• Member Since 4th May, 2013
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On the Sliding Scale Of Cynicism Vs. Idealism, I like to think of myself as being idyllically cynical. (Patreon, Ko-Fi.)


You can never tell when something will become collectible. A coloring mistake in the printing, part of a stamp's artwork gets rotated by ninety degrees, and otherwise-sane ponies are shelling out thousands of bits for the honor of owning something which no longer has a practical use. But not every mistake qualifies, and so Twilight has to directly teach Rainbow the differences: some errors are just that.

The education on how to defraud the public through creating your own collectibles, however, was completely unintentional.

(Now with author Patreon and Ko-Fi pages.)

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 64 )

I should see that there's a "printing error" in some of my merch to drive up the value.

Thanks for the evil plan great idea!

At least it's not spiderses.

True story, I’ve got a paperback copy of War of the Worlds where the printing plate must have been just about worn out, ‘cause a few lines sort of angle down into the next one.

I also recently picked up an art book that had one section twice. A folio (I think that’s what the sections are called) got used twice in mine, and I presume that somewhere there’s a copy of that book that’s got two copies of what I’m missing.

Not sure if either of those have much collectible value; they’re heavily used. But it’s interesting to see how even the pros make mistakes.

"A stamp plus a shipping-and-nosing fee," Twilight grumbled.

Little touches like this really make your stories feel alive.

And why did anypony need to worry about caution when lecturing was just so much fun?

This is the kind of question that ends in smoking craters.

I see Saddle Arabia is approximately as well-liked as Prance.

I think that means when you change something enough, the original creator can't put you on a witness stand any more.

Heh. So goes the theory.

You sleep in a silver mine, Twilight!

Hmm. Curious. Especially when one considers how your stories make a point of ponies not seeing any intrinsic worth in gold. Which raises the question of what they can do with silver...

As for the story itself, comparing it to one of Dash's stunts is definitely apt. Or a train wreck. You don't want to stare, but there's a strange sort of artistry in the inevitable disaster. Most enjoyable read. Thank you for it.

In Ponyville, the definition of insanity was 'Rainbow Dash trying the same failed stunt over and over again while still believing that somehow, she isn't going to crash this time.'

Let's be fair, that's kinda what training is.

Really great story here, I loved the ups and downs.

Nice to have another look at Bearer dynamics post-alicornification. I loved seeing Twilight practice her pegasus magic. She and Rainbow have a great dynamic to explore them from an interesting angle.

That was great!

"-- your eyes," the pegasus tried, unaware that her legs were trying to go into reverse, "are getting kind of white right now --"

That's a warning. It comes too late, like when a nuclear landmine goes 'click!'

This is another warning. It needs to come with Explosive Runes.

Dash should cut a deal with the ponies whose houses she naps at and pull a Graceland and market paid tours of her house and all her favourite haunts around Ponyville

" Finally !" Rainbow crowed. "Float it up already!" (The pinkish light of Twilight's corona lanced in the parcel's direction, surrounded and began to lift.) "If I'm stuck at home tonight because I can't afford a movie until tomorrow, then at least give me something worth missing a movie for! Besides, six moons of waiting is long enough! Honestly, how can something which take three days to read need fifty-six times that just to write ? If I just wrote down some of my dreams about Daring Do, I know I'd have something together in mphbout shrix pchsays!"

this makes me think of some conspiracy nuts who think NASA can make a fake spacewalk video that lasts an hour IN only an hour...

I finally got to finish reading this. I love Rainbow and Spike so much.

True Story

Once upon a time, there was a girl rock band & they were busy Starving To DEATH. But, they were young & believed in themselves & had faith that their talent would prevail. One day, they caught a break. A record company executive heard them & believed that they could succeed! He signed them to a deal & they recorded a 45.

For kids too young to remember
In those days, 45s had to have TWO songs. One (hopefully) a hit & 1 for the other side (called "the B side". It could suck beyond belief, but it had to be there -folks flout wouldn't buy the record without it.

They had their record, but they didn't have any other original songs to put on the B side. (You have to pay to use someone else's stuff). So, the record company exec said "No problem. It only has to be 3 minutes long (technical reasons) & you've still got an hour's studio time. Make something up" (Gotta love the suits, don't you?). So, they did & their record was released.

Well, the song never did much & is kind of forgotten today. But, the story has a happy ending because the B side, that they recorded in under an hour? The Shirelles never had a bigger hit than "Soldier Boy", God knows why. I don't

But, the point is that even experts can't always tell what the public will like

I am astounded that there's not a single "Rarity/rarity" joke in this.

Huh, well that was an interesting way of doing it, RD

I am going to regret asking.
I know that.
The answer can't do anything but hurt.


Rainbow trotted over to one of the many identical columns, picked up a book with her teeth, then flew over to the nearest wall and stuck her head inside it for two minutes.

"Watermarked," she announced after spitting the dripping book onto the floor.

