• Published 10th Mar 2013
  • 3,366 Views, 136 Comments

Appletheosis - DuncanR

Just your average, garden-variety talking snake. In an apple tree. What could go wrong?

  • ...

The devil would lie

“Doesn’t it bother anypony in the slightest that there’s a gi-normous snake livin’ right on our doorsteps?”

Everypony in the library looked up at Applejack. Nopony said anything.

“Oh, come on! Shouldn’t we do something to get rid of ’em?”

“Why?” said Twilight Sparkle. “He’s not likely to leave his tree for any reason. Probably territorial.”

“He’s rude,” Fluttershy said, “but it’s not like he’s dangerous. All he does is talk about creepy stuff.”

Rainbow Dash turned a page in her book. “He’s kind of a putz if you ask me.”

“I don’t care if he’s a putz,” Applejack said, “I care if he’s up to something! He’s covered in trouble like it’s goin’ out of style!”

“What sort of trouble?”

“Well, like... okay, I don’t have the faintest clue. But he’s up to something for sure and it jest can’t be good.”

“He’s just a load of hot air,” Rainbow Dash grumbled. “He doesn’t have the guts to actually do anything.”

“I think he’s lonely,” said Pinkie Pie. “I get the feeling he’s always been that way. Like he’s seen the whole world go by, but he’s never been a part of it. He’s never gotten the chance to make a real difference.” She gazed out of a window. “...Except once.”

Applejack stared at her. “You’ve got a crush on ’em, don’t you!?”

Pinkie Pie sat up straight. “What!? No! Don’t be silly!”

“That no good, greasy varmint’s wormed his way right into your heart, hasn’t he? Well you’d best get it into your head that he’s no good for anypony!”

Rarity stood up and locked eyes with Applejack. “Would you please relax?”

Applejack looked away and pawed at the floor.

“You’re blowing this completely out of proportion, and frankly, it’s embarrassing to watch. Fluttershy was right: he’s just your average, everyday talking snake in an apple tree and there’s nothing special about that. You’ve simply got to get over your fears.”

“Fears!?” Applejack set a hoof on her chest. “Me? Afraid? Of all the—!”

“If you aren’t afraid of him, then why don’t you go and deal with him yourself? You’re the only pony here who hasn’t met him yet, and yet you’re the one who’s complaining the loudest.”

Applejack frowned at her. “I did meet ’em.”

“For all of three seconds,” Rainbow Dash said, “and you ran away screaming like a little baby.”

“Well first impressions are usually right, aren’t they?”

“No,” said Rarity, “They really aren’t.”

Applejack turned and stormed out of the library.

“Finally,” Rainbow Dash said, “some peace and quiet.”

Pinkie Pie looked away from her window. “Do you think we should go with her?”

“Nah,” Dash said. “She’s not going anywhere near the thing. She’s just a big scaredy cat around snakes. Give ’er some time to cool off and she’ll forget all about it by the end of the week.”

Fluttershy glanced at the door, still ajar. “You don’t think she’ll do anything hasty, do you?”

“Hasty?” Rainbow Dash snuggled back into her beanbag chair and turned the page of her book. “This is Applejack we’re talking about.”

Applejack tromped down the dirt road at the edge of the everfree forest and shoved open the rickety wooden gate. She marched into the clearing, straight up the hill, and stopped right next to the tree.

“Are you there, mister snake?” She slammed a hoof against the trunk. “I know yer up there somewhere. I gotta have words with you.”

A prickle ran up her spine as a shadow slid down the trunk of the tree. A faint hissing lowered into place behind her. She turned around and met the serpent eye to eye.

She took a deep breath and flexed her shoulders. “Ah’m back.”

“And I’m here,” he said.

“Right. Well. About that.”


“I wanna know what yer deal is. And no funny business.”

“I guard the tree.”

“And what’s so special about this tree, then? Why can’t you go find some other place to live?”

“It’s the tree of knowledge. It’s completely and utterly unique.”

“Well, go on. Shoo. We don’t want you around here no more.”

“What am I supposed to do? Pick up my tree and take it with me?”

She nodded. “It just so happens that I run an orchard, and we know all about the proper way to relocate a healthy tree. We can have it done in a thrice.”

