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"Burninating the countryside... burninating the peasants... burninating all the peoples... and their thatched-roof COTTAGES! THATCHED-ROOF COTTAGES!! And the Trogdor comes in the NIIIIGHT!!!"


Sometimes young Petunia Paleo's dreams seem impossible.

Good thing dreams are Princess Luna's specialty.

This story was expanded from its original appearance as a finalist in the December 2016 Writeoff, "Has That Always Been There?" Cover art assembled from here and here. Featured on FimFiction 26Dec.2018-28Dec.2018! :heart: Featured on Equestria Daily 4Jan.2019! :pinkiegasp: Also featured by the Royal Canterlot Library! :yay:

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 31 )

This story is filled with the ‘dawwwwwws.:rainbowkiss:

Very cute, Petunia earns it to have more stories

This was adorable. Though honestly instead of Dash, Paleo should have asked Twilight Sparkle. I’d bet dimes to dollars that she could convince Twilight to go see the coelacanths.

You finally brought this story here! It's two years now since you published it on writeoff.me, wow, that's an amazing Hearth's Warming present to finally have it here! :scootangel:

I went back on writeoff.me and read the original version again first, so I could compare them. And, while I still enjoy this new version here, I have to say that I prefer the old one in a lot of ways.
I love that you replaced Zecora with Luna. The story already worked with Zecora, but it works even better with Luna because of Luna's connection to dreams (and Luna having a desire to also care for the day dreams and ambitions of ponies is a very great and unique idea and that after all these years pony authors write about Luna now!) and because she has an even better demeanor than Zecora to teach Petunia's parents a lesson.
But I also noticed that you took out a lot of charming phrases, descriptions or word choices and replaced them with more generic sentences. Just one example:

But that was just a detail in Petunia’s mind as she bounded off her bed and trotted down the stairs as quickly as her short legs could trot, clutching the magazine in her mouth.


But that was just a detail in Petunia’s mind as she bounded off her bed, clutched the magazine in her mouth, and trotted down the stairs from her bedroom.

Particularly, "trotted down the stairs from her bedroom" vs. "trotted down the stairs as quickly as her short legs could trot".
The latter has a lot more swing in the sentence, it sounds dynamic and lets you visualize the moment much better. I had a movie running before my eyes when I read that sentence.
While the new version sounds straight-forward, logical, methodical and rather cold and stiff in comparison. I can still visualize what Petunia did there, but it doesn't let such a vivid movie play in front of my eyes.
There are lots of sentences like this scattered throughout the story. Sentences written in a fantastically charming and unique way, which gave the story a very special and refreshing feel in its original version, but you took out nearly all of these sentences and replaced them with rather generic mainstream sentences and expressions.
It's a pity you decided for that, it makes the story less innovative and robs it off a good amount of its special charm.
I will still be reading both versions, because giving Zecora's role to Luna was a genius move as I said, but this story would be best if Luna's role in the new version and the charming writing style of the original version were to be combined.

I'll be honest. This site needs more fossil stories. What makes this one more fun for me is a fun fact. December 23, the day they found one in our world, is also my birthday.

Not in 1938, thankfully, but it is the same.

Happy belated birthday!

Paleo is best foal. She needs more stories. Suprised there aren't more stories of her with her grown up doing archaeology and paleontology work. Would love to see a grown up Petunia next to an aging Daring Do off having an adventure.

i almost skipped this story, just on account of the title.

but boy, i'm glad i didn't.

Luna shook her head. “She’s better than all right. She’s learned that somepony believes in her dreams.”

if only people believed and gave each other a chance...

i enjoyed the breakdown in the journey you had petunia on. especially how everyone didn't outright crush her.

This was a wonderful story. I love Petunia and really wish we could see more stories with her. :twilightsmile:

Nicely done and well executed, they didn't crush her dreams or deny them but pointed out that the things they would require were hard to come by and difficult to obtain.

Daww, cute and uplifting. :yay:

I could see crossovers aplenty. Just find a "Lost World" and Doctor Petunia's your go-to mare for expert assistance on navigating a land that died everywhere else before there was a pony to know about it.

