• Member Since 18th Mar, 2012
  • offline last seen March 24th

Inquisitor M


Why 'Inquisitor'? Because 'Forty two': the most important lesson I ever learned. Any answer is worthless until you have the right question. Author, editor, critic, but foremost, a philosopher.

T

Words can bring joy. Words can bring pain. Words can bring knowledge.
In the hands of the right pony, they can bring all of these things at once.
In the lands outside the fledgeling Equestria, one such pony has tracked a newfound fable back to its source, and she has a few choice words of her own prepared, because words... words have power.

WARNING: Comments may contain spoilers.

Dramatic reading by AShadowOfCygnus.
Also read by DRWolf
Cover art by CyanAeolin.
Edited by Pascoite.
Additional help from Chris, AugieDog, and NorsePony.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 49 )

So glad:

To see this in final form!

Mike

4038314

What he said. I know I told you this when you were still working on it, but this is my favorite of your stories to date--good show!

4038314 4039744 Now I just have to get it noticed...

Holy shit. That was intense. You may not put out much here but everything you do is pure gold.

4046038 Focus, discipline, a good diet, and regular exercise. None of these sound remotely like me, so it's a mystery how I do it.

(Thank you!)

P.S. Let's hope Seattle's Angels or The Royal Canterlot Library agree, yes?

4046566
They bloody well should. Keep up the good work! :twilightsmile:

It builds up too slowly and unevenly for my tastes, but I have to admit, once you finally hit the twist, this thing ignites. There are some nice touches along the way, too, like the blade so perfect it cut the master smith from the world, and the stealth poetry. (It seems a little odd against canon, given that it felt awfully Zebraic and that seems like cross-cultural contamination, but you've got a good touch with the cadence of the lines.)

I'm awfully curious, given that this is a story about brightly colored pastel ponies, and explicitly about the power of words: how come you chose the word "boy" in the title (and the story itself) rather than "colt"? Similarly, what was behind your decision to label the main character a shaman (a profession associated with spirit work and healing) rather than, say, a bard, which historically has referred (though not exclusively) to an itinerant poet, and thus would be more likely to wander from town to town trading tales? I understand that the herbal work is key to the plot, but shaman doesn't fit that bill for me either, unless you're using it in a different way than the Earth term and didn't sufficiently exposit the change in context.

4077300 The reasoning isn't explicitly necessary for the story, but you'd be right if you'd assumed that I had made a very conscious choice about wording.

For starters, I have never felt bound by the 'must have pony words' mantra that seems to underlie much of the pony world—I even had to resist some comments regarding it during editing and make the choice to stick to the plan. The main six (and CMCs, if I recall correctly) use 'girls' all the time, but it's really Applejack that sealed it for me right back in episode three when she said 'Ain't that just like a boy'. These words are common parlance in Equestria, so, people's expectations aside, I felt no need to either avoid 'boy' of actively use 'colt'.

Secondly, I really wanted the fable around which this story revolves to be ripped straight out of Aesop's classic so that it was as relevant to the real world as the pony one. Perhaps that's a little arrogant or grandiose of me, but I've never been shy about aiming high when it comes to these things.

Lastly: The boy's father can't bring himself to think of his half-breed son as a pony, so he was never called colt, only boy. When the story surfaces to distract from the truth of what happened, the name just sort of stuck. It would have made more sense to change it, of course, but people harbouring that much shame and bigotry don't tend to think with that much clarity. So in this case, it takes on the role of being a sort of slur: 'You're not a real pony'. Like so much of the fine details, the hints are there for those who take an interest. In the same way, the shaman says 'father to son' when taking about passing down stories, where the average reader would expect 'mother to daughter' in Equestria; at the end of the story, any reader has a chance of spotting the repetition from earlier and realising exactly how meticulously planned the whole thing was.

It doesn't really matter how many of these little details you pick up, they're just there for those that enjoy deconstruction. I like a story that is as interesting to re-read knowing the twist as it is first time around. Whether I have achieved that is not for me to say, but it is certainly a hope of mine.

Similarly, the shaman is exactly that: she isn't a wordsmith by trade, but the wife of one, and has a grudge the size of a small ocean, so her naming convention is not connected to her actions here. In fact, there is only one direct inference to her actual profession: "[Vendel] made this cloak and gifted it unto me as a reminder that the spirit of nature is not idealistic, merely pragmatic." Her shamanism comes from griffon culture, but again, none of that is directly necessary for the surface-level story, it's just a background framework that a reader can guess at if they want to. Having come from many years of tabletop roleplaying, this kind of background-construction is pretty much normal: only 10% of what you write will ever get noticed by the players. Specifically, I used a lot of my familiarity with Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Legend of the Five Rings to build my concept of shamanism, where all physical matter has some kind of spirit associated with it and the material and spirit worlds cross over in many ways.

