• Published 30th Aug 2015
  • 2,648 Views, 385 Comments

Nine Days Down - JoeShogun

Celestia's latest game of Save the Princess gets more serious than she'd have liked when she gets herself thrown into Tartarus. It would be bad enough if she were alone...but it seems she'd picked up a straggler as well.

  • ...

Loose Ends, References and Inspirations

Not necessarily in that order. In fact, backwards. Here’s some of the stuff that gave me the ideas for this little tale of woe. We’ll start with pony-related stories.

Siren Song, by GaPJaxie – This guy has inspired more than one story of mine. But this one is the story of a girl from Equestria dropped into the dystopian nightmare that is Rapture, of Bioshock fame. It has a different name in the story, but I forget what it is. Anyway, it’s a riveting, wrenching, ponified version of Bioshock. It occurs before the entire place falls apart, and explores what becomes of an isolated society torn apart by greed and weird magic far better than the game did. It also has the single best portrayal of a long-term, stress-induced breakdown that I’ve ever read. Siren Song was probably the single biggest motivator for Nine Days Down: I saw what someone could do with a story like that and wanted to see if I could do it myself.

Tragically, I don’t think the full saga of Siren will ever be finished, but you should definitely give it a look, regardless. Though I feel obligated to warn you, it is not an easy read.

Eternal, by Device Heretic - Duh. I think everyone that’s ever read this one has cried over it at least a little, even the guy who tricked me into reading it. That’s about the best compliment I can give a drama. I’m sure I borrowed several ideas from it, though I don’t remember what they were, specifically. Oh, wait. I can think of one...

Uprooted, by Naomi Novik - It ain’t pony, but it is hands down my favorite fantasy novel, and I’ve read a few. The Wood, the novel’s immortal, ingenious, and utterly monstrous yet formless nemesis, was where I got a lot of inspiration for Tartarus. The heroine is a combination of panicky teenager and crazy hero that I found thoroughly compelling. Her foil, the Dragon, is exactly what you get when you take a 20-something dude and age him by a couple hundred years. Also, the power of friendship features prominently in the novel. I love everything about that book, but the Wood really stands out as a great, scary-as-hell villain. Also, it’s a one-shot, so you won’t have to slog through a damn trilogy or whatever.

Worm, by Wildbow – If you ever wished superhero stories had more soul-breaking trauma in them, look no further than Worm. It was too much for me, and I never finished it. But credit where it’s due, Worm is compelling and one of the most creative looks at the superhero/villain concept out there. Just be warned that the fandom motto for Worm is “It gets worse.” It’s a web serial, by the way, quite long, and has nothing at all to do with ponies. I mention it here because it was sort of a cautionary tale for what I was trying to do with Nine Days. My goal was to dance on the line of Too Much without crossing over it. I guess you guys will have to let me know if I pulled that off.

Exalted – I got a lot of the ideas about gods having multiple souls from Exalted, which they, in turn, got from old, weird mythology (but more on that later). I also made use of its over-the-top aesthetic for the bigger fight scenes. I’m interested to know what people thought of all the esoteric god-stuff and the fights between them, so lemme know in the comments, if ya want.

Boogieman, by Johnny Hollow – This a song, actually, and it’s about a girl who was abused and became something worse than her abuser in response. It’s from her perspective, and she seems to be having a wonderful time of it. Luna was strongly based on this idea (the part about being scarier than the scary things, specifically), but Twilight’s arc was too. What if, instead of becoming a monster, she rejected the whole process and became a hero, instead? Well, more of a hero, I suppose.

Speaking of Luna, I mostly based her off how she's portrayed in the comics. Which is to say, less mopey, more fun, with an added dash of scary.

Rainbow, by Sia – Have you guys actually listened to the lyrics of this song? They are not the sort of thing I’d expect to show up in my magical talking pony movie. They’re about pain driving you to be a better person, more than you ever could have been without it. It’s actually pretty awesome, and I’m totally adopting it as a theme for Nine Days.

Greek and Celtic mythology – You’ve probably already guessed this one. I kind of wish I’d gotten around to slipping some other country’s myths in there, but this story was long enough already.

And, as always, my occasional editor/person I bounce ideas off of, Spice of Life. He was too busy for most of the later chapters, but he’s always around to help turn stupid ideas into passable ones.

References! Here’s the stuff that showed up in the story and what it was like before I got ahold of it.

Ben – Ben began life as a scorpion, actually. He shows up in an episode of Sealab 2021. I liked him, so he became my familiar in a Dungeons and Dragons game I briefly played. The concept of a screaming spider came from Spoils, a collectible card game that I was terrible at but loved, and since friendly spiders were canon to MLP, I guess I decided to sneak him into the story. I regret nothing. He was meant to be a continuous stabilizing influence, the one thing in Tartarus that was (almost) always there for Twilight. Making him a dream-being and creature of Luna just seemed appropriate, given their mutual penchant for mischief.

