• Member Since 4th May, 2013
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On the Sliding Scale Of Cynicism Vs. Idealism, I like to think of myself as being idyllically cynical. (Patreon, Ko-Fi.)


  • TNegative One
    Technically, the single mother goes on minus-one date per year. It helps her remember all the reasons why she'll never have another.
    Estee · 9.4k words  ·  193  9 · 1.7k views

It's only been a few moons since Spike moved to Ponyville, and the settled zone hasn't quite gotten used to having a dragon around, any more than his sister has become accustomed to managing all the duties of a small town library. So while she sorts out late fee notices, he's expected to work the front desk and speak to patrons. Ponies who don't know how to talk to him. Ponies who seem to be having a hard time even looking at him. So when Twilight finally sends him to collect a book from a truly unresponsive patron, it's almost a relief.

Except that the pony isn't there. Will never be there again.

And just about nopony seems to care if she was ever there at all.

(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 and Ko-Fi pages.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 130 )

...beautiful and bittersweet, evoking the kind of sadness that makes you smile more thereafter. Thank you, Estee, for this rare and touching story.

My face is wet. Why is my face wet? How dare you write a story that gets my face wet.


Stupid face, getting all wet. Stupid nose getting all runny.

Damn authors telling stories that give me these stupid feels...

Bravo. Encore.

I think your Spike is the best out of your characters. And considering how much depth you put into all the characters you make, that says a lot. I wonder what's going to happen to him n the future. You've hinted he isn't a normal Dragon... or is it just that Dragon magic is weird?

And I really like that you let him learn Aoratoss's name. Thank you.

This story made me feel. I felt strange combination of sadness, pity, sympathy, and even a little feel. Sometimes I worry about ending up like that-at the end of my life, with no friends, no family, no one to even remember me. And this story just captured that feeling perfectly.

Spike's narrative as he desperately tried to find out more about the Aoratoss was particularly engaging, and I followed him every step of the way. I also liked how you worked in Dulci into this and how she was the old mare's only friend at the end.

Also, your setting reminds me how much I genuinely want a villain or monstrous being like Tirek of Discord to rampage across Equestria, if for no other reason than when confronted with pony kind's relative cruelty towards nonponies, they can actually respond with a general theme of, "I don't care and there is nothing you can do to truly stop me." . I'm not saying your depictions of ponies is particularly negative-in fact, I think it's startlingly realistic and fits the tone of your setting overall, but damn if the casual callousness and xenophobia of your ponies piss me off every damn time.

Damn if reading everyone of your stories isn't an experience and journey in and of itself into this unique world.

At least the media wasn't involved in this.

This almost reads like the dark mirror to Cold in Gardez's "All the Mortal Remains."

Spike had a habit of checking the weather schedule, for Twilight often forget to do so when her obsessions began to take over, along with neglecting a host of other little things, like eating

Just started reading, noticed that.
Now back to the words...

I got one a few years ago, when I kept my license study books a little too long."

Could use some clarification.

It is difficult to make our their precise ages, Spike,

Think you meant "out"?

Effects machines got packed into crates. Costumes were placed in long bags, then hung on wheeled racks and pushed deep into the school's basements.

Effects is correct? It seems odd to my inner voice. As for the 's that can also be correct as well. Something that just made me stop for a moment. Not used to thinking of a building having multiple basements.

Let know somepony remembers.

Was it supposed to be "let her"?

The door behind them opened, and a snide mare face stuck itself through the gap.

mare's ?


Im going to fav this thing.
Too many emotions to do it justice in type.

Derpy/Dulci was just beautiful..

Really beautiful and haunting. I love seeing things from your Spike's point of view, and during this time period it's easy to see how far he and Twilight have both come in their developments and relationship by the time of Triptych. Sometimes it feels like you overemphasize their sibling relationship in the narration of the other stories, being sure to bring it up almost every time they are together, making the stark contrast here come out even more.

I really enjoy the way you can dive into a time period between the present and the start of the show and have the characters all feel very much like themselves but with that lack of development that would come later. Hopefully that sentence makes a little bit of sense. I'm not a writer. :twilightblush:

I loved the way you characterized Dulci. It wasn't the debut I was expecting but it fit brilliantly and she was just as rich and full of the just hidden depths you're famous for putting in your characters.

Your work is reliably unique, thought-provoking, and above all excellent. Once again, very well done.

Reminds me of the Beatles song Eleanor Rigby, the only decent song on the Abbey Road album.

Also, one of the few good Spike stories.

I hate reading good stories because it makes me want to make everything I write just as good...

