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Graymane Shadow


“It’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other peoples’ expectations. They produce their worst work when they do that.” - David Bowie

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Luna, Mistress of the Night.
Cadance, Princess of Love.
Celestia, the Lightbringer.
Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Friendship.

Of the Four Princesses, Twilight is the one that ponies know has it easy. Chosen by Celestia, hero several times over, surrounded by friends that would accompany her to the the bitter end. Being a princess was just the cherry on top, right?

Twilight doesn't see it that way.


The third story in the Four Princesses, Four Demons series, following up Cadance the Unbroken and Celestia the Indomitable.

Reading the other stories is encouraged, but not required.


Featured from 2-12-2021 to 2-14-2021, peaking at #1. Thanks, everypony!

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 39 )

Let's all be 100% honest. Every princess is completely and utterly useless in some way. Mostly in holding back what they can do. Being nice all the time is what lead them to getting their asses kicked so far here.

If Twilight really cut loose? Her friends wouldn't be able to stop her. Not even slow her down, if she wasn't holding back. Celestia is a fool if she thinks regular ponies could honestly stop her in a fight.

Same with the other alicorns when they stop playing nice. Luckily, it's the bad guys who get the brunt of it. For now.

Twilight doesn't fight for herself but put someone else in danger...

btw

He grinned, blood drippling from his open mouth.

dripping.

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Whoops, missed that. Fixed.

As for the rest, Twilight knew she needed help, and Trixie was willing. It’s not like the show doesn’t end up putting the Mane 6 in danger with regularity.

Twilights mastery over Teleportation would make her way more scary, if she was to use it to deal with opponents.
Can't fly? Teleport up a mile. Let go. Done.
Can't be hurt from the outside due to impenetrable skin?
How about this here nice little rock right where your spine meets your skull?
Can fly? Teleport DOWN a mile and simply forget about it.

I can't put my finger on why, but the magical healing from being on death's door to feeling perfectly fine feels too forced to me. It sort of feels like the magnitude of the interaction between Trixie and Twilight wasn't nearly as high as the injuries Twilight sustained. I feel like if the injuries were less severe, on the level of four broken legs and two useless wings, the degree of healing required is closer to the significance of the interaction between Twilight and Trixie.
The implications for the story, Twilight not being able to continue the fight and being largely helpless, would have remained the same.

The reversal of such a dramatic spinal injury is what makes me feel this way, I guess.

Faustus mistake, he tried to mentally break someone who was already messed up in the head. Basically by trying to break her he made Twilight focus on the source of her power, and we'll we saw what happened. Of course Mistake one was attacking the land of Weaponized friendship and Love at all, when your enemy can smack you down by just haveing an intense emoution psychological attacks will back fire.

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Did he. . . fall victim to one of the classic blunders?

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This is probably down to the dialogue, and its uncommon stiltedness here is likely down to 1) the author trying to capture Trixie's speech patterns and not really getting them down and 2) having Twilight act really blase about her injuries. She should barely be able to talk, and yet she's effusive, bordering on witty.

AYYYYYY BEEN WAITING FOR THIS!

You threaten somebody's friend? You're threatening your own life.

Been waiting for this, and really enjoyed it when it came :)

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They never learn do they?

Picked this up as a twi-twi fan. I'd seen the others in recommended, but never really felt like taking a look. After giving this a read, I'll be heading over to read the others now.

This one seems a bit different from the other two... I was expecting it to go more or less how it did for the 2nd half, but the first half caught me off guard I suppose

Is Luna going to turn out to be a demon all along?

This was a nice story and I like how Trixie played a role in this. The first part being so different from the first two stories was a surprise however.

This is a silly nitpick, but I am pretty sure stopping his heart would mean breathing wouldn't matter, since without a heartbeat the blood won't be fetching oxygen from the lungs. Basically if your heart stops you pass out in seconds because no heartbeat = blood stops flowing = you pass out super fast.

But otherwise, enjoyed it. Agree the magical healing felt a little...I mean it both worked and didn't work. Cliche, that might be it. But going to enjoy seeing entry #4 in this

“D…don’t do it, Twilight!” Trixie stammered. “You can beat him! Trixie only asks…” she paused, gulping, "asks that you make it quick.”

Brave girl!

