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Quoth the raven: "CAW CAW CAW CAW CAW CAW CAW CAW CAW" (Patreon)


Princess Flurry Heart has been a little kidnapped. And only Shining Armor and Princess Cadance can save—roughly three quarters of—her.

(A study on fairytales.)

Proofread by Neko Majin C.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 46 )

This was me trying to write an actual proper drama and then including funny bits anyway because I'm a rebel.

As it is, my father did use to read me fairy tales, and he did traumatize me, too. And while I don't have any children, I do take good care of my little brother, and have done so since he was born.

Telling ya in case you needed an explanation for this.

Funny how the crystal ponies come just short of rolling out a literal red carpet when they see Spike, yet the dragon in question doesn't even cross the minds of the Crystal Empire's two rulers when they need help.


...Did you really downvote the story because of that? Wow. That's... unexpected.

As per the story per se -- in the show, Cadance and Shining Armor don't seem to have any particular relationship with Spike. I didn't want to verge too much on headcanon because the story is complicated as it is, so I just chose to work with what canon gave me (I mean, I guess I did write that Cadance and Shining and Twilight all love Flurry Heart a lot, but they're family so that's not stretching it too much).

Spike's role in the Sparkle family is too open to interpretation for him to work in this story, so I left him out. Plus, the narrative doens't call for it. It wouldn't make sense for him to be there, according to the story's rules.

Wow. That was intense. And awesome as hell.

You say fairy tales all open with tragedies, but really, I think this was the best possible outcome of stealing three quarts of the Royal Baby.

A better outcome than when I steal three quarters of a royal baby, anyways.

7509183 Ignore him, he whines if Spike isn't being fellated in some fashion. Usually metaphorical which then proceeds to literal, and typically involving multiple mares.

Wow. A fantastic blend of myth and metareference, with the rhythmic repetitions and variations on the theme blending well with the personal asides and attempts to open a box with the crowbar it contains. Truly exquisite work. Thank you for it.

This was... wow. I definitely see the Borges there. It's so... I can't think of any way to explain it except "kinked up." Twisted and knotted and self-referential. It's really a wonder!

Perhaps is that why the Meta Dragon found me, and why it’s using me to feed, to shape a tale it can consume:

Wait, your possessed by a demon? Have tried taking anything for it?

Yay! You posted it! I have to say, I may have liked the other one, but this title is pretty good, too.

Also, I read this in Loki's voice and pretended you were him the entire time.

7509284 Who knows what's true or false when a comment that is 75 to 95% bullshit gets four upvotes? Go fuck yourself.

7509812 I love it when you talk dirty to me, sweetheart.


75 to 95% bullshit

How'd you calculate those percentages? You must be really good at math.

The man had lost his baby.

'But that is of no consequence to this story, because this is a story about ponies.'

She’d knew everything

known. Just because it's a fairy tale doesn't mean it gets to throw grammar out the window.

she had really ran out

run out.

think despise the mist


Personally, I preferred Terry Pratchett back when he subverted, inverted and made his characters vaguely smug about fairy tales. It just kind of got boring when he turned narrative convention into an element on the periodic table and had people form Black Ops teams specifically made to fit stories. Boring and vaguely sardonic. Like he was writing under protest. Clearly, you think differently.

Also, I find that the Meta Dragon is a very dull and unimaginative antagonist, particularly with that distracting name. Just calling it the Dragon would have been more effective, and more intimidating, than constantly reminding us that we're reading a story and there's no point trying to care about it.

I'll be perfectly honest; I thought this was dull. I get the feeling that the story wants to be a satire of fairy tales, but you desperately wanted to write an actual drama, and the conflict between story and writer just results in a passionless mess that also isn't particularly funny.

Clever, and definitely meta.

I am glad to see someone know and lives the old fairytales as much as me. This was a very good story!

Oh my gosh, my name is on the front page! I am so excited/embarrassed.:pinkiegasp::twilightblush:

Thief Fic is beyond incredible. A work of art.

You mentioned Jorge Luis Borges and Terry Pratchett, but I also got a strong Neil Gaiman vibe from this story. Well done!

This was interesting, and I liked the take on the Old fairytales, but I have to admit, reading all of this, old fairytales is not what I kept comparing it to, and if you didn't continually reinforce that this is based on fairytales, I wouldn't have made that connection, at least not so strong.

Rather, I was thinking about bad authors. No, not bad published authors-those at least have the skill to write a story capable of being sold. No, I kept thinking about bad fanfiction writers. The difficulties the characters encounter, of not being able to do something simply because the narrative demands so, of talents and skill and intelligence being useless because the narrative said so,, Cadence nearly being killed by a lowly thief of all things, losing all degree of intelligence in a battle with a dragon for no bloody reason...it all reeks of those works. I won't mention any by name, but I'm sure we've all seen them.

