• Published 13th Jan 2016
  • 1,564 Views, 66 Comments

The Old Country - Astrarian



Spike's been here before. He's sure of it. Except... he hasn't. The northern border of Yakyakistan is so far from Ponyville it might as well be another world entirely. So why does it feel like he's already home?

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Part Four

Something heavy and solid smashed into something else. A low braying noise followed. Spike winced as the unwelcome sounds jarred in his ears, but otherwise ignored them. He wanted sleep. He’d been asleep. He could get back to sleep if he just concentrated.

But distant though they were and difficult as it was to really hear them rather than the world’s soothing shushes, universal and unending, more insistent brays grated against his nerves, stopping him from getting back to sleep. His body, perhaps believing itself to be dozing in bed listening to the rain, made the mistake of rolling over. Cold crawled over his body and soaked into his scales, while a number of quite hard and uncomfortable things poked him in the back.

Groaning in displeasure, he surfaced from lassitude. He opened his eyes, to absolute black.

Unnerved for a few moments, his heart raced, clearing the grogginess from his head. Then memories of the past few days and hours whirled through his mind. He reminded himself that darkness itself was nothing, though it felt like everything, and his heart calmed down. Sight was just one way of seeing. He wasn’t alone.

He slowly moved his arm. Helictites chinked together. Then his hand bumped against something soft.

“Twilight.”

Twilight’s voice instantly answered. “Spike?”

“Yeah,” he said. “Can you use your magic?”

Twilight grunted softly. Her horn sparked to life, illuminating her position behind him.

Spike turned around in the sand immediately to hug her. “I’m so glad you’re all right. I mean, you are all right, right?”

Twilight spread one wing for balance and laid the other wing across his back. “I feel weird,” she grumbled.

“You do?” he asked worriedly, leaning back to look at her. “How weird? Magically knocked out by a giant wyrm weird?”

Twilight looked at Spike doubtfully. “Excuse me? I don’t remember that.”

“You don’t?”

“I remember coming in here and finding helictites, and then there was a bright light.” Twilight rubbed her horn, yet she didn’t say anything about losing her ability to channel magic. “I had a dream about the day you hatched and I got my cutie mark,” she said. She looked at Spike doubtfully. “What’s a worm? I mean, you obviously don’t mean an earthworm, right, because who ever heard of a giant earthworm. Wait! Do you mean a tatzlwurm? No, that would be crazy, right?” She laughed, but her eyes flitted about the place.

“Calm down, Twilight. I mean a wyrm.” Spike corrected her somewhat absently, however, because the better question was where Ormr had gone.

He scrutinised the cavern. Spray made the air hazy, but the vast chamber obviously lay empty. The gargantuan wyrm had disappeared. So had the eggs in the white sand.

Briefly, he thought everything he’d experienced was a crazy dream. But the gems Ormr had torn from the walls still twinkled on the sand, making Spike’s stomach grumble, and the terrible gouges in the walls remained.

So did the feeling of powerful, ancient magic, seeping out of him like body heat.

Spike rubbed his arms rapidly, as much to drive out the last shiver of magic as to stave off the chill draft which had also returned to the cavern. He remembered shadows reclaiming the cave as Ormr went dark, and a niggling feeling that he should say something else to the wyrm. A few minutes ago, he’d woken up.

A glower spread across his face. Ormr must have taken Spike’s words to heart and decided to leave. Worse than that, though, it had taken away Spike’s ability to do anything at all about its choice by. . . by putting him to sleep like he was a child, just like it had taken Twilight’s magic away!

“What’s that?” Twilight asked, pointing with her hoof. Distracted from his anger, Spike noticed her shivering.

The sand contained a great hollow: the kind a huge head might create if it rested there. Beside it there was a dark solid ovoid. As Spike padded over to it (the sand held some residual warmth, the only warm thing in the whole place aside from Twilight) interlaced filaments within glinted like metal ore.

Despite the thin internal fibres, just one thick strand created the majority of the structure. It coiled round and round on top of itself. Water droplets had condensed on its surface. Its colour now was much darker than it had been when Ormr’s fire faded, but Spike knew what it was and that it was made of Ormr’s silken saliva.

