• Member Since 28th Aug, 2011
  • offline last seen Yesterday

Cold in Gardez

Stories about ponies are stories about people.


There is a village where everypony can be the same.

You may have read some nasty things about it. Rumors of stolen cutie marks and power-mad unicorns. Tall tales about forced smiles and frightened glances.

It's all lies. All except the part about us wanting to escape. That's true.

It's why we came here in the first place.

Winner of the May Writeoff Event.

Chapters (4)
Comments ( 132 )

That was real nice, thanks.

Perhaps tomorrow I will be a writer.

I am not one today, of course, trapped in an office filled with undone papers and upset customers all demanding my time. At one time I was a farmer, up to my knees in the snow hauling bales of hay for ungrateful cows, but then I became a student, and then a husband, and a father, and an employee. Of all, the husband and father are the best, but at times, I wish for the quiet life in a cabin by the edge of a pond, putting pen to paper while creating a masterpiece that future generations will marvel over and that will allow me to be...

Then my moment of dreaming is over, and the telephone drags me back to my desk. Today I am not a writer. But soon there will be a weekend, and if I am a good husband who weeds the garden, and a good father who takes care of his children's transportation needs, then... I may be a writer, for just a brief while.

Is anyone else inexplicably reminded of the first "BioShock" game by this story's cover-art? Anyone at all? Maybe it's just the retro-style font and slight fading, or maybe it's just me; I'm not quite sure.

This is pretty good, but in the episode the ponies lost their special talent along with the cutie mark. Also, they didn't move around like that.

This is clearly another take on the same idea, not set in Starlight Glimmer's nameless little cult compound but instead in what looks like a volunteer commune of sorts.

This is a little heartbreaking, yet also beautiful.

Didn't read the story yet, but it wanders right on my read-later-shelf.

This is awesome! Did you cite someone or is that from you?

A very melancholy piece all around. Very appropriate title, too. I like how they all wove into each other by the end.

Should you ever do more with this village, I'd be curious to see a couple chapters dedicated to the extremes; one who has just arrived and one who has been there so long they've forgotten who they were (perhaps tie the latter into the Administrator role and the room of personnel files). Perhaps even one for the outsider, and another to the angsty teen who has grown up in the village and feels a need or want to leave it. Eh, as I said, they are ideas should you ever choose to revisit this.

Still, like all your work, this one was told superbly.

This village is one hell of a drug. Numb the pain, forget your troubles, don't think about what was or what could be.

Live in the moment. Forever.

Knocked it out of the park. Again! :eeyup:

This was...

This was very sad. Beautiful and well written, but still very sad in a way.

You've earned your like. :twilightsmile:

By the light in Luna's eyes, this was an amazingly moving piece of work. It helped me understand more deeply why anypony would choose such a life, how it could be rewarding, or at least acceptable.

And suddenly my mind is full of questions: what's the attrition rate like in this town, and how does it compare to the immigration rate? Are controls instituted on the number of foals born? How are prices set in the general store / warehouse? Do all ponies receive the same amount of bits per {time period}? Who set all this up? How do they deal with ponies who are horrifically inept with certain tasks, tools, or jobs?

That I want to know these things is an indication of how far I fell into the world you created, CiG, and that I wrote it out like that is intended as praise for your vision and your craft. Thank you for sharing your work with us. I look forward to seeing more of your work.

Light and laughter,

this isn't a village, it's an insane asylum.

I love how you write this! Ending it it with the farmer hope is genius!

This is a beautiful piece of writing, and it really made you think! I love how the chapters were connected and how you subtly told their stories. Excellent work!:yay:

This is very good, but I think it might need a dark tag. Still, awesome work!

On second thought, maybe a comparison to Bioshock 2 would be more appropriate, given the fact that the villain of that game also advocated radically left-wing ideals (as opposed to the unrestricted capitalism advocated by Andrew Ryan in the first game) involving "the destruction of the Self" and advertised her self-serving methods as public altruism just like that bitch Starlight Glimmer (which probably explains why I hate Absolute Worst Pony so freakin' much).

Ah, a bunch of ponies with severe depressive disorder and/or PTSD.

They don't need "The Village"... give em some Xanax and lithium! (So I can make evil pharmaceutical profits!)


6053202 On a more serious tone than I usually comment, the types of 'people' in this story are the same as those targeted by cults past and present.

They feel quite happy in their 'gray' lives... right up until they drink the Koolaid.

6051792 Be everything all at once, in all times, in all places; simultaneously.

Remember, the worst enslavement is often the chains we place upon our own minds.

To free your mind is not to dull it, but to sharpen it's edges and harden its wit and temper its wisdom. After that, you can cut through all the walls placed before you.

You also go somewhat mad... but that's all part of the fun! :pinkiecrazy:

love it, I can really see how a community like this could arise/evolve

"Brown coat, tan mane, sheaf of grain for a cutie mark."

