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Trick Question


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After Twilight's psychotic break involving the Want It, Need It spell, Princess Celestia banishes her former student from Canterlot Castle and severs all ties.

A young and emotionally tortured Twilight Sparkle refuses to face facts. The same insanity that pushed her to the brink when she made that unforgivable error in judgment now compels her to fix it. Twilight will stop at nothing to get back in Celestia's good graces.

No, that's not right. She won't stop there, either.

Written for the "Princess Not Included*" Writeoff, but not submitted.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 39 )

Hmm.

Good idea, but far too short.

Protip: Never forbid a pony from using her special talent. It will not end well. Especially if she barely won a fight against the antithesis of sanity last week.

A disturbing glimpse at perfectionism gone amok. Thank you for it.

Not being ambiguous at the end is weird, since Celestia's treatment of Twilight is baffling even if it's the premise of the fic. Having it not be an illusion from the door makes less sense than first half being real, and then it's implied Twilight really did expect to be a princess for some reason.

Zyrian
Story Approver

Is this going to break my heart?

8106298
If you read the whole thing, I don't think so, no. It's only in the "Sad" folders of groups that don't have a "Drama" folder.

Zyrian
Story Approver

How cyclical.

Eh, to be honest, I don't think it worked for me. The ending strongly indicates that it wasn't just an illusion, but that would require... so much stupidity on the part of Celestia that I can't get it past my suspension of disbelief. Celestia saw how powerful Twilight is and knows how unstable she is, and has already done a great job of restricting her access to high-level magic by throwing her out of the capital and into Ponyville. Why actually end the relation when just... slowly reducing contact is so much more effective? Phrase it as a "I'd like you to focus more on your friendship studies so I'm restricting your access to advanced magic books for now" or something. Give her hope for the future and then just never deliver on that hope. Heck, just end her studies and make her part of the army since she's so powerful. Keep her feeling useful so that she doesn't go off the hook once again.

I could easily be missing something. The ending has a lot of hints but is nowhere near long enough to make sufficiently informed guesses as to what has actually happened- "her inevitable princesshood" is a very important part of it, especially since she never actually indicated that she was going to become a princess in the earlier part before Celestia called it out.

It felt like... potential.

Yessss use your madness Twilight, welcome to the Mad Side!

img01.deviantart.net/540b/i/2014/335/b/e/discord_of_the_sith_by_pixelkitties-d88cje0.png

"What are you doing here?" said Celestia, without bothering to look up.
"I came to talk to you," said Twilight.
"And now you must go."
"Go where?"
"Doesn't matter to me. You failed, Twilight."

media.fakeposters.com/results/2016/05/27/h6l7hfwyyw.jpg

It was now, thought Twilight Sparkle.

Well, unicorn master race confirmed.

8106288
The intended implication is that Twilight knew the spell she'd cast was extremely illegal and very public, which meant that Celestia couldn't keep her on as her personal student. As for the princess thing, I don't think Twilight believed that; rather, Celestia was being sarcastic when she spoke of Twilight being a princess, but in response to the sarcasm Twilight ended up warping the Universe into one where she could actually become Celestia's equal.

Not excuses, just details in my noggin that might not have been clear enough in the story. :twilightsmile: The feedback is greatly appreciated.

I totally did not see that end coming, but I enjoyed it a lot! The wonderful idea of Twilight standing against her teacher and making Celestia fear is such an attractive idea to me. But the twist at the end made this story one I'll read over and over again. Well done.

Zyrian
Story Approver

8106301

Yeah.

I left the comment before I read it. :twilightsmile:

.....well, I didn't see that ending coming

Oho, sick twist! I was going to call OOC on everything until we got to the end. I like how it resolves things for the most part but leaves enough ambiguity to keep it interesting.

8106373 Mostly this.

Basically for the story to work well, you have to have Celestia swallow the Conflict Ball and the Idiot Ball for the same meal. If she did that, okay, this isn't a bad way to depict that eventuality.

But without something to explain how that meal happened, it just feels too contrived.

Decent writing for the somewhat-too-fast pace. I've seen a lot of fim stories stake out similar scenes/emotions and this didn't grate like most of them. And had a few good moments.

