• Published 8th Feb 2016
  • 13,498 Views, 200 Comments

Raven - SaintChoc



Anyone who has sought counsel from Princess Celestia has met Raven, her most faithful aide. She has been a veritable second shadow to the princess for as long as the castle staff can remember... longer than they can remember, in fact. Much longer.

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Part 10

Raven hurried through the unfamiliar castle halls, doubling back frequently and cursing the lack of signage. "Oh! Um, hello!" She spotted a passing guard. "Um, wouldst thou be able to tell me the direction of the throne room?"

"Down the hall. Thou shalt see it near the end." The guard nodded down the hallway.

Raven looked down the hallway, then back at the guard. "Many thanks!" She raced down the hallway, a red booklet trailing her, surrounded with her light red magic. She paused in front of the most official-looking door in the area. "Breathe, Raven, breathe..."

She entered the throne room, doing her best to look professional. She closed the door behind her and began the long walk to the other end, where Celestia and Luna sat in their respective thrones, chatting away, both with brilliant vibrant manes flowing to their sides.

Celestia was the first to see her. "Ah! Thou must be the new aide." Luna turned to her as well.

"Yes! My name is Raven, and it is—an incredible honor to be here, Your Majesties." She bowed.

Celestia giggled. "There is no need for that. Did Sunbeam outline what was expected of thee?"

Raven picked herself up. "Yes! She informed me that ye have already gone through the morrow's paperwork, and thus, the next step is to check the agenda for domestic matters!" She waved the red booklet in the air, then opened it, clearing her throat. She paused.

Luna had on an apologetic smile. "I am afraid that is the agenda for international matters. The domestic matters are in the green booklet."

Raven stammered for a bit, then put on a bright smile. "Well, I certainly apologize! I shall… I shall return shortly!" She turned around and walked briskly for the door.

Celestia cocked her head. "Is thy hairbun coming undone?" Raven's hair tie was loose, sending hair spilling out to the side freely.

"Oh! Um..." Raven's red magic appeared around her hairbun, and she spun around in circles as she walked. "I, um, terribly sorry! I'll be, um, just a moment. Terribly sorry." She walked back through the doors and around the corner.

Celestia giggled. Luna spoke, arching an eyebrow. "We do have a tendency to run these aides rather ragged." She looked towards Celestia. "How long dost thou think this one shall last?"

Celestia chuckled. "We shall just have to see, shan't we?"

Comments ( 124 )

A promise kept true
Loyalty held for an age
Her service ends

We can all take lessons from Raven in how to be a true friend. None could ask for a better Aide.

A well-woven tachyonic narrative. There are some flubs with the Early Modern English (and given the circumstances, Raven probably shouldn't be thouing Celestia in Part 8,) but overall, this was fantastic. I'm not quite willing to roll with the headcanon, but I still enjoyed this immensely. Thank you for it.

This story started out as something interesting, then slowly grew into a brilliant narrative told in reverse chronological order. An incredibly good read and an instant favorite.

Only cannon contradiction i can find in here, Raven docent get the Element of Loyalty. I mean, sheesh!

Very well done. You captured a fantastic story in so few words. I now wish to see more of Raven.

Raven is best Pone. :trollestia:

So was this written in reverse-chronlogical order?

Also how the hell is Raven not dead? I must have missed something.

6926926 Yup, every chapter comes earlier in time than the last!

As for her immortality:

Part 5 - Celestia reads that if an alicorn desperately asks a promise of someone, basically anything can happen in order to make sure that promise can be fulfilled.

Part 9 - Luna asks Raven to promise to stay with Celestia until Luna gets back.

I saw this story in /r/mylittlepony and looked interesting, so I decided to give it a shot. After reading it, it was certainly a nice little fic and a really interesting experiment. If you haven't read it yet, I do recommend it given how short it is. At the very least, you'll find an intriguing narration with a couply of good twists. Also, make sure you read the first chapter again once you've finished it, it changes its meaning completely.

Let's talk about it a bit more in-depth, though:

SPOILERS AHEAD!

