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"Do it right and do it with style." - Author, Designer & Project Lead of the story-driven DLC Gardens of Equestria: This Coming Storm - (Patreon)

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Apr
30th
2017

Let's Talk About "The Mare Who Once Lived on the Moon" (Chp 13 & 14) · 7:02am April 30th

Part Five of my follow-up for "The Mare Who Once Lived on the Moon!" This part covers the chapters To Love the Moon, To Love the Moonshine & The Student who Defies. If you want to start at Part One, you can find it right here!


To Love the Moon, To Love the Moonshine

You know, I didn’t really read the title for this chapter completely. And frankly, even if I had, I would have seen it as the shine of the moon… not the other thing. This was an unexpected chapter. An odd chapter. But a chapter that builds.

And drunk Twilight is scary.

Let’s see how scary.


Twilight woke up and immediately regretted it.
Everything hurt so much, but she was too weak and broken to do anything other than let out a long, low groan.
Then everything hurt more because two ponies had jumped onto her to hug her.

Stupid glomps. Making everything hurt.

It was probably very nice for them that she was alive, but she wasn’t feeling appreciative.

Bunch o’ jerks. Seriously, have some respect!

“Everypony knows the nurses do all the work. We just don’t get the best tools.” She considered that a moment. “Although this is very nice whiskey, thank you.”

Aww.... how sweet? I think?

“Pinkie’s response was a lot simpler, after her own hug was given and taken. “No thank you, Lady Rarity. Alcohol makes me sick.”

Hmmm. Nice detail.

Rarity smiled a touch gingerly. “I assure you, if you just stick to a glass and drink plenty of water—”
“Not hangover sick. Head sick.”

Oh. That kind.

“The Princess is apparently very suspicious your injuries are just a way for you to hide some unseemly antics, so visitation has been restricted. Not for us, mind, just for ponies she deems dangerous enough to conspire you.” She swirled her own whiskey and stared into it sternly, like it was responsible for the slight. “Honestly, what are we, chopped cabbage?”

Only Rarity could get offended for not being rated dangerous enough. Though I wonder why.

“As much fun as it might be to knock back a bottle of hard cider with you, I reckon y’all are gunna need a designated sober pony ‘fore you do something you might regret.”
Rarity was absolutely deadpan when she said; “You’re worried if we’re both drunk, I might seduce you, aren’t you?”

Good call.

“Wouldn’t be the dumbest thing Drunk Applejack did. Might have picked a fight with a barn once. Might have won it, too.”

I’d believe it.

“She pointed the accusing hoof at Rarity now, or where she thought Rarity was since she couldn’t quite turn her head. “Angry drunk?”
“Flirty drunk.”

No, really?

“Rapidfire is sleeping with High Winds, Icy Mist, LIghtning Streak, Silver Zoom and Wave Chill, yes. High Winds with Fleetfoot and Silver, Icy Mist with Silver and Wave, and Wave with Lightning. Except they all believe the other to be monogamous, except for Rapidfire, who finds the whole situation delectable, as I certainly do as well. I apologize, this is usually a lot easier to explain with a chalkboard, or pins and coloured string...”

Well, I'm pretty sure Rarity just won this card.

“Wait, you’re tellin’ me this lady’s got a whole athletic team jumpin’ into bed with her, and she still tried chasin’ your tail?”
“Of course she did, darling. I’m better.”

Well, DUH.

Fluttershy rolled onto her back to look up at Rarity and pinwheeled her legs a little. “You’re so brave!” she marvelled, “like Robin Hood, but without the arrows... and more flirty?”

Adddorrrraaableeee… ./rarityEqG

“Noooooo.” Fluttershy disagreed emphatically as she unfolded herself from the floor, stretching like a cat. “Nooooo! You need hugs. Lots of cuddles. Yes.”
Fluttershy looked so earnest, and Rarity couldn’t quite figure out a way to say no to that pleading look. Applejack and Twilight watched with amusement. Finally Rarity relented. “I suppose some physical affection wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.”

Fillies and gentlecolts, I present to you… weaponized cuteness. Grade-A weaponized cuteness.

