• Published 31st Jul 2019
  • 326 Views, 11 Comments

The Root of the Problem - NikitaKitten

Twilight takes Tempest Shadow to the dentist.

  • ...

The Root of the Problem

Tempest frowned.

"Are you sure the doctor can fix my horn? The Storm King said it's impossible."

Steel-shod hooves sounded a steady beat as she marched through Ponyville, thudding down the dusty dirt road. It was a beat that an army could march to—had marched to. A beat that her friend took no notice of.

"Of course she can help!" said Twilight, though her smile faltered. "Well, at the very least she should be able to offer us a new direction to focus our studies."

Tempest grunted. She’d heard similar promises before.

"I was so certain that the castle library would have something,” said Twilight. “How could none of my books have anything about repairing horns?"

The barest hint of a smirk flashed across Tempest's otherwise impassive face. "Slide Valve's Handy Horn Healing Helper didn't exactly live up to its name."

Twilight giggled. “If only your horn were a tuba, it would’ve been perfect. Which reminds me, I have to give a certain number-one-assistant a lecture about returning reference books to the proper section when we get back from the dentist."

"The dentist? I thought we were going to Dr. Minuette's?"

"We are! Dr. Minuette is a dentist."

Tempest's burgundy mohawk swayed as she shook her head. "I don’t want to go to the dentist. My teeth barely hurt at all.”

“But Tempest, a dentist is exactly who we should go see, and Dr. Minuette is a really good one.”

“What would a dentist know about fixing my horn?”

"Well, as you know, unicorns are fundamentally similar to narwhals."

"Narwhals?" Uh oh. She knew all of that late-night studying would catch up to Twilight eventually.

"Yep! A relative of the beluga whale, averaging four metres in length, most notable for the long tusk growing out of their head. Narwhals."

"I know what narwhals are, Twilight,” said Tempest, rolling her eyes. “What I want you to explain is what narwhals have to do with me going to the dentist."

"You mean you never learned about basic unicorn horn anatomy?"

"What I said is that I don't understand what narwhals have to do with me going to the dentist."

Tempest carefully inspected her friend's face, searching for any hint of duplicity. Twilight had never been good at lying, though she might be getting better. It was either that, or she was delusional enough to actually believe what she was saying.

"Okay, I'll start from the beginning!" Twilight took a deep breath as she drew herself up to her full height. “While a pegasus embryo can be clearly differentiated from the other tribes by approximately the sixtieth day of gestation, the external differences between earth pony and unicorn fetuses doesn’t become clear until nearly six months into development, when the tip of a unicorn’s horn first becomes visible.”

Resigned to another of Twilight's lectures, Tempest simply nodded along and took in the scenery. Instead of the pastry and knick-knack shops that lined Ponyville's main street, this road was lined by small professional offices that promised to fix everything from a broken leg to a broken marriage.

“That’s because all along, unseen from the outside, what’s essentially an extra canine tooth—unique to unicorns—has been making its journey upwards through the fetus’s soft palate and into the brain. It’s in this stage that the horn forms its strong thaumic connection with the magicortex located in the anterior of the brain."

Into the brain? Had Tempest missed something?

"From there it pushes out the front of the skull, spiralling outward in a helix, picking up chromophores as it passes through the skin, changing its color to match the unicorn’s coat. That’s why the inside of your horn isn’t as dark as the outside! Isn’t anatomy interesting?”

This must be how those who had faced Tempest in combat felt: frozen on the spot, faces petrified in an amalgam of horror and befuddlement. Passersby exchanged sympathetic looks with each other at the sight of Twilight forcing yet another innocent pony into such a shameless act of public confusion. Tempest saw all of this, and still she stood there, trying to process the confusing mess of information that Twilight had burdened her with.

Twilight eventually noticed that she was now walking alone, and giggled as she trotted back to her fossilized friend.

"Oh come on, Tempest," she said, "there's no need to be so dramatic about it—it's just basic anatomy."

"You're telling me that the reason we're going to the dentist is because I have a crackly, chipped tooth on the top of my head?" Tempest snorted. "Excuse me if I find that hard to believe."

"Honestly, I'm a little surprised this is new to you. I thought everypony learned this in magical preschool."

