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Bad Horse

Beneath the microscope, you contain galaxies.


Below her, the remains of the world, and everyone in it, spin slowly, around and around, in a sea of purple goo. But that doesn't mean Celestia's work is done. The Road lies ahead of her, and at its end—the most difficult decision of her life. Again.

How long can one pony keep hope alive?


2nd place in the "History Repeats" write-off.
Dramatic reading by AShadowOfCygnus.
Dramatic reading by Cherax.
On EQD Aug 12, 2014.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 112 )


Bad Horse?

Sorry, no. :fluttershysad:

...anything that can drain a soul can, at a different time or from a different angle, fill it up again, and more.

As High Truths go, I consider this to be among the highest I've ever seen here.

Thank you.


This one actually seems rather uplifting. Dare I say, even virtuous.

The Myth Of Celestyphus

The Grim Adventures of Sluglestia


Aaand... everyone at the latest Writeoff got to read it without any warning about tone or author :pinkiecrazy:

The Smooze strikes again.

I get what your saying. Though our roads are long and painful, and might not necessarily afford us the opportunities and wishes we desire; we can always try again. So long as the desire to do better remains.
I can see how this would be viewed as a story about torture. It essentially is. Working to achieve a goal breaks down an individuals will power. If we fail again and again, than were pretty much shooting ourself in the foot. But, if we understand why we tried, and why we should keep trying, than the suffering is worthwhile. No matter what any one (or butler) says.

At least that's what I got out of this. Maybe I'm wrong and it's really a clever work on why we shouldn't smoke cigarettes. Or something.

Wonderfully written. Painful. What else to say?

It isn't a story about torture. Rather, I should think, it is a story about sacrifice. As profound and deep a sacrifice as it is possible to imagine. Greater love hath no mare.

I am going to write a couple more sentences to end it, though. Just a couple.

"Perhaps," it thought as it faded, melded, merged, "this time I will split harmony into six parts, not five. Perhaps this time it will work."

It did.

My apologies. I had to.

For your sake I did read it. Seems only fair, considering.

This didn't quite work for me. I'm not entirely sure why. Too vague? Too... I don't know. The notches were a bit confusing. What were they? The souls of ponies? Idk. The smooze is still terrifying. I'd really like some more authors notes on this one.

EDIT: And I added this to the smooze folder too.

a sea of purple goo

And this is what happens when you build your house within range of a tainted lands biome... it spreads and takes over EVERYTHING!

4768098 There's a smooze folder? :derpyderp2:

A hint about the notches: She makes exactly one during the story. Answer: Each notch is in memory of one dead world.

4768171 There's a smooze folder. And ah, yes, that lends the story a new level of weight. Personally, I feel like laying bricks down, a new one forged from the ruins of each world she's "failed" might have been more a more powerful and literal metaphor.

4768202 If you could figure out what she's doing with the bricks, so she's not just laying them down and forgetting them, and so it doesn't seem like she's creating and destroying worlds just to get more bricks to build whatever it is she's building, it could work. I'd rather have something without so much grim-dark to it.

I think making the notches works better than bricks for the reason you stated - it isn't destructive but creative.

I had my suspicions about this one being yours.

There is no doubt you achieved the kind of pain you wanted to present - it's always a mark of skill when the core struggle arouses such a strong feeling. I have to admit that I'm made of weaker stuff than what this story demanded (I need my catharsis dammit) but this was masterfully written and crafted.

4768317 Thanks, but... it's supposed to be cathartic. Pain isn't supposed to be the point. :twilightsheepish:

It needs restarting to have a cost, or else doing so wouldn't require hope. I wish I could think of a less grim and calvary-invoking cost.


There's a certain irony, there. What do you do with bricks? You build things. Bricks are creative objects. Their purpose is to create. And carving out notches is, qua carving out notches, an act of destruction. It is taking something that is there and removing pieces of it.

