• Published 21st Jan 2015
  • 8,716 Views, 89 Comments

A World Without Kindness - billymorph



Celestia and Nightmare Moon are dead, Equestria has been torn apart by war, and Fluttershy struggles to survive in a world without kindness.

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Epilogue - For Want of Dusk

The horizon was a sea of red and orange as sun hung just above the treetops.

“That should have set by now,” Twilight Sparkle said, from right behind me. I forced myself not to run in panic, as her hoofsteps became suddenly audible. She made no move to attack, though, and instead settled down on the floor next to me, staring out into the distance.

“It seems to be stuck,” I replied in a murmur, ducking my head. I sat in Princess Luna’s old tower, my quilt draped over my shoulders. The roof and most of the top floor had been lost to the ages, and so there was a clear view across the forest. In hooves, I held my tiara. It was a strange thing, the wrought gold was as light as a summer breeze, but the crown felt so heavy with responsibility I feared it would crush me.

“It’s yours, you know,” Twilight continued, pointing at the sun. “I’ve tried to move it, but...” She gave her Element an irritated tap. “They chose you.”

Far below us Pinkie Pie’s party was in its sixth hour, and the revellers showed no sign of slowing down. I kept catching snippets of Rainbow Dash’s boasting, and Rarity gushing over how the Elements had healed her leg. Applejack, I assumed, was still sulking after Harmony had restored her cutie mark, but she would come around. It was a new world. A hopeful world. But that hope came with a price.

Sighing, I placed the tiara back on my head. It itched where the band met my ears, but it had a comforting warmth, not unlike that my mother’s quilt. Reaching out with one hoof I let the magic flow through me, and pushed the sun down below the distant trees. It was surprising just how much easier it was to set than to raise.

Twilight swore, softly, as the colours began to bleed out of the sky, fading to the soft blues and blacks of night. The moon did not rise, nor did the stars begin to shine. We sat in silence a long time, as the darkness grew ever deeper.

“You know, it was Celestia raising the sun that first made me want to study magic,” Twilight said, her voice distant as she stared at the vanished sun. “I was just a little blank flanked filly, but I said to myself then, ‘I want to do that’. I spent years as her personal student, then years more as her most trusted general. After she died I promised her that I would do anything, anything, to raise the sun again.”

She dropped her head into her hooves, tears staining tracks in her fur. “But in the end,” she whimpered. “I came the closest to failing of all of us. ‘Never gave up’, you said, but that determination almost cost me the last of my friends. I wasn’t the one who was supposed to save the world, no matter what Pinkie Pie says. I was the spark that almost destroyed it.”

Twilight hiccuped and sobbed. I put a hoof on her shoulder. “Look at me!” she roared, and I flinched away. “I want to hate you, Fluttershy, but you saved the world. I want revenge for you holding a knife to my throat, but after talking to Rarity I can’t even blame you for doing it.” She glared at me, her horn kindling, a snarl on her face. “I want the sun. I deserved it! I have spent my entire life in service of it, of Celestia, and if anypony was to be her heir, it was me!”

“And... And... And...” She choked, swallowing her tears. The fight seemed to drain out of her and she stared back out across the black forest at the empty expanse of the night sky. “I can’t do anything about that. Jealousy destroyed Equestria, and the world can’t survive a second war. So no matter how much I hate you, I can’t do anything.”

She took a deep, shuddering breath. Not looking up she whispered. “You hate me too, don’t you?”

“Yes,” I said, simply. Honesty was after all, a virtue now.

The weary sigh of a mare who had carried the weight of the world on her back escaped Twilight. “I thought so.” She shook herself, and looked up at the empty sky. “You know it’s ironic, but, throughout the eternal twilight, I missed the stars more than anything. The Princess... she always found the time to go stargazing with me.”

She stood. “There should be stars. I guess that gives me something to work on.” Her element flashed for just a moment and she walked away, head hung.

When I was sure she was gone, and fairly sure she wasn’t about to come back with a sword, I allowed myself a smile.

One by one, the stars were coming out.

Maybe we had a chance at harmony after all.

Author's Note:

This chapter was not part of the original More Most Dangerous Game submission, but I felt Twilight deserved her say before the story ended proper. Some minor tweaks have also occurred post contest to aid readability in the main bulk of the story.

Comments ( 54 )

I still think this should be the prologue to the sequel, but I guess it works as an epilogue (though the story really doesn't need or even want an epilogue).

Congratulations on coming in first place in the contest. Really hope to see a squeal for this, I will be patiently waiting. This story and HiEC are two of my favorites on the site, great job and I look forward for more from you in the future.

