• Member Since 22nd Feb, 2012
  • offline last seen January 10th

A Hoof-ful of Dust

You can't see the forest...


How much do you trust what you can see? What you can touch? What you experience? How sure can you be that all you have lived through, all you have loved, is not a dream that will fade at daybreak?

Twilight must end the spell.

Chapters (8)
Comments ( 37 )

I... wow. Just. Wow. I don't even know what to say. That made me think. Hard. And I'm still not sure if I fully got everything. That was such a trip into Twilight's mind.

I'm not lying when I say this should have more views. Brilliant work!

I feel dense, because I have no idea what it was a metaphor for. :/

Still, beautiful as always. Your prose is artful and great at conveying emotion, and the snippets of relationships here were adorable.

What is such a glorious opening chapter doing with no comments? Seriously, the whole thing was just beautiful to read.

Wow. This completely blew me away. Every sentence felt perfectly crafted. Just, well done. I don't know what else to say, but you have certainly earned that.

This is the exact reaction I wanted.

Is this- is this about head canons?

Because it is magnificent, no doubt, well written and well plotted and as compelling as possible. I loved it.

And I read it as about the tendency for head canons- for personal unconfirmed ideas that are possible as fitting in with canon but not necessarily confirmed- to make us lose sight of the real story, the canon we love, the dream we share instead of the dreams that are just for us.

This was fantastic.

Nailed it.

Headcanon's such a weird malleable thing, especially when you get into when something's repeated enough times that it becomes difficult for people to remember that it wasn't actually in the show to begin with. It's hard to keep straight, especially with orders of magnitude more fan content than official content, and that's just for an outsider writing about things; I started thinking about what would happen if a character became somehow aware of all this extra fanon material being generated about their lives, and the story grew out of that.

Ah, finally; another delightful work of yours to partake in.

The dream imagery is well done, as usual for your stories. I liked the clock imagery throughout, though felt that use of mirrors, especially given their prominence at the end, could have come into play more. I don't know if describing the clock's surface as reflective at the beginning was part of that, but it struck me as a terribly odd word choice at the time; wood is highly polished usually, not reflective. The relationships, thin as they were, I think hit the most well known tropes that you were aiming for and that did the job of showing what they were in the shortest time. I might argue Pinkie is the weakest, but Twipie isn't a ship I care terribly for so can't judge how accurately it was done. The ending was certainly cleaner than a lot of your other stories have been when it comes to the reality of events. It's debatable whether this is a good or bad thing; personally I find ambiguity makes a story stick longer as the reader tries to wrestle out a truth that may or may not be there. That's probably why I like Them Bones so much. Part of me had been hoping that at the end of One, Rarity had replied to her statement that none of it was real by saying "It's all equally real. That's the problem."

I don't know if this idea is one you might revisit later, but it could certainly hold promise. Alas MLP, like so many other cartoons and fictional works, too easily succumbs to the It Only Works Once trope. Take for instance the episode It's About Time. The premise functioned on Twilight's ignorance of the mechanics of the spell. Now that she is fully aware of its function -- has seen the gears behind the clock face, so to speak -- there is no reason that it wouldn't work the way she originally intended. (Of course the sheer volume of stuff that such a realization would break is staggering.) And now that she has seen the gears behind this particular clock face, what's to keep her from going back and delving further, to see what else may be there?

In the end, it was nice. Interesting things were said. Was the spell a reflection of the caster, was it a doorway to other worlds; we don't know and Twilight does not seem to care enough to investigate. The metaphor for the piece, as you stated in your own comment, came through well and is something authors should dully keep in mind when playing in "other people's" sandboxes.

Author Interviewer



And I actually though it was Pinkie at first. Just whoa. c.c

Author Interviewer

Yes, I found it. :D

Author Interviewer

And I have my other favorite entry in the H&H event. :) Fantastic work!

This was very lovely. :twilightsmile:

The transitions between these scenes are perfect, fluid and subtle. They meld together, which is all the more impressive for how dramatically different one scene is from the other. I don't have any idea how the conclusion will go, but so far this story has been really, really good.