Cretes – The Great White Bull is something of an amalgamation of several white bulls that show up in Greek myth. One of them was Zeus in disguise, another a gift from Posiedon, one just a bit of fancy livestock. Some were monsters, some actually totally cool, but all of them were rather, eh, amorous. The most terrible/hilarious story involved Aphrodite charming the Queen of Minos into falling in love with said bull. Shenanigans ensued, and thus was born the first minotaur. GREEK MYTHOLOGY!

Anyway, Cretes was put in as a big, intimidating, but still reasonable example of the kinds of things imprisoned in Tartarus. I wanted him to show up later as an antagonist, but was convinced by my editor-bro to do something more interesting, i.e show that Tartarus can directly intervene when it really wants to. His brief third appearance was a questionable decision, but it was meant to show that Twilight was having an impact on Celestia, Luna, and Tartarus itself, even if she didn't know it.

Cretes himself is a brute and a bully, but in the right circumstances, a hero, too. It turns out being stuck in a hell-scape and having to protect his people are the right circumstances for him. I wanted to put in more about the cows that follow him, but never found a way to do it. In answer to the perfectly reasonable question of what happened with the herd after Twilight's escape, they're fine. They had a big, ugly rumble, but they're a tough bunch. Whether Terra was willing to adopt them is anyone's guess, but finding and getting the herd home is one of Twi's top priorities upon her return to Tartarus.

The gorehounds and the wyrds – I took one look at the diamond dogs and was all like, 'Those things are werewolves. Lokk at how huge those things are. They could tear people up.' And thus, with the addition of shaggy hair and a viking-like temperament, were born the gorehounds. Wyrds were just a little something to make things more interesting, an old trick Discord pulled on the world that gave random creatures random bits of violent magic.

The ash viper, the clot – Just some ever more unpleasant creatures for Twi to contend with, though the singing thing on top of the clot came from an old game called Odium, I think. It was just some singing mutant that never attacked you, but led you toward a fight. Don’t know what brought it mind, but it was weird and I thought it made a good lure, so there we are.

The manticore - That word means man-eater, by the by They've been described as tigers with spiny tails, giant lions with scorpion tails and men's faces, the former with wings, and even more exotic creatures. I went with the canon pony one. The idea that they're scared of rhyme came from an actual pony publication that I can't currently recall the name of. It was the diary Twi found in the old castle. One of you will surely know its official title.

Virago – Flagrantly stolen from Fluffle Puff lore. It’s Markseline. That’s pretty much it. I’ve always liked the idea of a Goddess of Crazy, and she seemed appropriate. I wanted more out of her, actually, but writing convincing crazy is pretty hard. Virago means mad-woman, by the way, and also, warrior-woman. Funny how the two are synonyms, eh?
Okay, I guess there's more to her. I took further inspiration from the series she was inspired by: Deadspace. I really liked how the first game handled the Marker. the idea that it was inimical to the human mind, but not actually hostile to us was super interesting. They kinda ruined that in the sequels. So it goes.

Somebody in the comments totally called me out on the plant that was being used to contain Virago. Its name was Yothga. It comes from Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories. The Scarlet Citadel, I want to say. Yothga had roots that reached all the way into Hell, and the being it contained was a great wizard who eventually destroyed the guy who had imprisoned both Conan and himself.

The Wights – What if ponies lived underground and were predatory? What if one of them wasn’t happy about it? What if MLP came out with a canon story like that, but with a changeling.


Anyway, the scene with the wights was there as a counterpoint to the scene with the gorehounds. Twi had no one to help her, so here was where we were meant to see what she was really made of. Which is to say, she’d a pacifist, more or less. It also gave me a chance to show that nothing could be trusted in Tartarus, and the following scenes with Bait showed that dammit, she was going to do it anyway. Furthermore, it let me show that Twilight’s friends are sort of always there, giving her strength, even if not in person. And also a centaur, because fuck it, why not?

The wights also served as a sort of twisted counterpoint to ponies in general. They work together and have something of a society in which responsibility and family bonds are important (which is better than most things in Tartarus can do), but those things are expressed in very different ways thanks to the environment they live in. They aren't by nature evil, but their entire lifestyle is somewhat inimical to that of their herbivorous cousins.

On the note of Bait, I worry that I picked on the little guy too much toward the end. One of the hazards of having several-month breaks between chapters is that you forget how much you've already done a thing. *shrug* Alas, he was the best hook I had to make Twilight do stupid interesting things.

The Shrimp - These were based on mantis shrimp, which are a real thing that lives in the ocean, grows to over a foot long, and can punch through pretty much anything. Enjoy your next trip to the beach.

Nuckalavee – Nuckalavee is the best and greatest and most god-damn terrifying fey in all of Celtic myth and I love him. Or maybe them. It’s not clear if there are more than one of him. Regardless, I took his description and personality straight from the lore, except that I gave him a sword. The disease he breathes is called mortasheen, and his hatred of horses is totally a thing. He even has some great old-school mythological weaknesses. Specifically, being enraged by the smell of burning seaweed (in case you ever want to enrage this monstrosity) and unable to cross moving, fresh water. I had no particular plans for him after his first appearance, but having him head the Wyld Hunt (which is pretty much as described in the story) made for a convenient chase scene at the end, so that’s what I did. I honestly felt like that whole section was a little weak, so lemme know if I’m right on that.