I was right.

oh, RD is so silly! :rainbowderp: :pinkiegasp:

The education on how to defraud the public through creating your own collectibles, however, was completely unintentional.

"Wait, I don't get it. Fraud is bad, so defraud has to be good, right?" :rainbowhuh:

Welp, this was entertaining from beginning to end.

10/10 would defraud again.

is Daring Do real in your Equestria?

Ah, Dash. Such ingenious stupidity.


Isn't silver a magical storage medium? Like platinum, but less dangerous?

I hope Mayor Mare doesn't get wind of this: since the library's funds come from the town, what Spike and Dash did would seem to be embezzlement from Ponyville's budget.

"Would you believe that after I sent one pony a book, she wrote back and asked if I could sell her some of your tail strands?"

Chrysalis getting up to her tricks early, or just obnoxious fans? (Do Ponies know of magic you can do with other Ponies' body parts, or is it just a Changeling thing?)

Heh... I have a friend who owns a comic book store and deals in collectibles; I do a bit of part-time (ie: free) labor for him from time to time. I'm pretty sure I've heard an almost identical version of Twilight's lecture on collectibles; heck, I think I've GIVEN said lecture more than once. About the only thing missing from it is the part where anything that SAYS it is collectible usually isn't... ;-)

Excellent story as always!

"Collectible" rhymes with "gullible." There is a reason for this.

"Yeah! Because, you know, most ponies who think about the Bearers only know you . And I thought, what shows somepony's a Wonderbolt faster than the uniform? Assuming it isn't just a stupid costume shop purchase. So themed uniforms, and then everypony knows it's us!"

Johnny. Johnny. Leave Sue alone before it's too late. More too late.

Silver is more of a channeling medium than a storage medium. I'd use gems or iron for magical storage.

It’s almost a pity Spike took over late fee collection. Just imagine what would happen if the philateliasts of Ponyville realised their late fees came with stamps licked by the local alicorn...


I'm pretty sure I recall it being used magically in an earlier Estee story, but perhaps I mis-remember how exactly.


Stickers with "From the Personal Shelves of Admiral Biscuit" would be worth the try

9537991 9538122 9538206
After actually bothering to look for the information, I found it in "This Platinum Cape"

Silver: that was the most common carrier of thaums, magic surging through fine-spun wire. But it wasn't an automatic process: silver had to be treated before it would serve as a channel, and ponies had experimented for centuries trying to find the best means of creating that treatment. They had succeeded. Silver was stable. It was safe. Oh, it occasionally had problems if the enchanter was going through an off-day, the wire went out of alignment, or certain other spells were allowed to get too close -- but on the whole, silver was pretty much the go-to material for a device creator who needed that power to flow.

I really need to be more diligent about seeing if I can answer my own questions.

Such a curious mix of brilliance and idiocy. This has Rainbow written all over it.

Typical Rainbow. LOL.

But yeah Spike need a salary for all his works.

I have a rare copy of the hidden alt-ending of "ET" where the feds blow ET and Eliott away with machine guns.

Signed by Amelia Earhart, Elvis, and JFK!!

Who also had cameos!

It's totally legit. My Chinese bootleg dealer said so! He seems a trustworthy fellow.


Yes, this. Basically Silver works like it does with electricity, conducting thaumic energy with minimal resistance. Platinum, OTOH, is like a superconductor for thaums, able to pull magical energy out of the surrounding environment, hence it's propensity to go BOOM-BOOM!

I very much like how the writing reminds me of Pratchett. It’s like a warm hug.

I was reading this and thought same. Especially non-personal sentences. And commentaries. One about Saddle Arabia made that final.

It's distinctive and unique enough to not be mistaken. Well thought through, being comedy , it is structured into a form of detective short story, where perpetrator admits her guilt.

And I like how it is concluded on friendly note.

Ironically people do things like that. She didn't thought through the trails. And that, if uncaught, she'll eventually saturate the market.

Oh Twilight.

Separation of duties is the best way to prevent this, and you went and gave receipt to the same person doing incoming records and ordering.

That's just sloppy.

Tsk tsk.

That’s not a bad idea.

The only thing more dangerous than RD not thinking things through, is when she does.

It was a rather basic (if slightly risky) favor. There were times when the relationship between publishers and libraries became awkward: after all, a book which was on a public lending shelf could be borrowed and enjoyed a hundred times, and that number of readings would represented one sold copy. It was a fact which made a few of the larger publishing houses regard libraries in the same way a particularly aggressive shark might regard a remora who came with its own parasites.


It took a second before Rainbow's expression began to collapse, and a heartbeat before desperate hope shored it up again. "So we got an entire run? What's the next hoofstep? Finding out how many escaped, right? I know it's more than the fourteen on #7, but if we somehow wound up with the lot ..."

Dash, you're just so adorably stupid. Fun story.

"-- heavy coat. Boots. Mittens. Pants. Fully dressed, in front of me. And then you can go out."

I love Mama Twilight.

"And since the author died three centuries ago and didn't work from notes, nopony can stand to find out how the story ends."

