• Member Since 20th Dec, 2017
  • offline last seen Saturday

xRei


That feeling when you'll never be a famous pony writer who burns out and fades into obscurity. Why even live?

E

Following the events of the season 8 finale, Cozy Glow has been sent to Tartarus and the school has been slowly recovering. But Starlight, struggling under the burden of counseling a weary school, is troubled by some tough questions which have been bothering her for some time now.

In an effort to put her mind at ease, she approaches the pony she trusts the most: Twilight Sparkle.

This is a mini-fic with a simple premise. There's limited build up, and the fic is focused primarily on Starlight.

Edit: Got featured on Dec 4th. I'm glad some of you enjoyed it. Thanks for taking the time.

Chapters (1)
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Comments ( 41 )

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? All in all, good story. Honestly, I'd say Cozy deserved exactly what she got and I know I'll get lynched for that by a few, but this fic did deal with the aftermath quite well. In all honesty, I don't think I've seen any fics dealing with what Twilight or Starlight thought about sending Cozy to Tartarus. The only fics I've seen about Cozy are focused on her and her former friends or just crack fics.

9328081
I also haven't noticed any (though I didn't go looking extensively).

Though to be honest, limiting myself to a short fic on this did make me realize that there's probably a lot more untapped potential in this idea that I didn't really touch here due to the size constraint. The subject probably deserves a more thorough fic.

9328098
Actually, I think you handled the subject matter well with the words given to you.

You've got a wonderful concept for a story. However, if you're willing to read on in hopes of improving, you might want to take my advice.

First off, I like how you've characterized Starlight. It reminds me a lot of how I do, very antsy and nervous. It's reflected in the prose. However, this has reminded me of a problem I had with my own story until I realized my errors, and went back and revised the early chapters. A big problem I've noticed throughout this story, is that you have long stretches where you are explaining how Starlight feels emotionally in between lines of dialogue. It, as it had with me, bogs down the pace and makes this a chore to read. Most readers are going to want the plot to move along while they infer what's implied by skillfully written prose.

In other words, they get tired of being guided through every little step of the way. To explain what I mean, take a look at this sequence from a yet-to-be released chapter of my current story, so you can get an idea of how to convey information, emotion, and narrative in a concise manner without bogging down the pacing (just for context, Starlight is in Ponyville Genral, the first time she's ever been in a hospital):

The other pony was charming enough, at least. The one Starlight often saw around town, who looked like a ghost, and was the last mare she'd expect to work in a place like this. Ergo, this had to be a hospital, and her soothing demeanor a welcome change of pace from the last few days. Apathy was plain unpleasant on a good day, but on the worst day of Starlight's life?

She raspberried before she could answer herself.

"Um, Ms. Starlight?"

The kindly-voiced nurse again. Starlight shot upright, exposing her back to a particularly biting chill worsened by the sweat matting her coat. "Uh, hey there, Nurse!" Starlight grinned, a tacky tightness pulling at her cheeks. She scrubbed it clean of spittle and smiled sheepishly. So much for grace.

Nurse Redheart giggled into her hoof. Judging the foal before her. "There's no need to be embarrassed," she said. "Boredom is an ugly part of hospital living, I'm afraid. You'll find no judgement from me."

She seemed as nice as she sounded. Redheart definitely gossiped with her coworkers whenever they got the chance, though. "Th-thanks. I was ready to ask about that, actually." Nothing else came to mind, and even that wasn't good enough. Redheart could only smile and nod.

"I have an intuition for these sorts of things. When you've been at this as long as I have, you notice patterns in certain ponies." Her small talk game was on point. She really had been at this for years.

All the more apparent that they were pleasantries and falsehoods, considering Starlight wasn't truly ready to ask such a thing. At least she was fooling Redheart somewhat. Either that, or...

'Certain ponies?' What the hay is that supposed to mean? That Starlight was thought to be a basket case, stupid mare. After all, she opted to keep quiet about her grisly injury than help the doctors help her! That might not yet be the final verdict, being really unprofessional with little solid data, but the doctor certainly thought such a thing in his own brain, and that felt worse.

As if he knew any better! Know-it-all ponies were always jumping conclusions about others they hardly know.

As opposed to pointing out the fact that Starlight is doing this very thing right now, I make it clear in what she's processing as the scene goes on.

Rather than explaining how Starlight feels and getting the audience to understand what I'm trying to say, I let the prose take on Starlight's voice, eyes, and thought process and let the information fed to the reader speak for itself. I feel this is a more effective means of creating a satisfying narrative than going into agonizing detail about every minute thing.

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I agree that story telling is best done while maintaining pacing. And I wasn't thrilled with the pacing of this story.