Though the whole "angst = power" thing is ....kind of florid and dumb. Having Twilight manipulate Dash to generate another Rainboom but be set up to use it to undo their friendship and use the liberated energy to edit reality would make more sense. (and would follow a vaguely nuclear-fission like metaphor for bonus points given Twilight is all about For Science! )

8106373 Your username and comment sum up my thoughts on this fic perfectly.

It wasnt horrid, but its kinda hampered by its own silliness and implausability.

Interesting, but somehow I saw the ending coming and it kinda ruined the surprise

This is really interesting. So Twilight, accidentally calling up dark magic, rewrote reality into a place where she would eventually become an alicorn and where her one big failure never happened. I'm guessing that Twilight's worst nightmare was that either her friends and family found out about this or that this actually happened. Great job!

8107034
Yay! :yay: Somepony finally picked up on the consistency element at the end. (The thing still has to do what it does, so...)

...Why didn't you submit it? I haven't exactly read the story yet, but the premise sounds good!

8107441
I can't remember. This was around the time of my ECT treatments, so I'm missing a lot of memories. Maybe I wasn't able to finish it in time, or maybe I didn't think it was a very good contender. You can submit multiple entries, I just didn't submit it for Celestia knows why. :derpytongue2:

The one I did submit to that competition (Page Two) did fairly well here on Fimfiction. :twilightsmile:

This requires such a degree of willful ignorance, malignancy, arrogance, and stupidity on the parts of the characters that it almost deserves a comedy tag.

Oh, and congrats on this getting featured! :pinkiehappy:

8107479 Are you sure you didn't? I know I have read this.

Unless you just showed it to me privately, which is possible, but yea, I definitely recall reading this previously.

This reminds me of that one cartoon...

8107976
I probably showed you alone, or at least told you about it after I didn't submit.

8108297 Maybe. 100% certain I have seen it somewhere.

8107949
Ironically, this is one of my lowest rated fics. Only Recycled ranks lower (though I really love that story).

Technically, the new one I just released is lowest-rated, but it won't be once it gets more votes. It's a good story, but it isn't going to feature. Featuring usually means "you wrote some clickbait" more than "you wrote something amazing", and a minific about Twilight being overpowered is an easy draw.

(That's not why I wrote this, for the record, but you already know that I'm sure.)

8108521 No, I get that. It's nice getting the views, though. Story publication is like throwing a party; ya want people to attend. :pinkiesmile:

8106427
Apparently, somepony hates this story so much they downvoted your comment just for praising it. :rainbowlaugh:

8106447

But without something to explain how that meal happened, it just feels too contrived.

I'm not trying to argue below (your comments are valid and very much appreciated), but I figured it might be interesting to see how I think about those same events in the story.

The fact that the reality you're seeing initially isn't the one from the show means Celestia isn't "out of character", exactly. I don't find it a stretch that she'd sever ties with a student for knowingly doing something very illegal in public that manipulated an entire city of ponies against their wills, nor that she'd presume Twilight will get over things eventually if the bandage is ripped off quickly (she'd already been threatened with punishment if she did it again, and Celie had no idea she was that powerful). In the real world, situations like this end like they do in the early part of the story. A disgraced politician isn't slowly removed from committees, they're ejected. A worker isn't ramped down from their work, they're just fired.

Having Twilight manipulate Dash to generate another Rainboom but be set up to use it to undo their friendship and use the liberated energy to edit reality would make more sense.

That's a very creative idea, and I like it! Unfortunately, it ruins the point of the story. The break needs to happen at the same place we saw in the show in order for it to make any sense when Twilight recovers at the end.

I really like Overpowered Twilight fics, and I really want to see more fics touching on Lesson Zero and its aftermath... but as 8106447 said, this really doesn't ring true for me because its whole premise depends on Celestia acting far out of character. She's a ruling princess, yes, but she rules Equestria in a far more personal and less legalistic way than any country in the real modern world. Outside the comics and that one moment in Trade Ya, we never see any the law forcing any Equestrian into an unfriendly solution. Further, Celestia really does care about Twilight even more than the average pony. So, from all that, even if she was convinced Twilight was too dangerous to continue studying advanced magic, why would she dismiss her in such an impersonal if not needlessly offensive way and forbid her from even seeing her again?

