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Estee


On the Sliding Scale Of Idealism Vs. Cynicism, I like to think of myself as being idyllically cynical. (Patreon page.)


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Certain aspects of the palace have been stable for a long time, and the longer that time has gone on, the harder they are to shift -- no matter how badly Luna might desire it. But one tapestry is undeniably ugly. It's been ugly for more than a thousand years. And so she's going to do what should have been done centuries ago and simply kick it out.

Inanimate objects have a way of returning to the scene of the crime.

(A stand-alone, no prior-reading-necessary part of the Triptych Continuum, which has its own TVTropes page and FIMFiction group: new members and trope edits are welcome. )

Now with author Patreon page.

Dedicated to Bill Veeck

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 84 )

Author's Very Public Note: this story represents the first potential half of a double-angle concept attack between myself and Zakueins -- who, if the other side is attempted following my own delay, would be approaching the base idea as a horror story.

Be afraid.

Be very afraid.

7211211 Oh bloody joy.

Now, I have to write that story...

"You found her in the midst of teleporting ponies about the capital?"

...I delight in this back-reference.

And here we see Titian's Sisyphus Rolling the Tapestry...

Comment posted by Ripple deleted May 13th, 2016

You are a wonderful writer, capable of making the audience feel your subject's pain.
The way you've written the princesses though, I feel that they'd get on splendidly well with Prince Philip, who unlike them would speak his mind on the subject...
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This quote here is what persuades me that he'd rally round to their cause.
thebigsmoke.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Add-subtitle-text-5.png

Should have just asked Discord to rework it to be accurate.

That would be at least as entertaining!

This entire piece was amazing. Especially the pacing and delivery. And many kudos to that guard.

7211567
Note to comment readers: exercise caution, this guy spoils the entire plot for no reason.

7211211

approaching the base idea as a horror story.

Wait... is that not what this is? :applejackunsure:

This needs both the Dark and Comedy tag. Estee, I have no idea how you've done it.

Dear Princess Celestia,

I am having difficulty burning dropping destroying moving an old piano musical instrument of mine in my old tower the Golden Oak Library my new castle. Do you or Princess Luna have any advice? One of Luna's Guard—Cluster, I think his name was—recently insinuated to me that you two may have some wisdom on the subject to offer.

Your faithful student fellow princess,
Twilight Sparkle

P.S. Please don't tell my mom. :twilightoops:
P.P.S. Really. DON'T TELL MY MOM!!!!

Comment posted by Ripple deleted May 13th, 2016

7211817 Deleted the offending comments. Sorry about that.

So was the original gift giver actually deluded and egotistical enough to think that his travapestry would actually make a good gift, or was he just being a jerk who wanted to trick them into accepting something he knew was garbage?

:rainbowlaugh: For all of their power, there are some things even the princesses struggle to do. Perhaps the hardest of all is getting ponies to actually listen to them, at least not without going all Princess Celestia Hates Tea on an unsuspecting public. (And I can only imagine how the press would react to that outburst in this universe...)

Cluster is a fantastic character, an excellent straight man who still manages to carry the gag now and again.

The story was hilarious from start to finish, especially that ending. Thank you for it.

Absolutely hilarious.

Comment posted by wolfstorm56 deleted May 13th, 2016

Celestia and Luna give up too easily. Direct and persistent application of overwhelming force is something that takes dedication.

"It felt like such an honor, didn't it?" she quietly remembered. "Having him contact the palace and say he was designing a piece specifically for us. As a gift. To have a Marble Whispers sculpture... it would have legitimized us in a few pony eyes, having such an artist donate freely of his time and craft. And then he walked in with his entire family behind him, all of them pulling the fabric cylinder along because he could never be bothered with paid assistants..."

Luna nodded. "And then he ordered them to unroll it."

Someone had a nasty sense of humor.

"You get one more."

Luna considered.

"Your coat is where rainbows go to die."

*Applause*

Celestia's horn ignited.

Or rather, it ignited first.

As I have always believed, there are very few problems that can't be ended with fire. Or, if necessary, more fire.

"Luna," Celestia said, and marveled at the false calm in her voice, "do you happen to remember that little debate we had a long time ago? That minor tiff about why we weren't going to use assassins?"

"Oh, Tia..."

"We're about to have it again."

Wait, that doesn't-

"And this time, just for variety, you're going to take the 'against' side."

Oh! There it is.

