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Wanderer D


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Source

Twilight Sparkle has doomed the world, now she faces a choice.


Cover art by Heir of Rick used with permission. You can see the original image with the source link on the cover.

Now with a reading by ABagOVicodin: Youtube link - Consequence Reading

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 179 )

That sure scratches an itch.

I like the Idea behind this story so a like and a fav from me since i can't follow you twice:fluttercry:

Awesome. Want to know what happens next, but then what's the point of the open ending? Gotta love/hate that thing XD
Here, have a like and a fave.

Excellent work. Great first sentence, strong story, good pacing, excellent ending. While the concept isn't anything new, the execution was brilliant.

Razzy #5 · Feb 23rd, 2016 · · 2 ·

Wow, that was a bleak future... Poor changelings, first to go. :fluttercry:

Awesome story! :pinkiehappy:

Sequel? :scootangel:

That was really good. I especially like how you kept the ending open. Did Twilight save her friends and doom the world or let them die and save it? I like to think the others would sacrifice themselves to save everyone and that Twilight would let it happen, but I can also see the future refusing to change. Anyway Ill end this here before I start a one man debate about what the right thing would be.

You probably made the right choice with the ending, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating. In any case, a gripping read with some fascinating world building and speculative headcanon. Thank you for it.

....... ORRR she could replace the arbiter....... just saying.

garfan #10 · Feb 23rd, 2016 · · 31 ·

I utterly despise stories like this

garfan #12 · Feb 23rd, 2016 · · 10 ·

6966265

why wouldn't I? I already wasted my time reading it, why should I let the author think this is universally beloved?

Interesting story. I like to think that she chose against interfering after all, but her friends ended up winning and surviving even though she didn't interfere, and the future was changed to a better one.

6966304 Your comment didn't give anything useful. It's basically 'this sucks' with no context and gives about as much help as 'ermaghurd this is the best senpai'. What did you like about it? What did you dislike? These are things an author can actually use to better future projects.

OMG! Oh! Oh! SEQUEL!!! Please, ok I'm done ranting.

Wanderer D
Moderator

6966304 It's cool bro. You didn't like it, I can live with that. Thanks for reading.

Oh, I both love and hate that open ending.. but even if we have to imagine her final decision ourselves, I'd love to read more - alternate futures, how this came to be, information about the Arbiter.
Curse you for always writing such inspiring stories, making us poor mortals hunger for more!

Very good, Wanderer. Got us right in and invested quite fast. And yeah... the sad part is I can so see Twilight being that arrogant/foolhardy when it comes to magic and whatnot.

Oh you goddamn tease.

~Skeeter The Lurker

See, this is why making entities to enforce 'balance' is always a bad idea.

It never ends well!

Not to mention it's all so arbitrary anyway. Harmony and balance are highly relative and subjective notions.. heck, I could probably lock the Arbiter into a state of non-existence just by forcing it to explain logically why it's definitions of abstractions is absolute.

It'd be like that Doctor Who episode with Sylvester McCoy where he got Light to disperse itself because it couldn't prevent itself from changing.

Avatars of 'concept's are pretty easy to beat that way. They literally can't think any other way. Catching them in logic traps is child's play because their entire existence is irrational at the core.

There's honestly quite a bit that I didn't like about this story, but it falls into a category of story that I've had a history of not liking, and that may be skewing my opinion about it. My criticisms of it would be that it doesn't add up in my mind and that it's lacking in content, but given it's a type of story that I don't like on a regular basis, I'm going to avoid giving this a downvote. I'm not sure how helpful an in-depth criticism would be coming from me with this sort of story, so I'm going to avoid that as well.

It has good elements, though. You seem to have a knack for writing dialogue and creating tension, and it shows here with good interaction and a nice setting. I can at least say that.

I apologize for the brevity, but this is just one of those stories I couldn't get into.

6966225 Or maybe the other immortals could have explained the Arbiter's existence a really long time ago since they all clearly knew about it and it's kinda one of those REALLY BIG DETAILS that you kinda want to explain to the person you're granting god-like powers to BEFORE they get they powers so they really know what they're in for.

it's like handing a child a nuke and then telling them it can blow up a city AFTER they pressed the big red button.

