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I'm Not Dead Yet - Sneak peeks from The Traveling Tutor and the Royal Exam, Letters From a Little Princess Monster, and a bonus prize · 4:22am Jul 13th, 2015

You know, it's been a month since I've teased anybody with my work in progress on Letters From a Little Princess Monster or The Traveling Tutor and the Royal Exam.

You poor things. I'm going to tease both stories right below the break, and introduce the most fantistic OC that Equestria has ever seen before, Phoenix ShadowBlade. (I seem to remember somebody saying that an OC with that name was doomed to be a terrible blight upon the land. We'll see. :pinkiehappy: )

I still plan on holding back my queued chapters (2 for Letters, 2 for Royal Exam) until I can hit the end of an arc, but if screamed at enough, I may weaken. Let me know. My progress has been twice as fast as I expected, due to the tireless assistance of Tek. Be nice to him. Buy him lunch if you find him at a convention.

First, a quick snapshot from The Traveling Tutor and the Royal Exam. As you may have heard, I'm borrowing Sizzler from Estee, voluntarily, of course. There are a few changes from Triptych Continuum standard, in particular I changed his magic aura from red to colorless transparant with red sparkles, and his reading level from low elementary school to upper elementary school, but I tried to keep the rest of the loveable single-track minded meat-station chef as true to the example as I could.

Royal Exam

Most unicorns have fairly colorful auras to their magic, allowing other unicorns to be able to identify the objects they are manipulating at a glance. The magical aura that surrounded the cleaver hovering in the kitchen doorway was unfamiliar to Papercut’s experience, but with a twisting feeling in his gut, he recognized it by reputation. Only Chef Sizzler’s magical aura had that dull colorless sheen to it with little sparkles of dark red flowing inside, particularly whenever the chef was distracted and whatever he was carrying wobbled in his magical field. Even after all that Papercut had gone through tonight, that magical wobble almost made him lose control of his abused stomach because the sparkles in Sizzler’s magic field were the deepest and bloodiest shade of red, and the emotional turmoil that was sweeping over the angry chef disrupted his field in a way that made them seem to drip off the cleaver like droplets of fresh blood from a murder weapon.

Papercut had never met the chef before, although he was a favored topic in many uncomfortable conversations from ponies who had met him, and could not keep from talking about the experience. It would have been difficult for Papercut not to know about Chef Sizzler, with as many months of training as he had spent in the castle, but now that he was actually going to meet the odd chef, it disturbed him nearly as much as the chaotic dining room he had just left.

After all, Papercut’s mother had been quite diligent about keeping him away from any hot stoves or sharp knives, and those habits had followed him through his life, particularly when faced with the Royal Kitchens and the various emotionally eccentric chefs who made their lairs like dragons around their precious treasures. The meat station and its chef were no exception. Although it was it was one of the least contested positions in the entire castle staff, it still brought in applicants from all over Equestria and beyond. It was a critical position for the processing and preparation of meat-based dishes for any visiting carnivore or omnivore diplomat or guest, even if every pony in the castle staff tried their best to avoid the sights and sounds of some poor creature being turned into food by way of knife and fire.

Papercut was no exception. He had never met Sizzler or visited his work area before because he did not want to. Nopony really did. It would not have been so bad if the chef had just been in charge of the meat station as his predecessor, Chef Leancut had been before him. No, it was worse than that. Sizzler actually enjoyed his work, and could not comprehend why any other hooved ungulate would not. To wander into his working zone was not only to be subjected to the muffled scents and sights of a dead creature in the process of being turned into food, but to run the risk of being ambushed and offered… samples. Generous samples even, because most diplomats who were carnivores could not possibly consume an entire slaughtered beast in one sitting, and that resulted in leftovers.

And to make matters worse, Chef Sizzler had a spell to preserve those tasty little tidbits just in the odd case that one of the pony visitors to his abattoir-like workspace would lose their mind and ask for a snack. He would talk while heaping thin slices of roasted and seared animal flesh onto poor innocent slices of bread and garnishing the remains with a zestful mix of tasty vegetables and herbs that he insisted would go well with the dead creature inside if only the pony trapped within his reach would be open-minded enough to just try a bite or two.

Trying to distract his attention by looking past the cleaver, Papercut’s first glance at Chef Sizzler turned into a long and disbelieving stare. No pony should have such a bright red coat, one that made him appear to be completely covered in blood, fresh where the bright kitchen lights reflected the faint greasy shine to it and seemingly coagulated and clotted in the shadows. Thankfully, his tousled and tangled mane was not any shade of red. However, the unkempt hairs were the color of bleached bones, with a single thin streak of red made all the more prominent by the yellowish-white of his mane that appeared like a trickle of blood flowing off the remains of a freshly butchered corpse.