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Classic villian mistake, that love and friendship is weakness. Yes it is something you can take advantage of for sure, but it also inspires people to do just insane things! To make them focus, to try things they are unaware they can do, or become relentlessly vicious. Trying to break Twilight works, it's just when she breaks she gets angry and violent and should it be directed at you...
Discord broke her and it was directed away from him so he was "safe".
Terik unknowingly broke her by killing the Golden Oaks, and had he not used her friends as hostages she would have wrecked him.

On one end I want to call out the last minute magic buff...
... But on the other that's just so Twilight I can't help but feel that it fits.

Twilight is the girl that tries. She might be horrible unequipped, dangerously unprepared, and the worst possible pony for the job, but by golly does she try.

And she's usually pretty brilliant in the end. Almost unfair.

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Indeed. In all my years I've seen this blunder over and over again, and these fools, Just. Don't. Learn.

Like ever.

It's even comical sometimes with how obviously they've bucked up.

So I've apparently got a lot to say about this chapter, but I'm going to reserve the long opinionated ramble for after the line-break in case you just wanna skip that. Oh, and Spoilers, in case someone decided to read the comments before the 'fic I guess.

Firstly, I liked the use of Trixie. The relationship between Trixie and Twilight is one of the ones I wish the Show had explored more and so I like seeing different fanfic author's takes on it. And when it comes to bombastic, loud distractions, The Great And Powerful Trixie!TM just cannot be beat :trixieshiftright:

Furthermore, I liked the way you did the exchange between them. Even if the dialogue does feel as bit clunky at points, it does a great job at showing that Trixie cares about Twilight, even before she outright says that she won't leave her behind, and how much she believes in her despite their previous animosity. There's hints of more complicated and conflicted emotions too (like when Trixie says "I never hated you") which I particularly liked, because it shows that you probably thought a bit more about how they felt towards one another beyond this one scene.

Additionally, the portrayal of Twilight's internal battle with her inner demons and how the real demon tipped the scale against her is very well illustrated. The shift from her determined, vehement denial of his accusations to the hope leaving her eyes and resigning herself to the blow, you really did a good job there.


Unfortunately there were also parts I didn't like so much and apparently I felt the need to write an essay about it, so be forewarned about the upcoming ramble.

Rambly part begins:


Honestly I think this one's gonna end up the weakest of the set. Even if the setup does sort of enforce it, this story(? Chapter?) falls prey to one of the most common issues writers have when trying to portray Twilight's strength: making her go it alone. I get that you try to address this with her interaction with Trixie, but it ended up feeling a bit too forced to me and in the end Twilight still had to do the majority of the heavy lifting.

In my opinion (which honestly isn't worth much but hey), it might have been a better idea to have the story start after the Reservists arrived and either have one of them fill in for Trixie or contrive a reason for Trixie to be with them. The scene where the demon breaks her will now happens just before the Reservists arrive, with their arrival serving as a counterpoint to his "they’re all just sticking around because they feel sorry for you" line (for extra points, replace the Reservists with her Personal Guard to create a deeper personal connection).

Twilight passes out again whilst she's being medevac'd and comes to a short while later (serving to replace the "getting konked out with a rock and waking up to Trixie" scene) to find out that most (but unlike in the current version, not all) of the Reservists/Guard died serving as a distraction for the medevac team (if you had the Personal Guard arrive instead of the Reservists, now you can add "my failure got my friends killed" on top of the other mental baggage) and now, like the current version one of the survivors/Trixie/Conscript!Trixie begs Twilight to save the day in spite of her injuries. I'd also maybe expand on this scene a little by having her interact with the survivors a bit more and showing how the Magic of Friendship draws on the connections between them, healing her a little more with each new thing she learns about them instead of the all-at-once "blinding magic healing ball" thing.

Finally, instead of the glorified magic punch-up we have now Twilight could win instead by utilising the knowledge she gained about her new friends to come up with a trap that utilises their skills to distract Fanatus and wear him down enough for her to land a killing blow. Alternatively, Twilight could remain too injured to fight directly, but draws on her new connections with her friends more directly to lend magical support; in this scenario it's Twilight acting as the distraction whilst her in the end it's her new friends and the bonds between them that actually bring down the demon.

/Rant Ends


Now there are two obvious issues with my suggested rewrite:
1.) It's easy for me to sit here and suggest what might have been done better in retrospect, if I'd been the one writing then I'd have taken about ten years and never released it because "it's not quite perfect". Imperfect things that exist beat perfect things that don't nine times out of ten.
2.) It kinda just follows the classic Twilight Episode formula:
- Twilight has a problem that she tries to solve by herself.
- By attempting to go it alone, she gets herself into trouble that could've been easily avoided otherwise.
- Realising she was being silly, Twilight joins forces and uses her great organisational skills to create a plan to overcome the problem.