"Small farming towns aren't exactly known for their magical preschools. Besides, I stopped going after my friends abandoned me.”

Twilight put a reassuring hoof on her friend's shoulder. "I'm sorry Tempest. I know how hard things can be without friends to help you. But now you do have friends, and this friend is determined to help you get your horn back."

As they stood there in the middle of the road, Tempest did her best to smile. She knew Twilight had been hard at work categorizing the types of smiles for her latest friendship study, but still she hoped that somehow she’d be able to pass off her type-L grimace as a genuine type-4a smile.

She didn’t have to do months of research creating her own expression categorization system to interpret the look on Twilight’s face—she wasn’t fooled at all.

"Hey Tempest, I have an idea: why don't we visit Sugar Cube Corner after we're done at the dentist's? Pinkie Pie insists that no pony can eat a cupcake without smiling, and I plan to test this hypothesis." Twilight's voice took on a sing-song tone. "Plus, I know a certain Fizzlepop Berrytwist has recently rediscovered her sweet tooth."

Tempest groaned loudly; she knew telling Twilight her old name had been a mistake, but she couldn't help but smile.

"Okay, you win," she said, huffing in defeat. She’d survived worse than a dentist’s office. "If you say that the dentist is the best idea we have right now, then as long as you promise to not use that name anymore, I'll trust you. After all, a certain somepony taught me that trust is an important part of friendship."

After a moment's hesitation, Tempest cautiously drew Twilight in for a hug, which was briefly returned until Twilight pulled away. Tempest could hear Twilight exhale sharply through her nose as she retreated, pulling a small package from her saddlebags.

"Speaking of sweet tooths—sweet teeth? sweets tooth?" said Twilight, pulling a small white ball from the package, "I just remembered that I picked up some mints from Bon Bon's Bon Bons the other day. Want one?"

"Of course!" Tempest quickly snatched several of the candies and crunched them loudly between her teeth as they started walking again. "A strong commander doesn't eat candy in front of her troops"—she sneered—"but did I ever miss it. I practically lived on a diet of soda and candy growing up in my mom's soda shop."

Twilight giggled and gave Tempest a playful nudge, receiving a stronger bump in return. Soon, they found themselves in front of a small storefront with a large molar painted on the glass door. “Gift Horse Dentistry,” proudly proclaimed the block lettering on the door, “Minuette DDS.”

A small bell chimed as they walked in, unnoticed by the receptionist, whose nose remained buried in her book. Tempest snuck through the door behind Twilight and followed her to the main counter. Head low, she stayed behind the smaller pony. Shouldn't a strong commander like her be up front? She ignored that voice as she hunched down, studying the drab green pattern in the thin carpet. Know your surroundings. There was a pile of worn-out toys in the corner. A floral air freshener hung heavy in the air, failing to cover the stink of antiseptic. She tensed, eyes rapidly scanning the small room for potential foes—their eyes would already be adapted to the dim lighting. She saw nopony. Her ears swiveled, searching for anything other than the awful high-pitched whirring coming from the back room. Eventually, her eyes came to rest on the impassive mare sitting behind the desk, who seemed to be an expert in not noticing ponies.

Twilight spoke.

"Hi, my friend is here to—"

"Do you have an appointment?"

Tempest's eyes narrowed on the mare, whose eyes had yet to leave the tattered paperback romance in her hooves.

"Yes," said Twilight. "For Berrytwist, at two-thirty."

Tempest's expression grew dour as she fixed her glare on Twilight, instead.

"Very well," said the receptionist as she finally put the open book down on her desk, spine bent in two.

Twilight's eye twitched just once.

"Okay, Ms. Berrytwist," began the receptionist, "you'll have to answer some questions before the dentist can see you."

"Oh, no, I'm Twilight Sparkle,” she said, eyes lingering on the abused book.

The receptionist stared at her, impassive.

“You know, the Princess of Friendship?” tried Twilight. “Big crystal castle on the edge of town? Saved Equestria last week?”

Still nothing.

“Gah! It’s not my appointment, it’s hers!” Twilight shrieked as she stepped to the side and pointed at Tempest.

"Then take a seat. You—" the receptionist pointed at Tempest, "any allergies to medication?"

“Use a bookmark!” shouted Twilight, her face twisted in rage.