"It's that bad?"

"The parts ponies were able to read were pretty bad," Twilight admitted. "But it's more that nopony can get any deeper than Page Ninety without straining their neck.

"There was an unofficial title for the book as well: The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs. Oddly enough, the version of this book published in the human world became a best-seller, despite the projectile vomiting."


Also... how much gold was on each book?! I'm trying to calculate how a mere 4 copies could BANKRUPT a rich pony in a world where they pay 2 gold coins for a cup of cider! The book would LITERALLY have to weigh a ton!

9539510 You should watch some "American Greed" episodes. Lots of frauds! Fake rare wines, fake sports collectibles, disreputable precious metal dealerships, a web-based Ponzi scheme.

All sorts of scams out there.

I can protect you with my patented product: Scam-A-Way! Just one spray and anything that's a scam will disappear! (disclaimer: contains deadly DHMO vapor) :trollestia:

That's not exclusive.

If you followed news , you'd knew of recent scandal which involved several countries in EU and CIS where synthetic cheap alcohol was turned into expensive vine spirits by sequence of document doctoring when every border was crossed. Or that 100% of honey sold in shops is fake, because the only affordable lab test can be fooled by medieval methods... Or that some Chinese companies were increasing "proteins" in their product by adding a toxic plastificier resin to preserved food. Etc, etc.

9789387 Yeah, I've seen so much it's hard to keep up.

The only solution is... DEATH TO THE CRIMINAL SCUM!! *drops them into woodchippers... feetfirst!*

This is the justice of the Mad God, Alondro... :fluttershbad:

I actually wonder if any merch producer has ever deliberately hired a screwup in the hope that they'll produce "accidental" flawed copies. And, thinking on it, surely that must have been a story somewhere by now...

Delrey Balikhun

I honestly didn't get the Balikhun pun until this. Terry Pratchett would be proud.


OK, I'll admit: it was this single word, out of the entire fic, which completely killed me.

Review Part 0 = Prequel to the review
My friend read this story. Constantly thinking about this story cost him sleep and his thoughts still wonder to it. To say it impacted him is an understatement.

He'd post a review himself, but he's currently kind of held up in prison. You can read about his situation in this blog: A fellow brony wants to talk to you. (Edit: Fimfiction staff ordered me to delete the blog so I complied.)

TL;DR I'm posting this review for BEASLEY1053@emailinterface.org

If you or anypony else have a response to the review, write to his email since he can't access Fimfiction. It would actually mean the world to him to receive an email from somepony because he's cut off from the brony community.
End Review Part 0

Review Part 1

So, to be clear, this is not the user posting this but a friend he is doing a favor for. Now, I`ve read and re-read the fic "The Slipped Case" over quite a few times, and have thought about it a lot (whether I liked it or not) because it has, for better or worse, traumatized me or something of that sort where it causes me anxiety and disquiet, and interrupts sleep. That is not to say the piece is poorly written, in fact the opposite is true and that is part of why it impacts me so deeply. It is very well written, and I greatly appreciate the "Show Don`t Tell" that goes into this, but that very same style leaves open a host of questions that are eating away at me. Some of which I have begun to dissect the story in order to try to answer. But before I really get to those, I want to tell everyone how this comes across to me, what I`m getting from it, if that`s alright? I`m not stating anything as fact, no matter how much it may sound like it, but know that the conviction behind it is the result of belief. I don`t necessarily WANT to believe what I`ve "deduced" about this story, but I think it might be helpful to share all these thoughts with the Bronies and see what comes of that, see what other views there are besides my own and those I have already read in the comments section (or what I can see of it).

First of all, I want to state that I do not feel that Dash`s part in Twilight`s method for fixing everything was consensual. I also feel that it was very cruel, very demeaning, and very unpleasant to be moved around publicly while bound and very very vulnerable. I know how this feels only too well myself, having been escorted on several medical trips from prison in a variety of chains and cuffs just barely able to move, and not without discomfort or, depending on the Corrections Officer on escort, pain.

The scene in Mr. Balikhun`s office suggests... little. We aren`t offered much insight into Dash`s mind after Twilight initially captures her and begins to finally tell her why she actually came to her house in the first place. I`ll get more into that later. I`m going to try to do this piece by piece. I`ll summarize the earlier part of the story, though I`ll provide paragraph references. I would like to know what was going through her mind when Balikhun asked Twi about untying and releasing Dash after the final 2 stops, only to hear "Maybe her jaw, I`m still thinking about the rest". This constitutes an Indefinite sentence. Did you know that we humans have established an international treatise on the humane treatment of prisoners? It is called the Nelson Mandela Act, unfortunately backed by the U.N. which has little clout for this. You shouldn`t be too surprised then, to learn, that the U.S. Department of Justice adheres to virtually none of the clauses therein. I think it shocking that an Equestrian should be less inclined to mercy and kindness than most humans are.

