• Member Since 28th Aug, 2011
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Cold in Gardez


Stories about ponies are stories about people.

More Blog Posts181

  • 17 weeks
    Against Literalism

    “I think I see it,” Rainbow Dash whispered. She squeezed as low to the rocks as she could and crawled forward over the tumbled-down ruins of the jungle temple. “It’s just up ahead, in the nave.”

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    18 comments · 827 views
  • 19 weeks
    Who loves Sci-Fi (Spoiler: It's this guy)

    So, in the ten years I've been writing pony fan-fiction, I have had a persistent dilemma: I love sci-fi, but the MLP universe is intrinsically a fantasy setting. Many noble stories have bridged that gap, including some of my personal favorites (Kkat's Fallout, Iceman's Friendship is Optimal, and Arad's Stardust, as a small sampling). But except for a few scraps in my

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    17 comments · 530 views
  • 22 weeks
    Some original fantasy writing

    Normally when I write original fiction, it is strictly fiction – that is to say, not 'genre' fiction (i.e. science fiction, fantasy, etc). But I do love me some fantasy, so when the opportunity came to produce an original piece accompanying a favorite old game world of mine, I could barely pass up the chance. So if fantasy is your jam, you may enjoy this.

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    12 comments · 575 views
  • 25 weeks
    Romance Novels

    “What if,” Spike said, “Ginger Gypsy hadn’t been afraid to confess her love? Would you still hate her so much?”

    I frowned. “Hate is a strong word. I never said I hated her.”

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    24 comments · 758 views
  • 27 weeks
    Back to a more normal posting schedule

    Hey folks,

    I just published a pretty huge chapter in my favorite story, The World is Filled with Monsters. I have a good plan for the rest of the current act, and the rest of the story to follow.

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    27 comments · 607 views
Jan
16th
2022

Against Literalism · 7:01pm January 16th

“I think I see it,” Rainbow Dash whispered. She squeezed as low to the rocks as she could and crawled forward over the tumbled-down ruins of the jungle temple. “It’s just up ahead, in the nave.”

“Okay, move slowly. There may be traps.” Twilight Sparkle’s voice sounded in her ear, emanating from an ingenious crystal device no larger than one of Dash’s earrings, which she didn’t own and wouldn’t be caught dead wearing. “The legends say it was kept beneath the high altar. Look for, like, a cubby hole. Something a foal could fit inside.”

“Got it.” She let out a long, slow breath. “Moving forward. Have the extraction team ready.”

Rainbow crept forward an inch at a time, her ears straining for any hint of Don Coyote’s thugs. She’d barely eluded them in the jungle, ducking into that muddy stream to hide her tracks, but she knew it wouldn’t be long before they found her. She was in no condition to fight them again, not with her wing sprained so badly. 

And, of course, each step could trigger a rockfall or shower of darts or open into a pit of alligators. She swallowed, wiped the sweat from her forehead, and edged toward the altar.

“There’s a hole here.” She fumbled for her flashlight and shined it into the recess in the stone altar. There, beneath a sediment of rotting leaves and spiderwebs and dusty memories, the Wondrous Lanthorn of Lith lay waiting. She sucked in a breath as the light reflected off its glorious nacre shell.

Something stirred in the darkness. A dry rasp like the caress of ancient paper. Coiled around the lanthorn was a small snake, onyx all over, dappled in ruby scales that formed oddly geometric patterns. It stared at her with crimson eyes and hissed.

She froze. The snake froze. Off in the distance, in the courtyard of the temple, she thought she heard hoofsteps on stone.

“Hey, uh…” She swallowed. “Small black snake, about the length of my leg. Red triangles all over. Apparently likes secluded alcoves.”

There was a pause before Twilight responded. “Does it have little pits between its eyes and its nostrils?”

Dash squinted. She didn’t really know what a snake’s nostrils looked like, but assuming they were like a pony’s… “Yeah, I think so.”

“Sounds like a Pythagorean Autumn Adder,” Twilight said.

“Is it poisonous?”

“Oh, no, of course not.”

Great. Dash squeezed herself into the alcove, scraping away the rotting leaves around the Lanthorn. The adder hissed at her again, and she gently reached toward it with her hoof. The snake’s tongue flicked out, and it slowly coiled its way up her leg.