I would like to appreciate this story, and the ending is the sort that lingers in your mind as appreciatively plausible... but no, I just can't see it.

8109189 I should preface this that if you were politely implying "this is my final word, I'm not interested in discussing this further" I apologize for being dense. Though I think this is important to note for other aspiring writers even if that is the case....

(Though I realize that just asserting Celestia's behaviour was idiotic without discussing how was presumptuous and rude and I apologize for that. By way of explanation but not excuse, I just thought the following was really obvious.)

First, Celestia is presuming Twilight is hopelessly incorrigible. Despite the fact that it's clear Twilight is obsessed with pleasing Celestia. Twilight needs to earn her teacher's praise more than anything. But Twilight is also absolutely petrified at the idea of disappointing Celestia.

Clearly, Twilight broke the rules because she felt total despair. Unable to believe Celestia could forgive even the tiniest lapse.

(Worse, the previous time, Celestia didn't make any effort to assess much less address this pathological perfectionism.)

Would it not be fair but also prudent for Celestia to try and find out what's wrong? Rather than just washing her hooves of Twilight? Celestia was pretty oblivious to teach Twilight for years and not notice that Twilight had this genuine, painful terror of displeasing Celestia. If a superior pushes a subordinate until they break, the fault is with the superior.

You might argue "but Twilight affected a whole village". But Equestria is a land of plenty. Ponyville gets severe property damage all the time and its implied there's basically zero effect on the economy. Other times ponies get mind controlled but they don't end up with PTSD or anything. Ponies don't even seem scared of Twilight in future episodes. It seems ponies are normally fairly psychologically resilient. ("Water off a duck's back" comes to mind.) So you can't say "she traumatized them and has to pay for their suffering".

(This assumption of resilience goes a long way to explaining Celestia's obliviousness. It's such a rare thing to see a pony as fragile as Twilight. She literally couldn't believe Twilight was so messed up. But it also explains why Celestia was so forgiving despite the gravity of the situation: because she recognizes in canon that Twilight is more emotionally vulnerable than your average pony. A different standard of equitable care applies.)

Remember, Celestia at this point is still Twilight's teacher. Expelling a student without issuing specific warnings that the student is in danger of expulsion is also very unfair (even if you believe Celestia wasn't negligent in failing to notice Twilight's terror of her).

Strikingly, the story's harshness isn't consistent with Celestia's past behaviour in canon/quasi canon. (I know the comics are officially non canon but most fans seem to at least treat them as legitimate depictions of the characters.)

Consider Sunset Shimmer. In her origin story Sunset outright says to Celestia's face that she believes she should rule Equestria after looking in the dimension-portal mirror. Yet Celestia keeps her as a student and doesn't even keep her closely watched. (So she can break into the restricted archives and find out how the mirror works despite Celestia's orders.)

And Sunset Shimmer was depicted not just as being aloof and socially withdrawn (as Twilight is). Rather, she's actually contemptuous of her peers and obsessed with power for its own sake. Celestia declines to discipline Sunset for outright rejecting the social and moral lessons which are being taught.

Yet Twilight is merely shown as being oblivious to some (but not all!) nuances of the lessons. But in this story, Celestia dismisses her.

The thing about these mistakes of Celestia's is that she's depicted as being so wise that no pony questions her judgment. The only reasonable explanation is that she believes deeply in the power of a pony to learn from their mistakes.

Even after Sunset puts the librarian of the restricted wing to sleep and is caught red hooved researching forbidden lore....even at that late point...Celestia does not immediately punish Sunset. She only expels her as a student after Sunset says "I have nothing to be sorry for, you OWE it to me to teach me what I'm pursuing."

And even after expelling Sunset, it's not stated as "this is forever" but "until you get over this issue, I can't teach you anything else."

ie Sunset was specifically repeatedly given direction and specifically rebelled. And it wasn't until deliberate rebellion crossed an obvious line that Sunset could clearly see that Celestia acted.

