• Member Since 16th Jun, 2014
  • offline last seen 1 hour ago

billymorph


Hey all, I'm billymorph, a semi-professional writer, self-published author and full-time pony fan. If you enjoy my work, please support me on Patreon!

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The war between Nightmare Moon and Princess Celestia has destroyed Equestria, leaving the few survivors to struggle to survive in a dying world of eternal twilight. Fluttershy, twisted by the war, now ekes out an existence in Everfree forest, but even that life is under threat. Twilight Sparkle is coming, leading the last army of Dawn, and she will let nothing stop her from retrieving the Elements of Harmony and saving the world; not even old friends.

---

First Place in the Equestria Daily More Most Dangerous Game contest :pinkiegasp:

With thanks to Luna-tic Scientist, Lord Of Dorkness, Nopony_Important and Monanniverse for their help in bringing this story to completion. Cover art is credit to 5kmoe.

[img]http://i.imgur.com/X4NpPxt.jpg[/img]

Chapters (2)
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Comments ( 87 )

This story, wow. It's a powerful piece of work, you certainly set the emotions and settings well.

All of the main characters here are broken. Twisted by a war (or in Pinkie's case, guilt and knowing that everything is her fault and what could have been) that continued long after the instigators were gone, because they have stopped seeing the other side as redeemable. Frankly it's a kind of similar story to Heart's Warming Eve, in that the sides that had done unforgivable things to each other had put aside their differences and work together. Now that is 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.

It kind of makes me ill that Twilight Sparkle was included (for her zealotry no less; certainly not for her friendship), as I feel that one was the hardest to accept, even over Fluttershy. I'm not sure if this qualifies as an Earn Your Happy Ending story or not. It feels that way certainly, but not much about this ending is happy, or at least fulfilling. It needs an epilogue of any kind (the characters do deserve to be redeemed or at least try for it beyond standing there while Fluttershy initiates the Elements) yet that isn't allowed in the contest this story was written for. :raritydespair:

5530769
Haven't read it yet (not anymore), but once the contest ends and if author wishes to, there is nothing stopping epilogue from happening.

5530769 I'm very glad to hear you liked the story, it was a big challenge to fit everything in but I think it came together well in the end.

...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.

It's funny you use 'how little effort it took' because if anything I fell it was far harder for the girls to bring together the Elements here than in the show. As Fluttershy says, being kind when you have everything is easy, as is staying loyal when tempted by a sports team, or being honest when you've no reason to lie. They may not have been friends by the end of the story, but they had to overcome far more to earn their titles.

It kind of makes me ill that Twilight Sparkle was included (for her zealotry no less; certainly not for her friendship)

Twilight is a weird case as her virtue is also her vice. Fluttershy's is vice necessity, Applejack's is callousness, Rarity's is mistrust, Pinkie's is sorrow and Dash's is her divided loyalties. Twilight's zealotry though is the driving force of the entire story and the world would have, quite literally, ended without it. It's hard to call something that saved the world a vice, and this desperate drive is Twilight's strongest point, even if that drive almost cost them everything. Twilight I feel definitely needs redemption, and I'd say that she sank the deepest into abuse of her element, but in many ways this is the setting's sin, not Twilight's alone to bear.

It needs an epilogue of any kind

Actually, I think it deserves a sequel :twilightsmile:

5532861

I fell it was far harder for the girls to bring together the Elements here than in the show.

Beyond the technical aspects of Twilight willing to kill everyone and anyone just to get them instead of, you know, asking; the only one who it felt difficult for was Fluttershy. It was Twilight's original epiphany that she was actually friends with these mares in whatever broken way her friend-starved life had that made it all work beforehand. It just clicked into place this time for Twilight while Fluttershy had to really examine her life to try and find whatever Kindness she thought remained, even if it was just the idea of it.

I guess in that way I agree with you. Fluttershy's struggle was much more emotional to follow, especially as she recognized each way the others were broken as she tried to describe whatever perverse way they still upheld their element.

Actually, I think it deserves a sequel :twilightsmile:

I thought so too, but I didn't want to presume, 'ya know.