I`m not arguing Dash`s innocence, for she is not. But I also do not believe she deserved that treatment. I am arguing her intent, mostly. I don`t believe any harm was meant. It was greed, a desire for instant gratification, to afford all these things she wants. It was a bad choice, or a series thereof, that lead to some particularly bad consequences for her friend.

The latter wasn`t a particularly kind perspective, although it was an extremely frequent one: after all, in Ponyville, the definition of insanity was `Rainbow Dash trying the same failed stunt over and over again while still believing that somehow, she isn`t going to crash this time.` It was a behavior pattern which didn`t exactly make the locals think highly of her intelligence, and most of the population saw Rainbow`s learning curve as something which had permanently flatlined.

This paragraph tells us that Rainbow`s reputation and reception in Ponyville isn`t particularly glowing. Sad, really. I suppose she brought this on herself, over time, with effort. It works against her and in Twilight`s favor later, I think.

"I`m working on it, Rainbow," Twilight sighed. The less-experienced wings flared, and the new alicorn managed to get just enough altitude for a corona-held blade to slice down the next line of packing tape: some of the boxes were a little taller than she was, and her tutor in all things airborne had insisted that Twilight use the opportunity for practice. "I just don`t know which box it is, not when all of the publishers issue the new releases on the same day of the week and half of the company logos and packing lists wound up on the bottom. If you could just give me a minute to rotate some of these --"

So this paragraph establishes a few things. This alone tells the reader that Twi`s library has contracts with multiple publishers. In context with the preceding and proceeding paragraphs, we also see that Dash is not patient.

It was a rather basic (if slightly risky) favor. There were times when the relationship between publishers and libraries became awkward: after all, a book which was on a public lending shelf could be borrowing and enjoyed a hundred times, and that number of readings would represented{sic} one sold copy. It was a fact which made a few of the larger publishing houses regard libraries in the same way a particularly aggressive shark might regard a remora who came with its own parasites.

Nice visualization here. Anyway, so the relationship between libraries and publishers is strained because a library does not offer much of a profit margin for a publisher.

But the palace had said that libraries were (somehow) necessary, and so an accommodation had been reached. Twilight had a license which allowed her to use her budget for ordering directly from the publishers, at a significant discount: the restrictions were that she would purchase no more than she needed and could onlly sell volumes which had reached the natural end of their shelf life, at the remaindered price. And technically speaking, every copy she ordered was supposed to be for library use: scholarly journals about magic study which were only read by her had to be paid for the same way.

We see here that the Palace has endorsed the value of libraries, so there is some powerful support behind the business. Also the terms of the contract are outlined, and it is clear from the previous paragraph that indeed the ordering of the 1 extra volume could be seen as slightly risky.

It was doing a favor for a friend, although it was an under-the-table one: the publishers really didn`t look favorably upon even the most minor abuses of that license. It was assisting Rainbow with her finances, because the pegasus didn`t have a budget so much as a biweekly series of mostly-frivolous expenditures which inevitably had her dropping by a friend`s house at dinnertime to mooch a meal: something which happened because she had once again run out of bits on the night before the next pay voucher. But realistically, it was also either that or having to treat a single volume as having been permanently checked out.

So, this appears to me to be a pattern of enabling where Twi is actively convincing herself that spending money for Dash is the equivalent of helping her with her finances. Dash probably won`t learn anything if she can easily mooch off of friends, and if none of them ever sets her straight. It is also a poor lesson indeed to receive something when she has spent all of her money. Of course, this is not the only motivation. There is the matter of Dash`s rather astounding bad luck with lines on release days that factors in, for which Twi seems to offer at least something which appears like compassion. Also, there might have been some selfishness in Twi`s decision to help Dash out.

"A lot of publishers," Twilight quietly said, "don`t use dust jackets for library copies, Rainbow. Because the books see so much use. A single careful reader, in a home which knows how to take care of their books... a dust jacket could just about last forever. But in here, where ponies take the books home and read them under the blankets because they`re sick, they read while they`re eating --" the little alicorn shuddered "-- medicine grass-stained teeth are biting the covers, and they`re nosing over to the next page while their snouts are leaking. Library books can go through a lot. So the majority of publishers print library copy art directly onto the cover. Balikhun Books was one of the last to give us dust jackets, and now they`ve stopped. Every library in the world is going to get this kind of edition: the only change is going to be the language the books are printed in. It`s not an error copy, Rainbow. It`s a normal one. And --" one last sigh "-- I`m sorry. I wasn`t paying enough attention to the catalog when I ordered. If you want one with a dust jacket, I`m sure the publisher will let me exchange it, or they might just send an extra slipcover." With a faint smile, "They`re actually really nice about that sort of thing, as long as my license is good."

So we see here that Twilight herself placed the order, doesn`t sound like Dash had much to do with it. The bulk of this story even tells us that Rainbow pays little or inexact attention to detail or words, and thus is unlikely to have picked up on how this process works. Besides, she ended up going to Spike anyway.