“It’s a cocoon,” Spike said.

Twilight followed him. “Why is there a cocoon here?” she said.

The top of the cocoon was open, and soft as feathers to the touch. It was gloomy inside. But Spike was no longer afraid of the dark. It might be nice to lie inside it, just to be protected from the draft inside the chamber. With a gemstone to nibble on, it would be like getting into bed for a nap.

By the time he woke up, he’d have wings.

“I think it’s my future,” Spike said quietly.

“What are you talking about?”

In a sudden gust, the draft whipped around them, chill and uncomfortable. Twilight’s horn died for a few moments. Spike ignored her exclamation, feeling the tenebrosity that only existed in places beyond reach of day and night cover him in a weightless blanket.

‘Wyrm,’ Ormr’s voice whispered.

An almighty shiver wracked his body. Ormr might have gone back to hiding in its subterranean river, too proud and too resentful to give Spike its attention now that its own desires had been extinguished. But its presence lingered in more ways than aerial eddies of magic and mist.

Twilight’s horn sputtered back to full brightness. “Sorry about that, Spike,” she said. “I don’t know why that happened.”

Spike’s eyes drifted towards the back of the chamber, shrouded in heavy mist from the waterfall. He thought about confronting Ormr again. But why bother: it didn’t want him anymore.

Why bother when Spike didn’t want Ormr either.

“Ormr’s just messing with your magic,” Spike said, folding his arms. “It doesn’t like you much.”

He kicked the sand around the cocoon. It made him feel a bit better, and kept his blood moving, which was a good thing in a cold cave.

Twilight sounded exasperated when she said, “Spike, I don’t want to sound rude, but you keep saying things I don’t understand.”

“Hey, wait a second. Look,” Spike said. In kicking the sand, he noticed a spotted green egg behind the cocoon, half-buried in the sand and no bigger than his head. He wasn’t sure if his scuffling had unburied it, or if it had always been there.

“It looks like an egg,” Twilight said, trotting around the cocoon to get a closer look.

“It is an egg. If it wasn’t green, it’d look just like mine did.”

They both started when a distant bang filtered through the cave, interrupting their fascination. Brays of alarm followed.

Spike’s mind grasped the concepts of yaks and of Prince Rutherford’s horn a little slower than he would have liked. Soon enough though he remembered warmth, and food, and light. He craved those things now far more than answers.

“I think it’s time to get out of here,” Spike said. “Before Prince Rutherford tries to yak-smash the whole mountain to pieces.”

“I’m not sure that would be the worst thing,” Twilight muttered. Her teeth rattled against one another, but the majority of her focus stayed on the egg. “But are you sure, Spike? Did you find what you were looking for?”

“I think I did.”

“Really?” Twilight lifted her head, eager eyes shining.

“I promise I’ll tell you everything. Just not right now, okay? I think we should just concentrate on leaving.”

In spite of the cold, Twilight scrutinised him, as if suspicious. The moment stretched out uncomfortably. She was going to refuse –

Spike’s stomach rumbled loudly, taking them both by surprise. He clasped his belly and chuckled, almost apologetically. Twilight’s stern expression relaxed, and she began to giggle too.

“Okay,” she said with a sigh. She still sounded confused, but she was willing to get answers later rather than now. Her teeth still chattered gently. “We must have been in here for ages. I wouldn’t mind leaving for now, to be honest. It’s probably safer that way, too. Besides, we can always come back.”

Or not, Spike thought. He hugged Twilight, relieved. Her coat smelled good: like home.

“Oh, Spike,” Twilight responded, amiably enough. She nuzzled the top of his head.

Releasing her, Spike picked up the egg and grunted in surprise. “It’s warm!”

The egg was tepid to the touch, just warm enough for Spike to suspect it was due to more than the earlier heat of the sand, which was now quite cool.

He brushed grains of sand off the shell. Or was it rock? He had no idea what the egg was made of. It wasn’t like any other egg he’d held.

Did a baby wyrm like Spike sleep within, suspended in serenity until someone willed it into existence? That would never happen down here. Didn’t it deserve a chance to find a friend and a family of its own? A home on the surface, where life thrived?