Actually I was thinking about it earlier and while a sequel afterwards trying to rebuild would be a logical conclusion, a completely different variation that I think would be fascinating to explore would be a time travel reset.

That is, using the Elements of Harmony would take them back to the one moment where it all went wrong, where Pinkie Pie originally failed. Just... the idea that they would be expected to just go through their lives as if everything never happened, when they probably cannot stand each other nor the Princesses, and the Elements of Harmony would have to be used more than once in the original setting as well, potentially causing more resets if it senses the Bearers aren't redeemed.

And you thought Twilight had to suffer to earn those friendships lessons before. In a way it'd be much easier to be redeemed in the end of the world setting because they have so little left and it'd be easy to lose it all. But if they thought that life would return to normal, I imagine Applejack and Fluttershy wouldn't be able to stand Twilight. Possibly Rainbow Dash and Rarity too when the end of the world isn't on the line. And her attempts to lead would only result in confusion from everyone, possibly even a scolding from Celestia about the importance of friendship and you can't just force friendship either.

Actually now that I think about it that idea would be too hard to have redemption occur (can you imagine Twilight actually wanting to stay in Ponyville without being forced when she finally has her mentor back? Or being able to pretend around Luna that she didn't hate her?), so maybe end of the world setting is better after all.

please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please a sequel, with Queen Fluttershy( because we all know what wearing the crown means for her future). Titel: "A New Kindness" or something similar.

5533170

the only one who it felt difficult for was Fluttershy.

Fluttershy certainly had the furthest to go, but the others did all prove themselves. Rarity opened up to Pinkie, Pinkie regained her hope, Applejack listened to new ideas, Dash refirmed her loyalty and Twilight admitted she'd failed. It's important to stress that they did all have other ways out; they all could have stepped back and refused to save the world at any point and they all could have failed to uphold their element. It would even have been the easier path.

a time travel reset.

Sounds like fun, but as you say, it quickly gets messy. Time travel I always find is one of those things you can never use lightly, especially when it's used to reverse major plot points. Sacrifice and loss lose meaning when they're a button press away from being fixed.

5535488
We'll see :twilightsmile:, the title running through my head is: 'For Want of Rain'.

Wowie, that was good. I listened to Blue and the Grey by Parkway Drive while reading this, and in my opinion there could not have been a better choice of song for this. Both lyrically and musically it reflected a lot of the emotions past around in the story (not all but most).

You did a really good job on this, and it's going straight to my favorites.

(Here's a link to the song, but don't click if you don't like heavy stuff).

5544174 Glad to hear you liked the story. Can't say that I can get behind screamo singing, but I can see where you're coming from. Actually, while I didn't write this story with a song in mind, but Bleed and Scream - Eclipse, is growing on me as Fluttershy's theme.

5532861

Actually, I think it deserves a sequel

i.imgur.com/u9bVVDa.jpg

Oh my God, this is just tearing me apart. Just... Oh Damn, seeing them tear into each other, and then being brought together...
I don't think this should have a sequel. It would lessen the wonderment that I'm relishing right now.
Maybe a prequel?

EDIT: Dafuq is a scaff?
And you 'bear' to see someone cry; you 'bare' your fangs.
I'm fairly sure there are other typos, but I can't remember where.

5561786 :twilightblush:

5562113 Prequels are strange things for this type of story, so much of the actual plot is figuring out what happened to get to where we are that prequels are almost redundent, certianly there isn't much in Fluttershy's story than needs building on. That said, any sequel would focus heavily on the sins of the past, so no worries on forging blindly on into the future.

Damn. This was the last contest entry I had to read for the Fallout: Equestria prompt, and I have to say I think it's my favorite one. It's creative, it's interesting, it's developed well, it's emotionally charged from beginning to end, and it's generally free of technical issues (I recall one "too" instead of "to", but that's it). Kkat talked a lot about the inherently positive perspective of human (pony) nature that shaped Fallout: Equestria, and I think this story was the closest to matching it. They may have been divided and fought to kill each other, but they ultimately never faltered in their mission to do the right thing.