“Princess Luna!” exclaimed the chef, nearly dropping the hovering cleaver in his startled reaction. “The most horrible thing has happened! You have to do something! Wait!” The cleaver returned to hover and ‘drip’ in front of the doorway again as Sizzler’s ears folded back and he glared viciously at the small group. “How do I know you’re not changelings?”

“Because Specialist Rose checked all of us,” said Luna, eyeing the hovering cleaver with some skepticism.

“Oh,” said Sizzler, shaken out of his panic by the need to think. “I’m just so glad you’re here, because — Wait!” He blinked away a tear and squinted out the doorway with narrowed eyes while the the cleaver bobbed from side to side as if it were seeking targets on its own. “How do you know she’s not a changeling?”

“I checked her,” said Luna in a very patient manner that bore no trace of the condescension that Papercut would have reverted to by now, despite the close proximity of a blade.

“Oh.” The thin chef paused in confusion. Sizzler was rumored to be somewhat dim with a single-track mind, and that track appeared to have several metaphorical carts and a wagon wedged into it at the moment. As he shuffled his hooves while searching for more words, the faint sticky sounds of treaded splatters of crop ejecta seemed to bring his whole world crashing back down on top of his trembling shoulders. Returning his tear-streaked, imploring gaze to Princess Luna, Sizzler continued, “It’s just so terrible, Princess Luna. What kind of meanie would do such a thing?”

Moving right along to Letters From a Little Princess Monster, we have a touching scene where the body-swapped pair of Diamond Tiara and Scootaloo attempt to work out their problems by way of diplomacy and friendship.

Not really.

Letters From a Little Princess Monster

The weight room in Snowflake’s Gym was silent for a time as Diamond Tiara and Scootaloo stared at each other in abject shock. It was a perspective that neither of the little fillies had ever experienced before, other than in front of a mirror, but even that was a weak substitute for finding one’s body and one’s mind swapped with your mortal enemy.

Scootaloo’s diamond tiara glittered in the corner by the barbells where it had been kicked during their vicious battle, decorated with a few yanked violet and white hairs indicating its removal had not been without a struggle, while more than a few of Diamond Tiara’s short orange feathers still floated down from the ceiling, one even sticking out of the corner of Scootaloo’s mouth. Well, her present body’s mouth.

The moment was very confusing. It was also fairly short.

“Give me back my wings!” screamed Scootaloo, lunging forward in an awkward half-hop that betrayed her inexperience with using a body that did not have some sort of aerial propulsion system for speed and distance boosting. Diamond Tiara fairly bounded upwards and remained hovering just out of reach, no matter how much Scootaloo could make her stocky earth pony legs jump. “Come down from there!”

“She’s flying!” gasped Apple Bloom.

“I’m flying?” asked Diamond Tiara, her eyes getting larger by the minute. “I’m flying!”

“How can she be flying!” Scootaloo turned on Monster, who was still frantically paging through her book. “Twilight, how can she be flying?”

“Don’t know,” whimpered Monster, paging through the book in a blur. “Instinct?”

“Well, she’s instinct’d enough. I want my body back!”

Monster paged through the book even faster until the pages started to smolder. “Supposed to just see things. Not swap.”

Although Scootaloo (in her present body) opened her mouth to add to the conversation, she found both Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle’s hoof firmly inserted, making her comments come out more as a muffled snort than what was originally intended.

“This is so cool!” Featherweight flew up to the ceiling and snapped a few quick pictures of ‘Scootaloo’ in flight, even if her hover was fairly wobbly and only maintained by considerable effort. “I’m going to make like a gazillion copies of this.”

While Twist finished wrapping the bandage around Bulk Biceps bloody nose, Sweetie Belle squinted at the small flying pegasus who had caused the injury and the ground-bound earth pony in which she was presently housed. “She’s flying just like Twilight did when she first got wings.”

“Thatth right,” said Twist. “Twilight uthed to hover jutht fine, but thee can’t any more. I wonder why.”

