• Published 25th Nov 2011
  • 18,440 Views, 284 Comments

The Glass Blower - Cold in Gardez



A young artist in love will do whatever it takes to satisfy his heart.

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The Glass Blower (original diction)

[Author's note: I said at the end of The Glass Blower that the original version was written was in a very different, almost Victorian style of diction. A few people have asked what the original looked like, and after some consideration I've decided to post it here. Only the first scene and a few sentences from the next were written before I decided to go back and re-write it in a more conventional style. Probably for the best, though this style of writing was definitely fun.]

The Glass Blower (original diction)

It was not her beauty that first attracted him.

To be sure, she was a pony of immeasurable beauty. An effortless beauty that drew scowls from other mares behind her back; a perfection of form and feature unrivaled by any work of art. She was a living sculpture, an idea of grace given breath and life by careless gods heedless of the strife their creation would sow. Her alabaster coat was smooth and flawless. Her amethyst mane drifted absently between hues, teasing the eye with its subtlety. In body, she was perfect.

But it was not her beauty that first attracted him. He had seen beautiful ponies before, and while he might have felt the tug of attraction, it was never anything but an afterthought. Their beauty was an impression stamped on water, and just as ephemeral. Quickly forgotten. So too might hers have been, but for a chance meeting on the street.

They bumped shoulders accidentally in the market, beside a jeweler’s stall. A heavy crowd filled the square with noise; hundreds of ponies bustled and shoved, perusing wares and haggling with steely-eyed merchants. Competition for the best goods was always fierce at the Canterlot bazaar in the waning days of summer. They eyed each other in the afternoon’s fading light, the merchant and his goods momentarily forgotten.

“I beg your pardon,” he finally said. “I did not see you there, distracted as I was by these fine gems.”

She gave him a demure smile, her eyes with their long lashes blinking slowly. Was she flirting? No, of course not.

“Good sir, ‘tis quite alright,” she said. “Equally at fault we were, and neither of us the worse for it.”

He returned her smile, and they both returned to the display of gems. Thousands of precious and semi-precious stones awaited their scrutiny. Rubies and emeralds sat on cushions of royal velvet; topaz and garnets crowded together like commoners in trays.

“This one is rather fine,” she said, indicating a large ocean sapphire with her horn. Hints of midnight blue swam within its depths. “Regal. A fitting centerpiece for lord or lady’s dress.”

“Too rich, perhaps,” he temporized. He eyed her dove white coat. “What service is a gem if it distracts a suitor’s eye? There is competition enough in this world, without the added challenge of one’s own jewels.”

She laughed, and it was the sound of bells. “Such an eye you have, color and consequence both to see. But look, and judge again.” Her horn glowed with a faint silver light, and yards of the finest cloth emerged from her saddlebags. The fabric, in a dozen shades of indigo, floated through the air at her command. It twisted and shaped itself according to her will, until a rough semblance of a gown hung between them. The ocean sapphire lifted from its cushion and drifted toward the dress, coming to rest as though it were a clasp upon its neck.

He stared, open-mouthed, at her creation. Around them a dozen ponies paused in their business and whispered, pointing. She preened.

Eventually he recovered. “That’s…” he trailed off, and cleared his throat. “My lady, my comment made in haste I do withdraw. How fine and regal and fitting it is, for lord or lady’s greatest centerpiece.”

The dress unraveled, and the gem returned to its perch on the jeweler’s counter. She graced him again with her demure smile, and without another word turned and vanished into the crowd. The merchant chuckled quietly at her effect.

“Easy son,” he said. “More than one pony has been blinded by that beauty. Save yourself the heartache, and look elsewhere for your match.”

He took a shaking breath. The scent of her, a delicate lilac, haunted him. “Who… tell me sir, who was that mare? How could I for twenty years have wandered these streets, never to see her beauty? How could such a star lie glimmering in the dust, never to be noticed? Tell me sir, what is her name?”

He laughed again, louder. “Fair Rarity is her name, and only once a moon does she grace our humble city. And with each moon she leaves another trail of broken hearts. Her hooves are steeped in tears, and if you are wise you will forget her.”

“Sooner would I forget my mother’s face, the sun’s warmth, the taste of water. No, good sir, I will not forget her. I will catch her eye and then her heart.”