But then, that would make them intelligent beings rather than silly fictional characters. :trollestia:

In any case, I broke up laughing at the 'bringing balance to Harmony' part. oh god, that was almost as ridiculous as 'the prophecy of the one who will bring balance to the Force' from the Star Wars prequels! There's no frame of reference you can even create for two concepts that are total abstractions! Without any sort of defining information, this Arbiter might as well just be some random Apocalypse God and fighting him causes destruction because it does.

Besides which, if Arbiter is all about balance and Harmony... why did the Mane 5 (and Starlight) end up fighting in the first place? What does his balancing act even entail? There's nothing to support the notion and the fact that they end up fighting the guy bringing 'balance' suggests that his notions of 'balance' aren't balanced at all.

He kinda seems like many other fictional god-children who are rather 'unbalanced' when it comes down to it, if you know what I mean; choosing their own personal destructive tendencies as what passes for 'normal'.

6966349 Problem is that entire concept is utterly flawed. A clearly destructive entity somehow being the one who creates balance?

Not to mention you are framing Harmony as some extreme opposite. Which it clearly isn't. Harmony stands inbetween light and darkness. It is in itself balance, the different coming together and communing. Kind of a background theme in the series. Hell harmony can incorporate both darkness, like luna, and chaos beasts like discord. So it is clearly not a force of extremes.

Basically it is a being bringing balance to balance, by destroying balance. It is in itself a contradiction.

Interesting.
Having read a particular Brandon Sanderson series recently, I see some similarities, but with definite differences.

So, the Arbiter, what is it actually? I can't really wrap my head around it.
It seems to be a super power much like the Immortals, but then it also seems to demand destruction of any kind of imbalance, in this case the Elements of Harmony?
Well... there's no counter-existence for the Elements and with the princesses possessing their own kind of Element of Harmony it makes sense.
But then to bring balance back, the Mortal Elements HAVE to die, don't they? They can't release their power, because that would mean their deaths and if they win on their own power the Arbiter can't bring balance... so the world will still eventually fall to pieces.

Boy, there's a lot of intriguing ideas to take in here, well done.
The open ending was beautiful.

Thanks for the Read.


Some possible corrections:

" [...] I have too suffered this loss."

I'm wondering if "too" shouldn't be in front of "have" and have commas around it.
So: "I, too, have suffered this loss."

"When what is the problem?"

Thinking that's a typo? :P
So: "Then [...]"

Wanderer D
Moderator

6966550 OR you could be reading the completely wrong interpretation of it based on what someone else is saying.

Who said that the Arbiter was destructive from the get go? What we know for sure is that he became destructive after Twilight fought him. We also don't know what is going to happen either. Maybe the world is destroyed. Maybe not. Maybe Starlight and the others achieve the balance. Maybe the Arbiter is just there to somehow allow them to do so.

Maybe the point is that immortals change the game if they play with the balance that harmony achieves on its own.

It's not that the concept is flawed—it's that you are assuming it is, rather than looking at the possibilities that stem from it not being flawed.

To add to the above, typo:

On the opposite side, the moon half-rose, almost split in half, with it's jagged,

its

EDIT.
Also AAAaaaaaaaaagrh ending ;) Joking - I'm OK with it.

6966334 the story is written and you can't do a sequel to an unfinished story like this as it has no ending.

But if anyone cares.

I came to read the writer's story. By leaving the ending up to me it effectively makes it my story. I don' like that

I don't see the supposed "balance" in this creature and see it as a weak justification to require a hero to allow bad things to happen

this whole immortals must not act in certain ways deal, makes immortality into something bad and actually removes agency from mortal beings since they can become immortal

This story reminds me of a saying I once heard.

"If I had to choose whether to save the world or to save you, I would choose to save you. For I could not imagine the world without you in it."

Fairly typical example of trying to create a cosmology to explain why seemingly all-powerful characters don't just fix everything. Unoriginal and pretentious. The lack of detail, particularly with the ending, doesn't do it any favors other than making it mercifully shorter. There's not enough here to BUILD anything or provoke any ideas that haven't been debated to dust. Take a downvote.

