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Novel-Idea


"Do it right and do it with style." - Author, Designer & Project Lead of the story-driven DLC Gardens of Equestria: This Coming Storm - (Patreon)


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  Somepony has raided the border of the desolate Badlands, abducting every musician, singer and bard in the realm. Now, four brave adventurers will journey to the depths of this forsaken land to seek the meaning behind these strange disappearances.
  ...assuming Sunset doesn't strangle Minuette, Lemon Hearts or Twinkleshine in the real world first.


Featured on FimFiction multiple times in January and February of 2017! :pinkiegasp:
Featured as a sequel on EquestriaDaily!


Historian’s Note:
Set in the Wavelengths timeline where the Sonic Rainboom didn’t happen, Bards of the Badlands occur about two months after the events in The Alchemy of Chemistry during the summer after Sunset’s first term as an aide at Gifted Unicorns.

Cast: Sunset Shimmer, Minuette, Lemon Hearts & Twinkleshine.


Stories set in the Wavelengths Timeline in chronological order:

Origins Arc
The Alchemy of Chemistry
Bards of the Badlands
Grading on a Bell Curve
Habits of the Equestrian Phoenix
How Not To Use Your Royal Prerogative

Applications Arc
The Application of Unified Harmony Magics
Princess Celestia: A Brief History
The Cloudsdale Report

Infatuations and Other Lies Arc
Tactics of Snowbound Unicorns
A Study in Chaos Theory (Coming Soon!)


Cover Design by Novel Idea
Sunset Shimmer Cutie Mark By Millennial Dan
Dawn Break component of Garnet’s Cutie Mark by Sankam
Garnet Gem component of Garnet’s Cutie Mark by zutheskunk
Epic Hydra Artwork by Zilvart

Special Thanks
Roll For Initiative by Prak - A big part of the inspiration for this tale. Go read it. It's hysterical.

Beta Reader & Editor Credits
Ebon Quill - Quest Designer & Worldbuilding Writer on The Manehattan Project
Little Tinker - Master of Systems at Poniverse & Scripting Engineer on The Manehattan Project
Beltorn - Commenter-at-Large on FimFiction
Painted Heart - Wife of the Author :ajsmug:

Word Count: 28,500
Version: 7.0

Chapters (7)
Comments ( 140 )

OH COME ON! Another great fic to read, just as Dresden Fillies updates, and I'm in the middle of Sunset of Time.... which am I supposed to take care of first?

Well, now! What did we have here? Oh yes, I'm looking for to this....

More Novel-Idea, on MY fimfic? This is grounds for celebration :pinkiehappy:

Looking forward to seeing where you take this, it already has a good start :twilightsmile:

Aw, Sunny is going to get more friends now, even if she's going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming into friendship. That's the Princess for you. :trollestia: I only know a little bit about tabletop games, but considering how... chaotic they can get sometimes (even just with writing a character sheet), combined with Sunset's past... history with them, this is not going to go smoothly. I hope Sunset doesn't have anything too valuable or fragile in her room, considering how many unicorns are in the room.

I'm looking forward to reading another one of your stories of course, but I'm also curious if this fic will cover how this group shifted from Twilight to Sunset.

Well now. This is certainly sounding interesting, especially if the interludes with Garnet are what I think they are. Though I have to wonder where Twilight was in this. Did Minuette just not conscript her, or was she able to avoid the timely maniac somehow? (And if so, will she ever be able to teach Sunset? :raritywink:)

Looking forward to more.

Be glad Minuette doesn't know the Doom song, Sunset...:pinkiecrazy:

Nice start; definitely watching this addition to your 'verse.

7872464 This is set before "The Application of Unified Harmony Magics", so no Twilight yet.

7872705
Yes, but it is during the period when Sunset accidentally stole Twilight's friends. I can't help but wonder what she was doing as they left her.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how you all enjoy Novel's story. As the occasional D&D player and long-time member of a weekly tabletop gang, I can honestly say that I had a lot of fun with this setting and narrative.
Although not as much fun as a certain other member of the editing staff who shall remain nameless :pinkiehappy:

In "The Alchemy of Chemistry" Celestia said she didn't enjoy tomenting ponies and/or Sunset Shimmer. To me that seems to be the biggest lie ever told :ajbemused:

Also, I am still surprised that the Celestia is putting that much effort in "helping" Sunset to make friends. In the "Canon" timeline she just let "destiny" take it's course or some other bullshit. Why she didn't torture/trolled Twilight as well?

Hello there. Not much I can say other than excellent start to this story. The exchanges, emotional content, humor and future chapter set-up in all the right places. I particularly like the effort that is going into Sunset's character development. And hey, at least Celestia and Moonie know better than to let Sunset stew around being lonely, even if it means introducing her to somebody who is only marginally saner than canon Pinkie Pie (marginally saner because, at least, she doesn't have the cartoon psychics stuff or the fourth wall jokes) . I'll definitely be looking forward to more of this as soon as time and inspiration will allow.