I hope that answers your questions, and thank you for reading!

-Scott

Fantastic art. Now, is it all flash and no sizzle?

No. No, this is beyond utterly fantastic. Wow.

Never, ever, have I come across such a well written story that only works so well because it's a pony story. The rich history, the cutlures, the rhyming, you use it all as threads in a vast tapestry that hangs on a final twist, the loop that holds it aloft, bunting for all to see and proclaim what a fine weave it is.

Goddamn, now you have me all poetic just from being in contact with the damned thing.

Usually stories here are excellent, but if you humanized it you could sell it off as a book and call it a day; they share the show's characters, true, or the world, but they're fairly universal in application.

I suppose, off the top of my head, the other contender would be Contraptionology. That's it.

Utterly gobsmackingly good.

Sorry, I tried to send this message over 12 hours ago, but your story was the last thing that loaded before my ISP decided to leave me in the lurch.

4080627 Well, I won't pretend I haven't had a healthy dose of praise for my works, but this is positively gushing and I confess it has me a little off-kilter. Thank you :)

Wow

Just......wow

An interesting item, you have done. Not in the nature of the words, for while they are transitory, they hold to themselves. No, it is but what you paint with the meaning. And in the end, you leave naught with but a candle. A light, never flickering in the gale. It stands strong in the dark, unbent to wind or wick upon which it draws sustenance and life. Yet, the sorrow, does the guide the wick here, of something else to weave. And in that moment, that togetherness in binding, is guidance found for the threads ending, and those bound to the flame.

Tsk, the ponies simply weren't very good at propaganda.

See, a skilled politician would claim that this was an attack by griffon sympathizers who made up the entire story to kill off the clan head whose son they had already murdered years ago.

Even if that story that griffons spontaneously emerge from egrets' nests IS the truth, it sounds false to any who do not know the facts and are only familiar with birth. Such a truth is very simple to bury and replace with something more palatable to the public.

(evil smirk) A lie that feeds popular sentiment is, after all, often much more potent than the truth.

Congratulations! You're on Equestria Daily! :D And this story is amazing!

Very well crafted work. I enjoyed the cadence of the language and the way the tales played themselves out as much for their audience as us readers. You did a nice job of keeping a clear and focussed intent to the text, and it swept me right along through it. Beautiful, layered character work as well. It was a pleasure to read.

O.o Wow.
Beautifully well written and a nice twist on a classic tale.

4102018 Thank you! ...but is it elitist that getting on EqD is no longer any kind of achievement?

4102262 You know, I never really thought about it, but the way the story is framed—that of narrator and audience—probably contributed to how (relatively) easy it was to script first time through. Movements of Fire and Shadow was very intuitive, Bitter-Sweetie was a long haul of editing, but this is probably the first that feels like a healthy mix of the two. I'd certainly have to say that it's the one I'm most proud of after the fact.


4104044

O.o Wow.

There seems to be a lot of that going around. Thank you :)

*clap clap*

It is a shame that this story does not have more views or likes.

Great job. You know how to write.

Yay! 100th follower

4104468

getting on EqD is no longer any kind of achievement

It is if it gets past me. Don't sell yourself (or anyone else who gets on the blog) short.

4107573 Thank you. Turns out practice and study helps after all! Honestly though, I've found that editing for others was the single biggest boon to my own writing ability. Now I just need to learn how to write more popular stories...

4108595 To be clear—more for passers by than for you—I'm not arbitrarily knocking the blog. People's goals and values shift constantly, and having passed three stories in a row without strikes, two of which I didn't even get external editing on, leads me to a place where meeting those criteria isn't a healthy challenge anymore—it's a baseline. I'm not fond of false modesty, so when I put in the proper time and effort I expect to get past the pre-readers. I'd be disappointed not to, and I don't think it's unreasonable to hold myself to such a standard, but that doesn't diminish the value of others holding the same standard up as a goal to strive for.

To me, excellence means never being completely satisfied that you're good enough.


-Scott

I think this is yours:
i.imgur.com/6MrWqNZ.png

As is this:
img.pandawhale.com/75575-emporers-new-groove-upvote-gif-4g2k.gif

(And, just a thought: you might consider adding the OC character tag)

4109283

I think you do make popular stories. I have no idea why someone with your talent is not constantly on the feature bar.

I mean you make great stories. Cause stuff like this should be featured.