Maybe long ago, a wyrm like himself had made this same journey, and held Spike’s own egg between its claws, pondering its future.

After taking a couple of minutes to eat gemstones and trekking cake (much-needed energy for the journey out, but also to make enough space in the saddlebags for the egg) they departed. Twilight’s sense of direction, fairly reliable in day to day matters even without a map, also departed. Even though he rode on Twilight’s back, Spike took the lead. He recognised most of the meanders of the dry riverbed, and spotted the crack in the wall where they’d entered.

They considered using the rope to tie Spike to Twilight while she flew into the crack. Spike didn’t want to be slammed into the wall by accident though. So he waited in the passage below, thinking of Rarity and gemstones and anything that helped him forget their perilous surroundings.

Twilight’s hooves scrabbled for purchase on the smooth, slippery rock. With plenty of grunts and scraping noises, she managed to find solid ground. After a couple of minutes of panting, she lifted Spike up with her magic. She used more caution in doing so than she probably ever had before.

She looked exhausted by the effort. Once they’d shuffled away from the drop, seeking the feeling of safety more than an actual location of one, they guzzled the water in their canteens. Despite the water break, and their earlier food, hunger began to growl in Spike’s belly again. It had been a long, long day.

He guided Twilight through the crawl, seeing bags under her eyes. It helped him to appreciate how quickly he’d become accustomed to this underground world. Not that he was especially familiar with it, but in this instance, he was definitely more like a dragon – more like a wyrm – than a pony.

The idea set his teeth on edge for a moment, until more pressing matters took priority. Twilight was clearly flagging. She didn’t remember the journey into the cave taking this long. Neither did Spike, actually.

But they’d make it, together.

The temperature dropped noticeably, nipping his cheeks. Spike breathed in a wonderful, overpowering scent. It was the smell of soil and musk root and open spaces under the endless sky – the smell of the surface, the smell of life.

Spike squeezed Twilight’s flanks with his feet. “Smell that? Fresh air!”

She quivered, her chest pushing back against his feet as she breathed in. “We have to be close,” she said. “We have to be.”

The smell and the cold delivered a second wind to both. Yet corner after twist after bend followed without revealing the snow slope at the entrance. Twilight’s head began to sag again, her steps becoming shorter and slower. The sharp scent of ozone faded.

Twilight stopped. Spike could hear defeat in her voice as she said, “It just keeps going.”

You have to keep going,” Spike urged. Thinking of his navigational successes thus far, he wasn’t yet drained of faith that they would find their way back to the surface.

“What if I can’t find the way out?”

“Of course we can,” Spike said. “We can’t stop now.”

“Maybe we took a wrong turn.”

“We didn’t. I know the way. I remember it, Twilight. Anyway, we can’t have: we smelled fresh air. We’re almost out. Think about how good it’s gonna be to see Prince Rutherford again.”

“Are you kidding?” He could see a small smile at the corner of Twilight’s mouth as she turned her head.

“Not even a little bit,” he admitted. “We can do this.”

“I don’t suppose I have a choice,” Twilight muttered. “That’s just like what I read, actually.” Her ears perked up somewhat. “One of the speleological ponies said he liked the commitment of going into a cave. You can’t give up.”

Spike vaguely remembered that part. “The only way to get out is to keep going and keep trying.”

“Yeah, exactly.” Twilight huffed out a breath, which rose in a white cloud around her head.

“It’s basically what I just said,” Spike pointed out, nudging her, and she laughed with a tangible mixture of relief and actual amusement. Spike squeezed her flanks again, and ignored how the phrase ‘the only way to get out is to keep going and keep trying’ soured in his mouth when he thought unbidden of Ormr.

A minute later, when Twilight stumbled over smashed boulders in the entrance chamber (some of them looked freshly broken, pale insides stark like snow), he was the one laughing out of a mixture of amusement and relief. Neither of them had spotted the snow bank glowing faintly, though it seemed so obvious now as he looked at it.

Loud clamouring erupted at the top of the snow bank. Over all the others, one voice reigned supreme.

“Ponies!” Prince Rutherford charged down the snow slope with ease that suggested either recklessness or deep familiarity, fur all akimbo. He shouted something at Twilight that Spike didn’t listen to, being too busy scrambling over the snow so he could hug the yak prince. He could move so quickly now that there weren’t bottomless pits and sharp boulders everywhere.

