really isn't capable of learning in any reliable manner is just a travesty. Yes she is not a lecture hall pony, but I always saw her as learning things herself.

It is bad enough that in one of my fics that I have taken a long time to write, people NEVER had issues with Dash in the earlier chapters... But despite me having to make a painful fundamental change in one part of the chapter to align a bit closer to the current canon dash, people still came out with comments saying that I was "off" with my portrayal of Dash making her too smart. ARGH.

Firstly, the positives. This is written after the lower section, because you deserve the praise you earned, even if I want to throw you into the sun right now.

You did a great job. You fixed the problems, which were never really broken or in need of fixing in the first place. The only problem was the serial nature creating a waiting period between 23 and 24. You made the catharsis all the more cathartic.

Now for the less fun stuff:

I was wrong about the clue, and it turns out everything will be better than it could be, but also worse, most likely. Forthwith for best author.


Oh come on! Are you serious!? That's the big reveal?!

I'm actually really disappointed it isn't a lot more nuanced than that. I mean, had it never occurred to you that they were both in the wrong and neither is evil?

Hmm? Personally, I don't think either Luna or Celestia are evil; they're both in the wrong. That could, of course, vary from morality to morality. Anyway, Twilight still has a very biased viewpoint in the text, so any conclusions she reaches based on guesswork are suspect until proven right. As an author, it's fairly well-known I love grey and gray morality. But anyway, I think you're anticipating the wrong big reveal.

Unfortunately, it's kind of too late to go back and change the entire story since the prelude, but I think the secret is distinct enough that it probably won't bother anyone but me. At any rate, if I were Celestia's smart villain/antagonist, it would be what I would do. The matter was too important to not intervene in some way.

2916590 Um, Now I have a feeling of foreboding. What is this other thing that you think people have figured out, cause, I have like a hundred ideas about what could happen. Is it going to make me cry? Or explode with upset? Cause I don't really want to do the later. Like I really really don't want to be upset with another wild turn that was super lightly foreshadowed. Not so soon after just getting finished with this one.

No, no, it's all good. It won't be a cliffhanger or anything, and the relevant pony has already expressed her positive/neutral opinions on the matter. I've been dropping hints left and right for the last five or so chapters, not to mention subtler clues throughout the rest of the story. I literally don't know what more I could do to make it obvious without explicitly saying it.

Edit: And really, I should just shut up and learn the other big important lesson from all this. As an author, don't try to give out any future information under any circumstances, because it always comes out wrong or out of context, and then people start doing crazy things like wildly guessing from information that they haven't been allowed to properly absorb.

2916756 Oh, thats good. I can stop panicking then. Wow :twilightsheepish: really failed my panic roll there. K, well I'm going to reread the later parts of the story and try to keep my wild speculation to a minimum. I most likely have an idea, just not sure WHAT it is.... curse my over active imagination. Spoiler tags are fun. :twilightblush:


Interesting. I guess I may have been misinterpreting the clue, then. If so, I apologize for the rant. I'll PM you with my theory so I can check if I'm at least in the right ballpark.

I had a few thoughts about this chapter.
First of all, the first part was pure torture for me. Not because it was bad or anything, but because I have a tendency to take on the main character's emotions so easily. Add to that that I was feeling pissed (for personal reasons) at the beginning of the chapter, and I ended up following Twilight's emotions with my own. This resulted in me shaking in front of my computer, making this dragged out first part almost unbearable.

This brings me to another point (and this is my first and probably last critique of this story). While I think Twilight's reasoning was logically constructed, that's the exact problem with it. Twilight was in such an emotional turmoil after she felt Dash ascend, and her thoughts were racing, they were probably also a bit panicky. Now, maybe this was intended as a "pure and understandable" transcription of Twilight's thoughts, but the first part of this chapter felt nothing like the thought-storm it should have felt like. Sentences were finished, and the pace was slow. Let me rephrase this; Twilight's thoughts' message was correctly conveyed, but their form was lost. If that was the intended feeling then simply ignore this, it's just that to me it would have made more sense to cut sentences short, and sometimes even unfinished.
Second (and probably last), I loved the second part, partly because of how well Twilight and Chamomile worked together, and pretty much everything that happened in it, but mostly because Twilight finally ascended. I was so scared of you pulling a plot twist and making Twilight not ascend, and every chapter where she didn't ascend just stressed me out even further. I just had such a bad feeling about this story; everything was going too well. I'm happy the plot twist was something as "minor" as Dash ascending, though I don't know how to feel about that, either.