The absolute best this fanfic has is, undoubtedly, its inverse narrative, it's what makes it intriguing in the first place and turns it into a creative and entertaining experience. It's strangely satisfying to read a story backwards; of course you know what is going to happen, but the story answers the question of how it happens, which is almost as interesting to explore. However, the best this format has is the...let's call it "inverted character development" (I'm sure there's a better word for this, but I don't know it). It's kind of fascinating to see the characters "devolve" with the story, and this fic is worth reading if only to get to see that. The characters are in general well driven, and well written enough to made me care about them. Raven's personality was nicely defined and her (d)evolution was believable. Celestia's struggles, on the other hand, while a bit straightforward, worked well and fit the tone of the story. Melancholic Celestia pretty much always works, and for a good reason.

The only character I didn't really like was Luna. Mostly because I was all the time wondering: "How does she know she's about to become Nightmare Moon?" That doesn't really follow the canon, unless I missed something. She knows she's about to get consumed by jealousy? And she rejects it? Then why doesn't she do something about it and just accepts it instead? And if she doesn't know it and it's just a suspicion, how is she certain enough for the alicorn spell to actually work? Perhaps I missed something, but her attitude doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Even if we are following the comics, where she was more possessed than consumed by her own flaws, it seems like she just accepted she was about to become Nightmare Moon. If she tried to fight it but wasn't able to avoid her own fall, that could have been better explained, in my opinion.

And speaking of the alicorn spell, that's my biggest problem with this story; that element feels too big of a Macguffin too me. It's kind of like a "true love's kiss", the spell is only there to justify the story, but doesn't really feel organic to me. I can buy that no one else knew about it, even Celestia, but still feels a bit too forced, an element created only so the story makes sense. Given that we know alicorns can grant regular ponies powers (and perhaps immortality too), perhaps Luna's figure could have been used to explain why Raven doesn't age.

It all comes down to Luna's role in the story, in my opinion. If I was to write this fanfic, I probably would have tried to develop her relationship with Raven a bit more (therefore reinforcing their reunion in Part 2), explain why she couldn't fight her descent a bit better, and I would have tried to avoid resorting to the spell, which looks like an underdeveloped element that could have been replaced for a better "excuse" to Raven's lack of aging that doesn't feel so forced. I don't know how this would have affected the reveal of Raven's immortality (why she suddenly starts aging again, etcetera), or how hard it would have been to write this other option with this particular narration, but it seems like an interesting alternative to me, and I do think this could have been handled better.

Other small problem I have with the plot is how Raven is portrayed as an intelligent mare, but she doesn't realise why she is suddenly immortal. I can understand how she wouldn't get it immediately, but with one thousand years to figure it out, it seems she should have eventually understood it, especially after Celestia tells her about the spell. However, unless I missed something, she doesn't get it until after Luna's return. I reckon this is nitpicking, but she could probably have understood it without affecting the plot too much, avoiding this minor inconsistency. It seems in-character for this version of Raven to hide the reason of her immortality to everyone but Celestia, so it wouldn't really create other inconsistencies, and the shocking moments regarding her immortality in Parts 1 and 2 would still work because A: Even though she would know why she's immortal, she wouldn't have realised she's starting to age again until Luna points it out in Part 1, and B: The reader doesn't have the information all the information Raven has when that happens, so it's an equally shocking moment anyways.

In any case, those are minor problems I have with the story that I think could have used a bit of tweaking, but they are certainly not important flaws (if they are flaws at all) and they definitely don't ruin the experience. Overall, the story is still fitting and adequate for a nice little fanfic like this one. Perhaps a bit too "little" for my taste, though; I get the feeling it doesn't make use of its unique narrative to tell a particularly interesting story. Other fanfics with some sort of similar "special" narration like the famous Hard Reset, or classics like Chronicle of a Death Foretold use their narrative to tell a compelling story that employs its special style to accentuate their strengths, a story where characters face different situations and intriguing arcs move forward (or, well, backwards). Raven, on the other hand, feels more like a conventional, simple story that, albeit it does everything it has to do to work just fine with its concept, doesn't really explore the idea to tell a especially interesting story that makes use of its unique narration. It's kind of a "style over substance" problem that makes me think the fic could have been really, really good if it was a bit longer and more interesting, making use of its unique narrative to tell a unique story, instead of "just" an above average fic with a neat concept, as it is right now.

