• Member Since 30th Jan, 2013
  • offline last seen Feb 14th, 2022

Pale Horse

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing." – Benjamin Franklin


Two passengers on a train ride toward an uncertain future. One is a pony. The other only pretends to be.

Sex is tame and non-explicit. Don't be afraid to read.

Written expressly for Equestria Daily's Outside Insight Summer Fanfiction Contest.

Now with a dramatic reading by Illya Leonov!

Russian translation courtesy of Arsus.
Chinese translation courtesy of viczhn.
French translation courtesy of BroNie.

Inspired by the artwork of RubleGun and Raddjuret. Musical accompaniment by Patrick Poe.

Featured at Equestria Daily and the Royal Canterlot Library.

Reader Testimonials

"Vinyl + Octavia is one of the fandom's most cliché and mismatched pairs, and yet this is a real romance with genuine depth and emotion." - horizon
"Holy shit this is impressive. Like... Holy shit, man." - Skeeter The Lurker
"You have crafted something wonderful here, a true gem. You should be proud." - Illya Leonov
"Note that I hate this ship when I say this is far and away the best ScratchTavia I've ever read." - PresentPerfect
"Fuuuuck it's so good!" - Luminary

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 157 )

Hmmm...I liked it.

Not sure what I was expecting but this surpassed it. Well done. :twilightsmile:

You are just scarily good at setting a mood. The feeling of being lost and in awe at the beginning. All that native alien wonderment, without beating us to death with endless exposition about the succubugs. Just those artful little pithy insights about love and ponies to frame the oddity. The increasing normality as she assimilates. Even the love story, while quick, is just so adorably innocent and sweet, that even without ages setting it up, we know it's something deep and true.

It makes me so envious to see how much you can do with so few words, you magnificent bastard!

Also, dear heavens, thank you for not making Vinyl a nut, and changelings a collection of woobies.

I liked this story. Not only did it show that a Changeling could convey love without the need for sustenance, but it was a heartwarming story. You earned yourself a medal of literature. :twilightsmile:

A very interesting story, with a nice take on Vinyl being a changeling tho I honestly can't say how many there are. I honestly didn't see any issues at all. Very nice.

Lovely story with a good deal of descriptions that let you feel the emotions. I'd nitpick about the tenses, but given that it's about a character whose mind is fuzzy, even errors in tenses would still work. I also have to admit, all the ponified names are spot-on. I don't think there was a single one I'd heard before, and I'll probably end up stealing a few :scootangel:. Most sincere form of flattery and all that jazz.

In all seriousness, though, this is a good story, and it was certainly worh the read.

I'm not sure what to say about this story, other than that I really liked it. (loved the narrative) :twilightsmile:

I entered this competition too...

I hope you beat me. Just wow; the feels.

A changeling given love without a disguise never needs to feed again?

Headcanon accepted.

I like this fic, I like it a lot, take my upvote, and if I can do it more then once, my mouse would have broken
It's a surprisingly unique romance fic that has a twist to it that me, Albert and Alex "General Fuck you!" Mc Badass have not seen

Nice. Very nice. :rainbowdetermined2:

I like it. I also like the inspirational work. :moustache:

I admit, I've never found the idea of "X has been a changeling all along!" stories all that interesting, but for what it is this is very well done. Thank you for writing this, it was an enjoyable sit. :heart:

Very nice. The feelings in this make it an absolute joy to read. A nicely developed backstory for Vinyl and some headcanon for changelings, too. I wish you all the luck for the contest, but with a story like this, I don't think you need it.

Closin' time, he'd said. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.

Heh. Nice touch.

~Skeeter The Lurker

Holy shit this is impressive.

Like... Holy shit, man.

If this is not in at least the top five or top ten in this contest, I will quit fanfic. Seriously No I won't but I'll be tempted to...

I may not be a judge in this contest but I can give a certain award:


Well done indeed, and I wish you the best of luck.


~Skeeter The Lurker

This is truly heartwarming.