Incoming massive comment spanning the entire chapter. Because putting a warning at the beginning of the comment totally makes it okay to do whatever was warned about!

But it is, perhaps, a beginning.

Because it couldn't be the beginning. There is no beginning to the wh--
*COUGH*COUGH*

Excuse me.

She had decided giving a voice inside her head an actual name was a surefire way to end up in a straightjacket.

Not if you name it "id"! Then people just think you want to bang your mom.
HEYOOO!
Did I already use that joke on one of your stories? Sunset talks to herself a lot.

Sunset poked at a crumpled scroll. It rolled away until it stopped against one of the dozens of stacks of books scattered throughout her living room.

That is an impressively spherical crumpled scroll. Or Sunset hit it harder than a poke.

With that, she shoved the angry little pony into a cage at the back of her mind.

Does that work for you? Cuz it never works for me.

Didn’t I just lock you up? Sunset demanded.

Ah, good. Er. Not good...

She was a sorceress, gifted in the ability to guide the Wild Magic of the world.

F*** YEAH.
Although I suppose that kind of in-character boast loses some of it's...magic... when you are actually a powerful sorceress for-realzies.

“Any other foalish questions?”
“No, ma’am!”

Heh, I love playing illusionists. (At least I think that is what the "hawk" line meant) I can act as absurdly confident and powerful as I want, and then use some illusions to trick some people into actually believing me. As long as you have some actual firepower to back some of your claims up.

Sunset had a new respect for the Princess’s diplomatic skills. Especially the skills that didn’t use words.

This is what I call Dragon Diplomacy. According to the GM I was with, even if you are perfectly calm when speaking, promises that just happen to involve extreme bodily harm are still considered "threats". Which fall under the Intimidate skill. If I had known that, I wouldn't have put points in diplomacy! Nobody tells me these things.

You may be surprised what unexpected events can teach you.

In all fairness, nothing in this explicitly says that the event that is about to happen is unexpected.

As much as an inanimate object that had no physical similarity to a pony could look smug.

...And the moment Sunset left the room, Celestia cut off the transformation spell on herself, disguising her as a journal. And she looked very smug. Sunset was right. After all, she had recently had quite a bit of practice reading the princess.

After all, even if this was a bad idea, making a proper entrance was always a good idea.

yes

Sunset froze a second before pulling open the door when she heard the cry from outside.
“What?! Why?!”
She knew the voice, but couldn’t quite place it. However, she did recognize the next voice.
“Short answer, because it’s the right thing to do.”
Sunset threw open the door and stared at the grinning face of the blue unicorn with a white and navy mane and tail.

I was still reading this as if it were part of the O&O story part, and my first thoughts were "Okay, guys, Sunset gets a pass for being new to this, but you all really should not still be making characters that look identical to yourselves." And then I realized this was real. And it made sense.

“Now, are you gonna let us in, or am I going to have to get creative?
Now that sounded ominous.

See? Would that be intimidation, or diplomacy?
Also missing end quote after creative.

Minuette didn’t seem the type to pull something like this on her own.

She doesn't? She doesn't seem to be the kind to lie about it, but I could certainly see her doing it without a divine mandate.

Let the madness begi--er... continue!

Also didn't realize just how big this comment was until I hit the preview button. Are you cool with me posting this massive thing here, or shall I tone it down for the next chapters?

7872306 Now that's a hard question. I'd say mine first because it's short, then focus on Sunset of Time, because at a certain point of Sunset of Time, you won't be able to stop (I stayed up until past 1AM to finish the story once I reached the point of no return, though I can't remember where that was at the moment.).

7872348 :scootangel:

7872374 :yay: I accept celebrations as tribute. :yay: Though I be confused by "the MY FimFic" bit, so I'll assume that means your feed and I'm just too zonked to get it at the moment.

7872407 Don't worry. There's a Roomba MacGuffin there somewhere if anything gets too badly damaged. (And yes, she is getting dragged in kicking and screaming. Except this time, she's not the only one. :moustache:)

7872476 Is that the one that goes DOOM DOOM DOOM DOOM DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMM?

7872407; 7872464; 7872705; 7872726 Twilight will be touched on, but only briefly.