Wanderer D
Moderator

6966623 Thanks, coming from you, a downvote is a pat on the back.

Edit: Just thought I'd add: You're so completely off the mark with the purpose of the story, your claim of pretentiousness is hilarious.

6966569 Or the concept itself is just flawed. There is no reason or indication that there might be something other than what is written in the story, any alternate interpretation of these events. It came to harm individuals that ultimately have saved the world time and again. And apparently not letting it hurt them will, for some reason, destroy the world.

It was the issue that came to mind from Me reading it. The arbiter feels arbitrary. Worse though, it is contradictory to itself and its actions. Especially since we already have entities of balance, like the Tree of Harmony, which do not have to go around destroying and harming heroes.

So it seems the concept itself is simply flawed.

Wanderer D
Moderator

6966645 Well, the story is open ended for a reason, if that's what you want to believe, then that's what it means to you.

Sorry to say, I strongly dislike this story. It's too heavy-handed, too oppressive, and feels like it's dark just for the sake of being dark, which is very much the wrong way to go about writing a dark story. This feels like the Dawn of Justice of immortality angst stories. It's just too dark, it feels like being too dark is the only reason it even exists, and it tries to build a confusing mess of internal canon that makes reading it a painful chore.

6966598 You do realize that the ending of this story had already essentially passed, yes? By cutting it down to two possible outcomes and showing the results of both already established in the story, the only thing left open is which move Twilight decided to make. Writing anything about that decision would've been redundant.

As for the omnipotent bystander, that's already established in the source material. This story didn't so much add that factor as it simply added a bit of explanation towards that. Of course, you could always argue that having it like that is bullshit and that the duty of just about everything falls on the shoulders of those with the power to act, and I'm sure you could make a great argument for it. If you found such a concept unpalatable, that's entirely yours to decide.

A good story, but... I gotta admit, that ending annoys me a bit. Are we supposed to somehow make Twilight's decision for her? I mean, does it end on a cliffhanger like that with the purpose of making the reader come up with their own ending/decision, or is it just a cliffhanger for the sake of cliffhanger? I'm a bit confused.

6966656

no actually the ending of the story hadn't passed otherwise it wouldn't have ended with Twilight making a choice. We have seen the doomed world, but we've seen nothing of what the world is if she doesn't act.

and what omnipotent bystander are you talking about in the show

Though in my re-read I did notice something so my choice is this.

She still acts then uses the fact her other self warned her he'd be back in 600 years she prepares to smack him down even harder next time

I could say a lot about the possible cosmology and implications on harmony and immortality, but it would be a lot of rambling with no point, since im not entirely clear where i stand either, and the story leaves a lot open besides the ending.

Anyway, for me it seems utterly clear what choice Twilight will make, and that is safe her friends. I pretty much cannot imagine her doing otherwise, ever.
Esspecially since that leaves another way out open. This time twilight knows its coming, she has six hundred years to seek a solution. The timeline isnt static or a stable loop here, so in theory she can even go Homura Akemi and repeat as often as necessary.

This story doesn't really work for me. It sets up a situation in which a character has the potential to make a very difficult choice, with perfect knowledge of the consequences of at least one choice. Okay, might be some interesting material to work with there - but the ambiguity consciously robs us of knowing how she reacts, much less the consequences of that. So there's nothing learned there.

If it's making a general comment about the Equine condition, everyone makes decisions under conditions of stress an uncertainty, it's a lot of setup without a lot of payoff. And of course we don't learn anything interesting about Future Twilight because she changes her mind "off-screen," present Twilight's decision is absent, and none of the other characters are remotely fleshed out enough to be good foci.

So, I just didn't get a lot out of it, compared to what I thought it was aiming for.

Figures that Twilight would break the world. And no convenient plot device friendship laser to save her this time. And centuries later (or even longer), she risks breaking time to stop breaking the world. And now future Twilight just has to hope her younger self really isn't that stubborn (ignoring Celestia and Luna and even Discord), but... well, who knows.

Interesting tidbits on why Celestia doesn't bother to do more. Though I'm more interested in what Discord said, that he tried and it drove him mad. When other Twilight first appeared, I thought that might have been a different part of Twilight's mind, her immortal aspect there to warn her one last time, rather than her future self. Interesting idea, though far less idyllic than the show of course. Too bad Twilight couldn't try to prevent her own ascension, but never really liked the idea of giving Twilight even more and more power over time.