A delight, Estee, an absolute delight. Particular highlights being the wicked call back to the various meanings of the word "escort" when discussing the career path of Fleur, and the very amusing dialogue of the unfortunate Cluster, with all his children.

I'm also very fond of Fancypants here, it's rather lovely to see the friendship between Celestia and him.

Such a fun story, with just the right amount of cringing frustration and silliness to balance it out.

"You found her in the midst of teleporting ponies about the capital?"

Well, the Earth moved for somepony...

Did Rarity get a look at it when the bearers rescued it? If asked, would she give an honest opinion on the work? If the sisters confided in her as a friend, would she agree, or run with the rest of the herd?

Masterful. I loved seeing this.

He told her.

"You found her in the midst of teleporting ponies about the capital?"

I actually had to pause reading because I was laughing so hard. I feel their pain, I used to go to a school with a singularly repulsive painting. If someone had projectile vomited they could not have made an uglier painting. Thankfully, it was rendered in paint, and not horsehair, but it was unbelievably hideous.

Luckily the janitor smashed the glass with a mop handle by accident and tore the damn thing beyond repair. It was such a shame, really.

He still swears it was an accident.

"I think it's art," he said. "I leave the interpretation to somepony else.

And this is why art museums today are filled with pictures of what appears to be paint literally vomited upon canvas, sketches less impressive than the results of art day in a pre school, and sculptures resembling nothing which are composed of poop.

Art may be in the eyes of the beholder, but stupidity can clearly be measured! :raritywink:

"I got as far as direct orders," Celestia sighed. "Orders which everypony, at least for those I didn't speak to directly, decided must have been misinterpreted

Celestia's last attempt: "TAKE THIS BUCKING POS OUT OF THE CASTLE, DRENCH IT WITH KEROSENE, AND HAVE A DRAGON BLOW FIRE UPON IT UNTIL NOTHING REMAINS!!"

Stupid asshats, "Hurr durr, she must have meant it needs to be dry-cleaned."

Celestia goes Corona Blaze on everypony's flank.

Of course the BEST idea would be to have allowed the changeling invasion to occur during the wedding and then it accidentally gets burned to ash by the horrid bug ponies. Then, you both get rid of the tapestry AND foster anti-cherngelerng sentiments! It's win-win!

(And this demonstration of cunning is why Alondro's henchman, Donald Trump shall soon become President.) :trixieshiftright:

:trollestia:

"He was the very first ambassador we ever had from Prance. After we realized that we would in fact never be able to convince them that they should join Equestria, and... based on the history I reviewed since my Return, I cannot honestly say they ever entirely stopped trying to insult us into becoming subservient to them. They simply became slightly more subtle about it.

That was of course until Prance bent over and hoisted its tail to Adork Horseler, Chancellor of Germaney the instant he announced he'd blow up their pretty buildings.

Equestria never let them forget that little incident!

:trollestia:

Anyway, this story is an example of why I believe in blunt, brutal, savage, remorseless honestly. If someone gives me something that looks like shit, I TELL THEM IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS!!

Because I don't want to have to deal with garbage like this every thousand years of my eternal existence (hah, you mortals suck! See? Honesty!)

7212526 That janitor was cleverer than the Princesses in this story.

Perhaps I need to add him to my ever-growing list of henchmen... :trixieshiftright:

That was hilarious. And two stories from you in the space of a week? I don't think the week is going to get any better...

That was beautiful. It had a very 'Princess Celestia Hates Tea' vibe.

CCC

7211649

Don't give him IDEAS!

"You found her in the midst of teleporting ponies about the capital?"

images.newschoolers.com/images/17/00/80/73/45/807345.gif

7213115

It's a long story.

"Escorting" is the word used to describe both the act of teleporting with a passenger and being a professional paid companion. Both are legal, and both require licenses. Confusion occasionally results.

(And for those who didn't read said long story, I made sure to include the other meaning in this one, placing it a few more paragraphs down from that quote.)

Oh Estee, you never fail to amuse and impress me.

Truly, this was a tragic tale of loss and heartache. Followed swiftly by the unwanted reacquisition of what was lost and even more heartache. And silly Prenchmen, Luna can't be nine. She has way too much teen angst to be that young.

Amusing story. It wouldn't be funny (obviously) if they had been honest and said they were ready to retire the tapestry through permanent means.

My thought: A week later, the Princess of the Night embarked on her new art campaign, Bringing Culture to the Incarcerated. A number of pieces of art would be displayed prisons around the country including gifts from other nations. The number of repeat offenders decreased dramatically after the exhibits passed through with the recent, notable gift from Protocera taking front and center with the promise from the Crown that the exhibits would travel to random prisons over the course of the next couple of years.

