• Member Since 14th Feb, 2012
  • offline last seen 8 hours ago

Chris


Author, former Royal Canterlot Library curator, and the (retired) reviewer at One Man's Pony Ramblings.

E

A series of notes sent to a young changeling in the field by her superior, and a glimpse into the minds of a race whose views on friendship and love are at once totally alien and disturbingly easy to recognize in ourselves and those around us.


My extreme gratitude to Pascoite for going over this story with a fine-toothed comb, and for helping me make it what it is.

Cover art by the incredibly talented Nelvakre, used with permission.

Chapters (1)
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Comments ( 50 )

The mere fact that this has a reference to the Screwtape letters has raised my interest. It has been placed into my read later file. :ajsmug:

I look forward to getting to this very soon... :rainbowkiss:

Edit: I loved it! Great insight into the more devious aspects of ones nature, and conversely the beauty and joy of love amidst such cruel plans.

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Favorited and thumbs WAY up!

Interesting idea, though I was a bit confused toward the beginning, as the earlier letters suggested strongly that Earwig had already attained at least a dating relationship with the stallion. Of course, I guess they might have broken up, but... I guess I'll have to see if you post Earwig's letters next.

Ezn

This was a great read. Kind of sickening, but in a way I'm sure you intended. Maxilla's utter cynicism and the amount of thought she put into various methods of emotional blackmail was simultaneously repulsive and fascinating, not to mention totally relevant. You don't need to be a love-feeding insect monster-thing to think that way; I've know more people like Maxilla than I'd care to.

I like how this is, from one perspective, a very cynical way of telling a saccharine story about two ponies finding true love.

Hmm... Where to start.

I enjoyed this, deeply. Maxilla's characterisation really shone through the prose, the comparisons between the elements of harmony and the changeling's seduction methods never felt forced, the occasional sideways glimpses at a much broader headcanon were fascinating and nicely woven into the story, Maxilla's logic felt believable rather than contrived and what wasn't written mattered just as much as what was.

This was a story that you really needed to think about in order to read. I often found myself second guessing what a character's exact angle was; the irony that Maxilla brought this up herself as the 'natural way' for changelings to think was not lost on me.

Earwig in particular was an interestingly vague character case. There was enough there for me to build up a picture of something subtle and yet pretentious at the same time, and yet not enough for me to paint her out fully. She existed nicely as a sort of waif-like figure flirting about the story's edges; trying to guess what exactly she had been doing in between Maxilla's tendency to lecture was a challenge all by itself. The dependent, love-hate relationship that existed between the two of them was also excellently carried out as well, and it certainly helped to reinforce the believability of a changeling society where everyone attempts to deceive everyone else. Thieves thieving from thieves, no less.

There are still some avenues that I really think it should have explored, however. The entire thing seemed to be structured around changelings taking the place of a mare in order to ensnare a stallion; it would've been nice to see that gender seduction reversed, or even having hints about some of the differing methods used to tackle female prey. Alternatively, if your aim was that changelings can only transform into female ponies, some lampshading would have been nice. (I suppose that last one might even be in there, and I'm just simply too dense to see it.)

I'd also post quibbles about your handling of the changeling's relationship with love, mainly because of my own conflicting headcanon over what the writers were attempting to do in season two with dragons feeding off greed, windigoes feeding off hate and then changelings feeding off lust love. I won't bore you with posting those, however, and I also suppose I'd better tie this comment up before it morphs into a poorly though out essay. Or the love letter it's probably become. Ah, well.

All in all, a brilliant fanfic. Removed itself from the childish parts of the show through extremely adult aspects, but managed to tie itself back in by merging fully with the world and 'friendship is magic' themes of the show. Truly a pony story for a mature readership.

Thanks for providing a counter-example to any fears I had over ponyfic's quality decreasing, Chris.

Oh, and as for the introspection bit mentioned on your blog... Yes, you brought up a lot of ghosts, but no, I didn't see any of my actions in a new light. I've spent enough time muttering 'you idiot' to myself over the years for there to be any avenues left to explore.

1347592

It was my intention to suggest that the stallion and Earwig have a budding relationship in the early chapters, which is subsequently dashed when Earwig begins moving too fast. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

1349062

I think we've all known a Maxilla or two. Thanks for the comment--"simultaneously repulsive and fascinating" is exactly what I was hoping to elicit.