I might read this chapter again tomorrow; just to find what's being foreshadowed, because something definitely caught my mind when reading it, I just can't quite put my finger on it in my current state. I do have a theory though, but it's merely speculation, and after this blog post I sincerely doubt it has any truth behind it, simply wouldn't make sense, since you already said that Luna betraying Twilight ain't gonna happen. My theory would have been that Luna is actually Nightmare Moon, and that she's merely manipulating Twilight into helping her. Like I said, I sincerely doubt it, since it wouldn't make much sense, though it's technically possible.

This is probably very rambly, but it's the best I can type in such a state of hyped-ness (I'm still slightly shaking).
Also, I don't get it either why the comunity hates Twilicorn. I was genuinely happy when I saw her ascending. And I can tell you, it's not just a "newcomer thing", I've been in the fandom for three years now.

Eh, seemed a good chapter to me. Don't see why you would need to rewrite it and really hope you don't. Dash finds a way to be a pest, as usual. Works for me.

2916462 Big reveal? What big reveal?

When I read chapter 23 I was a little miffed at the end because Rainbow's ascension struck me as being out of left field, but that was really only because Twilight, the viewpoint character, had really, reallly not been paying enough attention to what was happening in that corner of the plot. The beginning of chapter 24 more than addressed and made up for that; it made what looked like an oversight into a masterstroke.

Overall I thought this chapter was excellent in every way, and one of the best in the story.

Now my guess what the reveal is: Twilight Sparkle is really Sunset Shimmer, with her memory wiped or something. I spotted several things in chapter 24 that look like giant neon signs pointing to that plot twist, not the least of with being Twilight hypothesizing means to do so.

This chapter really helped. A lot of the problem was how completely out of left field Dash's ascension was. Twilight didn't pay any real attention to Dash, so the story didn't, which made it dramatically unsatisfying even if you set up things fairly well. The serial nature of your updates really didn't help, as that was probably the worst point to leave it, with no details for the audience to digest.

Also, you forget something: It wasn't just having extreme competence in canon Twilight or Cadence's case, in both cases it was displaying extreme competence. They accomplished something big (completing Starswirl's spell, beating Prismia) related to their cutie marks and that triggered their ascension, using the magic of the nearby artifacts.
Rainbow Dash, as far as the audience knew from the end of the last chapter, just walked by the elements and they went off. This was helped a bit by the new chapter mentioning Dash was displaying some kind of trick, but you can see why it would feel unsatisfying for the audience at the time, since they'd assume that whatever she was doing should have had to be something worth mentioning. The latest chapter where Twilight made note of the fact she'd been ignoring Dash helped deal with that.

I really don't think a rewrite is necessary but if you did, I think the most you could do was to indicate Dash was doing something impressive when she ascended a little more and again, I stress you don't need a rewrite.

And yet, Twilight's own ascension works okay, perhaps because it's much less out of left field than Dash's, being presaged by a bunch of personal revelations and her deliberately setting herself up to take the fall while sparing her friends, an action related to her cutie mark as "Friendship is Magic."

2916381 I agree that Dash is smart. But I don't think they made her stupider. Maybe I simply wasn't thinking about it, but what I gathered was that she didn't care about history in general; which is sadly not an uncommon thing at all, not that she didn't care about learning.

And that she'd rather learn the specifics of how to perform a certain manoeuvre, rather than how to solve an equation.
Neither study is any less valid than the other, they're just different fields of interest.
/end rant

I'm not sure how Dash ascending makes me feel, but I do know that I don't want you to change a thing. This is a very interesting story so far.

And last but not least: 'Prismia'? 'Other fic'?! What the hell are you people going on about, and how did I miss so much?

Extended canon in Twilight Sparkle and the Crystal Heart Spell says that Cadance ascended after defeating a mare named Prismia who went around stealing love because she was jealous or something. The whole affair is very vague (it's only three or so paragraphs long and only spoken of, not experienced), there was a magical necklace similar to the Alicorn Amulet but for stealing love, and Cadance was in no way demonstrating romantic love during it, which is what she is the alicorn of in canon. If she wants to extend her domain over friendly love as well, she should take it up with Twilight.


In the P.P.P.S. But I got it wrong, anyway, so nevermind.

This story excites and interests me. Your reasons seem sound. Keep on keeping on.

"I freely admit that I have literally cried myself into a feverish state twice now over the course of this story."
Oh, I'm sorry. Thank you for sacrificing for your art and our enjoyment.