7872809 I'll admit to everyone right now that I've actually only played one D&D game in my life... the one I'm in now that's been going on for about six months. However, I've done roleplaying for decades. Not quite the same thing... but I like to think I'm a quick study. :twilightsmile:

7873544 She doesn't have Fourth Wall Powers as far as you know.

7873871

Do it, please, please, please! I've always wanted someone to do a blow-by-blow follow-up of one of my stories! This is the GREATEST THING EVER. :rainbowlaugh: Go totally nuts with it. I've done this with other's stories and I've dreamed of the day I might get something similar! (Hell, my follow-up for Sunset of Time was 10,000 words). :yay::pinkiehappy::raritystarry::twilightsmile:

7875360

And celebrations you will get! As long as you keep updating, that is :ajsmug:

As for the "MY fimfic" thing, it's a goof on the clickbait ads that used to show up on some websites. The whole "something something in MY computer? It's more likely than you think!"

Don't put too much thought into it, I was just being a dork :twilightblush:

7875360
My comments are far from intellectual, (at least in a helpful or intuitive sense) so "follow-up" is not how I would describe a compilation of them. Most of the time they are silly and inappropriate. But hopefully it will be entertaining, if not enlightening!

Now the problem is just shifting different mental models of Sunset to the forefront of my mind every time I read another chapter of a different story. Currently reading Sunny, Moonie, and Twily. And reading the Group Precipitation part of the Oversaturated world. I really ought to pick Long Road to Friendship back up. Also had Sunset of Time on my read later list for a while. I want to say "Too many Sunsets", but that doesn't seem like a sentiment you'd agree with, or that I myself hold. :pinkiecrazy:

7875360 That's the one, it's about 6 months long ; episode 1 of Invader Zim...:facehoof:

7875400 Don't worry. The story's actually done, it's just in the final polishing phase. Next one comes out next Monday! And ah... that makes a bit more sense now.

As for the last bit... we're all mad here. :pinkiecrazy:

7875606 Then you have yet to read an Equestria Daily episode followup. My follow-ups are usually goofy shout outs to my favorite lines, reaction bits and other amusing anecdotes. They actually do serve an important purpose: it leads the author know if the comedy beats worked right and the emotional beats worked right.

But I'm good with you just amusing me as well.

And see? That's why I tend to focus on my stories. Since I started writing, I haven't done nearly as many follow-ups and I found myself avoiding other Sunset stories so I can keep my Sunset and company straight in my head. And Long Road and Sunset of Time were major inspirations for me... so yeah, you're going to want to read those. Long Road will make you grin like an idiot for at least a day or two, Sunset of Time will make you sob your eyes out while loving every tear. At least it did for me. :twilightoops:

So, yes, I can see too many Sunsets. But I'm also running SunLight Sliders, working on a story about seven years ahead of this one, preparing to edit a story four years ahead of this one and working on a completely different Sunset set after Legend of Everfree in the EqG universe.

...so I don't get to judge ANYPONY. :scootangel:

7875861 That's funny, because I never saw that. I was thinking of the song that came from the Sir Apropos of Nothing book series by Peter David. But parallel evolution and all that. :pinkiehappy:

I do like seeing the broad spectrum of reactions to Sunset dragging herself back up the slippery slope. Including the ones from Sunset herself. I just hope the session doesn't devolve into PvP too quickly.

Ah, tabletop roleplaying games. Nothing brings friends together, or tears them apart, quite like 'em. Only one question remains: if Sunset is Garnet and Lemon Hearts is the bat pony, who are the deer and the pegasus out of Minuette and Twinkleshine?

Too bad Sunset can't play three characters, she would be really good at it (one mean, one nice, and one stuck in between). Its sad how being nice is still such a.... foreign concept to Sunset, but at least she's getting there gradually.

Sunset's always been good at understanding how ponies think (she would have to be to be so manipulative) now to see if she can use that talent for something more... benign. And is that swear jar money set aside for anything in particular (like Celestia's extra cake budget)? Or just extra money for Sunset someday once she understands friendship.

Sometimes two mares just need to come to actual blows before becoming friends. example sunset and rainbow fought one another in the story the long road to friendship.

Not much I can say other than darn good job on this latest chapter. I particularly like the compare/contrast with the game world and the real world as well as Sunset's inner arguments and semi-reluctant bonding with her future friends. All in all, some very entertaining stuff and I will most certainly be looking forward to more.

7891105 Guh. I hate PVP. Reminds me of my leveling days on Destromath... :pinkiesick:

7891133 All shall be revealed! :moustache:

7891608 Ayep. I should have made that connection earlier...

“Pinkie rolled her eyes like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Because, Sunset is—or was—the bully, and Rainbow is the jock. Everyone knows if they aren’t working together already, the only way for them to be friends and gain each other’s respect is to fight in a one-on-one fisticuffs, duh.”

Now here's the question... are they going to need to go that far? Will they even make it that far? Will this actually get a resolution?

:trollestia:

“Nope!” Sunset squeaked and coughed a few times. “Not at all. I’ll handle everything.”