1350823

What a glorious amount of text to absorb! I'm very glad that the opacity of Maxilla's motivations came through; that was something that I ended up spending a lot of revision time trying to show subtly but clearly. As for your comments on gender? As I think of it, a bit about the differences between seducing males and females would have made an interesting letter, though I'm not quite sure how I would work it in. Thanks for commenting!

Hee. That was fun!

It was a little odd that the changelings had managed to build up such an intricate and detailed repertoire of emotional manipulation against ponies, but failed to understand love, friendship or altruism, even intellectually. To clarify, I don't find it incomprehensibly alien that they cannot love the way other people can. I find it incomprehensibly alien that they are incapable of building a working model of love.

I'm not sure if you're familiar with Richard Dawkin's nonfiction, The Selfish Gene, but it manages to codify most human (and animal) relationships on a very cynical, utterly sociopathic and self-serving level. To summarize the whole book into a couple of sentences: seemingly-irrational kindness, mercy, love and all those sorts of things, as t'were, are apparently long-term strategies for improving the chances of survival (genetic/species survival, not individual survival). The things we usually see as selfishness and cruelty are because of their easily-calculable advantage in the short term for the individual rather than the genes*. Changelings may be wholly focused on the latter, with all their feeding strategies and whatnot, but as an (apparently) eusocial species, it's a little odd they ain't at least figured out how the whole pony schtick is supposed to work.

So my problem here is not that they have different values and beliefs, but that they are so short-sighted!

All in all, though, this was a thoroughly entertaining read, and now I kinda want a story of all of Maxilla's horrible exploits as a younger changeling, plus more stories from the changeling hive with its awesomely awesome legal system!

* Yer yer yer. I know all the problems that book has with shit like genotype not being phenotype and blah blah, passive recorders of what worked, but I'm not here to debate genetics. Just sociopathy! :D

It ks strange for me to think of a race that can see the danger of loyalty, generousity, honesty, laughter and kindness but fails at a fundamental level to even begin to understand love. I find myself hoping that Earwig flees her hive, that she ignores ner aunt's selfish advice and learns what true friendship and love is.
The relation betweeen friendship and love is the reason I read shipping fics, they are only rarely done well but can be a wonderful peak into the inner workings of a character.
And to the commentor who brings up Dawkins, thank you for mentioning how sociopathic his world view is, he could have all his ducks in a row with the science but he misses the basic human element, reducing us all to meat machines.

I suppose I may be largely feeling what others have expressed above, but it only makes sense for me to come at it from my own particular angle.

The Elements of Harmony are a fun way of presenting the finer points of friendship in a cartoon, but focus on it too much and it starts to fall down. It's an extremely intelligent inversion of a set of principles that can only be taken vaguely before they become rather self-destructively nonsensical. Which is a shame, because the ideas portrayed are so utterly believable until they are tied to the Elements. As a story, I'd have enjoyed it much more if Honesty, Kindness, and Generosity were not mentioned at all, because they felt like unsubtle crowbaring every time..

Beyond that, I did enjoy the wonderfully dark nature of the changeling mindset. You know me, Chris, I'm always up for a good analysis of human interactions! That aside, the very premise of the piece is very much not me. A dry, blighted, pox-ridden delve into sociopathy is clearly what was intended, but I just couldn't find it engaging, despite the wonderful manner in which it was done.

-Scott

1353420
I'm not sure there's any moral here about Earwig and the changelings being wrong and needing to find out what love and friendship are. In fact, that would be a disappointing message for this story to have, what with how endearingly vile and manipulative Maxilla is and how the narrative is presented.

S'not that you can't take this message away from it if that's indeed what you think it's about (in fact, I'm all for alternate interpretations of any given piece of writing), but I doubt that's what's been intended, and I can't help but feel that a point has been missed somewhere along the line.

My actual beef with their lack of understanding was that they seemed smart enough to be able to break it down rationally, not simply the fact that they didn't do those things. I certainly don't make supersonic squeaks, live selflessly in a hive with thousands of my sisters, or nurture large clutches of my offspring in my mouth, but I know (or at least have knowledge of a commonly-accepted reason) why other animals do!

I can't claim to understand animals or other people, or even myself, really, but cleverer people have already broken it down for me.

(Chris, I tried to resist. Honest!)