But a friend had just asked her for education. And teaching meant getting the chance to lecture.

Where did Twi get that Dash had asked her for an education? Don`t get me wrong, Dash is obviously invested in the ensuing lecture and listens quite carefully, but she still never actually asked. Twi is not good with social cues, as seen in Pargraph 71. I guess she invented this one.

"Celebrity..." Rainbow softly repeated. "Yeah. Like Silver Screen. Who`s got a new movie in the cinema tonight, and I can`t afford to go... I swear, Spike sees more movies than I do... yeah --- Spike..."

There were times when the librarian was still a little slow to pick up on social cues, and so her second response was "Maybe that endtable could have waited until next week?" Which was almost instantly followed by a nearly-desperate "Rainbow, I didn`t -- I mean, I can`t go to a movie tonight and Silver Screen just grunts most of his dialogue, plus he keeps playing the same part over and over under different names -- actually, I guess if you like that part, it`s fine, but... um... maybe we..." A deep gulp. "...could see it... together... tomorrow? I mean, it`s only seven reels. Ponies have survived worse. I think. I mean, technically, I guess Discord was worse, except that when it comes to the scripts, I keep looking at the writing credits for his --"

(The first, purely internal response, had been blocked by several years of hard-won Ponyville lessons: Spike has an allowance and a budget. You have a salary and an impulse control problem.)

Twi missed a pretty good opportunity to help her friend grow here. She lectured Dash on the collectibles market, but avoided the subject of her poor spending habits and budgeting. I get the impression this is a habitual behavior for Ponyville as a whole, having done some research and stumbled upon the information in "Pony Up A Tree" I think it isn`t that surprising a pony might avoid it. But Twi isn`t particularly weak, and so can easily defend herself and undo whatever spite Dash might inflict. Also, Ponyville teaches ponies to be less honest and forthright with one another?

Oh, Thank Sun. Sometimes the only way to keep from digging yourself any deeper was for somepony else to take control of the backhoe. "What?"

Nice, some foreshadowing here. Such a brilliant author
END Review part 1

Review Part 2

She was highly organized: maintaining any real degree of control over the tree required that. But there were forms to fill out and catalogs to consult. Repair bills had to be paid to the book restoration shop, exactly on time. (Spike had to carry the actual books and payments, as Twilight was banned from the facility. Ponies whose livelihoods had come to depend on their spellcasting bringing texts back to her exacting requirements were slightly reluctant to let her get within what they perceived as copying range.) The dusting process was effectively eternal. And when you kicked in visits to and by friends, the daily chaos which had apparently only become inherent to Ponyville existence on the day she`d moved in, and the intermittent interruptions of the missions...

We see here how organized Twi is, and how controlling she is about that tree of hers. Even without this paragraph, a brony understands that Twi likes a good organized plan and approach, always has a list in mind, and is very intelligent if somewhat lacking in common sense at times. "exactly" is a clue for later on as well. Just developing an understanding of Twi`s particular neuroses, for me, paints a very different picture of both the "confrontation" in Dash`s house and the interaction on the train in the later part of this story.

Rainbow dropping in and privately speaking to Spike more frequently than usual? Why was that worthy of notice? Rainbow had been known to engage Spike`s services just because a pony so dedicated to speed didn`t want to deal with the travel time of outgoing mail: her biggest complaint about transport flame was that packages couldn`t be pulled in. Besides, they got along fairly well: he was the youngest in the group and mentally, she was the... well, technically, Pinkie was the one most in touch with her inner filly, but Rainbow was the mare who still felt that entity needed to pick up most of the checks.

So this paragraph tells us that Dash has begun meeting with Spike more than usual. Although how much more than usual is not clearly defined. But I suppose if it was very frequent, Twi might have taken notice sooner. Hard to say, really. At any rate, she went to Spike for help with her plan.

It was slightly stranger to have Spike start playing an active part on Release Day. The boxes were delivered early: most of the shipments arrived before Sun was raised, all the better to let shops and libraries have their displays ready at the moment of opening. It was too early for a little dragon to be up, and so Twilight generally let him sleep through it -- but he`d just volunteered, and had done so simply through showing up. He signed for the shipments (although he had to sign Twilight`s name) and took inventory of the contents. He was suddenly the only one counting the boxes as they came off the cart, and the fact that Twilight was still responsible for relaying them inside meant she wasn`t inside... it was more efficient than simply waiting for them all to be unloaded. And of course the boxes which entered the library perfectly equaled the total which had come off the cart. The fact that he had the perfect opportunity to place a few out of sight never crossed Twilight`s mind, because it had no reason to make the journey. He was helping her, and an increased level of assistance was always welcome.

And he had always been the one to bring in the mail, at least on those days when he wasn`t serving as a different kind of delivery system. He sorted it before the envelopes ever reached her, and if a number were visibly being carried away in his hands... well, that was just his mail, wasn`t it? There were aspects of library operation where Spike took an active a claw: in particular, the most frustrating missing book accounts were often turned over to him because while a dragon flaring his nostrils on the doorstep might offend, an alicorn showing up with a rage-spiking horn corona tended to make the front page. Additionally, it was possible that he`d found a quill companion in a distant part of the world, and Twilight was hardly going to interfere with any newfound interest he might have found in simple correspondence.