Like, fav and added to my recommendation group.

Comment posted by Pale Horse deleted Aug 15th, 2014

For the curious:

Amazing story, just amazing. Truly beautiful work.

Tactical story has been successfully deployed. No feels were left standing.

The one wish to really get a beautiful Vinyl focused story, and she's a changeling. This story is fantastic. Though I find it hard to believe she only had that one sexual experience way later before eventually revealing herself to her.

And who was speaking during that moment where they speak Vinyl in italics as it went on to say she was praying and hoping to whatever gods that continued into italics again with Not you too. Please, oh please, anypony else, but not you too.? I ask because I'm not sure what her beloved was just frozen in shock, or she had indeed spoken Vinyl's name only to have a moment where it feels like Octi has had A PAST changeling lover who merely used her. But it also just seems like it could be Vinyl saying she hopes Octi isn't going to shun her away.

Great story. Far as contests go, though, this just feels like cheating. In everything canon, Vinyl is considered a pony. Her card says she's a pony. The comics she's a pony. A changeling for a short time in the first arc. But still a pony.

This fic sort of circumvents the rules to use a popular character and a much embraced pairing to be the 'outside looking in' story focus. Which, don't get me wrong, is fantastic. And you paint her and all that about how she's clearly a changeling. Background pony is a changeling is pretty popular. And to say nothing of the effort put into this story and going near the word limit is most commendable and you have my love for making this.

However, and thankfully my votes don't mean a thing here, I'd have to give this story as far as a contest entry goes, it just feels wrong despite being so right. It just doesn't feel like an outsider looking in. A stray changeling survives on its own but suddenly fears the mother will seek it out because she leaves no young behind? :unsuresweetie:

Great story. Fantastic. But it's a "No" from me. But let's ask Paula what she things about it. It's all on you Paula!

(Looks like she was gonna say yes. So, you're in! :yay::rainbowkiss::trollestia:)

3 of 56

Many thanks for your thoughtful and detailed critique! I'd noticed some of the issues you've pointed out earlier, but this story was written in a hurry (as is so often the case), and I had some trouble making some things as clear as I would have liked; for a while, I wasn't certain I was going to finish it at all. Now that I've had a chance to rest and look at it with a fresh pair of eyes, I've been able to make a improvements.

In response to your criticism, I've made the following changes:

- The formatting for the "reveal" scene has been changed to better clarify who is speaking.
- Chrysalis has been given a better rationale for returning than "no changeling left behind." I'd meant to make this clearer in the first draft, but everything I came up with just sounded awkward. Hopefully it's better now.
- A few other minor fixes to address stuff that I wanted to include the first time around, but forgot about.

After all, the deadline for the contest isn't until midnight tonight, and if I'm already "cheating" by using established characters, then there's nothing wrong with a little tune-up, is there? :trollestia:

4854679 I'm a bit disappointed she didn't drop on a bomb on Vinyl with her having had a past changeling lover, such soap opera level drama I'm sure, but yes that works much better and looks more presentable throughout.

It made her legs shook where she stood

Just pick the right tense here though. Shake or Shook. Her legs were shaking in place or shook where she stood, basically.

Nice to see some people taking this competition seriously. Best of luck! Liked how Chrysalis' reasoning for potentially going after them was more implied to be beneficial as a lab rat than just a lost child. And you're welcome. And thanks for the kind words, makes me want to pick up my goal of finishing all the stories before the deadline up again. But I won't Celestia's sun has risen and tis time for me to take my leave.

(cheat on! :raritywink:)


It made her legs shook where she stood

Buh, that doesn't sound like me. :rainbowhuh:

First fave I've given in quite a while.

I really enjoyed this one, especially the "Changelings don't dream" part, don't know why, just made them feel so alien.

Part of me loves it for being so short but part of me wants to know whatever or not they get help.:twilightblush:

That's it. I'm done. This. This right here is why I founded my group.
I founded it so I could find all the stories like this and put them in one place. Your story has been liked, favorited, added to my group, and you have been followed. If vinyl's background was it's own story I would be a very happy pony. If this story had a sequel I might just die.