Bravo my dude; I'll agree with most of the comments here, I felt a strange feeling of sad emptiness and engaging.

Well that made me have feels. Crap. It wasn't tear jerking levels. It was the level where you start getting contemplative. I really appreciate those views because they are usually ramped up to induce tears. This just made the feels and I liked it.

Always excited when I see a new story posted by you. Each and every one is a fun, unique, feel-filled experience. Thank you for being such an amazing writer and sharing your talent with us.

Side note: clever use of Aoratoss's name. These little gems you place in your stories elevates them, if possible, even further.

Just looking at the description, I think I've read this story before... like... almost the exact plot, about a year ago. Have you written a small summary or anything like that anywhere else? Either that or I'm remembering the future, or dreamed about the present, I don't know.

I guess I'll read the story to find out.

Can I tell the future? I dunno.


Oh you clever, clever minx.

I really quite enjoyed this. Rare these days to see a good reflection of S1 era Twi's relationship with Spike.

The first half reminded me a little of Gone Home, finding out about a character by exploring their setting. This was a really good read.


As always your Spike is as good as anyone else's I've read.

I truly hope you never write a story set during Twilight's days at the Academy. That seems like a dark time for everyone involved, with one notable, loathsome exception.

As for this story, magnificently done from start to finish. The journey was well-crafted, the emotions genuine, the names all too appropriate, and the added layer to Spike's character as unexpected as it was surprisingly appropriate. He could be seen as playing a part for a very unappreciative audience. And, of course, there's the parallel running between the shut-in who forgot how to get back out and the one who's only now remembering. Spike has all the more reason to look after his sister, not that he needed it.

And then there's the sense of alienation. If a zebra inspires town-clearing fear, then it's going to take quite some time for a dragon to even be recognized as sapient, especially when unsupervised. That led perfectly into the unexpected incorporation of somepony I'm always happy to see, even if this is one of her more put-upon instances. Not surprising; this is far from the nicest of Equestrias, and a pregnancy that young isn't likely to lead to a happy place. Still, she's making do. (Also, that's one more name for the list. Gandalf has nothing on her.) Having those two bond was a stroke of genius.

I can definitely see why you needed some mental decompression before putting this one together. Thank you for it.

And just about nopony seems to care if she was ever there at all.

Alone upon a hill sat the withered remains of one Lyra Heartstrings, and nopony could remember her because the gods in the ponyverse are totally F'd up in the head like Kim Jung Un.


Discord floats by this Ponyville, "My my, if the ponies in MY Equestria were this cold and callous... why, I'd have to truly increase the extent of my villainy to compensate... like so!"


He taps his chin, "I wonder what I'd look like on the world you humans inhabit if my actions and appearance were proportional to that of the overall negative traits of the world's inhabitants..."


"Oh... ewwww... I'll stay here, kay thanks."

There's a story by Cold in Gardez called "All the Mortal Remains" which covers a very similar subject: Twilight learning about the previous tenant of the tree library by finding an urn containing their ashes, and working backwards from there to piece their life together.

You might be thinking of that.

This story was just as good, hit a lot of the same beats with some added Spike introspection that I really enjoyed. Bravo, Estee.


7677525 In Zecora's case, it stemmed mainly from her living in the Everfree, something the ponies were absolutely terrified of and assume that everything which dwelt within had to be some sort of monster. Had they possessed a legitimate prejudice against her for what she was, it would not have been so immediately dispelled by a simple explanation by Twilight & Co.

There are many other sapient species who've shown up in Ponyville, some of whom one would naturally expect ponies to fear at an instinctive level. Everyone forgets that when Gilda appeared, nopony ran in panic.

Griffons in mythology, as one should be aware, have a noted fondness for horseflesh.

And so, we can deduce not only that griffons have been a very civil species in Equestria for such a long time that if they ever did prey upon ponies the memory of it has been lost to the ages, but that ponies are not as speciest as people tend to assume with their highly selective memories of Zecora's first episode. They overreact when a sense of fear strikes them, hence the panic over a bunny stampede, but few demonstrate anything resembling the hatred humanity frequently expresses for 'the other'. There is also the case of Iron Will, whom a large crowd of Ponyville ponies were loudly cheering during his seminar.

If ANY group from an Equestrian species has been shown to possess outright prejudice, it's a certain little cabal of teenaged dragons, which was reinforced by their second appearance in "Gauntlet of Fire".


I think your Spike is the best out of your characters.

What a sad waste of the author's talent.

Well, that was a jolly little piece. :pinkiesad2: All joking aside, powerful stuff.