Regardless, nice story. Glad I came across it.


I started off liking this.

Then I hated it for awhile.

Then I really liked it again.

Then I came back down to "pretty good, but sort of flawed."

At first I was like "Oh! It's one of these! I love ones of these!" because I am all about this sort of heavily lampshaded deconstruction of stories, and using the deconstruction as a plot device is another thing I love.

Then after a bit I was all "... oh. It's one of these." As in, a lot of ponderous "look at how the story is part of the story is part of the story" hyperbole and how even the Author (capitalized because it is a proper noun in this sense donchaknow, he's like God in this contex) is a character. And it's like, Christ. If I want that I can just go watch Homestuck jack off into its own mouth for chapter after chapter.

Then I got to here:

Twilight gave this a little bit of thought.

She found it quite silly.

And glorioski, the whole thing is salvaged in the space of a few paragraphs. Or, well, not salvaged; subverted. Because we thought we were getting one thing, you really, seriously sold that one thing, and then you ripped the top right off the can and ha ha, nope! It's a different thing! A much better thing.

Thinking about it, Twilight's mere presence sort of breaks the story that the Dragon (I agree with past commenters that "Meta Dragon" is sort of dumb and hard to take seriously) is trying to tell, doesn't it? She's a Princess, but she still possesses agency. She doesn't get kidnapped and need to be rescued; she's the rescuer, not the rescuee. She's completely outside the bounds of, and the knowledge of, the sort of metaphorical prison that the Dragon is trying to cram down everyone's throat, which I'm guessing is why she is best able to resist it and apply real-world logic ("Let's just cut the gordian knot") instead of fairytale logic. That's great. Excellently applied storytelling.

Something else I liked, re: Twilight, was... this might just be me, but in regards to this:

Easier. Not wiser. Because in fairytales, the easy way out was always wrong, and always presented by the Witch. Who tempted the Prince. And opposed the Wise One—Sunburst.

It's never spelled out, and I think it works better for not being spelled out, but I got the subtle implication throughout the story that if anyone is the Witch, it is Sunburst. Not intentionally, but I'm pretty sure its him. That's good stuff. Choice.

That said... this whole thing is a bit uneven. It's far from bad, you're too good a writer these days to produce anything that's actually horrible, but I feel like it is... choppy. Could have used more time in the oven, maybe.

In particular, I think you beat the "the Author is a slave of the story and also they die but also they don't die" thing way, way too hard. The degree to which it is front-and-centered actually undercuts the conceit, because it encourages the reader to think about that aspect of the narrative, and I think it has the opposite effect that is intended; it draws them out of it. Especially when you lean as hard as you did. "I am actually dead. For real!"

Because the actual author isn't dead. We know that, because if they were nobody would be able to publish the story. Normally, in stories like this that's something we let slide by... but the combination of the sheer weight layered on the concept, combined with the fact that you have characters in-story calling attention to the fact that some of those conceits are silly, in my opinion, makes it harder to swallow.

Although I can't tell if that's intentional or not. I think maybe not? Because the ending of the story assumes buy-in?

The thing with Shining Armor and Cadance's roles appears... muddled. I really like the idea that they occupy a weird liminal space where they're more than one thing at one time. The part where Shining is like "But I am a Knight. And a Prince." and Sunburst goes "Weeeelllllll... for these purposes, what you are is a King," is super, super strong. But... well, you have Cadance being a Princess rather than a Queen. In fact you step on that very, very strongly at one point; "There were no Queens. Only Princesses." But she's also a Queen later, and I get that the uncertainty is part of it... but if that works for Cadance, why can't it work for Shining Armor?

I was also a bit put off by "legally, you're the most powerful thing in the kingdom." That's not Shining Armor. That's Cadance.

The titles are also weird. Neither of them should, formally, be a "Majesty." They should be a "Highness."

I feel like there was a bit of a missed opportunity re: Side Step being sent after Cadance. Because the thing is, if Side Step is the Thief, that's an utterly inappropriate role for her. The Thief can sometimes also fight, but the Thief isn't a remorseless killing machine; to the extent they fight at all the archetype involves a sudden stab from out of the darkness, or swinging from chandeliers and sliding down balustrades while you have precise, acrobatic duels with the palace guard. What they aren't is the Terminator, some sort of unstoppable thing.

The Dragon is dragooning (ha ha, yes) Side Step into a role that her archetype isn't suited for at all, and in my mind what's happening there is that doing so is what opens up the chances for Cadance and Shining Armor and Twilight (especially Twilight, who is her own sort of wild card) to wriggle free.