Twilight was the only one to laugh, but she made up in quality what they were lacking in quantity.

...facehoof.

There was an awful taste in her cottony mouth, due to the antiseptic nature of the ridiculous amount of alcohol she was tricked into drinking, but she wasn’t hung over.

"Tricked." Right Twi. Keep telling yourself that. Actually, nevermind. You won’t remember anyway.

She had to admit, a cane and a few silver hairs, maybe a battle scar or two, really would give her that scientist veteran look she’d been going for.

I totally need fanart of this, like right now. Because Twilight would rock this look.

Twilight looked down at her excruciatingly painful leg. If it were made of books, that wouldn’t be too bad, would it?

And a fanart of this too. Because even though it’s grim, it’s hilarious at the same time. And awesome too!

Twilight took another sip of whiskey. She’d acquired the taste for it, a glass with three ice cubes and some cherry syrup had become her favourite. Rarity called it an “Old Fashioned”. Twilight called it euphoria.

...eep. Seriously. Dark eep.

She didn’t finish her sentence. Pinkie had her jaw clamped shut with her hooves, looking into Dash’s eyes intently. “Say that again.” She let go.

./squeak! She’s cute. So freakin’ cute.

“Canterlot mountain.”
“Right. Except it’s not a mountain... It’s a volcano! Dormant—”
“—but with enough magma for a real big boiler... oh, stars above that’s...”

Original Comment: “...oh this will NOT end well.”

You know, this bugged me for the longest time. I can accept most AU stuff, after all. It’s an AU. But a geological AU? Granted, we don’t have any proof one way or another. And the fact that Canterlot mountain is completely alone in the center of Equestria is a good reason for it to be a volcano, but it seemed a stretch.

Now though, doesn’t bother me so much. Maybe because I took the time to think about it. That’s the thing about AU stories. You can’t just say it outright. Well… maybe you could have here. You could have had one of them go “wait, wait, since when is Canterlot mountain a volcano?” Pinkie responds with a silly look and explains it with fancy geological terms.

Or something.

I might be tired.

“Why, it would take the most brilliant scheming mind in Canterlot just to have a chance at it!”
Rainbow snorted. “You’re volunteering then?”
“Oh, yes, dear, I just wanted to make that understood. Modesty never suited me.”

That ruffled Rainbow’s feathers. “Who died and made you Princess?”
Then there was that smile with teeth again, white and regal. “No one, yet.”

...eep.

I eep a lot in this story.

In the guttering, grim light of the burning coal fires, it seemed like she was being ordained high priestess of some thrice-damned cult. Maybe that wasn’t so far from the truth.

So, is it the cult of Luna, the cult of Twi or the cult of TwiLuna?

Silly me, of course the answer is 'yes to all of the above.'

“I keep forgetting I set fire to the throne room because of her...” Rarity smiled dreamily. “I stand by the best things in life being the illegal ones, by the by.”

Good girl! You stick to those principles.

...or something.

“You flirt.”
“Bite me.”
“Now, is that an—”
“Not an invitation.”

JUST KISS ALREADY!

“A librarian who could make a piece of her library a real tangible part of herself... and maybe a hidden flask. Or two.
She’d rather taken to liquor, and it had rather taken to her.”

Hm. My original thought was “This is unexpected. Not sure what I think of it.” I’m going to stick with that, though I don’t know if that’s personal bias or an actual objection to the character/action.

Normally the idea would make her so anxious, there’d be knots and gnarls forming in her gut, but now, through the heady haze of hooch, she felt indestructible, and all she felt was pride and excitement and wonder and joy.

...oh boy. This is bad.

She shot up in bed, almost spilling her drink. “Luna!”

Yeah, that just occurred to me at this point too. Dammit, Twi. Go back to love sick instead of sick. It’s more fun.

“Thank you but I will wait for her.”

Oh my goodness! ./swoon

No seriously, I freaking adored this line. It was an amazing display of her character and just how strong her connection is with Twilight despite the fact that they're worlds apart. :raritystarry:

Canterlot mountain really was a dormant volcano. The entire city built around caverns and chambers funneling down into magma deep below the surface, but not as deep as the citizens above might hope.

