• Member Since 23rd Nov, 2015
  • offline last seen October 31st

Midnight Quill


In my defense, I was left unsupervised.

T
Source

Life doesn't always go smoothly, and relationships rarely work out as expected. Fleetfoot has recently become aware of that. So, when her partner turns her life into a constant competition, she seeks relief in a solitary gym session in order to deal with it.

It is only when she gets surprising company that she discovers how cathartic togetherness can be.


Winning entry of the "A two-faced charade" contest. Proofreaders/Editors were Chaospaladin, 0_0 and Doggyshakespeare. The cover art was commissioned from the talented MarieDRose.

Rated and tagged for implied intimacy/sex and all the bitter consequences of cheating, as well as some mild language here 'n there.

This story is part of the Shadowverse main timeline.

Chapters (1)
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Comments ( 20 )

That's a pretty heavy twist to end on.

8765275
That was the plan :raritywink: Hope you liked it.

I can't wait to check this out!

This is one spicy entry! Good hunting, and may the odds be in your favor! :twilightsmile:

This was a fantastic story! Such a detailed and generous portrayal of both main characters, with worldbuilding that expanded an area we haven't seen much of while feeling very grounded in reality. I presume you have some military experience it's drawn from.

To put the final situation in context - is abortion an option in Equestria?

I'm afraid I noticed a few words that could possibly be tightened up:

She clinged to the bowl (clung)

Now Fleetfoot was waiting, counting down the seconds that would relief or end her (relieve)

Sorry, there were a couple of others, but I didn't start copying them down until near the end. I did notice that Flash put a leg around Fleetfoot's shoulder - I'd say foreleg, so its immediately recognisable as the pony equivalent to arms, rather than risking the kama-sutra-esque image of trying it with his rear leg as a human would have to if the leg were specified.

I really enjoyed this story, and I loved Fleetfoot's thoughts leading up to the crucial decision: how she went back and forth between outrage that she was capable of such a thing, and then concern that it'd be even worse not to be. I hope there's a way for her to get what she wants in the end without being shackled to Rainbow Dash or thrown out of the Wonderbolts. Thanks for writing :twilightsmile:

8771020
First of all, thank you for the review, as well as for pointing out those remaining errors. I fixed them.

To answer your questions:

with worldbuilding that expanded an area we haven't seen much of while feeling very grounded in reality. I presume you have some military experience it's drawn from.

I didn't serve, but my home turf in both reading and writing is military sci-fi. That's where a lot of my understanding of the matter comes from, and since I'm a big fan of high-realism stories, I always try to do justice to the theme.

About abortion in Equestria: This is admittedly an element I've never really fleshed out. I'm sure there's a spell for it, I'm just not sure how ponies would see the legal/social part of it. Let's just say it wasn't an option Fleetfoot considered, which was the important part here.
I know her struggle could have felt even more real if I would have included that element/option in her thought process, but the contest put me on a bit of a time limit.

And about Fleetfoot's future... Let's say at some point we'll get to know of it, since this story is just another part of the Shadowverse. For now, however, our glimpse into her life ends on a bittersweet note and leaves her fate up to speculation :raritywink:

8771576
awww so don’t expect a follow up story for this?:fluttercry:

8783627
Nope, there won't be a sequel. This was one of the smaller glimpses into a character's life, where I focused on a single life-changing event, just as I did with Omni.

Other stories, however, will follow characters for longer periods of time. A Tale of Shadows is an excellent example of this, I really hope I'll get that one done until summer.

This was great!

I can finally congratulate you for this story! I absolutely loved it great job!

Wow, that ending hits like a freight train. And after their night together was so nice, and nothing bad happened... and then... and then... youch!

Great story! Congratulations on winning the contest :twilightsmile:

Easy to see why this one was the winner. I can't say that I'm a fan of the way it just suddenly ends without exploring the fallout — but it's straight on point with the contest theme, and swimming with awesome little lively details right down to the mixed drinks. It's consistently super vivid throughout, both on the physical and emotional levels. And I could feel my gut cramp up along with Fleetfoot's when the last twist hit.

Well done, and congratulations!

Finally got around to reading this. After you won the contest, I had to see what the fuss was about. And honestly, my feelings are mixed. See, your execution was quite good, but the actual plot was fairly paint-by-numbers. I thought Flash was characterized well, which is difficult to do, but Fleetfoot was practically a blank slate. All she really does is react to events the way most ponies would. You could substitute in Misty Fly or any other background Wonderbolt and the story wouldn't change much at all. I was actually way more interested in Candy as a character.

I love the concept and your characterization for Fleetfoot and Flash Sentry. The final twist was also very well executed – and I really wish that you didn't finish the fic there, as it works as a stronger hook than pretty much anything else on the narrative. The problem is that the rest of it is just too unpolished. There are a lot of weird word choices, at least one instance of perspective shifting seemingly for convenience (and in a way that doesn't add much to the story). The boxing scene also felt incredibly hokey — For instance, you treat feints as if they were actual punches, and there was little effort in adapting it for quadrupeds (see "The New Crop" for a great example of that done right).