(French-bashing? Now that's beneath you, Estee. :pinkiehappy: )


You've hinted he isn't a normal Dragon... or is it just that Dragon magic is weird?

Dragon magic is weird. Spike's training has also... attuned him to at least one slightly different channel. The rest of it may come.


The scene at the estate sale is based directly on something which happened to me. And some of the people who attend estate sales as a matter of habit aren't... nice. It's a little like a cameraless version of Storage Wars: there are those who care about the history of the things they find -- and there are professional vultures who pick over dead bodies for profit.

The @#$% dog was real, and woven into the shape of a Scottie.

(The blog post also predates All The Mortal Remains by a couple of months. Once again, we all tap the same river.)


And so, we can deduce not only that griffons have been a very civil species in Equestria for such a long time that if they ever did prey upon ponies the memory of it has been lost to the ages, but that ponies are not as speciest as people tend to assume with their highly selective memories of Zecora's first episode. They overreact when a sense of fear strikes them, hence the panic over a bunny stampede, but few demonstrate anything resembling the hatred humanity frequently expresses for 'the other'. There is also the case of Iron Will, whom a large crowd of Ponyville ponies were loudly cheering during his seminar.

Locally, minotaurs are the oldest pony allies: they've been watching each other's backs since the moment their respective nations were founded. Mazein has a notable pony minority, while Equestria has a much smaller number of minotaur citizens and resident aliens -- but they don't exactly stand apart, with the exception of their construction habits: asking a minotaur to move into a pony-proportioned structure will send the majority in search of the nearest building supply shop. Some ponies are bigoted against minotaurs, but it's mostly the ones who hate everything which isn't a pony. For the most part, the species get along, although each finds the other a little hard to get used to -- with a lot of that based simply in anatomy.

Griffons are a little chancier. A society based on dominance chains is going to get into the occasional war, and some of those have been with Equestria. At least one was an all-out assault. Right now, the two nations have been at peace for a bit over two centuries: Celestia would describe the relationship as friends who don't fully understand each other and sometimes get into arguments because someone takes things the wrong way. (The universal griffon habit of spending their first week in a new place challenging everything around them in order to sort out the local chain and the placement of their own link within it... that doesn't exactly help.) There are eternal rumors spread by bigots about griffons who deliberately murder ponies for their meat, but nopony's found a true violation of the Treaty Of Menagerie for centuries, and just about everypony ignores the lies.

Overall, Equestria's griffon population is rather small and mostly concentrated in a few of the larger cities, plus one small settled zone with a surprising degree of mixing. Protocera's pony population is significant, as griffons make raising lost children into a cultural imperative -- including the children of fallen enemies, who generally grow up to think of themselves as griffons. And a new griffon arrival in Equestria, at least from Day #8 on, could be seen as something similar to a young German tourist in Israel: it was a long time ago, and very few will hold the sins of the dead against the living -- but there will always be a few.

(There's also a light touch of semi-false predator-prey instinctive conflict lurking under the surface a lot of the time: many ponies are nervous around meat-eaters and griffons see herbivorism as the weak path -- while mostly being very aware that ponies, if viewed as a prey species, tend to be the kind of prey which has taken out most of the predators. But the fact that your average griffon has grown up around and with ponies helps a lot -- when dealing with pony Protocerans. Equestrians get the shorter end of the stick.)

Griffon-pony marriages exist, but are extraordinarily rare in Equestria: a number of both try things out during experimental phases, and that's generally where it ends. Minotaur-pony relationships are generally friendships, but there's been a few I-dare-you dates over the centuries, and some of those blossom into a platonic sort of love: it's almost impossible to find members of the species who are genuinely attracted to each other -- but a number of couples have simply chosen to live with their best friends for a while, or at least keep the homes of the ultimate two couples permanently attached. A truly caring minotaur will add to or rework the house of their Ancients, just in case their afterlife gets a pony guest. It's a great honor, although making a structure suitable for both species tends to wreak havoc on the miniature architecture.


Alienation is one of Spike's constant background themes in the 'verse. And he is accepted in Ponyville by the majority -- in time. The growth incident was something of a setback. (You can sort of picture Roseluck screaming in the background of that chaos: "I was right! This time, I was right!")

The link between Aoratoss and Twilight, having Spike see the former as a path just barely missed... that was in the story from the start. I'm just glad I was able to make some part of it visible.

And yes, this finally brings Dulci/Insert Any Other Name Here into the 'verse. (There should be more about this in a blog post sometime in the next few days.) But I'll admit this freely: she basically pushed her way in. I knew Spike had to talk to somepony about it all towards the end. It wouldn't be Twilight. Rarity is the easy way out. He doesn't have any real pony connections outside the Bearers at this point on the timeline. But I already knew I had the vouchers, and where there's mail...

