• Member Since 4th May, 2013
  • offline last seen 10 minutes ago

Estee


On the Sliding Scale Of Idealism Vs. Cynicism, I like to think of myself as being idyllically cynical. (Patreon page.)


T

For a thousand years, there was just Celestia. Then Cadance appeared, Luna returned -- and now Twilight has ascended. There are ponies who are very curious about just what happened, why -- and how. Especially the how. Twilight herself is on that list, a freshly-minted princess with far more questions than answers, about to face a brand new one: what truly makes an alicorn?

And what happens if it goes wrong?

(Part of the Triptych Continuum, which has its own TVTropes page and FIMFiction group. New members and trope edits welcome.)

Now with author Patreon page.

Cover art by GroaningGreyAgony.

Chapters (36)
Comments ( 998 )

This was an excellent story. You had a well thought out universe, few errors, a very enjoyable writing style, good characterisation, and an intriguing plot. 9/10.

I concur that this is very well written. I gave you a favorite and recommended this story on a forum or two. So hopefully you'll get some more likes soon.

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...we have forums?

Plural?

Thank you for trying. I'll take every reader I can get: after all, the final total of two thousand thumbs down has to come from somewhere.

After sitting down and plowing through this fic in one sitting, I am left with mostly two urges: first to stand up and applaud you for an excellent piece of writing, and to be bewildered as to why this hasn't garnered considerably more attention. A most entertaining piece indeed - your writing is crisp and pleasant to read, you do a very good job at bringing situations to life with plenty of description that never gets boring because of the sharp wit employed when describing anything, and the humor is great - you have managed to get me laughing more than once or twice through this, and that's no easy feat. I guess this fic hits just my sweet spot for snarky sarcasm.

And aside from the general quality of the writing, the plot has me intrigued as well - what exactly is the deal with the incomplete Alicorn? What are Delivery and Presence's plans involving her? Aside from the obvious of completing her ascension, but if it was just that, they might as well take her to the princesses - she is obviously an experiment of some kind, but to what end? And how does Discord play in to all of this? Obviously the Chaos incarnate is out for some sort of revenge ... originally I thought he was banking on one of the element bearers not coming back form the alicorn hunt, but that can't be it - considering he apparently can teleport any of them anywhere and at any time, simply getting rid of one the old fashioned way would have been ridiculously easy, no need to bother with this whole task. So ... what does he really stand to gain from this, this being part of his grand plan?

And then there is the whole Ravine issue that has Pinkie and Applejack at odds with each other. What was that about, precisely? Why does AJ seem borderline hostile at the mere mention of bringing it up with Twilight? (She's a unicorn? really? That's pretty low of her). And then there is Fluttershy's gem ... I wonder who that will end up being used on. The unknown Alicorn? Discord himself? Or the good doctor who is all but swimming in ulterior motives beneath the surface? And then there is Twilight's flight issue over which she unwittingly keeps alienating herself from Dash which is bound to blow up at some point ...

Yeah, you definitely have my attention, and I can't wait to see how things develop from here. (And hoping that Twilight does something useful for once ... amusingly enough, Rarity has displayed more aptitude for ... well, everything thus far, instead of our magical alicorn princess).

Estee #5 · Jun 5th, 2013 · · · Hue ·

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It just occurred to me that I'd have about double my current number of page views if I'd made my short summary into something like 'Discord has a mission'. Hmph. Typical. Scene-stealing draconequus... :facehoof:

Okay... this is one of those cases where there's only so much I can say, and most of that centers around 'We'll get there -- I hope'. As for why this hasn't gotten attention -- I just got here, no one knows me, my style isn't for everyone, I had the bad luck to show up during what's probably a Princess Twilight overload, my front page summary is pretty weak, and plus I'm not entirely sure this isn't going to end up svcking.

About the only issue I can tackle here is that at some point, I do intend to visit the idea of why Twilight hasn't been grabbing the action spotlight. It does tie in to a few things, and -- again, it's something where we'll hopefully get there. There's some distance left to cover.

Thanks for hanging on so far. I'll do my best to keep going.

Skydrake #6 · Jun 6th, 2013 · · 1 · Hue ·

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Thank me for hanging on? I should be thanking you for taking the time to write this and the great entertainment it provides. As for the story's summary, you could always update it if you think the current one doesn't do it justice, no? I admit it might benefit from a little more flair - something more to hook the readers with promise of adventure beyond that final line, or expansion on it. If I am to be honest, it wasn't the description that lured me in - it was the length. I like long stories that take the time to flesh out their universe and premise, so when I look for something to read I always sort by length within whatever category has tickled my fancy and go down from there. And now I'm very glad to be here.