5694413
I would also love to see a 'squeal' to this story. I haven't read anything in a while that was this good. You deserve the only mustache I am ever going to give :moustache:

If you were to write a true sequel, I think it'd have to be wholly separate from the mane six to have any effect. By which I mean, they cannot be actual characters, only faceless leaders or nameless threats or something.
Because the best parts about your ending - the bits that really got to me - were the ambiguity and closure I felt at the end (I think - I don't know literary terms all that well, so what I call closure might be something completely different. Also, the ambiguity got to me more, but the closure I felt was the part of the ending which was diminished by this epilogue, I should note). This epilogue diminishes the effect of the first part, somewhat, because in showing us Fluttershy interacting with Twilight, you say 'Nope, THIS is the ending, THAT wasn't, move along!', removing a lot of the very well built up closure that the ending brought. I'm left knowing more, but the closure I'd felt from the original is no longer there, and the ending in this epilogue, while still very nice, doesn't have as much of the satisfying build up as the first one. I still care about Fluttershy and hope to see the mane six continue on, but it's not as strong as it was in the original ending.

I recommend, to anyone reading this story, that you read the first chapter as a standalone oneshot. Avoid reading the epilogue if you can, except perhaps as a separate story.

I think this epilogue could do well if it was part of a series of one-shots showing the aftermath, or something - so long as it was separate enough from the main story that people could disassociate the two, so that the effect of the original won't diminish.

That said, the epilogue, and Fluttershy interacting with Twilight, was nice in itself. I like learning about these characters, and it's strange how life just kind of goes on for them, even if the hellish eternal dawn (I won't call it twilight - this was a dawn, a wait for the sun to rise) is still fresh on their minds.

5694294 5697085 You know what, after tossing it around a bit, you guys are right. The 'epilogue' should probably be in it's own side story, I have a couple other ideas in continuity so I might leave this up until I can get the word count together for a seperate story, but I'll branch it off.

After reading this I can see why this won, Very well done take my fav and a possible follow (after I check out your other stuff) :twilightsmile:.

I guess Discord doesn't exist in this world.

Or changelings.

Cuz both of them would be having a field day. With so much chaos going on, the spell binding Discord would have shattered in days, and with ponies to easily kidnap and replace with no one even bothering to ask what happened, Chrysalis could empower her hive with ease.

Frankly... Discord would have been an improvement. Unless this is also grimdark Discord, in which case everything dies instantly.

Edit: Come to think of it, this still suffers from the one fatal flaw of all the ultra-psycho NMM fics: in a REAL situation like this, with a NMM that was homicidal, Celestia would never have relied on sheer luck to stop her sister. The show's version of events only works as a light fantasy, much like most fairy tales. Place the same characters into a natural setting, where they can actually think properly, and NMM would return facing a massive army ready and waiting for her. Celestia had a thousand years to prepare, remember. NMM had nothing but oblivion on the moon.

So is Twilight the new Luna in this story then?

A sequel to this would be interesting if difficult to write in some ways. Kind of like trying to write a followup to Kkat's ending to Fallout Equestria. It might be interesting to address what happened to the rest of the world if they didn't just simply all die out.

There's some kind of irony here that Twilight, the most active, was the least successful.

5705095
I don't see how your thinking works there. Celestia wasn't relying solely on sheer luck, although it was awfully convenient for everything to come together just in the nick of time. I think you can read a certain degree of tactics into the show as is. NMM would have expected an army and could probably have dealt with it in a number of ways (mind control, fear, promises of being out from under celestia's hooves, etc) besides outright attack (it's possible that she's even been in 'stasis' and might therefore still be in her prime in some sense regarding war), minus Celestia's direct intervention. By sending just Twilight and, by proxy, the others she surprised Nightmare Moon and forced her to make a move. In doing so, Celestia, at least in theory, caught her off guard and forced NMM to confront her. That would give Twilight and the others a chance to find the elements and perhaps use them without NMM expecting it or taking them seriously.

To raise such an army would not have been an easy task in peaceful Equestria, much less against a phantom threat where the facts had been suppressed or outright lost/hidden. Even supposing Celestia had done the appropriate things from the start, such choices would not have made Equestria what Celestia appears to desire it to be (or what it is in canon) and there would have been little hope of redeeming Nightmare Moon. She would probably have been killed or captured promptly and there might not be a single pony, having been raised in that society that could even wield the elements much less act favorably towards NMM.

I'm not sure how 'unnatural' the show setting is or what 'natural' would be for Equestria, but I can't see how it would really matter in this context. The ponies seem reasonably described as some kind of archetype? plus adjustments. Thinking "properly" would probably result in a similar outcome to the show given the characters' personalities.

Great story over all, well deserved first place if I may say.
Keep up the good work! :raritywink:

It takes a special kind of story for me to read it in one sitting. Well written!

5705631 You forget one thing: Celestia in a real scenario with a vicious NMM would have been preparing her people from the start.

Case in point: How many people, 2,000 years later, believe in the word of Jesus?

Celestia's actually there in the flesh, telling them to their faces. That's rather much harder to question, when an immortal creature that raises the sun tells you to prepare for her twisted sister's return.