1353420 "And to the commentor who brings up Dawkins, thank you for mentioning how sociopathic his world view is"

I can only surmise that the ignorance on display here is a result of having no idea what you are talking about, and having your head filled with the nonsense that Professor Dawkins rails against. To label his world-view as 'sociopathic' is so patently absurd that it seems to prove that you don't actually know what his world-view even is. If your understanding of basic biology is so non-existent that you think there is even a shred of evidence that we are anything more than 'meat machines', then you clearly have no platform upon which to pass comment on a world-renowned biologist.

I will not abide such disingenuous attacks against any person, here or anywhere else. Out of respect for Chris, I will say nothing more on the matter here. You are welcome to your opinions, of course, but that is not an excuse for such obvious slander.

1354181

I'm honestly glad you're here, because I wasn't going to touch that part with a thousand-foot pole.

This was an interesting read, to say the least. I dove in expecting a more kind of formulaic story where a changeling learns how to be a pony or perfects its love stealing abilities. I also kinda expected Maxilla to either have ulterior motives for helping Earwig, or some kind of Shyamalan twist (the stallion or the marefriend are changelings themselves or something like that). Some places during the piece kinda kept me on this path, which I am not sure if it was intentional or not, I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong.

I really like how Maxilla is as uncaring as she appears. She is not a tutor caring about a nephew, she simply expects results from an underling. However, she also comes out as very "human", with her misconceptions and acceptance of facts. For how little the story focuses on her, the characterization works out very well. I never read the Screwtape Letters, so I am not sure if this is something from that.

Even better is how Earwig is reliably characterized, even with the very unreliable and unsympathetic narrator. Both her positive and negative traits are very clear from her actions and her aunt's reactions to her opinions.

Finally, I must say that I love how an otherwise mundane story can be made interesting due to the narrative format, without it breaking immersion nonetheless.

That is to say, I really enjoyed reading this and congratulations.

I really enjoyed reading this!
It was great :pinkiesmile:

This was certainly interesting; The Screwtape Letters is one of my favorite books and you've done a very good job of capturing both the writing style and the philosophical implications. My only real criticism is that I feel like there was a lot more that could have been explored, but even that not an enormous problem.

As far as the sociopathy goes, I'm not entirely sure that the changelings were meant to come across as entirely sociopathic, but that their conceptions of friendship and love are so different that there's a mutual inability to understand. The ponies view love as a form of social and emotional sustenance, while the changelings view it as physical sustenance and therefore don't understand the relational aspects of it.

1352865

I'm afraid there's plenty of historical basis for the changeling's legal system--my direct inspiration came from ancient Sparta, though doubtless there are hundreds of other examples. The point about Dawkins is interesting--perhaps if the changelings understood modern genetics, they'd finally be able to quantify love. Though somehow, I suspect that many of the nuances would still elude them...

1354136
1353420

Regarding the elements: in my first draft of the story, I didn't make any direct mention of the elements. But when I realized, looking over it, that I'd written three letters specifically about kindness, generosity, and honesty, I thought it would be a good idea to tie the elements in explicitly (since I'd basically done so already). I actually wrote an additional chapter about loyalty, but it ended up on the cutting room floor--if you both thought the current references were shoehorned in, you'd have hated that one; you could tell it was written just for the sake of having a "loyalty" chapter.

1354390

Very glad to hear that the unreliable narrator aspect came through clearly without damaging the story itself. Thanks for the comments.

1354919

You're welcome and thank you, respectively!

1356090

Interesting observation about the changelings; is there a difference between a social/ethical code which produces sociopathic results, and genuine sociopathy? That sounds like another entire story, right there. Thanks for the comments!

...

I knew it.

Fan of the Screwtape Letters as well?

Wonderfully, sickeningly dark! Loved it. However, are you sure that they are changlelings and not just law students? (I wish I was kidding. The methods of social climbing are so similar to this it's not funny! D: )

The best stories make you stop and think, and this one had me stopping every couple of pages. It constantly offered a mix of questions ranging from the nature of altruism to how much I truly despise the changelings on an ideological level. It probably took me twice as long to read this as it normally would because I would become so engrossed in my own thought, haha.

The execution was great. Characterisation was really spot on, and you managed to avoid a lot of the pitfalls of using letters as a medium of story telling. I am really pleased that the stallion's story ends happily; it makes me feel like that even with the evil that is the changelings, good is stronger and more powerful at the end of the day (my absolute favourite moral in stories).