If I had complaints about this story, it'd be that Rarity's justification for her element feels rather lackluster. The others' were all easily understandable, but Rarity's is basically " she was nice to Angel," which also for the most part happened off screen. I think it may have been more apparent if, for example, Rarity willingly offered and gave Angel a large portion of her meal. As it is, it reads more like Angel is simply requesting it. I think there's a distinction between offering and granting in terms of generosity.

Also, I'm not sure if raising the sun is an ideal first move by the elements of harmony. Its still a symbol of Celestia and the Dawn, and is by extension absolutely loathed by the Dusk. Its reemergence could just as easily begin a second civil war, with the Dusk forced to scatter in the wake of the bolstered morale of the Dawn. I think a better way of showing that everything was going to get better would be to raise both the sun and the moon in a show of unity.

I can't really say that these limited my enjoyment of the story though; they're quite obviously just little nitpicks. I really enjoyed this story and hope you do well in the contest. Solid work all around!

5598217 Thanks Sypher, that's awesome to hear. I loved the original Fallout Equestria, and this is as much a tribute as it is a reimagining, I'm glad the themes came across well.

Rarity's justification for her element feels rather lackluster

I agree, but then all the justifications are weak, and in some cases outright lies. In many ways it's the line that Fluttershy doesn't say that is more telling for the Element.

Also, I'm not sure if raising the sun is an ideal first move by the elements of harmony.

Fair enough, I'm strongly considering adding an epilog once the contest finishes. There were a couple of loose threads that I couldn't tie up because of the word count.

...Huh.

Huh.

Huh...

Up until the end, I was all, "This is really well-written. It's quite good. But I don't think I liked it." But then the end? It tied things together quite nicely, and now I want more. Great stuff!

5608645 Thanks Csquared, I'm glad you enjoyed the story. Gathering the Elements may be (literally) the oldest story is FiM, but you can't beat the clasics sometimes :twilightsmile:

Maybe this is just me, but I feel like this needs a sequel.

Well well well a very good grade - A story a nice storyline nice climax and etc I enjoyed it. :heart:

This was tough to read, in the sense of being emotionally taxing. I enjoyed it for what it was, though, and look forward to seeing what you do with a sequel. Did Fluttershy turn into an alicorn or something in order to raise the sun?

5620836 It's in the cards, glad you enjoyed the story.

5639159 :twilightsmile:

5649751 Thanks wolfstorm. Fluttershy isn't an alicorn after raising the sun; while raising the sun is above mortal levels if you've got enough of a boost from a magical artifact, or enough magic users, then it is posible for regular ponies to do so.

5653477
That makes sense. Thanks for the explanation.

I waited until after the contest to post this, so congratulations on winning TMMDG!

This was an excellent story that carried the premise all the way through. The introspection of the POV drew out the emotion of the scene and helped pull me into the story. The characterizations felt right in line with the AU world that you built, and I could see how each of them carried over in a believable way. A very enjoyable "dark" read all around.

i.imgur.com/X4NpPxt.jpg

This is one of the first contest entries I read, and every since I finished reading it I never thought it would get anything but first place.

Oh my goodness!!! I simply can't believe the epicness in this fic! It was so amazing!! My heart skipped some beats sometimes, this story brought me in the darkest and the most dangerous corners of the Everfree, filled with fear, action, and the struggle of survival! Oh goodness, this fic is the best, I'm thinking of making a full-on animation with this storyline...gosh best fim-fic ever!!!

Well, that was a story. Congratulations on winning TMMDG, you certainly deserved it.

OBVIOUSLY SPOILERS
I was really expecting (and sort of hoping for) a real downer ending there for a minute when the Elements blew up, and then when they turned all black, but I can't say I'm unhappy with the ending we got. Well, outside of being flabbergasted at the lack of reaction Twi got out of the others for trying to straight up kill Dash there and how Rainbow still went to sit by her after the Elements blew up. I suppose she is Loyalty, but still.