As for the latest chapter, this was both equally entertaining and intriguing. The bar portion was fun to read and managed to coax more than one snicker from me - especially the Twilight and Rarity parts, I can totally imagine Twilight turning any potential pickup lines in to a scientific breakdown of the subject as her natural response, and Rarity shooting down half-hearted attempts with whip-lash precision and no mercy whatsoever.

Though why do I get the feeling that Twilight's would-be romance life is going to leave her with a pretty sour experience, now that we found out she actually is interested, provided an actually decent candidate pops up - and with her sort-of having her eye on Presence, and the later pretty explicitly confirming his willingness to use such a connection were it to form in the previous chapter ... yeah, Twilight's first crush, if it can be called that at this point, isn't going to work out for worse reasons than Presence being married. Though I really wonder how Presence and Delivery plan on getting out of the mess in the end - cause enough trouble to Twilight and co, and they will have two very angry princesses breathing down their necks when they inevitably catch wind of it (and not like the two know that Twilight wouldn't inform them of any strange developments on a moment's notice).

And speaking of their plans, that was a pretty powerful portrayal of the unfinished Alicorn - the way you described her twisted form really did bring about that sensation of wrongness about her, and considering the apparently constant pain and metamorphosis she is under, it's no wonder she was described as being in anguish. I wonder if Discord almost feels some kinship with her, due to her unpredictable and shifting nature, heh. I'm most intrigued to see where her conversation with Twilight is going to go.

Speaking of which, Twilight managed to be completely unimpressive (and incompetent) once again. If there is one gripe I have with the story at the moment, it is this - that Twilight, student of Princess Celestia herself, element of magic and possibly the strongest unicorn ever even before becoming and Alicorn (Celestia's words to Twilight after she hatched the baby egg was that she has never seen a unicorn with more raw potential) so far has been absolutely inept at accomplishing anything with her magic. It's not even about her kicking flank and taking names, she simply comes across as a bumbling foal that doesn't have a clue, as the other extreme end of the spectrum. You said there was a reason for this so I'm going to hold out on it for now, but I must admit it's getting kinda aggravating.

Regarding Twilight's flight issues and her being worried about crashing - she can use Telekinesis to catch herself and hold herself in place mid-air, so that shouldn't be too much of a concern. She did this during the Crystal Emprire episodes - whens he was plummeting to the ground from high up at one point, she simply caught herself in her field a little above ground, refocused and simply teleported down afterwards. So she does have a safety-net to use, if she feels so inclined. Or reverse gravity as she did while running "up" on the underside of the staircase while running up the crystal tower.

Standard disclaimer: I'm not a writer, yet. If I was I'd already have tons of stories posted here. Since I'm not a professional you must be careful with this advise, I might mislead, though unintentionally. It's all more of an attempt by a helpful reader. Above all else if this discourages you then the problem is on my end, not yours. Keep writing.

The em dashes we covered - elsewhere. I would write this as "... not eat ponies - immediately." or "... ponies. Immediately."

"Even in their strongest days,"

Change to:

"In their strongest days,"

"(Diamond Dogs ..."

I would drop the parenthesis & just make it the start of a normal paragraph.

"... representing a time period slightly shorter than forever which the suffering canine must still endure."

A very nice way of illustrating their callousness and self-centeredness.

"But these Diamond Dogs -- there were five of them, outcast from the mines together for an act of theft which had seemed more brilliant than the targeted gems for the hour they had planned through --"

Hm ... what do I do with this? This one seems awkward & confusing to me. Let's try ...

"But these Diamond Dogs, five of them, outcasts from the mines for an act of theft, an attempt more superficial than brilliant, targeting gems for the hour they had planned through -"

"They were hungry: they had ..."

"They are hungry; they had ..."

Also, consider something like this:

"All hungry, being away from ..."

Some advise pounded into me is that parentheses are evil, they break reader immersion. So:

"... immense duration, eight days,"

Another thing I have trouble with, breaking out of passive voice and tenses.

"None of the local creatures were within their catching lore, and there were few ..."

"None of the local creatures are within their catching lore, and there are few ..."

"They hated this thing called weather, hated even more the parts named rain and wind -- especially the later, forever stealing scents and misleading them."

I also like how you did their point of view here, hammering down their subterranean lifestyle. However I suggest here you start a new paragraph and drop the following parenthesis.