Anyway, I hated the changelings with every fibre of my being, thus I really enjoyed the story! Thanks for the ride.

1359491

Aww, what gave it away?

1361329

(Insert stock lawyer joke here). That's high praise indeed! I'm very glad to hear that the story was so effective for you.

1361399

Changelings certainly did give fanfic writers a lot to work with, considering how frustratingly vague their powers and motivations (besides the obvious) are in the show. Thanks for the comment, and I'm glad you enjoyed!

1368544

The title, and the ending. :)

I love Cold in Gardez's saying that "stories about ponies are stories about people", but most stories don't convey such a concept as directly as this one. I haven't read the Screwtape letters, but I love this story because of how well it lays out how relationships can be poisoned. Good job!

EDIT: Reading through the comments, and reflecting back on when I read it, it occurred to me that, like many, it took me a long time to read a ~10,000 word story. Many a time did I stop during the reading to ponder about the relationships I've been in. Not only that, but I thought about my own impact on my friends and family. Just earlier today I thought that people should not be afraid of monsters, but to look in a mirror and see the monster inside themselves.

The only concern I have is one of the audience. Even during my first read, I got a distinct impression that while the story was meant to point out how to create dependency in a relationship, it was limited to how females create dependency in males. While some (arguably most) of these techniques are universal, I was at first struck with the impression that it would perhaps limit your audience to mostly males (not exactly an issue in this fandom). I have since grown to the idea that, while I like how the story has made me think about dependency in relationships, I am curious about how males create this in females.

Your story's framing is perfect for showing how females create dependency in males (and once again, many of these techniques apply well to all genders), but I feel that the framing makes it difficult to show us that creating dependency isn't limited by gender. Not really sure if it's an issue that "needs fixing" (the framing is perfect, just not as broad as my curiosity) or if it even can be "fixed" (did anyone else think about how males create dependency? Is it important to what you were trying to convey?).

While you guys wax philosophical nonsense about some book or other I’ll just be the ever critical reader I am.
“aggrievement”
Typo: grievances

“Is she trying to put you in her debt, for some future purpose of hers?”
So the changelings don’t understand generosity at all; but this one, Maxilla, spends a few years of her life freely giving advice for no reason?

“with more ink we had previously.”
Typo: ink than we

"I can barely hold my quill steady between my teeth."
Teeth; not using her magic because...?

“For generations unnumbered, we have survived thus.”
In your story maybe, in the show they set out to feed off of the love ponies hold for each other… kind of destroys your whole story to think about canon though.

“unprotected breast?”
Ponies have a barrel not a breast.

Anyway, I did enjoy this story and I thank you for keeping the dark, violent, aspects at a minimum. Oh and "where you watching" repeated was kind of annoying but I was reading the story in Envy's voice, from Full Metal Alchemist, and you made the condescending malice tone come across very throughout the story.

Ultimately it gets a like from me; which is increasingly rare for a dark tagged story but I think you tagged it for the cynical perspective more than the violence.

There is nothing positive that I could say here that has not already been said.

That said, I was delighted by how similar this was to the Screwtape Letters, which was.fascinating read, just like this story.

Been on my reading list for a while and now that I finally read it I loved it.

/Question. Did Earwig off the guard mare and take her place before the attack? Because her Aunt seemed unaware as to if Earwig saw what happened and sent the letter wondering if it would reach her. Makes me wonder if Earwig decided to feed forever off the so called "Unobtainable Stallion" and leave her Hive and bitchy Aunt who she tried to have arrested in the dust.

Well that was just utterly brilliant.

Introducing the specter of further changeling attacks to the town would be contrary to that purpose, and so there’s really nothing more to be said on that matter.

This seems like it'd sound better with "spectre", since the fic is attempting to emulate C.S. Lewis' writing style, and he was British.

Either way, I'm loving the fic so far. You've managed to pretty much nail the tone of the original, and it's quite fun to read.

I was shown this story a while ago, apparently when it was still in the approval process. The person who showed it to me didn't tell me who the author was, and I remember being vaguely annoyed about that. You very rarely read fanfics of this quality -- there weren't many authors around who could pull something like this off, and I wanted to know who it was.

And now I finally stumble across it in its published form, thanks to that blog post. Great work here, Chris.