On the nature of fairytales... I dunno, I might be too close to the materiel for those segments to have worked well. Because they work pretty great if you don't know much about the evolution of the form, but if you do, you end up thinking "No. Fairtytales weren't invented exclusively to invoke fear in children. They had their genesis as... well, as stories. Not stories for children, but just stories. The tale of Bluebeard and his wives is basically a crime thriller; with few changes it could be an episode of NCIS. The reason we regard the original forms as appallingly violent and dark is because the later, bowdlerized forms are intended exclusively for children, and so we assume the original forms must have been as well. And they weren't. They were intended for a broad audience, often a very adult audience. Cinderella's evil stepmother dancing herself to death is there to give an adult audience a nice dose of vengeance against the villain, because Charles Perrault was writing for adults. Aragon's dad wasn't doing him any favors by reading adult fiction to a child; there is, in fact, media that isn't appropriate for eight-year-olds, at least without heavy contextualization. Not as a bedtime story."

I'm not really sure where I'm going with that. Just... the metafiction parts of the story rest on some extremely shaky foundations that depend on not looking too closely at them. That always seems dodgy.

Other thoughts: describing Shining's killing of Side Step repeatedly as murder doesn't really work, I don't think. Her death doesn't really meet either the technical or the colloquial definition of murder. So the dwelling on it as a murder doesn't have the impact you want it to, I don't think.

The attempts at humor re: Side Step's weight don't work. At all. There's humor to be found in that sort of thing, sometimes (the sitcom 30 Rock managed that well a lot of the time by making fun of its protagonists appalling eating habits) but what you've done here doesn't actually involve jokes. Pointing at someone and going "They're fat! Fatty fat fat-fat, fatty fatty fat-fat!" isn't humor, its playground taunting. At best. You're a much, much, much better humorist than that. It was beneath you as a writer.

This is pretty good, like I said. I feel like with a few more editing passes it could be really very great. (You left a few spelling and grammar errors floating in there that others pointed out as well.)

Oh, and while they're all pondering if a Knight is going to show up to solve their problems, I think that's a perfect spot for a primo Flash Sentry joke.


Also, I find that the Meta Dragon is a very dull and unimaginative antagonist, particularly with that distracting name. Just calling it the Dragon would have been more effective.

I agree with past commenters that "Meta Dragon" is sort of dumb and hard to take seriously.

Well, dang it. I was proud of that one.

Personally, I don't see the name "Meta Dragon" as ridiculous, but that might just be the language barrier thing doint what it does. Kinda has a cool ring to my ears, even -- and hell, this story was almost titled just "Meta Dragon", 'cause some folks told me to do that. Glad I didn't listen to them now, gotta say. Well, dunno if this is about tastes or what, but food for thought. I like the name myself, at least.

As per the rest -- I actually don't think this was rushed! Rather, it was the opposite. This sat on the oven too long -- it was a passion project, you gotta understand -- and in fact only got posted like two-three weeks after being finished. That meant me retouching stuff and rewriting and rereading constantly, because, again, this is me writing something mostly for myself and treasuring the writing itself.

Which means that the story took a long time to write, was extremely complicated to put down, and the result comes off as extremely... Well, I don't wanna say "artsy" or "onanistic" or anything like that, but this is a prime example of "Aragón writes Stuff Aragón Likes, and Fuck the Reader". This has its upsides (I guess it's original? It's got some scenes I like) and its downsides (read the "Fuck the Reader" part again).

So now, replying one by one:

Dullness and the story wanting to be a drama: well. Dang again. I actually struggled while writing this, trying to get a balance between drama and funny. Simply said: writing it as a straight comedy didn't work, and neither did straight drama. Tried both options. They both sucked. So I said screw it, let's try both. To me it worked (I managed to finish the story, and I like it quite a bit), to you it clearly didn't, Kingmoriarty, so the moral here is I gotta get better.

Well, never hurts to practice.

The fairytales being for adults: I actually sorta kinda heard that before? That the original tales weren't for kids. But seeing how my dad did read this to me, like, for real -- grandma, too, she told the most fucked-up ones now that I remember -- and how I wrote this from the perspective of Aragón, the guy who grew up with scary fairy tales, I chose to ignore that fact. Guess it makes the story less enjoyable if you know, tho.


The characters: Oh, yeah, Cadance is extremely important too, but in this story, so is Shining Armor. I chose to write them as equals, but I guess Sunburst is sorta vague when talking there. The way I see it, though, saying Shining is "the most important pony" is not technically incorrect. He is! It's just that his wife is also the most important pony in the Empire. They're like an item or whatever.