Tempest watched her stomp over to the waiting room. A single raised eyebrow betrayed Tempest’s surprise; she’d never seen Twilight angry at anypony before. Twilight returned her gaze with a sheepish smile, before beginning what Tempest recognized as a breathing exercise that Twilight taught her a week previous.

"Ms. Berrytwist. Any allergies to medication?"

Tempest snapped back to reality, stomping the last two steps to the counter. “Fizzlepop Berrytwist is my old name.” She glowered at the receptionist. “You may call me Tempest Shadow.”

The receptionist let out a prolonged sigh and massaged her temples. “Fine. Ms. Shadow, are you allergic to any medications?”


“Are you on any prescription medication?”


“Any specific complaints that you want the dentist to check today?”

“N—” She glanced at Twilight, who smiled and gestured to her own horn. “Yes. I want her to look at my horn.”

With a glance, a grimace, and a scribble, the receptionist made a short note in Tempest’s file. “Last question. How long has it been since you last saw a dentist?”

“Thirty years.”

She glanced at Tempest’s forehead a second time, her grimace deepening, as she made another scribble. “Thirty years?”

Tempest’s eyes narrowed. “Yes.”

“Very well. The dentist will see you shortly. Have a seat in the waiting area." Her nose was already buried in the pages of her tattered book.

Freed from her interrogation, Tempest made her way over to the row of chairs where Twilight sat, kicking a discarded toy or two out of the way. Twilight smiled and put down the magazine she was reading—a four-month-old copy of Molars Monthly—and patted the chair to her left. Tempest thunked into the chair, ignoring Twilight's grimace. Instead, she sat perfectly still, shoulders rigid, alternating between staring at her hooves and the posters on the opposite wall.

"Proud to Be Cavity Free!" boasted one, featuring a wide-angle shot of a filly proudly showing her chompers. "Join Us in the Fight Against Cavities!" shouted a cartoon toothbrush wearing a cape. There wasn't a single poster that didn't contain smiling children, happy cartoons, or both.

"Is everything okay?" asked Twilight. "You seem even tenser than usual."

"This is a kid's dentist."

"She's fun! I get my teeth cleaned here."

"I don't like it. We should go."

"It's okay, Tempest, lots of ponies are afraid of the dentist. I'll be right here."

Tempest snorted. "I've fought princesses and led monsters into battle. I'm not afraid of a dentist." She wasn't. Not really.

"Well that's... good?" said Twilight. "You don't, um, plan on turning the dentist to stone, do you?"

Tempest chuckled when she saw Twilight's worried expression. She was wrong to have mentioned this, when the battle where she defeated Twilight's friends had happened so recently. Before she could reassure Twilight that she had left her Obsidian Orbs at home, a blue unicorn mare in a white lab coat burst into the waiting room.

"Is Ms. Fizzlepop ready to smile, smile, smile?" yelled the strange pony, proudly displaying her wares with a beaming smile. She scanned the waiting room in an exaggerated manner, as if her client could be in any of the seats in the room, rather than merely the two currently occupied.

Tempest groaned and slumped into her seat.

"Don't worry," whispered Twilight, "she's really quite good. You have nothing to be afraid of."

"Stop saying that! I'm not afraid! I'm not a foal!" The words hung in the air, unanswered, until Tempest continued. "Why did you have to set this up under my old name?"

"But what else could I do, it's your legal name," said a panicky Twilight. "I can't book an appointment under an undocumented name!"

Tempest scowled, avoiding eye contact with the blue mare, who was now pretending to be using invisible binoculars.

"I'm sorry, Tempest," Twilight said, smiling gently. "If it means that much to you, we can visit town hall later today. Even though princesses are still bound by bureaucracy, Celestia taught me a trick or two to speed the process up. But first, it’s time for you to finally get the answers you need about your horn. So get up, and get those answers!"

With a resolute nod, Tempest stood to attention and marched across the room. If only the princesses had sent her to the gallows. That march would have been easier.

“Oooh, wow, that’s a doozy!” proclaimed the blue mare as she stared at Tempest’s horn. “Dr. Colgate” was printed in flowing cursive embroidery on her lab coat’s breast. “You sure came to the right place! Follow me and I’m sure we’ll get to the root of this problem!”