“That’s it, nice and easy,” she said to the snake. “Just gonna move this little treasure out of your way and then I’ll be gone—”

“It is, however, incredibly venomous,” Twilight said. “Like, each one of its bites has enough toxin to kill ten ponies. Be very careful around them. In fact, if you see one, you should probably just stay as far away as possible so that you don’t intrude on its nest.”

* * *

“How much time is left?!” Starlight Glimmer shouted. She panted for breath and tossed her head to sweep her sweat-drenched mane out of her eyes.

“Fifteen seconds!” Twilight shouted back. Several books floated in the air before her, all trembling in time with the cataclysmic shocks wracking the volcano around them. A roiling wave of superheated air blasted through the thin stone chimney where they sheltered, scorching the tips of her coat black.

Starlight coughed. She squeezed her eyes as tightly shut as she could until the heat passed, and then she turned to the twisting stone cube held in her hooves. An evil blue light radiated out of the thin lines inscribed all around Rexacion’s Reticulated Rebus, as though the malevolent force inside was beginning to make its escape. She clenched it tight with her hooves and whispered a quick, desperate prayer to Celestia.

Fifteen seconds. Plenty of time. She coughed as a stray ember got in her throat. “The cladding plate is secure. Next move?”

Twilight flipped a page. “Top third, rotate counterclockwise one-hundred and eighty degrees!”

Starlight twisted the Rebus as directed. A hideous, inequine voice screamed in her mind as the monster’s prison grew tighter. “It’s working!”

And not a moment too soon. Baleful orange light spilled into their little tunnel as the magma began to rise up the volcano’s throat. They stumbled away from the searing heat toward a tiny obsidian cubby, barely large enough for the two of them to fit.

“Okay, last move.” Starlight turned the Rebus, revealing a tiny keyhole on the bottom. She reached in with her magic, feeling for the little emerald inside. “The lexicon says to pull the gem out, right?”

“Right!”

Perfect. Starlight grit her teeth, wrapped her magical field around the keystone emerald, and yanked with all her might. The Rebus shrieked in protest as the lock plate tore free and the gem emerged in a shower of actinic sparks. 

For a moment, all was still. The monstrous voice screaming in Starlight’s mind went silent. The earth stopped shaking. The volcano held its breath…

…and just as quickly, it all resumed. A terrible roar filled the volcano as the magma shot upward. Starlight stumbled, nearly dropping the Rebus, which began to glow like a star, its light doubling and redoubling every second. A howl of triumph sounded in her mind, and the world seemed to twist around the tiny stone cube, reality itself contracting to an infinitely small point that broke apart with a quiet pop, leaving nothing behind.

“It is true that the lexicon says that,” Twilight continued. The books fell in a shower beside her as she lost her magical grip amid the roar of the wakening volcano. “But most scholars agree it was a mistranslation by Aristrottle, and that he meant to say you should toss the Rebus, with the gem inside, into the lava.”

* * *

“Now, I think we can all agree that the law has both a spirit and a letter, and wise ponies must be attendant to both,” Mayor Mare said. “And the spirit, in this case, is the spirit of Democracy, which is that each pony has their voice and their vote, and nothing should be done which prejudices the power of that franchise.”

The crowd murmured its approval. A few ponies clapped. The mayor waited for the town hall to settle before continuing.

“Now, I have nothing against my opponent personally—” here she gestured across the stage, where a cowled and robed stallion crowned in a wreath of indigo flames stood at the opposite podium, “—but elections must be for the living, by the living! So I respectfully ask in the interest of fairness that the princess consider invalidating the votes of deceased ponies, regardless of which candidate they voted for. After that we will let the cards fall where they may.”

The crowd clapped politely again. Twilight Sparkle turned to the stallion. “Silent Sign, your response?”

“Thank you, princess,” the stallion’s voice emanated from the darkness beneath his hood. It was the sound of glaciers grinding mountains into gravel. “And my thanks to the honorable mayor for articulating her position so clearly. My rebuttal rests on incontrovertible facts: the many ponies who voted for me are citizens of this town, and entitled to their votes; that I am a citizen in good standing of Ponyville, and entitled to run for the office of mayor; and that I have scrupulously obeyed all the rules and regulations regarding elections in Ponyville. I am confident that when a full counting of the votes is complete, I will be judged the winner.”

“The ponies who voted for you were dead,” Mayor Mare said. “You raised the entire Ponyville cemetery and marched them into the voting booth!”