So, in other words... I've got this?

“Listen now, ya got a pretty mane.” The unicorn had gotten off his stool and was now wandering in her general direction. “Reminds me of an ol’ flame. I really liked her mane.

*Snerk*

7904639 Well, a little of that and a little of "I can handle anything" from another story I may have written...

And finally someone called me on that mane line! :scootangel:

Oh, right. That. :twilightblush: :facehoof: :raritydespair:

Never expected Sunset to be such a O&O nerd, especially given her solitary nature. I only have a minor interest in RPGs, sometimes I collect books just for the lore and artwork, though I would try to play if there was a game shop nearby (and I had the time for sessions).

Curious to see how in and out of character they can maintain, between Lemon Heart's hostility, Sunset's awkwardness and Minuette's overwhelming personality. I wonder if Garnet's backstory is something Sunset expected might happen to her someday.

Well, that's my question from last chapter answered lol. Also nice to hear about Gaffer and the rest of Shining Armor's life as a Massive Nerd. That one, I think, is one of the better comics...

I think it's obvious that Minuette is Laughter, and I'd probably put Moon Dancer as Loyalty. Any guesses on the others?

All those references and double meanings. This is the best.

!!!

What the heck! This has been here for a week!?!

Why didn't I see this on my feed!?!

Fine. I'll just do it now.

However, most taverns’ rafters shook with some terrible bard belting out songs that no sober pony would ever want to hear.

Trying to think of a pun about how barding is hard, even if they get to sit around on flanks all day. But I just can't word it correctly.

We went through this a few months ago, Sunset, the voice sighed, though she noticed it was without the annoyance and ever-growing anger that other part of her showed. We’re all you. If you really want to talk to her though…

When one of your inner voices gains very strong tonality, the ability to sigh, and threatens you with allowing another inner voice to come out and talk, you should really have yourself checked for mental magic.

It’s no picnic for me, either. The conversation’s so… one-sided.

pinkie.mylittlefacewhen.com/media/f/img/mlfw11065-rdeye1.gif

Because bigger groups always make O&O more fun!

Not always true, but anyone who can make puns like that one earlier would be welcome in my group.

Without thinking about it, Sunset’s horn flared and she appeared in a flash on the other side of Minuette. She wobbled a little before catching herself as Minuette spun to face her.
“You could have just asked me to move,” Minuette pointed out, her endless cheer dimming just a bit. “Just saying.”
“Didn’t want to be a bother!” Sunset replied with a grin, blinking a few times to clear the spots from her eyes. “Just… go on downstairs. I’ll be down in a bit.”

Look, Sunset, if you burn your finite-use-per-day or exhaustion-causing abilities doing things that could just as easily have been done non-magically, you aren't going to do very well in O&O. I speak from experience.

I really liked her mane.

Heh. I wrote a stupid 5 minute story a long time ago with that as the punchline. Such a good bad line.

What in the world could have brought a deer out of her forests into pony lands?

I dunno, but if it pulls out two scimitars and starts casting some stupid powerful spells that definitely shouldn't be racial abilities, Imma call horsefeathers.

It took every ounce of self-control not to burn the offending hoof into ashes.

BAR FIGHT! No, wait, do you have any compulsion spells you can cast subtly? Or at least subtle enough not to be noticed by the drunk?...So I guess they don't need to be subtle at all... I've seen some pretty effective one-word commands from clerics, but I've always wanted to command someone to "defecate". I never play clerics or paladins, tho. Heals and support really aren't my thing, and I'd die before I play a lawful good character.

There were a thousand and one things she could do to the idiot. She could unleash the fury of Chaos on the helpless oaf. Burn off his mane. Transfigure him into a rabbit. Have him doing the foxtrot for the next three days straight. Go confess his undying love to the closest rat king. But in the end, that was the same sort of thing that had forced her to this Goddess-forsaken place.

What? Polymorph? Wait, does she have Geas? Or Suggestion? Shit, if she has Geas... even Polymorph... What the heck level did they start Sunny out on?

Garnet checked the mug for any sort of taint, found nothing and took a pull.

Excellent. It's not paranoia if there really is a monolithic embodiment of pure evil out to get you. (The DM. Or is that the OM?)

dire dust bunny

If I ever DM another game, this is going in it. Special ability: aura that causes sneezing, afflicted creature must use their minor/bonus action to sneeze. Also they regenerate in dusty environments.

“What…” Sunset managed to finally say as she wandered down the stairs, trying to look everywhere at once. “What… what are you doing?”
Minuette looked up at her with a smile. “Why, setting things up, of course! Being helpful! That’s what friends do!”
“She keeps using that word,” Lemon Hearts grumbled. “I do not think it means what she thinks it means.”