Well, when the world has fallen to darkness, there's nothing to do but pick up the pieces. Means no one is around to complain about you changing things, like giving ponies hooves instead of hands or adding in an extra element of harmony or whatever.

It is more explicitly gruesome but no less hopeful than The Last Question by Isaac Asimov. Indeed, in some ways it is more hopeful, because they are making the conscious effort to make the world better this time around.

And yet, you can lay bricks to hide some monument, or carve a statue out of limestone.

Rather than reducing the cost, having the catharsis be more would've satisfied me - all I got for the bleakness of the situation was one line - but I know I err on the side of asking for too much =x The balance between setup and payoff for something as high-stakes as this is difficult, and I still think you executed it well even if I didn't leave satisfied - I left impressed.

Props for using Greek myths. As a Greek Brony from Greece and a myth geek i feel proud. Honestly i didn't quite understand this story and at times the description was confusing. But if i understand correctly this story was about remembering the old world that got destroyed and hope that the mistakes of the old one won't carry on to the next. And to remember the old ones that lived in it.

Comment posted by Europa deleted Jul 29th, 2014

Wait, what happened at the end? As well written as this was, I'm confused.

4769332 Celestia decided to try again, because she has hope that this time harmony would defeat the forces of entropy.

I like to think she did, and that this is a prequel to FiM.

...and I'm missing one very important element in this.


I'm not saying you're wrong. It just tickled my fancy.

4769381 Makes sense; you've gotta try. Entropy is going to render all that is accomplished meaningless, it will destroy all that is or could be, and make it so nothing will happen forever.

Are you going to just lay down and take that?


I see what you're trying to do, I guess. I didn't feel sorry for Celestia, or hopeful that she would try again. I was vaguely curious, what this whole thing was about, but mostly confused. I get that each notch was a failed world, and passing over them was painful, tearing away a piece of her each time. But I only got that because of the comments. When reading, I thought it was each individual pony, and she had only "sidestepped" to view the demise of other worlds.

I can sympathize with the sentiment, that each attempt rips something out of you, but you try again. I really, really can. But that didn't come through in the story, not for me. It fell short of actually making any connection, sorry.

All I got out of it is that the butler probably didn't exist, and like any raised eyebrow or similar gesture, it only communicates what the recipient expects. So the message at the end was Celestia's own thoughts, expressing how very close she was to giving up.

Author Interviewer

Huh, so I guess it really was Celestia. :B I feel dumb for questioning you on that.

The triumph of the w dammit they stole all the best lines!

I was confused by the road at first. I couldn't figure out why it was tearing away Celestia's body, until I realise that the grooves weren't just markers but something more. I think I giggled just a little bit when we got to the end and she made the next groove.

This Celestia is interesting as well. I can't express it more than that.

Just one thought though. The Butler... quadruped, also has hands? I feel cheeky for even thinking what I'm thinking right now. :derpytongue2:

4769508 he has both and none, everything and nothing. Or something.

4769508 4769514 Hands... oops. Mentally I kept picturing the Butler as humanoid.

4769623 I was picturing a sort of cloudy centaur at that point.

4769625 I like that better... I can't imagine a butler without hands; they're always carrying things. And a centaur can stand with that rigid stiff-backed posture; a horse can't.

One interesting bit for me is that I unconsciously tuned out Celestia's suffering, as if it was told and not shown. Part of the reason is how there is a kind of dreamy feeling around the whole situation, as if it didn't happen in the real world.

Fortunately, too, because otherwise I might not have finished this story :scootangel:

Painful, yet uplifting. The thing about hope is the greatest hope needs a contrast with its circumstances. The hope for a better tomorrow stands out all the more against a much worse today. That sort of hope is much like Celestia in the story; the last light to go out, and the first to be relit.

Excellently done. Thank you for this, and remember not to close the box too quickly.


I hope my recommendation led you not astray.

Your ending is what I imagined, too. It has the attitude I imagine going along with Celestia's "one more time" response.

edit: ?