Well, that’s not terrifying at all.

Pinkie’s episodes had been worse since. Even though the clever little cookie never seemed to remember them, sometimes Rainbow would hear a whimper and knew she’d be spending the next half hour at Pinkie’s side, just stroking her mane.

I love “the clever little cookie.” And this is sweet and heartbreaking. Stop making Pinkie so sweet and heartbreaking! It’s hard!

“Why aren’t you just strapping me into a chair and watching me with clipboards and nodding your heads while you pull a lever to make it go faster or something?”
Fluttershy raised an eyebrow, and Rainbow thought of Applejack for a moment. “Oddly specific mental image.”

It is… isn’t it?

Rainbow’s sacrifice of her exploration funds was pretty cool. Not unexpected, but still cool.

“I promise to be the best at alcoholism, then.”
He didn’t appreciate the joke. She gulped. He was all stiff again. “Best at rehabilitation too?”

./dark-chuckle

“A cold and authoritative voice cut him off. “I’m sure they’re familiar, Captain. Quickly, quickly, get Ms Sparkle, before she thinks of anything especially clever.”
The Princess was here, here.”

Literally my comment: Oh FUCK.

Seriously, from here to the end of the chapter had me on the edge of my seat, barely breathing. I think this was the point of no return for me. While I’m not entirely sure, I may have reached this point and just kept reading all the way through, straight into the night until I finished.

The back and forth between Celestia and Mirth was positively nail-biting.

“Mirth then, tell me. What should my scathing reply be, if I were to wager you two bits on it?”

...she’s freaking terrifying. And I didn’t want to say 'freaking.'

“Fluttershy stayed rooted to the floor. She noticed, now, that Mirth wasn’t holding Viola’s hoof tightly, to reassure her, it was the other way around.

Ah… that makes a lot more sense. He was way too controlled. But seriously, that kid is brilliant. Even to the point of maneuvering out in the open.

Rarity turned on the fluttering eyelashes, batted them as hard as she could. Suddenly, he didn’t seem so interested in leaving. She smiled internally; Not every day a girl could say her feminine wiles overcame military training.

Even at the gates of hell itself, she’s still having fun.

“Wouldn’t do to annoy you, no. This isn’t a ploy. Not a question you’d ask if you were going to execute me now, then. Nor the method. Showing up in person, to see the look on my face? I’m aware of your fondness for snipers and poisoners. So that means you’re here to... what, imprison me and gloat? For what? Besides the usual treason. That never set you off like this before.”

She’s so… freaking… scientific. Rational. Logical about this. It’s eerie.

“I no longer have anything to glean from you, Twilight, before you release the Nightmare from her prison and doom us all.”

My original note: “...okay. I sure wasn’t expecting that.”

Even as she sniffed and sniffled, Twilight managed to smile at that. An old joke between the two...? Curious. And the whole exchange had been so... almost amicable.

Truly disturbing.


Seriously, Celestia coming in was the last thing I had expected. Came out of freaking nowhere. I should have seen it with the departure of Shining Armor. But no, you caught me totally flat-footed. You did a brilliant job of ratcheting up the tension to an extreme degree.

The best part is you did this with it sounding like Celestia and Twilight were just… having a conversation. Nothing less, nothing more. Calm, cool, collected… and that’s what made it all the more terrifying.

Even on my second readthrough, I get shivers.

And things are going to get even more interesting…


The Student who Defies

Okay. So, ready to be terrified out of your freaking wits? Ready to see demons cackling madly in the eyes of a friend? You're not. I wasn't. Because seriously... I still get chills thinking of Celestia in this chapter.

“Touche. I admit, then, the fault is mine.” Twilight, sitting in her chair, smiled just a little. The Blame Game. Sometimes she won. Sometimes, though, you won a game of checkers to find that Celestia had been playing chess.

Ayep. Definitely disturbing. Deeply, horribly disturbing.