The Hekatonkhire – Ah, the hekatonkhire. These weirdos are one of my favorites, and may actually have been the catalyst for this whole story. I kept thinking about how something with fifty heads and a hundred arms could possibly work, and eventually I came up with Briareos. Once I had one, I knew I had to figure out the others, and I wanted them all to be unique. The idea of a ‘tree’ whose ‘fruit’ were spooky masks was pretty decent, I thought, but I never really did come up with a good third idea, so I defaulted to a shape-shifting centipede monster that was Cottos.

Anyway, the hekatonkhire were Gaia’s first children by Uranus (Earth and Sky, respectively), and the father was so disgusted by them that he shoved them deep under the earth. Sidenote: Gaia was the earth. According to most translations, this meant that the father of her children pushed them back into her womb. Gaia was upset by this, as any mother would be, and that was why she betrayed the rest of the Titans in favor of her other son, Cronus. Then he went and did the same thing (and worse, actually). As such, she ‘betrayed’ him too in favor of Zeus and the Gods, who promised to allow her sons to hang out in the much nicer Earth. The hekatonkhire, once freed, beat back all the Titans damn near by themselves and were the reason the Gods came to rule. The gods then made them the jailors of those Titans who had survived...And put them in Tartarus. GREEK MYTHOLOGY!

Speaking of…

Terra – Terra probably never should have been included in this story. She was a complicating factor, and I never explained her well, and so I probably should have left her out. But here we are.

Terra is what remains of the third Alicorn Sister, Gaia. And… Actually, you know what? I think I’m going to let Celly and Luna explain what happened with her in the Loose Ends section.

According to mythology, Terra and Gaia are synonymous. She is the earth, a Titan, one of the original creators of everything. She birthed and houses all life, being both a place and person, and turned on the Titans when they were all dicks to her children. She led her children in their fight, but she kind of disappears from the legends after that.

The Shattered – It occurred to me that the mirror pond from the Too Many Pinkies episode could be used for nefarious purposes. But an army of clones forged from evil magic might not be the most loyal…

About that scene in the cave – I dunno, man. This whole story was an experiment, and I wanted to try my hand at shipping. I now know firsthand how hard it is to resist such nonsense. Hopefully it didn’t ruin it for everyone. In my defense, sometimes people just need a win, right? Surrounded by death and despair, maybe a girl just needs a way to feel alive. And clandestine make-outs are a pretty good way to do that. That was my justification, anyway.

So. Many. Chimera – Greek mythology has two tricks when it comes to making monsters: 1. Put two or more animals together. 2. Add more heads. Being born from spilled blood also showed up a time or two, I suppose.

The Bewilderbeasts and swamp trolls and troglodytes – Just some critters for Luna to victimize, to show how much better prepared she is for this place than Twilight or Celestia. I got pretty attached to the bewliders, actually. The idea of a sort of alternate changeling that blended in, but different, seemed pretty cool. Too bad Luna murdered them all.

Phix – Sphinxes are canon now and they're adorable and I love them! Anyway, technically, Phix was a Greek sphinx, what with the tits. The Egyptian ones were totally chill and didn’t eat people, but their only human feature was the head. I kind of fused them, because I like the Egyptian look. And also tits. And maybe forgot the differences.

The guards – Some normals, finally! That was pretty much their role. To be normals. Sorta.

The Swords – Twilight’s very first new soul! Deities often have a signature weapon, and I thought it would be interesting to have Twilight form hers in front of the reader. Especially since Insight has a little arc of her own. The idea of someone being born a weapon and then told to be something more was pretty interesting to me, and hopefully to everybody else.

Dullahan and his Procession – Another Celtic mainstay. The headless horseman (though it was never actually the dullahan, but a dullahan. The headless horsemen weren't singular entities) and the banshees. According to myth, neither being was a monster in itself, really. They were harbingers. Hearing the keening wail of the mourning dead or seeing a corpse upon a horse meant only that someone near you would soon die, and not, as recent interpretations would have us believe, that they were out to get you. They were just a warning of things to come. I always liked that. I’m not sure where I got the idea to have Dullahan approach people and offer them a painless death as a mercy, or that those who had accepted this 'gift' might tell their story to any who listened for eternity, but once it was in my head I knew I had to use it. Plus, I thought it would be fun to have Luna have gone through a goth phase with them.

Tartarus – Ahh, yes. The big villain. The monster that haunted us through this whole ordeal. Let’s start with the myths. Tartarus is a hell, first and foremost. A prison of darkness and despair where the gods threw their undesirables. But it was a deity in itself, as well. Perhaps the first one. Many a hero and villain were cast into Its depths, never to be seen again. Except, perhaps, for the occasional escapee. But there weren’t many of those.

But what is Tartarus in this story? What formed the character that I made of It? I did a lot of thinking about that, and eventually came to a single conclusion: Tartarus is Us. The writer, and the audience. You and me. The ones who revel and revile in the struggles of our beloved heroine. I may invent them, but you folks keep coming back to see what happens. We feel for her as she suffers, and rejoice in her victories, but no matter what happens, we keep watching, because what would she be without these trials?