Additionally, I'd like you to keep in mind that in spite of what the long ramble may make you think that I really enjoyed reading this chapter of the small series you're making (even if I don't think it's quite on par with the last two) and I'm looking forward to reading the next part with bated breath :twilightsmile:

Fantastic!

And Trixie was probably the best choice for the catalyst. Well written, to boot.

TwoOne more to go.

~Skeeter The Lurker

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I'm replying to both of you at once for simplicity's sake, since your comments are *somewhat* related.

Between the initial finished draft and the final copy you see here, among other changes, I cut out a 'bridge section' that was just under 1000 words. That section was the entirety of the planned appearance of Luna, who was going to dig more into why Twilight was having so much difficulty, focusing on her anxiety and fear of not being good enough.

That's the main reason, I think, for the 'disconnect' between the first and second halves - Luna was supposed to appear in dream-form after Twilight was knocked out, and then once she was done, Trixie would have been the one to 'drag Twilight back'. I did make some changes after I excised that part, but it likely wasn't enough, so the story ended up in the situation where you can see the rocky transition.


I do think at some point, when I'm done with Luna's story and maybe have some more time, I'll clean up that cut section a little and post it as a 'second chapter' here, just so people can see what might have been. It wasn't bad, but there were three reasons I cut it:

1: The story was heading to what I thought was too dark of a place, so the somewhat lighter tone of the back half was an attempt to balance it out.
2: For most of the time I was writing this (and make no mistake, this piece was one of the hardest I've dealt with in decades of writing) I kept having the thought that I wanted to put Trixie in this. As I said in my author's note, there was always going to be at least one more pony in this story. Initially it was 'shadow copies' of Dash and Rarity, placed there by Fanatus to subtly torment Twilight, with each making comments ever so slightly out of character, such as Dash mocking Twilight's abilities, Rarity hinting that they were tired of putting up with her, etc. Then it changed to Luna, who would offer the perspective of age, having been through her own self-doubts. After that, it was Trixie, and I cut Luna to both balance the tone and avoid cramming too much into the story.
3: I didn't want Luna's appearance overshadowing Twilight's story.

Just for reference, about 32% of what I wrote ended up not being used. Some of that included the false-start with the fake RD and Rarity, some of that was Luna's portion, and some of it was other struggles.

I've probably rambled on enough here, but hopefully in that there's some explanations that make sense.

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I'm replying to this one separately from the comment I just posted, but you might find it helpful to read that one as well, just for a little more info.

FIrst, thank you for your critique, as it digs into some of the issues I had with this piece myself.

I want to share this initial 'pre-planning' clip I had when I was sketching out a rough outline of what the next three stories might be.

Twilight – perhaps has to admit she doesn’t have all the answers? Faces the Demon of Pride. Has to conquer a situation where she ‘fails’ in order to succeed.

That might help illustrate why your comment made me chuckle, as it's more or less the original idea I had but ultimately didn't go with (and perhaps that was a mistake).

As I more or less said in the comment before this one, I had hell with this story. Production time was about five times longer than what I usually spend on a fic, and by the time I was done with the draft, I excised the Luna portion, made changes to some wording, polished up a few things, and once it was 'good enough' I hit submit, glad to just be done with it - especially since I've had to keep delaying working on a collaborative fic a friend asked me to finish up, and I've felt bad that I haven't gotten to that yet.

One thing I've always kept in mind with fan fiction is that, for me, in many respects it's practice. I get to try new styles and different things in an environment that doesn't cost me money, that I'll later apply to the publishable-for-money fiction I'm always working on. So, this story was definitely a learning experience, and I'll take those lessons and apply them to both Luna's upcoming story, and other works going forward.

Again, thanks for your critique.

Another enjoyable chapter!

I just hope for her sake Luna does run up against the Candle Demon from Doom. If she does, she has no chance! :rainbowlaugh:

Curious if the author plans to follow up with a story for Chrysalis.

“Twilight will personally pay for Trixie to have a shiny new wagon,” she promised.

Twilight being Twilight and not knowing how to do by halves, Trixie finds herself with a magic blue phone box she doesn't have to pull because it can teleport.

"Don't worry," she assures the confused showmare. "It's much bigger on the inside."

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That might help illustrate why your comment made me chuckle, as it's more or less the original idea I had but ultimately didn't go with (and perhaps that was a mistake).