“A fellow arboriculturalist, are we? Well I appreciate the offer, but this particular tree is both unyielding and immutable. It cannot be relocated.” He affected a shrug. “Though the garden can be.”

“The... what? The garden?”

“Yes. The garden itself moves about on occasion.”

“Well how does that work?”

“I don’t know. It moves on it’s own.”

Applejack glowered at the serpent.

“Now you listen here. I know you weren’t here a week ago, which means you moved this tree somehow... and that means you can move it away. And I’m not leavin’ this spot until you do that! I don’t care what it takes to convince you.”

“Convince me?”

“I’m not an unreasonable sort. I’m perfectly willin’ to cut a deal.”

A smirk tugged at the corner of the serpent’s mouth. “Well this just got very interesting.”

“Well? Are we dealin’ or not?”

“I think we can deal. But I hope you realize just what you’re getting into here. I’m somewhat known for being a difficult dealer.”

She nodded, briskly. “Just as long as you stick to your end of the bargain, that’s all that matters to me.”

“All right.” He nodded to the tree. “Eat of the tree. Then I’ll leave.”

She frowned at him. “That’s all?”

“That’s all. Take it or leave it.”

She eyed the diverse array of fruits hanging from the branches: all different shapes, sizes and colors. “Which one?”

“That’s up to you.”

“What’s yer game? What happens if I eat ’em?”

“Not my problem.”

She glared at him. “Yer gonna be straight with me from start to finish. Tell me what happens if I eat the fruit.”

“This is the tree of knowledge... the knowledge of good and evil.”

“And what’s that mean, exactly?”

The serpent watched her for a moment.

“Tell me, Miss Applejack. Is it wrong to steal?”

“What the hey kind of question is that? Of course it is!”

“What if a building were burning down? Would you steal water from your neighbor’s river to quench the fire? Do you think that would be wrong?”

Applejack glared at him. “Don’t you play them fancy mind games with me.”

“You don’t think!” he snapped. “You don’t think about it, because you’re not equipped to! And until you eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you never will.”

“You really believe that?” she pointed up. “That just eating a piece of fruit will change the way I think?”

“It’s a metaphor,” he said, “but the change it inflicts upon you is very real.”

“How long will it last?”

“It will last until you die, and further still into the eternity that awaits you. And it will go on to affect your children’s children’s children, so on and so forth.”


“Oh, you didn’t know? You can live on after death. The immortality of the soul cannot be quenched by mere physical threats or hardships. A paradise awaits you in the world beyond.” He tilted his head. “That’s the gimmick, you see.”

“Whoa whoa whoa, there.” Applejack took a step back. “Are you sayin’ this tree is gonna do something to me... after I die?”

“Yes. That’s the entire point.”

“But nothing happens after you die. You just disappear. Gone. Poof.”

“At the moment, yes.” The serpent’s voice softened. “But it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Applejack’s eyes flicked up to the branches. “This is crazy. You’re crazy.”

“But what if I’m right?”

“But it’s crazy.”

“Then what if I’m crazy and right? What then? Just... use your imagination this one time. Please. If what I’ve said is true, what would your decision be?”

Applejack bit her lip. “Well how should I know? What if you’re trying to trick me or somethin’?”

“So what if I am?”

Applejack walked in a tiny circle, muttering to herself. “Okay... if the tree is good, then... no, that’s not right. But what if it’s...I can’t believe I’m even thinking about this!”

“Take all the time you need. I’m not going anywhere.”

“I need to talk to the princess. They’ll know what to do.”

“Cheating is lying, and lying is wrong.”

“What? Did you call me cheater!?”

“This princess of yours has been making all your moral decisions for you. She’s controlled every aspect of your civilization for as long as you can remember, and because of this you’ve never had to think about anything important.”

“But... but they’re good ponies! They know what’s best!”

“You are extraordinarily fortunate to have fallen into the clutches of such wise and benevolent dictators, but that does not change what they are.”

Applejack stared at the snake, aghast.

“You’ve never thought about these things before,” he said, “because you lack the capacity to know good and evil.”

“Now just... just hold on there.” Applejack removed her hat and scrunched her eyes shut. “If... the tree... will let me know... good and evil...”


“Then I’ll be able to tell if the tree itself is good or evil. I’ll know if you’re good or evil.”