“How often have I heard those very words?” The stallion sighed. “She has sworn to only give her heart to an artist as gifted as she, and few of those will you ever find.”

“An artist, you say?” His heart soared. “Can it be? Has fate its hoof outstretched to join our hearts? Can she, unknowing, have been waiting for this moment, when unsubtle chance our paths should cross? Has fortune smiled upon this humble glass blower, to reward at last this artist with his mate?”

The merchant shook his head. “Beware this path, my son. Cruelty and beauty both in equal measure there reside. She will rend your heart to pieces, should your artistry fall below her mark.”

But he was blinded. Her beauty, her skill, her charm danced within his mind. “Good sir,” he said, “your cautions I accept with due regard. Not unheeded are your warnings; not unminded is the threat. To the challenge that she poses must my skills arise to meet. Let the world witness beauty in the glass I shall present! For once I prove myself to her, I shall her heart to mine enclasp.”

It was not her beauty that first attracted him. It was her art.

That night he cleared every scrap of glass from his workbench. Every project he abandoned – baubles and ornaments, cups and vases, all were swept aside to make space for his new dream. He emptied his furnace of sand, to prevent any impurities from tainting his work. He drew discarded a dozen ideas, each more elaborate than the last, searching for the one design that would win fair Rarity’s heart.

“A bird,” he said at last. “A delicate bird, a hummingbird. For what else could her beauty justice do? Wings as slender as her ankles – beak as sharp as slender horn. Crimson breast so proudly bearing. Thatch of azure plumage crowned.”

[Author's note: At this point I wisely asked my reviewers what they thought. The result was a complete restart, though you can see a bit of the original shine through in the final version.]

Comments ( 115 )

Beautiful. :yay: I usually don't read grim/dark fics, but this one intrigued me, so I took a look. Rarity is still best pony, though. And Pinkie Pie. :raritywink:
Do you actually do glass blowing? Or did you read up on it for the story?

112732

This story single handedly turned 4 of my friends into bronies. thank you.

I loved the final version, but I do believe I love this version just as much! I don't think I've even encountered a fanfic written in this style, and you've done a very excellent job of writing it! It's different, but it's intriguing. Will you ever write another fiction in this style? I love reading various styles, because they all paint the story they're telling in various lights. It's inspiring.

Speaking of inspiration, what stories inspired you to write in this style? Sadly, I haven't been reading as much as I've wanted to in a long while, and I'm looking to add some variety to my reading list.

I'm not ashamed to say that this story made me sad for about a solid week before I could rationalize it... It still makes me sad.


This and Lunacy. My too favorite one-shots.

You skirted the line between the glass blowing process being incredibly arduous to scintillatingly interesting, but in the end the description and flow was perfectly executed. After each new forgery that the glass blower made, I had to ask what the next would be, and then when he explained the final piece, well... There was no way it could be a happy ending.

Somehow I think Vimbert would like this.

This was really... unique. The whole atmosphere of the writing; I felt like reading a fairy tale spread mouth to mouth. Not the kind of fairy tale you read for children before sleep, but the kind you recite on long winter evenings.

To be less poetic, I also liked that the story was, in fact, labeled dark: the reader and Sticks both saw the impending disaster, yet could do nothing to stop the blinded glass blower. The story was ominous, without being violent or gory; truly deserving the [Dark] tag.

Others have already said this, so I just mention it: yes, Rarity was a bit OOC. Perhaps if we assume the story takes place before she befriends Twilight and the others (given that, according to Sticks, she still loves Blueblood)... I, personally, imagined an alternate universe Rarity without friends, and that worked well for me.

I know you have already been asked this, but I'm simply curious: do you have any experiences in blowing glass? Just asking since your description was so detailed.


P.S.: I came here after reading your comedies and learning you think this story deserves more attention. You see, writing quality comedies does increase the appreciation for your other stories!:pinkiesmile:

Not very interested in the premise, but will read this because one of your other stories impressed me a lot and you claim this is your best work. Will be back with commentary later on.

This was mindblowingly amazing! :rainbowkiss:
I love every bit of it.:heart:

This story is simply amazing! It feels like the 'adultized' (not really a word :twilightblush:) version of some of those fairytales that we know from childhood. And by adultized I mean that it doesn't end with a sappy-happy ending but with a lot more probable (but not so desirable) outcome. What's more, the story ventures deep into the souls of us humans (though probably not into the ponies' souls :twilightsheepish:) to explain our motivations, wishes, and the things that drive us to go on some of the times. It's simply brilliant!