Monster held herself very still, clenching the book tightly to her chest as she tried to control her breathing. There was something there, an obvious fact that was being covered up by her panic, and in an attempt to get it to the surface, she spoke it out loud. “Instinct. I read books on flying. Followed the instructions. One: Upstroke with wing angled up. Two: Top of stroke, angle wing back. Three: Downstroke with wing held steady. Four: Angle wing up again. One. Two. Three—”

There was a sudden startled cry and Diamond Tiara lost control of her wings, tumbling down to the gym mat with a solid thud which was promptly followed by Scootaloo jumping on top to hold her down.

“Now, Twilight,” she called out. “Zap us again!”

Monster stood trembling with the book still clutched to her chest, looking at her friend and the struggling pony she had trapped underneath her. Scootaloo had flown, although with somepony else running her wings. Switching them back should have just involved using the spell on them again, but that would put them right back where they were just a few minutes ago. Scootaloo would not be able to fly, Diamond Tiara would still be a bitch, and Trixie would be mad at her for using the spell without supervision. Twice. There had to be another answer that could solve the problem, but before she could think of it, Diamond Tiara wriggled around and bit down just as hard as she could on Scootaloo’s current tail.

Both little ponies let out an agonizing squeal and jumped forward to wind up in different piles, each rubbing their own tail.

“Whoa,” said Featherweight, snapping another picture. “Freaky.”

“How did you do that?” shouted Diamond Tiara, rolling into a crouch with her little wings sticking up and her tail somewhat painfully cocked to one side.

“Do what?” shouted Scootaloo right back, mirroring her opponent's stance almost perfectly, except for the wings.

“Synaesthesia!” said Sweetie Belle proudly. “My sister had a book that told all about it. See, there were these two sisters who were so much alike that each one could feel what the other was feeling, but she took it away from me before I got to the good parts where one of them was out on a date and the other was home all alone, and the stallion…” Sweetie blushed. “I don’t think my sister knew the word I was asking about either. She seemed awfully embarrassed.”

“Seeing from each other’s eyes,” mumbled Monster with the smallest hint of a smile.

“I don’t wanna feel like her!” snapped Scootaloo. She jumped forward and kicked the little pegasus in the face, then stumbled back with a hoof to her chin. “Ow!”

“Serves you right, Scootalooser!” snapped Diamond Tiara in return with a hoof over her own chin. “Tell your freaky friend to change me back, right now!”


“What?” All of the little ponies echoed the word, including Bulk Biceps, who wore a look of concern almost identical to Scootaloo’s little friends.

“I said no.” Monster stomped one hoof, which did not make as loud a noise as she wanted, as she was still standing on the gym mat. “Won’t. Not until you both understand.”

“Understand what?” Diamond Tiara waved an orange hoof at Scootaloo, who seemed to be caught in unaccustomed thought. “That she’s a total loser? I understand that already. Now turn us back!”

“No!” This time the hoof stomp echoed through the gym, and a small circle of charred plastic surrounded where Monster had put her hoof down. “I won’t do it, and neither will Trixie. It is hard to change another’s spell. This was a very hard spell, so you won’t find anypony else who can.”

And last but not least, we have a snippet from the beginning of The Night Guard - Night Mares in Hell Week, still unpublished. (and staring that amazing OC, Phoenix ShadowBlade)

The Night Guard - Night Mares in Hell Week

There should have been some fabled portal where only the strong and brave could pass, perhaps some crystalline doorway guarded by an otherworldly guardian armed with a flaming sword, who would lethally reject all applicants for the Royal Guard except those truly worthy of the mantle. Instead, the room that Ru poked her nose carefully into smelled of sweat and mold, with a great number of uncomfortable steel folding chairs arranged around the outside edge and a small shuttered window at the other side standing guard over a scuffed white door. In normal circumstances, she could imagine the entire room filled with young stallions, all eager to prove their worth to guard Princess Celestia and wear the golden armor of the Royal Guard.

Right now the room just looked a little dingy, in dire need of a bucket of soapy water and about a weeks worth of serious scrubbing. There was only one other inhabitant of the dimly-lit room, and that was a flame-red unicorn with a quirky smile who waved at her and patted the chair to her side.

“Over here! I saved you a seat.”

Ru picked her way through the empty room filled with empty chairs, casting cautious glances to each side as she walked. It was dim enough in the room to allow her to push the sunglasses up onto her forehead, and to the strange unicorn’s credit, she did not cringe back upon seeing her mismatched golden and blue eyes, although the mare did grin and waggle one eyebrow.

“Hey, I love what you’ve done with your eyes. I’d match you, but…” The young mare reached up with one hoof and tapped the dull grey circle around the base of her colorful horn.