Missions came and went. There were also more normal hours when she was outside the tree: friends, daily business, simply stepping outside to enjoy a little well-regulated chill. And in a structure where patrons wandered everywhere except the well-protected basement, treated her rooms as theirs... well, there was a reason why she had those stickers inside the front covers of her personal tomes. Discovering that her shelves had been lightly disturbed during her absence was just part of the routine, and the relief which came from finding nothing missing caused her to overlook that things had been lightly disturbed. Over and over.

Payments had to be made. (Quite a bit of that was to publishers.) And really, why couldn`t Spike write up the vouchers? All Twilight had to do was sign them, something she generally did without bothering to look at them first. And if it seemed as if she was signing more vouchers than ever -- well, it was winter, and the typical causes of book repair had seen a major spike in mucus drippings while adding the annual stains from hot chocolate, plus now the ponies reading under her blankets were occasionally found in pairs. (It would slow down for a little while after the Wrap-Up, only to be replaced with newly-grown fruit stains.) It was just the season, or so she told herself before rushing off to the next mission. And Spike taking on additional paperwork duties (of his own free will!) freed part of her schedule for visiting friends, magic studies, and the re-re-reorganization in which he wasn`t going to be any part of the process anyway. He could go outside and play during those times, maybe do a little shopping for himself. He`d certainly earned that, and Twilight had even begun to consider a small increase in his allowance.

However, when viewed in retrospect, one potential clue hadn`t been there: Spike had been spending no more than that allowance would permit. Aiding and abetting had its almost-immediate rewards, but he knew how to budget -- and might have also been subconsciously aware that a rather good way to draw attention was through flashing cash. Besides, from his perspective, it was just another kind of Rainbow stunt, and that meant he couldn`t act immediately, not when there was such a time-honored procedure to follow.

So we have a lot of clues here, I`m going to start with Spike

  1. Spike began by taking it upon himself to help with the inventory process, giving him the perfect opportunity to set books aside and conceal their existence from Twi
  2. Spike began intercepting mail. Whether that was notices or queries regarding anomalous orders being placed isn`t known, but is very likely. Whether he`d be doing this on Dash`s say-so is sketchy, but considering her lack of consideration for the consequences of such? I`m thinking it was his decision, and she wasn`t privy.
  3. Spike began writing up the vouchers for the orders, and Twi merely signed up without actually looking at them. This demonstrates a high level of trust in the young dragon, but also some level of irresponsibility on Twi`s part.
  4. Spike was rather conscious of his spending habits, never inviting any unwanted attention through flashing cash.
  5. All in all, it seems that Spike was rather cognizant of the potential (really inevitable) consequences of this plan. That Dash seemed unaware means that he probably didn`t really tell her much about it. Part of that time-honored procedure?

But more than this, there is this point "an alicorn showing up with a rage-spiking horn corona tended to make the front page." where we see that Twi is conscious, at least a little, of her image and how she is represented around Equestria. It`s also evident that she`s conscious of the consequences of certain actions. In particular, there is at least one news outlet with a particular soft-spot for reporting on the Royalty, whether accurate or not, in order to promote the idea that they are unnecessary. I should think Twi`s actions would reflect poorly on the other royalty, in that case.

You watched.
You held your breath as you waited to see if it would succeed or fail.
You didn`t commit your reaction until it was over.
And then you went to the crash site and looked for interesting pieces of debris.

Well, this implies no concern for Dash`s wellbeing on Spike`s part. In fact, overall it sounds like Ponyville just doesn`t intend to intervene and possibly save Dash from herself at any point. Actually, I get the impression that overall most of the characters in the `verse of inspid, self-serving and shallow without much concept of actual love or caring. It`s like the world of Equestria was re-imagined with no real understanding of love, fairness, friendship, tolerance, caring, and all the other things that made the baseline Equestria so charming. I personally counted these 3 lines as one distinct paragraph as they were all connected.

"-- here`s your mail!" A pair of boxes were slammed onto the desktop, along with a sheaf of envelopes which hadn`t been sorted as carefully as they should have been. "Can I go out for a while?"

This frown was one of concern. "Not unless you bundle up first. It`s really cold this morning. That`s already kept all our early patrons home, and they`re ponies. With fur. You aren`t, and you know what the cold does to you. Especially with all the really deep snowdrifts out there. If you step on one and sink in..." He was already shivering, and that was just from having brought in the mail.