Also, I really appreciate getting critical feedback. That said...

Inner narration/character thoughts are as much a part of a story as dialogue and action, so I'm not sure how much of that I would want to throw away. In fact, I used action beats throughout the story to give slight nods to character feelings without narration. Maybe I could have used more of that?

So what I'd say is the balance of narration/dialogue/action is maybe skewed a bit. Part of that is stylistic (I tend to emphasize narration), part of it is bad pacing. If you disagree, I'd like to read an article or something that talks about whatever it is you want to emphasize. Or you could tell me in a PM.

As for the clip you showed you me, it's is well written, but I'm not sure it really shows off what you mean. It has two sizable paragraphs at the beginning and end that are purely narration. They don't focus much on what Starlight feels, but its still narration and it sandwiches dialogue. The parts in-between are a mix of dialogue and action beats with a sprinkling of observations from the PoV character interpreting Redheart's actions. I assume that part by itself is what you're focusing on?

Minor issue: "Nurse Redheart giggled into her hoof. Judging the foal before her." period instead of comma I presume.

Anyway if you have more to say about this I'd be glad to get a PM from you if you wanna talk about it some more. At the moment I'm not completely sure I know what message you're trying to convey.

Rei I've already shared most my thoughts on this story with you directly, but just to share with the class:

I think challenging yourself to do more with fewer words is admirable: it shows how you're willing to get uncomfortable with your writing in order to improve!

I thought you dealt with some very interesting issues that most fics and canon dance around: the nature of evil in Equestria. Starlight's fears, and Twilight's reticence to open up on the subject suggest a deeper, darker process for the nature of evil, how the princesses determine its level of corruption, and how they dole out justice.

You could have dived into a deep pool looking at the nature of a demi-Goddess's torment in peeling back the veneer of a pony's soul, but you stayed true to your challenge and made for a lovely fix with a complete story idea: (that of Twilight bearing/healing her friend's anxiety while continuing to shoulder her own).

Bravo!

Chrysalis hesitated.

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The fact that she did makes me think there is hope for her.

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Very possible that Chrysi could come around maybe.

But In my estimation, Starlight would see it as a loss. in many ways, Starlight probably sees herself and Chrysi as being similar. The main difference is that Starlight took the leap of faith to become 'good' while Chrysi turned away from it, hesitation or not.

But Starlight also doubts herself, so I imagine she might take Chrysi's refusal very personally. She might see herself in Chrysi, and seeing her turn away like that could be a reminder of her own weakness and inner 'evil'.

Put another way, Starlight doubts Chrysi's ability to change because she doubts her own change.

I tried... for a little while, but it didn't take, so we cut our losses. You know what they say, after all, Rome was built in a day.

In the end, there is never going to be a decent justification for the Tartarus Cozy debacle. No amount of mental gymnastics can fix it when a simple room with barred windows and a door that locks from the outside would be enough to contain her.
Nice try, though, and I don't mean that sarcastically.

9329961
That's okay. It wasn't really my intention to fix someone else's bad writing, only to play with the resultant chaos a bit. You'll note that I didn't really delve into the 'why' of the situation that much, from Twilight's perspective. That was a conscious choice.

What would I say?

Unless, that is, I made up something. But the story isn't really about Cozy or Tartarus – not directly. It's about Starlight.

mishun #12 · 2 weeks ago · · 1 ·

"She nearly succeeded in draining Equestria of its magic! And without magic…"

"No friendship, right?"

Poor humans.

But she did, and passed down her honest and pained judgement.

"We would have sent you to Tartarus."

Well, she would need to catch her first. One of them killed in action seems to be more likely outcome.

9330128
So here is what I was thinking while writing this:

Realistically, Starlight probably would have been imprisoned either way for what she did. Or killed, or something other than what we got. She was redeemed instead, because 'kids show'.

So in that regard, Twilight knew what Starlight really wanted to hear: that given the same circumstances, is what she did just as bad as what Cozy was doing. After all, if Cozy deserved to be in Tartarus, than she worries that she should be there too, regardless of whether she was 'redeemed' and given a second chance.

So the important detail I was (trying) to convey is that Starlight doubts herself. She doubts that she should have been given a second chance when (presumably) Cozy wasn't -- she later learned that there was more to Cozy's imprisonment than was let on. And I purposefully had Twilight be vague about why she insist that Cozy is 'evil'.

Anyway the point is that the specifics weren't the focus, but rather how Starlight interprets the situation with regards to herself.

I haven’t seen the S8 finale yet, but standing on its own this was immensely enjoyable.