"Your coat is where rainbows go to die."

Neither the first nor last, but possibly the greatest, of the laughs contained herein. I'm considering making a new library, something above my standard "Favorites" list, to house this singular masterpiece.

I may call it "The Alcove."

Addendum: As it was written, it has become.

7214040
As a name “The Alcove” isn’t intuitive in the slightest. I’d suggest adding Cream of the Crop as a tagline.

As much as i laughed at this whole story i wondered why they didn't ask discord to get rid of it.

This was delightful, the whole scene with Luna and Celestial dragging the tapestry around felt particularly inspired.

7213935
This is brilliant. You could flesh it out and submit it to Horizon's "Never the Final Word" series.

"You found her in the midst of teleporting ponies about the capital?"

Twilight Sparkle is never going to live that down, is she?

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7212526
7212388

"You found her in the midst of teleporting ponies about the capital?"

Judging by the reactions, this may have to go onto the 'verse's Funny subpage on TVTropes -- but for me, it was one of those moments which (temporarily) makes the issues of working within a 'verse worthwhile. Because for the readers who were completely new to the whole thing, I was hoping it would be no worse than a non-derailing moment of "Huh?" with a variable degree of clarification waiting further down the scroll -- but for those who'd been around for a while, it would instead register as a single blazing moment of "Oh...!" Maybe even with some laughs built in.

(Tropewise, I may also try to add a Recap entry for this story before the end of the weekend -- which means that for anyone at the second level on up in the Patreon group, this is a good time to tell me what else you want put in. As long as I'm in the neighborhood, right?)

And for the record: Fleur's local role has been planned for some time: a pony so terrifying, she makes other ponies scarier by proximity. A great deal of Canterlot (and beyond) is under continual stress as to what Fancypants has been told (a lot, at need), and that makes it much harder for them to turn him down. There's also a lot of gossip as to whether he and Fleur are in a sexual relationship, and just about everypony who tells you they know the answer is lying. (They aren't. And on Fleur's end, it isn't for lack of trying.) But... well, {drastic understatement}she's not exactly the most mature pony in the world...{/drastic understatement}

7215302

Twilight Sparkle is never going to live that down, is she?

It's the proper academic term!

7211471

*snicker*

7211640

Crossover!

...to be written by someone other than me...

...but still, crossover!

7211818

Um...

7211844

See? This is another reason that piano had to die! Can you imagine how hard it would have been to get rid of post-ascension? And if for some reason anyone can't, see current story!

7211888

So was the original gift giver actually deluded and egotistical enough to think that his travapestry would actually make a good gift, or was he just being a jerk who wanted to trick them into accepting something he knew was garbage?

The former, along with a heavy dose of self-promotion: he'd decided that if the palace had the first of his new type of work, everypony else would decide they just had to own the next ones.

Put it this way: when that Recap page goes up, one of the tropes on it will be Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk. And I already searched in hopes of getting the more specific Jerkass Artist, without success. (There is a nuked trope called Jerkass Creator, but while it applies here, it's still nuked: it was seen as a personal attack on real people.)

7212464

Did Rarity get a look at it when the bearers rescued it? If asked, would she give an honest opinion on the work? If the sisters confided in her as a friend, would she agree, or run with the rest of the herd?

Rarity's generally pretty good at reading the room, but such can be harder around the Princesses -- or at least harder to express. I think she'd hem, haw, double-talk for a while, second-guess herself into a near-faint, and then finally gasp out the truth at the last second because a pony who was surely about to be exiled should pass over the border with a clean conscience.

7212526

He still swears it was an accident.

"Suspiciously extinct."

7212577

(And this demonstration of cunning is why Alondro's henchman, Donald Trump shall soon become President.)

Still debating whether to do that story wherein the mayoralty of Canterlot is unexpectedly sought by a pony named Dubiously Rich.

(Yes, he's a cousin.)
(No, Mr. Rich doesn't want to talk about it.)

Hey, it's not like I haven't been downvoted through the server before this!

As for Prance... they were basically the last major holdout during the unification of the continent. They remain convinced that they made the right decision. Most Equestrians only need about ten minutes of dealing with their citizens before beginning to agree.

7211928

(And I can only imagine how the press would react to that outburst in this universe...)

:twilightoops:

...running away now...

