• Member Since 17th Mar, 2013
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Wherein the foals of Ponyville stage a Hearth's Warming play, and everything goes irretrievably to hell.

Written for Alaborn for the 2018 Jinglemas collab.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 44 )

Reminding ponies of all that? Importanterest of all.

Just to emphasize that Scootaloo is our narrator. Though it is a perfectly cromulent word.

“Smart Cookie.” Silver Spoon smirked. “Not bad.”

Hmm. It occurs to me that Silver might work with Clover just as well, being the assistant to an imperious ruler... though prior to the election, she might have been too sycophantic for either role.

"Slow-burning horndroop" sounds like an especially unpleasant malady, even if the slow burn is just a description and not part of the actual disease.

And enter the free market. Thank goodness cutie marks can't be exchanged in such a way.

I saw her wrestle with temptation … and then force it into a leglock, kick it in the face, and once it was down and twitching, she reached out to Dinky and gently pushed Platinum back towards her.

Ironically enough, now I want Sweetie Belle for princess. Imagine what she'd do to a Nightmare.

“I know some very good books,” she said with a kind of grim determination.

Those who'd spent more time around Twilight Sparkle would be running about now.

So... Scootaloo, the story's narrator, takes the role of the chorus. That's genuinely brilliant. Also, d'awww... They're good kids.

So long as we promised to not accidentally stitch two of the princesses together. Again.

Hey, they wanted some time to bond, and they got it! Win-win.

... Wait, why do ponies even have rocking horses?

Ah. That's how everything will burn down. Or it's a magnesium herring for the real cause.

Colors can indeed be a handful at times. This is why I only work with five at most.

It was the sort of sword you wave about with your magic while cackling and trying to destroy the world.

I maintain my headcanon of every unicorn going through a phase of megalomania starting in puberty and potentially never ending.

I do appreciate how the Crusaders have developed a nonverbal language through their long association. I wonder how the dialect compares to, say, Celestia and Luna's. (Not as sophisticated, of course, but it'd be an interesting study in the development of such languages, a la Georg's Unicorn Gesture.)

I am tremendously grateful that Clover's actual head wasn't involved. I imagine she is as well.

Behind the curtain, everything was on fire. Not literally. Not yet.

Always a promising line. It doesn't promise anything good, but still.

Red and yellow just flew up into the rafters and they’ve come back down with an orange! There wathn’t an orange before!

I'm sure Sweetie is far from the first unicorn to accidentally create a new species. Actually, I'm sure she isn't, given Twilight's orange hybrids.

Interesting bit of background for Pipsqueak.

I do appreciate Scootaloo trying to skip to the end of the episode. Sadly not an option with who else involved.

Maybe giving him Hurricane hadn’t been the kindest thing, when I thought on it, or maybe leaving him with the chorus still would have been an ordeal.

He'd never get off the stage if he were the chorus. Scootaloo definitely did the right thing.

“Seriously!” yelled the same heckler from before, “if you want to just stage a telling of a little Sombra’s rise to infamy, I’d go buy tickets—”

Same, especially if it stars Dinky.

A delightful fit of Crusading madness, along with an adorable toy ship. Thank you for a fantastic contribution to Jinglemas.

Glad you liked it, Fan! Happy to have pitched something into Jinglemas and that it came out semi-coherent-ish in parts. These sorts of comments where you amble through the chapter and pick out and comment on those parts that stuck out to you reliably make my day. :twilightsmile:

I also wholeheartedly commend your headcanon for unicorn early-onset megalomania. :pinkiehappy:

Also, d'awww... They're good kids.

They're all, when you get right down to it, good ponies. With just the odd tendency to get flustered and tinker with unco magics and accidentally desecrate their Founders. But other than those, good ponies.

I started to cackle with glee around the time Clovers' head fell off and pretty much didn't stop until the end. The concussions! The stage fright! The fires of friendship burning both within our hearts and on the stage curtains!

And though Dinky channeling the spirit of Platinum better than anyone realised is an undoubted highlight, I do really appreciate how you wrote Diamond as sincerely attempting to be a better little pony and only succumbing to the de'il inside after unendurable provocation. If I were her, I'd have been kicking by the end of Act I.

All in all, a joyous farce, skillfully told. Thank you very much!

Glad you like it! :twilightsmile: Definitely a lot more towards the farcey end of the spectrum than last year's offering. A wee bit of variety's good for the soul, after all.

Diamond definitely did her best to be a better pony, inasmuch as her wee bampot mind understood the term, before, alas, the better angels of her nature were shooed off by all the demons that prolonged stress and then getting hit by a sword can unleash.