Oh, so we can expect a new Chapter 23, with the current 23 and 24 and the future 25 (at least) each bumped up a number? I look forward to it. :)

See, the thing about throwing roses... they have thorns. Their higher air resistance might slow them down enough to stop them from being a kinetic hazard, but suppose one scratched someone's eye? Maybe I'm being overcautious, but it still seems to me that they're perhaps not the best item to throw at someone one likes.

"the same reasons people had for hating Twilicorn at the end of season three, which to this day I do not fully understand. Most of issues brought up then should have appeared when Cadance was introduced, not when Twilight ascended."
I recently read this essay on that very topic; you might find it interesting, perhaps.

Given how well things are turning out, I'm going from "I'll trust Forthwith for now, but rewriting would also be okay", as I was before this chapter, to "rewriting would almost certainly be deleterious".

"P.P.P.S For those readers who have already spotted the other big remaining reveal coming up in the next chapter, and I know such people exist, yes, I am very irked by the vague similarity it bears to that other popular fan fiction. It seemed like the obvious thing to do when I outlined this story, if I were in the same position. Perhaps I would make a good villain."
...Interesting. Even if I'm one of those who's spotted it, I've not spotted that I've spotted it. All I can think of is the "Sunset was used to make Twilight" hypothesis, but I'm not thinking of another popular story that would be similar to. I wonder what it could be about? I look forward to finding out. :)

Oh, yes, and your reasoning and whatnot throughout the post in general seem good to me.

Honestly, it didn't even occur to me that that might be even a reveal, much less a big one. Well, not to the readers. While it was still possible that Celestia really was evil after all, or that Luna was just very good at pretending to be sane, caring, and afraid, neither really seemed at all significantly probable.

You've been building towards Twilight ascending a long time, I don't see it causing most of your readers to over-react and the type of people who would after getting this much foreshadowing probably won't be held back by your author's note, I'm sorry to say. I actually like it when it's well handled. That's why I'm following Moon's Apprentice and Sharing the Night is on my favorite's list. My main issue with canon is the two-parter where it happens is ... subpar at best, not that it happened.

Big reveal... Similar to other popular fanfiction? It's not an "elements of Harmony are really Starswirl" situation, is it? Is that really a big reveal when Luna flat out said it was possible a few chapters back and then Twilight considered it this chapter? I'm only guessing this because of Sharing the Night, my original theory for the twist was Twilight Sparkle= Sunset Shimmer, but I can't think of another fanfic that did that


I recently read this essay on that very topic; you might find it interesting, perhaps.

Oh, yes, I agree that MMC is a bad episode - awful, really, and there's a lot of bad MLP episodes, unfortunately - but the concept of Twilicorn itself (which is technically not distinct from Princess Twilight, but only because Twilight never actually gets involved in politics) as something to be despised is something I don't understand. It was handled poorly in the episode and the series as a whole, but it's not Twilicorn's fault she was poorly handled. And as far as I can tell now in The Future, Twilicorn was always a subject of hatred, even before MMC appeared, and that just boggles me.

Anyway, that essay brings up a lot of good points, but to be completely honest, well, I don't actually care. I'm here for the fan fiction and the setting. The MLP universe is a gold mine of interesting themes and goals left unexplored, conflicts not fully developed, new and fantastic lands to uncover, cultures to bring to life, et cetera. If there is such a thing as porn for writers, this would be it. I like the show well enough, I suppose, but it's not why I'm here, much like how I don't really enjoy Harry Potter but love Methods of Rationality.

Oh, there are people who think that Alicorn Twilight is bad under any circumstances? Yes, that I do not understand.

Aye, comparing the amount of time I've spent reading pony fanfiction, playing pony-related games, and the like to the amount of time I've spent watching the actual show... not that much of a comparison.

2917439 Heh, I see. So it was in officially sponsored supplemental reading material?

I like being surprised or blind-sided by a reveal with little or no foreshadowing, its one of my favorite things in stories as good as this. Though zero foreshadow too often makes a poor author, but you haven't done either. I respect what you did with the story, or better, loved it.

With the thing with Rainbow Dash, just meh. I see your reasoning now, but was just.... hmm, not liking it? Welp, to bad for me, there's an alicorn Rainbow Dash and I'm going to enjoy where you take the rest of the story.

Looking forward to the rest of the masterpiece you paint with your words.

I hadn't thought of the possibility of Twilight ascending before Dash came back from the aether, i didn't even know it was possible, but it kinda saves the "finally" response to Twilight's ascension, since she started ascending before Dash was finished. I feel soooo sorry for Fluttershy, she basically saw the one pony she loves more than anything disappear in a blinding light/explosion.