Okay, sorry if I got all dramatic there, but seriously, I did some pondering, and we are Tartarus. I don’t think anyone who didn’t care about Twilight would still be reading this mess, but let’s face it, we’re all here to see her overcome something. And part of overcoming is suffering, so we’re here for that, too. Of course, we, unlike Tartarus, only inflict such things on fictional characters. So we’re not that bad. Right?


Typhon - Man, how did I forget Typhon? He's always been one of my favorite mythological figures, and I always felt that he got a raw deal. Typhon was the last child of Gaia, and the greatest. He was the one being to ever defeat Zeus in combat, and, depending on the story you read, he was only defeated through base trickery. He wouldn't have even have fought but for his mother, and he never really did anything evil. It always seemed to me that his punishment (being buried in Tartarus beneath an entire mountain) far outweighed his 'crime.'

His description varied. He was either an enormous, well-muscled man with snakes bursting from his back and arms, or a dragon, much as he was described in this story. He usually had only one head, except for the snakes, but kept the wings and the tentacular lower body. Even after being entombed, he still had influence in the myths. He was married to Echidna, who had the awesome title 'Mother of Monsters,' and looked much like him. Together, they spawned nearly every monster you might ever have heard of. Alas, Echidna's story is vague, as is the tale of how all their kids escaped the bonds their parents suffered.

In this story, Typhon is a bit different, and there is no Echidna. But I think I'll let Celestia and Luna tell that story...

Loose Ends – I will totally write this part soon. And by soon I mean within several months.

Oh wait, here's one.

Q: What the hell happened to Artifice?
A: She is in friendship jail, awaiting trial. Equestria is too nice to have actual prisons, so basically she's just in holding until Starlight Glimmer gets around to tricking her into being a better person. I had a few vague ideas of what to do with Artifice after the main story, maybe make her part of a greater plot, but...nah.

Author's Note:

Sorry for any and all errors. I got excited and published this after a mere first draft.

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Comments ( 63 )

Ya know, fair enough. I can't really argue with that. I just always liked Celly as a boss, rather than someone who gets thrown aside to let everyone else shine. Difference of preference, I suppose. Edit - I belatedly realized what you were referring too. So, what I was going for there was that Twi was trying to reconcile what she'd seen from the sisters in this story with what she'd seen from them in canon episodes. She also sort of accidentally provided Luna with a way to assuage her own ego by assuming that Luna had lost by intent, which wasn't meant to necessarily be true. But Luna's a bit of a sore loser, so she's willing to pretend that's what happened. Evidently, that didn't come out like I'd hoped.
Thank you for thinking all the things I was trying to make people think on that. It's actually really gratifying.
Hell, you might've been what made it happen. And thanks!
Your comments are appreciated, and I mean that. This one was under serious threat of never being looked at again, and I doubt I would have finished it if you folks hadn't always been there. If ya'll have any ideas on how it could be better though, do let me know. Nine Days Down began as essentially an experiment for other things, after all. I was pretty worried those last parts, especially the ending, would seem hackneyed and lame, so I'm glad they worked, but there's always room for improvement.
Good lord, man! How much suffering can you take!?
Yeah... It wasn't a joy to write, either. And thanks. I seriously considered cutting it altogether.
Aren't we all?
Good to know. Handling the guards was tricky, cause I've known lots of military folk, but I'm not one myself.
And you've been there every step of the way. *Brohoof*

Yessss. Exxxxcellent.
Also, yeah, the herd actually could have been a whole thing, but I never quite came up with what to do with them. My bad.
I do worry that I do too much telling in my work, so I'll keep that in mind. As to the onomatopoeia, eh, yeah. That's gonna keep happening. *click*
If you're still interested, check the Inspirations chapter. It pretty much spells out what I was trying to do with him, among other things.

Loose Ends – I will totally write this part soon. And by soon I mean within several months.

I'm holding you to this.

I think you just accidentally told us who the new element of magic is.

It warms my heart to see that Celestia, Fusion Plasma-spewing, Buster Sword-wielding, Supernova Celestia, is actually a nervous, clingy girlfriend when she's in love with a bold, confident Twilight.

Even after her escape Twilight still had to endure a sort of extended period of shock. Excellent job capturing the essence of PTSD.

Twilight through her new Goddess-vision saw the other alicorns as impossibly and overwhelmingly beautiful. I wonder how those three see Twilight?

And how long did it take her to ask if there were any other alicorns they'd forgotten to mention?


While I agree that making Twilight and friends seem weak or unnecessary sucks, if you take the cartoon events as presented it makes Nightmare Moon/Luna seem even weaker, and there's still wiggle room for Nightmare Moon being a powerful foe while hoping to lose.

I read Worm. I honestly didn't feel it was too grim, though it definitely took the game of thrones approach to character survival. I loved the sense of escalation from start to finish. By the end of the story, someone is literally "savior of the multiverse", and it felt earned as hell. It concluded in a very satisfying climax.

This was a fantastic read, I loved every chapter. I binge read it all at once after seeing it was complete. Congrats and thanks for finishing writing this!


And you've been there every step of the way. *Brohoof*

I regret only that I didn't find the story sooner!