Now, a simple fix for all of this is to simply state that there was never a prophecy and Celestia was taken by surprise. Really, the prophecy never made much sense in the first place. Who had made it? How could they possibly have known about the spell binding NMM ending after exactly 1,000 years, but by the same token not known it would eventually break on Discord? That's such a simple solution, I'm surprised in all this time I've never come across a story that proposed it as a plausible alt-universe explanation for a more bitter, long-lasting battle for Equestria.

If we really wanted to analyze the first two episodes deeply from a serious, high-fantasy storytelling standpoint, the sheer number of contrivances and conveniences was staggeringly unacceptable. It worked because it was written as most children's innocent fairytales and nursery rhymes (not the Grimm-sort, but more along the lines of "Stuart Little"), lightly fluffy and happy-feely; with such a gentle, playful touch that we feel no need to ask how a human woman has a child who is a mouse. Taking it to a darker tone requires major rethinking of the backstory and characters, to make their decisions better fit their characterizations, general cognitive capabilities, and historical foreknowledge.

A world that takes the NMM story from a tone akin to "Lord of the Rings" would likely be scarcely recognizable save for the names and settings, simply because 'real' plausible individuals would do things very differently.

I do wish Lauren had been able to make the two-episode story into the season-long epic she'd wanted. All that crucial nuance and build-up was lost, as was a planned confrontation between NMM and Celestia, which would have answered so many lingering questions. Primarily, where did Celestia disappear to in the episode? Many surmised that NMM banished her to the sun... but how and when could that have happened? Re-watch that scene. NMM's shadow vanished from the moon only seconds before she appeared on stage! There was simply no time for any sort of conflict between the two! The answer was that so much had to be left on the cutting room floor to fit as much of the story as possible into the abridged time allotment.

In fact, of all the villains encountered, Discord's was by far the most completely self-contained and thematically complete story. But he benefitted by being the only character requiring introduction, thus the central conflict could begin almost at once. And even there, we are missing someone important: Luna. Her presence is logically expected against such a foe, but there simply wasn't time to fit in a part for her.

I again suggest that ending a season on a cliffhanger would be a completely viable option. If the story is strong, the interest only grows. I always use the example of "Star Trek: TNG"'s brilliant "Best of Both Worlds" cliffhanger season finale, which ended with Riker stolidly commanding, "Fire." just after Picard announced himself as Locutus of Borg. Fans went wild and the new season was anticipated with almost religious fervor. It also helped that the conclusion was also magnificent.

Ah, but I'm sashaying onto distant topics now. In any case, this story was a good effort, it just needed to tie up the loose logic ends with some solid knots of wisdom to explain the present with a plausible past.

I had also thought it might have been better set in the ruins of Ponyville, where Celestia might have actually hidden the Elements the whole time. After all, it would not have been very sensible in reality to leave them in a ruined castle, assuming that in this world they exist independently of the Tree... the Tree, which I must say leaves the odd question of whether the canon Celestia ever tried to simply put them back in the Tree, or if they were too dormant even for that to work. I really could never come up with any remotely plausible reason why they were left there, given their paramount importance. It'd be nice to get clarification on that fact, given that the Tree was directly beneath the castle... not exactly a distant or difficult hike...

Ah well, that's always the problem with inserting additional canon on the fly. Invariably, unless a single creative individual or team is guiding the world from a pre-set stage with all the pieces in place, you end up with new pieces that don't move properly in relation to the rest, as their rules were added after the others had already started the game.

Anyway, back to the point: setting the Elements in Ponyville would give Celestia a VERY good reason to fight so viciously to get NMMs forces out at all costs.

Finally, I'm still finding it hard to swallow that the Elements worked. In addition to everything else, we must also accept that their conditions for use are far less stringent than the show's Elements, given that Fluttershy and Twilight still harbored hatred and stains of murder vastly beyond anything they'd had when Discord corrupted them.

The story suddenly gives us a glimpse of a fairy-tale Deus Ex resolution which feels starkly out of place and of questionable validity.

In this story, as much as I dislike turning everything utterly futile and leaving the world to die, in this instance with this set-up and these fallen figures, it's the most likely outcome. As would it be equally hopeless if a Discord befitting this world's tone were to appear. There'd be no point in even telling that story, as his victory would be instantaneous and eternal. The only tale that could be told would be for the benefit of sadists who'd relish the endless torments he'd inflict in that morose world of misery.

You know I kind of liked the story at first but the more I think about it the ending is just awful. Why is Fluttershy the one who is chosen? In a story like this it's clearly set up as a reward but she is the least deserving. She betrays and agrees to assassinate ponies for food, especially apparent with Twilight who Fluttershy clearly thought of as a friend. Twilight is then presented as the least sympathetic despite her big crime in the backstory only being defending herself from ponies sent to kill her. Fluttershy had no outstanding action to show her as more moral or worthy. She spared Rarity but was still a bitch about it and was at least equalled by the others. Twilight never gave up on finding the elements AKA the only solution to the war, AJ taught ponies how to survive in the everfree forest and kept her group together, Pinkie Pie saved multiple foals and was the only one who had faith in things turning out alright. Hell Rainbow Dash spared Fluttershy and stopped the entire war with a speech (which by the way is a massive asspull given how much the hatred was set up between the two) but she is considered less worthy by the elements. WTF!?