"Letters from a Senior to a Junior Changeling"

I smell C.S. Lewis on this one! Definitely putting a pin in this to read later.

Man, this was impressive,I really liked the insight you gave into how changelings think and what they actually DO when they impersonate somepony. I quite enjoyed how it ended, and throughout Maxilla's contempt of ponies and Earwig was thoroughly intriguing to read.

Frankly, I was horrified.

Not by your writing. Everything was brilliant. It's just that the way Maxilla so casually discusses ruining relationships and tearing apart her own niece...


brrr.

This should be required reading for people writing changeling stories.

I can't think of any higher praise.

1403664: She's not giving advice for no reason. If Earwig comes back with food, Maxilla benefits. Therefore, it behooves her to give out advice.

I'm not touching your other points, mostly because you're right about them.

Reminds me so much of the Screwtape Letters, which I love. I love this story to.

Whew! Quite a dark but oddly touching story. Dark because of changelings, touching because the changelings lost. It's nice to see stories from the perspective of a villain, and even nicer, for me, to see stories where those villains lose. It's a well-written and clever story with fascinating headcanon and an enjoyable narrator. Great job! :pinkiesmile:

This was a really interesting and thoughtful changeling fic. Good work! Greenthumbed

Damn. That was GOOD.

That was damn good and it touched so well on psychology and relationship. Either you did some heavy researching here or you're damn smart about this kind of stuff. I'd like to think you'd know what you're doing in your life. Though one also needs confidence and alertness of these small details to put them to use. Whatever the case, in the end you've written a story that's made several worthy points and I believe actually taught me a few things. Good job, this is perhaps one of the more valuable tales written for it can benefit someone's life. For it gives me such food for thought I'm sure I'll think back on this fiction and nod my head, seeing the little mistakes and successes I've made in my own life. Maxilla is such a fascinating character that she knows all of these things yet her very nature keeps her as an antagonists, and on the other end of the spectrum.

OK, that there was some heavy praising. It's late and I feel bags under my eyes, so if you think me silly or if I took a little to much from your fiction, that's alright. Maybe my imagination's getting away with me as well with this tale and making it bigger than what it was... Or maybe because its so good is why my imagination has done such a thing. Whatever the case I loved reading Mazilla's letters.

Quaver Ava

Excellent story. Loved both the premise and the style.

Initially, it reminded me very strongly of Richard Sharp's The Game of Diplomacy; later, as the tensions between Maxilla and Earwig surfaced (especially in letter 17) it started to look more like the in-game messages between Diplomacy players.

Your changelings' grim, Social Darwinist mindset convincingly pervades the entire exchange, and you also manage to touch on other themes – such as the humiliating self-censorship of totalitarian subjects (letter 11) – with great skill.

Have a like, a favourite, and an enthousiastic recommendation to my reading/writing buddies (one of whom recommended this to me in the first place, but I'll add my voice to his). Oh, and some moustaches, of course. :moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache:

I haven't read "The Prince" for a long time, so is it wrong of me to get a Machiavelli feel from this piece. Splendidly done. I hate Maxilla, but only because she was splendidly done.

I'm hoping for a Screwtape Lettersy vibe here. Looking forward to reading this! :twilightsmile:

I wonder what exactly Earwig thought she'd gain by exposing Maxilla? A pardon for her failed case?

Either way, this is fascinating. Strangely enough, I sort of sympathised with Maxilla - her exasperation with Earwig's incompetence was very clear.

I haven't read much in the epistolary perspective before, but this was an enjoyable and thought-provoking read. Thank you.

edit:
Maxilla's voice was great, especially how it changed from sweet to cruel to sweet and then cruel again - a deceitful race indeed.

You nailed the voice perfectly.

Holy hell. Screwtape the Changeling. I NEED to read this.

7828543

Holy hell.

Rather apt oxymoron.