Well, this is awesome. I'm iffy on the idea of 'story as a metaphor.' What makes this story awesome is that it's more than just whatever metaphor or message you were trying to convey (something about shipping?). There's a story here that can be fully understood and enjoyed without understanding the metaphor, at least on the surface. And that story is well-told and well-written. I mentioned before that I thought the transitions between scenes were very cool, but I think the highlight of this story is all the individual relationships. This story wouldn't have worked if each one of the five relationships hadn't felt real, but in a very short amount of time you managed to distinguish and uniquely characterize each relationship. And that ending was great. This would have been disappointing if it had left off on another 'Oh noes! We'll never know what's real' but Rainbow Dash's comment was a clever and effective way of sidestepping that. Again, this is an awesome story.

I tried really hard to find an angle to show each of Twilight's relationships in a concise way, and I think I got it with most of them; Pinkie is a little ephemeral, but neither I nor Twilight really have any clear picture of Pinkie Pie in a relationship, and I didn't really get all of the Twilight-and-Rarity Canterlot power couple I was envisioning into the story, but that's what other stories are for, aren't they? I really like shipping stories, but it's tough to find the ones that treat the characters like themselves let alone the relationship as something unique between those two characters and not just Generic Couple Template.

Maybe I should rethink the "this is a metaphor" thing. I mean, all stories are saying something in an indirect way in some fashion (whether the author means to say it or not), so maybe that's redundant to say, but I get this nagging feeling that if I don't point out that there's another layer that readers should specifically be looking for then nobody will look for it. I didn't want it to be ambiguous, whether what Twilight experienced actually happened or not, nor if she was really back in the real world, but she can't know these things for sure, not right up until the end of the story anyway. This is sort of my take on cosmic horror, which doesn't necessarily require beings of unfathomable infinity slumbering outside of space and time but just realising you are a sack of meat with an unreliable method of processing the world around you and a completely subjective recording device to make sense of it all.

Author Interviewer

I dunno, but did you ctrl-a this chapter?

I wasn't aware that there was anything to find, because I always read fics with a dark background, so that the white text was always visible to me. :twilightsheepish:

Author Interviewer


Well, I'm actually very glad you said that, because I was thinking about writing a story with a white text gimmick, and now I know it wouldn't work for some readers!

Dangit. It's so good, but dangit. Aghhhh.... I love your stories.

Damn, what a fic. It is deep without trying, and I love the structure, how each chapter feels like a terrible shipfic on the surface. Props for managing to make something this seemingly scattered so interconnected.

This is truly exceptional. Your writing brings to mind a finished sculpture; it is solid, impeccably crafted, and can be viewed from multiple angles. To say it is thought-provoking would be a massive understatement. It lends a whole new dimension to how I view the workings of Twilight's mind, my own mind, and the nature of reality. It is terrifying to be without certainty, and to realize how few things in life are or ever were certain.

I am grateful to Rainbow Dash for mentioning the blueberries. Without that part, this story almost certainly would have given me nightmares.

Legit chills at some of the chapter endings. Great work.

ooh, love the specificity here in that long recollection about the clock, and how it wraps into the (honestly, very understandable) dislocation Twilight feels in her new crystalline abode. and the contrast with the warm hoof of this mysterious, pink-maned hoof-owner! a great hook

The kettle was charred black on one side and no amount of cleaning, no amount of magic, and no amount of magical cleaning would fix it.

hehe, love this

Its handle had melted to a thin trickle, which Twilight had snapped off, but this wasn't a problem as she had her magic to lift when it was too warm and Spike, who was mostly immune to the effects of intense heat, never bothered with holding it by the handle anyway.

very convenient!

Twilight understood, or thought she had at first; it was all the animals that shared a home with Fluttershy, the menagerie of creatures passing through or recovering from illness or that just liked Fluttershy's company (and could tolerate Angel Bunny).

dang even the animals think that bunny is a jerk

It was impossible, it didn't make sense, but it hadn't been Fluttershy in bed with her last night.

oh, wow! this after making the TwiShy feel so lovely and warm for the past entire chapter! what a twist…

oh this is wonderful! again, love the specificity and weight of all these memories, which is exactly what's needed to sell the disorientation of both sets co-existing and overlapping like this. the stream-of-consciousness, too!