Sweetie: "I can do something to help out as well! We need lights, don’t we?"

Technically, fire is light. I see them having lots of light. And that sword is going on Ditsy's wall. It's a family heirloom now.

Bring us their bones.

Bravo! Encore!

Twilight: "Celestia's mother, my whole school's on fire."
Sweetie Belle: "Hurrah! That means I helped a lot!"

“Not wanting to freeze to death?” Diamond Tiara said, her tone arch. “That seems like kind of a big one.” The instant before Cheerliee gave her a reproachful look, however, she seemed to catch herself, close her eyes, and mutter, “No. No . Niceness. No cynicism or bullying. Be a better pony, Diamond.”

I mean, she's got a point. Not dying of hypothermia was probably fairly high up on the Founders' list of priorities right there.

“Gosh,” said Truffle, looking cheerful and stunned all at once. “That’s the first time I’ve been called a glamorous assistant.”

“Keep it up, and you’ll get called it plenty.” Apple Bloom clapped him on the wither, and he blushed while Tag-A-Long grinned.

I'd say to keep the raunchy jokes down with kids present, but. Um. You know.

“The lightth are thtill meththing around! Red and yellow just flew up into the rafters and they’ve come back down with an orange! There wathn’t an orange before! ”

Congratulations! You've created a new species.

Seriously though, the little lights have been displaying self-directed movement, active curiosity and evidently the ability to reproduce. Some people put decades of time and effort into studying how to create new living beings, and then a school play goes and creates life as a side effect of inexpertly made props.

“Seriously!” yelled the same heckler from before, “if you want to just stage a telling of a little Sombra’s rise to infamy, I’d go buy tickets—”

She'd nail the role, not gonna lie.

Dinky's method acting honestly doesn't even sound that far-fetched to me, as these things go. I remember a story about how Viggo Mortensen got so in-character during filming of The Lord of the Rings that at one point Peter Jackson just started calling him Aragorn in casual conversation and Mortensen didn't catch on to the difference until they had been talking for quite a while.

This was a delightful story. Even knowing that everything was going to spiral out of control from the start, following the journey into chaos, desperation and escalating collateral damage was quite fun.

Glad it delighted! Keeping folk enthralled in spite of the inevitable descent into horrors was a wee bit in the back of my mind as I wrote it, and it's good to know that was overcome on at least one front. :raritywink:

Hah! That's a good Aragorn story, all the more since I don't remember it. One to add to the Viggo pantheon, along with 'batting an actual knife out of the air instead of a prop during a fight scene' and 'breaking his toes while kicking an Uruk helmet and incorporating the consequent scream into his performance'. It's been a while since I watched the behind-the-scenes stuff for Lord of the Rings. As good an excuse as any to do so again.

A great piece of slowly escalating doom. You can see the pieces assembling, and you know how it's all going to come crashing down, and it's still a stitch.

And, amazingly, this debacle was actually NOT the CMC's fault. Not really. Except for the ursa flare.

Dinky, born for another age. Platinum descending into madness and conversing with Clover's severed head was inspired. At least she didn't resort to necromancy and restore her adviser as an oracular head...

And too many details to call out everything I loved but just, this was excellent.

my little king Lear

“Er,” I said, trotting up. “Prithee?”

I lol'd. Nice work in this.

Captain of our Breezy troop,
Helena is here at hoof,
And the youth, mistook by me,
Pleading for a lover’s fee.
Shall we their fond pageant see?
Faust, what foals these mortals be!

Glad you found it excellent! 'too many details to call out everything I loved' is a gratifying sort of phrase. :twilightsmile:

It is remarkable how the majority of events weren't caused by the CMC. Not directly, at any rate.

Definitely comparable! The 'decent into madness and and stabbing' part especially. :pinkiehappy:

Definitely the hoped-for reaction. And thank you! :twilightsmile:

There's the shout-out. And a well-adapted shout-out, no less. :raritywink:

This was one of late entries, so I don't think I ever got around to posting my comment on it (unlike pretty much every other story in the catalog heh). Which is a shame, because it's great. Scootaloo's voice comes through so strong that I could believe she'd written it - and perhaps more importantly, I didn't peg this as a Carabas story. That you're able to write so believably in a voice and style quite different to your own speaks to your writing prowess.

It's also funny as hell.