With desperation, something Twilight interpreted as There`s A Game Starting And I Don`t Get To Be In Goal Unless I`m There First, "I`ll be okay for a short trip. I`m just going over to --"

So, Spike is starting his escape attempt here. He`s also clearly terrified. I`m pretty sure that shivering is not from the cold alone. Twi exhibits just how much control she has over his life here, though in this case it is meant for his own good. The "Mama" Twi vibe here really speaks to me quite darkly, as in an abusive relationship rather than a nurturing one built on respect and caring. The impression is quite different when she borrows a page out of Shy`s book to affect the control she seeks over Spike. I don`t see caring for Spike here so much as concern for the order she strives for in her own life, and the domain that is her library. The author does a good job of highlighting how, yet again, Twi`s incompetence with social cues results in her misreading a tell from someone she presumably cares about. It`s a hallmark of quality writing that involves so much nuance and sprinkles of flavor that a reader might just miss. It means a story can be ready many different ways, and then choosing the "right" way becomes rather troubling.

"Which was when her corona automatically went into the open drawer. And under normal circumstances, she didn`t even have to look: she knew where the stickers were. Surround and lift the top one. That was all.

Instead, a thin bubble grasped nothing, then regretfully lifted a narrow slice of air."

So, I see here that she`s both deft at this and is has become something near effortless to perform for her. It sounds like a construct is formed around the object to be manipulated, and that construct is what is in her control. How can it be changed and manipulated in and of itself isn`t clear, but I gather she`s rather gifted and also quite strong considered her ascension, her mark power, and her countless hours of study and practice in the field. Seems second-nature, like something she could perform at length with minimal fatigue resulting
End Review part 2

Review Part 3

"They wouldn`t use a red envelope for just anything." Twilight resoned, and opened the envelope at the same moment her assistant gave up on the ramp and raced for the balcony doors. "So let`s see --"

The author does a marvelous job of drawing up the tension and creating a feeling of dread and fear. At least for me.

There were ways in which it was almost impossible to be a part of Rainbow`s life without sharing in a few crashes, and so the resulting scream didn`t quite drown out the sound of ill-advised impact. It meant that after her quills had finished flinging themselves around the library and the remnants of the desk had been extracted from the ceiling, Twilight knew exactly where Spike was.

Why is that? Twi has already demonstrated she can get a grip on an object without actually seeing it, and perhaps that telltale noise of "ill-advised impact" told her where to find her assistant, and by feeling she got her grip on him. Of course, that means an open window or door, no? Don`t think that happened, so she just left him there until she was ready? I`m unclear here, but in either scenario there`s a sudden sharp disconnect from friends when she focuses entirely on her own needs. The resulting interrogation of Spike is not to be taken lightly, either, since in a very real sense his life is risked to get the answers she seeks. And still she does not receive all of them, and with that being said, one cannot be certain of the legitimacy of that information which she did extract. Duress is not always a reliable manner of interrogation, I think. It`s already clear that he doesn`t care about how Dash is impacted except for entertainment value when it`s all over, and he`s clearly invested in self-preservation as he tries to get away and then, through vaulting from an upstairs balcony, to run away only to find himself imprinted into a snowbank. In this `verse, Dragons, usually living furnaces unto themselves, are apprently cold-blooded? I mean, being reptilian, that isn`t a great stretch of the imagination.

She generally didn`t visit the cloud house all that often, at least not at its own altitude. While she`d been a unicorn... well, even with the cloudwalking spell mastered, self-levitation was one of those things which you either figured out quickly or reflected upon while sliding down the recently-impacted wall: it meant somepony had to carry her. And after the change, with the up/down aspects of flight coming along, it meant visiting Rainbow`s house. Standing on ground level and calling up generally provided enough distance to keep ponies safe from whatever was still going wrong in the kitchen.

Twilight had lived in Ponyville long enough to have most of the streets memorized. But when it came to the vapor homes, she had the ssame blind spot as just a bout everypony else. You just didn`t think of a molded cloud as having a street address: you perceived it as being above the street. She could navigate to Rainbow`s residence on instinct, but deliberately associating it with a ground-level location was a mental leap straight down.

But the cloud house had an official street addreess. After all, not every postpony was capable of reaching the front door, and packages had to be left somewhere.

Twilight silently noted the number of envelopes stuffed into the recently not-quite-upgraded-enough mailbox, along with the three boxes viciously labeled as Returns. (The latter were partially trapped within snow, as Rainbow saw no need to clear any path which she wasn`t personally using.) She kept looking at them until she could see something other than white, and then she spread her wings.

She was sure several of the fountains near the entrance were new. Rainbow had a well-known weakness for fountains and besides, none of the old ones had played music.

It was about ten in the morning and because it was Rainbow, that meant it was naptime: a state which normally left Twlight desperately searching all of Ponyville for a hint of the prismatic tail. But it was also winter, and the pegasus liked to sleep in warm spots. Multiple years of residency had seen the weather coordinator unceremoniously kicked from the rafters of roughly half the shops: the remainder had takena page from their visitor`s ill-considered book and sprinkled the wood with itching powder. It was something which narrowed Rainbow`s snowfall sleeping spots considerably, and it meant that Twilight only have to ring the bell eight times before the yawn reached the general vicinity of the door.

