• Member Since 2nd Jun, 2012
  • offline last seen August 25th

Between Lines

A purveyor of intelligent literary commentary some of the time, and whatever I feel like the rest of the time.


As long as Dove can remember, she's been a walking bomb. Sometimes, without warning, her horn unleashes dangerous spells at random. She doesn't even have to be thinking of one for it to happen.

For all her life, she has never understood why.

Now, after her latest freak accident, she will.

Chapters (1)
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Comments ( 49 )


I think her Nightmare name would be 'Mourning Dove'.

mon canari

Do you mean Mon cheri???

No, her actual pet name for Starburst is mon canari, which means "my canary" in french, because Star is small and yellow and has wings.

I saw that one bouncing around, and I like it too.


Ah that makes sense!

The loyal opposition. The suffering child of Omelas. The necessary evil. It isn't nice, but it's true. Without darkness, the light has no meaning. Oh, sure, there may be some incredible utopia in which everything can be perfect without degenerating into placid banality, but it's not in this Equestria.

Nicely done.


Would really like a sequel!

I think this was the best Kilalaverse story I've ever read. Pretty damn good. Favourite, like, and an add to the "Best of the Best" bookshelf.

My god....
SO wonderfully Done! Like seriously! It creates a whole new meaning behind the Nightmare. If only others were able to understand her sacrifice. You're the real hero Dove.

Don't you frikking dare to leave it without a sequel.

I can see joker-batman references all over this. Especially when they aren't there...

Disclaimer: My opinions on what evil is.


Except... this isn't.

“I’m not a bad pony.” I said.

This is a pony who is being beaten down by life for absolutely no reason. She's flawed, not evil.

“Neither am I. ... I play my part not out of malice, or sadism, but because it is my place.”

Nightmare lies with every part of her being, because...

“Evil is dying, Dove. And soon we will have nothing but the tepid, meaningless void.”

Evil is a choice. Evil is being placed in a situation where you get to decide between doing unnecessary harm and not, and then choosing to harm anyways. You can't be a "not bad person" and still be evil, which means Nightmare truly is evil because she considers herself not, but has chosen to do grievous harm anyways.

Initially, Dove is not evil because she does harm but has little choice in the matter. She's like an asteroid. Asteroids are bad, but they are not evil; they don't get a choice. The idea that Dove needs to be evil, against her own wishes, for some cosmological "balance" - especially with the lifetime of uncontrolled magic - is a horrifying interpretation of predestination. Because "light and dark cannot exist without each other" is not adequate justification for giving up your ability to choose which path to follow.

Dove was tricked into becoming "evil." That's the tragedy.


which means Nightmare truly is evil because she considers herself not, but has chosen to do grievous harm anyways.

Allow me to put this forward as a thought: What harm has Nightmare actually done?


She successfully stripped Dove of Dove's ability to choose her way out of this situation. IE, she took away Dove's free will. And the worst part was, she did it with bald-faced trickery.

How did she strip her? She informed her, and Dove chose. By that logic, all existence is a trick, and we've no free will at all.


You're right; I spoke hastily. Nightmare didn't strip Dove of the ability to choose. She convinced Dove to give up her ability to choose, which successfully stripped Dove of herself.

Which is still incredibly harmful.


That I can see much more, though that wasn't exactly the point I was driving at. When you say she tricked Dove, there's an assumption that she is evil. When I asked 'what harm has Nightmare done', your answer hinges on her being wrong/dishonest, which we have no evidence to support.


Actually, it doesn't.

The harm was that Dove was changed for the worse by this experience. Nightmare went into this encounter with the intent to cause exactly that. She could have chosen to not do this, but she did anyway, which is what makes her evil - she purposely harmed Dove.

Also, I had to giggle at:

By that logic, all existence is a trick, and we've no free will at all.


Sometimes, without warning, her horn unleashes dangerous spells at random.


Dove's setup before this story and who she was after.

Speaking of being set up to potentially have no free will...


See, you're assuming intent on a mysterious character. You have no proof of Nightmare's intent. And I know that, because I wrote the dang thing in first person :p Not saying you're wrong, just saying you have no proof.

And how was she changed for the worse? As it was she was engaged in self-mutilation and accidentally assaulting her friends. At least now they will regard her with the appropriate level of caution.

Also:"Dove's setup before this story and who she was after."

There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.
There is no fear; there is power.
I am the heart of the Force.
I am the revealing fire of light.
I am the mystery of darkness
In balance with chaos and harmony,
Immortal in the Force.
- The Je'daii Oath

This balance of good and evil made me think of it

this is amazing i can imagine the figth between dove and star with this song in the background


And how was she changed for the worse? As it was she was engaged in self-mutilation and accidentally assaulting her friends. At least now they will regard her with the appropriate level of caution.