There were a lot of things the guards had that Applejack could see. Big hammers, wrenches, crowbars, all sorts of wrecking tools. The two things that she couldn’t see among the lot, though, were volunteers or a set of balls between them.

Oh snap.

The metal crunched hideously, and the stretching of metal plates sounded like a whining dog to Applejack, one that she had to put down. She’d try to make it quick.

God, this entire scene was cruel beyond description. :fluttershyouch:

AJ didn’t supervise that last bit. Just quietly started off back for the farm, for a little while. She’d be back tomorrow, maybe the day after if nopony asked after her, when being here didn’t hurt so much.

That was beyond painful. :raritydespair:

A fully stocked, expensive-looking liquor cabinet filled with crystal decanters of very strong liquors indeed.

...WHAT?!

“We have all the plans. We have the resources. We have an exiled monarch within reach who may just save Equestria. And I have never, ever, Applejack, failed to follow through on a romance this cliche.”

You’re awesome.
Yes. I’m talking to Rarity.
And I’m talking to you.
Both of you.
You’re awesome.

“Applejack, where are the dungeons? Twilight was very specific about it, and I have only now realized why.”
“Built beneath the palace, right?”
“Correct. Applejack... where were we planning to build the cannon?”
“In the caverns—”
Applejack stopped. Pinkie Pie’s breath caught in her throat. Rainbow looked as confused as Fluttershy felt, so she felt better about not having caught on herself yet.

Ayep. I was hoping for that.

“Well, you’re my friends, I suppose, and...” she trailed off.
Rarity’s smile was bright enough to lead the way. “I suppose we are, at that, aren’t we? And isn’t that remarkably peculiar.”

Isn’t it just?

“Isn’t it strange that beyond everything else Ms Sparkle might have accomplished -- which is much, I assure you -- perhaps her greatest feat yet is bringing us all together?”

Quite. Quite strange. Quite strange indeed.
And quite perfect.
I like how you lampshaded this. It was a very nice touch to point it out.

“It all sounds so silly, to hear you talk about it,” Fluttershy agreed. “Within hours of meeting her, she’d all but bought Applejack outright, helped Pinkie leave the only life she knew, somehow convinced Rainbow to assault her boss, and put the idea into your head that burning the court down was a good idea...”

"We are dreamers, shapers, singers, and makers…” – Elric, Babylon 5, The Geometry of Shadows.

“It’s the strangest thing, isn’t it? I think we were meant to be together, all of us, in this time, in this place. I truly do.” There was a gleam in Rarity’s eye that Fluttershy wanted to believe was madness, but made far too much sense.”

Madness and prophecy go hoof-in-hoof.

“I think the real question we should be asking, my dear Fluttershy, is what does it mean if I’m right?”

Hell yes.

And of course I would sneak Sunny in here. Twice.

“Applejack looked up suspiciously. “Don’t think you set yourself in enough, Dash. You secure?”
“Applejack?”
“What?”
“I still have wings.”
“Oh. Right. Carry on, then.”

Rainbow stepped off the platform, holding her own weight. “... oh, right.” She shot Applejack a glare when she heard her snicker.

THE SNICKER HAS BEEN DOUBLED.

“Coincidences don’t happen in prophecy, nor love. You put the two together, and I’m afraid we’re dealing with fate and destiny.”

Hell, YES!

Look all concerned if you wanna, this is going to be awesome.

And on the moon, Luna watched for flashes of light that still would not come, running her long laps against the tide until they would again.

You really love twisting the knife, don’t you?

Original Note: “Whimper.”

“Bleeding mooks, the lot of ‘em!”

Words are fun.

“You know, Cap’n's a much better liar than you. Some might even accuse you of being an honest pony.”
Ooh, that one stung, right down to his crooked little heart.

No need to be cruel!

“These were good ponies, and maybe they were being a good influence on him. He could feel his mercenary nature slipping away! He’d worked so hard to cultivate it too...
Ah well.”

You’ll live.

Cor, blimey and heck if it didn’t look like the sort of thing that ought to kill a pony. Like a mad scientist’s torture device, only without the ‘like’.