Tempest glanced back at Twilight, receiving one last reassuring smile, before she followed the over-enthusiastic dentist into the back room.

In the back room was the chair. Not a chair, the chair. The antithesis of the cheap uncomfortable things in the waiting room. Vinyl cushions the color of a dark wine, or other similar liquid, ran the length of the chair. Shiny levers of unknown purpose stuck out the side. It must have been built to accommodate giants.

Tempest felt small.

"Take a seat and make yourself comfortable, Ms. Berrytwist," said the dentist, startling Tempest. "I'll grab your files and sanitize my hooves, then we can get this party started!"

As the dentist left the room, Tempest again considered the chair, prodding a couple of the levers. One of the levers raised the chair. Another lowered it. Nodding once, Tempest summited the device. It was only a chair.

It was actually quite comfortable, supporting her body from hoof to head. She laid back and focused on the wall in front of her; a small painting of a waterfall hung there, its silky water cascading down green mossy boulders. Trickling, maybe. Peaceful. Quiet.

Hoofsteps clopped on the linoleum floor behind her.

“Okay Ms. Berrytwist—is it okay if I call you Fizzlepop? You can call me Colgate, if you like.”

If there’s an ideal place to break a tooth, it’s in a dentist’s office—but that didn’t mean it was a good idea. Tempest struggled to unclench her jaw.

"No. My name is Tempest Shadow," she said through her teeth. "Call me Tempest."

She continued to focus on the waterfall. How did those breathing exercises go?

“Alrighty then, Tempest! I’ll just make a note of that in your file here,” Colgate said, making a quick scribble in the file, “but you’re still welcome to call me Colgate!”

"I thought my appointment was with Dr. Minuette.”

"Oh, I hate how confusing this is." Other ponies might have considered Colgate's pouty face cute. "Do you know how expensive it is to keep a lawyer on retainer? Those meanie toothpaste-pushers and their lawsuits; how can it be copyright infringement to use my own name? I figured using my middle name would keep those toothpaste-pushing ponies off my back."

“Now let’s see, it says here that your last visit to the dentist was… oh gosh, thirty years ago? Well, there’s no time like the present! Let’s take a look inside and see what we’re dealing with, okay?”

Colgate put the file down in the corner before hopping on a small rolling stool. With a grunt of surprise, Tempest felt her chair suddenly drop backwards, then hissed and covered her eyes as a small sun blazed into life above her head.

"Whoopsies, let me get that!"

Tempest could hear Colgate giggle as the dentist adjusted the lamp hanging from the ceiling. Eventually she was no longer blinded, and found Colgate fixing a thick paper towel in place under her chin.

"There we go, all comfortable?"

Tempest quickly nodded once.

"Good!" Colgate beamed down at Tempest, then tried to look serious. "Now I know that you came here so that I could look at that craggly chipped tooth on the top of your head, but since it’s been so long since you were last at the dentist, I'd like to start with your other teeth. So let's open up super-duper wide, okay?"

After a moment's consideration, Tempest stared up at the ceiling and opened her mouth as far as she could. Colgate leaned over her, grinning. What awful machinations could she have in mind?

"So Tempest, do your teeth hurt? Because they sure look like they smart, just look at that calculus!"


"Sorry, dentist joke. Calculus is the slimy stuff on your teeth that tells me you haven’t brushed for awhile." Colgate giggled to—and by—herself as she began to gather her tools around her.

Numerous metal instruments glinted in the harsh lamplight overhead as they danced in the blue of Colgate’s magical aura, entering Tempest’s mouth in a dance choreographed over years of practice. She could feel them start to scrape at her teeth, one holding her tongue to the side as another scraped along the gums. She could see Colgate's eyes narrow as—ouch! Copper filled her mouth, trying to drown her. Scraping, poking, scratching, prodding. Remember, the enemy will only keep you alive until you give them what they want. Be strong. Survive. Pain is all in the mind. Survive. Fear is the mind killer. Hurt is just the weak trying to—

"Okay, you can rinse now!"

Colgate offered her a small paper cup of water, which, after shaking herself, she gladly accepted. The cold water hurt. Pink water swirled down the drain of the small sink next to her chair as she prodded each of her teeth in turn. They were smooth, clean.