6966676

She still acts then uses the fact her other self warned her he'd be back in 600 years she prepares to smack him down even harder next time

...

The Arbiter is a force of nature. If Twilight knew that the sun would burn the planet in six hundred years, would that foreknowledge somehow prepare her to outfight the sun? The entire point of this story is the inevitability of failure and the sadistic choice.

and what omnipotent bystander are you talking about in the show

The inaction of the immortals, something brought up and explained in this story, was also prevalent in the show itself. Celestia throwing Twilight and her friends at every problem rather than just dealing with it herself, Discord's lack of agency towards the other threats that showed their faces later, or the fact that Luna basically sat out the Changeling invasion. Hate to break it to you, but there are quite a few powerful players in the show that chose to forgo their potential for some reason or another. All this story does is give a bit of context to that inaction.

no actually the ending of the story hadn't passed otherwise it wouldn't have ended with Twilight making a choice. We have seen the doomed world, but we've seen nothing of what the world is if she doesn't act.

The ending of the story where Twilight decides to save her friends had already been displayed from the outset. The powers of the Arbiter and the balance that's been met time and time again is a strong theme of the story. The conclusion is that she could sate the Arbiter by letting him consume the Bearers the same way he'd done many times in the past. Again, displaying either option a second time would be entirely redundant.

Comment posted by Otterbee deleted Feb 25th, 2016

6966765 but in the beginning of the story Twilight acted without knowing the consequences. Twilight time traveling was a new event. So she could decide not to now. And we were not shown the world that would result if she didn't act.

Twilight outfought the Arbiter once there's no reason she couldn't do it again

And I strongly disagree with your POV about the inaction of beings like Celestia

6966817

And I strongly disagree with your POV about the inaction of beings like Celestia

The only thing we can really agree on is that there is inaction on the parts of the immortals in the canon of the show. Any explanation given would be up to the interpretation of the viewer. Ultimately, we're arguing about interpretation of this story and not the actual canon of the show. Your argument basically boils down to 'my headcanon is better than yours.'

Twilight outfought the Arbiter once there's no reason she couldn't do it again

There is a vast difference between delaying and defeating. What she did was the former. All her actions did was open up a window for the Arbiter to come back with a vengeance, something that would happen regardless of her foreknowledge. Given that the Arbiter wasn't around in Equestria to be kept from regaining its power, she couldn't have prevented that.

but in the beginning of the story Twilight acted without knowing the consequences. Twilight time traveling was a new event. So she could decide not to now.

It seems that you're trying really hard to argue that foreknowledge would be sufficient to defeat the Arbiter on a more permanent basis when it was already shown in the story that doing so was essentially impossible. Hell, even the other immortals weren't truly slain so much as delayed. Celestia, Luna, Cadance, and Discord were all on a path to eventually rebuild themselves, just in a world where there wouldn't be much of a point to doing so.

The same is true of the Arbiter. Even if she somehow managed to delay him a second time, what's to stop it from happening a third or fourth time? And each time, all she'd be doing is delaying it. Yet at the same time, it would only take one time of the Arbiter winning for the mortal race to be wiped out from existence. It becomes an exercise in futility when fighting a being that literally cannot die.

And we were not shown the world that would result if she didn't act.

The same world that everyone else got. It was mentioned throughout that all of the other immortals had gone through much the same thing in the past. Both Celestia and Luna lost a group of bearers that they originated from, and Celestia referring to Twilight as 'sister' implies that Luna doesn't share any more of a physical relation to Celestia as Twilight does. That's not even taking into consideration the fact that Discord's madness came from trying to reject the Arbiter's role.

So I have to ask you. What world could the author have possibly written that couldn't have been quite easily inferred by what was already established in the context of the story as a whole? What point would there be in writing something that every reader has already considered after reading the narrative? Anything the author would've written would be superfluous at best.