“A restraining ring?” asked Ru, stopping a few steps away. “Why are you wearing a magic restraining ring?”

“Same reason I’ve got these.” The mare stuck a hind leg out and shook it to allow the manacle and chain to rattle freely. “Name’s Phoenix ShadowBlade, professional troublemaker, crook, and procurer of lost objects.”

“Ru,” said Ru, hesitantly sticking out a hoof to be shaken. “Housekeeper, mostly.”

“Whoa!” Phoenix yanked back her proffered hoof almost as if she were afraid of catching some dread disease. “You mean you work for a living? Get it off! Get it off!” She paused after wiping the hoof several times on her chest before giving a curious look at Ru. “That’s a joke, by the way.”

“Oh.” Ru considered the words carefully. “It’s not very funny. Everypony in our family works very hard.”

“I’ll bet you do,” said Phoenix with a waggled eyebrow again. “All those rich Canterlot nobles with their sexy maids to keep their beds warm and their family jewels polished.”

That struck a spark inside Ru’s chest somewhere, and she stood up to move to a different chair, only to stop at Phoenix’s insistent tug on her tail.

“Sorry! Sorry about that,” apologized the unicorn through a mouthful of tail. “I was just trying to be funny.”

“It isn’t,” said Ru, although she did return to her chair under the plaintive gaze of the other mare. “Nocturne stallions have guarded the Princess since the creation of our race by Princess Luna. We’re very proud of our heritage.”

“Yeah, there’s a lot of that going around.” Phoenix tapped one crimson hoof against her horn again, seemingly lost in thought. “Stallions,” she said after a while, “not mares.”

It was an obvious ploy to gain information, but Ru was getting a little tired of the constant maneuvering, and her next words came out with a little more pepper on them than she expected.

“What, don’t you believe mares can guard Their Highnesses?” Ru cringed back once the words escaped her mouth. “Sorry,” she mumbled.

“Screw sorry,” said the odd unicorn, jabbing a hoof painfully into her shoulder just above Ru’s membranous wings. “If you want to go sticking your nose into these stuck-up stallion’s business, that’s exactly the attitude you need. You want to be a Royal Guard, you need to get right up in those doubter’s faces and shout it so loud that it will rattle their fillings. Let them cringe back and apologize, because you’re only doing what has to be done. Let me hear you say that again!”

“Say what?” Ru blinked as Phoenix jumped to her hooves with a jingle of chains.

“Say you want to be a Royal Guard! Say it loud, so the whole building can hear, all the way up to the palace!”

“I want to be a Royal Guard!” Ru’s voice echoed around the empty room and raised goosepimples up her flank.

“Say you’re proud to be a mare!”

“I’m proud to be a mare!” shouted Ru, getting into the spirit.

“Say you’re the best of the best, and you demand to guard the Princesses!”

“I’m the best of the best, and I demand to guard the Princesses!”

“Say I’ll repeat anything this lunatic says!

“I’ll repeat…” Ru stammered to a halt and looked at Phoenix, who was grinning so widely that the corners of her lips probably threatened to touch behind her head. “What was that?” she continued in a hoarse whisper.

“That was the future of Equestria, our newest female Royal Guard, and her puppeteer. Did it make you angry?”

“Yeah. I suppose so.” Ru glared at the other mare, who only grinned wider.

“Mad enough to hit me? Right here on the chin.” Phoenix held her chin up and helpfully pointed at it.

Ru shook her head. “You’re crazy.”

“Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!” Phoenix grabbed her hoof and held it up above her head. “Now if we can only get one of the recruiters to agree with you, I’ll be out the door and on my way.”

“Really?” Ru eyed the chains and the magic restraining ring on her horn. “I thought you wanted to join the Royal Guard?”

“Me?” Phoenix made a rough raspberry noise and plunked back down in the chair. “Not in a million years. I just said that to the judge so he’d send me over here. If I flunk out, it’s straight to prison for me, but if I can get them to throw me out for something that isn’t my fault, like having another recruit beat me up, or being crazy, I’m scott free.”

“Really?” Ru blinked both mismatched eyes as she worked down the chain of logic. “So this is just an act?”

“Act?” Phoenix drew a hoof across her chest with a look of feigned outrage that was betrayed by the laughter dancing in her golden eyes. “If I have to pretend to be a changeling tuba-playing lesbian fifth-alicorn believing religious zealot with imaginary friends and a tendency to accidentally blurt out uncomfortable truths, I will. What did I say my name was again?”