TL;DR All the other characters stuck to their morals when things got tough. Fluttershy abandoned hers for food yet is considered the best of them.
That's bullshit. I had other complaints about the story but all of them are pretty minor compared to this one.

5707100

Well, who said that that the leading role of the Elements is actually a reward?

Immanuel Kant stated in one of his publications that only those are truly virtuous that do good, not because they want and like to, but despite personal difficulties with it.

In canon the Elements come naturally to all but Twilight. She is the only one who really has to accept friendship for the Elements to work.

Here it is Fluttershy who struggles most. She doesn't actually want to save the world. By still accepting her role in it just because it is the right thing to do she proves her worthiness above all others.

This is why she gets the crown.

Twilight and Applejack are indeed the least sympathetic, because they kept the whole conflict going, even though the reason behind the rivalry was actually long gone.

I can't say I like this characterization, mainly because in my headcanon I always imagine Twilight as a very critical and philosophical character, who wouldn't stick to propaganda for the sake of it.

Still, the author's interpretation of her character is just as valid based on canon and thus I can't help but approve of the story for it.
And the mindblow moment when Fluttershy accepts Kindness truly made my day.

One by one, the stars were coming out.

..Is that the end of Arthur C. Clarke's The Nine Billion Names of God in reverse? Wow, that packs a lot of punch into one little sentence!

On mass the foals tumbled out of the castle.

Just a small thing, but the expression is en masse. It's a French expression borrowed into English, so if you'd never seen it written down I guess you'd have heard it as "on mass".

5699412 Awesome, hope you enjoy the rest of my stuff :twilightsmile:

5705894 Thanks, will do.

5705981 Great to hear!

5708021 *bows*

5708595 I think it's safe to say I should avoid all French in future stories. :twilightoops: Fixed now.

5705095

I guess Discord doesn't exist in this world. Or changelings.

Well, they're not mentioned because there's an upper limit on characters on a story of this length, muddying the waters with other factions does not help so they got cut. Discord is likely to show up in a sequel though, changelings... well I don't know how well they're doing in a world where their main food suply almost wiped itself out.

Come to think of it, this still suffers from the one fatal flaw of all the ultra-psycho NMM fics: in a REAL situation like this, with a NMM that was homicidal, Celestia would never have relied on sheer luck to stop her sister.

I'd argue that this is actually the setting where Celestia did fight her sister. She raised army after army and fought a bitter five year war in a desperate attempt to defeat Nightmare Moon, Tartarus was emptied in search for allies and all four corners of the world burned, because Celestia fought and lost. It's easy to cast Celestia as irresponsible, but you can read the canon where the Elements were actually the best shot.

5706867

Finally, I'm still finding it hard to swallow that the Elements worked.

To quote Canary in the Coal Mine:

...the struggle to use the Elements of Harmony, and the truly sad part is how little effort it took. How little 'Harmony' it would accept to save the world, because that was all that was left in the end.

This is how I like to think about it, no one came out of this story the good guy, but they gave everything they had.

5705589 It's going to be a little more complicated than that. There's pleanty of ponies chasing the fallen mantles :trixieshiftright:

5705631

A sequel to this would be interesting if difficult to write in some ways. Kind of like trying to write a followup to Kkat's ending to Fallout Equestria. It might be interesting to address what happened to the rest of the world if they didn't just simply all die out.

Yeah, with the sun back a lot of factions are liable to start crawling out of the woodwork, so there should be pleanty to dig into there. Fo:E was very much about survival, I'm thinking of a reconstruction theme as we move onwards.

5707100

Why is Fluttershy the one who is chosen?

Iamawesome has got the heart of it. In the war, Fluttershy was starved, brutalised, forced to kill for both food and the amusement of others, and tortured into becoming an assassin. She's lost her home, her family and every single thing that was precious to her bar one small white rabbit; but for the sake of a single filly saying 'please' she's willing to save a world that has destroyed her. Fluttershy is the lead character because she had the furthest to climb, not because she is the most virtuous.

As for why the crown... well *spoliers* though to be honest I haven't fully decided how a lot of the mantle stuff is going to work. Part of me is very tempted to have it come to light that the tiara has nothing to do with anything and the last element named always gets the crown :scootangel:

5708252

Twilight and Applejack are indeed the least sympathetic, because they kept the whole conflict going, even though the reason behind the rivalry was actually long gone.

I'm amazed by how little flack Applejack has gotten. Her descision to send Fluttershy on the assassination mission was the whole reasons Twilight was so agressive later on.

I always imagine Twilight as a very critical and philosophical character, who wouldn't stick to propaganda for the sake of it.

I'd argue that she isn't believing the hype, she's drawn the conclusion that the Dusk forces are there specifically to stop her saving the world, which while erronious isn't really illogical.

And the mindblow moment when Fluttershy accepts Kindness truly made my day.