Bravo, well done. I give it a very rare 10 out of 10! (Take a bow, you deserve it! :pinkiehappy:) Loved the 'great and powerful' stage magician reference. :twilightsmile:

4861512 It gets mentioned and 'shows' the effects afterwards but nothing explicit is shown.

That was beautiful.

Officially my favorite fimfic romance story!

Absolutely beautiful! Wonderfully handled string of consciousness prose!

This made me tear up. An amazing story, bravo.

Doing something absurdly obvious and generic, and doing it with sufficient style and feeling that I just don't care, is always something I can get behind – tropes become tropes because they're popular, and there ain't nothin' wrong with just doing it better than everybody else. The other thing that really made it come together was the easy and subtlety of the actual interactions. Instead of going to lengths to show how much they love each other, you instead content yourself with showing how intimate they are, in the most emotionally comfortable sense possible. That is not a feeling I often see conveyed effectively.

Perhaps more importantly, you actually gave some reasoning as to how and why a changeling might 'jump ship', and actually made something of Vinyl's character, to boot.

Inquisitor M's Judge-a-thon score:

7/10 Prompt: Moderate.


4846016 Your turn soon, mawhahahah!

That was indeed a truly beautiful work. The intimacy that they share, a completeness it grants on the part of Vinyl at the very least, was delightfully portrayed. All of the feels, yes, all of the feels.

My only criticism is that there was a clear demarcation between the topics of love and the topics of music. You go from talking steadily about love to talking a great deal about music and it's a very abrupt transition that I feel shouldn't exist. It's all around Vinyl's first night at the club. There should be a blending of the two there, a bleeding into one another. You describe the flavors of emotions -- sweetness of love, bitterness of fear -- and that scene begs for something similar. What would a changeling taste as it feeds off of ponies feeding off of music? What could she find there to make her forsake other avenues of sustenance and pursue that one? While the night at the club is a clear catalyst to the rest, there should have been more to that night than what is currently there.

The rest, though, is a delight and I thank you for allowing us to read it.

Closin' time, he'd said. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.

You would

That was really quite good. Great take on Vinyl as a changeling, and on her character in light of that.

Can't believe you missed out, man. Gutted. I had you pegged in the top 10.

Author Interviewer

Note that I hate this ship when I say this is far and away the best ScratchTavia I've ever read.

High praise indeed, good sir. Many thanks!

Wow, did I ever love this story.

I do laugh though, I had that animation you linked in my head for most of the story, and wondered if you might have drawn some inspiration from that or not.

Edit: Ahhh, and it was the cover art, that might be why it was in my head.

Why thank you, darling! :raritystarry:

Really enjoyable. Nice to see that Octy's not the changeling. InquisitorM led me here.

Have you read the Assumption of Applejack? It's easily one of the best "X was a changeling all along!" stories out there. A different kinda good than this fic however; this fic is an atmospheric short story, while Assumption is a 100k+ word epic.

What, so Vinyl doesn't like Arcade Fire or Arctic Monkeys or Spoon? Philistine. :rainbowhuh:

Just kidding. This was a pretty sweet and heartwarming story, and it made me sad to think that Vinyl had understandable fears of Celestia.

I was already in love with your prose and your narrative conveyance, but I think it was the Semisonic reference that sealed the deal.

4930986 I'm gonna second you on that one. Amazing story... Just wish the sequel would get on with it and release new chapters... :applejackconfused:

Fav'd. For every reason possible, and some impossible, this has so been fav'd. The pacing, the descriptions were excellent. It was a lovely thing indeed. :pinkiehappy:

Very well done. Quite the affair of the heart!

I would go into detail about how great this fanfic was, but honestly, that's the problem: EVERYTHING about this is great! The characterization, the story, the style, the setting... it's perfect. Just like the love the two shared.

Also, that animation/music you linked to was excellent. Thanks for giving the link. :pinkiehappy:

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