Is this a mistake, or did I miss something? Is this town a different one from Starlight's? I suppose it must be, since there were no foals in 'our town' and they didn't rotate jobs or homes, but I got the impression it was an alternate version of 'our town'. I don't see how they could rotate jobs day after day for years if they still have their Cutie Marks reminding them what they're supposed to do.

Don't let my nick-picking get you down though. I liked this story. I just think that Buckwheat needs to be 'equalized'.derpicdn.net/img/view/2015/4/10/870369__safe_solo_crossover_spoiler-colon-s05e01_spoiler-colon-s05e02_starlight+glimmer_the+legend+of+korra_amon_artist-colon-bingodingo_equality.png

Jesus Atheist Christ, that has to be one of the horrifyingly realistic stories I have ever seen written about a people that has accepted socialism. Sure, you have a kind nut who tricks himself to think he's happy (never fulfilled, just happy), and how bland they are as they shift through the motions, just wow. Spot on.

Yes. Perhaps a better asylum than those available to the insane of our societies...

This doesn't really have anything to do with socialism, unless we're talking about small-scale utopian socialist communes. (Which don't tend to work, but for different reasons, and in very different way, than Soviet Union did.)

I like this :rainbowhuh: but by the time I started reading it has the completed tag,
I hope you have other stories as good as this, for now I'll just read the other chapters/ :pinkiehappy:


This story's version is essentially the same concept as Starlight's little miniature dictatorship, except without any crazy, power mad unicorns and creepy cultish vibes.


without any creepy cultish vibes

What story did you read? :trixieshiftright:


Eh, well...

I probably didn't notice the indicators of "this is totally a cult" in this story, probably because it isn't as blatantly obvious as with Starlight's village.

Time to read it again. :pinkiecrazy:

Anyway, as might be expected, I really enjoyed this story. It was not the direction I was expecting the expansion to take, though, and I'm not entirely sure if the expansion of the first chapter really made me happier about it.

The second and third chapters were both quite good, though.


They don't need "The Village"... give em some Xanax and lithium! (So I can make evil pharmaceutical profits!)

Ponies on lots and lots of delicious medication! What could possibly go wrong?

The last few lines say so much.

I think you missed a pretty important part of the work.

The village can't help you forget. In fact, it stops you from doing so. Even if you give up your totem, you never forget - you just gave it up to meet social expectations, as Spring Heath did.

Pain fades because you do other things and life goes on. But for these ponies, it doesn't; they've tried to throw themselves away, get away from themselves, and eliminate who they are... and in so doing, have failed to replace it with anything else. As a result, it is sticking with them longer than if they had just gone on with their lives.

Buckwheat and Spring Heath are both suffering because they are trying to destroy their old selves without replacing it with anything new. Spring Heath is lonely, having given up her foal and having lost her husband, and it is clear from the story that they aren't quite replacing them. Buckwheat is a good pony, but he's scared of losing something again and consequently has thrown himself into a life where he can never lose anything - but he can't really gain anything either.

Glenmore, on the other hand, seems to be comfortable still being herself in the new setting, and has friends and is trying to have a foal. She has lost the least, and least wants to lose herself, and is having the best life of the three in the village because she is actually living her life.

The story's title has a triple meaning. The destruction of the self refers to the village depersonalizing everyone and trying to make them less unique, the characters trying to lose themselves in the village life, and the characters literally destroying themselves by refusing to move on with their lives.

I like the added chapters, and the resolution to Buckwheat's is definitely an improvement.

Maybe it was intentional, but Glenmore's got Saffron Spark's name wrong.

Quick question, is this the same village that Starlight Glimmer ran? I don't see an alternate universe tag, so I'll just assume it is if no one answers.

Excellent work, and it's great to see a full version posted here.

6053822 Our town had foals in it. There was a pack of them being shepherded around early on.

6054785 these ponies have locked themselves in emotional stasis. By trying to run from their feelings and problems they have gaureteed that they cannot escape from them.

Interesting story, a different take on an idea, but really, one thing struck me more than the others.

These ponies have never suffered.

The arrogance of that. The sheer, unvarnished arrogance of him to believe that. "You've never suffered, or you'd be just like me." Whatever else, that belief is one i look at and think how self-centred someone's worldview must be to think that the only way others might not understand you is because they haven't suffered as much as you. Your suffering makes you special.

But then, I tend to respond more strongly to concepts than to characters. I can understand how he'd come to think that, but I just really dislike it when people use that to give their beliefs or actions validation. Even fictional people, it turns out. Suffering doesn't make you special. It can make you feel special, but just saying anyone who doesn't understand why you do what you do is because they've never suffered is ridiculous and more closed minded than anyone who questions what it is you're doing.

Still, though, this is amazingly well written, and I enjoyed reading it. Even if one of the character said something that got such a reaction from me, which is really just a sign of how well you've written the character that it can elicit such a response.

This story made me feel things.
It's been a while since a story has done that to me.
Thank you.