Cluster's Characters section should definitely be updated. Only Sane Pony might be a good start.

7212140

Which reminds me: when I hit the Recap, I'd better include Kill It With Fire...

7213935
7215021

My thought: A week later, the Princess of the Night embarked on her new art campaign, Bringing Culture to the Incarcerated. A number of pieces of art would be displayed prisons around the country including gifts from other nations. The number of repeat offenders decreased dramatically after the exhibits passed through with the recent, notable gift from Protocera taking front and center with the promise from the Crown that the exhibits would travel to random prisons over the course of the next couple of years.

You could flesh it out and submit it to Horizon's "Never the Final Word" series.

For what it's worth, I don't mind if anyone wants to try writing that: all I ask for is a little note stating that it's not mainline for this 'verse.

7214040

I may call it "The Alcove."

Um...

*looks at icon again*

...that's a trash can.

7214801

With the theft attempt scene, I wanted to write the sisters with every last level of royalty discarded, kicked away, or just abandoned in the bedroom well before taking the stroll. For this 'verse, it's a moment when you're seeing the ponies.

7214401

As much as i laughed at this whole story i wondered why they didn't ask discord to get rid of it.

Okay: the tapestry no longer exists. However, the giant glowing sketch of it which takes up the sky from horizon to horizon now does.

(On the local timeline, I was thinking of placing this story in the spring after Naked Lunch, which makes Scene #10 into Wordia's Revenge -- and has Discord still within the statue.)

7215347 Yes, yes it is. In homage to Luna's valiant first efforts, of course.

But seriously, in case there's any confusion I do adore this piece.

This was a very, very Estee story.

Your Equestria is one of dry wit and elliptical discussions where the more important something is, the more obliquely it is described and discussed; of quiet frustration and well-meaning obtuseness. There power, wisdom and authority are frequently thwarted, or at least derailed, by tradition, custom and what "everypony knows", yet sometimes re-railed too. It's not nearly as cynical a place as you often present it as, but it is one with a deep vein of existential absurdity and implacable inconvenience.

7215554

This was a very, very Estee story.

Flo: Why, I've never been so insulted in my life!
Hackenbush: [after looking at his watch] Well, it's early yet.

This one rubbed me the wrong way. To be honest, if Celestia and Luna can't get a tapestry hanging on the wall of their own home moved, they're too incompetent to run an ice cream truck, much less a country. Somebody is in charge of the art on the walls. Summon them and tell them to move it. If they won't, fire them and tell their relief to move it. If they won't, fire them too. Keep doing this until you find somebody that will move the thing.

I think you're trying to make some sort of point about bureaucracy, but things can get done in a bureaucracy when the person in charge actually wants to make it happen. It'll cost them some political capital, but if they're determined it will happen. Since Celestia and Luna became personally involved, they're probably willing to deal with subordinate bureaucrats being pissed at them for the better part of a year to get the thing moved. The key to being in charge of a bureaucratic organization is knowing when to ram something through and when to let something go to maintain the peace.

7216019

The issue the sisters are fighting against isn't bureaucracy. It's about two things which are even harder to deal with: tradition and heritage.

Picture, for a moment, the Blarney Stone. It's nothing more than a piece of limestone with a legend behind it, set into a wall at such an awkward angle that the only way to reach it is generally by leaning over a railing -- backwards. At its heart, it's a rock, and not a very sanitary one, given how many people keep kissing it. However, it's really reaching it that's the big issue. Bending over backwards like that isn't comfortable, and the lack of support can trigger phobias. But everyone knows which stone it is. So the safest and most sensible thing to do would be to remove it from the wall, bring it somewhere that people can kiss it in safety, and every so often, wipe it down with disinfectant.

Let's have Enda Kenny propose that at the next government meeting. I'll be curious to see how far he gets, especially with a running start.

All too often, tradition just means that so many people did something stupid for so long that no one is allowed to say it's stupid any more. And heritage makes it worse. Yes, that clock rings out the hour five minutes behind the actual time, and the last bell it sounds is so unnecessarily loud as to shatter conversations, sanity, and the occasional bit of crystal. But no one's going to fix it, because it's been triggering murder sprees in nearby apartment buildings for three hundred years! (And besides, it keeps the rent cheap.) It's traditionally off-kilter. It has a heritage of being wrong. And there's always a segment of the population which just hates any kind of change and will fight it no matter how beneficial that change might be for them. (Insert your own election year joke here.)