I cannot believe I put off reading this for so long! I am probably the avidest avidly avid Lewis-ian in my family, on this site or at my college! I'm amazed more people don't know his stuff. I've read anything by him I could get my hands on, and yet almost everypony I talk to replies with, "Oh, yeah! I know him. Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, right?" To which I facehoof.
The Screwtape Letters is still, in my opinion, the greatest work of satire in history. And you captured it perfectly!
The character race, the scholarly style, the calm, brilliant whit of Lewis is beautifully referenced, transformed and examined from different angles in this work.
While it is secularized and you added some language, ideas and terminology here that probably wouldn't fly in the show, after reading it and thinking about it, I see no problem with leaving it an 'iffy' E. Much like Lewis you covered everything in a very 'matter-of-fact' sort of way, and even though the ending is quite dark it is not described in any particularly gruesome way.
I will be going through your library... And I will be stalk- 'ehem' following you. (Sorry, something caught in my throat)

As a long-time fan of The Screwtape Letters I found this hilarious. Just about the only thing that hasn't appeared is Screwtape's abrupt transformation (which is an odd omission for a Changeling).

And not just a step-by-step pastiche, but well written as well. I really enjoyed this.

Full review here, but in brief: a delightful pastiche of CS Lewis. You do probably have to have read Screwtape to get the most out of it, but it's great fun.

Who are you?
No, seriously, WHAT type of person with such experience can you be to write THAT?!
Are you 30 or 40 years old (no offence, if it`s true, it`s compliment to experienced person)?
First of all, you know our "moral etiquette" so well. You know flaws of our society(and some advantages of it as well).
You managed to write in really hard way - to imagine all this characters, all this situations, all the relationship between characters and most interesting "details", that adds believability to your story. And yet to tel (actually write) only some excerpt of it!
Not to mention that you wrote in "notes" maner, so you have to both imagine what one of them might do or not depending on her temper, and the same for second one(her aunt)
You have strong skills in writing, that`s for sure.
And you created amazing story - added to my favourites!
9,5 of 10 (because of some "unlogical" things)

So do not continue confusing arguments born of ill will with those born of honest disagreement, for the former we seek to incite while the latter we must at all cost discourage. The difference is easy enough to spot in any case: two ponies honestly and frankly airing a difference of opinion may speak passionately, even vehemently, but they still listen to what the other has to say. And should one perceive that the other’s logic is more sound than his own, he may even change his own mind, and be persuaded from opposition to agreement by reason alone! This never happens in the other type of argument; where there is bad blood, no force on earth can change a pony’s mind.

Good note on types of arguing and reletionships.

At first, it will seem that you are strengthening them, for they’ll be excited to try something new. But once that novelty wears off, they’ll soon begin to wonder what they should do each week at the appointed time. If you’ve done your job well, they’ll never even consider simply returning to their old haunt; you’ll have implanted the idea that each get-together must involve something new, that simply enjoying each other’s company isn’t sufficient reason to gather. In time, they’ll run out of ideas, and the Friday meet-up will collapse as a tradition. It is true that they may sometimes get together on Fridays, but this is much less harmful to us, and more easily managed in any case.

Well, in some cases there is friends that cannot be divided by anything. Even their wives. This type is really rare, but possible(not that case in story, though).
But you imagined that situation quite well - as i said, you imagined many things, and give us only an excerpt.

My dear, stupid little Earwig, you have attempted to reel in your line before the hook was even set, and so the fish has escaped. When you came to that town, you made yourself beautiful to behold, and in so doing drew him to you. What you should have done then was to ensure that his life was happy, and that that happiness was always in your presence. Better still if he were happy only in your presence, and miserable at all other times, for thus he would come to associate that state of joy with you and you alone. But the truly important thing at this juncture was to make sure that he associated pleasure and contentedness with the period following your entry into his life, and that must perforce mean making him happy. Once this was done, then you could have moved on fruitfully.

Such a good idea on moral trap based on people`s necessity of not being alone (herd-like creatures) and for expecting "happines" of some person(or several)

Well. All is not yet lost. This is a setback, to be sure, but he is yet young and foolish. I trust you have been careful not to alienate all those around him at this early stage? Then you must try and get to him through them. Speak to them often of how foolish you were, and how you can see now what you have lost. Emphasize how unfair you were, and how you would do things differently. Rest assured, these words will get back to him. And if he can be convinced of your repentance, you may yet find yourself afforded a second chance to do this properly. Nothing plays so well with the male heart as the vanity of its own desirability, and his ego will compel him to forgive much if he thinks you will do anything to win him back.

Never come across of such definition of "forgiveness"

The ponies, it seems, believe that “love” can somehow strengthen both parties, in mind and spirit, whether together or apart. That simply loving a pony, and being loved in return, is enough to overcome any obstacle, and that both are made stronger by this interaction.