That's great to hear. :pinkiehappy:

5709981 My primary issue is the lingering question of the nebulous 'prophecy' in the very first episode of the series.

IF Celestia had a thousand years to prepare and took it seriously, NMM wouldn't have stood a chance. She wasn't that much more powerful than Celestia to begin with as NMM. Had Celestia taken 10,000 years to breed an army of unicorn mages, prepared counters to her sister's mind magic, trained her forced to dispel alicorn-level illusions... the battle would have ended before it began. Luna/NMM was trapped on the Moon with NOTHING but her jealousy and rage. That isn't exactly conducive to strategic planning, nor does NMM have access to any material or personelle resources.

However, if the prophecy didn't exist (as I mentioned in another comment, it doesn't really even make sense in the show. How could anyone know the spell would break in 1,000 years? It's as flawed as the prophecy of the one who would bring balance to the Force in the Star Wars prequels. We have no idea who made it, when, where, why, or how. And that lack of detail renders it implausible.), then there was no possibility Celestia would be able to do more than speculate and take precautions on the happenstance that her sister might escape... someday... and after 1,000 years with no sign that even the god-level entity Discord's prison was breaking, Celestia would naturally relax her guard and be taken completely by surprise when her much weaker (than Discord) sister's banishment falls first.

However, that raises another little problem: would Twilight have been sent to Ponyville at all in a situation where Celestia had no idea she needed to have her faithful student make friends to save the world?

The problem is, all these events are so intrinsically intertwined with unexplained prophecies, destinies, and so forth that changing anything starts to quickly shatter the entire cause-and-effect of everything. It's a complex web, where tugging one knot free only tangles a dozen more which depended on that knot's tensions holding them apart

Alt universes are easier to deal with in episode such as "Canterlot Wedding", where the history was practically non-existent, and the changelings could easily have won, despite the bizarre and inexplicably Rube Goldbergian nature of their plans, involving Chrysalis getting married... which doesn't really seem to have been important at all to the plan as a whole and was actually raising the risk of her being discovered... had Chrysalis not been a total idiot at the last moment via plot-convenient idiot-balling (turning your back on your enemies, letting them run to each other rather than cocooning them all, and just staring stupidly as they powered up). There's no vast interconnected series of past events to undo and reshape, while ensuring that the timeline holds enough to ensure the characters in the present are still where they need to be despite the changes, and huge number of character interactions which had real consequences to keep track of... just have Chrysalis blast Cadance as she tries to run to Shining Armor. Game over. Changelings won. Alt-universe outcome established with 100% plausibility.

The canon history of NMM and her defeat at the hooves of the Mane 6 is as flawed and incomplete as it is complicated, and that makes rewriting it into a truly solid story for high fantasy far more difficult.

Always loved this style of story.


As one of the proofreaders, I can say honestly that I liked this before it was cool it was loved by so many people.
Crossed-out "it was cool" because it was cool before it came out.

An interesting look at what anyone, even the kindest among us, may do when compelled by that most basic of instincts, survival. Honestly I am NOT surprised by how far Fluttershy fell when The War came. I've personally known people who have had to answer the question "What will you do to survive?". I've been one myself. And while at times it seems impossible that anyone could become something so vastly 'other' from what they were before, that is only to those who have never had to answer that question themselves. When backed into a corner, when the only other option is death, a shockingly high number of people will do utterly monstrous things to survive...

I did notice the massive similarity to Fallout Equestria, also aware of why, (congrats on your win by the way) and I have to say you really did hit the core themes of the inspiring work. Damn fine job.

5710421 As for your theory that too much of the canon was simply coincidence that wouldn't have possibly worked in a more 'natural' setting, I feel you're underestimating Sunbutt. While it is not obvious in the first season, it becomes clearer and clearer over time that Sunbutt KNEW that Twilight was going to become the Element of Magic. As a certain infamous episode points out, Sunbutt has been watching Twilight almost the girls entire life. This leads to the very real possibility that Sunbutt KNEW who the other 5 were. It was Celestia that chose who would be in charge of various things for the Summer Sun Celebration. It was Celestia who told Twilight to check up on things. And finally Sunbutt told her student "Make Some Friends". Sunbutt is directly responsible for masterminding the series of events that would bring the 6 future elements together. When the same individual is directly responsible for creating a series of frankly implausible coincidence, that isn't blind chance that is a Mastermind at work. One who is operating with far more information that anyone else has.

HOWEVER, this story does show that despite careful planing and setup by Sunbutt, the Master Plan was incredibly fragile. In this case Pinkie didn't sing 'Giggle At The Ghosties', and so The War came to Equestria. I would argue that while this is a very big flaw, it's really the only thing Sunbutt could do. The Elements had to be earned, not trained for. And thus she couldn't simply have gathered the 6 forced them to be their Element. While she COULD have given a lot more information, Sunbutt couldn't simply force things to go right. As for having an army and being ready for Nightmare Moon that way, as this story shows, an army is THE WORST POSSIBLE THING. Nightmare Moon IS stronger than Celestia. Remember that Sunbutt only used the Elements on Nightmare Moon because, in her own words "I have no other choice.". In a direct confrontation, the BEST option is a mutual kill. As this story shows, that ends badly for the world.