4077493
Quite a good read. This one felt very fleshed out.
And as you said, you tried to build out the backstory and world more than the average reader would/could notice.

That had a nice effect, but my problem with such stories is that I'm often left not knowing whether I'm reading into it correctly, or whether I'm just reading into things that aren't there.
I mean, I got the "Father to Son" thing. I really did think it was a bit weird that it was said like that, until I reached the end and saw how it fit in with part of the ending theme.

On the other hand, in your comments here, you said that the word "shaman" came from the griffon culture. I would have expected it to come from more the zebra culture. In fact, I kind of felt like the shaman could have been a zebra. Especially with lines like -
"One of these three hasn’t taken his eyes off her since she entered the room, and she produces a coy grin for the young pony daunted by neither her unusual appearance, nor her unusual appearance."
However, she later says that "We ponies pride ourselves on oral tradition," and considering that several members of this town are racist/xenophobic, it might be a bit strange for them to hear a zebra say "we ponies." But considering her husband, I could certainly see her saying something like that.
So in that point I'm not sure if I'm just seeing things that aren't there or not.

P.S. - I'm not sure if I know how to work spoiler tags correctly.
Edit - Yay, it worked!

P.P.S. - I re-read the poisoning scene, and didn't see the hints I would have expected to see. I mean, she clearly drank the top of the glass that she gave him before she gave it to him. I mean, the end of the story did say that - her real poison was words and his ruined reputation, but wouldn't there still be questions as to how she did it? And she payed for her drinks with the same powder she supposedly used to poison Old Rope. Wouldn't the barkeep panic and throw it out now? And she put some of the powder in her new drink. And she gave some to good 'ol Chisel. That would cause A LOT of confusion. Unless I'm misreading this and she's just claiming to have put ANOTHER strange substance into Old Rope's drink.

4110999 All perfectly valid points. MY official answer? Who knows?

But seriously, the world is full of scandals and revelations that explode beyond all reasonable proportions. People, on the whole, aren't well known for examining the facts of the case and making a rational judgement. Perhaps other ponies just needed the excuse to rally against the old git, or perhaps the truth opened a can of worms that no single detail could stop—it's all around you every day.

Perhaps you think I'm cynical in that, but I just think of it as being wise to the ways of the world.

P.S. It says pony in the blurb. It says pony in the opening. She refers to herself as a pony. She's a pony. Plus, who is to say that Zebras didn't get shamanism from the griffons too? After all, we only have one example of a zebra in the show, and we have no idea if she's even remotely normal for her race. Maybe she is an oddity among zebras—and outcast, even—and that's why she's near Ponyville. I prefer blowing those assumptions wide open to pandering to them unnecessarily, but I do appreciate that it will put the odd reader off.

4115541
Okay, I get your POV here.

Though with Zecora having a black voice actress, being all Shaman-like, and having African-inspired masks in her home, it's hard not to make the connection between Zecora's homeland and Africa. You're right in that it isn't explicitly stated, but at that point you really have to not read at all into implications or anything that isn't explicitly stated.
So you do seem a little strange still, to me. You like developing the plot/world far beyond what the reader sees, but also say "who knows?" when it comes to wondering what implications can be drawn or looking into other mysteries? Also, you like blowing apart assumptions about things that aren't explicitly stated.

Ah well. I'll just take the story for what it is, then. It was a good one. IMO, it especially did a terrific job of delivering that final theme powerfully. It really demonstrated its point so that that final paragraph had impact.

4115814 Heh. Read A Certain Point of View: Chaos and Disharmony and you'll have an idea of how my mind works!

My goal is rarely to state what is, but to invite people to think outside the box. More often than not, my stories push this agenda. I never believed that Luna's 'batponies' were anything more than halloween costumes, either—decidedly against a landslide of popular opinion. There are plenty of similar assumptions based on the show that I find laughable, especially where the princesses are concerned. It's not so much a choice as the natural instincts of a sceptic.

I really do appreciate the thought you've put into this :)

(and yes, I am strange in so very many ways...)

P.S. The 'who knows' thing is closely tied to Death of the Author. There are lots of things I fleshed out in my head so that thay all pointed, however vaguely, at the same world. There are plenty of other things that there is simply no intent for. I appreciate that you've said that you don't like everything about that method, but as a writer I write the sort of things that I would want to read, and having some of both is very much part of that.

Loved it, but one tiny issue:

What’s your name, shaman.”

Needs a question mark.

4165785 I can't help but laugh at how one of the few lines not tweaked in some way through the long revision process somehow escaped every pair of eyes that went over it until now.