Sunset finds this turn of events... unimaginable.

Sunny. Twitch
I twitch along with her every time. And I call her that too.

“She does… exaggerate sometimes.”

"Unfortunately, not this time. You know the Elder Swear?"
"I remember that! That went around the whole school! I memorized the whole thing! Your mother is a—"
"YES. That one. I... uh... I was the one who made it up... I owed her swear jar a ridiculous amount of money, but that swear got so popular, I got rich off of royalties... and had to immediately put all that money into the swear...room."

Welp. I was entertained. Be back later for next chapter. Still want to see Sunny *Twitch* do one of those things she talked about. Mainly the Geas/Suggestion one. Tho the toad one sounds funny also. No, wait! Make him a slug, find someplace no one will come for the duration of the spell, then pour a ring of salt around him.

I'm a terrible person. And it comes out very strongly in the actions of the characters I role-play.

I think some of the separators should have shown Garnet's Cutie Mark instead of Sunset's. It was kind of confusing at times. Otherwise, great story thus far and I am looking forward to the next chapter.

And since you returned to publishing more than one chapter per week, I can finally go back to reading the new chapters right when they release. Yay! :twilightsheepish:

7909506 GAH! Thank you for letting me know. I fixed the problem. Copy and paste is my ancient enemy. :twilightoops:

Ah, Sunset's lottery ticket.

Most people, you know, don't buy a lottery ticket thinking, "This time, it's going to be winner. No, no, this time it's going to be a winner." We know what the odds of winning actually are. But it's nice sometimes to hold that ticket in your hand, and look at it, and say to yourself, "What if?"

O&O books are the same for Sunset. She never expects anyone will ever play with her, but she liked to put them on her shelf, look at them and say to herself, "What if?"

LOL! Excellent chapter. Once again, the interactions in both the game world and the real world are superb and yeah, Sunset having a character that well thought out because, even though she likes the game, she never thought she would get anybody to play with is a beautiful detail. I also really liked the nod to the comics AND the picture cameo of Trixie. At any rate, I will most assuredly be looking forward to the next chapter.

Sadly, my usual group hasn't been able to get a session going for quite some time, so I can definitely understand Sunset acquiring sourcebooks for a game she never expected to play. Granted, her reasons are going to be different than mine.

As for Lemon Hearts, in or out of character, she needs to give a little or the adventure will never start.

Ah, so that's what Minuette's talent is. Just hope its not used as a convenient plot device (or at least not too often, just like how Pinkie sense doesn't come into play when things are serious much). Nothing like a good role-playing session to distract people, er, ponies. I'm curious to see what exactly Minuette is waiting for, or now that things have settled down a bit if its already happened. Then again, we still have to find out just what Sunset did to mess up Lemon Hearts' relationship. Looking forward to their continuing journey, Sunset will get the hang of this friendship thing eventually (or she might go totally insane first).

Friendship is a strange and wondrous thing, eh, Sunset? To say nothing of the catharsis that comes from laying the smackdown on a bunch of imaginary mercenaries.

I'm digging these speedy updates, here.

Going to guess... Sunset is Magic, Minuette is Laughter, Twinkleshine is Kindness, Lyra is Generosity, Moondancer is Loyalty, and Lemon Hearts is Honesty (or- plot twist! She isn't one at all).

AAARRRRG IT HAPPENED AGAIN!

“I thought you’d be taller,”

Reply with "I didn't think you'd be this cute." They will probably be speechless for at least a couple of seconds, which is a win in a battle of wits.

She kept most of her body wrapped in soft shimmering silverglass, but there was no missing the two antlers, each carved with holy runes Garnet had only seen a few times in her life.

...Cleric?

she also wore some sort of mechanical or arcane contraption

Er... A magic crossbow? A gunslinger?... I dunno.

She’s a sorceress.

HELL YEAH! I always imagined I'd play as a wizard in D&D. And then I saw how ridiculously restrictive the 'prep all spells ahead of time' is for a character that is supposed to be able to solve tons of problems with their extremely wide array of spells. The sorcerers were like, 'If you want to have the same powerset at all times, if somewhat limited, and you want to be able to do things other than roll for knowledge, go here'. Also burning everything is way more in-character for a sorcerer than a hyper-intelligent wizard. Not that I would burn everything just because I had burning hands as an at-will...

The pegasus slid a letter with a broken familiar-looking seal. Garnet’s heart froze when she saw it… only to have it take a little leap of joy a moment later.

The parallels are kinda fun. Also I totally imagined the seal being this: --> :trollestia: <-- instead of Celestia's cutie mark.

With a flourish of magic, Minuette produced a familiar sheet of paper. “Through the magic of friendship!”
“No way,” Sunset murmured. “She wouldn’t.”
Minuette nodded, her eyebrows dancing a little jig.
“I trusted her!” Sunset cried. “How could she?”