“Are you saying that this fruit is the only thing that can help me figure that out?”

“There is no other path to the knowledge of good and evil. Of course, the tree has taken on many shapes and forms over the ages... but it all boils down to the same thing in the end.”

“Then I can’t know,” she said. “I can’t know if I should eat the fruit until after I’ve already eaten it.”

The snake smiled broadly. “We have a breakthrough! Oh, this is magnificent! You have no idea how proud of you I am right now!”

“Well, great. That’s just great. I can’t win.”

“This isn’t a game,” he said. “Think of it as an opportunity. You don’t win or lose those.”

“So take it or leave it? That’s the deal?”

“Pretty much.”

Applejack stared up at the fruit for some time.

“Knowledge of good and evil, huh? Well, ah reckon it’s mighty important to know right from wrong. We’d all be livin’ in caves and eatin’ crabgrass if it weren’t for that sort of thing. I’m not really seein’ any downside to all this.”

“Does this mean you’ve made your decision?”

“Might as well get it over with, ah suppose. Gimme a fruit before I come to my senses.”

“Which one?”

“Well, aren’t they all the same?”

“Quite the opposite: They are all unique. One of these fruits—and only one—will grant you power everlasting.”

“What about the rest?”

“Death,” he said.

Applejack’s eyes shot wide open. “That wasn’t part of the deal! There must be hundreds of ’em up there!”

“It’s not part of any deal. It’s just the way things are.”

“You’re mad as a jackrabbit in july if you think I’ll risk dyin’ just to get you offa my doorstep!”

“It’s not about me. It’s not even about you.” He slithered out of the tree and coiled on the ground around her hooves. “How important is the truth? How far would you go to find it? Could you live in a world knowing you were incapable of telling fact from false? Right from wrong? Would such a world be worth living in?”

Applejack leaned away from him as he loomed closer, and a droplet of sweat trickled down her brow.

“Some people really do think the truth is worth dying for. Or would you rather live in ignorance?”

“I can tell when folks are lying to me, you know. I can tell every time. So why can’t I read you? Yer like a blank page to me. That’s never happened before.”

“That would be cheating. You need to do this yourself.”

Applejack gazed up at the branches, and at the hundreds of colorful shapes. Her eyes wandered between them, back and forth, dizzy with thought. Her eyes settled on a shining, golden apple and her vision cleared all at once.

“That one.”

The snake’s body slipped underneath her and hoisted her up into the air, her nose inches from the golden apple. She stared at it’s shiny surface and saw a reflection of her own face.

“You can still turn away,” the snake said. “You can still decide not to eat it.”

She squinted at him. “Has that ever worked? Has anypony ever changed their mind at the very last second?”

He shook his head. “Not even once.”

Applejack snatched the apple in her teeth, tore it off the stem, and tossed it into her mouth whole. The snake lowered her back to the ground and waited patiently as she chewed and swallowed. Several minutes passed as she stared off into space.


Applejack looked at him, askance. “Are you... the devil?”

“The devil is a concept that encompasses a variety of very different—”

“Answer me! Are you?”

“The devil would lie, and anyone else would tell the truth. You’d get the same answer either way.”

Her eyes flicked over him, trembling. “You’re not evil.”

He arched his eyebrows. “Really?”

“You’re not good, either. You’re neither.”

“Oh... well.” He swallowed. “That’s a little disappointing, actually. But I suppose I can live with it.”

“I picked the wrong fruit, didn’t I? Why didn’t it kill me?”

“Did you think you’d keel over on the spot? That’s a little melodramatic, don’t you think?”

“No, no! This is serious! I picked the wrong fruit!” She frowned. “No... wait. The wrong fruit was the right fruit. I’m gonna die of old age, aren’t I? Just like everybody else?”


“But... but that’s horrible! You can’t just... you can’t just let me die like that! What’s gonna happen to me then, huh?” She walked in place, glancing left and right. “No, I mean... I’m actually going to die! It’s really gonna happen, and there’s nothin’ I can do about it! I don’t even know how or when it’s gonna happen: it could be a hundred years from now, or it could happen tomorrow!”