You did not. :twilightsmile:

And between us I think we can will the ending so that it is as we imagine.

The best representation of eternity I've yet seen in this fandom. Reminded me of that little story about the bird that comes to the mountain face every thousand years to carve in one tally mark.
A well written story. I love how developed your metaphors are here. They really add to the magnitude of just how far at the end of time this is and how utterly gone any sense of energy and time is. Two qualms, though. One, I think the ending could have benefited more from letting us infer what the Butler meant to say rather than spelling it out, and Celestia answering back in the narration rather than voicing it. (Though that might have cast a more antagonistic light on him than desired.) There is value to her speaking it, as it emphasizes their relationship and her hopes of building an, I assume, perfect Equestria, but I side with what's left unsaid is more powerful, internalizing that hope and determination to get it right.
Two, as much as I loved your metaphors, this one was just too out of place:

There was a slow rumbling tearing sound, like God ripping off a Band-Aid

I remember Chris starting up a comment train on his blog about the acceptability of real-life things in pony fics, and this is definitely one of those things up for debate. Acceptable or not, the imagery struck me as inappropriately hilarious rather than imparting the intended sense of magnitude/finality. It killed the mood, really, but happily there were no other instances like that and I got right back in.
This was actually the first story by you that I've read. Your blogs I consume by the handful, but this is new territory. I have to say I love your style. Hope to see more!


There was a slow rumbling tearing sound, like God ripping off a Band-Aid

I hesitated over that, because God and Band-Aids (TM) are out of place. You reckon I can keep it if I change it to

like a god tearing off a bandage


If you really want the "god" in there, I would say that's definitely better. But as I wrote that section of my comment, I mulled over how I would have worded such a noise (old editing habits die hard), which to me would be along the lines of a great tree and its roots being ripped from the earth. Or that might have too deep a sound compared to what you were going for. I'm sure there are lots of other ways of describing that sound, though.

Bad Horse is on record as saying he hopes to never have a "style". Good luck.

If you like this, you should check out his "bedtime stories for impressionable youngsters" and some stuff from his shorts collection, "Twilight Zone". Past that I'd be lost as you, although it occurs to me that he might like hope a bit more than he'd care to admit. (Either that or he just knows that "hope sells".)


Ah, that one! "Let there be light." I thought that was the one I was thinking of, but I wasn't quite sure, had to go check.

They go well together, I feel. Asimov's felt maybe a smidgen too hope-y, although that may have been re-reading it. (Certainly it seems as if the grind against entropy should feel hopeless.) The struggle in this one is darker, more evocative, but the hope shines even brighter for it.

Ghost, I feel... ah. Hm. I suppose I should apologize. I see what you're trying to do there, of course. But I feel it works even better if you only add one line.

(Sorry :fluttershyouch:)

Everybody has a style. Whether it changes with every story or remains the same throughout one's career, it is always present in one's writing. There's always consistency somewhere in any given length of writing. Whether you try or not it shows. Even when writing a particular way for a particular scene, variations of style will repeat themselves. It's a good thing: without a style any work would be as ludicrous as that "orchestral" piece he embedded in his blog a while back.
Like I said, I haven't read anything else by him yet, so I can't say what Bad Horse's is, but I'm sure you can find one if you look.


"Tearing off a bandage" doesn't capture the feel, because more bandages aren't adhesive. (That's where the "aid" bit comes from- they help you apply them to yourself.)

4772525 4772425 Changed to "like a god ripping off a scab" for now.

I'll second toafan; reading thru "The Twilight Zone" is the best quick intro to the kinds of things I write.

We've talked plenty about Elpis, so I'll just say that the edits here are good edits, and the story is still powerful. :twilightsmile:

Spectacular work. :eeyup:

As this keeps popping up in the popular box, I'm going to say..

That picture is just fucking creepy man. Seriously, what the fuck?

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