5714380

it becomes clearer and clearer over time that Sunbutt KNEW that Twilight was going to become the Element of Magic.

How did she know? Was this ANOTHER inexplicable prophecy... which would make it even more like "Phantom Menace", by the way...

And if we assume that this whole thing is DESTINY, then the plan could never fail because FATE would just shove the Elements at them if all else failed. In this set-up, it's NMM who is DOOMED to fail, no matter what she does. Now, that could be played tragically, that Luna discovered all their lives were controlled by some nebulous power and she attempted to rebel against it... hopelessly, of course. That would be much in keeping with Greco-Roman tragic themes of heroes and others who attempted to defeat prophecies and fate.

You're also making a very serious mistake equating the failure of Celestia's fight in THIS STORY as being the end-all be-all penultimate proof that Celestia could never have beaten NMM any other way. That has not been proven and cannot be proven by anything other that an actual battle between the two after Celestia spent 1,000 years preparing her entire nation to fight NMM.

I ask that you consider the logistics for a moment. Celestia initially used the Elements because she had no other choice AT THE TIME. NMM was there, and Celestia had no time for anything, as the threat was presently immediate! Afterward, however... NMM was trapped impotently on the Moon while Celestia was free to act.

There is one other flaw: this story avoids one thing a murderous NMM would have done; simply killed them all and prevented anyone from finding the Elements. Think clearly, this NMM has no problem murdering by the thousands and commanding ponies to kill each other to earn a spot in her legion of mutated, vampiric monsters. Why would 6 foolish mares mean anything to her? Of all of them, only Twilight had enough power and knowledge to put up even a minute amount of resistance. The other 5 could have slaughtered in innumerable ways by NMM. Her only problem would be deciding which way would be the most amusing.

Logically, why would this version of NMM have merely made the trees scary? What point would that really serve? To this NMM, that would be a ridiculous thing to do; something to frighten little foals, not legitimate enemies who were looking for the one weapon capable of completely stopping her instantly. The manticore was potentially useless as well. What if they hadn't walked that way? What if it had the presence of mind to pull the thorn out itself? The sea serpent: how could she know cutting Stephen's mustache would cause him to have such a flamboyant reaction? And what if Dash and Fluttershy simply carried AJ, Rarity, and Pinkie over the water and Twilight teleported? Even tempting Rainbow Dash with Shadowbolts was likely pointless. Dash was a fan of the WONDERBOLTS, not some utterly unknown group of posers hiding out in the Everfree!

The ONLY attack NMM used was to collapse the cliff. And that was the only one which almost took out several of them. Had she kept up physical attacks, she'd have worn them down. Had she simply attacked directly, she could have stopped them instantly.

She was far too powerful for them to face. The entire trip through the Everfree and the silly trials belong solely in a story for children, because no legitimate villain capable of murder, as the Nightmare in this story, would ever have resorted to such infantile tactics when she could wipe the floor with them instead.

PresentPerfect
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It was a chance I took in not reading these all at once, but I am so disappointed by this story and would not have chosen it to win. The opening scene is great. The background of this AU is great. Fluttershy hunting Twilight is great. The action is great, and so is Fluttershy's character. But you slow everything down by trying to give us hope, by making sure that we know for darn sure what happened to every character, and not to mention the direct references to the show and Fallout. There's no reason that fits into the story for why Fluttershy would perform the Elements speech, and it's just the most disappointing way to end this. (This second chapter is great, though!) It's hardly a bad story, but it could have been so much better.

Comment posted by StormyVenture deleted Mar 10th, 2015

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Actually I didn't forget that, unless you failed to read. I am just arguing that what Celestia did is the only gambit that could gain her what she desired.

I don't see your case or point, many people believe in the word of Jesus. Just say what you wish to say plainly.

Whether she's there in the flesh or not does not change her character. Also, although ponies believe her immortal, they each only have the memory of a lifetime and the echoes of other lifetimes to go by. She could be messing with their heads and they'd never know.

Why do you need a "simple fix", that is plainly contradicted in canon? How does any prophet or seer know something? Would we be able to tell the difference between speculation, kind words, and specific knowledge?

How could they possibly have known about the spell binding NMM ending after exactly 1,000 years, but by the same token not known it would eventually break on Discord?

I don't see what comparison your making and your second reference does not make sense.

A world that takes the NMM story from a tone akin to "Lord of the Rings" would likely be scarcely recognizable save for the names and settings, simply because 'real' plausible individuals would do things very differently.

I think there a few fanfics that try, but most don't go that deep into the swimming pool. I would like to take a moment to point out that LOTR is not "high fantasy" and was never meant to be. And something taken that way would hardly be 'My Little Pony' at all. It would have to explain many more things and have a much deeper plot-line than the immediate effects on a single country of a pair of immortal sisters;

If we really wanted to analyze the first two episodes deeply from a serious, high-fantasy storytelling standpoint, the sheer number of contrivances and conveniences was staggeringly unacceptable.