“Look, I know it’s a lot to take in all at once, but there’s—”

“Aahhh! All my friends are gonna die too, aren’t they? All of ’em! Either I gotta watch them die, or they gotta watch me die! I don’t know which would be worse! And what about my family? I can’t just leave little Applebloom all alone, without a big sister! She’d be—”

“Okay, maybe... one of us needs a little nap or something.”

She shoved her face up against his, spitting and snarling. “This is no time fer nappin! I’m dyin’ a little bit every second and theres absolutely nothin’ I can do about it!”

He reared up above her. “Would you settle down, already!?”

Applejack clenched her jaw tight. Tears trickled down her face. “I wanna go back. Back to the way things were.”

Zaraturvara slowly shook his head. “It’s always been this way. You just didn’t know it.”

“Well I don’t wanna know anymore.” She curled up on the ground and sniffled. “It’s too big... it’s just too big.”

“You want my advice? If you try and swallow it all at once, you’ll go crazy. Give it time. Visit your friends. They’ll give you everything you need.”

She wiped the tears from her eyes and looked up at the tree. “Yer a liar, ya know that? This isn’t how it was supposed to be. Ya lied to me.”

“Nothing I said was—”

“You lied right to my face! You said it’d let me tell the difference between good and evil, but I can’t! It’s even more muddled up now than it ever was before!”

“I never said it would help you tell the difference. Only that it would show you that there is a difference. That good exists, and evil exists, and the two can intermingle if you allow it.” He set her hat back on her head. “That is the task that lies before you now. You must learn to differentiate between good and evil. Don’t concern yourself too much with finding the right answers... worry about finding the right questions.”

“How’m I supposed to do that, huh?”

“It’ll come to you. Give it time.”

“What am I supposed to do when that happens?”

The snake paused to consider. When he spoke, he chose his words with great care. “I’d suggest... you explain everything to your friends. They will understand. The princesses as well: I expect they’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time.”

“But how can I explain any of this? How can I get them to understand something so... big? I thought only the fruit of the tree could do that.”

“You are the tree now,” he said with a smile. “And you might want to buy some comfortable shoes. You and your friends are going to be doing a great deal of walking.”

Comments ( 83 )

I can't believe I've never seen this pun used before.

You might want to rethink the name of your story. Blueprint already used it.

Interesting that you decided to post it all at once. welp... forget sleep tonight. I'll edit my comment for a more in-depth review later.

You beat me to it... honest! :scootangel:
Anyways, I don't feel a pressing need to change the title: I knew nothing of Blue Print's story when I came up with the idea myself, and theirs seems to use it as an alternative title. In any case, I very much doubt they are anything alike (I'll have to read Blue Print's story and find out for myself: it looks interesting!). To go even further, the original version of my story was posted on the 29th of October 2012, whereas Blue Print's was posted on the 27th of October 2012. The story was already written and being judged days before then, but if we go by final post date I was beaten by two days. Pretty close for a coincidence!

It's posted all at once because I've had the whole thing ready to go for months now. :twilightsheepish: I'm mostly posting it to have a complete collection of my works in once place, so no sense in beating around the bush. I look forward to your review!

Brilliant. I can see why it won. Looks like Applejack looked beyond the veil and didn't like what she saw. Gotta love freewill. Felt kinda bad for the snake though. What a crap job.

That was an extremely good read. I had to read it twice before I felt like being able to properly review the story. I must congratulate you for the fact that you managed his logical puzzles so well, and the shear amount of knowledge that must have gone into this piece of writing.

First thing I found interesting was in the second chapter. Twilight stated to Applejack that the serpent was likely just afraid of her. I found this to be amusing from a philosophical stand-point, since Applejack's element is honesty. What is Honesty but The Truth? And The Truth is God. I'm guessing that it was an unintentional comparison, and it actually has little bearing to the story, but I found it to be thought provoking none the less. Especially if we get into the whole thing about her being the BEARER of honesty. I thought it was so well played that I was slightly disappointed when Applejack turned out to be the weak link.

I must admit that I'm not well enough versed to understand each of the mares visions as they approached the tree, but it's certainly obvious that you choose them for a reason.

You gave the serpent a very complex personality, befitting his role. In his conversation with Twilight you brought up some wonderful points, like the statement that creation implies a creator, and the idea that the number Pi can be used to prove the existence of the intangible. I could discourse on the subject greatly, but that's not necessary to the review.