The crowd mumbled angrily. A few ponies shouted up at the stage, and Twilight Sparkle banged her gavel until silence returned.

“All of those citizens were still entitled to vote, having not been removed from the voter rolls,” Silent Sign said. “Preventing them from voting simply because they are dead is discriminatory.”

Applejack stood from the front row. “You raised my maw and paw from the dead, and then used yer evil magic to make 'em vote for you! Mah parents would never willingly vote for a unicorn!”

“I did not compel anypony to vote one way or another, and everypony voted inside a booth in complete confidentiality,” Silent Sign said. “There was no quid pro quo involved. The dead who voted for me were simply grateful for my services in resurrecting them, and they felt that, as a necromancer, I would best represent them as Ponyville’s next mayor.”

The other half of the crowd clapped politely. Dozens of zombies, ghouls and skeletons crowded into the Town Hall alongside their living neighbors. Many wore hats or shirts embroidered with Silent Sign’s campaign logo. Applejack’s parents looked away from their daughter and shook their heads.

Twilight Sparkle flipped through a book of town ordinances open on the table before her. The crowd held its breath – well, some of them did. The rest had no breath to hold.

“According to Ponyville Town Code 14.2, section B, dead ponies may not vote in local elections,” Twilight said. “However, the law is silent on the matter of undead ponies voting. While I believe this omission allows for my discretion, I would prefer to err on the side of allowing as many ponies to vote as possible, rather than risk disenfranchising even one pony. Therefore, the vote counting will go forward.” She rapped the gavel on the table, bringing the proceedings to a close.

* * *

Silent Sign turned out to be a very effective, popular mayor and was reelected by a comfortable margin four years later.

Comments ( 18 )

This was a more literal case of literalism than I expected.

The undead eyes of Prinbow Hash and Starliglimmerlight burned jugdementally against an imperturbed Purple Smart.

"Okay," she said. "I admit, it takes me a minute to catch up to a situation. My mind latches onto the first association too strongly, and under pressure all the more strongly, until it works through the relevant thoughts. What happened to you as a consequence of my words is inexcusable, and I'm very sorry. But, just so we're clear and fair, you both did ask the wrong questions."

Silent Sign turned out to be a very effective, popular mayor

I wonder if he passed a bill to require the registration and regulation of the sale and transfer of all "assault sporks" in Ponyville.

5627999
Ah, yes. "Listen, I know the mess we're in is a direct result of the actions that I took, and I know that I knew what the result was likely to be if I took those actions, and I know that I could have avoided taking those actions with the knowledge I had at the time and that they weren't my only or even my best options, but this is still your fault."

5628005

Even Twilight Sparkle agreed with this, though she did note that you "can't murder a skeleton."

5628011
Rule number one of children's cartoons: the characters are allowed to teach, but they aren't allowed to learn. (Aesop Amnesia, if you're willing to brave TvTropes)

“Is it poisonous?”

“Oh, no, of course not.”

Great. Dash squeezed herself into the alcove, scraping away the rotting leaves around the Lanthorn. The adder hissed at her again, and she gently reached toward it with her hoof. The snake’s tongue flicked out, and it slowly coiled its way up her leg.

“That’s it, nice and easy,” she said to the snake. “Just gonna move this little treasure out of your way and then I’ll be gone—”

“It is, however, incredibly venomous,” Twilight said.

Twilight, you literal idiot...you just killed Rainbow Dash...

5628059

I mean, isn't that Rainbow Dash's fault, for asking the wrong question?

Silent Sign turned out to be a very effective, popular mayor and was reelected by a comfortable margin four years later.

That last line... Nothing ominous about it. Nothing ominous about it at all!
:twilightblush:

I'm not sure if that last one actually counts as being against literalism or not. But it was funny. :D

So, are you against fiction about literalism, or are you against literalism in general?

5628131

I mean, I'm fine with it. But Rainbow Dash might not be.

5628145
Fair enough. Depending on the venom, even if she is against literalism, she may not be for very long...

5628147
Sometimes, the easiest way to fix complaints is just to get rid of everyone who's unhappy.

5628156 A lateral step from "The beatings will continue until morale improves!"

5628232
Lateral? No, it's just increasing the intensity until it actually works. (And undead pirates are enough of a trope that you can probably get away with it)

5627999

"...and I think it would be appropriate if you both apologized."

5628846
I was not prepared to take it that far, and was naturally unprepared for it being taken that far. I erupted with laughter.

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