This story just earned itself a fav. :twilightsmile: I would also watch you for it but, alas, I'm already your follower. :pinkiegasp:

If I might add, I would really love the story even more (if that's even possible) if it was left with the original Victorian style. Really, through the whole story I felt the Victorian climate so much (the setting, the characters, even the speech) that the 'modern' dialogue seemed a bit off at places. And then I read some of the original diction you presented and thought that's what the story was supposed to be. Ah, well, you can't have it all, I guess. :twilightblush:

My good sir... I believe my heart has imploded. Keep this up and you'll become a best selling author.

I'm at a loss for words. That was just simply amazing.

Simply flawless. As being an aspiring writer myself, reading stories like this really does muse my interests. I don't know about you being a comedy writer, but I would like to see more stories like this. For some reason, Rarity makes for the best romances.:raritydespair:

This is without a doubt the most amazing thing I have ever read. You deserve two 'yays' :yay::yay:

I made an account just to comment on YOUR story because it is one of my favorites. I honestly feel like you should just make the ponies into humans and it would be a great original story. It sounded like an old tale that's been passed down for decades because of the style that it was told in and the familiar way of story-telling. You have instantly became one of my favorite authors after reading this. You write like a poet and you sound like a romantic, that's my favorite kind of writer. You should publish something in the near future because I just checked out your gryphon story, and you have the potential to make a masterpiece.

When I first read this story yesterday:

My initial reaction was, "Very nicely written, but that's no Rarity I've ever met!"

But after thinking about it all day, I realize that, yes, I have met that Rarity. She's the Rarity you introduce us to at the beginning of Salvation if she'd been two minutes later leaving that shop, had missed Rainbow Dash on the street, had therefore missed her chance to get herself straightened out, and had continued to sink into the bitter stew of her own self-loathing.

This is the sort of consistency of vision that I heartily approve of. Well done stuff all around!

Mike

A very good story that deserves some more attention.
but as you said Fimfiction just works that way.

All I can say is screw you, this was my first fic and now I'm addicted. :twilightsmile:

This is the knid of writing I aspire to. This is not just a story. This is a parable. This is something I think should be taught in scholls. This is truly a work of art.

1584260
I did 'understand' the ending in a literal sense. I just didn't get the point of the story. It was written very much like a parable except I can derive no meaning from it. Some authors have blogged about stories having an intended audience with some sort of intended message. I guess what I am trying to say is that I don't know what you are trying to say with this story. You have all the pieces together and so nice but nothing to hold them together in the end. :unsuresweetie:

1584260
1584417

ScratchFi -- I don't think there's a lesson or a moral to be derived from this. Perhaps the most you can find here is a warning about pride and obsession.

If anyone is interested in some of the thought that went into this story, I suggest this blog post by RBDash, from the Vault: http://www.fimfiction.net/blog/46088

I don't know if this matters to you, but I felt compelled to write a small review on this story on my forum. You're welcome to take a look.

Yip

This is now my favourite story on the site. Move aside Scy, you're not the best in my eyes anymore.

If you read this Gardez, would you say your other work is as good as this? The incredible detail and perfect flow makes this the perfect idea of a tragedy in my eyes, but I want to know what you think.

1781888

You caught me at a good time. Congrats on comment #100, btw.

This is probably my best story. It is the only one that gets both halves of a story correct: the mechanics (grammar, pacing, flow, style, voice, devices) and the actual idea, which I also think is one of my best.

That said, I think a few of my other stories are pretty damn close. The Wind Thief, Naked Singularity and Salvation (an adventure, comedy and drama, respectively) are all stories I'd be happy to put in the same category as The Glass Blower. If you don't mind significantly darker material, The Carnivore's Prayer is up there as well.

But only one story can be the best, and of the ones I've written, The Glass Blower is it.

Yip

1781937 I am extremely fond of adventure, preferably in epic form (brought up with Tolkien, bound to happen). Is The Wind Thief an epic?

I also may take a look at the other stuff, and I certainly won't mind reading the darker stories. You're the only one who's impressed me on the site with this story, so I'd be willing to try anything you wrote really. Great work!