Ohh... That's... I don't know how I feel about that.

Ah, okay, well, at least it wasn't directly Celestia's fault.

… or yet another batpony.”
“Hey!” Lemon Hearts cried. “I love my batpony!”
“We know,” Minuette and Twinkleshine said together.

How I imagine everyone is going to be talking about Twi if she ever started regularly playing with them.
"...or yet another highly-intelligent lawful good wizard librarian."
*Twilight sits blissfully unaware that this was a jab at her character. And her character.*

“She’s the GM,” Twinkleshine said with a tiny shrug. “And there’s an old saying: ‘When the GM smiles, it’s already too late.’”
“Minuette is always smiling,” Sunset said.
“We know,” Twinkleshine said with a resigned sigh.

"Well there's a DM smile and the regular smile."
"How do you tell the difference?"
"You usually can't. Not until the rocks fall." *shiver*

Twinkleshine’s horn came to life, and a small paper bag with Pony Joe’s logo on it floated from one of her saddlebags over to Sunset. Sunset blinked, confusion slipping toward suspicion. However, her stomach rumbled softly before she managed to voice a protest.

Is it bad that my first thought was to cast an identification spell?

“I am not cranky-wanky!” Lemon Hearts snapped.

Alt answer: *Stays silent with a sullen twitch*
"Oh, wow, she's waaay past cranky-wanky. All the way into broody-wooody."
*Less sullen, more angry twitch*

“I promised Moon Dancer, Sunny.” Twitch. “Said I had to call you that no matter what!”
“You’re impossible.”

Oh, man. What's next, "Garny"?
Also I've always wanted to respond to "You're impossible." with a quick reply of "That's improbable."

“Obviously, since Nightblossom’s amazing!”

F*** YEAH! As long as she has just a tooooouch of magic to aid her. Sneaky rogues are awesome. sneaky, literally invisible rogues are better.

“It was a one-time thing!” Lemon Hearts snapped back. “Stupid dice betrayed me.”

It was inevitable.

Minuette shrugged. “Yeah! It’s fun, we get to go on great adventures, meeting interesting ponies—”
“—whom we usually end up killing—” Twinkleshine sighed.
“—and taking all their stuff!” Lemon Hearts finished with a wicked grin.

Amen

“I hide nothing.”

...A sneaky rogue...of an unusual race...

...The song. I honestly thought of it when the whole "Stop, doughnut time" moment happened... but this... Maybe Minuette should sing it. At least LH and Sunny would agree on something then.

“She sent you here,” Lemon Hearts corrected. “You just hauled us along for the ride!”

I'm really trying to come up with stuff to say, but the whole thing is just spinning so fast, I can't stop to write dumb comments.

But she couldn’t answer the question. She could feel the cogs of her brain start to grind and smoke.

Uhhh... Y'know how I said not to burn your finite-uses on non-important stuff? This isn't one of those times. Please teleport outside or something and burn all that anger off in a massive blaze of fire.

I can’t believe that just happened. I can’t believe that just happened again! I was supposed to be over this sort of thing years ago! But since the alchemy final… and since Moon Dancer left… they’ve been getting worse.
Still, panic attack or no...

I'm trying to read a deeper meaning from this. But maybe that is just the fact that every voice in every head makes me think of Ruin. In ponies' cases it feels like trying to suppress an inner nightmare, but the idea is the same. They aren't crazy. They never were.
Just looked through a goodreads page of Well of Ascension quotes to try to find Ruin's actual line. Found several that would be quite at home in a pony fic. "He ate my horse." made me laugh pretty hard.

Minuette laughed. “I’m sorry, have we met?”

*Heaving sigh of...something that vaguely resembles relief*
Well...PvP (Player vs. Player) would be much preferred over PvP (Pony vs. Pony) I guess. But that whole scene...intense.

“What?” Lemon Hearts demanded. “It’s not a good bar brawl unless somepony goes crashing through a window.”

Or the ceiling. It was a choatic day.

“Nightblossom is just angry,” Twinkleshine retorted.

"More like a murder-hobo."
"Eh, I've been called worse."
"Like what?"
"Munchkin."
"Ah...Well you're not quite that, you're obsession with playing batponies prevents you from being a total munchkin."
"...Thanks?"

Nightblossom was currently wielding hoof-batons to devastating effect on any of the foals stupid enough to stand against her.

Hey now! Actual weapons in a barfight? That ain't kosher!

"Somepony who tends to accomplish her goals in a critical manner,"

Now, see, if she were using a couple keen kukri, I could see a crit build, maybe. or is this a focus on triggering sneak attack?
Is there a particular edition you are using for this, or just going with archetypes?