In a way, she put her hoof down and firmly said "Now." I just decided to listen.


French-bashing? Now that's beneath you, Estee.

I'm not making any promises here, but... there's at least a chance we could get to Prance one day.

I'll take it as a challenge to see how many paragraphs it'll require before everypony's begging to leave.


I think your Spike is the best out of your characters.

What a sad waste of the author's talent.

So... how exactly does someone go about wasting nothing...?

This lives up to its "Sad" tag, but never in a gratuitous way, and ends with a strong hopeful note. Your Equestria is not the nicest of places, but it has some good moments, and some good people -- ponies and otherwise -- in it.

The way I took that, he got some late notices when he was studying to get his license (to be a broker, apparently) using library books.

Sometimes, you find a gem, a story, so much of a cut above of those that are a cut above the rest it's beautiful. Truly, one of the greatest short stories I have ever read, up there in the same band as A World Without Kindness by billymorph.
Thank you for the wonderful read.

Woah. Spike's POV is really sad, but intelligent and philosophical and stuff!

Spike likes Sailing! ... Harsher in Hindsight or something for PPOV 'cause Sailing!

Atleast he gets to participate in a play for Hearthswarming!

Aoratoss... What does it mean? Do Mayor Mare and Rarity know her name now? What about Twilight? Need Epilogue to tie off those threads? Or not... :shrug:

Edit: Defined: [[spoiler: αόρατος, [[note]]Pronounced Aóratoss[[/note]] Greek for [[MeaningfulName invisible]].]]

... What kind of parent names their kid that??!?

Will this tie into the other Mazein threads?

Dulcinea = Sweetness! ... What does her Cutie Mark mean?!?!? ... Also, I've heard that before... ... She can get a Mazein cookbook from Twilight!

Does Pinkie know Dulcinea's name?

:fluttercry: That was so sad!!!!! Good story! But SAD!!!!

A sad tale that touches the heart.

That was a good day to spend my morning, now to study for my quiz in an hour and a half. i need to stop


There are eternal rumors spread by bigots about griffons who deliberately murder ponies for their meat, but

I happen to have photographic proof that some griffons swallow ponies alive!

Ok... it's actually drawings... but since it's a cartoon it's the closest I've got to photography! And besides, if the ponies took a picture of anything, it'd look like a drawing anyway since they're all drawings... and so is the camera... so would the resulting image be a stick figure?

I need to ask Gumball about how cartoon physics like that work.

*Gumball is asked, and his mind breaks from the existential trauma... again.*



What kind of parent names their kid that??!?

The same sort of parents that name their kid Blanket.



I cried a full 2 minutes after raeding halfway through...:fluttercry:I need a hug....

I can see that you needed a break before you wrote this :fluttercry: This may have been too much for me.

Uuugh. I wasn't ready for this. I wasn't really in the MOOD for this. But I read it anyway. And I learned what was I going to put myself through. But it was too beatiful, and I kept reading. And I was impressed. And sad. And hopeful. And SAD. I guess this is the kind of stories that keeps me on the internet, in the fandom, despite my lack of interest in the source material itself.

Thank you for this story. Thank you so much.
But also screw you.

Sorry, I just really wasn't ready for this.

7677718 She was a fantastic choice. I'd have gone the other way, with Snowflake/Bulk Biceps. But Dulci worked better in this case.


Thank you so much.

But also screw you.

"Using no more than eight words, summarize the entire Triptych Continuum."

Still FIMFic's all-time leader in being praised with faint damns.

Thank you for a wonderful story. It's amazing how your Equestria can be both dark and heartwarming at the same time. I loved your peek into Spike's life and psyche, with the added tidbits regarding Twilight and Dulcinea.

There is however one rather glaring plot hole: Spike should already know Aoratoss' name from her library card. Dulci even confirms that the card is in her name.


*nods* It's a question of Spike wanting to do things on his own, without getting the library (and by very close extension, Twilight) involved. It's his quest, and so checking the library's records is something he deliberately (if unknowingly) doesn't think of. He also just wanted to get out of the tree at that point, period.

The subconscious isn't always a cruel master, but it has a bad habit of redirecting the work crew.

ETA: As for the paperwork he was carrying, all Twilight put on the form letter was the book's title, original due date, and current fine. It's one of those "Dear Patron," things, and Twilight's not at the point where she's ready to be more personal than that. Give Spike the address and a map, then send him on his way.