As per Sunburst, you pretty much got it on your own, so I won't be explaining too much. The Thief going for Cadance is due to the Meta Dragon fucking up -- he got angry because Twilight was introduced (indeed, that was a spanner in the works, it's referenced somewhere that in fact one of the things that made the Meta Dragon kill "me" was that I "introduced Twilight in the story"), because the Thief was good all of a sudden, and because "I" had been a cheeky asshole.

So it says, screw it. We go by the books. Cadance is off the narrative too, you say? We take care of her -- she disappears. It's not explained (it's sorta implied), but the Meta Dragon uses the Thief 'cause it's the only character that it controls completely. And indeed, that's what gives the characters the opportunity to strike back. All part of the plan!

It's also sort of an understated thing that she's legally a Princess (even though she shouldn't be, because yaddah yaddah Kings Queens whatever) so a Thief tries to steal her, and a Knight in shining armor rescues her. That's more of an extra thing, though. The Meta Dragon is just using what it has at hand.

The rest is just... sorta the same. Fat jokes -- Pratchett used those! A lot! They're probably the most Pratchett thing in the entire story. Personally, I didn't see any of them as mean, 'cause I used to be fat as a kid and I have that empathy. And because, well, I don't wanna be a dick. I can sorta see why others would see it otherwise, though, in which case, well. Gotta try to get better at it, is all I can say. Nothing much to add, is it? It's just a matter of "this could have worked, but you didn't make it work properly".

So back to the writing desk we go! Thanks for the reviews, though. Really made me think, and consider some things. The dangers of unedited passion projects is that the opinions that help tend to come juuuust late enough for me to have moved on to another story, but still, neat comments, those two.

Ah, and I fixed the typos. I hope.

This was majestic: The dramatic tones, subtle inputs of comedy, and copious amounts of meta all blended in a beautifully surreal scenario.

I also loved those brief moments of repetition of earlier lines to instill what was possibly a meaningful mantra for the reader.

You made drama and comedy work; this is why you're awesome.

If Discord wrote a fairy tale, it would be a lot like this one.

I was definitely picking up the Pratchett style here. Nicely done, Aragon!

I don't know what the hay this is...but I like it!:pinkiehappy::heart::derpytongue2:

This reminded me of that Mercedes Lackey book "Fairy Godmother", where fairy tales HAVE to happen, and it's up to the fairy godmothers to make sure they happen the right way, and when things aren't going the way the tale says they are supposed to, extremely powerful magic called "The Tradition" starts trying to force the story in the right direction. This was really good. I love stories like this, about the power of fairy tales and old magic.

I was kind of hoping Sunburst would turn out to be Flurry's prince, though. They make an adorable couple. Age isn't an issue with Flurry since she's probably immortal, being a birthed alicorn, and I can easily imagine her falling in love with her teacher as she grows up.:twilightsheepish:

7511342 Echoes a lot of my thoughts, though tbh I came off more ambivalent than anything. Had a bit of a write up about the story here, but decided to ditch it and just say that the reason people probably dislike Meta Dragon as a name is because meta has a negative association with it after rampant abuse of fourth-wall breaking stories and characters that don't really know how to use fourth-wall breaking as a tool in the writer's arsenal, and the overall lack of quality in many 'meta' stories has given the term an association with poor quality. In short a bunch of people in this world have no idea how to write Deadpool, Pinkie Pie, etc., and it gives the label a bad image.

Wow. You are an incredibly gifted writer.

You know, I've always hated Disney. From early childhood, I hated Disney because it took fairy tales and changed them drastically, so that I was probably the only kid in my class who knew and loved the originals. The fiction section of my school library was somewhat limited, so I didn't read stories like "St. George and the Dragon" or "The Snow Queen" until I was older, but it still burns me up when I hear someone incorrectly recount a tale.


Well, screw those guys, Meta Dragon is a great name. I mean, we already have Meta Knight, who's dope as hell. Now all we need is for Meta Princess to show up and we can have ourselves a sequel.

What many don’t understand is that old traditions survived the passage of time for a reason. They don’t read that much because when you work the land from dawn to dusk, you learn different, more important things. And they marry their cousins because sometimes, cousins are just really really pretty.

Hahahaha this got me.

I could taste the Pratchett in this, very nice.

finally got around to reading this! some great stuff dude, you really knocked it out of the park!

This story is aggressively European.

This is one of the greatest works of literature I've ever read.

No tl;dr posts for me, nosirre.


Two weeks later, I still ain't sure what this message actually means. On the other hand, I am European, so I guess all's well that ends well?