About that "what's the worst thing that could happen" thing you were talking about, i've gone through the entire story, so far, fearing the moment when Twilight is betrayed by Luna/NMM, so if you're not going with that, i'm very grateful.
As for the foreshadowing to what did go wrong - you do indeed need to work on being a little more transparent with that; i've said this before, but just for the sake of it, that was one of the bigger reasons i reacted so strongly to what happened, i didn't expect it at all, and it was a real nut-shot. Like, i've heard of throwing a wrench into a story to make it more interesting, but throwing that wrench, and then forcing us to wait for any longer than an hour was a very emotion-inducing action.

Don't rewrite anything, unless it's to bring the quality up!
I'm really happy you didn't fold and cut this chapter short (lol, almost 20k words, it's still long even if you cut it in half...), or actually changed anything plot-wise due to people being a tad angry about Twi's situation.

I also can't think of a remaining, obvious, big reveal...? Operation "Wild, panicky, speculations" are a go! Goddammit Forthwith...

Also, funny brain-scenario with this chapter: I spoiled myself a little with the confirmation that Twi did ascend by lightly reading some comments beforehand, but that doesn't bother me; more importantly, i got this funny scene in my head where Dash is in the aether, realizing that Twi will kill her when she gets back, only to have Twilight follow her in there. I would be scared shitless. Also would be funny if Cadence was in there with Dash.

Edit: soooo, honesty is the remaining element then? whom is getting that one...?...Celestia? xD

Sighs as Fate eats her longer post.

Severely depressed _and_ mostly offline now for a fortnight or so, to boot.

But one of the only pony based things I've seen this week was your update and I liked it. I think your pacing is really uneven. Your integration of long running threads and details therein is a bit spotty. But given the style you're going with...well, I've seen published authors writing the same general style do worse. (Cough cough Michael Jordan, may his memory be a blessing, alas suffered from this severely. :facehoof:)

(Also, having half this last chapter as one huge thought bubble...well, people used to bitch about you not explicitly explaining what was going on. I hope this cures them of that! I think it shows them why implying stuff is stronger than telling it. Though as a tell, it was okay. Being a bit rambling was fine given the stress Twilight was under. I appreciate doing it without the thought bubble would have been a lot more work and I don't begrudge you the short cut. )

I _loved_ Dash hijacking the ascension accidentally. It seemed perfectly supported by the story. In fact, it felt totally foreshadowed to me. You even lampshaded Twilight's perceptual and planning issues through Chryssi "You're risking your life on a plan that has serious shortcomings you know". And Twilight brazens on. She only very recently shows so little sign of improvement Chryssi is practically _forced_ to mentor her!

So some unexpected detail blindsiding Twilight felt _perfect_ for this part of the story.

I would have liked a slightly different mechanic for Twilight pummeling the elements into opening piecemeal, and not involving the fire rubies. It would have been excellent to have Chryssi do some sort of emotional-vampire fueled epic emotional magic to crack the shell on Magic (no greater friendship does a pony have than to lay down their life....) by equine sacrifice of Twinkleshine. (But I understand that's a bit ruthless (moreso than you'd accept, maybe) and that Twilight isn't quite the amoral Unfettered type you implied in the earliest chapters...)

tl;dr there are some issues in your writing and there's still signs of them this last two chapters (especially compressing the pacing abruptly). But nothing's really any worse. And the Dash thing is totally justified. It was an awesome Chekov's event!

(I'll let myself out now :trollestia: )

Keep writing and thank you for this robustly entertaining story. :yay: :heart:

Oh, I'm sorry that things have been going badly for you. I hope things improve.

P.P.P.S For those readers who have already spotted the other big remaining reveal coming up in the next chapter, and I know such people exist, yes, I am very irked by the vague similarity it bears to that other popular fan fiction. It seemed like the obvious thing to do when I outlined this story, if I were in the same position. Perhaps I would make a good villain.

Luna is evil, Celestia is trying to thread Time through several prophecies in order to prevent the destruction of the world, and Hermione Granger will show up soon. Got it.

But actually, your writing is mostly fine, and you should be proud to have made your fans get butthurt over the reveal :derpytongue2:.

Oh, and Twilight Sparkle is a copy of Luna's childhood mind-states.

I was re-reading this, just to scan it to see if I could use it to estimate the time till the next chapter (not to rush you at all, I just like having estimates) and this line jumped out at me...

but please do not automatically reply negatively for the same reasons people had for hating Twilicorn at the end of season three, which to this day I do not fully understand. Most of issues brought up then should have appeared when Cadance was introduced, not when Twilight ascended.

Did you just repress how pissed a lot of people were at Cadance being introduced?