The difference between pre-story Dove and post-story Dove is intent. Beforehand she didn't want to hurt others, she just couldn't help it. She changes for the worse because she throws away this positive personality quality.

At least now they will regard her with the appropriate level of caution.

Immaterial. They could (and would) have done that without her changing who she was. All she's done by giving in is assuring that she'll alienate herself.

Also:"Dove's setup before this story and who she was after."

She has been having such magical "mishaps" her entire life according to your synopsis. Given how this plays out across the story, she was essentially "infected" with evil despite being a good pony, and, if Nightmare is to be believed, this "infection" is who Dove was always meant to be despite who she grew up as. Talk about determinism. It's one thing to have it happen and then get converted. It's another to have it forced on you long before you could make the decision, and then later be told that you don't actually get to decide.

Which is why you comment about life being a trick and not having free will is morbidly funny. You wrote a story about a character living that kind of life.

Sacre bleu... This was amazing. I... have no more words to describe this.


The difference between pre-story Dove and post-story Dove is intent. Beforehand she didn't want to hurt others, she just couldn't help it. She changes for the worse because she throws away this positive personality quality.

I would actually say that's what's driving her, a desire to help her friends because it was best to be the villain. Also note, Nightmare did say, "Don't even have to hurt them, if you do it right." Case in point, and crux of this entire story, how many ponies have actually come out the worse for their encounter with Nightmare?

Immaterial. They could (and would) have done that without her changing who she was. All she's done by giving in is assuring that she'll alienate herself.

Could they? They'd already allowed themselves to be burned by underestimating her affliction. And what sort of life is being friends with a time bomb, to say nothing of a time bomb with friends? Would sleepovers be conducted through the far wall of a blast chamber? Or would they be the ones forced to say "we've gotta cut it off?" (Admittedly they could probably cover her horn in smooze ooze, but we don't know enough about long term effects) I'd say that alienation might in fact be the appropriate level of caution.

And, lastly, life kind of is determinism. Do we have a say where we are born, and when? To whom and with what body? Considering that we know only what we learn, and that itself is governed by our place of birth and what we have learned before, there are very compelling arguments for a total absence of free will in *this* life. To this day the debate rages on because the argument for determinism is so ironclad.

What makes this an even bigger downer is even if she could have somehow declined, Starburst's still been burnt badly (or so it's implied)

I agree with Shachza on this one. Nice writing, though.

6250391 The truth is I wrote it for each interpretation to be viable. He just seemed *so* sure of his interpretation XD

That's part of why I don't intend to do a sequel, because that would force me to side with an interpretation.

6251419 If you had left her in doubt, I would totally agree with you, by leaving her with a decision, you limit the interpretations. My point is, there are only two interpretations possible, and neither of them are kind to Dove. I still agree more with Shachza. Let me explain myself.

Since you implement pretty hard that she decided to become the nightmare, it is kind of hard to interpret the story in any other way than that the nightmare convinced Dove that she must become evil. There is of cource two different reasons for the nightmare's actions, either she truly believes what she is saying, or she has an evil plan. While I admit that if we go for alternative 1, she actually believes that everything good needs a counterpart, that is still kind of mean to Dove, and leaves her without much choice. Her argument is that if Dove doesn't become evil, then Starburst's future will be ruined. But a lot of alternatives are left out. Starburst could become a royal guard and be a hero in another way than fighting Dove, for example. Or, there might be a cure for her. A magic dispenser, perhaps, making sure she doesn't hurt her friends, making sleepovers perfectly safe. But she presents only two alternatives, and whatever her reasons are, Nightmare is coming of a manipulative, and she is taking advantage of a mare in distress.


See, you guys are assuming Nightmare herself is a free actor in this, that she was the one to choose Dove. Yet Nightmare speaks of her role and her place as well. Assume for a minute that Nightmare herself is merely a messenger. Someone who has not contrived these circumstances, but is as beholden to them as Dove.

When I say there are two interpretations, I'm not referring to Dove's choice. That was foreordained by the art! I'm talking about if her choice was the right one. Was she deceived by Nightmare? Or is she doing a good thing for the world, same as Twilight did when she ascended to her destiny?

Actually, let's use Twilight as an example. Did Celestia choose Twilight from birth? No, she merely recognized a pony of destiny when she stumbled across her. Twilight's destiny was decided by the circumstances of her birth, and Celestia merely facilitated matters from there. Who is to say Nightmare is not the same, recognizing a pony who has been chosen by circumstance for her role?

But really, this whole argument boils down to one fact: Is Nightmare right? In a world where harmony and chaos are living, tangible forces, is Evil a part of the great design? Would a world without Nightmare crumble at the seams?