Author Interviewer

I do not have words for the emotions this engendered in me. :D

Believe it or not, Petunia actually did seek out Twilight instead of Dash in the original version of this story that I posted on the Writeoff site. In some ways I still like that better. But Twilight's magical prowess offers a very quick and easy solution to Petunia's problem, especially post-MLP-Movie: she could just teleport Petunia where she wants to go, and transform her into a Seapony so she can go searching for Coelacanths. Making her deal with the less-helpful Dash by way of pursuing a Daring Do-style expedition was... ok I'll admit it, contrived. But it was a way of holding onto the story's basic structure and conflict after the canon went and changed out from underneath me! :derpytongue2:

I appreciate the comparative analysis that you did between the two versions! I'm flattered that you would take the time to do such a thing. :twilightsmile:

I can definitely see your point about the language being more straightforward in this version. I hadn't considered the question of whether it would lose some of its charm in being streamlined like this.

I think I'm at a different place with the question of style-vs-flow now than I was two years ago. I have a lot more confidence now than I once did in my ability to write "good," well-flowing, and very readable prose. I also probably value the quality of flow a lot more highly now than I once did. Contrast that with the way I initially wrote this, which put style of both prose and structure more at the forefront.

As I came back to this recently, I felt that the original structure-style of it was much more essential than the stylization of the prose itself, and that belief guided my edits. But that's not to say I would've made the same choice a year ago, or that I might not think differently again a year from now. I think what this really tells me is that I should strive to have much shorter cycles between getting a story out on the Writeoff site and migrating it to FimFiction. I'm fundamentally different as an author now than I was two years ago, and it's very hard to get back into the same mindset that guided my hand at that time. I basically still feel like this was the right way to revamp the story now, but again, my perspective has changed.

I'm glad you guys enjoyed this! :pinkiehappy: Now go write more Petunia stories!!! We've got a group and everything! :yay:

Yes, i wrote a Story of her too.

Hundredth like, and a community service announcement:
In case anyone doesn't know, the word coelacanth is pronounced (SEE-la-canth) and means "hollow spine."
Also, this only further goes to show why Luna is awesome. When nopony else believes in your dreams, the princess of dreams always will!

Wonderful stuff, from Petunia's glee to her determination to the logical consequences of "Daring Don't" making it into the publishe Friendship Journal. Excellent use of Luna as well. Thank you for this.

Very nicely written, with a lot of beautiful thoughts about dreams and the fantasy of a little child, its concept lost on most of the adults. Truth be told, my biologist self was a little irked here and there, but I’ll keep quiet, since the story is based on Petunia’s view of the world. Thank you for this read!

I know I'm not the first the point this out, nor will I be the last, but the style of this story is absolutely pitch-perfect! Job well done.

Celestia notices the news and sees a picture of the coelacanth:

"Luna! Luna! Look! Look"


"They found him! They found him!"

"Who pray tell?"

"Mr. Bubbles! They found him after all these years! I though he was gone forever!"

"The pet fish you had as a filly?"


"YES! Luna look, see his fin? It has the mark from when I dropped his bowl!"

"I...HOW? He'd have to be several Thousand years old-wait..."

"What is it Luna?"

"Do you remember when we went on that trip with Father and left Mother to look after Bubbles, and you complained he looked rather thin when we got back?"


"Didn't Father get after Mother for leaving a necromancy book out as well?"

This story was absolutely amazing!!!

Love. That's all I have to say.

This was really lovely. Thank you.

I am a bit uncertain as to whether the moment Petunia was grown up and her dream came true was a time skip to the future, or simply a dream/vision projected to her by Princess Luna, but I loved this story! There aren't enough stories with Petunia in it, and it was great to find such a well-written one.

This feels like a Lucky Dreams Slice of Life, and that's the gold standard. Nice story!

This story touched me on an emotional level. It’s the best one shot I’ve ever read. If you’ll excuse me, I need to go think about some things.

I realize I am replying rather late but I just finished this cute story and I had a thought in regards to how you could have applied Twilight. So Petunia does her spiel and then Twilight could express genuine interest in helping her BUT, it's not so simple as to stamp her hoof three times or snap her metaphorical fingers and have a fully funded expedition put together. A Princess she might be but that doesn't make her a instant miracle worker.

Although now that I think about it I wonder that the CMC didn't try to convince her to get in touch with Discord.

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