I have to ask myself: besides the interesting narration, does this fanfic have something that I'll remember in a few months? And I'm afraid I don't really think so. However, I actually encourage you to experiment more with this format, because if the worst I can say about it is that it left me wanting more, you can take that as a compliment, since in a certain way that's a good thing. Right after I finished, I thought it had a perfect length, unlike most other fanfics, which I think tend to feel too redundant. Raven, however, is really well structurated and it doesn't waste time at any moment...but the more I think about it, the more I realised it felt a bit too short. However, I must say it would have been really hard to tell a more complicated story with this narration, so I don't blame you for choosing a simple plot for this experiment.

Despite all these things I've criticised, I would call this fanfic a success and it was a story I definitely enjoyed and made me want more of it.

So please, accept my like and my congratulations. You did a fairly good job with this fanfic, and it's definitely above average even though it was surely hard to write. I'm looking forward to read more coming from you.

6936613 This conversation is toooootally gonna take over this entire comment section.

Anyway, I'm glad you liked it overall! Thanks for the kind words!

GIANT SPOILERS BELOW OF COURSE

That doesn't really follow the canon, unless I missed something. She knows she's about to get consumed by jealousy?

I was indeed following the comics canon where it was more of a force that took her over due to her insecurities. I was imagining it as a gradual thing, the 'Nightmare' chipping away at her over time. I certainly didn't mean to imply anything other than that she was attempting to fight off the influence (like Rarity was shown doing) right until the end, but eventually thought it inevitable that she would lose the battle.

And if she doesn't know it and it's just a suspicion, how is she certain enough for the alicorn spell to actually work?

I never had it in my head that she knew about that magic—which is why she's completely flummoxed when she sees Raven still alive a thousand years later. In my mind, she was making her desperate plea not as part of some attempt to actually make Raven live a thousand years, but simply because all she cared about was making sure that someone knew to keep Celestia company, logic be damned. Luna hoped that she would not be gone for long, and so everything would be fine, but if she was gone for longer, well... she just wanted Raven to do her best. Luckily, an unknown power within Luna, combined with Raven's sheer force of will, kept the aide alive long enough to fulfill the promise.

It's kind of like a "true love's kiss", the spell is only there to justify the story

Totally 100% yes. I absolutely cop to that. There's not much point defending it, but I will offer this:

In 'Lost,' (which this took a heck of a lot of inspiration from, even in ways I wasn't consciously thinking of at the time,) basically two groups of people were there watching to the end; those who loved the mystery element and wanted to see how everything was explained, and those who loved the characters and wanted to see how they ended up. The former group was pretty disappointed at the end, because a lot of it was just "It's magic"; in the end, the characters were what recieved the focus.

That attitude is the same one I kind of attempted to follow in my story. The exact process in which Raven remains immortal is, like... whatever. It's an excuse, mechanically speaking. What I focused on in regards to it is what it shows about the characters, in that Raven is a being of remarkable willpower, and—more importantly—Luna had so much love in her heart for Celestia that her desire to make sure Celestia wasn't left alone was strong enough to shape reality. Even, arguably, stronger than Celestia's desire to make sure she never left Luna, and a thousand years of constant regret leave no question about how strong that is.

Anyway. It's a weak point in the story, I agree, and I'm certainly not attempting to say "Hey, this totally deserves comparison to Lost!" I know when Celestia starts to read that passage in Part 5, 95% of readers go "Ah, blatant foreshadowing, this is how Raven's still alive." It's not 'hidden' or woven into the universe subtly at all. All I can hope for is that people like what it says about the characters enough to overlook that. If not, condemning it is absolutely fine and deserved.

However, unless I missed something, she doesn't get it until after Luna's return.