To simplify - love is when someone want to be near with other most of the time. And mostly they enjoy being together (quarrels is possible, though. No doubt about it)

The illogic of this is obvious, of course. Energy cannot travel two ways, any more than matter can. If I were to give you my inkwell and you were to give me yours, then it would be patently impossible for both of us to end up with more ink than we had previously. Yet the ponies would tell you that “love” works in precisely that manner, and even have entire schools of magic based upon that principle! Our researchers study this seeming impossibility night and day, but although success is expected hourly, no breakthroughs on this puzzling conundrum are forthcoming.

You are wrong (IMHO, but nonetheless). Energy CAN travel many ways at the same time simultaneously, and energy is always constantly interacting with others "energy flows". Every matter consist of energy, and everything in our life is actually alive (stupid scientists who thinks that "inanimated" objects even exist! NO, everything is alive). Maybe it`s not about your example, though.
In your example, well, if they exchange inkwell - some of them may get more ink or less (depended on how often they write and refill inkwell). Or, during their exchange "someone" can add more ink - who knows, right?

I have studied my agents’ reports on this mare, and she is precisely the sort whom we should wish at all costs to discourage the stallion from seeking, never mind in a romantic light. She is frank but kind, never shying away from the truth, and yet always able to find some nugget of good to make the harshest of realities palatable. She is universally considered to be pleasant company. And worst of all, there is her sense of humor. A mare who can laugh at herself is one who is unlikely to be provoked into the sort of spat most likely to end a budding relationship. Thankfully, such mares are quite uncommon these days, but it seems your prey has managed to find one.

Such "perfect" image you created was required by your plot. And not to mention that everyone have their flaws.
But interesting thing and a good "joke" (for searching "the one" or "the perfect" one, while in reality that person must be just "nice" and "good to live with") on our society nonetheless.

If love is a myth, then tell me this: how is it that our Queen and the entire Royal Army were defeated at Canterlot? What power was it that cast every single one of them all the way back to the Hive, utterly vanquished? Conversely, by what might did you think it was that our Queen single-hoofedly cast down the very Princess of the Sun, whom even Discord himself is said to have feared? You would do well not to question the power of love, for it is manifest.

This was exaggerating from MLP writers to give the "epic" moment for the end of episode. Not close to real logic, as they (MLP writers) still (!) do not established the rules of magic in Equestria. They just use magic as "convinient to story" thing, not as a real thin with it`s own rules, adwantages and disadvantages, not to mention it`s a "live" thing with it`s own desires and variability. Such fools...

But lest you doubt the power of love, remember this: it was by the power of love that our very race came to be. The changelings were once numbered among the races of ponykind, and our Queen was once counted among those immortal princesses who rule them to this day. But long ago, a terrible famine blighted our lands, and our Queen saw that her people were starving. So deep was her love for her subjects that she turned to forbidden magics, seeking a spell which would let her love be our sustenance. The rest of that history is immaterial, but to this day it is she that sustains our race: the changelings in the field draw that mysterious energy from their prey, then bring it to the Queen, who divides it out among us. For generations unnumbered, we have survived thus.

Good thing that you make it a "myth" or "fairy tale", because othervise it would be unlogical thing. If such "famine" came to the changellings, it definitely would come to ponies as well, so the whole story of MLP would be dramatically different. And even if it happened only to changelings and their queen really changed their diet to only "love", they definitely wouldn`t starve at all - they would still have good reletionships with ponies and plenty of "free" love. And what about love they give each other? Changeling to changeling? Quuen to her subjects? Is this sorta of "wastes" for them or what? You didn`t clarified that moment, nor did MLP serial...
By the way - the very "concept" of changeling starving and spying on ponies is veeery unlogical - they can easily come to ponies and say: "we are NOT threat, won`t kill any of you. We will be just living amongst you and maybe help sometimes(their ability to transform in ANY creature, as shown in 8 season, is veeery handy), and you will "freely" (if wanted) give us love that cost nothings to you(by physical measurements - not tired, not ill, etc.). Problem solved! ;)

Of course, they will probably make up, eventually. Few long-standing relationships are truly so fragile that they can be wholly brought down by a single spat. But if you can keep the two separated long enough, then the natural banter which they share, the ineffable comfort which they can take in each other’s presence, will atrophy and die like a plant too long denied sunlight. If you can keep them from seeing or speaking to each other cordially for even a single month, there is an excellent chance that when they do resolve their petty quarrel, they’ll no longer share the natural, unconscious comfort which they once did. Time spent together will be filled not with companionable quiet, but awkward silence. Not with jokes laughed at precisely because they’re so terrible, but with forced attempts to break the unspoken ice through humor. Not with relaxation, but with tension.