“Spike dragon!” Rutherford hugged Spike so tightly he nearly choked on his laugh. Other yaks clustered around him, shouting and cheering.

Someone shoved an upturned helmet into Spike’s hands, brimming with steaming, fragrant liquid. “Drink,” a yak ordered.

Spike threw his head back and drank until he could no longer see lights at the top of the snow bank, only the roof of the cave. The broth was thick and delicious. He didn’t stop until his lips touched something solid and spiky.

He examined the prize in the bottom of the helmet. It was a kind of gemstone Spike had never seen before, and a crystal cluster at that, in a raw form he rarely saw. It glimmered green.

“Whoa,” he breathed. Even the gems beyond Yakyakistan were wild.

“Gem not perfect?” Rutherford asked. Spike could hear anxiety in his voice.

“Don’t worry, Prince Rutherford,” he said, popping it into his mouth whole. It broke with a satisfying crunch between his teeth. “It’s perfect. Thanks.” He hugged the yak prince again. Funny that he’d hated the yaks so much before. How petty. Now he was beyond happy to be able to clench his claws in the softness of thick yak fur.

“Not perfect,” Rutherford repeated, shaking his head. “But if dragon like. . . maybe perfect enough.”

“That’s more like it,” Spike said.

The yaks carried them both up the slope even though Twilight protested, since she had wings. At the surface, frigid wind raked across Spike’s spines, whistling through nooks and crannies in the rock, snatching away the scent of the musk root growing around the cave.

“It’s so windy,” Twilight shouted, grinning foalishly.

The yak’s warm fur protected Spike from the full extent of the chill. Yet his lungs ached gladly when he inhaled the cold, so crisp and fresh compared to the lifeless cold found underground. He realised he was grinning too as he stared up at a perfect dark blue sky blazing with stars. Never again would he call the night black.

At that point, time started to pass in something of a blur. Twilight thought she should fly back to the camp at the base of the mountain, but the yaks insisted that they carry her as well as Spike. Unsure whether Twilight’s time spent unconscious underground had actually been as restful as proper sleep, Spike didn’t back her up, and soon stopped listening.

He spent the trip back to camp dozing, and looking at the roof of the world. A milky band of stars stretched across the centre of the sky, each point of light the tip of a far-distant stalactite. They span slowly, one great celestial whirlpool. They reminded him of Ormr’s kaleidoscopic eyes.

He thought he wouldn’t be able to stay awake long enough to eat. His deep weariness disappeared though as soon as a full meal appeared. No food had ever tasted as good. Hunger, it seemed, was the best flavour.

The yaks hustled Spike and Twilight off to bed as soon as they’d eaten. Twilight, drooping, was about to close the ger’s heavy felt door when Spike heard the grass sighing. He rushed outside before she could stop him. The air smelled crisp and clean and wild, and the steppe was a silver ocean that rustled in the wind with a thousand voices.

‘Come back if you ever wish for wings,’ it whispered. A breeze caressed his face.

“Spike?” called Twilight.

He returned to the ger and climbed into his welcome sleeping bag. Twilight closed the door, trapping the rich aromas of outdoor life inside, where they began to mingle with the musky odours of two tired, unwashed friends covered in stale sweat and wood smoke and fragrant musk root. Even by Spike’s normal standards, everything stank.

Yet tonight, adrift in happiness, Spike thought it was wonderful.

He rested his hand against the blood-warm shell of the egg he’d carried out of the cave. Combined with the suspiring grass, nodding its many heads in appreciation of the night, and Twilight’s gentle snoring, the egg’s warmth lulled him to sleep.

Author's Note:

It feels apt to post the final part of this story today: I spent most of the day tramping across a snowy hilltop, and now it’s snowing for the first time in my 2016.

Not so much resolution here, eh? Well, I hope and plan to write a sequel. So, you know, there’s that, if it helps.

I’m thrilled that so many people saw the story in the first place, and I’ve enjoyed reading each and every one of your comments. I want to say: thanks, readers! (And also thanks to my editor Ceffyl Dwr, again.) This story has been a real learning curve for me, both in terms of writing itself and here on fimfic.