Twilight wasn't acting even nearly as badly and is treated far more harshly in the story.

"My Celestia is different" is insufficient justification by itself. It needs to be established in the story why she's so different. Because going from "Endlessly patient, always gives benefit of the doubt" Celestia to "HR director Celestia" is a huge shift.

Worse, Celestia's draconian response in the story is extremely wasteful. A prodigy like Twilight comes along once in a generation if that. Celestia is portrayed as being extremely burdened by ruling. You would think Celestia would value having a smart, powerful pony of utmost loyalty to her.

Especially after having the example of Sunset Shimmer drive home that Celestia can only teach her student hard lessons to the degree the student trusts and respects Celestia. After the disappointment of Sunset Shimmer, Celestia should be extra appreciative of Twilight's loyalty and dedication.

(In canon, the fact that Celestia calls Twilight her faithful student strongly implies this is the case.)

Re: "in RL we wouldn't go easy on Twilight". In RL we'd have to kill someone like Twilight (or at least render her permanently incapable of using magic)! The scenario is that there is no doubt to the authorities that she is beyond rehabilitation. In a world where magic as dangerous as Twilight's was possible, it would be stringently licensed. And anyone who proved they weren't fit to hold a license could expect the harshest penalties. Nothing less could protect society from such a terrible threat as a rogue wizard.

(In Canada at least, for mundane crimes, we have the verdict of being a "dangerous offender". We leave such a person locked up indefinitely, subject to periodic review. If we had a death penalty, I'm sure we'd just kill at least some people judged to merit this punishment.) (And Canada's a lot closer to Equestria than the US in culture and jurisprudence. :trixieshiftright: I'm confident Equestria would be at least as heavy handed as Canada if Equestria were as harsh as in this story.)


(Also, the whole atmosphere of Equestria is not like RL. Rainbow Dash's misdeeds in Tanks for the Memory are extreme both in intent and results. She doesn't even receive a lecture much less punishment! Trixie takes over Ponieville and the worst she gets is a time out on the rock farm learning some humility through hard labour.

Canon simply does not paint the world as being as harsh. And while its acceptable to write a story that departs from canon, that's what the AU tag is for. Between this assumption of a harsh punitive culture in general and a harsh punitive Celestia in particular, this is well into AU territory.

And an AU should address why it's different. At least with a few expository lines (given the brevity of the story). )

This would be an even more pressing concern in Equestria where stuff like the Alicorn Amulet is found in second hand shops and powerful, dangerous enemies like the Smooze exist. Where ancient sealed evil like Sombra is imperfectly locked up.

In this story, Celestia is acting foolishly. She's giving Twilight motive to take revenge on her, but doing absolutely nothing to constrain Twilight.

Worse, Celestia doesn't even seem concerned about reprisal from Twilight. Celestia even mentions anticipating Shining Armor might have to resign. ie, Celestia is totally comfortable losing the only unicorn with a hope of slowing Twilight down.

Never mind Celestia takes it for granted (without proof) that Shining WOULD have the heart to fight his beloved sister.

Celestia punishes Twilight harshly and unfairly. But compounds her mistake by not being harsh enough to protect the kingdom from the likely consequences of this punishment.

Thus, I stand by my original contention: Celestia is not acting intelligently and might as well be trying to cause a fight rather than keeping the peace.

Now, as to my comment about the Rainboom. First, I do apologize if I sounded like "you should have written it my way because my way is just Better". My point was "there's a lot of better alternatives rather than using the cliche 'Distressed mage exceeds the boundaries of what is possible by Casting From Angst' ".

The thing about Equestria that makes this particularly grating is Twilight's power isn't depicted as being related to her emotional intensity. When she gives Rarity wings, she's exhausted by the complexity of the spell and extent of the changes that have to be done. When she teleports she doesn't have the option to psych herself up to teleport farther because it's an emergency. (And there's times that if she could power her spells up because of her emotions, it makes no sense that she doesn't.)

Moreover, in this story itself Twilight is depicted as being reduced to Emotionless Girl territory for a while. So her plan should have emphasized cunning. Rather than "I'll just break the laws of reality by getting really upset".