Interesting note...

The goal is to plant in his mind these traits, and to have him associate them with his mother rather than more positive ideas. Above all else, he must be distracted from the way she holds him just a little tighter before she releases her hug when they reconcile, or the endearing manner in which she swivels her ears to him when he talks, as if to say that there is no more important thing to her than what he has to tell her, or the comforting fact that she is so attuned to his habits that she will set a pot of tea for him without even being asked.

Such a good "detail" that adds lifeness and believability to your story.

While I know just how easy it is to slip into old habits while out in the field, it is vital to remember that ponies are not like us, and their legal code is built on a completely different foundation. Were you apprehended while stealing from someone back in the Hive, you would rightly expect to be punished for the lack of skill you displayed by being caught. And once you had been made to suffer appropriately, that would be the end of it, would it not? Yet among the ponies, it is the act of stealing itself which the law seeks to discourage; they don’t oppose incompetence, but rather disavow entire fields of endeavor upon “moral grounds.” The crucial difference is this: if one is caught breaking the law among the ponies, even once, it can be very difficult to regain the good graces of the townsfolk. And since your target is a member of the guard, such a thing should be doubly disastrous to you.

Well, our laws is looooong away from "perfect", and in half of cases are not protecting justice - it brings only more unfairness. Maybe our society have to go other way? The way not "how to punish", but rather how to understand "why" we are doing something wrong and preventing this things not with "punishment" but with "bringing up" good moral things that prevents bad things from hapenning. Not to punish "theft", but to understand "why he/she ever need or want" to steal?

And yet, you have been spared this time. The shopkeeper no doubt did see you, and had he shouted for help, your situation might have become dire. Yet he refrained, presumably because he knew of your “close friendship” with the stallion and was aware of what how painful it would be for him to have to apprehend you. This the ponies call “kindness.

But to return to the matter at hoof. The shopkeeper has shown both you and your stallion kindness by willfully and deliberately allowing you to rob him without consequence, and while it may seem unfathomable, this is considered a virtue among the ponies. In reality, “kindness” is nothing more than the act of wilfully placing another’s wants or needs above one’s own, and the merchant chose to place your happiness above his own necessity—this time.

Again, interesting definitions of "kindness". Or it may be irony as well.

What you must do is ensure that your stallion feels he can speak freely to you, and only to you, while around the mare he must always guard his tongue, and be something other than himself. Conveniently for you, he is likely already engaged in the second part; couples still in their infancy, as they undoubtedly are after a mere few score days together, often try to maintain a facade around one another, hoping to project that they are better, nobler, or simply less petty, childish, and otherwise normal than they really are. Such a state is almost always short-lived, however; ponies are not changelings, and they have no talent as a race for disguising their true selves for any length of time. Thus, you must act quickly to prevent such a collapse into unguarded interactions between the two.

It`s people`s flaw and foolishness (that you noted as well). Why? Well, you answer it in the next sentence.
It would be much easier for us to live without wearing "masks" from time to time. To just be ourselves in every situation. Pity that it`s not encouraging in our society.

But the ending wasn`t proper and somewhy unlogical as well. Again, you created "epic" moment "suitable for story" with that manticore. Try to avoid "suitablestories" in future, cause they may (not in every case) ruin logic of your story or make it less believable.
But why this changeling cannot change it`s pray? Failure, yes, but not soooo unforgivable to the hive. Change subject for hunt and that`s it - no one from ponies will ever blame her for braking up with stalion, and no one will ever guess that she was a changeling. In our society breaking apart is a normal phenomenon, not a taboo.
So the ending - she just changed object for hunt and her aunt stop writting her letters (let her do everything on her own).

And by the way, the little detail about "sign" of aunt is also interesting note. How her mood is changing through story :)

Your affectionate aunt, Maxilla

Your increasingly exasperated aunt, Maxilla

Maxilla

Simple, without "affectionate".
and

Your increasingly and ravenously affectionate aunt, Maxilla

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