There’s always more to learn though. The story is, as the yaks would say, not perfect. So please criticise away in the comments.

Ta!

Comments ( 34 )

6839284

I'm reminded of Baal Bunny's "Far Kobresia", too.

I guess I'm not surprised. Yaks, snowy grass, sibilant wind: the settings have similarities, I won't lie.

Yyyeah not much of a resolution, no. He rejects Ormr's request... but doesn't actually find something better, instead just hoping that Twilight sticks around forever because it's the only place he considers home. And he is clearly conflicted about it but trying not to be.

But it is a resolution to the conflict that Spike goes to Ormr's lair and rejects the offer, so at least that is done. It just... raises questions about Spike's far future, but only answers it as "I want to be with Twilight now".

But I did quite enjoy it, even if I wish the ending addressed the implicit questions it asked.

In terms of criticism, I'd say it kind of comes off as a bit of a retread of Dragon Quest- Spike goes looking for answers about his past/origins, then decides his home is with ponies/Twilight anyway. He even brings home something with him, just as long as it doesn't vanish off-screen like that baby Phoenix (good to return to the parents, but a repeat appearance would have been nice). Sorry, I don't mean that a bad way, just mentioning the (possibly intentional) parallels.

But since there will be a sequel, that makes it better. And anyway, this fic is far, far better than Dragon Quest, I love the mystical atmosphere of everything, ss well as the focus on Spike and the sense of mystery and danger. Spike episodes are all comedic at best, farces at worst. This was pure serious, wistful, focused on Spike's internal conflict, and adds some lore. Great descriptions of everything help a lot too.

Looking forward to more works from you, especially that sequel.

Not perfect indeed. But perfect enough to like and enjoy.:twilightsmile:
Great job! And I'm all for a sequel!:moustache:

6841489 Fair points. I just want to say that I've really appreciated reading your comments and wanted to answer them at the time, but I also didn't want to spoil any of the upcoming story. Also, I'm far more interested in hearing what other people think than giving my own view on it.

As far as the future goes, although Spike thinks about it a little, I didn't think that he would 1) want to think about it or 2) be particularly capable of thinking about it, because he's a kid who, when not thinking about the here and now, is thinking about his past. I was going for focus on the here and now in the setting, too, and tried to show the difference with the cave (timeless) and the outside (always changing). But 1) also stops him from talking to Twilight, who I see as his avenue into 2). She's the one who makes him think. With Twilight in a bigger role, I might have gone for it. But she's more his sidekick here and I wasn't interested in whether she's immortal as well :trollestia:

I think the questions about his future, are questions for the near future. And I certainly hope to tackle them in the sequel.

I'm glad you enjoyed it, anyway. Thanks for reading. :twilightsmile:

6841521 Thank you! Yeah, there was a lot of Dragon Quest in this one. It could easily be the title as well: Dragon Quest 2.0. I started taking more and more out of it the more I rewatched to establish how Spike would feel about that whole episode in hindsight. I can't believe he's never talked about it again in the show. Does his mysterious past really no longer bother him?

The egg part wasn't created specifically to parallel the phoenix, but it's one I'm happy with.

The setting and generally slow pacing here made for a compelling atmosphere and a good complement for the story being told. The rejection of loneliness as a conflict Spike faces felt true to who he is, and what his life entails. And I found the ideas around wyrms to be interesting. I look forward to the sequel, and further development on that point; I especially hope for a fuller integration of his experiences in "Secret of my Excess" and the distinctions drawn between dragons' alignment with greed and wyrm's with desire.
Great work.

6841577
I think I agree that Spike would avoid thinking about it. Spike is... not entirely complacent, but he's pretty complacent. We see sometimes from his episodes that he might want more (probably down to interpretation whether him wanting more respect is a fledgling drive/ambition or just normal attitudes of children and should be downplayed), but he mostly is just happy to be where he is. No question of where he came from, or where he's going, or anything else troublesome like what his relationship is with Twilight.

But Twilight definitely, if she had a reason to think they were important, would try to help him think about those things... I hope. :twilightblush: Anything less would imply she's not interested in his life, which feels rather cruel, so I won't attribute it to her.