"and those with neither wings nor horns"

By the way they frightfully react to this image in the following I think you have it turned around. An image of alicorns, yes? It's Earth ponies they want. Thus:

"and those with both wings and horns"

I'm going to wrap this my critique here, that's a lot to cover. In short, go easier on parenthesis, study the misuse of passive voice and tense, and reconsider the use of em dash. And keep writing.

With mustache twirling cackling I want to read what they do with Mademoiselle Pegasi, rather than analyze. And that's a good thing!

( Later edit.)
AHA! I see now you are going for a disjointed effect, which explains this some. I should have continued reading this chapter in full before commenting. Anyway, I'm a sucker for awkward flight Twilight, nicely done.
I think you have Pinkie's characterization down, also well done.

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"and those with neither wings nor horns"

By the way they frightfully react to this image in the following I think you have it turned around. An image of alicorns, yes? It's Earth ponies they want. Thus:

"and those with both wings and horns"

No, this is a reference to earth ponies.

A very interesting story, well written, nicely done.

.....:pinkiegasp:



Also,

And all the crises had to be pushed aside to make room for a new one...

Crisis. Not crises.

2564002 ALL the love! :pinkiehappy:

2690341

Crisis. Not crises.

Believe it or not, that's actually the plural for 'crisis'. One of those words which doesn't always look quite right even when it is.

2683670

From my reading here's some dots you might want to connect regarding Twilight's poor showings so far.

Spoiler:



Twilight was able to fly on the day of the Coronation but hasn't been able to since. She seems to have manifested no Earth Pony traits whatsoever. Her unicorn magic seems no stronger than before and is if anything a little weaker. Discord's flashback monologue had him feel violated as if part of his essence was raped or stolen. The incomplete alicorn's coat is tan but when she manifests horn or wings they're purple.

Yes, I'm seeing the style here, and I think I see the method to it now. It's working for me.

:rainbowkiss: D'AAAAAAAW!

You know how to write Discord too. Wow.

18 likes... :fluttercry:

2677810 Its names that catch my attention, and the first chapter makes the decision on whether I stay or not.
This didn't just pull me in, I ran galloped after it. :yay:

2690503

Huh.

To the dictionary! :twilightsheepish:

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"They are hungry: they had ..."
"They are hungry; they have ..." :facehoof:

2690548

It's mainly her mentality I take issue with, not "power level" per se - it's like she has forgotten her own abilities and spells and reacts with all the finesse and wit of a stumbling foal, rather than someone who has been routinely solving problems with magic all her life as the go-to option.

From the very start, it feels like Twilight is lacking the competence she displays in the show. During the fight with those vicious goats, all she should have done is levitate them in the air, and that would have been that. No running around and brawling and teleporting in to falling trees needed - just lift them up and figure where to go from there. Way back in season 1 she already could levitate an Ursa (which is the size of a house) and a water tower (amidst milking several cows and filling the tower with said mild), over a distance of who knows how many miles to insert him back in to his cave - simply catching a few goats in her TK field should have been nothing.

She could also use her spells to help with her flight - she has shown to be capable of reversing gravity, and using her own TK on herself to self-levitate ... why not use those to stabilize her flight as impromptu training wheels to help herself become naturally more balanced in flight? At the very least, she should have no reason to be afraid of falling from on high like she was one chapter ago - she can always catch herself with TK, like she did in the show proper.

then we have the mysterious Alicorn catching her in that whirlwind, and she fails to do anything about it - in this case, it's not so much as trying to do something and failing, as failing to even try anything at all in the first place. It's like Twilight has lost all her natural craftiness and ability to think quickly on her hooves when it comes to spell-craft, and instead has become rather dim-witted, slow and can't even apply what she has previous been shown doing in-show.

2701466

There's either a method to the madness or, if I mess it up at the end, a madness to what should have been a method. We'll get there. (Again: I hope.) And I can't promise a gallop to the answer.

Until then, the War Room has a six-fight limit: beyond that, numbers must be taken. Oh, and don't push the button on the right. The coffee's horrible.

In the meantime, we have draft cover art! Courtesy of GroaningGreyAgony, here's a concept piece of a certain OC. This may be altered or refined as we move along (as it's potentially a piece in progress), but for now -- someone was inspired enough to sketch and up it goes. I'm flattered. Also lightly stunned.

(In the unlikely event that multiple people head for their pads, I'll cycle received images.)

holy bucking crap, that's long...
well, read it later list it goes... :twilightsmile:

AAAAWWWWWWW YEEEEAAAAH

Huh, interesting manner and approach. But very fun update.