Why would we? Who decides what goes in a story anyway? The author. You have a nice handy, concise list of these 'contrivances' and 'conveniences' floating around for perusal?

I do wish Lauren had been able to make the two-episode story into the season-long epic she'd wanted.

You know it might not have come out well and it might never have been finished. Where does she claim to want this 'season-long epic' anyway?

I again suggest that ending a season on a cliffhanger would be a completely viable option. If the story is strong, the interest only grows.

The interest might grow nicely, but the disappointment will multiply and/or go exponential if you fail to deliver.

5719600 How can you not see the comparison between NMM's imprisonment and Discord's?

Both were sealed with the Elements... both involving Celestia... so why was there a prophecy for one and not the other? How was there even a prophecy regarding NMM in the first place?

These are very reasonable questions to ask, considering we have no details whatsoever about the NMM prophecy.

We have a general idea who made certain prophecies in almost every case. Prophecies with no origin typically are ignored or forgotten, because they could be simply made up on the spot, for all the one hearing about them knows. In fiction, it's ALWAYS a good idea to tell who made a prophecy. Otherwise, it's just a random plot piece solely existing for convenience.

As for your supposition that Celestia knew Twilight was to be the Element of Magic... did she know that for a solid 1,000 years? Who told her that in 980 or so years, a unicorn would be born who would become the Element of Magic? Are we, on top of everything else, to now suppose that Celestia foresaw ALL of this? Or are you saying Celestia sat around, just hoping that 6 mares representing the Elements would luckily show up exactly at the time NMM was due back?

Like I said, works in a kid's story... but it's terribly contrived in anything meant to be taken seriously.

If it's not mere plot convenience, then it reeks of a very ham-fisted and heavy-handed FATE, which then renders the characters individuality and decisions moot, as FATE will force them into their positions no matter what they try to do. They become little more than tools of the will of the god or whatever force is tugging all the strings.

As to the rest: Lauren has spoken about her original plans for NMM on several occasions, in interviews, and when I had dinner with her, John, and Tara during the Brony Documentary sponsor gathering.

As for the cliffhangers, yes it can be disappointing if the delivery isn't done well... but shoving too much story into too little time can be even MORE disappointing, and the disappointment is immediate. At least with more time to develop the story, there's a better chance to give the fans a strong conclusion, since you've been able to flesh things out better.

To bring back my previous example, can you imagine the result if Star Trek had tried to compress "Best of Both Worlds" into a single episode? Perhaps they could have jammed all the main points of the story in, but then all the moments of dramatic tension, the slower scenes to develop pathos and emotional depth, the hopelessness of panning through the sea of dead starships after the futile battle of Wolf 359, the scene of Picard being altered and his single tear... all would have been lost in the rush to get to the end.

If the story needs the time to be told properly, then rushing it is only a disservice.

Hi! I'm Cerulean Voice, co-admin (with Bad_Seed_72) of the Golden Oaks Book Club. Our members voted and decided that we wanted to read and discuss your story for our eighth book club discussion! Just thought you might want to know, and we are all thoroughly looking forward to reading your story. :twilightsmile:

5710998 If you were one of the proofreaders, might I suggest brushing up on how semicolons work? (or getting a bigger stick to beat authors with – I know it needs that sometimes) Also, I recall there were a lot of missing commas for direct address.

"Why are we fighting Twilight?"

Go home Rainbow Dash, you're drunk. You're on Twilight's side!

That I find the attribution in this piece so distasteful is something of a matter of opinion, but those are basic punctuation errors pretty criminal for a competition entry. Not that I don't appreciate that it's actually billymorph's problem, but if you're going to put your hand up for proofreading a story with so many basic errors... (I'm also giving you the benefit of the doubt insofar as you probably didn't see the blurb to call out the error there)

As for billymorph (what is it with all the capital-less names I see around?), I have been reviewing the winners in my usual (and completely over-the-top) style and I'm afraid yours didn't pan out well in my eyes. I thought this was going to be amazing after the first couple of chapters, but flair for prose alone does not a story make.

-M

5720523
The basic errors were probably missed for one or more of four reasons: sleep deprivation, the fact that I only go through fics as long as this where several other people are also proofreading (as I could see by the top right corner) once, getting into the story and occasionally forgetting that I was supposed to proofread it, and the fact that I was stressed out on that specific day because I was moving, and I was sitting on a mattress that was sort of dirty in the middle of several boxes and was attempting to try and calm down on my computer.

5719944 Awesome, hope you all enjoy reading it :twilightsmile:

5720523 Well fair enough, I can't contradict you on any point. The nitty-gritty is my bugbear as far as writing goes, so I'm always aware that there's room for improvement, and if you didn't like it that's fine.