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

You know, looking at this "original diction" version, I almost wish you'd stuck with it. The first thing that struck me as I listened to this (read by the amazing DeftFunk on YouTube), was how bizarre the dialogue sounded. Rendered in Victoriana, it works, but for your final version, some of the tone remained without the corresponding word choices, and it comes off as stilted. My precise reaction was "no one talks like this, and especially not Rarity". Taken under my introduction to this story as "one of the most highly critically rated stories in the fandom", you can imagine my disappointment.

Furthermore, I feel you played around an awful lot with Rarity's character. The ending was effective (I had to catch my breath) because of the changes you made, but they were liberties nevertheless. I won't enumerate them, but I will say that part of this was the reason I had a hard time getting into this story. Mainly, I thought the whole "Rarity has issued a challenge for her love" thing was just a rumor spread by the locals about her. That it was played straight really caught me off guard.

Buuut, I upvoted, and here's why: as an avid reader of fantasy fiction, reading a story set in a world filled with magic, it is not often that such a tale can bring me a sense of true wonder based on said magic. This story did that. Twice. The revelation of the hummingbird's effects gave me a very visceral experience of, well, wonder, and the armillary sphere did something much the same, albeit with lots more slack-jawedness. I will say that the comb was somewhat underwhelming in comparison; its true wonder was in the hundred needle-thin glass teeth that didn't freak break upon contact with the ground, but that wasn't paid enough lipservice. The mirror I saw coming a mile away, but it was a true joy to watch unfold. But yes: pure, unbridled, childlike wonder at the amazing things that can come from a place that is already amazing and unpredictable.

The other positive thing I'll point out (aside from the writing itself, which was of course above reproach; also I love that the glass blower is never named) is Sticks as the voice of reason. His comments through the story made me feel like you had some sense of the sheer ridiculousness of the contest, and thus softened my opinion in regards to it. Because to be honest? Making art to win someone's heart is kinda creepy. But Sticks knew that and his loyalty to his friend was heartwarming. That the glass blower's obsession was revealed as delusion by the end is... well, honestly, that may be this piece's strongest point. That is why I shall think back upon this story favorably forevermore.

1824429

!

Fixed. Thanks for the catch -- hard to believe any typos survived in a story this old or widely read, but there you go.

This is one of the stories I would show my students in class.
This is one of the stories that makes me state with utmost assurance that some fics are better than today's "novels"
This is one of those fics I print out and place in my office shelf.

It has the necessary elements: motivation-driven characters, a plot, a conflict, a climax, a moral lesson; all of which are written in hypnotizing style. I've read this fanfic last night and it stunned for an hour. It feels likes those fantastic bedtime stories written by Chaucer.

My only comment though is your portrayal of Rarity, as it is completely out of character for her to lead on someone on like that. I would have preferred it if the glass blower was a mare and the vain stubborn pony was Prince Blueblood. Then again, in doing so, the impact would overall lessen since he's not as significant as Rarity. Objectively speaking, however, this comment would be irrelivant if this fic was a novel short story instead of fanfic (i.e. extension of another work); in such a case our bias for the characters would not influence the reception of the story.

Outstanding.

I'm a bit sad it wasn't more like the original diction, because the unusual tone is what really sets it apart. This is not a story about Rarity I love, and not about Rarity from the show, I feel, but the story it does tell is as beautiful as it is sad, and it could easily come to pass were Rarity just a tad more perfect and a tad less true to herself. Still, one could insert it into a collection like Thousand And One Nights with only the tiniest of cosmetic changes, and none would be any wiser.

I enjoyed reading this story last night. I love reading stories this well-written, where I can't stand to stop and analyze the writing style and learn from it because I'm enjoying it too much.

The only difficulty I had with this story, though, was your portrayal of Rarity, which was entirely the opposite -- literally -- of someone whose core value is a spirit of true generosity -- something which can't exist without a core of kindness as well. When you did that, she ceased to be Rarity and became a character familiar only in coat, mane, and speech patterns. I spent too much energy in not feeling so much for the artist, but rooting instead for Rarity to come out of the spell she was clearly under and show herself to be what she has been throughout the show itself. I know: it's artistic license and you probably chose her because of her familiarity and vanity, but being forced to suspend disbelief in this case took away a bit of credibility. I would have enjoyed this more if you'd crafted her character from somepony we'd never met before, or at least one whose values had never been explored at all.