My favorite part was Pinkie's interaction with Zaraturvara. I guess Pinkie really can be friend's with everyone. Overall, it was a deep look at the natures of our favorite ponies. I'm left to wonder what it would have been like if Celestia came to the garden... Oh well. Thank you for providing me with a chance to read your story. I appreciate all of it.

Wow, this story was good.

There's only one little thing that bothered me - all snakes have fangs. All of them. Just because constrictors don't have venom glands, doesn't mean they can't bite. I'd even say constrictor bites can be worse, as their teeth are designed for gripping and holding on to prey, and most venomous snakes tend to just leave puncture wounds.:twilightblush:

Apart from that little niggle, the actual story was intriguing and very well written. :twilightsmile:

This is excellent. A story that deals with religion, not any specific denomination but what religion itself is for, that blends religious texts from across the world with the fictional universe of cartoon ponies, yet it is both reverent and irreverent at the same time, staying true to both the moral questions raised and the character of our favourite characters and tackling what seems like either a ridiculous or pretentious basis for a story with intelligence and solid writing. This is what fanfiction is for, that rare .001% of stories that dare to reach far beyond their source material and actually manage to grasp it. I am blown away. Please tell me that, as this is an older story being posted separately, there's been other people praising this story this highly already. It deserves it.

>Looks like Applejack looked beyond the veil and didn't like what she saw.
The truth hurts, don't it? :ajsleepy:

>Twilight stated to Applejack that the serpent was likely just afraid of her.
You know, even I don't know for sure if the snake in this story really is the devil or not. Although, Zaraturvara's passion in life is to trick people into asking important questions: he's the sort of guy who will give you a convincing and irrefutable argument that proves god doesn't exist... and then, five minutes later, he'll turn around and give you a convincing and irrefutable argument that proves god does exist. He wants you to question your beliefs because a true belief will survive any scrutiny. In that sense, he uses lies to tell the truth. As for Applejack being the weakest link, quite the opposite... she was the only one strong enough to know the truth without going insane.

The different appearances of the tree were an explicit attempt to link as many other religions as possible... and Zaraturvara's "scientific proof of a divine creator" was just too much fun to write! It was an argument specifically tailored to get Twilight all riled up. Sadly, it didn't work: she didn't even try to dispute it.

Ack... busted! After a bit of research, it seems there are plenty of non-venomous snakes that have long fangs. Perhaps I'm thinking of retractable fangs...? Either way, mea culpa.

Thank you very much: I think that's the most supportive complement I've been given to date! You know, the whole time I was writing this I was thinking "there's no way this will work. An MLP/Bible crossover? It's ludicrous!" But the more I wrote, the more connections I found. The link between Paradise Estates and the garden of Eden was too much to pass up. Christianity does feature most prominently, but I did my best to make it seem like it meshed well with all the other faiths: no religion exists in a vacuum, and one doesn't have to be wrong for another to be right. Demonizing the religion that came before yours is just good ol' fashioned politics.

As for exposure: the story received a lot of complements from the other authors in the competition, including several in-depth reviews, but this is the first time it's been exposed to an audience of readers. It's my personal belief that a good writer can turn a terrible idea into a great story... and I have been repeatedly told by my RL readers that I "do cliche well." :twilightsheepish:

Wow, this was just...

This was probably one of the more thought provoking fanfics I've ever read.

Out of curiosity, have you ever read the book Good Omens? It's the only other work of fiction I know of that portrays the Serpent in The Tree as not being all that bad a guy. Zaraturvara reminded me a good deal of Crowley while reading this fic.

Going to have to stick this in a blog post and convince my tiny pool of followers to read it.

It's stories like these that remind me why I love fan fiction!
Just guessing from what Zaraturvara said about his family, is he the Midgard Serpent, Jörmungandr? Would that make the giant Ash tree in chapter three Yggdrasil?

It's funny you say "thought provoking," because that's the whole premise of the story: Zaraturvara's passion in life is to get people thinking about stuff they take for granted. And thank you very much for promoting my story! I'm always too shy and embarrassed to do that sort of thing myself.

Also: I have not read Good Omens, but I suspect being compared to Terry Pratchett in any way should be taken as a complement. Most of the ideas for this story have been bouncing around in my head for awhile, and the contest was just too good of an excuse to put them all down in a coherent fashion.