Beautiful story as always, Estee. I probably shouldn't have been reading it at lunch in a restaurant as I had to control my tears, but anyway...

For whatever reason, when Spike is ruminating on the "recent" development of photography,

He'd searched for pictures, of dragon children, teens and tweens. There had been a very few, mostly drawings and paintings: photography had only been invented within the two generations without a dragon citizen of Equestria. He'd looked at those images for hours, and no amount of time had turned them into anything more than pictures.

I had to go to A Total Eclipse of the Fun to check on what was said when Luna asks Celestia about a picture of the original Bearers:

"I should have asked when I returned, but it had been so long and paper does not last..." Softly, with just the faintest trace of hope, "Do you still have the picture?"
"Luna -- you don't want to know how many spells I invented to make sure I still had that picture." With the last of the tears for the night, "I should have told you... right after you returned, I should have shown it to you..."

I had always taken the scene in ATEotF to refer to a photograph (there have been other 'fics where photography is old enough that Luna recalls it), but based on this work, that isn't the case. If it doesn't spoil anything, what is the form of the picture from ATEotF?


It's a drawing.

Fantastically well done, thank you for your good work!

Also, the penny just dropped about Aoratoss - very, very clever. If not for a stroke of blind luck I might never have realized that. These are the hidden gems that keep me coming back!


Ah. And now my mental image of the scene can shift to a more correct version. Thank you. :)

He reached down to pick it up, and a claw snagged into one of the intricate loops near the neck. Spike pulled his hand back, trying to free it.

And then he was sitting on the carpet, within the stained area, staring at the reflection of dusty light off liquor bottle glass.

His eyes involuntarily moved to the yarn head, still hanging from one claw. Back to the bottle which had been concealed inside the toy.

He felt his mouth open. Felt something very close to a scream starting to rise --

-- his hand whipped to the side, and the dog's head flew into the loom. He scooted backwards, moving without ever getting up, kicked the door shut, and sat in the empty, too-narrow hallway, breathing far too fast. And he didn't know why.


"When it happens to you," Spike softly said, "it'll be a tenth-bit for your whole life, every last piece of it put together. And there won't be anypony who wants to pay."

The silence didn't last long, and it didn't last long enough for Spike to fully exit. He was nearly at the door when he heard "DRAGON? Idiot Equestrians are using dragons to try and get their stupid --"

Spike turned his head, just for a second. Quiet abruptly returned.

"I'm sorry," the stallion said. "Please pass that on to the librarian."

I think my heart just stopped.

“Like almost all of your other stories, Unnoticed made me feel sad, and empty. I always get the feeling that I'm losing something whenever I read something you've written, and it hurts.”

I was stuck with this until 5:40 in the morning, with vague notions on what to add, and even vaguer notions on how to write it. I kept refreshing the page, staring at the screen, waiting for...Something, and I only stopped because I crashed from lack of sleep.

I have spent hours trying to complete this comment in an eloquent and insightful manner, and I now realize that the only way I'm going to get my feelings for the story out is to give up on trying to make it perfect, and just write what I want to write.

I like this story. It makes me think of my dad. That depresses me. I read it late at night, and I think that's the reason why the first part of this comment looks sort of emo. What happened to Aoratoss speaks to me in a way that scares me, and I don't know how to deal with that. Estate sales sound horrible, and if I was ever involved with one, I'd be numb with rage. I'm sorry that happened to you. I think the best parts of the story were when Spike met Filthy Rich, Marigold Mare, and especially Dulcinea. Your verse's iteration of the Bright Eyed Mare feels fresh and unique, and I'm excited for wherever you'll take her character.

This story was saddening, painful, tragic, depressing, and so truly, amazingly hopeful. Estee, thank you for making me love the Triptych Continuum. I hope I'll be able to comment on many, many more of your stories in the years to come.


Basically a way to hide the bottle: age of the user wasn't a factor. Concealing alcohol becomes a tradition in just about any culture which winds up with it. A quick search engine run will reveal bottles shaped like sunscreen containers, shampoo holders, ice packs...

Interesting that you'd invoke Cervantes when naming Grey Pegasus Usually Identified By A Pictograph. A name alluding to unrequited love fits the character to a T.

7678612 *BANG**looks down at where hearts supposed to be* hearts gone

7677620 Don't be ridiculous . Spike may be a supporting charator in the show, but anyone and anything can be used to make a great story in the hands of a good writer. If enough effort and talent is sunk into something, then it's impossible for you to waste your time. At the very least you'll learn something from your failure.

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