I came up with my alternative off the top of my head. I could come up with at least a half dozen different ways to do it which would be more plausible than the story's route.

Basically given that this was the climax of the story, I was nonplussed that a more creative choice didn't happen. Because there were plenty of signs the author has talent.

(Also as a side note, logically, in my alternative, there's the bonus that Twilight has no need to confront Celestia at all. Just persuade her friends "I can't bear to live in this world. Do you want to outlive me after I die from grief and loss? Only a few weeks have elapsed, can't we just reset the universe? For me? Please?" and given the way the show rolls, that's the type of "friendship exercise" which would be consistent with canon. Given Twilight was willing to take an overwhelming risk of Tirek winning to have even the faintest hope he wouldn't kill her friends.

Once the Rainboom goes off in my alternative, and the bonds of friendship are broken and the magical power of harmony is freed to be reused by Twilight, it's as if nothing in this story happened. There's no need to be physically present to confront Celestia.

And from a storytelling perspective, it would be stronger. Because Celestia in this story is incredibly unsympathetic. her only function in the ending scene is to become even less sympathetic. She's there to be awed by Twilight's power and stare like a deer in the headlights as Twilight breaks reality.

This is not consistent with a Celestia who is ruthless and swift to "Do what has to be done". Especially since Celestia shows no sign of regret either in how she punishes Twilight or in confronting Twilight.

Worse, if the subtext of the story is "Celestia was in right" showing her cowed by Twilight waters that message down. Like, so what if Celestia was right. All that matters is who's more magical". The moral message conveyed is undermined. (I don't agree with the message, but a story shouldn't discredit any of its main thematic points.)

The only reason I write so extensively is that this whole general type of story tends to be tiresome. This one actually had some promise of being not just tolerable but good. But the basic composition errors involved are egregious. Frustratingly so, given they were entirely avoidable.

8110176 No offense intended calling this general type of story tiresome. The few times a talented writer does well with it, I'm very happy. (One of my favs ever is The Reign of Queen Twilight Sparkle.) But the success rate is so low I think it's fair to be jaundiced about the general type...

8110265
8110246
No, it's fine! I wasn't trying to imply I didn't want to hear more from you. I was only explaining my thoughts without trying to "defend" them. I still disagree with your point of view, but I have no interest in trying to change your mind. :twilightsmile:

I don't think "composition" is the right word, as that refers to the flow of the story and how the sections are divided up (it's more like a grammatical thing than a story thing), but it's clear what you mean.

As an aside, I wasn't caught by surprise on the controversy this time. Anytime I portray Celestia or Twilight with critical flaws or having made questionable or disturbing moral choices, I end up with a crapton of controversy: some readers lavish unusual amounts of praise, while at the same time other readers get crazy mad. Ponies really don't like you to mess with their idols, and to a lot of fans, Celie is more of a god than a horse. Twilight's almost as bad. You need to keep her flaws limited or you're in for a rough ride. If you write those two making choices people strongly disagree with, you'll get downvotes—even when it's in an alternate universe like this one.

One of my favorite stories (that I've written), Recycled, is my lowest-rated story primarily for that reason. I think it's great, but it's no surprise to me that 20% of the votes are downvotes.

Maybe it's just my turn to rant about purple waifu portrayal, but I would say that I kinda can believe in Celestia getting rid of Twilight, can believe in Twilight wanting to kick Celestia's flank hard for this and can believe in Twilight rewriting reality using power of the Dark Side. What I can't believe is Twilight being so calm and "just as planned" about it in the end. Although I must also notice that, as a consequence, implanting memories of these events would be absolutely brilliant way for Sombra to get under Twilight's skin (or pelt?).

Wow, I really got into that. It was interesting from start to finish, I just wish that ending had been longer.

This had potential, but you didn't do anything with that potential.

Not that ending!

It's very...okay. The characters were OoC, but not enough that one could really complain about it. The concept was good, but the potential was sort of rushed and wasted. The ending's interesting and twisty, but raises a few questions and sort of ruins the neatness of "first" ending.

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