(I also sometimes read novels backwards. Just roll with it.)

Having read this, I am certainly intrigued at the prospect of CG’s ultimate actions. (Thus far I’ve watched 12 episodes, and liked three of them.) We may honestly be looking at a season where the best things to come out of it are the discussions within the fandom, especially in the form of fanfics. And I think this story and others like it will be key in those discussions.

Meanwhile, apropos of nothing whatsoever...

"Maybe a spell? One of Maredenkainan's scribing enchantments?"

Oh, man, I laughed so hard at that! That was beautiful. :rainbowlaugh::rainbowlaugh::rainbowlaugh::rainbowlaugh:

Anyway. From what I have read of your comments, I gather this story was something of an experiment. I would ask you to consider it a successful one. :twilightsmile:

I love stories that properly address the tough question of realistic consequences. Congrats on the feature, you earned it.

Something just occurred to me though: is it me, or is CG's name not at all related to her mark or talent?

9330558
It makes me very pleased that someone caught that reference.
S8 was.. okay, imo. Not great. Had some good episodes. The finale was... meh.
And yeah, it was kind of experimental to see how short and succinct a story I could write. Normally I'm kind of verbose and plodding, so I was trying to be more brief. Glad something good came out of it for a lot of you.

9330643
Doesn't seem to relate to her CM, no. But since her CM is a rook, a piece from chess, it might represent her being strategically minded. Perhaps she sees all others like pieces on a chess board. You might expect to see her CM be a King or Queen piece, but that's a bit too on the nose.

Or anyways that's what I would go with.

Eh. I still don't like the outcome, even if I agree in principle that there are people who we can't or haven't the faintest idea how to help.

By that measure Luna should have been sent to Tartarus for nearly damning Equestria to eternal night (and probably eternal cold and a severe loss of life). And Discord should have been promptly sealed back up in stone. Just imagine what could have happened if Trixie hadn't been gullible enough to be tricked into taking the Alicorn Amulet off.

Cozy Glow failed at friendship for sure, but nearly every denizen in Equestria seems to get a billion second chances unless the plot disfavors them and then they just get sent to Tartarus to get the mess out of everyone's hair. Also if it weren't for Twilight's school and it's bizarre stockpile of artifacts and things to find out plus whoever somehow couried contact between Cozy and Tirek...

9331658
I didn't really touch much on the details of why Cozy should be deserving of being sent to Tartarus. Wasn't really my focus.

I don't disagree with anything you're saying. *Realistically* it makes no sense that some characters get redemption arcs while others don't, and what criteria must be met to decide one over the other. That's why I didn't really address it in the fic. I'm not trying to fix the shows writing and story telling.

That said, I could probably fabricate a reason, but it would have to be a totally made up reason. A completely fabricated story. That's what it would take to 'fix' the situation.

I love that ending, I can really picture Starlight doing that :rainbowlaugh:

As to add something into the bowl, maybe the reason why Cozy is sent to Tartarus is simply because of her connection to Tirek? The whole Equestria remembers how Tirek brought great danger, even Twilight with all the princess's power can't beat him convincingly. Somepony connected to a dangerous creature like that would naturally be a target for concern. But the bombshell is Cozy repeated what Tirek did. That, presumably, made everypony think she's just as dangerous as Tirek, as a foal or not, and felt she must be dealt with the same way as Tirek.

Also, Starlight's time travel fiasco is only directed at Twilight (Or at least the mane six only), not the entire world. I don't know if it's proven or not, but Starlight might not know that her actions brings danger to the entire Equestria, and it's very possible to be not her aim at all. It's a personal vendetta, not a plan to screw every living creature like Tirek and Cozy did. Plus, Twilight knows the reason Starlight did what she did, and it came from a tragic background. We don't know what Cozy's past is like, but I doubt 'taking the power of friendship to bring down Equestria' can come from a tragic past.

But, if you don't want further discussions about this since plenty of people had done so, feel free to tell me. :twilightsheepish:

9331971
Well, I'll mimic what I said there: the focus of the story was Starlight's feelings and personal doubts. The whole Cozy Glow and Tartarus thing was more like a backdrop which gave me an interesting way to tackle the subject.

That said, I think there could be some interesting reasons for Cozy's incarceration in Tartarus. There could be many. Links to Tirek could reasonably be one of them! Who knows. The problem is that the the finale did basically nothing to justify any of that. She's just kind of.. sent there... For reasons.

As for Starlight, whether anyone thinks she's deserving of her redemption arc or not has always been a debated topic. Was what she did really so bad? How evil was she really? I'm not completely sure, honestly. Part of me says that, if I'm aiming for realism, it makes sense a mare as magically inclined and smart as Starlight should have known that her actions would have an effect on the rest of the world. But even if she didn't, she still subjugated an entire village and tried to personally destroy Twilight.

