• Member Since 28th Aug, 2011
  • offline last seen Last Monday

Cold in Gardez

Stories about ponies are stories about people.


Once upon a time, everypony spoke the same language.

Then came Discord, and everything changed. Was it a malicious prank? Boredom? An attempt to teach everypony a lesson? We can't ask him, because he's gone, and who knows when he'll be back.

If language is the glue that holds society together, what happens when it turns to sand?

Winner of the October Writeoff competition, "Illusion of Choice."

Chapters (2)
Comments ( 110 )

Amazing stuff, as usual!

Georg #2 · Nov 13th, 2015 · · · Babel ·

Jung n jbaqreshy fgbel. Gunaxf sbe oevatvat vg gb hf. +1

Very enjoyable.

Still makes me tear up as much as it did when I first read it.

Assuming my memory's sound, I also love the additions on this version (Twilight's library, Cheerilee and Celestia). The former is probably the bit that lands the biggest emotional punch for me (which isn't a surprise, since I remember the rest well). The latter fleshes out the scenario nicely. This was going to be one of my all-time favorite pieces on Fimfiction even without those touches, I'm pretty sure. Having them just makes it better.

Thanks for a wonderful story.

Wowie zowie...

How the hell does one even compete with such a piece?

Ye a god among writers, this here presents a strong case for it.

~Skeeter The Lurker

And then the counter-curse is akin to Google Translate, and it just pisses everypony off even more.


How the hell does one even compete with such a piece?

If you look at the scores, we didn't. "Babel" won its round about as decisively as anything has ever won a WriteOff. I pulled 3rd Place in that WriteOff, and I'm frankly prouder of that 3rd than I'd have been getting 1st in a lot of rounds, based on how stiff the competition was.


...Shows you how much I pay attention at times...

~Skeeter The Lurker

This was glorious!
It was short but spoke volumes.
I would love to see more written about this.

Bradel made me read it (with a gun to my head and everything) during the Writeoff. It was brilliant then and it is brilliant now. My hat is off to you.

Nu! Lbh fcrnx ebg13vna! Zneirybhf! N ybiryl ynathntr, vfa'g vg? Irel zrybqvp. Nyzbfg zhfvpny.

Aneniab, wn tbibevz wrmvxbz xbwv wr wbf xbzcyvxbinavwv mn enmhzrinawr. Hvfgvah, Inivyba anz wr fivzn qbnxnb.

.i ki'e do
.i xu do se bangu la lojban .i je'epei
.i ki'e sai do

It's simply staggering how much story and pure world building you put into a scant thousand words. Bravo sir! Just like your Cities story, love this one in its simplicity. Keep up the great work!!

Jesus, I had this exact idea, like, two years ago. I even had writing not work and the villain's name be the one word that was universal. Except instead of every individual being different it was just different races, and it was a random baddie named Babel rather than Discord. I'd also planned it longer, starting out with the initial aftermath, then progressing months, then years, then centuries into the future, exploring the longterm implications to a world based on harmony when communication between races is no longer possible, I wish I'd actually written it because now you've gotten it first and this was quite good.

Bravo! I was expecting worse, actually, having recently read "Speech Sounds" by Octavia Butler. If this story intrigues you at all, you own it to yourself to go read the Hugo Award winning story.

This story hurt me in all the right places and deserved to win.

I think I need to check the security on my notes... though the Shattering was not in the current era... Sorry, I talk to myself at times.

Strange thing is to me Discord failed, he may have broken their language but he didn't succeeded in throwing Equestria in chaos.

You have sais more with these words than many lengthier tomes ever have.....Bravo!! Great work!

I now delve into my boarding school days in order to comment on this.

Hoc valde opulentam et uberem. It astutum et prudentem eloquii. Stat supra parium.

One of the neat discord stories is that he took a town and made half the population deaf and the other half mute. so they invented sign language

Reminds me of an older science fiction story I once read, in which a biological weapon scrambled the language centers of the brain. The survivors were either deaf-mute, but could read and write, or were capable of speech and hearing, but utterly incapable of understanding any visual language elements beyond the most basic hand signals.

Stories that deal with the intricacies of and dependency on such a basic, but essential thing as language are so rare, and it's a real treat to see it done right.

reminds me of the tower of babel from the bible

6631163 you could still do it it be longer and just as good

It's always a pleasure when you show up in my feed.

That last bit was inspired, man.


Was that story written by Damon Knight, perchance?