I can imagine that you're going to get some comments about the ending, but I've never been convinced that there are easy answers for Spike. I think that the "always a happy ending" at the end of 22minutes like the show mentality pervades works surrounding him. He's still just a little kid in a much larger world where he's not the main character—even in his own story. I'm okay with him just wanting to be with Twilight right now. That's where he's meant to be, and he has many, many, many years left to begin pondering such things.

I'm glad that you've already decided that there will be a sequel. The egg, I hope, will play an important part. The list of possible hatchers already grows in my mind: Sunset Shimmer, Starlight Glimmer, Trixie... but most hopefully, Moondancer. Oh well, pondering that will have to wait. Thank you very much for this piece!:twilightsheepish:

That was really good.

Mm. I still say Ormr's proposals are not Spike's future either, because I stand by earlier comments that Ormr's version of life is one extreme that is missing other elements to balance it out, elements Spike already has in his current life. Of course, it's possible that Ormr needs something Spike has, while Spike needs something that Ormr has, and neither have quite realized it. Unless I'm totally off the mark, and there's something more to being a wyrm that Ormr did not reveal to Spike. In reality, the story really presents more questions than it really answers, laying only a vague guideline for the reader to follow, and then leaves the reader to figure it out on their own, if they can.

But then that's why I actually quite like your "lack of a resolution" ending, because it leaves the mystery intact, and the reader thinking still well after the story's done, and that's all very good. In my own explorations of writing, I've found that some of the best stories are the ones that don't give you all the answers, and leave some things forever a mystery, and this tale is one of them, I think. :twilightsmile:

But that said, I certainly won't say no to a sequel, because I certainly think there's more that can be told, and I suspect that no matter what lies ahead in Spike's future, Spike's going to have to come back this way regardless, if only to tie up loose ends.

Part of me thinks he still won't take up Ormr's offer even then, though...at least not without...modifying it in some manner...but we'll see if I'm even on the right track.

Ger, lambent, tenebrosity, welkin, helectite, speleological... Dang, you are one wordy person. It's always annoying when an author has an unusually expansive vocabulary, as it's easy to forget that not everyone knows so many words. It's rather immersion-breaking when a reader has to interrupt every important scene to look at a dictionary.

To be fair, those last two words I listed were used by Twilight, so I'm not as bothered by them. It would be out of character for her to not know them, and unlike the other words, there are no other, more commonly recognized alternatives.

One really minor nitpick I'd also like to point out is that ponies don't use the metric system due to where the show is made. The metric system is only referenced once, in "Griffon the Brush-Off", and that was Pinkie Pie being Pinkie Pie. However, because metric is what you know, it wouldn't be fair to expect you to use any other system. Making up a ponified measurement system is possible, with hooves or pony-lengths being a possible unit. I've noticed that an average generic pony's torso is about a meter in length, while a hoof is roughly a tenth of a meter. Another option is to ignore this paragraph entirely, as it is, like I said, a minor nitpick.

Overall, it's a pretty good story. I do not regret reading it in the slightest.

To me, the core of this story can be summed up as "You don't fully understand the value of what you have, until you've gone without it."

Throughout the early chapters, Spike is unappreciative of just about everything. He doesn't like the yaks, he's getting sick and tired of the landscape and trudging up and down hills, he's fed up with the cold and the wind. Spike's even frustrated by and a little resentful of Twilight; she spends too much time with others, not giving him the attention or support he feels he needs, then turns around and lifts him up with her magic just when he wants to finish the climb himself, or offers him a ride when it makes him think about the lack of his own wings.

The mountain, and Ormr, change everything. It's a place where he's more at home than Twilight, and meeting the ancient wyrm gives him a new understanding of who and what he is, and where he comes -- all things that Spike has always wanted. Yet the darkness and the stillness and the cold under the mountain, the endless loneliness, and Ormr's bitter rejection of friendship and home and all the good things Spike has, because they cannot be permanent, are the last things Spike would want.

