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At the End Commentary: Chapter 9 · 5:01am Sep 14th, 2012

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

<--Previous Chapter Commentary *-* Next Chapter Commentary -->

I've hinted several times that something big was going to happen in Chapter 9. I don't think I disappointed.

Again, this chapter was supposed to be longer, but I had to chop it up. Not out of writer's block, but because I simply ran out of time. To date, Chapter 9 is my longest, and it would have been about 2,000 words longer if my flux capacitor was working. But i suppose the benefits are twofold: I have a head-start on Chapter 10, and Chapter 9, at ~9,600 words, is at a respectable length as it is.

I set out to answer (directly, anyway) one question: who or what scared the Crafter? I answered that, but left a thousand other questions in its place. But I'm getting ahead of myself; let's start from the beginning.

The scenes I cut were interlaced with this chapter at intermittent intervals, thus why the scenes before and after the first horizontal bar seem a little abrupt. I tried patching things up, but again, I ran out of time. It is in Jetstream's mission briefing that I reveal a third clue regarding the second intruder. What were the other two? I'm not telling. The third, however, was the implosion sound effect used by, you guessed it, the Endermen. And yes, I got the onomatopoeia from Nightcrawler.

From that scene onward, it was a pain in the ass. I knew what needed to happen, but just not how to write it. I ended up rewriting the entire cave sequence. Twice. My god, it was a terrible experience. Don’t get me wrong;  love to write. This is fun.

My first draft was third-person omniscient as Jetstream walked into the caves. But it didn’t seem right; it didn’t quite capture the fear I wanted to get out of the situation. My first rewrite turned it into third-person limited from Jetstream’s perspective and is what you saw in Chapter 9. It was fine, except for one key detail: the Emperor would not shut the hell up. It didn’t seem quite right, either. The Emperor, in my head, is a confident, narcissistic misanthrope; it doesn’t need to convince others it’s in charge. It’s mere presence demands respect. Thus, I began the process of rewriting the cave sequence again. On the plus side, I have At the End’s first deleted scene. I’ll post it sometime. and explain in more detail why it didn’t work.

Now when the Endermen starts following the Emperor in Jetstream’s body, weird stuff starts happening.

        “If there is one thing above any other that I treasure, it is the laughter of children. I can not place what it is that enchants me so. Is it their perspective of events and the modern world?.... Or perhaps their freedom from sin? I do not believe life can be born evil. By that same token, they are not born with humility, either. A blank slate, completely and wholly pure from the world’s influence... This world reminds me so much of children. The laughter. The innocence. The irrevocable belief that any incurred strife may be inoculated with the correct balance of emotion and caring hearts. What a foolish belief, but that is what makes it so endearing. These creatures, these ponies, believe in so much, but they have no idea how far - how fast - their monuments to their achievements and vanity will crumble when the worst comes to pass.”

The Emperor does not like the ponies, but is capable of admiring their traits. I find it a common trope in fanfictions that the Eldritch Horrors, One-Winged Angels, and Big Bads all hate/want to crush their enemies. They are evil just to be evil. While the Emperor is Lovecraftian in tone, I wanted it to have traits that set it apart from the rest. It might even grow to like a pony, provided he or she has the gall to face his or her own fears.

The meeting between the Emperor and the Endermen is where the metaphorical shit hits the metaphorical fan. Let’s go through the conversation, shall we?

The presence gurgled softly, which the Voice seemed to understand perfectly. “Indeed I can.”

The presence was silent for a few moments before it made a whistling sound. “A deal.” The Voice said.
It’s always good to start with the white hat. If you come forward with benevolence, you’d more likely be accepted. Since the Emperor already forced the Endermen’s hand to come to him in the first place, the Endermen has one of two options: listen to the terms of the deal or dispose of him. The Endermen is smart enough to realize that the Emperor could have set in motion plans to counteract option two, so that only leaves number one. A Batman Gambit, is you will.

Another gurgle.

