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Baal Bunny

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Twilight confronts the Tree of Harmony about the way it never sends her on Friendship Missions. The Tree explains itself. Kind of.

The original version of this story got 4th place in the Writeoff Association's 56th contest, "*Princess Not Included."

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 88 )

Okay. I love this so much. I immediately want to draw fanart XD
This was amazing!

That was touching

The Tree of Harmony is fascinating in how it blurs the line between day-saving MacGuffin and a character in its own right. I love your presentation of it here, especially given how its response compares to the one in the Writeoff. The message is well done as well. Great work. Thank you for it.

Congratulations, Twilight. You're a friendship capacitor. A very important part of the Circuit of Harmony, which doesn't get to actually do much of anything. You get to sit there, soak up friendship lessons from your friends, then pass them on to new ponies when they die, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. If you ever stop, the whole thing comes apart, so you might as well start planning for your Nightmare Moon incident now. Maybe Cadance can take over for a thousand years while you're banished inside the tree. Oh, and remember to thank Celestia for sending you that book of Starswirl's. :unsuresweetie:

I think we all know that Twilight can't go otherwise she would botch nearly every mission as is the case with Hooffields and McColts

Raistlin #6 · Sep 7th, 2016 · · 5 ·


Maybe Twilight could, as crazy as it sounds, stop obeying blindly the requests of a magical fucking plant and begin taking choices on her own, as a real Princess.

Ah, but the only example of what a "real Princess" does for the last thousand years has been Celestia. As Twi said, that means sitting at the center of everything.

Poor Twi's been the target of one fake-out after another. First, she got to be a professional student, with a Cutie Mark in mastering magic. All she ever wanted was to be able to keep her nose in a book, run some experiments, practice some spells. Suddenly: lol nope! Friendship is the real magic! Go hang out with your friends. So, over the course of several years, she does so. She's just another pony when she's with her friends.

Lol nope! Surprise, you're an Alicorn Princess now! And maybe immortal. In any case, you've been placed above other ponies, no matter what you want. But Twi can work with that. She convinces her friends, and even the townsponies, that she's still the same Twilight Sparkle she always was. She can still go on trips with her friends and everything.

Lol nope! If you don't obey the Tree of Harmony, the world will end! And the Tree says no travelling with your friends. No, you can just park your tail in this god-awful crystal monstrosity. Heck, we'll even magic up a new pony to take your place. Starlight Glimmer can go on adventures with your friends, and you can stay right here. We'll even send your assistant and pseudo-brother Spike with her, so you can stay here all alone. You don't even get to travel to the Crystal Empire to visit your BBBFF and sister-in-law half the time. Enjoy!

I don't know about you, but I'd go postal.

7545606 I say get the dynamite and the chainsaws and the pickaxes. That thing is useless so we might as well sell it's parts for gold! :trollestia:

7545412 You sir are a genius.

Yeah, the Tree of Harmony is dick.

The show-displayed evidence shows it appears to be omniscient to the point of being infallible (or the ponies have just been astoundingly lucky so far), but it can't be arsed to actually usefully and intelligently communicate, even through a third party. It can create a fracking magic crystal castle, in can manipulate events such that keys end up in the hands of the only six ponies who can use them and it can create a magic friendship table, but it can't even create an instructon manual or something?

(I could go on for hours, but I'll leave it at that...)

This could have been a funny comedy short if it had actually been meant as one. Instead it ends up being this here joke despite itself: 7545412

Congratulations, Twilight. You're a friendship capacitor.

I can't even add anything to that, it says it so perfectly.

She's lucky the tree didn't turn her into a tree as well. Then she could learn the real meaning of being stuck in one place. Maybe the tree of harmony taking her place for a few hundred years in the meantime.


I guess that´s why the Tree never tried to do the same with humans:
"Holy me, these psychos nailed their own God to a cross! Better leaving then alone".

wlam #15 · Sep 7th, 2016 · · 4 ·

All glory be to our lord and All-Father Odin.


We poison our air and water to weed out the weak! We set off fission bombs in our only biosphere! We nailed our God to a stick! Don't fuck with the human race!
-- Humanity, Fuck Yeah!


The problem with the Tree of Harmony in the show (and the Map of Harmony and whatever else) is that they're basically plot McGuffins. Whatever the episode of the day needs them to do, they do so, with no hint of explanation or characterization or fallibility. This (great) fic has infinite more characterization than the show will ever give to the Tree of Harmony because the Tree of Harmony has no thought put into it beyond how it can move the plot along. And that's terrible.

One thing you'll notice examining the canon of the show is that there are often deliberate blank spaces in the worldbuilding, done to avoid explaining everything but also to add mystery to the world of FiM. It's part of why fanfiction of the show has been so prolific. Unfortunately, as time has gone on the worldbuilding has, well, gotten a little stupid. (For example, after making Twilight a Princess they had no idea what to do with that outside the season opener and finale.)