And in the end, he has a new found appreciation of all the good things in his life. He has Twilight, and the rest of the ponies. The yaks are brusque and grouchy and prone to smashing things, but they're friendly and caring in their own way. Even the cold wind of the wide-open steppe and the dark starry sky are beautiful and welcome after the utter darkness and cold and confinement of the mountain, and at the end, nothing is better than a hot meal and a good sleep.

So yeah. I really liked this one. :twilightsmile:

6842867 I don’t always stop to think about vocabulary, and I apologise. From your list, I stand by using ger, helictites, and speleological, but the others could have been swapped out for easier (better?) words. It just didn’t occur to me. My bad. :facehoof:

The metric system issue also didn’t occur to me. I normally try to avoid using human systems in general (it was ages before I used the term ‘hand’ for Spike’s claws) but when describing distances and heights in a cave it’s hard to not refer to actual measurement terms, so it slipped in. Actually, I really like those basic pony measurements you’ve noticed. They’re not hard to remember. I might use something like that next time.

Thanks for sticking with it and importantly for leaving this comment. I try to use criticism to make my next story better, so I really appreciate any comments that are willing to nitpick me constructively! :twilightsmile:

6841865

That's where he's meant to be

I think so too, but maybe some have other ideas. :unsuresweetie:

Oh well, pondering that will have to wait. Thank you very much for this piece!

I don't know when I'll get around to fully planning the sequel and writing it. It might be ages, if the length of time it took me to write this one is any indication. Still, you're very welcome, and I'm pleased you didn't flip a table at the ending and call back all the good things you'd already said... I worried a bit :twilightblush:

Now, I'm off to start reading So Being What We Sow When We Sew. :twilightsmile:

6843543 Have all of my yes :yay: thank you! :twilightblush:

Also, must say I love your username.

6843571
I very, very rarely ever take back anything I've said about a story's virtues, even if I haven't enjoyed the ending or the parts of the narrative, so you needn't worry about that. I wish you the best with wherever your writing take you next.:twilightsmile:

6841447 Well, that was a little light on the 'resolution', as far as Ormr was concerned, but it gives Spike some closure, at least to this part of his story. So I'm happy enough with that. You picked a fairly ambitious story here, and I appreciate that, even if I felt your execution wasn't as strong as I'd have liked in some places. But, well, everyone's a critic, huh? :P

Oh, and a tip; if you reply to someone, they'll only see your reply in their notifications if it's in the same chapter they commented on. Pretty sure it's done that way to keep people from replying across pages and stuff, but it's a little annoying, what with the way story comments are automatically assigned to the last chapter. And how it's not documented anywhere. Just thought I'd mention.

6844743

But, well, everyone's a critic, huh? :p

They sure are, internally, and that's cool, but if I don't get told it doesn't improve the chances of the sequel being better. Thanks for the honesty. :twilightsmile:

I did not know that about notifications. :rainbowderp: Thanks for the heads-up. I'll try to avoid that in the future.

6844782 I'm glad it's appreciated; I like giving advice, and hope I can be helpful, but it's tricky judging how deep to go or how well people will take it, without knowing them.

If you want more writing practice/criticism, check out the Writeoff group - we do regular writing contests, and several of us give reviews and criticism. It's a stiff competition, to a short deadline, and authors are anonymous - the criticism can be harsh, and there's no responding to it until it's over, or you'll blow your cover. (OTOH, you can compete on level ground with people like Skywriter and Cold in Gardez.) If you want advice on writing, it can be an excellent place to get some. It's a challenging environment - but some people really grow well in that. Caaaaan be difficult for people who write slowly, though.

If you want feedback/help on the sequel, feel free to msg me. I might have to say no, but I usually have some time, if you feel my feedback would be helpful.

6845608 I'll bear your offer in mind, thanks. I'll check out the Writeoff again too. I'm in the group, and sometimes lurk on the threads, but haven't participated yet.

An enjoyable story. It could definitely use a sequel, but I think it has a great amount of medium-term resolution. That cocoon isn't going anywhere, after all.

One thing I really want to call out: I think this is the single best characterization of Yaks that I've seen anywhere. They feel realistic, touchy and techy as before, but rounded enough that it is reasonable they could survive on their own as a civilization.