Honestly, I'm just pretty glad that my overthought ramblings weren't completely off the mark :twilightsheepish:

It's sad that Twilights inexperience cost so many their lives

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Is a thing people will be saying for years in canon.

Pretty sweet, it makes sense for Twilight’s to be one through the power of friendship, and I’d say Trixie is a pretty good fit for this. I was a little taken a back when they started talking to each other as though this was pre season 6, but I imagine this takes place around season 5 where Twilight’s role as princess is still pretty new considering they mention how she doesn’t govern anything yet.

I will say having Twilight complete broken and then suddenly healed was the only thing that I’d say was a misstep here. It doesn’t ruin the fic of anything it just felt off. All these fics have felt like the princesses have had to dig deep and confront parts of themselves that they hide from themselves to win the day. Twilight’s left a little too easy if that makes sense.

Still, it a good read and I’m looking forward to Luna’s one next

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It won't be right away, but at some point I think I'll circle back and do a "Side B" second chapter here, giving a different version of the story. I won't delete the original, this would just be a different take.

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Cool, looking forward to it

Awesome third installment. I get that Fanatus's tactic was to make Twilight think she was nothing without her friends (or really exacerbating it since she already thought that way, apparently), but let's get real here. Twilight is the Princess of Friendship. That's her domain, and her greatest strength (bolstered, of course, since her Element is Magic and Friendship is Magic, dammit), so if you take her out of it, of course she's going to be weakened. But everyone—especially princesses—needs to recognize their weaknesses, and Twilight clearly has, but Fanatus's mental tactic worked well on her. But the second you put Twilight back in her domain—namely bring Trixie of all ponies into the equation—she will friggin' demolish anything in her path if she has to. We know she can do it. This method of victory was her restraining herself because Trixie was in danger. Imagine if this had been out in a field like with Tirek. Even without the other princesses' magic, there wouldn't be an atom left.

In other words, Go Twilight!

Crushing the heart? Visceral, but not logical unless its beating makes it easier to lock onto telekinetically or the better target is more magically protected.

What better target? The brain. More delicate, and a quicker death. Quicker is both more merciful and gives less time for a dying return shot. I have heard that Secret Service agents are expected to continue to return fire for the few seconds they will survive after certain types of heart shots (this has almost certainly never come up in actual practice since it would be a rather unlikely specific sort of place for a bullet to hit?).

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Perhaps if the initial injuries were the same, but the recovery not as complete? Hindlegs still paralyzed (but spine mechanically reconnected). Pain still great, but maybe she knows a spell for that? Wings injured but marginally usable?

I love it! And now I will read the Luna story.

His lungs continued to breathe, but she didn’t have the fine control she needed to stop them as well.

Just hold the diaphragm still. Big muscle, easy target.

Good stuff in confronting Twilight's issues and insecurities, and it does make sense that the Princess of Friendship would need some external aid in rallying herself. (Goodness know she often does.) But at the same time, her feeling like the odd one out in terms of finding the inner strength needed to push past the demon's depredations makes the triumph feel lesser. As does the spontaneous regeneration that needs the narration to directly explain it to the viewer.

I know, Twilight's the one princess who doesn't need a solid win in her column to make up for how the show treated her, but this still doesn't have quite the same impact. Still a good read, don't get me wrong, but this may end up the least impressive of the four. (Which is a bit like being the least massive star in the galaxy.)

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Indeed, this one...was a pain in the rear to write. That said, unlike the other three it did get a soft sequel of sorts that both used some of the sections I cut from this one and better balanced Twilight's overall arc.

Let Me In, Twilight Sparkle

Trixie was staring in shock. “How…how is that possible? You were hurt, and now you’re not, and...Trixie is very happy, but also very confused.”
Having dealt with all sorts of weird things in her life, Twlight could only shrug. “At this point, I’ve learned to just go with it.“

An excellent question, and an excellent answer.
Also, there is a typo in "Twilight".

“Trixie knows this may be a bit soon to ask, but seeing as Trixie wastrying to help defend a princess when her wagon was destroyed…can Trixie expect the Crown to pay for a new one?”

:moustache:: "Don't worry about that. I know her, so I ensured she got an insurance for princessly duties. I believe that counts."


Good story!
I enjoyed reading it.

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Fixed that typo, thanks. Twilight's name is a pain to catch if I miss that first I, because "ili" tends to blur unless I kick the font size up (free tip: don't get old).

Glad you enjoyed it.

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