I didn't think seeing a bunch of dumb teenagers screw up a school play (given I am cringe-worthily familiar with that sensation) would make me laugh, especially not this hard, but I am definitely glad to be proven wrong. :ajsmug:

Hah, glad to have you commenting here regardless. :twilightsmile:

It's gratifying to hear that Scootaloo's voice came through strongly, and that it wasn't identifiable as my story. I did wonder while writing it whether Scootaloo wasn't narrating in too fancy-schmancy a way, or whether she wasn't too similar to all the other times I've attempted first-person (i.e. trying to be like Wodehouse after being raised on a diet of lead paint and kicks to the head). Glad to hear I can deliver on approximately-distinct flavours of that, though. :pinkiehappy:

Well, that was... interesting.

Really fun story, although, having written (though not yet published) a story involving Dinky where she is very much not like this, it was a little jarring. Not that that's a bad thing - one of the things that I love about background ponies is how one can differently interpret and characterise them, it was just... seeing Dinky being vicious, confrontational and bloodthirsty when you're used to seeing and writing her as the sweetest thing this side of Thaumatin was somewhat unsettling. Which, given that that seemed to be everyone else's reaction to her, was entirely appropriate. Different, but in a good way.

Also, it kind of reminded me of this:


so I liked it a lot.

This was amazing! Now when is the one about Sombra: The Rise to Infamy? I'm looking forward to Dinky's \performance.

You've nailed Scootaloo's voice perfectly. Bravo!

I came here to see Dinky knock it out of the park. I was not disappointed.

Ditzy has every right to be proud.

'Interesting's as fair a verdict as any, and I'm glad you found it fun. :twilightsmile:

I'm a fan of a cute Dinky, myself, and turning that on its head seemed appropriate for a farcical story. If I was to write another (and more sensible) Dinky story, I'd likely roll with how she started off here - reserved, bookish, and sweet - rather than the imperious maniac she assumed the role of. Like you saw, everypony else was a bit unnerved by Dinky-as-Platinum as well.

Hah, that was Dinky method-acting for how she conceived of Princess Platinum. Gods know what'd happen if she went full-on for the role of Sombra, but I'd be surprised if there were survivors.

Thank you! Glad she came across clearly. :scootangel:


"If only you'd been there! She got right up onto that stage and carried herself exactly like a princess ought to! Hewing about with a sword, barking orders, and descending into madness. I always knew my little angel had it in her."

I don't know the last time I laughed at a story quite so much. It just went from crescendo to crescendo to crashendo and beyond and back again for the heartwarming friendship at the end.

“I know some very good books,” she said with a kind of grim determination.

I could hear the Greek chorus muttering "Ominous, ominous, ominous."

I decided to stop talking to Dinky then.

At this point I started wondering whether Dinky had found some very good books. The sort with leather covers and embossed skulls, which touch on such subjects such as listening to a pony's echoes, channelling the essence of ponies past, and how to be a medium, verging on bulk economy size.

There was a stunned silence as we boggled at her, out cold on the ground.

This was where I started chuckling. I lost it entirely at the Flight of the Cheerilee.

The rude mechanicals' version of Pyramus and Thisbe within A Midsummer Night's Dream has nothing on this.

Ooh, and I think I've just spotted...
That's supposed to be Cheerilee, rather than Cheerliee, isn't it?

I always like it when I can induce multiple crescendos. Especially with wanton acts of concussion. Glad you approve! :twilightsmile:

Ooh, and I think I've just spotted...
That's supposed to be Cheerilee, rather than Cheerliee, isn't it?

All instances(!) of that fixed, and much obliged for spotting it. :twilightsheepish: Don't both be sleep-deprived and write, kids.

Wasn't expecting a ponified version of The Play That Goes Wrong.

Hadn't heard of that, but it sounds appropriate. Having looked it, it sounds very appropriate. :pinkiehappy:

Oh, excellent. :D
Glad I finally got to reading this. :)

Glad you read it, and glad you deemed it excellent! :twilightsmile:

Yes, and you know it's a good comedy when you have to stop reading for a moment because your eyes are watering too much from laughing to make out the words. :)

There's scant few things more gratifying than blinding one's readership. :raritywink:

Comedy aside (and this was uproariously hilarious), this story was also an insightful look at how far the CMC have matured since they were first introduced, but yet still maintain their original charm and energy. A wonderful read, both as comedy and character study.

Glad you like it, Undome! I was keen to preserve a suitable level of Crusader charm and energy while still respecting how they and the side characters have matured over the years. Knowing that was accomplished while still satisfying with my own pillock-heided vein of comedy's cheering to hear. :twilightsmile:

I've figured it out.
After this, the students put on the first performance of The White Horse in centuries.

Celestia still vividly remembered a time, long past, when an actor playing the role of Celestia began weeping after accidentally making eye contact, and so -- despite the owner having set aside an entire row of seats for her -- she'd chosen to stand at the back near a quietly disabled light sconce. As a bonus, nopony noticed her leaving to have a quiet word with the cast during the intermission.