Blah! It bothered me to have to say all that, because I really did enjoy this story a lot. I hope that comes across despite the criticism.

2019415

Exactly my sentiments. I adore this story to pieces, but I spent a good amount of my time reading it wondering about Rarity and hoping either that she would improve or that something would explain her behavior (and worrying if this depiction meant the author didn't like her, which would suck if a story this good was laced with character bashing :fluttercry:), instead of marveling at the described creations or feeling for the artist. The OOC in this case makes perfect sense for the story, and an IC Rarity would have actually taken something away, but it was distracting.

2026645

Rarity is actually my favorite pony.

2028145

That makes me so happy! (I thought Twilight was your favorite, although I may be confusing you for another author in that respect)

2031963

When I did my vault interview for this story, I think I said it was Twilight. Since then Rarity has (barely) overtaken her as my favorite, largely due to the depth of character and more significant flaws she has.

2032798 This has actually been the case for me, too. While I really like Twilight's character (literal and personality), Rarity has been overtaking her a bit, for the same reasons.

Some of the turns of phrases were nice, “Sooner would I forget my mother’s face, the sun’s warmth, the taste of water" being my favorite. But some of this was laughably medieval in form, so I'm glad you abandoned this style of writing for the finished product.

This is a masterpiece right here. I haven't read a ponyfic like this amazing in a long, long time.
It's a crime this isn't more popular, the words you use, the setting and situations. Everything's just, just breathtaking.
Sensational.

850649

I know what you mean. This story feels like it's right out of the Brothers Grimm.

In all honesty, this is the story I'll be telling my grandchildren.

A beautifully written fiction. Outstanding quality and memorable without a doubt. Liked and Favorited.

2244525

I've had two sort of mental responses when people suggest that Rarity is acting out of character in this story. To an extent they're correct -- the Rarity in the show wouldn't string the glass blower along like this Rarity does, but I don't think it's so far out of her character. The fact is, she's afraid of him succeeding, and she keeps pushing him because she hopes he'll fail. Everyone does things when they are afraid that they wouldn't otherwise do.

So, how does the Glass Blower's universe fit in with the show's continuity? I have two thoughts on this, one of which you identified – namely, that this simply occurs before the show. After Rarity leaves Canterlot, she starts a new life in Ponyville.

The second option is that this is simply an alternate universe, where Rarity never lived in Ponyville. Perhaps it even occurs at a different time than the show, such as in a previous century.

Anyway, I'm glad you liked it :)

it's labeled dark but also rated everyone?....

Hmm. The craftsmanship on this story is certainly top-tier, but the fairytale structure and vaguely-predictable downer ending meant that this wasn't really my personal cup of tea. Still, I definitely applaud the level of detail which went into this.

2244589 Thank you for explaining this as you did - I'm very glad I came back and saw your response. I'm one of the people who made the 'out of character' observation, probably because I stopped analyzing at the 'alternate universe' aspect when I should have given you (and Rarity) more credit for potential depth of character - particularly in her future. Understanding that potential has really increased my enjoyment of the story. Another lesson learned...

So, um, sorry about that. :raritywink:

2415838

Hey, about time :)

The mirror at the end was always the most troublesome of the glass blower's works for me, simply because there was no real way to show what all of them saw from a single perspective.

On a somewhat related topic to what you've raised, I have sometimes wondered whether the person we are in our dreams is our 'true' self, stripped of our inhibitions and morals. When we dream and do things that would be unconscionable for our waking selves, are we somehow seeing the true us?

Anyway, hope your arm feels better soon. You should spend your time writing -- if I haven't said so enough times, I think you're one of the better talents around these parts.

So... I finally, FINALLY read this. Let's just say I feel stupid for not having read it before.

2494887

Better late than never :)

This was a wonderful story. It had the feel of fairy tales I ustta read when I was little:pinkiehappy: You have some great talent:raritywink: I'm gonna keep on eye out for more of your work:twilightsmile:

Cathartic and beautiful.

This is going to be one of those fics where I have nothing more to say in the comment other than the fact that I have nothing to say.

An absolute masterpiece.

Gardez... I like the difference in style it dies not feel like I am reading something above my ability to enjoy. I admit it is not the prose I am used to either. I must seek out the rest of your work. I remember you.

I really do not understand how this story can have over 1% negative reviews. Every one of those seven thumbs-downs boggles the mind.

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