The Tree of Harmony feels like it has some epic backstory, some real interesting secrets, but instead of doing something interesting with that we instead get the Map of Plot Convenience. It's as disappointing as possible, IMO.


Not really, Odin hanged himself in his search for wisdom.

Close enough.

7546046 "...instead get the Map of Plot Convenience..."

22 minutes. It's frozen in stone, fixed in the aether, immobile in seconds and frames of animation. You have exactly 22 minutes to come up with an event, show how difficult it is, and solve it, while also making the concept of purchasing little plastic ponies with brushable manes seem important enough to dig out your wallet. For *inside* Ponyville stories, you're good, but for *outside* ones, it is rather difficult to *every time* have the crew (and only select members of it, because stories add complexity by the square or cube of the number of ponies in it) on the train (another plot-accelerator) and off to their next adventure.

Still, it would be psychically pleasing to have a show where Twilight's symbol shows up on the map, she spends 21 minutes struggling through adversity, only to find a foal tying a square knot who needs a hoof put right here for just a second, please.

7545979 F#^k it. That is why I have planed to have Folklore loose his mind at some point and become a temporary Anti-Villain in an attempt to end the bulls#%t of the Tree of Harmony.


Of course Twilight could always ignore the specific ponies called and go along with them. This I wondered especially for Griffonstone. She had quite an interest in the place. Why did she think she was FORBIDDEN to say take a vacation over there while her friends were solving a friendship problem? That is a rather strict view on the cutie map.



I figure that's where Twilight's heading at the end of the story here... :twilightsmile:



A good point:

I've changed the last line of the story in a way that I hope addresses the issue better than what was there before. :scootangel:


Eh, kind of lame, actually.

The Tree practically tells her to just suck it up -- and even gives her the cliched and depressing "enjoy outliving just about everypony you care about!" spiel on top of it?

Wouldn't really blame her for becoming suicidal, pulling a "Nightmare Moon" of her own, etc., after that.

I think it's pretty much safe to say that the Tree of Harmony/Cutie Map is the new Celestia of the fandom.

B_Munro #27 · Sep 8th, 2016 · · 3 ·


Some world-building episodes are positively painful in the way they make things fandom has speculated on for years smaller and stupider. Don't ask me what I think of The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone or Gauntlet of Fire, or I could rant for pages.


Seriously, very profound. I like it.

I think you captured Twilight's innate self-doubt very well here. :rainbowlaugh:

Dazzled, it took her a moment to see the pattern: the light and energy flowed from her mark out to the others, hers staying steady in the center while theirs at the ends dipped and spun in the non-existent breeze.

Single best line in the story. It sums up everything.

Harwick #32 · Sep 8th, 2016 · · 1 ·

7546328 Well, it's worth noting that Rarity pointed out to Applejack that sending Twilight along to Manehattan with/instead of them would have caused their friendship mission to fail. Twilight could have fixed the park entirely with her magic and so none of the neighborhood ponies would have been inspired to do more for their community themselves... They needed the example of less powerful ponies doing what they could despite not being able to fix everything.

So it seems like, at least some of the time, it's important that Friendship missions be limited to only the ponies specifically sent.

Nice. I thought you'd actually make it talk but this was better.

This needs to be a comic.

It's because Twilight believes in Rules, and Doing Things By Them. It's one of her defining characteristics, after all. So if the Tree of Harmony sends Rainbow and Pinkie to fix things at Griffonstone, That's How It's Going To Be, according to Twi herself.

Anyway, people are kind of overreacting to things here, if you ask me. Nothing we've seen the show, or about the Tree in this story, is preventing her from going out and doing things and spreading friendship. Indeed, we've seen her go on a friendship mission with Fluttershy, and this very season she's been on a diplomatic trip to Yakyakistan and participated in a friendship summit in Griffonstone!

Fwelin #36 · Sep 8th, 2016 · · 1 ·

So what happens when Twilight uses her magic to grab the chalice, and Gilda doesn't have her epiphany, or if Twilight's presence means that Gilda doesn'tbhave to come to Rainbow's rescue, and their friendship isn't rekindled? Even if she was careful to do absolutely nothing, it could still possibly mess up what happened (for example, her mere presence might distract Grandpa Gruff from his tale, and without Rainbow knowing about the idol, she never gets in danger for Gilda to rescue her from). As a result, the seeds for the recovery of Griffonstone are thoroughly uprooted, and their mission would become much more difficult, or even impossible for now.

When dealing with things as complex as damaged relationships and the like, the wrong person being there can be just as detrimental as the right person not being there; Twilight both knows this and trusts the map's judgment, so she stays at home for their trip.