Heavy. Its okay Twilight you have friends to help you cope with the pressure.

I just d'aaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwww'd so hard... :pinkiehappy:

A very nice end, and the aspect of change.

Yay, cover art.

The more this story goes on, the more I find myself transfixed with your portrayal of Twilight and how she is dealing (or failing to) with all the consequences of her Alicornization. And while reluctant Alicorn Twilight stories might be around a plenty, your work has a certain depth and attention to detail that few manage to achieve - your crisp and witty style of writing requires the reader to pay attention to get the most out of it (I'd venture a guess to this playing a part in it getting so undeservedly little attention), but is it ever rewarding. I get the feeling I could read you writing about Twilight and all her newfound issues for days on end without getting bored - I dare say that her Alicorn Issues have me interested even more than the main plot with Discord and Malicorn, which is saying something as I find those to be plenty interesting.

And using the freshly minted mother all bug begging for Twilight to bless her foal was a very effective way to rattle Twilight with the realization she is going to be all but worshiped, especially as time goes on, and not necessarily because of anything she has done - but just because she is. To have one's hopes and dreams pinned on her ... heh, nothing like walking a mile in Celestia's and Luna's shoes to realize what sleep-deprived Luna meant with her comments during the coronation party.

And the issue with Applejack/Pinkie, and what appears to be the Earth pony version of their specific "sense", and what has AJ's tail in a knot about Twilight learning all about it - you had me hooked on this plot point before, and all this teasing and skirting around the issue has certainly grown my appetite for it as well - I can't wait for the reveals surrounding the Effect to come, because from the looks and feel of it, you are building up to something fairly big here (Diamond Dogs being more afraid of Earth ponies than even Unicorns, eh). And much like with Twilight's flight issue, one can't help but wonder if it all would have been so much better if honesty on the issue might have been the better route from the start - after all, with Twilight being an Alicorn, it should only be a matter of time before she develops those extra senses on her own, who knows to what conclusions.

All in all, there are plenty things I am looking towards right now - more of Twilight's changing social life (I have a feeling soon enough she won't be worried about the possibility of having a foal of her own down the road, but actually finding someone to have a foal with - that Princess title is going to turn her potential romantic endeavors in to a complete mess, unless she gets lucky), Gentle's and Quiet's schemes, Discord's schemes, the upcoming conversation with the Malicorn and the much-promised flank-kicking Coordinator is going to receive at the hooves of Twilight (probably isn't the best time to be ticking the freshly minted Alicorn off, heh ... I'm sure she is going to make Luna proud). All in all, whatever the next chapter brings I am going to be happy, and be left wanting for more all the same.

Things certainly seem to be winding up all-around, and one of them is my growing dislike for Applejack. Irregardless of what the truth surrounding the effect is, that she would label Pinky a race-traitor for wanting to share it with Twilight ... that she would even entertain the faintest thoughts of the most final of measures to stop it ... wow. Just ... wow. I hope this comes back to bite her in the flank, hard. Old traditions don't deserve respect merely for being old; the fact that Applejack feels so strongly about this, for the reasons she does, in the face of her friends who would go to Tartarus and back for her ... disgusting, truly disgusting. Now I almost want for the alicorn to arrive in Earth pony form and do something with horrible consequences with the help of her alicorn-powered Effect, forcing Applejack to see some very real consequences that she could have prevented by being less of a foal. Blergh. (Of course, you deserve some praise for writing a story enthralling enough to make me feel so strongly about this).

Rainbow's lecture was quite interesting as well - I always enjoy when an author takes the time to flesh out their universe and doesn't shy away from world-building, and that was some great insight in the workings of Pegasi and what they can accomplish. The local Pegasi also get points for not holding back - and interesting (and probably intentional) contrast to AJ - things were laid down as they were, not shying back from how ugly things can ultimately become with Pegasi magic used to its fullest. I'm certainly looking towards Twilight attempting to come in touch with her newfound Pegasus side.

And Quiet seems to be developing some actual feelings for Twilight, heh, and from the sounds of it his current wife is an arranged affair. Makes me wonder if this will ultimately end up throwing a wrench in his and the doctor's plans ... though if I read the line about "first friend" (whom I assume is the doctor) correctly, it sounds like whatever they are scheming regarding the Great Work is liable to end badly for themselves (or at least the doctor), rather than Twilight.

And still can't wait for Coordinator to try something and get his horn handed to him by Twi *rubs hands*.

Okay, this is an immensely interesting start!
Loved the sheer dimwitted otherness of the Diamond Dogs, the characterization and interplay of Pinkie and Twilight, and the idea that questions about alicorns are questions that are not asked.