"Well, I have good news and bad news," said Colgate. "The good news is that for never having seen a dentist before, your teeth are in very good shape! You must've been doing a good job of avoiding sweets, if nothing else."

Gruel was far from sweet.

"The bad news is, you have four cavities."


Colgate motioned for her to open her mouth, then prodded four different teeth. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.

"Yep, four cavities," Colgate said. "I don’t really need to ask, but someone hasn’t been brushing their teeth like they’re supposed to, have they?”

That picture was sure interesting. She’d seen a waterfall like that in the Zebralands, fighting for--

"Well, I'm sure you'll start brushing properly when you're done here today." Done with her lecture, Colgate brightened up considerably. "The good news is I can fill those cavities today, no problem! But before we do that, let's take a look at that horn of yours.

"Tell me, how did you break it, anyway? I don't think I've even heard of a patient with a broken horn before."

Tempest massaged her teeth with her tongue for a few moments before she responded, her voice dull, "An ursa minor broke it with a single swipe of its claw when I was a filly."

Finally looking away from the painting, she caught a battle of emotions fighting for control of Colgate’s face. Concern, sympathy, and most frustrating to Tempest, just a hint of doubt were all there for the discerning eye to see.

“Well, I suppose I should’ve expected something pretty incredible, but you must be an incredibly lucky pony to have survived an ursa minor.” Colgate’s smile returned in a flash. “Hey, you came in here with Twilight, right? Have you met Trixie yet?”

Tempest raised an eyebrow before shaking her head. “Should I have?”

“Oh, not really, your story just made me think of her. Unicorn horns are supposed to be nearly indestructible, thanks to all the magic in them. It's hard to believe that even an ursa minor could break a horn like that.”

Tempest frowned. “Well that’s how it happened: it broke my horn and gave me this scar,” she said, gesturing to the vertical slash on her eyelid.

“And you can still see from that eye? Oh wow, you really need to ask Twilight to introduce you to Trixie, I insist!”

As she was talking, Colgate manipulated the levers on the chair, causing it to recline farther backwards as she scooted her stool to the head of the chair, treating Tempest to the view of an upside-down Colgate looking at her forehead.

“Now let’s see what we’re working with here. Brace yourself! Actually, I’m the one who went to dental school, so you’d better leave that to me.” The dentist leaned in, turning Tempest's head side to side with her hooves. “Ah. Ohhh. Mhmm,” she murmured. “Does it hurt if I do this?”

Something exploded.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGH!" howled Tempest, clutching her forehead, doubled over in pain. It arced down her spine to the tips of her hooves. Bile crept up her throat. But the more she focused on the pain, the faster it faded, until it was a dull throbbing in her horn.


She opened her eyes and found Colgate watching her, blue and white hair now standing on end, singed at the tips. Colgate's gaze was a mouse fleeing from the light of Tempest's scrutiny.

"Oh, good." Colgate took a quick breath and met Tempest's eyes. "I'm sorry, Tempest. I wouldn't have done that if I knew it'd hurt you so much."

Tempest nodded.

"Now, to avoid any more, well, outbursts, I won't touch you again unless you say it's okay. Okay?"


"Oh, no, you don't have to be sorry!" said Colgate. "It was my fault, really! Umm, I’ve had patients complain about an impacted tooth causing them pain, but this is the first time impacting a tooth has hurt me!” Colgate’s laugh had a nervous edge to it, but she seemed to regain her composure. “Besides, I have some good news for you. But first, the bad news: you have a fifth cavity."

Tempest's breathing became shallow. That painting on the wall really was very interesting. When she was leading her troops through the dry heat of the savanah—

"Well, maybe it's more accurate to say that you had a fifth cavity," continued Colgate. "It's not surprising that your horn broke after seeing how advanced the decay was, ursa minor or not. But still, for it to be this bad? I would've guessed you survived on nothing but sugar and candy if it weren't for the relative health of your other teeth."

"I gave up candy when I was done with foalish things. A proper soldier does not eat sweets," said Tempest, quietly. "But I always missed my mom's candy shop."

"Yes, that might explain it," said Colgate. "I'm guessing you had quite a few more cavities when you were younger?"

Tempest nodded.

"But what about brushing your teeth? Have you used a good fluoride toothpaste?"

"No," said Tempest, with barely more than a whisper. "I never saw the point."