Does she? I mean, I never had a point in mind where I thought she knew. Honestly, any point chronologically after Part 7 (where she explicitly says she doesn't know—though honestly you could still interpret that as her just trying to keep the truth from Celestia if you really wanted,) maybe she already figured it out. Maybe it clicked when Celestia read that passage in Part 5 and she kept it to herself, or maybe she figured it out that night when she thought about what Celestia said... or maybe it was when she found the grey hair in Part 1. Or maybe she dies not knowing! Simply thinking "I had a job to do, and I wasn't going to let anything as silly as my own mortality stand in the way."

If I had to pick a point, it would probably be between Parts 4 and 5. But my thought is that she was more focused on Celestia than she was on solving the mystery of her own immortality. As long as she feels like she can keep going, she's got no reason to spend any time investigating herself. I didn't want to show it in the story because I didn't want to telegraph the whole 'RAVEN'S ALIVE BECAUSE OF A PROMISE SHE MADE' thing more than I needed to.

Just saw this on Equestria Daily and thought I'd throw my two cents in...

As Aroelen said, the inverse storytelling is done very, very well. It gives a nice sense of mystery as more and more is revealed. However, the big problem I have with the story is that it was crying out for a final chapter, back in the present, to act as a sense of closure. The story acts as a good reveal of who Raven is and why she is immortal, but at the same time, it does feel like the ending is a bit abrupt. If you didn't want to go back to the present, then I feel like the last chapter needed a bit more oomph. It does a good job of showing the pony Raven used to be compared to now, but for an ending, it did leave me wanting more.

I think you nailed the interactions between Raven and Celestia, but at the same time... I don't know, maybe this is just me, but I would have loved to see Raven on her own for a scene or two. Not even much, just her dealing with being on her own for a bit. I understand that you wanted to focus on their relationship, and that's fine, but a scene with Raven on her own may have also shown her own internal struggle with her immortality.

Also, just a tip, you use ellipses way too much. I say this as someone who used to use them excessively as well, you can cut out half of them in the story.

All that said, most of my issues with the story come down to personal preference rather than outright mechanic issues. It's a well-written story, it doesn't overstay its welcome at all, it tells a Richard Alpert-esque story through a simple storytelling inversion... I really did like this story a lot. Just thought I'd throw in a little food for thought on future stories. Well done!

I don't really feel like this is the kind of story that needs to be discussed over and over.
It was short, straight to the point and the way you deconstructed (I think it's the right term) Raven's story was a wise and fun choice.

Sadly, the ending was somewhat easy to predict and I think that a comeback to the present time might have more potential for a good ending then this.
I still liked the ironic statement made by Luna and it is a perfectly acceptable ending too.

Anyway, good work!

6915214 hey man, I gotta ask, what's tachyonic mean? I tried googling it, but all I got were tachyons, the theoretical faster-than-light particle. I don't have a dictionary handy. Is it a pun that went over my head?

Came together really really nicely, Execution was unexpected but fantastic.

So thats it. Ravens dead? Just disappears like dust?

Also, How come she disappears/dies now... Rather then when Luna came back.

I assumed that Luna had fully returned to normal, everything was back to how it was, and thus her job wasn't needed anymore... But that just seems a little weird of all times for that to happen.

Either way, It was a great story about loyalty, and was enjoyable... I was actually contemplating if I should slow down and digest what i'm reading or tear through it to find out what happened... ... The latter of course happened but Next time It'll be the former.

6974816 Whoa, whoa, disappears? She's still got a life to live! Just a mortal one, now. Her mortality came back when her task was completed, but it took some time for anyone to notice that she was aging.

If you're basing that off of her 'Don't blink,' the intention was just to refer back to the conversation the two of them had at the end of Part 7.

6974660
Because of relativity, particles that travel faster than light also move backwards in time. The universe gets unintuitive in extreme cases: Very tiny, very fast, and very close to an alicorn.

She kept her promise.

Time to die.

6974816 She showed sign of aging, so I guess her biological clock just restarted when Luna came back. She is dying, just as any other pony would, slowly as years passes.

6976087

That makes sense. Thanks for answering my silly questions.

6975080 Wait. Raven lives? She doesn't disappear in a flash of light? I thought that was what happened based on the conversation in Chapter 7?

6977274 The conversation in part 7 is about Celestia living so long that a normal, mortal life passes in the blink of an eye to her. (Exaggerated, of course.) Since Raven is now a mortal, that's what she's referring back to.