Was that a thing? I wasn't in the fandom when Cadance appeared, but I haven't noticed the kind of hate that Twilicorn got associated with Cadance.

Edit: The next chapter will come out on the first, and I'm hoping to get the chapter after that out on the second, but no promises.

It was a thing. Not as much of one, probably because she's a side character that doesn't show up often but a thing. It's died down a lot since she was introduced and I expect much the same thing to happen with alicorn Twilight- those who hate it still will but most of them will get less vocal.

Anyway, good to know your estimates. No rush, I just like being able to go "Oh, I should probably get one of those updates in X time". For example, I can always look forward to the December update of Sharing the Night, even though I know it's far in the future.

So I thought about it, and your conditions for ascending are bugging me. Specifically the fact that there is no triggering action, or the triggering action is "the pony does a thing that they probably do on a regular basis anyways". (Plus, Twilight was just walking.) First of all it means that particularly accomplished ponies literally cannot use (or be in the same building as) particularly powerful artifacts without either ascending or dying and destroying the artifact. Even if both are fairly rare, I think someone would have noticed that by now. They also cannot acquire a collection of lesser artifacts that gets too big, though I could at least see that being rare and written off as a freak occurrence.

And second, it implies a bizarrely specific level of power needed. Two Elements of Harmony are not enough to do anything, three elements are enough for an apparently "safe" ascension. Not only does that mean that somewhere inbetween two and three Elements in power is a threshold past which you automatically activate the process, but it also means that between that threshold and a third Element were enough other artifacts for Luna to be able to cite several cases of failed ascensions. But even though there's apparently many artifacts more powerful than two elements of harmony, in the last 1000 years there's only been one successful ascension (so only one artifact confirmed to be roughly as powerful as three elements). Oh, and if I remember right that artifact was apparently freshly made or freshly imbued with power?

Yeah, all of that seems kind of strained. I think the only hope I can have for my suspension of disbelief is that there are some other rules at play that Luna isn't aware of and thus couldn't tell Twilight.

edit: Unless... maybe there's not many ascension-worthy artifacts because the secret was known before Discord and every single artifact powerful enough to play a role in an ascension attempt at that time was consumed. The only ones left were the Elements, since they recharge on their own, but Celestia had those locked away where noone could find them. The amulet that made Cadence ascend was a brand new artifact after all.

That edit would make a lot of sense. Maybe no one even knows how to make powerful enough artifacts anymore (except Prismia who either re-invented or stumbled onto the old process).

Also, I think you're overestimating how common these conditions would be. Several cases in Luna's lifetime, which is considerably over 1000 years could indicate that sufficient levels of artifact power being collected are actually extremely rare. Perhaps there's only the elements and one or two other artifacts capable of such a thing, with a couple other cases involving artifacts that weren't powerful enough normally but were near other sources of power.

And remember the outcome is usually death. I think that one is actually pretty easy to write off "Sometimes when you collect huge amounts of magical artifacts in one place, something goes wrong and kills you" doesn't actually sound surprising at all and may even be a standard safety warning in Equestrian society now, further reducing the number of ascensions (especially with Celestia repressing information). No one is going to guess that, in reality, sometimes when you get enough explosives together and it goes off, the person blown up actually becomes a god.... but they usually just die, if all the cases they heard about involved the person dying.

Yeah, and I guess when you look at it from another standpoint, "You need to have almost enough power to succeed before the process will even start, and if you run out after it starts it goes horribly wrong" doesn't sound that weird. It sounds like, I dunno, like somebody designed a system with a goal in mind (create alicorns) but made a sloppy mistake and never went back to fix their work.

It still seems weird that people would associate any specific use with artifacts on that level (read: The Elements) besides becoming an alicorn. Because it seems like selection pressure would be for most ponies capable of getting their hands on such a thing to be special enough to be a candidate. Maybe that's why Celestia did it herself last time and tried to use a student picked for "natural talent" rather than some of her most accomplished mages or soldiers this time?

Are you having problems IRL? Why hasn't the Progress Report for The Moon's Apprentice updated yet?

Because I've been busy.

For those readers who have already spotted the other big remaining reveal coming up in the next chapter, and I know such people exist, yes, I am very irked by the vague similarity it bears to that other popular fan fiction.

Could you tell what is the other popular fanfiction?


Ah, duh. I thought you were talking about another pony fanfic. :twilightsheepish:

When's that latest chapter coming out? It was a good way to tie things up at the end.

And what other fic are you talking about at the end there?

Why would that irk you? "Outside local astronomy" beats a haystack or even a needlestack for hiding a needle. Maximizing the minimum search radius is desirable.

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