Shame, I like tl;dr's. They're comfy and easy to read. Thanks for the kind words, anyhow!

I'd actually put off reading this for a while (you'd think I'd have learned by now, wouldn't you?) and I finally decided to take the plunge.

Oh my god I am so glad I did.

I have to admit I'm speaking from, honestly, a relatively small literary frame of reference but pretty much everything about this story felt brilliant. I'll admit that the meta-narrative was a bit confusing in its delivery, but the purpose it served was really worth it in my opinion. From the moment I read this line:

It thought about the Death of the Author

I could not stop grinning like a maniac for the rest of the story. Like, I haven't smiled that hard in months, no exaggeration. It felt like the clincher that brought everything into place and made the whole thing incredibly satisfying to me. (Though I'm not sure that's exactly what "Death of the Author" actually is, but since I don't know for certain and it was so damn cool regardless, I'm more than happy to let it slide.)

Also, to weigh in on the (now weeks-old) Meta Dragon debate, I'm firmly in support of the name. In a vacuum, the name definitely does sound a little silly, but I felt like it worked really well in context - plus it provided a good distinction between the Meta Dragon and the narrative's Dragon, which I thought was pretty important to the story's climax.

Ahem. I believe I've gone a bit over-length again; sorry about that. Hopefully something about this was useful in some fashion, even if it was just to stroke your literary ego.

Don't worry, this is just a story

You cannot, with any good intentions, write that sentence after creating this masterpiece of meta narrative. It may just be a story, but hot damn if I'm not going to see everything else as a story for a little while too.
A philosophical go at life, perhaps, but it's fun to ponder the question of just how meta we can get in real life, and how much of it is just a story being told.
Man I love this story.

"What's a metaphor?"
"Catching a wish."

A good and thoughtful read.

I think one of the problems the old stories encounter is that ponies encompass too many roles within themselves; the father is a king, a prince, a knight, a soldier, a brother, a husband and his own valiant steed in one.
And then steadfastly avoid those roles that they rightfully belong in; there is no queen, only the princesses.
There are no gods or goddesses to placate or consult, only two more princesses.

And only Shining Armor and Princess Cadance can save—roughly three quarters of—her.

My original expectations with this portion of the tag line were that the thief would, without hurting her, somehow take literally three-quarters of Flurry Heart with a perfectly healthy hind-quarter remaining in the crib.

I'm glad you didn't go with what I was originally thinking.

I think the meta dragon is a perfectly fine name.

I thought this was absolutely, excellently crafted. Well done. Absolutely, well done.

This story was...disturbingly well written. You say you wrote this in honor of Terry Pratchett? Well, I can definitely see that. Pratchett had a talent for bringing out the old horrors the modern world has forgotten or buried. And the execution of your little fairy tale (pun intended) was just as interesting, because while I thought I would see them fighting the story, I never thought I would see them taking the fight to the author instead. The thought never entered my mind, until you mentioned Candance and Shining reaching for the strings. So yeah, definitely a rocking good read.

Perhaps it's because I'm unfamiliar with the history of this sort of analysis, but something confuses me about the Thief and the Dragon. Namely, why does a Dragon need a Thief at all? I can see other types of villains needing one, but aren't Dragons defined by their power, by their unstoppability by anyone other than the Prince? They aren't even really Thieves in of themselves, since by existing in a story, they innately shape it so that they are the ones with power over a Kingdom. The Princess is theirs from the start, with the actual kidnapping being a mere formality, a declaration of the power than everyone knows that they already have. You can't rescue the Princess and return her to her family without killing the Dragon, since the Princess isn't being held physically, but by the Dragon's power over her Kingdom.

Looks like everyone was right: this is an extremely well-written, bang-up piece of work (though usually when I think something's intelligent and can also understand most of it, that's a sign that it just might not be so intelligent. Just sayin'). Stories about stories usually make for a very tasty experience (such as the "Scream" movies), and this is no exception. The way you applied the Death of the Author was pretty neat, in that Aragon tricked the Meta Dragon into taking a role which would kill him once the story he [thought he] controlled took on a life of its own. Dude practically set himself up with his limited understanding of how those tales work. Another instance of this would be his certainty that the roles each pony played would guide them to very specific fates. The proglem with that is that he didn't realize how stories evolve; the old rules cannot be broken, but they can be bent or given a fresh twist. Did I get any of that right?

I need a cigarette after that ride. Holy cow. Worth staying up until 3 AM to finish.

Absolutely fantastically written, and confusing as all hell.

Not everyday you see a piece that tangles with meta nature of storytelling itself. A work of craftsmanship it is
And a good reason to write good fairytales, of course

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