“Never saw the point?”

“No. There was no pleasing him.”


“Him! Drill in hoof, ready to grind and stab and scrape until I begged for mercy as I choked on my own blood!” Tempest’s breath was shallow, her eyes darting around frantically but seeing nothing.

“Oh, oh dear. Is this Dr. Tartarus you’re talking about?”

“He was a monster.”

“I’m sorry, Tempest. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt at all when I take care of your cavities today—”

“That’s a lie! It always hurt! He’d laugh as he worked, as I tried to scream…”

“You poor thing. Do you have a resistance to painkillers that I should know about? Maybe that’s why it hurt in the past?”

Tempest’s head whipped to the side, fixing Colgate with an impassive gaze. “What painkillers?”

“The ones we use to let us work without hurting you?”

“Is this a thing all dentists do?” asked Tempest. This had to be a joke. “You use painkillers, rather than simply strapping young fillies down to the chair and laughing as you torture them?”

“Eheheh, I know lots of ponies aren’t big fans of the dentist, but surely torture is a strong word,” began Colgate, but stopped as Tempest’s gaze narrowed. “Umm, yes, almost all of us use local anesthetic.”

Tempest released Colgate from her basilisk stare and grunted. “I always knew he was a monster.”

“Are you telling me that Dr. Tartarus didn’t use painkillers!?” Colgate punctuated her sentences by stomping her front hooves. “On a filly!?”

Tempest nodded, unconsciously trying to back away from Colgate, farther into the plush chair. She watched as Colgate’s face became a mass of spasms and twitches as Colgate let out a not-quite-silent scream.

“—eeeeeeargh!” finished Colgate, slowly coming down from her trembling rage, like someone letting the air out of a balloon as they pull the neck taut.

“Phew! Sorry about that,” said Colgate, panting to catch her breath. “It just really, really flosses my fetlocks when I hear about things like that. I mean, really! Enough people don’t like dentists without the help of crazy hacks operating without anesthesia, let alone doing it to fillies!”

Colgate took another deep breath, looked Tempest right in the eyes, and continued.

“Tempest. What that… that… monster did to you is unforgivable. And not to make a mountain out of a molar hill, but if he’s still practicing, then well, just wait until the licensing board hears about this!

“Tempest, I promise that you’re safe in my care. Okay?”

Tempest nodded quickly.

“And there’s good news: we can fix this.”

“You mean, my horn?” asked Tempest, as she gingerly reached up and felt the crackly protrusion on her forehead. “Are you sure?”

"Well, I admit that I've never actually reconstructed a horn before, but the theory is sound."

Her head drooped. "Oh."

"What I mean to say," said Colgate, hurriedly, "is that the procedure should be very similar to repairing a tooth, which I'm an expert at!" When that failed to get a reaction, she continued, "Tempest, I know this is big. You probably want time to think about things before you make any decisions. We don't have to fix your horn today."

"No!" Tempest fixed Colgate with a piercing glare. "I came here to get my horn back. That's what needs to happen."

"Well okay, if you're sure, then we can do that today. But before we get to that, we should do something about those other four cavities. And before that, I think it's time that somepony taught you about proper dental hygiene."

Tempest watched Colgate rummage through one of the cabinets on the wall, eventually turning back around to show Tempest the small prize that she had found.

"Alright, let’s start from the beginning: this, is a toothbrush."

Twilight had read all of the magazines, used up the last of her list-making parchment, and magically redesigned the waiting room chairs to actually be comfortable. Then she decided to study the long-term durability of the waiting room’s carpeting, her pacing simulating the traffic of hundreds of ponies. Because she was so enthralled by her study, and certainly not at all bored out of her mind, it wasn’t until the third time that she passed the tall, smiling unicorn that Twilight took notice and gasped.

“Tempest! Your horn!” shouted Twilight, mouth agape.

Tempest nodded eagerly, her wide smile showing off her pearly-whites.

“This is incredible! I told you Dr. Minuette is an expert! Oh Celestia, this is so exciting! Does it—”

One of the magazines on the waiting room table glowed magenta and slowly rose into the air. It wobbled a bit, then haltingly returned to the table, all without exploding. Twilight clapped her hooves in glee.

“That’s fantastic, Tempest! I’ve never seen you with that much control over your magic before.”