"Oh," Rainbow blearily tried, shaking her head a little in an attempt to center both vision and disheveled mane. "You`re up. I mean, you`re up here. You usually don`t --" and then the pegasus woke up all at once, a sudden surge of adrenaline substituting for intelligence. "-- unless it`s important! Where`s the mission? I can be ready to go before you finish telling me --"

"-- here`s your mail," Twilight coldly cut her off. Several envelopes and boxes floated forward. The largest, due to either misplaced aim or subconscious intent, began to rudely poke Rainbow`s sternum.

"Oh," the pegasus tried again. "Um. ...thanks?"

"I`m just glad it reached you," the librarian too-calmly said. "It`s not as if you told anypony that you`d chagned your name to Editions Unlimited."

"Oh." (Third time did not pay for all.) "That." More quickly, "So how did you find out? Because I was totally gonna tell you, but I asked Spike not to say anything until we really got some speed up. I figured that was spring, but what with the way the orders are starting to come in -- oh, and you`ve got returns?" She stomped a forehoof as wings rustled with irritation. "Customers, right? If patrons are anything like this, I don`t know how you stand it!"

Twilight stood silently upon the cloud. Vapor was beginning to darken under her hooves.

Rainbow failed to notice. "So you wanna come in? Oh, I almost forgot to ask. What`s in your saddlebags? They look really full."

"Stuff," Twilight finally told her, feeling using one of Rainbow`s favorite words would just avoid the subject.

It didn`t work immediately. "Stuff?"

"Stuff for later."

"Oh." Rainbow shrugged. "Anyway, come on in. We`re letting all the heat out."

Amazing work here. There`s no point at which the author chooses to outright tell the reader "And these are the factors Twilight took into account as she planned this out...", instead, we are offered the chance to discern this for ourselves. Actually, the other thing I took home from this is that the author also does not choose to explain every action, or lack thereof, during narrative. Thereby making the author, in essence, an unreliable narrator. Not so unreliable as to be outright falsifying the goings on, just that bits and pieces are left to the reader to uncover with clues and nuance. It`s really incredible, genius level stuff. So on the technical level, this writing is ALWAYS strong.

Twilight is noted to be a very organized pony earlier in the story, and that plays out well here. For this reason I became convinced that "about ten in the morning" did not necessarily refer to the same morning she received the notice in the red envelope. Perhaps the next day? She`s methodically, 24 hours would be enough time to work out a plan (in this case a fairly simple one fueled only by a desire to hurt the pony she`s visiting and simultaneously repair the damage to her career) as well as gather the supplies she`d need.

Rainbow does say those bags are really full. But, it might never be clear just how much stuff she had in there or if it was all rope.

Around Paragraph 122, where Twi first seems the envelopes and packages in the mailbox, I had to really dig deep to understand what exactly was happening. First off, it`s now evident that she`s conscious of her eyes going white (probably has always been to some degree or other), and that she`s working hard to rein in her rage in order to carry out her particular plan. It requires a significant degree of surprise, it seems. In that I find this story has certain failings, but I`ll talk on those later and explain why I feel as I do.

And at Paragraph 124, which begins "It was about ten in the morning", shows us the degree to which Twi understands her friends, and Ponyville in general. It`s a good indicator that, while she is not competent to follow social cues, she is quite competent to discern patterns in everyday life and with respect to the ponies she is most exposed to. The tone of the narrative itself seems to speak to her animosity towards Dash and her judgment in general. It causes me to wonder if this is part of what she is telling the publishing houses later.

At Paragraph 128, Twi broaches the subject of her interest with "It`s not as if you told anypony that you`d changed your name to Editions Unlimited." It`s passive-aggressive, and effective at opening this topic of conversation with Dash in a way that does not allude to the threat she currently represents.

Paragraph 129, where Dash begins to talk a bit about it, tells me a few things. My initial reaction was "guilty conscience" but that went out the window with the remainder of their exchange in Dash`s house. Instead, this is more "disappointed the surprise is spoiled" then "well, at least now I can tell her everything", where there`s no guilt felt. I also note that here she indicates clearly that she asked Spike not to say anything, and I wonder if this is the extent to which she instructed Spike? How much of the deceit was his own devising due to experience and understanding of Twi?

Paragraph 132 shows us the first question of Dash`s that Twi actually answers, through the answer itself is vague to keep Dash from becoming concerned or worried. Just more of Twi`s passive/passive-aggressive approach. The more of this I read, the less future I think their relationship (or indeed any of Twi`s relationships) really has.

Finally, Paragraph 135 shows Dash invited Twi in without having received an answer to the question of just why she had shown up at Dash`s door. In fact, Twi only answered one out of the 4 questions that Dash asked. Albeiot, 2 of them were rhetorical anyway. It shows, first, just how much trust Dash has in Twi here, and is equally effective and demonstrating Twi`s animository toward Dash in her willingness to use this trust
End Review part 3

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