You keep this dialogue for the special ponies, bring it out at just the right times. It really helps liven things up.

Dash’s blue hoof kicked the glass door open, like she was about to make a big damned hero’s entrance, but then she fluttered out like a drunken butterfly. Killed the drama, just a little, but Brass still cheered just as much as every other pony around him.

It’s not about drama. It’s about style!

Okay, yeah, drama helps.

From there, pick up a bottle of scotch and not pour it. Simply look at it intently, then put it back down on the shelf.

Thank… well, anypony but Celestia.

On the moon, far from the usual poetry, a new message went unseen.
“Please be safe.”

Seriously, that knife has done more rotations than Dash did two scenes ago… freaking breaking my heart here.

“Hah! I suppose I am. I don’t think it’s about saving the past. I think, at the end of the day, it’s about building for the future. Never was much good for saving, but heck if I ain’t good at building.”

Now these… these are good thoughts.

She had drawn a portrait of Twilight with the mouth missing and sent it to her one time. Twilight had sent it back, drawn with a smile, and had written on the back; “Very pretty. But I think it was missing something, don’t you?”

STOP THAT! SERIOUSLY! STOP THAT! I CAN’T TAKE THAT ANYMORE! :twilightoops:

“And then Rarity had made Pinkie some hot chocolate very quietly, and told Dash not to leave her alone that night, so Pinkie got cuddles all night and felt a lot better, and the next morning Rarity wouldn’t let her read the newspaper like usual, but Pinkie’s stipend got a bit bigger, and Mr Spark didn’t try to message her again either.”

This is so damn cute. I love that you’re shipping them so effectively without actually showing anything!

“No threats to my family? No warnings? No ultimatums?”
Celestia looked almost offended. Definitely disappointed, like Twilight had just failed some unknown test. “No, nothing of the sort. I’m genuinely interested to see what you come up with. You always were such a clever girl. Nopony has ever escaped the dungeons before, and I’ve ensured the residents have had long lives to make the attempt. If anypony would be the first, it might very well be you!”

...she’s truly mad. Completely insane. How the hell did I not see the truth earlier? You did a great job of distracting us... or maybe just me.

But here she found that being creatively fulfilled meant so, so much more to her than her status ever had.

As it should be.

The perks of her new career as a guerilla artiste-engineer were threefold.
1) Surrounded by ponies she actually liked, adored even

D’awwwww!!!

2) Creatively fulfilling in new and exciting ways, and magical artificery still required she use her favourite crystals and gemstones.

Excellent. (You had to have a real reason in here)

3) She got to stick it to that royal bitch.

Fuck Yes.

“Her bad poetry is contagious?”
“I meant the feeling of being in a spring as it is slowly wound tight, but that as well. See? Three distinct metaphors now. Atrocious.”

...simple horrid.

Mirth had left early with a packed sandwich and a bottle of juice. There was a university debate on today that he’d managed to find a way to sneak himself into, with a reference book.
Viola, who sat practicing in the worksite with her instrument to the microphone, using the caverns as her own personal concert hall.”
Brass patrolled the other children with a hard hat and steely glare, berating anypony -- child or adult -- for carelessness, laziness, or anything that could put a pony at even the most theoretical of risk.

All these children becoming who they were truly meant to be. It’s a gorgeous sight.

So, holding back tears she had held in for too many years now, feed an army is exactly what Fluttershy did.

I don’t even know why I find this line so moving. But I do.

Luna took a deep breath of vacuum and stared up at something she couldn’t see, but she could feel, far above.

“Hey, Twilight?
Remember those satchel charges I told ya I lost?
Yeah, well. I found ‘em.
You might wanna cover your ears for this part. Duck and cover, fire in the hole.
Love
Applejack
P.S
See ya real soon, Sugarcube.
Twilight read and reread the letter three times. Yes, it definitely said what she thought it said.
A fourth time, it still hadn’t changed.
“Oh, dear.”

Oh dear, indeed.

She nearly tripped as she ran over a divot in the floor, a neat line carved into the cave floor. As she ran over it, past it, metal bars fell behind her and slid into place, closing the passage off.