If ya'll have any ideas on how it could be better though, do let me know. Nine Days Down began as essentially an experiment for other things, after all. I was pretty worried those last parts, especially the ending, would seem hackneyed and lame, so I'm glad they worked, but there's always room for improvement. 

There's two things that stick out in my mind:

A. We never get a good sense of why Twilight affected Terra so deeply. For a setting of this nature, it's fine and even preferable to have ever greater powers that we will never really grasp or see the totality of, and in that sense Terra's fine as this whole other quietly undead alicorn with all of the power but none of the life and emotion that defines the other three. But then Twilight drastically changes her worldview by... bitching her out and becoming a goddess in front of her? That last bit in particular irks me, because it feels like it should be seeing the effort to spread friendship in the face of overwhelming peril and succeed in doing so that would affect her more so than the divine awakening that follows as a result of it, and that's just not quite how that final letter is written.

B. Tartarus is... inconsistent, at least to my year-old memories. I'd need to reread the whole thing to nail this down properly (and I just might!), but it's mentioned early on that Tartarus wants a good story, and in the end it's pleased to have incubated a goddess... but at all other points, its described as a viciously jealous jailer willing to move heaven and earth—literally—to keep its inmates, to the point that there's that intense "ASSUMING DIRECT CONTROL" moment with Cretes where it straight up talks. But after that Tartarus fizzles out as an active force and just lets the various horrible things within it do all the work until the final screw job with Bait at the end, where it's still powerful enough to ignore Twilight's "cut anything" blade. And if it can still do that, what's really stopping it from keeping Twilight around after all? She has to be able to leave somehow for narrative reasons, but being released rather than outright escaping feels like it runs counter to how Tartarus is otherwise depicted.

I am intensely interested in the experience you had in binge-reading this, given that it took like, two years to write. Did things actually add up? What was missing? Did I repeat things too much (or not enough) without knowing it? Also, I am impressed with your binge capacity.
That would have been just a bit too easy, wouldn't it? (I totally considered it)
Hrmm. Yup. Valid concerns.
Well, in regards to Terra, what I was aiming for was the idea that Terra wasn't so much affected by Twilight as having recognized her as a useful agent in Terra's own designs. Mayhaps I'll give it another look and see if I can't communicate that better. And as to Tartarus, yeah...yeah. My idea there (which I totally failed to mention to the reader) was that the big T generally prefers to sort of put its pets in a jar and shake them to see what they'll do. Assuming direct control is something it kind of regards as cheating. As to why It thinks It will never get to keep Twi, It knows she would literally die before what it tried to make of her. And thanks again for taking the time to bring those flaws up, it's helpful.
The Trauma-Twi chapter took a long time to write because it was physically difficult to do at times. Nice to know it worked though.
And yes, clingy-girlfriend Celestia is pretty fun to write. I may have to do more with that...


Well, in regards to Terra, what I was aiming for was the idea that Terra wasn't so much affected by Twilight as having recognized her as a useful agent in Terra's own designs. Mayhaps I'll give it another look and see if I can't communicate that better.

The idea that she has "plans" that are being disrupted does come up, but it's so nebulous at the time, and then isn't mentioned at all in her final scene where it would've been most relevant to reveal it as the counter to Twilight's accusation. Again, might come together better for someone who didn't read the story over the course of more than a year, but the epilogue's about face came out of left field for me.

It's also not entirely clear why she even needs Twilight back in the end if she's finally managed to cobble together a proper settlement on her own after failing for so long. It's good that Twilight's had some lingering influence to give purpose and meaning to the journey, but the way it's phrased it sounds like most of the work has been done already.

And as to Tartarus, yeah...yeah. My idea there (which I totally failed to mention to the reader) was that the big T generally prefers to sort of put its pets in a jar and shake them to see what they'll do. Assuming direct control is something it kind of regards as cheating. As to why It thinks It will never get to keep Twi, It knows she would literally die before what it tried to make of her.

And that makes sense as a concept, but much of the text and some of its own actions reinforce the "Tartarus will not let anything escape" idea over the "Tartarus is such a chaotic hellhole that you can't escape" idea. Story kinda vacillates between the two.

These are primarily the hazards of serialization, in any case. Maintaining absolute consistency over the span of years is hard!

First of all: Rainbow by Sia. I actually didn't really listen to the lyrics until AFTER you mentioned it (I also had to look it up on google just to be sure). I have a new respect for the song AND it is now my absolute favourite.
Secondly: Ben is my favourite character in this whole story and I wished he was real because I need someone like him in my life (really, I just want an adorable little spider that screams and scare the hay out of a people...which is weird because I don't like spiders but I will make an exception for him).
Third and lastly: That Twilestia scene in the cave? That was probably my favourite part (second favourite). It's my favourite ship you see. I kinda wished we saw a little more of it at the end there BUT I had to remind myself that this isn't a love story. Besides, all-in-all, this was a GREAT story, I enjoyed it thoroughly, and you should be dang proud of yourself.

Hey I reviewed your awesome story. I did some fan art as well, which I hope you don't mind.