Imagine if someone tried to personally destroy Celestia or Luna. Or Cadence. The punishment would be pretty harsh. Twilight *is* a princess.

But, as always, my main focus was less on the actual severity of what Starlight did, and more about how Starlight feels about what she did. Even if her actions weren't worthy of being sent to Tartarus, she could still think she belongs there, even if no one else thinks that way. That feeling is the core of what this fic was trying to exploit. Starlight's doubt in herself. Coming to grips with the consequences she'd narrowly avoided.

And there's a lot of stuff I didn't even touch on that I could have. I didn't, cus this fic was meant to be short.

BenRG #21 · 1 week ago · · ·

Confronted with the realisation that her plan would mean doom for all of Equestria, Starlight Glimmer turned her back on her scheme and surrendered herself to Twilight Sparkle for judgement. Confronted with the realisation that her plan would mean doom for all of Equestria, Cosy Glow doubled down and, when defeated, tried to escape to try again. That was the big difference and what made Cosy Glow a monster when Starlight Glimmer was not.

9330643
Not all ponies have names related to their cutie mark or special talent. Like Babs Seed for example.

9332092
Considering Starlight had no idea who the Wonderbolts were, I could easily see her being ignorant about what the Mane 6 accomplished. Especially since we have seen time and time again, lots of ponies not even knowing who the Elements are,

Liked for the cover art.

Ear Floof.

I believe that anyone can be changed. The problem is that the person has to want to change. Luna wanted to change from being Nightmare Moon, Discord wanted to change from being the lonely Spirit of Chaos to what he is now, and so too did Starlight want to change. Sombra, Tirek, Chrysalis, and Cozy Glow did not want to change so they could not be swayed from their paths. Maybe one day they will want too, but more than likely they'll be the way they are till their final days.

9332092
Eh, she's not a princess princess.

9332092
Well, that's why you wrote that Twilight begging Cozy to change, right? Cause the finale didn't address the reason clearly. But honestly, I can't see that as a flaw, it only opens the possibilities for writers like us to find a legit reason :raritywink:

9333159
It does present opportunities. I kind of prefer when the show does the heavy lifting though. I feel like that isn't the case this time. Too many unanswered questions.

9333146
The other princesses call her a princess. She's an alicorn. So I think by their own weird, wacky governmental rules that counts enough for being a princess.

9332677
Even if Starlight had a reason to believe that Twilight wasn't 'important' to the timeline, what she did was still clearly dangerous and unpredictable, as any time travel would be. There are always going to be consequences you can't predict. Starlight's insistence that Twilight and her friends weren't 'that important to the timeline' were just excuses on her part to justify her vendetta.

And again, that vendetta was against a princess, so.. I don't think it would be easily forgiven.

I still don't agree that there was any good excuse for the show writers to have them send a CHILD to Tartarus, the worst prison in all of Equestria. (Of course, I also object strongly to the hideous living conditions they portrayed - confining creatures to a cage they can barely move in is literally a kind of psychological torture.) But I like the message you were going for here. It makes sense that Starlight would have such fears, and I'm glad you wrote her finding some comfort.

xRei #31 · 1 week ago · · ·

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As I've mentioned down below, I didn't really want to tackle the 'why' of Cozy being sent to Tartarus. I skimmed over it here, which is probably why whatever I wrote might seem 'unconvincing'. I wasn't really trying to justify it. Just working with what they gave. The story's not really about that; it's about Starlight.

Any reason I could come up with to explain Cozy being in Tartarus would be entirely made up. And I'd have to make up something pretty serious to justify it, but I also didn't want to detract from the story I wanted to tell by diving into it extensively.

That said, Starlight's feelings on the matter are similar to my own. None of it makes all that much sense and seems absurd.

9333724
Oh, quite fair, and I honestly didn't think you WERE trying to justify them sending Cozy to Tartarus. That was more me feeling the need to state how much I disagree with the show. I think you did a good job with the subject matter, especially considering its touchy nature.

Just a little bit too much of a gay vibe between them for me, but still a well done story.