“Phoenix ShadowBlade,” said Ru, feeling a little stunned.

“And you can be Carifax, my loyal assistant,” said Phoenix.

Whatever Ru planned on saying in response was lost when the door to the room slammed open with a loud bang, and a bulky earth pony in a perfectly pressed uniform glared into the room.

“Recruits! What do you think you are doing? Female candidate signups for Hell Week are in room six! What number do you see on that door!”

One huge perfectly polished hoof pointed at the door, and after Phoenix did not speak up, Ru timidly put forward, “Six, sir?”

“Does that look like a six to—” The officer paused, then reached out with his hoof and gently rotated the number on the door right-side up.

“Right,” he added with a suspicious glance around the room for additional suspects. “Now, due to your apparent enthusiasm for our little summer fun and games, I think it only wise to put you two distinguished individuals at the front of the line in the correct room! This way, double time! Move it!”

Both Ru and Phoenix darted for the door, with Phoenix stopping half-way there and galloping back to the chair where her chains were sitting. “Don’t want to forget these,” she said, tossing them over one shoulder and dashing after Ru. “Somepony will be wanting them back.”

Comments ( 14 )

good to see that you are alive and working on your fun little tales:pinkiehappy:

3233445 Either that or he is a zombie..... though if he is, this is the first and only time I would EVER pass on shooting one in the head: don't wanna ruin that wonderful brain!

Now I really want to see more of Chef Sizzler.

Three times the fun.

Well, these all promise to be most entertaining. I look forward to the finished products.

You should totally post now.

Rather than later.

N-not because I need m-my pony fix either!

The Night Guard - Night Mares in Hell Week.... WANT THIS SO BAD! Your previous "Night Guard" works had me and my wife in stitches! (Fortunately or unfortunately ..we met the human forms of every one of those ponies in our service years!) (OH! and here......You might want these chains back!........heheheheheh!)

You tease! First, that little snippet from Royal Exam and then a Hell Week story? Do you enjoy making us suffer?! Ok, that's enough melodrama.
BTW, I think Phoenix ShadowBlade is an awesome name. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Post. Now. I have been waiting most patiently. And it's been soooo loong.
Please post.


>>Georg The traveling Tutor and the Royal Exam. :raritystarry: I must finish before I can begin Monster. :pinkiecrazy:

3249480 Letters From a Little Princess Monster runs in arcs, and will continue cranking out arcs as long as I get clubbed over the head by the Muse Moose. Royal Exam goes right up to the wedding and will stop. You can read Letters in little chunks without getting too confused, if you keep to the arcs, but I'm at a pausing point with Royal Exam at the poisoned diplomatic dinner. If I do publish the three cached chapters of RE, it will be starting on Friday, August 7, and going through Sunday at one per day, because there is a natural pause at the end of those three chapters. Example of the contents:

Doors had always fascinated Princess Sun Shines, with the unknown potential that lurked behind them until they were opened. Home had so many doors that had been nailed shut for years from the distant past when the aerie had been full. Lately, as other griffons had moved into the aerie, the empty rooms had been opened like dusty treasure chests to reveal their ages-old forgotten contents. This Canterlot castle door was just as plain on the surface as anything at her home, but behind it were wonderful things.

Watery wonderful things.

The Royal Baths had started as a large natural cavern uncovered during the castle construction and had been expanded greatly over the years of Celestia’s rule as various devotees of the Art of the Smallest Room allowed their creativity to run wild, encouraged, of course, by a near-limitless budget. Waterfalls cascaded down the far side of the huge open area in a glittering cascade of moonlit spray backlit by dozens of brilliant light globes scattered around the roof like nearby stars. In the center, a small artificial volcano bubbled silently, surrounded by a collection of pools, both large and small, which was where the true magic of the baths occurred.

Each of the pools held a particular environment and temperature, from the steaming and bubbling sulfur-caked pool held at near-boiling levels that Celestia preferred after a long day in court, all the way over to a series of mineral water pools next to a wall of ice that Luna enjoyed chilling in after a long flight among the stars during the humid summer nights. Under normal circumstances, the baths were horribly underutilized, with at most two occupants enjoying relative solitude at opposite ends of the huge room, but tonight there were dozens of colorful ponies paddling, stroking, or skimming across the surface of the pools, mostly in the middle area where a blotch of purple was surrounded by several other colorful mares and a vast collection of other females.

>>Georg ahhh. I see. Well, then I'll fill my time with Monster.
On a different note, those baths sound like paradise. :twilightsmile:

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