“Simple really. I know you’re constructing a gateway to your own world, but you’re running into some trouble. The problem is, so will I at a future point in time. The bargain is I will help you complete your portal, if, in return, you complete it at a very specific point in time.” His body kicked at the belt securing his saddlebags and it fell to the ground. But instead of turning around to pick it up or move it, he dragged it in front of his field of vision, not bothering to gaze upon the presence. His body opened one of the bags, revealing it to be chock full of iridescent green gemstones, each one in the shape of a single dragon eye.
Now the question comes into play: how does the Emperor know about the Endermen? If you know your Endermen lore, you see the Emperor knows not to look at the Endermen. But the real questions are: why the need for the deadline, and how did it get access to so many Eyes of Ender?


“Because you and I want the same thing.”

‘What’s that?’
You realize, it does not answer the Endermen’s question.

        The presence whistled in surprise, but before it could say anything else, the Voice continued. “I’ll just come out and say I’m doing this for selfish reasons and nothing else. We have mutual ideals and goals, so I want us to work together to achieve them. We both know what the Crafter coming here means: this land is going to burn. Me helping you will neither spread nor snuff the flames. If we succeed, we part ways; no more, no less. You go home, while I stay.”
Well, the scene explains itself. How does it know what will happen? How does it know the Crafter?

“So Endermen, I ask you: what is your decision?”

The Endermen, as the Voice called it, was silent once more. Jetstream soon felt the smile return to his face.

The Endermen sung a chord of whistles and the Voice laughed giddily. “Good. Good! Now, here’s what I want you to do...”
Now, I obviously can’t tell you the details.

The next sequence is what I call “Hell’s Bells.” When writing this, I kept a quote from Burn Notice in mind: “The same things people are afraid of as kids, scare them when they're adults: fear of the dark, for example. Fear of being alone. And above all, fear of the unknown. “ The Emperor forced delusions on Jetstream’s mind in order to test his fortitude. As it said later, it spared the Crafter from further torment because it had the courage to fight back. Jetstream, however did not. What it found charming about the ponies, also drove it to hate them. The horrors just kept on coming, and all Jetstream needed to do was stop worrying about himself.

Now I only just started getting into horror. I have the complete works of Lovecraft and Silent Ponyville is one of my favorite fanfics and one of the first I ever read on Fimfiction. I’m just not good at writing horror, is all. Originally, the Hell’s Bells segment had an additional scene where something horrible and distasteful happens to another one of the Senior Privates, but i decided to cut it for two reasons: I’m still learning how to write “dark” and “horror” scenes, so I figured my first shot at it should be restrained. The second reason was I was I didn’t want to push the teen rating any more than I was. Again, since I’m new to horror, I wasn’t certain on what would be acceptable.

Now at the end, Jetstream realized he has no idea who he is fucking with. When Cthulhu shows up at my door, I don’t run or grab a gun, I sit on my ass and fucking listen! After going through so much, I believe that the Sergeant would do that. I believe he would submit to the Emperor. Now, while the Emperor doesn’t like Jetstream all that much, corpses are hard to hide on such short notice. The Emperor, with no known alignment to either good or evil, is still smart enough to realize that other ponies would be expecting Jetstream somewhere. Leaving him alive and erasing his memory would cover his tracks much easier than simply killing him.

But why did it need the Princesses to know about the portal? Why assist Zecora in finding it? Is there some other source of its hatred for ponies? What’s its plans? Why will it stand by and let Equestria burn, as it claims will happen? If the Crafter and the Endermen were the sources of the two magics, where did the Emperor come from? So many questions, but not enough time for answers.

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Comments ( 6 )

I knew what needed to happen, but just not how to write it.

I know that feel. The reason I have such trouble writing is that I can see the story happening in my head, but have trouble translating the images to words. There's just no way to capture what my imagination works up.

320913 That problem is giving me real difficulty with one of my stories.

And holy cow.

Emperor? That's the official name for this guy?

That's just what it called itself when it was speaking to the Endermen. It was quoting Tarot cards, and its influence on events is similar to that of the Emperor.

The "official" name has yet to be revealed, but the Emperor does have one. The chapter where it's name will be said is going to be interesting, to say the least.

321897 Ah, that makes sense.

And seeing as the story has been shitstorm after shitstorm, I can believe that! :pinkiecrazy:

Indeed it has. However, do to the first act being unofficially over after chapter 9, things are going to slow down a little. I'm afraid it is a necessity at the moment.

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