This is a work of art. Seriously, the drescriptiveness and time put into this is exceptional. I respect the perspective gave from you on the story, and I feel like you embodied the characters within the story excellently. Twilight's still a book worm, Starlight is still a quirky, unsure character, and Spike is still a lazy, half-awake boy. That, and telling the way the students smiled was true in many ways. It's all out of respect. I can relate entirely, and do see that this is a good story. Minimalizing the swears to draw serious emotion was pretty good, not over using other adjectives, and keeping the story sort of darkened by the acts of Cozy Glow. Overall, this is just hella good, for lack of better words. I enjoyed this, and, as you have said earlier (the author), "there's probably a lot of untapped potential," which is completely true. You could make a whole story out of this if you really wanted, continuing with the aftermath of Cozy's world domination attempt. A whole adventure, just waiting to be typed.

9333218
This is where it gets iffy though. The only way Starlight would know about time travel is from over hearing them say that Twilight used it (You could see that she was there when they brought it up.) So she could have assumed it wasn't dangerous if Twilight saw nothing wrong with using it. Ane since she would have had a bad opinion about Twilight at that point, figuring Twilight was in the wrong, she would probaly assume if that 'incompetant' alicorn can do it with no trouble, it should be a breeze for her.

9334540
Maybe. Possibly. But like I said before, even if you give the time travel thing a pass for its ability to screw up the past in unexpected ways, Starlight still tried to destroy the friendships of of the main cast members, including Twilight, princess Twilight.

I'll stand by the idea that attacking a princess is probably Tartarus-worthy. And keep in mind that in the canon of the show, friendship is a big deal. It's a cornerstone of their culture, taps into the potential of their magic, it's a tool of offense and defense, etc.. It's critical to their society. So going back in time to destroy the princess's friendships is kind of a big deal. Big enough of a deal that Celestia groomed Twilight into making friendships as the major plot point that started the series. And it's not only Twilight, it's also the others. They would be affected too.

You'd almost expect them to consider something like financial ruin, destroying personal property, all those sorts of things as inconsequential compared to destroying a friendship. Destroying a friendship is pretty damn evil. And the fact Starlight wasn't aware of how important Twilight and her friends are to the timeline is an excuse that only goes so far. If she truly wasn't aware of all the good they had done for Equestria, it would have to be from willing ignorance. It's not like it's a big secret. At best she was guilty of ignorance, at worst the writers were lazy and it makes no sense she wouldn't know.

Lastly, even if we wanted to give Starlight a pass, the simple fact remains that ignorance is rarely a passable excuse in the eyes of the law. If you do something that causes widespread destruction out of your own stupidity and ignorance, you're still going to face huge consequences if you get caught. The law might go slightly softer on you if your ignorance could be proved, but if you caused death and destruction and the ruination of the government, I don't think it would be very favorable for you.

Plus, think about it from the perspective of Twilight, back at that point in the past. Starlight said she didn't realize how important Twi was to the timeline, but she could have been lying. If she'd also rejected Twi's offer of redemption and friendship and was forced to subdue Starlight, do you think they would still have believed her story? Would Celestia, Luna and Cadence be as forgiving of a pony who subjugated an entire town, used magic to steal cutie marks (another hugely important part of their society), and then used forbidden time magic to try and sabotage the princess of friendship?

Yeah. She's lucky the writers enjoy redemption arcs.

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I appreciate that you liked it that much.
I have trouble seeing in quite the same, glowing light, but I'll definitely agree on the potential.

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But you also got to consider the fact that from Starlights perspective, Twilight destoyed her friendships with the ponies of her village. An act you just said was pretty damn evil. Remember, it works both ways. So she would have felt justified in returning the favor. With the added bonus of removing a, from Starlights perspective, corrupt leader.

9335165
Well now you're getting into issues of moral subjectivism. From Starlight's perspective, perhaps she saw things that way, but the majority of society wouldn't likely have seen it that way. Furthermore, Starlight's actions were willful and premeditated, Twilight's were not. Not to mention that Starlight's 'friendships' in the village were based on lies and deceit and weren't really friendships at all. As evidenced by the fact the villagers turned on her once they learned to the truth. Everything bad that happened to Starlight was of her own making. Twilight didn't 'take away' her friendships, Starlight lost them all on her own. In fact, she arguably never had them in the first place.

There are leagues of difference between the actions of these two characters. They aren't really comparable. You'd need to be doing a lot of mental gymnastics to excuse Starlight's behavior or make direct comparisons to Twilight that way.

But even if we say Starlight did see everything that way; that she thought she was the hero and Twilight was the villain (which I don't buy), doesn't mean she was right. Not from the perspective of pony society, nor from the perspective of the narrative.

Also if we're going to keep talking about this we should probably move to PM's or something.

Thank you for writing this beautiful story.
You've done a great job with the purple ponies' characterizations.
Delving into the nuances of their complex friendship is something I will always appreciate.
Especially when it involves them comforting one another.

9338727
Thanks. I've always been a fan of Twi and glimglam.

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