"These are primarily the hazards of serialization, in any case. Maintaining absolute consistency over the span of years is hard!"

Eeeeeeeeeeyup. A secondary issue being that I forget how much I know about the characters vs. how much I say about them in the story. The difference can be pretty significant. Anyway, I liked your ideas on Terra, so I rejiggered her letter a bit. Alas, I'm too lazy to fix Tararus's business, though I do agree with your comments there, too.
J/K lol, I rejiggered the big Tartarus reveal scene, and did a bit with Terra's, and a further bit with Twi's conversation with the soldiers. Thanks again for the feedback, it always helps.
:twilightblush: :heart: 🕷

Yeah, I wondered how that would go over. The change was mostly intentional: that feeling of unreality was my attempt to represent what happens to someone after they suffer that way. People just kind of...disconnect, sometimes. Hard to know if a thing works until you try it. But also I just wanted to get things done. *shrug*

Having someone do fanart of a thing you did is basically the best ever. So, :pinkiehappy::pinkiehappy::pinkiehappy: And thanks for taking the time. That is really very gratifying. Holy Hell, that is bad ass!! I hadn't actually looked at your work yet, but damn!


I see writing like this, I'm more jelly than Briareos. Stormed through the entire thing while waiting for a plane.

A few stories I've read like this take the greek mythology and just slather it over the ponies like so much plaster and act like that's enough, not caring. at all the cracks that show up. You really merged everything together seamlessly. I love it.

This was fantastic, and gripping, and harrowing. I'll remember it, but I never want to read it again, if that makes any sense.

Nah, it doesn't really. It just means that Nightmare Moon saw Twilight and her friends as such miniscule insects that she didn't see them as any threat at all, so all she did was throw illusions and half-hearted obstacles at them for her own pure amusement. If she had wanted, she could have blasted them, or imprisoned them, or turned them to stone, etc. at any time, but her arrogance was her downfall. After all, she had just beaten Celestia, so how could she be anything but invincible?

So, I've had this in my Read Latter list for a LONG while. Possibly since you started publishing it. 8472100 made me see it was complete, and I binged it.

Holy fuck I don't regret it.

It's beautiful. You did a wonderful job of it. And don't worry, you did get the Exalted feeling on the fights, alright. It was the first thing that came to mind when Celestia first fought with her sword, how much it sounded like a Dawn. And when she called herself Sol Invictus waaay back at the start I couldn't but think about it too. But it was on the Titanomachia chapter that it really shone through. The combatants where truly grandiose on a scale beyond usual fantasy, and straight into the Epics territory. They didn't wield weapons or magics "of mortals but on a grander scale", they wielded the uniquely Divine. Celestia's might and Luna's... hell if I know what word describes her, where a perfect mirror to their Incarna counterparts. It being narrated from the standpoint of mortals gave it all the more impact. It showed how they where at the mercy of those Deities, how they were so much smaller than all that around them. How even mortal Heroes, such as Twilight, were a far cry from being noticed by said powers.
And then you have Twilight's ascendancy, a terrific portrait of a Second Breath.

All in all, you earned my favorite more than twice over. Kudos, and be certain that I will read whatever next story you choose to gift us next. And I won't leave it for latter, this time :twilightsmile:

The big mega-monster-kaiju-sun-moon-death battle at the end was one the defining scenes in my initial concept for this story, so I am super-psyched to hear that it worked.
I know exactly what that feeling is. You're...welcome? :]
Aww. You guys... :twilightblush: Also, 'more jelly than Briareos.' :twilightsmile:

Well, the elements have always been an unpredictable bunch, but as the only person to ever school Twi in terms of magic, Glim-Glam would make a pretty good candidate. But that will have to be a tale for another time. And writer. Until then, interpret it as you will.

I meant twilight could fight back with insight in tararus. That was before I read the rest of the chapter and remembered Twilight was still Twilight. I didn't even think about her leaving using insight, I don't know how I missed that.

Well, I do loves me some mythology. :twilightblush:
Argleblarg! How do I miss these things!? Fixed. And thanks.
Hah! Pretty much.
:yay: Though you seem to have a way of pointing out my failings...

It seems that Heinlein's court consists only of perpetrators of grand violence and victims thereof. Are we to assume, then, that these are all that exist? Had the dodo fought back, would it's fate have been different? Are there truly no alternatives to this seemingly per-ordained cycle of destruction?

Maybe not. But maybe, with a great deal of work and a little touch of magic, there could be.

For the record, I don't necessarily disagree with you (Or Heinlein, in this case). Nor do several characters in this story. But I guess that's why we aren't the Princess of Friendship.

Yes, she toyed with them, but it was because of her arrogance and her belief that they posed zero threat no matter what they did, not because she "wanted to lose".

So, I just have 2 questions, somewhat connected, and a bit of idle curiosity, and confusion about Cadance.

Cadance:Guessing her weapon is a bow of crystal, right? If she has one at all. I mean, I assume so since Twilight coughed hers up before she ascended again, but I'm not sure since she's pregnant and apparently mortal.

Which leads to my confusion:IS she mortal? I mean, Luna and Celestia made it sound like like you could have kids or eternal life, not both, but then there's Terra who might be dead but isn't following death around and she has kids and :applejackconfused:

Were Luna and Celestia correct, or was it just their choice?