I'd like to think that I get all of that. What I had been expressing was a desire to see a different type of villager. All of the characters so far are quite similar; they're all young(er) adults that are reasonably new to the village. They've only been there a few years. They're all of the age where they've had or are trying to start families. The two whose reasons we know are there for the same reason; death of a family. Their differences are subtle, but there is much the same between all of them.

My comment was that I was interested in the reasons for and the rationalizations. Ponies are a species who literally wears their purpose on their sleeve (well, okay, maybe a little further back). What does a pony have to tell themselves to not only give up their identity, but their purpose? That's what I'm curious about.

The newcomer is just fresh from whatever trauma caused them to seek out the village. They've spent their lives in a society built around a pony identifying their special purpose and then living it through the rest of their days. What would make them give all that up, so that they wouldn't even be willing to find comfort in the one thing they should be doing?

Conversely, what are the thoughts for the foal growing up in the village? This is a place that by design does not celebrate purpose or talent, or uniqueness, but tries to make everypony literally everything. Nothing is stable, nothing is permanent. Again, ponies by their very nature are driven to seek out a specific purpose in their lives and live up to it. So what happens here? This is a place where being a blank-flank could be seen as an asset, because you literally are blank; no special talents, nothing to stand in your way. A cute-ceañera must be a horrible thing for a young pony to go through. Additionally, how do they deal with the inability to preform their special talent except on days they get lucky in the draw? They're not old enough or hurt enough to want to lose themselves. So how do they fight against and what do they (and I imagine the rest of the village) tell them to rationalize away their desire to do what they are literally meant to? This would probably be the most interesting one to read, as it wouldn't be a choice the character had made that caused them to end up there, they were just born into it, and are suddenly having to fight the very nature of what they are because of it.

Thinking about it more, the veteran would probably be the least interesting to look into the mind of. They're a pony who has literally spent decades under this self-imposed lash, trying to grind away everything unique and special that they once were all to avoid the pain that brought them there in the first place. To find that they can't fight their nature, no matter how long and how hard they try, they'd just end up wallowing in the self-pity that keeps the whole place running.

That leaves the outsider. Again, my idea comes back to purpose. What are the thoughts of one who is still in a society who celebrates uniqueness and the purpose of self? What do they think of ponies who have stopped trying to be something in an effort to be everything and in turn are nothing? Is there appeal, is there pity, is there just confusion? Probably the doctor that Glenmore mentions would be the most accessible avenue. That, or a merchant, either one that deals with the village on regular basis or one who is new and stumbles upon it.

Ponies form a society in which talent and self are inextricably linked. Buckwheat is a farmer; always has been, always will be, can't change it no matter how hard he tries. He even admits he wants to do it. But to acknowledge himself as Buckwheat the Farmer is to also acknowledge he's Buckwheat the Farmer with a dead family. Remove the talent, remove the identity, remove the pain. That's the principle the village is built one.

So what I was curious about was how the village was viewed from various extreme perspective as opposed to those already immersed in it. Those who are new to its allure; those who've only ever seen the village; those who have seen it longer than not; and those who've only seen it in brief glimpses.

Dang, now that was an impressive story. I haven't read a lot of non-fanfiction fiction in the last few years, and every once in a while a story like this comes along that freshly convinces me that there isn't much difference.

Where I will never lose my wife or my child or my home or my friends, because no matter what happens, there will always be another to take their place. 

That there, just... what kind of mentality is that, that's horrible. Everyone you care for is easily replaceable?

To the Author: I like the concept of the village but this buck's mentality bugs me.

Given that Igneous only is the BlackSmith about twice yearly, if we would know the length of the year, we could estimate the population of this village. My guess is about 180 or 210:

The year-length and seasons are totally arbitrary. We know that in Equestria, if not all over Equus, the seasons occur in a patchwork pattern, with ponies wrapping up the last season in their community and Cloudsdale delivering the new season.

Equus seems to have lifeforms similar to our lifeforms, so the year-length could not be too different.

If the year-length is arbitrary, the ponies should choose a convenient year-length, but the year-length must be close to our year-length because of the constraints of the lifeforms. That leaves 2 pvalues:

* 360
* 420

360 is very close to our year length, but is an highly composite number with 24 factors.

420 is slightly larger and has the same number factors as 360 (24), but is the least common multiple of all natural numbers upto 7, so that 7 of its factors are the numbers 1 to 7, which is useful for splitting things into small groups of days such that they fit evenly into the year and always fall of the same dates.

About half of 360 is about 180 and about half of about 420 is about 210.

The adult-population of this village is about 200, give or take.

I loved this in the writeoff (quite possibly my fave, once again solidifying you as an author who impresses me at every turn), and I am very pleased to see you have beefed it up so much from the original entry. :pinkiehappy:


Lot of good thoughts in here. I'm not sure I'll ever revisit the village, but if so, it would be as a foal.

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