“She always seeks to be as dexterous as possible, quite often to the detriment of everything else.”

Dex is a pretty damn useful attribute, especially with finesse. Wait, can normally flight-capable races (pegasi, batponies...) fly in this O&O?

“This is insane,” Wind muttered. “We have more important things to do.”

Shut your horse mouth! Fights are (almost) always the most important thing to do at the time they are happening.

The batpony growled something under her breath before trudging toward the three other mares.

*Grumble grumble grumble*
Playing the petulant child or the guy with not-quite-all-his-marbles is way more fun than it should be.
One of my favorite excuses I have ever heard was "In my defense, I was left unsupervised." And the rest of us in the party were just like "Well. He's right. We know we can't trust him to act rationally."

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Lemon Hearts cried. “Your familiar is a phoenix? That’s totally against the fifth edition rules!”

Ah, fifth edition. Alright then.

—as Garnet shouted a word and slammed most of the tavern with a potent sleep spell, laced with a bit of wild magic.

Oh dear god no. No wild magic. I saw that earlier, but now knowing it's 5th edition. This is going to end so badly.
Not gonna lie, tho. I wanna see this one "A unicorn controlled by the DM appears in a space within 5 feet of you, then disappears 1 minute later."

Also please tell me they are at least level 8 so they can pull the polymorph-Tyrannosaurus glorious nonsense.
"Lemon Hearts. Garnet is going to do a thing to your character. it'll be awesome. Trust me."
"What? What are you going to do?"
"I'm not going to tell you, just trust me."
"I'm not going to trust you. Forget that!"
"Fine, but when the time comes, and we have passed the Tarrasque threshold, I'll be ready to do the thing."
*One team-building adventure later, party is facing off against the lich and his/her army of undead.*
"Alright, Garny... Do the thing."
*Smile to rival Minuette's appears on Sunset's face*

“Unless you want to wake our would-be assassin,”

Well if you aren't going to wake him, you should probably make sure he doesn't wake up and continue the hunt, wouldn't you say? At the very least look at his face so you know what he looks like.

“Oh, you should have witnessed her in Everspring last fall,” Forest said with an emphatic nod.
“Be glad that you didn’t,” Wind muttered as she trailed out behind the batpony.

Ah, a pony after my own heart.

Going back to the beginning.

“That’s impossible.” Sunset stared at her. “That sounds like… precognition. And that’s a myth.”

I agree. I don't like casual time shenanigans. (I like big, important time shenanigans, but not the small ones. Time manipulation or future sight is really powerful) If her cutie mark had been something about knowing how to read a situation and the ponies around you, sure, but an hourglass heavily implies time powers, and this is too close to the Pinkie Sense for me.

“Yeah, because I can tell Lemon Hearts and Twinkleshine are just aching to be my friends.”

Well, it's certainly painful for one of them.

YAY! I read the chapter before the next one came out!
Also I don't know why this wasn't on my favorites list earlier.

Again, a superb chapter. Yeah, that IS a darn good reason for Lemon to hate Sunset at this point in time and, yeah, the revelation of Minuette's special talent is quite well done. Also, once more, great job mirroring the gaming world with the real world, particularly the in-game bar fight. I'll most assuredly be looking forward to more, but will quite understand if real world concerns don't fully cooperate.

Ah yes, the fine art of briefly harming your allies for later gain. Always tricky to pull off, but when it works, you'll be telling the story for years to come.

As for Sunset, who said anything about undoing her past misdeeds? They'll have always happened. The real trick will be overcoming them. And getting her to understand the distinction.

Yeah, a smiling GM is always a bad sign, or so I've heard. Hope Garnet isn't unconscious too long or else Sunset is going to get bored just watching the encounter. Wonder what a psychiatric evaluation of Sunset would look like- schizophrenia or just self-loathing mixed with a lot of guilt? In some ways canon EQG was easier as there Sunset was given a clear course of punishment/redemption after hitting rock-bottom. Here Sunset didn't go quite that far yet, so while she is repentant about everything she still has doubts about her current course. Not to mention she had the human Mane Five to support/force her out of her shell while here without Moon dancer or Celestia she's still a bit adrift.

nooooooo Sunse....errr I mean Garnet hehehe

Yay! Round Five! *Rolls wits* Result of 2's with a nudge... Well, not my best, but hopefully not my worst.

That left just Minuette in her house, but she could be managed.
I think.
The angry little pony in her head had a few choice things to say about that.

Yeah, right.
Okay, if nothing else, ignored.
ignored? Minuette? *Mental equivalent of raising an eyebrow*
Fine! She isn't going to kill me!
I guess I can agree to that, but that is a pretty low bar.

how a pony decided to react was her own decision.