Then there's my questions about Twilight, that tie into each other.

She coughs up her weapon, which is part of her soul. It somehow disappears when she's moping on Gaia, but comes back when she works through it. It disappeared somewhere in Tartarus, but reappeared on Gaia. Yet Luna had to bring Hyperia to Celestia? Twilight ascends a second time, to immortality, or not, or deferred her choice?

8453686 Thanks
Also, sorry to reply late on this, but with enough time to think it over, I have come to the conclusion that Tartarus Celestia sacrificed her memories knowingly to ensure Twilight kept hers. Post-Tartarus Celestia knows the mutual feelings are there and what had happened during the nine days (it would be hard for her not to), it's just that something is required to spark that passion once again.

Perhaps she is waiting on Twilight to reignite it by letting the new alicorn approach things at her own pace and make the first move. Allow Twilight to make the decision of whether or not she truly wants to pursue that romance in spite of the heart wrenching setback, giving her freedom to choose in a life that has already been manipulated and planned by Celestia herself until this point. At least, that is what I would like to believe is happening. Perhaps Celestia really is unsure of what to do herself, given how Twilight just aged a metaphorical ten years and has gained foreknowledge into her hidden sides, exposing the facades.

Things are still up in the air. Hope there is some form of closure on this in either the loose ends portion or a mini sequel of sorts.

Ok I absolutely loved this and would like to see more!

Read this over a day and a half , LOVED it.

Bits i thought weren't great: turning twilight into a god in the last 1/3 wasn't necessary, and is it it weird that she only is a god because this completely evil thing made her one, does she ever think about that?

Good luck its not some corrupting, perception altering, unknowable entity you don't understand or anything .

They are right near the exit ,with two unstoppable never challenged princesses, their sacrifices felt lame when they are just buying time in the realm that can warp creatures perception of time to trap them. Just leave already!

I do like that it works with the "twilight will not out live her friends" tweet from the writers . She is friendship , all those bonds die , she dies; Just like when the sun blows up for celestia.



But Twilight ascending was what it was all building up to. She was already clearly on the path of divinity; the blade appearing and her discussions with Celestia made that clear.

Congratulations on the RCL feature!


Celestia's might and Luna's... hell if I know what word describes her,

I believe the word you're looking for is "finesse".

Artifice, oh Artifice...

I can just imagine a defiant Artifice facing down a tribunal of the princesses. "Do your worst! Send me to Tartarus for all I care, I will only return stronger than ever!"

"Tartarus? No, you haven't yet done anything that would make me want to inflict its-" *shudder*, "horror on you." :twilightsmile:

Now I need to read up on hekatonkhieres again... :pinkiehappy:

Grarg! I suck at words. Anyway, fixed, keep 'em coming.

First of all, :D. It's really rewarding when somebody puts that much effort into really breaking down the good and bad of a thing. Thanks.
As to the part you didn't like, I actually agree completely. I often hate Deus Ex Machina, but I did this one for a reason other than narrative convenience (though there was that, too). I'll not do any spoiling, but you're not the only one who has issues with how that problem got solved. It'll come up later, and the story doesn't dwell on it too much, but hopefully that particular event will be a little more tolerable for you by the end. If not, lemme know.
Sidenote, the bird wasn't originally going to be fleshed out at all. As with so many other things in this woeful tale, that just kind of happened.

None of that was ever implied to be anything like you're intetpreting. Nothing she did remotely implied omnipresence (her known teleports do not have a known distance, nor were they ever implied to be innately special), and she has lots of reason to be watching Twilight because she's literally sending her on missions. She was even explicitly shown to not be omniscient in season one.

Raising the sun and moon is more impressive, but this is a universe that has had wildly different celestial mechanics from episode one, and only flawed comparisons to our world make it indicative of her being a deity, comparisons that were later disproven.

Finally, it was Faust herself that, when asked, stated that she did not personally consider Celestia and Luna to be goddesses, but merely just ponies (albeit very powerful and long-lived ones).

Not all eldrich abominations are as corrupt as us humans, assuming such is just mean even if it saves you from destruction.

I wrote that before I reading the next part., my bad.

But what is Tartarus in this story? What formed the character that I made of It? I did a lot of thinking about that, and eventually came to a single conclusion: Tartarus is Us. The writer, and the audience. You and me. The ones who revel and revile in the struggles of our beloved heroine. I may invent them, but ya'll keep coming back to see what happens. We feel for her as she suffers, and rejoice in her victories, but no matter what happens, we keep watching , because what would she be without these trials?

Hey, no fair. I've devoured plenty of fanfics where the Mane 6 just watched movies and made quips, and the like. :trixieshiftleft:

Ok, sorry if I got all dramatic there, but seriously, I did some pondering, and we are Tartarus . I don’t think anyone who didn’t care about Twilight would still be reading this mess, but let’s face it, we’re all here to see here overcome something. And part of overcoming is suffering, so we’re here for that, too. Of course, we, unlike Tartarus, only inflict such things on fictional characters. So we’re not that bad. Right?