6851830 Thank you kindly. :pinkiesmile:

Greatly enjoyed! You really brought the environments to life with your writing, from the mountains to the steppe to the cave itself. That, combined with the characterization of all the characters (the Yaks especially!) being spot on made it very immersive! I would have liked for the confrontation part to have gone on a bit longer and learned just a LITTLE more about Ormr's past, but I thought this held up great none-the-less. The ending still felt meaningful (like Spike really learned something) and I look forward to a sequel!

For minor, gritty nitpicks, the only thing that felt a little out of place was how quickly Spike/Twi seemed to get tired and scared when entering the cave. I felt like that could have used just a bit more build-up, or perhaps just the pacing made it seem unwarranted.

6858158 Hey! Thanks a lot for the kind words (and also for following me in general :twilightsmile: ). You’re not the only one looking forward to a sequel it seems! I’m looking forward to writing it at some point.

That’s an interesting point. Pacing is something I’m definitely still learning about. I used a lot of my own experiences as a caver to inform the writing for the cave part. It’s been my own finding that you can freak out very quickly in a cave, even if you only got in a few minutes beforehand, and that’s what I was playing up there. I definitely tried to put a few of the emotive experiences I’ve personally had in caves into the story. Also, I felt strongly that Twilight, being a pony, really wouldn’t handle the rugged environment of a ‘proper’ cave well (as opposed to the fairytale-esque caves we’ve seen on occasion in the show). But it might not have been the best experience to apply to Spike too, heh.

I put this on my read later list when recommended by Decesendant, for an appropriate length of time to read it.

Very nicely done, and an interesting premise. (And a rare use of the yks that didn't make me want to slap them some more...!)

I would definitely be interested in a sequel.

6876793 I owe quite a few readers to the Descendant's signal boost :twilightsmile: thanks for checking out the story and leaving a comment. Your kind words are much appreciated.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

But did they find the missing yaks? D: That line was what hooked me in chapter 1, but of course this story isn't about the yaks, is it? What Spike finds in these last two chapters was really good, but it was a bit of a slog getting there. Still, worth it in the end.

I guess musk deer really don't exist. :B

7054131

But did they find the missing yaks?
[...]
I guess musk deer really don't exist. :B

No comment. :trollestia:

but of course this story isn't about the yaks, is it?

Yeah, this story was conceived as being about Spike, so that's where I kept the focus even though I wanted to go off on tangents. But I fleshed out the details about the yaks deliberately, and maybe that's why you found it a bit of a slog: it wouldn't have been as long if it hadn't been for my attempts to lay sequel groundwork. Definitely a valid criticism, anyway.

What Spike finds in these last two chapters was really good, but it was a bit of a slog getting there. Still, worth it in the end.

Thank you for the input and for slogging through to the end to tell me so. I really appreciate the feedback, especially from a reviewer such as yourself! :raritystarry:

6878428
I am surprised there aren't more.

Loved the story.

The yaks are bullheaded. And yet, sometimes, this is a good thing.

Is there a sewuel yrt?

7589307 Thanks for the kind words and I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

Surprised there aren't more readers, or comments? I suppose it doesn't matter actually. :twilightblush: Fimfic visibility is a tricky thing!

Haven't written the sequel yet, but it's absolutely in my plans to do so, although I can't say when it will be right now as I don't know. Nice to hear you might be interested in reading it however. :twilightsmile:

This story is perfect. Maybe he learns magic of his own but keeps it secret? Also; what if Osmr is spikes subconscious? Anyway! Great story.

Full review here, but in brief:* this was very interesting, and in two ways: first, in using the yaks seriously and making it work; and second, in the underground sequences. I wasn't entirely drawn into the otherwise fascinating Ormr's story -- my having zero Pern background may be relevant -- but it was interesting enough to keep me reading. Spike is the reason I'm faving this, though: it's always wonderful to see a fic that gives him a meaty role. If and when the sequel does appear, I shall be reading it!

* Okay, not that brief, but never mind!

7935377 Hi Logan, thanks for the full review. Pleased that you found it interesting and that you also appreciate Spike stories! :moustache: I'm also glad of the criticism on the length and some of the phrasings: I let my verbose side get the better of me a bit. I'll try to improve next time! :twilightsmile:

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