“Colgate said I might never regain my full magical strength, but I don’t care. This is all I wanted,” she said, smile never wavering.

“That’s wonderful! How did she do it? Is it real?”

Tempest blushed and looked down at her feet. “No, it’s porcelain.”

Looking closer, Twilight was able to spot the slightly different shades of purple where the real horn met the fake. Also, the tears welling up in Tempest’s eyes. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” said Tempest, a little too quickly.


“Yes. It’s just, how could I have been so wrong?”

“Tempest, you weren’t wrong—”

“Yes I was! I thought friendship was weak, so I hurt others to prove I’m strong. I enslaved ponies for the Storm King on the hope that I might get my horn back! Slaves!” Tempest choked out the words as the tears began to flow. “And all this time, it was all my fault. I don’t deserve this.”

Twilight lunged forward and hugged Tempest, tightly gripping the sobbing mare. “No, no, you deserve this. You deserve to be happy. It’s okay. Everypony deserves to be whole.”

“But I hurt so many.”

“And without you they’d still be hurting,” said Twilight, stroking Tempest’s mane while ignoring how damp her own was becoming. “You stood up to the Storm King. You freed them. You deserve this.”

“But it’s all my fault! If I brushed my teeth than none of this would’ve happened.”

“What?” Twilight quickly pulled away from the hug. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“I had a cavity. That’s why my horn broke.”

Maybe Tempest had misinterpreted something that the dentist had said? With great effort, Twilight suppressed her curiosity for the time being. “It doesn’t matter how your horn broke. Ponies make mistakes all the time, but as long as they’re willing to try to fix and learn from them, they can be forgiven. But you know the hardest person to get forgiveness from?” Twilight put a hoof to Tempest’s chest. “Ourselves. You can’t spend the rest of your life hating yourself because of a past mistake. As your friend, I won’t let you.”

“But I was a stupid filly.”

“Everypony starts out as a foal. That’s how it works. You can’t hold that against yourself.”

Tempest seemed to consider this for a moment, before she dried her tears and shook herself. “Okay. I’ll try.”

“Good! Now, how about that cupcake?” There was the smile that Twilight loved. As the office door closed behind them, Twilight smirked. “Hey Tempest, you know why else you should be happy?”

“Besides the cupcakes?”

“Yup! Think about it, you used to work for the Storm King, who only cared about his own power, right?”


“And he was never going to give you your horn back, or share his throne with you, right?”


“Well, now you have your horn and you wear the crown!”

With a deafening boom, Tempest’s horn shattered.


Author's Note:

I started this story before the movie was even released (I saw an advance screening). My hope was that I could catch some of the hype around Tempest Shadow. Something tells me that two years later, the hype has died down a tad. Oh well!

Stay tuned for "The Tooth Hurts 2: The Root of the Problem"*

*Not actually

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Comments ( 11 )

The cover art :rainbowlaugh:

Shame you missed the Feghoot contest.



This is great! Not only is your Tempest Shadow realistically mature, sane, and just dark and edgy enough, but you do a great job getting across Twilight's distinctive mixture of personas: Princess, geek, and nervous wreck by turns. Nice job!

Thanks! It was a real challenge to balance the darker themes with the lighter feel of the story overall, but the characters helped carry me through. :twilightsmile:

At one point I had intended to submit this to the contest, but I didn't like the idea of adapting a story I'd had sitting nearly-completed on the shelf for years to the contest. Oh well. :unsuresweetie:


Haha, I threw that together from a bunch of stock pictures with the intention of commissioning some real art for it later. But there's something inherently funny about Tempest's expression in that picture.

Hey! I remember giving feedback on this. Glad to see it published. Love the cover, by the way.

R5h #7 · August 3rd · · ·

Thanks for showing this to me! I'm a big fan of Tempest Shadow, and of puns, and you've created a story I can really sink my teeth into!

Groan. Yeah, that's a solid feghoot. A real story that sucks you in until you don't see the pun coming. Well played.

Tempest Shadow: Ponies fall at my feet when they see me coming.

Trixie: Even BEFORE they smell your breath?

Hi, it was nice to meet you at BronyCon this year :pinkiehappy:

I enjoyed reading this - it was funny, and I liked the idea of how horns grow

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