Ah, but one need to consider The fact that The nightmare has posessesed two more ponies, Luna and Rarity. And in both cases The Nightmare took advantage of mares in deep distress.
And with The same m.o on now three occasions, I for one have trouble seeing something else than a manipulative creature, only taking advantage of ponies in bad emotional states. If she really is acting for the balance of The World, why approach them when The are weak? Why not when they are at a more balanced, giving them a chance to make their own choice? If you really believe what Nightmare believe, than that is only fair.

Considering all The other bad creatures in Equestria and how They are acting, I can't see anything that implicates that They see their place as part of a balance. And there for, The nightmares argumentation fails, and she Comes of as a lying, manipulative jerk with no agenda other than her own.

And Celestia... yes, she did turn Twilight into an alicorn, but she did give her time to grow into The part. She did not just chance her on a whim, and she did not take advantage of any emotional weakness. And Then, If she saw this destiny in Twilight from when she was born, why take in Sunset Shimmer and offer her The same stuff?

I'm sorry, but I've been waiting to use these.

Yes, Nightmare came to mares who were in states of emotional weakness. States of weakness that were pre-existing conditions! Luna hated her sister before Nightmare ever happened along, just as Rarity thought she was the weakest of the six. Had Nightmare never forced the issue, how long would these fears and misgivings festered? How twisted would her "victims" have become without her intervention?

Look at Luna. At the time of her fall, she was angry enough to hop on Nightmare's bandwagon. She was ready to betray her sister, and jumped at the chance to have the power to destroy her. But if Nightmare hadn't come to her, what are the odds she would have stewed on her hatreds, growing more bitter by the year? Instead of a millenium on the moon leaving Celestia to mourn and regret her actions, Luna would have spent a thousand years continuing to languish in her sister's shadow. From there, who could say what would happen? Sure, maybe Celestia would have made amends, but considering she dropped the ball hard enough for Nightmare to step in anyway, that seems unlikely without a similar showdown forcing the issue. And what then? Then you would have Luna turning against her sister. No manipulating Nightmare, no scapegoat, just Luna herself finally deciding to put an end to Celestia. Either way, Equestria comes out all the darker for it, a nation split by one thousand years of hatred, either simmering or acted upon.

By stepping in, Nightmare played the villain, and allowed forgiveness to be bestowed upon Luna.

Rarity is not nearly so dramatic a case, as hers was a more forced circumstance. But all the same, she caved because she feared her own weakness. What if she had carried that fear into a fight with someone who didn't have a 100% failure rate? What if she had caved against someone who could actually win? Disaster. The elements broken at the critical moment. And to top it off, Nightmare didn't even let Rarity go until her fears were resolved, even shrugging off Luna and the elements until Rarity's friends finally allayed her fears. That's dedication!

And now for my own example. Season 1, episode 1. Nightmare's (ostensible) objective: stop the little band of ponies from finding the elements of harmony. Now, considering she just banished Celestia to the sun (word of god on that one), and swatted her guards aside like dust bunnies, it would seem like the best plan would be "stand in front of ponies and smite them." Instead, what does she do? She stalks them, continually taking half-baked swipes at them, testing their character. She wasn't trying to stop them, she was putting them through the entrance exam.

And now the final point: if Nightmare's not really evil, why is Dove alone let in on the joke? Well that's simple. Luna and Rarity had parts to play on the side of good, Dove is the opposite. If Luna and Rarity are to function as they should, the must be able to blame Nightmare as the villain. If Dove is to play her part, she must understand the good she can do by being "evil." Which is to say, by taking bombastic shots that the heroes, and showing up their failings, all while actually doing no harm. Seriously, for a being of such great dark power, Nightmare has a lower bodycount than Nerf.

Anyway, that's the way I see it. Whether Nightmare is a malignant liar, or in fact a Nietzschian savior is up to the reader. I just spent way too much time on this headcanon for it to be missed. :rainbowlaugh:

Sorry, but no. I don't not agree with you. Yes, in her emotional state, Luna accepted The nightmare, but If she hadn't? Then there Would have been a huge argument instead of a showdown. The deadly fight was because Luna was posessed, not because she was jealous. If The nightmare hadn't manipulated her, they Would have resolved it without violence. That spark in Luna eyes showed that she was possessed very early and that most of that conflict came from nightmare. Same goes with Rarity, If The nightmare hadn't taken her, The magic of friendship Would have resolved her issues in time in The same way it did, just without The trip to The moon.
If The only reason for Dove to become evil is to play The part of arch-enemy to Star, Then she could as well choose The path of peace. There is Notting that says that EQUESTRIA needs more Heroes, and if it does, there is nothing saying it must be star, neither there is Notting saying the villain has to be Dove. Sorry about my spelling, my smartphone is dumb.

The reason we see no dead ponies is because The villain were stopped in time, not because they were holding back. Nightmare moon didn't believe her Sister beeing able to stop her, neither did she believe Twilight to do The same.