That biblical story always makes me to think, "Wow, God is a jerk." If I recall, a reason isn't even properly giving as to why besides maybe that mankind in complete unity could rival his godly feats which made the blowhard angry.

Anyway, it's a good premise and is well written, but dang if it's not really bare bones. I know it's a oneshot, but I think it could have benefited from an extra few hundred words to better set Discords actions. Spirit of Chaos or not, Discord has shown himself to be a being driven by motive and reason just like the rest of us, he's just particularly zany is all, so him just doing this out of the blue and then vanishing is odd to say the least.

Saw title, my mind immediately went to this:

Which I discovered thanks to this:

So thanks for reminding me of chill tunes to avoidance to :)


It was written for a minific round of the Writeoff -- 750 words or less. The version here is actually expanded by quite a bit.

I thought about adding more, but in the end I couldn't think of a good reason to. The point of the story isn't why Discord cast a curse; it's a story about how regular ponies like the Cakes are trying to cope in the aftermath.

This packed a damn powerful statement in 750 words, and it lost none of that density in expansion. A well-deserved win with a marvelous treatment of a marvelous idea. Straight to the Superlatives list.

That was fantastic.

6631875 Not a clue, it's a been a long time since I read that story. It was in an anthology of post-apocalyptic short stories, all of them written around something besides the usual nuke-it-until-it-glows premise, that much I do remember.

In the spirit of the story:

Mahtava tarina! Perusidea on yksinkertainen mutta nerokas, ja CiG hyödyntää sen mahdollisuuksia todella hyvin. Usein sanotaan, että sanat ovat vain yksi, ja usein vähiten tärkeä, osa viestintää, ja se pitää täysin paikkansa tämän tarinan suhteen.

manxeňua vořuza žono canuse cařuco!

ITT: everybrony's native language.

I like the additions you made, especially the part about Cheerilee and Celestia. Makes you wonder, if something like this were to happen, how long time it'd take for a unified language to arise. After, say, a lifetime, there'd probably be local languages at the very least, on account of the kids who grew up together and learnt a common language.

So yeah, both touching and thought-provoking.
Väldigt bra jobbat, CiG.

6632248 6632167 6632133 6631007 6630992


meanwhile, in the darkest depths of Tartarus, inside a welded cage, in a second scale model of Tartarus molded to fit inside the cage, in a second cage inside the darkest depths of that second Tartarus, surrounded by the now useless Equestrian tax code, volumes 1-500, arranged in neat rows, is a pile of broken stone fragments that almost look like they once formed the statue of a surprisingly nervous looking draconequus.

The only thing that made this not horrifying was the fact this happened in Equestria, where communication via friendship is plausible.

Flooba-flabba-fleeba, Albert!
Well done! :pinkiehappy:


Theres always interpretive dance!

It's so simple, and shows great stories aren't defined by complexity. And I like it. Well done, congratulations on the win!

I thought this was a really good story when I read it in the Write Off, and adding a few more paragraphs has done nothing to alter that opinion. :pinkiehappy:

Yeah. I mean, goddamn... poor Twilight. :fluttershysad:
And all those other ponies with cutie marks for knowledge and reading. I mean... BOOM. Life ruined.

This was really nice, I remember reading it in the writeoff and really digging it. It's a good exploratory piece with some hints of a strange sadness that isn't exactly close to reality, but a "what if" scenario that should creep a good few of us out, due to how much we're invested in reading, writing, and language in general.

My one gripe is the whole Twilight thing, which even though I can understand why she did it (he's one of the few ponies she constantly talks to), it doesn't sit right with me and the story could easily survive with that omitted.

A really interesting story, it goes to show that it doesn't have to be long to be epic.

However I do see sort of an "easy out" to this situation, Twilight just goes to the EQG world and everyone use that common language.

Ksat cit kikl? Fud ram itilien, hard. Fud ytr kilk tik...

Ĉu vi vidas? Ĉi situacio estas, kial internaciaj lingvoj estis kreinta, kiel Esperanto.

Aliflanke, mi pensas, ke vi povas uzi aliajn lingvojn-- realajn lingvojn-- en via rakonto. Se vi volas, mi scias kelkajn lingvojn, kaj do mi povas helpi vin.

I reviewed this story!

My review can be found here.

Huh. Just now noticing that "Babylon" is a (probably unintentional) pun. Babble-on.

GENESIS 11:1-9

I shall remain neutral

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