NICE!

“...Yes, up there and through, and Rainbow will tell you the rest.”

Just go with it Twi!

“Hurry, hurry, dear, your beau is waiting on you. It would be impolite to keep her waiting any longer? Oh! Also, we’re not sure how long we can hold off the guards. So there is that to keep in mind, as well.”

Details, details…

But at least she would die with her friends, and that beat living alone in a gilded cage.

I feel like I should have some powerful quote here… but it’s good enough on its own.

“There. Done. You look absolutely fabulous, Twilight, I’m sure Luna is going to swoon. All very dashing. You know, some stallions have bought fancy carriages to show off when they pull up to the lady’s gate, but I’m fairly certain you’re about to have them all beat, so, get to it then.”

Hell yeah, she does! :rainbowdetermined2:

“Ah, our damsel in distress, what ho! Never fear, Twilight Sparkle, for the cavalry is here! We’re going to escort you somewhere safe.”

Finally get that epic voice back. You know, at first you just forgot about this… but then I realize, it’s all part of the act. She’s covering her own fear with bravado… just like the Rainbow we know.

“Oh, yeah, no, this is going to be stupidly dangerous. You’re probably going to pass out, everything’s going to hurt, we didn’t pack alcohol, I threw up in practice and you didn’t even get to practice, and we’re about to ride a chain of explosions right up into the aether.” Dash was grinning wildly, just about the most excited Twilight had ever seen her. “This is probably the most daft-barmy bonkers thing we’ve ever done.”

And it’s going to be freaking awesome.

“But it’s going to be fun, and I’m here with you, and everypony’s with us in spirit. We’re taking their hopes and dreams up here with us, and I don’t think you’re about to let them down are you?”

Fuck no. Get a damn move on!

“Sorry, sugarcube, plan was to stay in radio contact, seven, but we couldn’t figure out how to do this and get away from the guards, six, so we’re probably not going to be around much longer.”

...eep.

Her dream.
This was just like her dream.
She tried to remember what happened next.

I had actually forgotten in my first read-through.

Everything exploded, and then she woke up.

And it was perfect.


Remember when I said ratcheting up the tension? Well, even in my followup, it works. I just read through the entire last two chapters and did the thing all over again. So you even got me to race through these words twice.

Jeez, the tension at the end of this is awesome. I was actually out of breath by the end of the chapter. What else can I say? At this point, you’re definitely past the failsafe. It’s all or nothing, for everypony and the reader included.

And it’s going to be awesome.

(I used awesome a lot in that last chapter, didn't I? Eh. I'm good with it. :rainbowkiss:)

Prepare yourselves! The grand finale is right around the corner!


The Mare Who Once Lived on the Moon Follow-Up:

Chapter 1 through 3: The Mare Who Lives On The Moon, The Farmer who Builds, The Mare Who Runs On The Moon
Chapter 4 through 6: The Madmare Who Invents, The Mare Who Writes On The Moon, The Explorer who Dreams
Chapter 7 through 9: The Mare Who Would Gift Twilight The Moon, The Socialite who Schemes, The Mare Who Would Escape The Moon
Chapter 10 through 12: The Guardian Who Loves, The Mare Who Would Love The Moon, The Science of Magic
Chapter 13 and 14: To Love the Moon, To Love the Moonshine & The Student who Defies
Chapter 15 and 16: The Mare Who Once Lived on the Moon & The Stars Will Aid in her Escape

Comments ( 3 )

I'm loving this detailed by-the-step reaction-review of yours. All sorts of insights that I missed the first time I read the story.

¡Execute Order # 66!

Evidently, this is an early BlogPost for "¡May the 4th be with you!". It is BlogPost # 66:

4514492 I had a ton of fun reading through this story a second time, because I picked up on so many things I missed the first time. I could now see the foreshadowing properly, the stage setup... the whole thing. It was an awesome experience. If you ever find a story you fall in love with off the bat, give it a shot! It's incredible for fans... but it's freaking AMAZING for authors. :pinkiehappy:

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