And I wouldn't say it was harmless tests, The manticore and The avalanche could well enough kille them. One slip and everything Would have been gone. Besides, with what we've seen of Nightmare moon, she likes to boast. Of cource she don't kille them at one, she wants an audience.

Dove has given up on herself. But she should have trust in her friends. Because this is Equestria, land of rainbow and friendship. And in The end, there might be a better solution. And what does star want? Does she wants her friends to become evil for her sake? No, I don't thing so.


And I wouldn't say it was harmless tests

So you're saying the tests that caused no harm, were not in fact harmless? :trollestia:

Semantics aside, here's my issue with Nightmare as legit villain. It makes her boring. You're dealing with a character so criminally incompetent that despite having a clear power advantage and every single opportunity, she can't accomplish anything. She's a joke.

On the other hand, if she's the instrument of fate, doing her best to act out an unpleasant role, then it makes her interesting. Suddenly, she can be complex and competent, and each failure is no longer a failure, but a genius piece of deception. She is the unsung hero. She is everything we love whenever Batman fakes his death or Ozymandius saves the world. She becomes someone we can cheer for as we wipe away a tear for her tragic sacrifice, instead of a joke to roll our eyes at before skipping to the next episode.

But best of all, it makes her fit the theme of MLP, in that no one is truly evil. It's a brilliant subversion, making the one utterly irredeemable character... already redeemed. (Without giving her a stupid out-of-the-blue change of heart)

But honestly, at this point in the debate, we're operating purely on what ifs. What if Nightmare had never possessed Luna? You say they'd have worked it out, I say they'd have chewed on it and grown bitter. There's an argument for each, and proof for neither.

In the end, we can only decide the truth for ourselves.

6254838 Just because something doesn't cause harm everytime doesn't make it harmless. It's decently safe to drive a car until something goes wrong.

Well, I say we have to agree to disagree on this. The traits that makes her interesting to you seems to me as stupid. I see no reason for someone to turn evil or sacrifice yourself because the world needs evil. I do find nightmare interesting as a master manipulator and a trickster, a creature only interested in creating pain and suffering.

In short: I don't think Equestria NEEDs Evil in that way. From the wiew of the reader it is true, since we want entertainment but from Equestrias point of wiew it's probably much nicer without to much drama.

I understand where you're coming from in the story, but I would think that a character (Dove) wouldn't give in so quickly. As much as I enjoy a story of redemption, a story of falling into Nightmare is a bit much. The story telling was well done, but personally (& I mean personally) I don't care for it. Not bad, just not what I, or others, might want to read. Having read the story. there were parts of it that were great. How Nightmare pushes Dove towards the answer she wants. How Dove tries to fight it till the end. Well written, just not my "cup of tea."
Thanks, for the read.


Glad you respect it, even if you didn't necessarily like it, per-se. And thanks for the comment! I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts, and I'm glad that the story holds up mechanically even though it's not to your taste.

6261589 You're welcome. Hope to find a story of yours that I do enjoy. Also, do you plan on doing a redemptive story with Dove?

6261640 Not really, I'd kind of prefer to keep it up in the air if she's actually fulfilling destiny or just got played. What sorts of stories do you like, out of curiosity?

7006173 Oh my god, I forgot people cared about this. Good lord. I should do that, considering how little I like my more recent stories.

this story made me think of three things: The Guild of Calamitous Intent(in the Venture Bros. someone explained super-villians pushed super-scientists to better the world and the OSI and the Guild make sure no one goes too far), the Force(the dark side always exists even if no one follows it), and where would Batman be without the Joker(mainly because i finally started playing Arkham Knight).

then i read the comments and notice the second two had been mentioned. which means i'm not crazy(that crazy anyway).

to add something to the debate(which i side with Between Lines) there are seven types of stories all of which are x vs x. confrontation is necessary. villains make hero, hero inspire everyone else. which is why "everyone loves a great villain."

and who is to say that once Dove is defeated and 'evil' is rekindled that she can't go about living a 'normal' live.

7006763 If you don't write a sequel, may I? I have ideas.

Not bad. . . but I'm a bit lost here. Why are there tags for Twilight (who barely appears) and Trixie (who's not even in this story), but not for Nightmare Moon? And what the hay is a Kilalaverse, anyhow?

7316679 It's tagged because in the kilalaverse (the future universe created by Kilala97 over on deviantart, quite popular these days) Dove and Starburst are Trixie and Twilight's children, so I felt they were the closest relevant tags. That said, you're totally right about the lack of a nightmare moon tag, I'll fix that.

Comment posted by James-Plasma deleted Oct 13th, 2016
Author Interviewer

I'm with Schachza on this one; that was depressing. <.<

anarkhis I can see it working perfectly.

The sadness of dear friends locked in such epic combat, the song helps show that emotion.

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