A thought: I've seen no fics focusing on the missed missions (if that's what they were, as opposed to, say, booting artifacts) from the opening of Spice Up Your Life. "Fluttershy and Twilight in Appleloosa! No, [Pinkie] and Rainbow Dash in Las Pegasus! No, Rainbow Dash and Twilight in Yakyakistan! No, Twilight and Twilight in Twilight's castle*." That's a lotta Twilight, and a lot that she missed. Did she or the others ever follow up on those? If not, what's the state of things in those places now? Yakyakistan must've turned out alright, because nothing went awry on the goodwill tour during Dungeons & Discords. But still, that well remains there, largely untapped.

If I wasn't a crummy storyteller I'd try my hand at it, but I am, so does anyone who's not want to give it a go?

* This one is particularly interesting. Is that supposed to be Twilight alone, and the map simply can't show a single mark? Or are there literally two Twilights? If so, who's the other one? EqG Twilight? Mirror Pool Twilight? Time Traveler Twilight?

7546374 That would really make a good sequel or AU could title it "Stupid Pony"

"Yeah, screw you, you think your life is so bad in that damn fancy-ass castle with all your friends coming and going. At least you get to go places occasionally! At least you HAVE friends. And fried food, and trashy romance novels, and a body that floods your face with dopamine when tickled in just the right places.

Meanwhile, I'm a friggin' TREE and my entire job is to sit in this dumb cave by myself for the rest of eternity and direct you bozos around like a police dispatch for people's first-world problems. Do you know how dull this job is? Do you know how long it's been since I last got laid?!

Yeah, shut your face, you have no right to complain. Now scram, ya rascal, I'm gonna go watch my soaps. … Oh wait, I can't, because I'm a friggin' TREE.

Damn millennials, I swear. Entitled little shits, the lot of ya."

I like this, but for me, it hasn't got the punch of the original version. This version is 3 times as long, but it doesn't say 3 times as much. The original was focused on one important and powerful thing; this meanders, and Twilight's dialogue is telly, and I find myself skimming over the descriptions.


That reminds me:

I was going to link to the original in the story description. 'Cause, yeah, it's a different story in a lot of ways. :twilightblush:


7548195 It's a tree, Twilight's probably getting a facefull of tree lovin' just by being in the general location. :trollestia:


The ending man... the ending.

Someone give a call to the NASA cuz I think I'll need their help to retrieve my sides

Yet another example of how a blatant title can disguise a run of the mill story and get free views.

It's not bad, by any means, but it really doesn't say anything new or particularly interesting, and at times it reads more like comedy and less like SoL. In fact, this may be the one case where I'd have preferred something straight up silly, since the title certainly came across that way. At the same time, with the way "comedy" fics turn out on this site where every character is replaced with a comic relief version of themselves, perhaps we're better off with this.

You know, I could really buy the Tree just being vindictive.

In order to make sure Twilight stops Starlight Glimmer, that thing has to live through multiple apocalypses and watch pony society be radically and horrifically altered just so it can provide an anchoring point for her spell. And depending on how branching timelines work, the Tree might even now be forced to live through every single timeline forever until it's destroyed in every single one.

Even with full understanding of how necessary it is, the Tree would probably resent Twilight at least a little bit.

7548064 I think that you could make a strong case that "Twilight and Twilight at Twilight's Castle" was the map calling Twilight to deal with "The Friendship Games". The location of the portal to EQG Canterlot High is in the castle, after all, and thanks to the mid-credits scene we know it took place after/while Starlight broke the map, and we got to see the Two Twilights. So it fits the timing, circumstances and location.

Of course, that begs the question of what was supposed to happen differently that Twilight should be called to deal with it at all instead of just letting Sunset Shimmer find the solution. Either the Map doesn't know how these things are going to work out after all, or some other result was missed. The EQG film had a deleted ending where human-Twilight made friends with the Crystal Prep students, returned with them and presumbably started spreading friendship there. Maybe, from the tree's perspective, that was the "Best" ending... What actually occurred was only the acceptable resolution.

As for the other "missed" missions, one wonders if you would even be able to identify the problem if you investigated after the fact. Had Pinkie and Rarity never shown up, for instance, then it would have only seemingly meant that one restaurant closed and the others kept chasing Zesty's trends. Would that be something you could tell was supposed to have changed if you followed up months later?

this was supposed to be funny, not a sucker punch to the feels, like seriously, this is worse then weaponized cuteness.

Kind of my own sentiment. This reads like a joke that hasn't noticed it's funny yet.


Once again:

I regret majoring in humanities. 'Cause if I'd've known what a capacitor was before writing this story, I definitely would've had Twilight bring it up. :twilightsheepish:


The Tree explains itself: "It's not my fault the writers wrote themselves into 12 different corners with my concept! You want better? REHIRE LAUREN! Or maybe Martin Scorsese. Until then, go complain to Larson or something!"


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