An ugly tapestry hung for a day is an eyesore. One that's been sitting in the same alcove for centuries is a heirloom. Ever try convincing someone to destroy a heirloom? Alter it? Even take it down for a good polish? No, that just destroys the patina, or the mold passing for same.

Let's magnify that a little by the nature of the palace itself. Think of it like the White House: ultimately, there's a perception that it belongs to the people. (In both cases, the tours don't help with this.) It needs updating. It needs refinement. And the first person to say "Maybe if we did the exterior in a light blue?" is probably going to die. The palace belongs to the ponies, and those who trot down the halls look at ancient statues and rock crystal windows and that one tapestry which has been there so long that it has to be special. They march through history, they feel the weight of the years, and they feel pride in that weight while failing to recognize that there are times when they're being crushed.

Locally, I've basically had the sisters say that they find innovation precious. They want to keep moving forward -- because given any excuse, a lot of ponies -- and people -- will just stand in place, because that seems so much safer. Stay motionless for too long and you effectively calcify -- individuals and society alike.

The siblings do their best to keep galloping: each is afraid of becoming static. But the palace itself, as a structure, has tradition, heritage, and inertia. It resists change because even some of those who work within can't understand why anypony would want to change it.

Don't put out cookies on Christmas Eve: you're the only one who's going to eat them. Don't buy Halloween decorations, or any holiday decor at all: it's just a waste of money, right? Why serve turkey on Thanksgiving when just about any other bird is both easier to cook and has a better flavor? Is there really any point to traveling on Memorial Day when you just get stuck in traffic?

Probably not.

But so many others are doing it too...

Summon them and tell them to move it. If they won't, fire them and tell their relief to move it. If they won't, fire them too. Keep doing this until you find somebody that will move the thing.

And at least locally, this isn't Celestia.

(It can be Luna, but generally not for extended runs.)

(And just a reminder: this Equestria has a rather active press. Princess Fails To Set Out Heart's Warming Decor: Spurns Centuries Of Pony Heritage.)

Don't worry, eventually Luna will go full Nightmare Moon, Celestia will talk her down. But by the way the Canterlot Palace and all its art were destroyed and they just couldn't BEAR possibly replacing it at all.

7214401 As Estee pointed out, that would be the single most awful thing they could do.

One does not ask Discord to do anything unless you're hoping things end in the worst possible fashion.

As they found out when they sent him to catch Tirek. :twilightoops:

7216098 Tradition, nothing more than a habit that is too stubborn for its own good.

In my youth, Christmas Dinner followed many of the northern hemisphere traditions of the season. Winter traditions being carried out at 100 degrees F are unbelievably stupid. I maintain that having Bing Crosby crooning about a White Christmas when you are sweating in the air-conditioning qualifies as "cruel and unusual punishment." I can sympathise with Rainbow Dash during Seasons Bleatings, and I can sympathise with the sisters here.

One of the more beautiful things that can happen is when traditions change or evolve. The hot roast Christmas dinner of my youth is no more. Replaced by a Christmas Lunch of cold-cuts and salads. Drinks pulled from containers filled with ice, and desserts from the freezer. 40 degrees C doesn't seem so bad under those conditions.

We're still stuck with songs about sleighs and snowmen, but only because all the Christmas tunes with a summer theme are indescribably worse. Maybe in another couple of decades...

Heh, even if one doesn't need to read Mechanical Aptitude, the mention of a certain noble -- if only in the peerage sense of the word -- can only be fully appreciated after having read it. And I like it, so if any readers out there want to appreciate it as well, I would recommend it.

Also, speaking of dealing with tradition and heritage in general and HWE in particular...

I've been mulling over the idea of a normal pony who doesn't celebrate Hearth's Warming Eve. I have a name for him: Rock Helper, as a play on the meaning of the name "Ebenezer". In contrast to the Scrooge of ACC, however, he is friendly, helpful, and in complete agreement with the ideals of the celebration.

He just doesn't feel the need for him to take a dedicated day for it. [sarcasm]This meets with complete understanding on the part of every pony he finds telling.[/sarcasm] (Not that he really tells anypony unless it comes up. Of course, when the day is about a month away, it comes up a lot.

I wanted it to end with the conclusion that it's okay for him not to do anything for it. My major problem with it is, unlike with me and its surface-similar counterpart, RT has no good reason in my mind not to. If I write this story, somepony's going to have to ask him why not, and all the answer I have for him to give is "I just don't want to." And that feels... subpar, somehow.

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