Celestia continued her train of thought as she carefully navigated her way through the tight corridors which made up almost the entirety of Canterlot Theatre's backstage.

"Being children, they'll be more than amenable to making a few changes in the script." Celestia thought, scraping her way past an unused section of background depicting a desolate mountain pass. "In all fairness though, whichever filly it is playing the role of Corn Rose is doing an unsettlingly good job."

On the other side of the background, Truffle and Tag-A-Long waited for the scene change...


"I'm not sure these foals studied their history hard enough," one of the stallions by Celestia's side muttered, after subjecting events to hard scrutiny. "Why's Sombra shown up?"

"Make allowances," the princess murmured back, half-distracted by dark and distant thoughts as well as by the play itself. "Writers, and playwrights by extension, are the most muddle-headed things alive."

Did the story not began with Scootalo re-telling what happened? To who was she speaking? And what was the reaction?

Embarrassingly, I hadn't actually thought of who she'd be telling all this to, save some generic story-recipient. :twilightblush:

Unless some other suitable candidate comes to mind, let's assume a parent, with all warranted reactions of pride/bemusement/horror as things progressed.

I was thinking between Princess Twilight and Miss Cherilee or maybe Celestia and Luna but there is more chance that it's only Twilight

Rereading again as part of my annual Hearth's Warming traditions, and I have to wonder... Would the play have gone smoother with pre-reformation Diamond in charge? Her talent is supposed to be "getting ponies to do what I say".

More likely she would have gone full Kubrickian madness and turned a play about harmony into a riot, but still I wonder.


More likely she would have gone full Kubrickian madness and turned a play about harmony into a riot, but still I wonder.

Most likely this. It's a doomed play in nearly any timeline, and Diamond's state of reformation likely only adjusts the flavour of the doom.

It's occurred to me that this is the second time you've done the "red and yellow get together and make orange" bit. In The Tempest some of Burro's signal twists do the same thing.

Until now, I'd always just thought it was a random twist being cute and innocent.

Oh god, I'd forgotten I'd done that. :twilightoops:

My single brain cell can accommodate 'wandering pines' and 'hurr hurr, colour reproduction' as story elements, and everything after that's in the hands of whatever gods steer my undirected torturing of keyboards.

Wherever there is crusaders there is chaos lol

One's good for producing the other. :twilightsmile:

rereading for the ...lotta time, I'm still thoroughly bemused although maybe not full-on rofl. There is one thing though that I wish to address, the unnamed heckler, he or she deserves some punishment for their actions. I have a brother, and if he messed up lines or shenanigans I'd tease him but only AFTER the play like say when we're on our way home or during the cast party, but NOT during the play itself, in fact, their heckling could be seen as inciting some of the chaos that ensued at the end of the play (namely the hoof-fight and Dinky's temporary sanity slippage).

Dinky's method acting is definitely unusual, like most here I have gotten used to her being either a tragic figure or a little sweetheart, but I suppose that like most young creatures, she's just as likely to have bad days and other pains of growing up. That's one thing that helped me get into Equestria in the first place, that it wasn't some saccharine candyopolis where nothing ever went wrong. Still despite the outcome of the play, I give her props for not freezing up when things went haywire, I don't think I would have done 1/2 as well, the head of clover was inspired if a touch macabre.

A holiday fave of mine that I'll read at least once a year so long as this site is available...
in the case that knighty or the internet closes this place down, you ought to consider either making a little blog space for these stories or maybe, seeing as you mostly work in short story format you could publish a compilation/compendium of some of your works, I'd happily adorn my bookshelf with a copy.

Good to know I've become a holiday tradition in some quarters. :pinkiehappy: No denying that the unknown heckler did their part in escalating the chaos - if they weren't getting surreptitious kicks from their neighbours after each incident, then they definitely got some mild excoriation after events. Kudos to Dinky for maintaining something vaguely like composure during it all ... even if her particular form of method acting helped her a little too well.

In the case that knighty or the internet closes this place down, you ought to consider either making a little blog space for these stories or maybe, seeing as you mostly work in short story format you could publish a compilation/compendium of some of your works, I'd happily adorn my bookshelf with a copy.

I've taken the precaution of saving offline versions of my stories in the event of site collapse. If so, I'd look into rehosting them somewhere else - maybe Offprint, or my long-disused fanfiction.net account, or maybe even a wee blog space as you suggest. Monochromatic's personal site's the gold standard there. Not sure there's enough of a widespread interest in my work to merit a print run, but deeply flattered you'd like such a thing to exist. :twilightsmile:

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