Speaking of Twilight. I find it hard to believe there's going to be any satisfactory way to redeem her in this setting. She sure as hell shouldn't have any friends after all is said and done considering how she treated those who supposedly considered her their friend. She didn't give a crap about Rarity being missing or dead, and was more than willing to kill Rainbow Dash for pretty much no reason at all. Why was she attacking Fluttershy there, anyways, when it was clear Fluttershy wasn't going to be fighting anymore? Because she was an enemy? And when Rarity turned out to be alive she said nothing to her. Cold-hearted bitch. To be completely fair, that is a logical evolution of her character from before she went to Ponyville, so I have absolutely no problems with her characterisation here; on the contrary, I think you nailed her. She just happens to be a bitch.

The prompt you went off of was the Fallout: Equestria if I'm not mistaken. While the message of hope and belief in sun...shine and rainbows...
:facehoof:...
Yeah, this is the moment when I realized that was a reference I should have gotten right away. Nicely done.

Anyways, while the message of hope that was one of the more central themes in Fo:E isn't necessarily present in this story I don't believe it had to be. What at least I found way more notable was how the characters being broken, each in their own way, reminded me of another theme of sorts in Fo:E: that of corrupted virtues. While we certainly don't have a Monterey Jack with his own brand of Honesty here, what we do have is Fluttershy trying to convince herself there is no more kindness, or how it would have been kind to just put Rarity out of her misery or to just have the world end, which to me brings to mind Littlepip's struggles of (in her own mind) being corrupted Kindness. Yeah, yeah, it's a stretch but I was reminded of that, and Fluttershy thinking death would have been kinder than letting others live and suffer is exactly how I could see corrupted Kindness working, and a monster being born.

I'm glad to see you are apparently considering writing a sequel for this story. The setting seems strong enough to support that as there are still going to be a number of problems the ponies there need to solve, first of which is simply moving the sun and the moon. Are the Bearers going to have to tolerate each other enough to be able to do that every single day? How are the Dusk going to do during the day? How much of all that hate is still left in all the ponies' hearts, ready to spill out at any moment? I feel the setting could lend itself to some interesting stories as long as it doesn't overstay its welcome. I look forward to whatever you end up doing with it!

5653477
That is a shame. Fluttershy becoming the only alicorn of the land she helped save saved, after all the world had done was take, take, take and fill her with hate, would have been one more nail in the coffin of kindness in their world. ...and because of bias I would be more than happy to welcome our new batty overlord, assuming the Elements didn't do away with their transformations.

But yeah, I did think she had become an alicorn, as well. The shard hit her between her eyes, and I would think the tiara doesn't touch that part of her head. And the seemingly deliberate, repeated use of the word I in the last sentence made me come to that conclusion. "Then I reached beyond the horizon and I raised the sun." Focus on her being the one doing it, not her with the help of her... whatever they are. But clearly that was a misinterpretation.

Edit: Ah, yes, I knew I had to have forgotten something. When Fluttershy paired up the Elements with their Bearers the parts she said in her mind were certainly the most telling, and I can only imagine how well the Elements could actually work when it's all pretty much based on lies. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if there were some side effects... As a quick aside, I loved that part. The original scene in the show is still one of the strongest in my opinion, and I feel this, with Fluttershy's inner thoughts added, really uses the source well. It doesn't make me feel quite the same, with chills and all, but it feels good.

5687347 Thanks Thornwing, I'm still in a state of shock to be honest, I've found time to sew on my merit badge though. :twilightsmile:

5689500 Awesome, I'll be honest I had my doubts, but I said to myself I'll be happy with top ten. Now I'm something like... :pinkiehappy:

5689856 Great to hear that you enjoyed it!

PBL

Great story. Thanks for taking the time to write it! It took me a while to get to it, but I finally got around to reading it :derpytongue2:.

I won't lie, I sniffled a bit there at the end, especially whenever Pinkie came into play. The story felt a bit rushed toward the ending, and I would have liked to see a little more resolution of conflict than RD pulling out a giant stop sign but...