There is a certainly a ton of potential here. I will be looking forward to reading more fics from you.

I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, and it’s been long enough after the competition concluded that I finally thought I could do so and assess it fairly.

There’re some things I really liked here. Flash was nicely developed, and there were lots of really nice worldbuilding details sprinkled in throughout. Things like the different drinks they ordered and the medals Flash had and that wonderful tangent about the criteria for the Royal Guard and Flash’s jab at the other military division.

Basically, I quite liked how you handled Flash. He was really solid here, I think.

And, generally speaking, I like how the plot was laid out. Fleetfoot’s troubles felt very much like the kind of thing someone might struggle with in a relationship with Rainbow Dash, and I can see that dissatisfaction leading Fleetfoot to some questionable decisions. The ending, then, was a nice consequence of it all, a good way for it all to not end so smoothly.

But, I’m sorry to say, a lot of this fell really flat for me. I’d second what Soge said; in addition to the ending feeling more like a hook than a resolution, there were lots of odd phrasings and clunky dialogue that consistently pulled me out of the story. And, going deeper than that, I wasn’t fond of how Fleetfoot’s troubles with Rainbow Dash were only talked about, never shown--it made it difficult to sympathize with her, made it feel more like she was whiny and dissatisfied than legitimately troubled. The way she put things, I think I can see it all playing out that way, but when the relationship wasn’t shown at all it was difficult to feel her pain or conflicted feelings, which made her decisions lack a lot of the tension I think they could have had.

And then there’s the ending. What I think brought it down for me the most was that it felt like the end had everything to do with Fleetfoot having slept with a stallion and, comparatively, hardly anything to do with her having cheated, if that makes sense. Obviously, at the end, there’s some distress due to the cheating side of things, but it seemed to have been brought on more by the physical consequences than the emotional ones--if it had been another mare she’d slept with, the implication seems to be that everything would’ve turned out just fine and dandy.

Again, I think there’re a fair number of things you did quite well here. Had this been longer and more fleshed-out, I think it could’ve been wonderful. As it is, the premise never felt completely solid to me and the payoff felt underwhelming. But, all that being said, I congratulate you for winning. It’s clear that a lot of thought and care went into making this storry, so I’m happy that the judges and others found so much to like about this one, even if I don’t share all their views on it.

9055176
First of all, thanks for the feedback. It took me way longer than planned to respond, for which I'm sorry.

The problem is that the rest of it is just too unpolished. There are a lot of weird word choices, at least one instance of perspective shifting seemingly for convenience (and in a way that doesn't add much to the story). The boxing scene also felt incredibly hokey — For instance, you treat feints as if they were actual punches, and there was little effort in adapting it for quadrupeds (see "The New Crop" for a great example of that done right).

I admit that about all martial arts in the shadowverse are based on our own bipedal stance, which seemed to be a logical choice (they need some free legs to block and strike). Anyway, I will certainly look into "The New Crop" and see what I can do better. The shadowverse is full of fight scenes and I value any input I can get on the subject.

The POV shift came kinda natural because I didn't want to make a cut the moment Fleet blacks out. I find "half asleep/comatose" scenes utmost boring, which was why I avoided it here without much thinking. Granted, I could've made a direct cut to the next morning work, but this gave us an insight to Flash's struggle and the effort he went through, which otherwise wouldn't have been shown.

The word choice thing baffles me, though. I know I have a weird style on occasion, but could you point out any examples?

9061034
Same goes for you. I apologize for the long break, and I appreciated the feedback.
Just like with Soge's feedback, I'd like to go into the details you mentioned, mostly so I can better figure out what to do different next time ;)

there were lots of odd phrasings and clunky dialogue that consistently pulled me out of the story. And, going deeper than that, I wasn’t fond of how Fleetfoot’s troubles with Rainbow Dash were only talked about, never shown--it made it difficult to sympathize with her, made it feel more like she was whiny and dissatisfied than legitimately troubled. The way she put things, I think I can see it all playing out that way, but when the relationship wasn’t shown at all it was difficult to feel her pain or conflicted feelings, which made her decisions lack a lot of the tension I think they could have had.

Same as with Soge, could you give me a few examples of those "weird word choices", please? Given I'm in the worst possible position to spot them ^^

That aside, I must say that only showing Fleet's struggles from her POV and hers alone was a planned element here, because this is just how any person perceives their struggles: from a single biased POV. If we could see things like relationship struggles from an omniscient and impartial standpoint, they'd stop being struggles, right? According to my experience, most problems between people come from a lack of understanding, which was exactly what happened here. Only Flash served as a voice of reason by pointing out "It’s not a nice trait, I know, but I’m sure she didn’t mean to hurt you.", but other than that this was meant to show how a single character feels in such a situation.
Aka, the idea at the start was that we never find out how bad things actually were and only have Fleet's stories to base our judgement on.