Weird.

4167049 Isn't that just how life works sometimes, though?

4117445 Just saying, the creators of the show themselves think of the bat ponies as another species. It's not just popular opinion that makes everyone think that.

4194247 Not sure where that came from, but...

It was popular opinion long before the creators commented on it. Plus, I don't really care what the creators say, I still think it's an incredibly dull interpretation. Wheeling out one more 'special' thing where special things are common as muck holds no value to me. The idea that it was an an illusion for the event actually says something about characters—it actually adds context. That is interesting to me.

4195458 I'm aware, but at this point it may as well be canon. I'm not going to hold your opinion against you or anything, but one should have all the information and I wanted to make sure you did.

Impressive, worth the time to read

Cool Story, M.

Minimally, an interesting story worth rereading.

Actually though, deep, dense and dark and all rightfully so.

An interesting take on the classic. I do love the traditional, "Grimm's" style fairy tales though, with morals, and you did a good job of making this one even a bit deeper with the twists.

I do feel the framed nature of the story kept me out of full immersion though. The happenings in the inn kept feeling like "interruptions" and the number of characters around the fire was a bit hard to track given the short length, and how fast various attitudes kept shifting.

That said, still found it an enjoyable and thought-provoking read!

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

Whoa.

Damn, son, that was fantastic.

I listened to Dr. Wolf's reading, and he did a great job with it. This is precisely the kind of hard-hitting story I come here to find.

Keep up the good work!

This story reminds me of another variation on the old tale of 'the boy who cried wolf'. It was a horror story, about an old woman who comes to a town and goes to the inn and starts telling her story. As it turns out, the people of that town were all werewolf hunters, and the old woman was a werewolf den mother who had come to the town to seek revenge for her slain children. I can't recall the entire thing, but it culminated with her having poisoned all the people in the inn, infecting them with lycanthropy, and taking charge of them as replacements for her brood.

I'm curious if you've heard that version. If you have, then that would explain the inspiration for certain parts of this story.

6660298 Nope. Never heard of that. Whether original or not, I invented all of this without any external inspiration. It's one of the things that makes me so proud of this one.

6660814
Well, you know what they say about "nothing new under the sun" and all that. I'm certain that I've done the same thing without even knowing it. Anyway, I really did enjoy this story. There aren't enough well written stories on this site that try to take risks, and introduce new settings and characters. I'm surprised more people haven't read this.

6664105 Well then, you'll probably enjoy Pride and Every Mare Needs her Stallion for the same reasons.

And thank you :)

Holly Molly!

That twist!

And the change in perspective being capable of changing the lesson behind the tail.

So awesome!

Marvelous.

Loved it, no other way to describe how much I liked it, I love what you did here.

6660814 If I may ask, how did you conceive this story in that case. You just woke up one day and thought " hey, what if the tail about a boy crying wolf wasn't all that it's cracked to be" and so then you were inspired to showcase it in a much darker perspective?

I'm curious to know about your writing process.:twilightsheepish:

~Leonzilla

6929922 Well, it won't really tell you anything about my writing process, but the 'spark' behind it is that I see the world in this negatively polarised light all the time. The truth is that I can't not – although I think like it would be more honest to say that I feel like the majority sees the world like that and I'm seeing the real version, but I assume a lot of people feel like that about each other :)

Ultimately, this story is a result of spending years learning about human cognitive development and realising that virtually all behavioural traits come from our childhood environment. So, I thought about The Boy Who Cried Wolf and asked myself why the boy would lie as he does in the story, and I imagined the boy returning a matured man and addressing the sins of the past, but I'm sure you can appreciate how much this 'rushes' the result inherently based on who would recognise him. Sure, I could work around that, but the effort and detail needed to do that didn't seem appropriate to the directness I thought I'd need to pull this off. If someone else was going to take the protagonist's role, then I figured a spouse was the obvious choice, since using a son or daughter might stretch the timeline too much. I could have used a close friend, but it just lacked the punch I was looking for: I really wanted to convey a sense of hatred over the lie that had been spread.

Beyond that, I'd been thinking about how cool a samurai-esque griffon would be for a long time, so I combined that with that spiritual side I like from both Legend of the Five Rings and Werewolf: The Apocalypse and pieced together a society that could have embraced and inspired our titular boy. Finally, it is an unfortunate fact that stress levels directly correlate with a multitude of things that cause an early death – childhood stress triply so. Cortisol is bad for longevity, so having him die as the trigger for events seemed a fairly natural way to arrange things.

At that point I started writing and all the other details fell into place along the way.