Solid 10*/10 story.

*With the numerator being an asymptote

Minor edits:

You wonder whether you will ever eat again, and what lines you’ll cross fill to your belly.

missing word

The rapier was a ribbon of steel, gasped grasped by her magic and danced through the air towards me.

incorrect word usage, spelling

There might be a few more, but the dust got into my eyes and then I couldn't see anymore :twilightblush:.

I read this around twenty four hours ago and I've been thinking about it more or less all day, so just from that I'll say you've managed to craft a fantastic story. It's a very dark world (in more ways than one) and has twisted the characters we know into cruel parodies of themselves, but, in the end there is hope, however fleeting.

It also does a really fine job pointing out the futility of war. In this case, neither side has anything to gain and everything to lose by fighting, but they've been at war for so long that they don't know anything else, probably killing their old friends in the process. It's all so terribly sad.

There's also Fluttershy's extremely jaded view on the world. She says there is no kindness left in the world despite offering it whenever she has the chance here, consciously or not. On the other hand, after what she's been through just to survive (killing someone for the sick amusement of a dark god springs to mind) it would be difficult to have any other way of seeing the world.

The question at the end is poignant. Will harmony last, or have the evils of the world taken too much of a toll?
While I would like to see a continuation, I think where it wraps up here is more or less perfect.

5692654 Glad you had fun Purple, hope you got that dust out of your eye okay :raritywink:. As for the ending... yeah if this story had one problem it was the word-limit but it held it's own I think. Also I fixed those little errors, good spot.

5693878 Thanks anonymous, it's great to hear the story really stuck to you. There are many themes I took from Fo:E, the utter tragedy of war was one of them I really wanted to highlight, everyone has their reasons to fight, but none of those reasons help save anything in the end.

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:.

5690157 Sorry for taking so long to reply to your comment. I didn't want to take any half measures :twilightsmile: I'm very glad to see you enjoyed the story so much, so to answer few points.

Well, outside of being flabbergasted at the lack of reaction Twi got out of the others for trying to straight up kill Dash

Well, Applejack and Fluttershy had fairly low expectations to start with, but as for Dash... Well, Dash stands by Twilight because she knows why she did it. Dash knows that, as much as she hoped that Twilight would choose otherwise, when ballanced against the world the life of two ponies matters very little. The ends should never justify the means, but if Twilight had then gone on to save the world then she would have been forgiven in a heartbeat and her actions almost justified. It's only us as the reader who know how huge a mistake it really is.

The prompt you went off of was the Fallout: Equestria if I'm not mistaken. While the message of hope and belief in sun...shine and rainbows... :facehoof: Yeah, this is the moment when I realized that was a reference I should have gotten right away. Nicely done.

There's also a Mint-als reference :scootangel:. and it's not only one, after all what is thestral Fluttershy but Kindness corrupted?

What at least I found way more notable was how the characters being broken, each in their own way, reminded me of another theme of sorts in Fo:E: that of corrupted virtues.

Yep, that was another conserved element from Fo:E. I approached this story less as a challege of originality and more of one to demonstrate how good a story Fo:E was, and try and compress a 600,000 word epic down to 15k. Hope, Corruption and Sins of the past were the main themes that I tried to carry over from Fo:E and I think the corruption was the leader in the end. While I'm most annoyed with the story not making clear the mane six's virtues, their vices were very clear to see.

I would be more than happy to welcome our new batty overlord, assuming the Elements didn't do away with their transformations.

Well... no one said you had to be an alicorn to rule :twilightsmile:

I can only imagine how well the Elements could actually work when it's all pretty much based on lies.

This was my definitly one of my favorite bits to write too, though lies is a strong term. What Fluttershy said was true as well as what went unsaid.

I'm glad to see you are apparently considering writing a sequel for this story. The setting seems strong enough to support that as there are still going to be a number of problems the ponies there need to solve,

It should be fun. Fo:E ended on the sunshine and rainbows, but it was fundementally a story about Littlepip's, and Equestria's, fall. I think there's room for a series about how things can recover.

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.

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