5721123 Don't feel you have to defend yourself Nopony, I'm really greatful for all your help :twilightsmile:. I chopped and changed the text a lot before the end, so it's entirely posible I added errors after you read things, but either way it's my job to make sure things are as good as I can get them before I hit the publish button.

5722296 It's a constant struggle, for sure. Commas took me literally two whole years to finally get nailed down; the rest of it was a cakewalk by comparison.

Still, I'm usually happy to put my money where my mouth is if you ever want any writing help, and if I can't for some reason, I will almost certainly know someone that can.

Well, Golden Oaks book club member here. Admittedly dark... but very well-written. I'm glad there's a light at the end of the tunnel, here.

The only bad thing about this story is that I can only favorite it once.

Thank you. This was absolutely epic.

I missed the gentler days when woodland creatures wouldn’t run in fear at the sight of me, but less than I missed the taste of celery.

This. This tells us so much in a simple sentence, and really shows what sort of world she must live in before you even begin to describe it.

The castle used to belong to the Royal Pony Sisters. It was the very castle that myself, Twilight Sparkle and four other mares had set out for on the night of Nightmare Moon’s return, in an attempt to retrieve the Elements of Harmony and save the world.

This, however, you could have done without. We know, man. We know. No need to reiterate such basic knowledge.

We never made it.

Oh. Okay. Disregard my previous statements.

“Hey Fluttershy!”

This, however, is a problem. I hope I don't see it again too often. (Missing comma before direct address, that is)

En mass

This should be "En masse".

A multicoloured cascade of little hooves, horns, feathers and leathery wings.

Sentence fragment.

I suddenly was the centre of attention.

er, was* suddenly* is better wording. Even better, try to avoid using "suddenly" altogether.

Whitetail woods

Woods* as it's a proper noun.

it was the song I didn’t sing.

Damn. Poor Pinkie... :pinkiesad2:

Well... after all that...

I liked it. A very interesting story with all the neat little tidbits. It's the little things I appreciate in stories, those small additions that stand out while just being more words.
More detailed thoughts coming soon. Have a review. I thought this wasn't too bad, but it could still be much improved. Even in this comment, I only listed roughly 1/10th of similar issues I could have.

So much epicness contained in less than 20,000 words. I liked this a lot.

Thank you for sharing this awesome idea with us. You created deep, believable characters, and I loved seeing their interactions. I like reading stories that present an apocalyptic setting, showing how individual characters react to that setting and make the best of it. Your lore on the Dusk was I intriguing. It would be interesting to learn how being night-touched affects the individual ponies. I think this is the most impactful story of this length that I've ever read. Thank you, and Congratulations!

Wow.

Wow.

I can see why you won. Just... wow.

At first I thought to myself "Hmm, I suppose it was chosen because it was so grimdark." But frankly, this ending was a reversal of my expectations. Thank you for doing that. For crafting a story that truly feels like, even though it's drenched in sadness and blood, a story that belongs firmly in the Friendship is Magic universe.

Finally got around to reading this story. I wasn't expecting the happy ending, but I should have known better, given what it's based on and that it won the contest. It certainly earned its victory.

Strange how heart-warming such a grimdark story can turn out to be. I like that you changed up who the "main" element was, and that despite the victory, as the epilogue shows, they're not magically all better. Even if Rarity was healed and Applejack regained her cutie mark. Oh, and did the thestrals get changed back into non-thestrals? Not sure if I missed a detail somewhere or if that was intentionally left vague...

Only thing that really bugged me was that RD's "everypony stop!" felt like a big deus ex machina. Still a damned good story, though.

6015260 Thanks. It's awesome that people are still loving this story :pinkiehappy: To answer your question, Fluttershy is still a Thestral at the end of this story, there are some wounds that take more healing than others :scootangel:

So I tought I'd check the author's ohter dark fanfics.
..


Yeah.

6120312 Yeah, this was a bit of a rare experiment for me. Watch this space though, my next major story is definitly on the dark side. :twilightsmile:

I. LOVE. THIS. STORY. [insert exaggerated period here]. :rainbowkiss:

I must now write a war story now, thanks for the inspiration!:heart::pinkiehappy:


Btw, this story is just so much like skyrim:twilightsmile:

Bloody hellfire that was good. :pinkiegasp:

I.........so awesome......... I have NO words.....out of 1,025,000, none are good enough........

Nice feels story. :pinkiehappy: Honestly though both Celestia and Nightmare Moon got what was coming to them, Celestia especially.

Aww, Twilight got the stars. That's so beautiful. :pinkiesad2:

Ahh man, this one was one of my favorites back when i was still super into the fandom. Reading it again just reminds me why it was on my favorites list. The image of kindness in this story, true, unblemished kindness, is so powerful. This is dark and sad in the best way, because you make it all mean something. After all it's easy to be kind...
I made a gallifreyan piece of that quote once. Definitely still on my list of favorite literature quotes.

Good god this is a truly emotional roller coaster, I burst into tears at the nearly end of the story :fluttercry:

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