I suppose a TL;DR might be 'because I'm cynical and I see the world this way'. That wouldn't be wrong, exactly, but it wouldn't be right, either. I've been considering writing a long blogpost on anhedonia for a while now, to better explain how I see the world. You might find that interesting if I get the the point where I feel like I can do such a post justice.

6931049 sorry I took this long to reply.

the 'spark' behind it is that I see the world in this negatively polarised light all the time.

I know what you are talking about, you are talking about looking at the flip side of things, seeing the good on the bad and seeing the bad on the good.

It reminds me of Flip Turner from yugioh zexal episode 5, flipping out. You might be interested in watching that and the sixth episode for the conclusion as they explore this topic with Flip.

Here is an extract from the wiki:

In the dub, Flip believes that there's a "flip-side" to everything, and that things can be defined by their opposites. Something that seems harmless can actually be quite lethal. This philosophy is embodied by his fondness for Flip Effect Monsters, along with the physically weak "Baby Tiragon".

I think it's egocentric,and a good example of self-bias to assume that ones perspective is the only correct or acceptable way to look at the world; a lot more can be learned from viewing the world in different perspectives than ones own, no individual perspective is infallible; but there is also some various advantages with many of them.

Ultimately, this story is a result of spending years learning about human cognitive development and realising that virtually all behavioural traits come from our childhood environment

About that, have you ever heard of the debate of nature vs nurture?

It has always been a huge topic in the field of psychology. The previous consensus aligned with what you describe. However a huge Twin study on the subject found pretty conclusive data indicating that genes seem to have a much bigger role in determining behavioural traits than it was previously thought.

The nature vs nurture twin case study analysed data of a wide range of characteristics of all sorts on twin siblings(that share identical genes at the time they are born) from both twins that were raised together and raised apart, often without even knowing the existence of the other. The goal was to figure out just how much our characteristics behaviouraland other wise were determined by our environment and how much if any by our genes.

Turns out more often than not the individuals shared approximately 60% of characteristics. A shocking revelation for what was previously believed to be completely determined by the environment individuals grow up at. The actually amount of matches varied from case to case and since that's the overall amount of the traits measured there is still being some discrepancies on which traits should shouldn't be accounted for in deciding the real average of matches, if it's 60/30, or 50/50 . But after the overwhelming data presented there was no denying that genes had some significant role in determining our behaviour.

It's all quite fascinating and people are still elaborating about the implications of this discovery.

If you as me, I came to terms with this ambiguous truth by accounting that one key aspect of people is determined by birth that being our inherent ability to perceive the world in other words our perspective on how we look at things is different from person to person from the moment we are born and that directly influences our behaviour of how we end up responding to the world we see in return. Our ability to perceive can and will still change and develop as we mature; but much of the way we physicaly mature is also determined by genes and so we tend to have only so much influence on how much we change. Now this isn't necessarily to mean that people can't change, or that there is a limit to how much we can change, it just means that people traits don't tend to change that much from what our genes leaned us to be.

That's how I explain and interpret the Twin study.

hope this was of your interest,

Finally, it is an unfortunate fact that stress levels directly correlate with a multitude of things that cause an early death – childhood stress triply so.

I think you mean trauma. If you switch the words "stress" for "trauma" then I agree with you completely.

In addition stress can indeed tamper with development and inhibit growth, so I can see how it would stand to reason that it might decrease overall age.

I suppose a TL;DR might be 'because I'm cynical and I see the world this way'.

I have no idea what this means.

I've been considering writing a long blogpost on anhedonia for a while now,

You know... Excessive use of electronic devices like a computer or a game console can mess up with a person's ability to produce dopamines and other brain chemicals much like stimulant drugs.

If this is your case, you should probably practice abstinence for a while if just to re-sensitize yourself to stimulation. It might be healthy, I myself occasionally take a break from the internet for some time for this propose, sometimes it's just a day off, once I spended over six months without touching the computer. (although that one wasn't entirely by choice to be fair):derpytongue2:

You might find that interesting if I get the the point where I feel like I can do such a post justice.

Yes, no doubt I would, but I think those kinds of posts should be written mostly for yourself than anyone else.

~Leonzilla

Cool! Dr Wolf read this! :D

Hello. Just letting you know that after many months of persistent procrastinating, I've managed to get around to reviewing this story for the Goodfic Bin and have accepted it. Details are here, ribbon is here:

s13.postimg.org/5a2dthj87/Giz_Vyc0.png

Congrats.

So, finally got around to this one. I enjoyed it at least as much as your other works. Marvelous ending and a good twist on the titular narrative.

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