In the vedic oneness of the universal consciousness, all that which has been imagined or ever will be imagined, has already come to pass, and will come to pass. Anyways, there is no past, present, and future... the past is still here and the future already exists.


None of that was ever implied to be anything like you're intetpreting.

Yes, yes, I know you're one of those ppl who dismiss everything he's learned from English Lit classes, all the way from elementary school to college. Everything has to be stated as a matter of fact, in precise lawyer speak, for it to be true in a story. If there is nuance, or is artfully meant for reader interpretation, you will deny it to the end. I have no idea how ppl like that even read anything other than dictionaries.

You are not alone. I've encountered so many ppl who seem to... read... stories this way.

Celestia's appearance after NMM's defeat was via a beam of sunlight. There is no other known teleportation in this manner, basically a "descent from heaven" (complete with a choir). Outside of strictly MLP setting, this manner of movement is reserved for the divine/ holy.

I can basically stop here because that already disproves your assertion of "none".

No, because you misinterpreted that as well; the beam of line was the sunrise, and Celestia returning just as the sunrise was is itself symbolic of her and the day both returning after Nightmare Moon's defeat. The sun is not automatically a sign of "holiness", and in this example it was not. Twilight had a similar messiah-like scene in the movie when she descended down from the clouds like an angel, but no-one actually uses that scene to argue that she's a god or messiah figure, because everything else in the series shows otherwise.

Of course there's lots of nuance and implications in MLP (as in practically all longer pieces of fiction), but you're seeking some in places where there isn't any. Season 1 and 2 already discount many of your interpretations, such as Celestia specifically being shown as lacking omniscience in Swarm of the Century and Return of Harmony.

Okay okay, let's just agree to disagree. Though all disagreements are not created equal. But let's leave it vague as to who is less and who is more equal. :raritywink:

This disagreement is taking place under a story where the Sisters are explicitly divine. So I'm enjoying myself reading such stories, no need to debate it with others to get my giggles.

Thank you for writing this fic; I enjoyed reading it, and it did a few things that made it stand out among the others I've read:

- It showed how Twilight's worldview slowly changed from one that was well-adapted to Equestria to one that could survive in Tartarus (while struggling to keep her principles).
- It showed how traumatic Tartarus would be to a pony used to Equestria.
- It showed how devastating post-traumatic stress would be on returning to Equestria.

Well done. The only other fic I can name off the top of my head that did the last one was the Hard Reset trilogy.

Kudos for pulling the unexpected twist that the reader is Tartarus, too. It makes disturbing amounts of sense :twilightsmile:.

(Kobrakin had a much lighter spin on that as a throwaway gag here.)

This... is amazingly epic. :yay:

Glad you liked it. :twilightsmile:
Also, hah! I love that Kobrakin bit.


Also, hah! I love that Kobrakin bit.

He's done quite a few more (often for the same artist's pictures). Search for "Kobrakin's greatest hits" to bring up the index pages. The (work-safe) succubus-shy picture commentary was particularly amusing.

Why has Celestia not made the artificer a new statue in her garden yet? I mean wit discord gone there is a vacancy

A notes section! I love notes sections.

The only reason this isn't straight into Ur-Favorites is the lack of twi actually bringing up all the "make a note to talk about this later" bits "on camera". Oh, and

centaur because fuckit

because it was a weak bit that didn't make much sense…until one reads of civilizing attempts. At the time, hough, he's just a strange, unexpected intrusion.

Deity’s often have


the idea to have Dullahan…(do what he does here)

It was interesting and disturbing, as it should be.
(Didn't much like the notes explanation on Tartarus.)


No, it comes from fimfiction needing to pay for itself. The ads have slowly become a thing. You can, however, get rid of them by instead becoming a patron (through Patreon) of fimfiction, and paying directly rather than through clickbait.

Since you asked, the Gods battle was a stunner. I had to read that chapter twice to let it register properly haha. So busy imagining I forgot to keep reading a few times. Specifically Luna and Celestia's last hurrah were awesome, kick ass descriptions.

Also, sorry for keeping you up.
Hah! Yes. Exactly.
Fair enough. I do generally try to alter ideas enough to make them interesting, but, yeah, I took 'inspiration from a lot of places.
As someone who is awful at editing his own work, I effing love corrections. Fixed! Also, I found more while I was doing that. Siiiiiiiigh...
And thanks, by the way. For both the corrections and the comments in general.
I always wondered about the royal We myself. Seemed reasonable to make it literal.
Why make statues when you can make friends? (Because statues don't send people to Tartarus, Celestia.)
Wowee! She got through 8 pieces!? She is a champion.
I am intrigued to know what inspired this outburst.
Ahh, dammit. I'm really glad y'all liked it, but I gotta level with you guys. I am burnt out on this story. I don't even know how I would begin to think about continuing it. Thanks for the support though. If ever I do more writing in this vein, all of you will be the first to know.

It takes a lot for me to fave a story, particularly a grimdark one. But when Twilight faces it all down, and says, "Y'know what? Fuck darkness! Imma gonna friendship the hell out of this! That's a high-end fave! :pinkiehappy:

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