I think this is the best-written Discord I've seen.

Action, worldbuilding, emotion... this keeps on being a great read. Poor unnamed not-quite-alicorn!

Damnit. You make Gentle Arrival and Quiet Presence so nice and friendly and, in the case of the good doctor at least, genuinely good ponies... and yet, they're fairly clearly behind the tortured near-alicorn mare. Oh, the potential for melodrama! :raritydespair:

I see you've read sun_tzu's pony recaps.
All hail Rarity, Tyrant of the Underdark! :duck:

>a small stipend with associated tax break from the Weather Bureau that she'd never quite explained in detail

...not, by any chance, due to being registered as a fog specialist? :)

2760450
Guilty as charged...
2760727
...twice. There are a few small salutes and references to other stories and such scattered about, and those are two of them. The Bureau reference just fell into place while that section was being written (although that story and its world are not part of this one and she's not necessarily a fog specialist here), while the TOTU bit was something which was just waiting to reach that particular scene (and wave hello to Sun_Tzu for me? I go to RPG.net for him and him alone). I was wondering if either one (and others) would be spotted... but given the size of the audience for most of this, all the odds have been low. It's good to see two flashlights lighting up those corners.

On an odd note, there seems to have been a temporary error (part of today, tops) on Chapter 4 which took out part of the text on at least one reader's screen, wiping several paragraphs from the end of the chapter. Don't ask me how that happened... Anyway, as a precaution, I restored it from the original file -- so it's back to being as readable as it was before. (Whatever that level was.) So if any of the two or so people who came over from the CDA felt there was a gap, feel free to go back and try again or re-download: the bridge has been fixed.

Ah. Things begin to become clearer. Our agonized lurker is someone who's attempted ascension, but something's gone wrong. From the flashbacks, it doesn't appear to be Trixie... it's not Sunset Shimmer, is it?

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In general, I've been staying out of the speculation on this story so that people can guess at and deduce what might be going on without any interference from me. But in this case, I do feel compelled to say something, and that something is 'Oh dear sweet pony gawds no.'

Hope that helped.

2652062 Just gotten to this point in the fic myself, and my guess about the ravine is that earth ponies are keeping a secret along the lines of them having geomancer abilities. It's why Pinkie's family were rock farmers, why young Pinkie was set the daily task of talking to rocks, and why Applejack (a traditionalist) doesn't want Pinkie (who has minimal ability) revealing the secret to Twilight. The ravine isn't natural - it was created by earth ponies asking the ground to tear itself apart, or fighting a battle, or otherwise discharging an enormous amount of power (possibly creating the deathstone in the process).

As to Discord's interest - the author's established that chaos is heavily related to constant change, and even cycling (possibly more in the strange attractor sense than a truly fixed cycle). So far, we've seen that element represented in both the deathstone and the failed-ascension not-quite-alicorn, who seems to be shifting between the three main pony types and three different color scheme variants every few hours. Discord may be quite correct about that character being relevant to Equestria's future, particularly given the status afforded to alicorns. Not to mention that the events leading up to her failed ascension will be something Twilight will want to know as much as possible to fill in her own gaps regarding how alicorns come about. On that front, too, Celestia and Luna may have initial reactions which clash badly with Twilight's desire for knowledge, seeing as how it could be bad to let rumors start that alicorns are something anypony could cook up in a test tube.

On to the next chapter!

2761707

Something along the lines of geomancer abilities is the likely answer indeed (which would be why Diamond Dogs fear Earth ponies the most in their underground tunnels), and it will be interesting to learn how that Ravine came about, specifically.

On Applejack though, she gets no respect from me here. Not to mince words, she is acting like a zealous racist in how she approaches the issue (emphasis on zealous, considering to what lengths her thoughts went as of late when considering how to stop Pinkie), and her holding race above the trust, bonds and friendship that has (or not, in her case) developed between the group ... that's just low on her part. Seems like Earth Ponies learned the least of all from the events of Hearth Warming Eve and Wendigos, heh.

I'm quite hoping this comes back to bite her in the rear, because she is in a severe need of attitude adjustment and re-examining of her priorities. Because if she refuses to trust her friends (even Alicorn Twilight) on the simple account that they aren't Earth Ponies, case closed, then I see little good that can be said about her. I wonder how Rainbow would react to that kind of sentiment ...

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Thankee: edited to fix in both chapters 2 and 15. *sigh* I'm going to be making 'last corrections' for weeks to come in the best-case scenario, aren't I?

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