That's not really—

That’s a gross oversimplification and you know it! The familiar voice growled in the depths of her mind. It’s not ‘Nature or Nurture,’ it’s both. And don’t pretend to feel remorse now. You knew what you were doing! Remember?

Okay, I wouldn't go that far. And the only time you should feel remorse is when you knew what you were doing at the time.

And one day you’ll realize it and that’s when you’ll come back to me. You’ll realize you were wrong about everything.

I can't wait for that day...

“That was a dumb promise.”
“Doesn’t matter.” Minuette shrugged. “I still made it.”

Just stop responding. You're pretty stubborn and prideful, use 'em. It might work.

But one day, Sunny—” Twitch.

Just kill her. Annihilate the body. They'll never know what happened.

“We both know that most ponies are smarter than that.”
Horseapples. Most ponies are idiots.

I actually liked this whole part a lot.

Minuette giggled. “Whatever you say, Sunny.”
Twitch.
“You really need to stop that.”

Keep a running count. That way, one day in the future you will be able to exact vengeance while telling her the exact number.

Garnet winced. A stroke of bad luck had fouled her magic, turning what should have been a firebolt into three vaguely-annoyed butterflies.

I hate inconsistent abilities. A lot.

You see, I don’t need you dead. I just need you to… dance to my tune a bit longer. Don’t worry, you shall end up simply adoring the song.

Uh oh. When the villain starts making puns after not doing stupid things, you should be afraid. There's a certain level of confidence you have to have in order to make puns, and competent villains are much less likely to be overconfident.

She might have spent far too much time studying dusty tomes, but she was occasionally decent at reading other ponies when she put her mind to it.

What is this? A sorcerer passing a wisdom check? Heresy!

Garnet readied herself as Snow looked on in amusement.

And then the very tip of Harry's wand Garnet's horn transfigured into spider silk that invisibly wove its way around the campsite, looping around each of the dogs, and then Snow's neck...
How would I solve the problem? Use my charisma to tell a lie, then follow them when they let me go? Call up my not-phoenix familiar as a distraction to allow me to release the batpony? Use that distraction to instead run around and rack as many dogs as possible in a last act of petty vengeance? The possibilities are endless.

Two of them were by Nightblossom’s figure, which was one square over from the fire.

Oh, pyrotechnics. Is that a thing in 5e? Shape Fire or something? I can't remember, but that might make a good distraction, too, and it's a cantrip if I remember correctly.

While she’s muddled along as best she could, she had a feeling that this was a time she should be paying attention to the roleplay and not the numbers.

...Turn them against each other? If you have any illusions, maybe. Minor image and ghost sound are things you could do.

“That seems awfully convenient,” Lemon Hearts said. Her eyes narrowed on Minuette.
“I’m sorry, but who’s the GM?”

Touche

Eoana exploded into existence right above her head.

Ooo! Ooo! Take a fireball for an ally!

With a mental command, Eoana soared forward just as Snow unleashed her fireball to incinerate the prone cleric. With a shriek, the phoenix-like creature intercepted the ball of flaming death, which burst like a Hearth’s Warming Eve firecracker.

Yuuuus

The whole "toss friend into the fire to burn her ropes" is not the plan I would have come up with, but it was somewhat clever and required her to basically sacrifice herself, so meh, sure, I'd allow it.

Still loving the story.

Not much I can say other than great job on this chapter, as usual. Again, Sunset's inner reflections are well done, the action in the gaming world is quite splendid and there are even some hints that Sunset, despite herself, is actually starting to enjoy this (not that she'll readily admit it). I also loved the explanation for why Minuette is the way she is. And, of course, the humor is, once again, excellent as usual. I will certainly look forward to more of this, but am quite willing to be patient.

Here we go. Story two, and since it's not done yet... I'm sure I'll be able to take my time, too.

So, let's see here. We've got Twilight's old Canterlot friends, the D&D O&O players' guide, and a bag of dice. Sounds like Sunset is in for an involuntary good time! I've got battle assembly this coming weekend- I'm an Army Reservist- and I'm looking forward to playing some D&D during downtime with some of my battle buddies. It's a tradition of ours on longer 4-day drill weekends. So this story's coming at just the right time! :twilightsmile:

“She keeps using that word,” Lemon Hearts grumbled. “I do not think it means what she thinks it means.”

Lemon "Inigo Montoya" Hearts is now a part of my headcanon. I'll have to... write that. Somehow. I think I can work out the details later. I've got a vague image in my head of Sunset Shimmer as the Dread Pirate Roberts. We'll see if that whole thing pans out. Might be fun.

Uh, also, I'm not liking Lemon Hearts' bad attitude. Not that it isn't justified, but she's really being hostile and it's going to make things miserable for everypony unless she lightens up.

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