Clear pretty early on where this was going. Still pretty sweet.

6977274

I'm spoilering my answer just in case.

Raven found a grey hair in her mane and told Celestia not to blink, that's essentially saying "Hello I am aging normally now and will likely die in an amount of time that will feel very short to an immortal being like you."

A very powerful story, told backwards. I have difficult time describing it.

Very interesting idea, executed very well! Upvote from me!:pinkiehappy:

This was really sweet and good to read. I would have liked to know why she stopped aging, but I can understand why you chose not to say; it felt like one of those things that no answer would have quite been good enough for. Instead, we get to focus on a character who through some mysterious will managed to stay by Celestia's side over a millenia. I applaud you for creating such an uplifting story; it's always nice to see tortured characters given some sort of comfort through their pain. =)

Very nice job.

She smiled. "Just... don't blink.
The root had turned grey. / She nodded somberly, the slightest of smiles on her face.
"I am there only when I am needed."

She's ready. It has been am honor, reading this story.

Best short story I've read in a very long time. Very Doctor Who timey wimey feel to it. Need a flow chart. TOTALLY want to see more! Loved the reverse progression, gaining answers in a backwards order.

Bittersweet as fuck. Have a fave and a like. Maybe a follow. Beautifully executed, gotta say I'm anxiously waiting for more from you ^^

Also, I ship Ravelestia.

Awesome. This is with some modification going to become part of the Shadow Wars Story Verse fanon, if you don't mind.

7022240 Yes, but "wicked mare of darkness"? Really?

7022252 Now, I'll mention here I hadn't actually taken a very hard look at the exact wording of the legend Twilight reads before I wrote about Raven helping to write that, which is pretty silly. I should have done that, but I went off memory instead.

But still, "the bitterness in the young one's heart had transformed her into a wicked mare of darkness"; that might be flowery language for a 'detached retelling,' but I do think even Nightmare Moon would have agreed with that description. Like, I could totally see her yelling out "I am Nightmare Moon, wicked mare of darkness! Aaaahhahahahahaha!"

So if Nightmare Moon would agree, and everyone else would agree... eh, seems a pretty fair retelling to me.

Now, the fact that it mentions Celestia 'banished her permanently in the moon,' that's a bit tougher to explain.

7022330 Fair enough. Frankly, the factual errors, such as the last one you mentioned, and the idea that Nightmare Moon was an entity completely separate from Luna, certainly are difficult to explain. Perhaps I was attributing those to bias as well.

6975497

If we assume that some things and events can cause other events, which occur in the future, then we need an absolute speedlimit for massless wavicles. Otherwise, something could tigger simultaneous events because communication is simultaneous because massless wavicles travel infinitely fast. All mass-having wavicles must travel slower than this speedlimit and perceive massless wavicles having the same speed in all referenceframes. Tachyons violate causality, so probably cannot exist.

Well, darn... now I'm kinda sad again. A wonderful story either way.

It also somewhat inspired me to a different (far less serious) Raven story idea I might or might not write.
Raven and Discord have a deal, where he sometimes takes over for her (in disguise of course) and does her job. It's the incarnation-of-chaos equivalent of crossdressing. A guilty pleasure that nopony else must ever know about, ever.

I guess departure time is coming swiftly if she's got gray hair now. The weird chronology of the chapters is highly disorienting.

I reviewed this story as part of Read It Later #42.

My review can be found here.

Wow. Honestly, I've got no detailed words for this one. It was great. I think 7031490's review summed it up very nicely. Upvote and fave well-earned.

I see. A millennium tacked onto her life to satisfy a promise given in trust. Beautiful.

I found the time reversal a good twist. Going further and further back to the point where Raven first met the sisters was an interesting choice.

Wow, that was wonderfully executed. I'm impressed with how interesting you made such a simple premise.

wow......sequel?

7025152 Try reading it from Ch 10 to 1.

I have enjoyed it. Maybe a sequel about Raven having a fulfilling life as she gets older.

7062282

That'd be nice. I hope that we get a sequel to this one day.

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