6966876 inaction? Really? Luna tried to conquer Equestria twice, and monitors the dreams of everyone. Celestia fought Luna once, the reason she threw Twilight at them the next time was her weapon wouldn't work for her. Discord has taken over Equestria. And Twilight has been immortal since season 3 yet the past two years have still been about her doing stuff

And a world where harmony itself basically told Twilight she had to sacrifice her friends might be pretty different

6966765
There's literally nothing in the show that shows or implies that characters like Celestia, Luna, and Discord are purposefully not solving said large problems. Celestia was too weak to deal with NMM, Celestia and Luna were too weak to deal with Discord, Celestia (and probably Luna too, who didn't even know about the invasion) was too weak to deal with Chrysalis, and while Discord was strong enough to deal with Tirek, his personality prevented him from doing so (but not in a bystander-type way).

There is no evidence of "omnipotent bystanders" in the source material.

Reminds me of an old Zen story. Basically, Chance and Fate played a game to determine who would rule all existence. The story never says who won.

I say Twilight stepped in, saved her friends, suffered the consequences, went back and got Starlight into the School for Unicorns, took her on as a student, and told past Twilight to let her go first, Starlight achieves alicorn-hood and Redeems a jealous Twilight, and she trusts Starlight to make a better decision.

You know, because of the cycle she started, she will ultimately succeed. The fact that information can cross time guarantees Twilight Sparkle of the present past will continue to be refined by her own flawed futures until she perfects her plan or realises a third path.

At first I felt like just closing the browser tab and moving on: Twilight seems really egoistic here. And her choice is kinda obvious if she isn't stupid. The choice is to extend the lives of 6 mares for like 60(?) years for the price of the ENTIRE WORLD in 600 years in the future. Plus, if her friends found out the price for their lives, I am fairly certain they would sacrifice themselfes to save the world, even if it is a far future they will never see either way. So saving them now would be denying them the freedom of choice: great friend there Twi.
But then I decided to write down my thoughts on this choice and found a dilemma which probably was intended (giving the benefit of the doubt here).
Twilights first choice is risking the world. She now knows that stuff hits the fan and she kinda knows when and what. She is vain enough to think she can fix the power of the Arbiter before it becomes a problem, especially with her friends and the Elements. AND she is smart and powerful enough to maybe even pull it of. Who knows?
Her second choice is abandoning her friends. Literally abandoning the concept of which she is supposed to be the avatar. She is not just letting her friends die even though she knows (now for a fact) she can save them, she is letting her friendships die. That would be like asking Celestia to let the sun die. Or Discord to live in order and harmony (you know, spirit of chaos and disharmony). It just isn't done.
Suddenly I am not so sure what her choice in the end will be. I am not even sure anymore what MY choice would be.
Could Twilight look at herself in the mirror if she knew she willingly destroyed the world? Obviously she couldn't or she wouldn't have gone back to warn herself. On the other hand, could she look at herself in the mirror if she abandoned the very thing that she is the avatar of? Frankly: I don't think so. Therefore there is no right choice.

And here my brain starts to try to find a solution and comes up with this:
If the last step is never correct no matter the direction, in order for there to exist a right one, a step before that has had to be wrong. But I can't know what the "step before" was. Either (1) the way the Arbiters way of handling his job is flawed and the death of the bearers of the Elements is not neccessary (which is the case i would prefer). OR (2) the avatar of friendship can not ever be friends with the bearers if their fate is to perish in her hooves reach. OR (3) it is the avatar of friendships fate to die with them (which I think would be the correct one).
(1) Is the first one the case, the Arbiter has to be stopped and has to find another way because this way literally fails. Because one future doesn't sound very harmonic to me and the other (Twi abondoning friendship) doesn't sound very balanced as an avatar would not be doing his/her job.
(2) The second case doesn't sound very logical to me as friendship is literally required to use the Elements.
(3) The third would imply that Twilight was supposed to help her friends and not be powerful enough to help them. Which would imply that Twilight as a pony became too powerful and basically destroyed the harmony and/or balance just by existing in her current form. The Arbiter should have intervened earlier.
I have no idea how to solve this but I came to the conclusion that Twi can't choose correctly at this point because the error was already made prior to her dilemma.

Or I might just be missing something and my entire rant is superfluous. Either way, I thank you for provoking this little thought argument with myself.

MfG NIchtraucher

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