"Which one did actually happen?" Applejack asked with a smirk.

"I don't know," Twilight said, scratching behind an ear and frowning. "They both did."

Applejack bucked a tree, the apples raining down into the barrels gathered below. "Yer lucky I ain't a jealous pony, sugarcube."

ahaha, great way to introduce Applejack as the third mare that Twilight may or may not have been being in a relationship with currently

"No," she said, screwing her eyes shut and putting a hoof to her temple, "what were the exact words you said?"

"Uh... Do you want to come inside and sit a spell? I think."

"No." Twilight shook her head. "No, you didn't say sit, you said end. End the spell."

"I didn't--"

ooh this is good

"I say things over and over and you never listen to them! You say uh-huh or yes Twilight and you nod your head, but everything goes in one ear and out the other, and if you just paid attention for a second, Rainbow, you might be able to figure out what it is I'm mad about once in a while!"

oh and the seamlessness of this!

"Darling," Rarity said as she stroked Twilight's hair, "sweetheart."

"Mm?" Twilight managed, an inarticulate grunt through the tears.

"Twilight, dearest," Rarity said with infinite compassion, "isn't it time you ended the spell?"

"Yes," Twilight whispered. "Yes, it is."

and augh, of course Rarity is the one to say this, exactly like this. perfect

i must say i do regret reading this story in Night Mode!

every living thing is alone

an alien sojourner with an infinite gulf surrounding it

grasping at faint points of light in the far distance

so true actually

Rhyming and chanting and things of that nature had been seen as unnecessary mysticism that obfuscated the true underpinnings of magic, but there were too many spells with couplets or verses for it to have just been eccentricity on Starswirl's part to include.

ooh, something about repetition and reflection being important to how magic works?

Twilight swallowed. She could feel her cheeks turning red.


Twilight glanced out the window at the night sky. When the sun came up, and it was day, and she met with her friends, how would she see them? How much would be the real ponies she knew, and how much would be the figments she had loved in turn?

She didn't know.

honestly, love how all this works in-story from Twilight’s perspective but also as a philosophical commentary on shipping itself? but also, yes, augh, shipping stories that raise these kinds of existential questions are precisely what i crave in writing and reading and this is a great one

Twilight listened, but she wasn't listening. She kept trying to smile and nod and agree in what felt like the right places in the conversations she hadn't been completely involved in, but she felt like a fake. An impostor. The puppeteer guiding marionette Twilight through her day. And any moment, she'd slip up and break character and all her friends would know. Just what they would know wasn't exactly clear, but Twilight was surprised they hadn't noticed anything wrong by now. Or perhaps they had, and they were just being polite while she went quietly mad.

and oof, that anxiety and guilt. something i can relate to even as someone who never cast a spell to ship myself with all my friends in what is either a dream or an alternate reality or who knows what

"I was in my house, but it was like, made of ice cream? It wasn't really my house, either, just where I lived in the dream."

so the sheer stupidity and inanity of this dream is both perfect as a contrast to what’s on Twilight’s mind as well as Rainbow Dash being Rainbow Dash, love it so much

"I could go for pie," Rainbow said, "as long as it's not blueberry."

"Blueberry?" Twilight said, as her mind threatened to double, buckle like heated wax. "What's wrong with blueberry?"

"Nothing's wrong with it, I'm allergic. Like, really allergic, my whole mouth gets a rash." She showed off her tongue to drive the point home. "It's gross."

and, oof! that answers at least some of the questions Twilight had about all this. but the answers to those questions aren't the most interesting things to take away from this fic, at least in my opinion.

just loved this. simultaneously a deconstruction of and homage to shipfics of Twilight with her friends. even the ones that felt a touch underdrawn, like the TwiPie and RariTwi, actually work really well in the story itself for their underdrawnness, making perfect sense within the context of it. thanks for the great read!

This was really interesting.

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