And then there’s the ending. What I think brought it down for me the most was that it felt like the end had everything to do with Fleetfoot having slept with a stallion and, comparatively, hardly anything to do with her having cheated, if that makes sense. Obviously, at the end, there’s some distress due to the cheating side of things, but it seemed to have been brought on more by the physical consequences than the emotional ones--if it had been another mare she’d slept with, the implication seems to be that everything would’ve turned out just fine and dandy.

Yes yes, the ending. On this we all agree, which is why I'm actually considering finishing the ending and adding it to the story. Because yes it exists, but only as a rough outline and pieces of dialogue. By the time the contest was almost over I simply lacked the time to finish it. However, given this issue is brought up time and time again since a few weeks, I might as well give myself a push and finish it.

9132072
Sorry, I feel like there might have been a miscommunication here :twilightsheepish:

That aside, I must say that only showing Fleet's struggles from her POV and hers alone was a planned element here

I completely get that, and I wouldn’t advocate for doing it any other way. Fleetfoot is certainly the character with the most interesting and complex emotional state, so having it be from her POV was, in my opinion, the only correct choice.

Aka, the idea at the start was that we never find out how bad things actually were and only have Fleet's stories to base our judgement on.

I get that you were going for that, but that’s exactly the part that I had a problem with. This is all just my take on things, of course, but I think the decision to not show any of the Rainbow Dash/Fleetfoot relationship hurt the story in two ways.

The first problem was that it made it hard to take Fleetfoot seriously. I can understand that she was meant to be sympathetic here, but I did not often find myself actually sympathizing with her. Talking about her troubles is fine, but there’s no vivid imagery there. I’m told by the story that she’s troubled and I can accept that, but it lacked the intensity and resonance that I think showing the troublesome incidents ocurring might have brought.

The other problem was that it took away the potential stakes. Cheating can be a tense, dramatic moment because it jeopardizes a relationship very dear to a character. Here, though, I didn’t get the sense that much was at risk at all. Fleetfoot didn’t seem satisfied in the slightest with Rainbow Dash then, nor at the end, so her decision to potentially ruin that relationship didn’t carry much weight. She doesn’t seem all that guilty about it afterwards either, not until she finds out there’s a consequence to it she can’t talk her way out of.

To be clear, I like the idea of the real nature of Fleetfoot’s relationship not being shown. It’s artistically satisfying, let’s say, to insert some ambiguity as to whether her troubles are as dreadful as she makes them out to be or if she’s overreacting. But, here, I think it detracted from the heft of the emotional gutpunch that her eventual infidelity could have been. And it’s very possible to have that same biased POV while actually showing some of that taking place. It’s more difficult, certainly, but it can be done.

Yes yes, the ending. On this we all agree, which is why I'm actually considering finishing the ending and adding it to the story. Because yes it exists, but only as a rough outline and pieces of dialogue. By the time the contest was almost over I simply lacked the time to finish it. However, given this issue is brought up time and time again since a few weeks, I might as well give myself a push and finish it.

Sorry, but I’m not sure lenghtening the ending would help it that much? I don’t know what you’d add, of course, so maybe it could be an improvement, but I have my doubts; for me, I think the bigger problem was with how the ending started than with how it finished.

Same as with Soge, could you give me a few examples of those "weird word choices", please? Given I'm in the worst possible position to spot them ^^

Sorry again, it’s been a while since reading this and I don’t recall any off the top of my head--I will try to look through it and point out a few things later.

9133528

I can understand that she was meant to be sympathetic here, but I did not often find myself actually sympathizing with her. Talking about her troubles is fine, but there’s no vivid imagery there.

Ahh, gotcha. Yes, I can see how I could have done that better, given this is simply an issue with the presentation.

Sorry, but I’m not sure lenghtening the ending would help it that much? I don’t know what you’d add, of course, so maybe it could be an improvement, but I have my doubts; for me, I think the bigger problem was with how the ending started than with how it finished.

Well, the current ending wouldn't be lengthened; the ending I have in mind would be a completely new scene, taking place a few weeks later, where Dash and Fleets have a hart-to-heart talk. It would carry a stronger feeling of resolution with it, like any solid 5th act should.

She doesn’t seem all that guilty about it afterwards either, not until she finds out there’s a consequence to it she can’t talk her way out of.

Another thing the other ending would've taken care of. In short, Fleets is not so much sorry for cheating, but much more because she knows she hurt Dash's feelings. (I sweat in context this makes more sense! :twilightblush: )

Well, at least I now know what to do better next time ;)

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