Aww! For me, it was a good way to add more characterization for the snake, making him seem more personable. Though I also find it endlessly hilarious that Pinkie Pie could charm the devil himself away from the apple tree. At the same time, it's a little creepy how easily Pinkie falls for him... the devil is, after all, a seductive presence. Was this really just an innocent milkshake date?

Good catch on the reference! Zara's had a lot of different families over the ages, just as the tree has appeared in many forms in many different religions. His role in Norse mythology, however, is the one he identifies most strongly with. The characters all catch brief glimpses of the tree's true form, which is normally hidden behind the illusion of physical reality.

Huh. That's actually extremely deep. I love it!

One question:(two actually, but I only intended one :trixieshiftleft::trixieshiftright:)

When writing this story, did you plan to have Applejack be the only one to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge? I surmise that the answer is an affirmative based on the title, but I have to make sure. Sometimes a story is written long before a title comes to mind.

And here's the second one....:

Why exactly would the princesses have been looking forward to this day for a long time? You can cop out and tell me some mumbo-jumbo or whatever, but I must know since you mentioned it. A little ironic, isn't it? :trollestia:

Maybe I missed it and need to reread the story again....:trixieshiftleft::trixieshiftright::twilightangry2:

Interesting questions!

>When writing this story, did you plan to have Applejack be the only one to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge?
You know, I don't really recall. The story really was planned and written in just three days, so it was a big whirlwind. I can say I didn't have any plans for the others to partake, and it does make sense that only Applejack could eat of the tree since her element is honesty. Only when I started writing the last paragraph did I realize that the other five would end up being her 'apostles'.

>Why exactly would the princesses have been looking forward to this day for a long time?
This isn't actually answered within the story. I was going to have a quick epilogue, but decided it would only distract from the real ending.

The answer? Because they are good ponies who only want what's best for you. If we assume that the tree is a good thing, then it would be bad for the princess to keep everypony away from it. I don't ascribe to the idea that Celestia is a troll: she's a tad manipulative now and then, but she only does it to encourage your personal growth. Example: Twilight being sent to Ponyville to make friends, which made no sense to her at the time but gave her what she needed to save the world.

My personal theory is that Celestia is using her god-like powers to uplift an entire species to a more civilized and enlightened state, but she only interferes when necessary. She's giving them the gentle hints and nudges they need to help themselves, and eventually they won't need her anymore. It's like a parent caring for children: eventually, they'll grow up and leave the nest. If this is the case, then the appearance of the tree might signal the beginning of the Pony's mental and spiritual independence.

Of course, none of this made it into the ending. I decided to focus more on Applejack's personal feelings instead, and left the comment nebulous.


I'll accept those answers at face value. But one point kinda concerns me with Celestia's being there for that reason for at least a thousand years...maybe more. That kinda seems like a big failure on her part. Especially since the ponies that all the other ponies look up to always default to asking Celestia. :trollestia:

Great read nonetheless. :moustache:

On a side note: I was mostly wondering because I was trying to see if because of eating of the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge would make her 'ascend' to alicorn-hood. Probably not, but there were suggestions of this end.

God damn you. I was going to use this afternoon to actually honest-to-god write something (and I really would, honest, not just sit and stare at the screen for half an hour and then go on TVTropes like I have every day for the past three years), and now I've gone and spent it all being hooked on this thing.

Zaraturvara wanting to eat his own tail made me grin. Is his name a reference to Zarathustra? Googling Zaraturvara only returns this fic.

Also I was disappointed that Twilight just walked off from the debate (in a strictly in-universe sense of course; the chapter itself was neat). Although trying to start a debate about religion when the other party doesn't even know what a religion is is doomed to fail from the start, I guess :P. (Twilight should so totally have demolished his opener about creation implying creator, though! Surely 'creation' is just a word we happen to use to refer to stuff, and it's only the link between the two words that gives people the link to a maker of the universe, and if we'd just start referring to stuff as 'randomtions' then suddenly people would go 'well randomtions implies randomness so there probably isn't a God' or something. Although I guess it is odd that a society with no concept of a creator would call things 'creations' so it really could imply a God over in Equestria.Well, I'm confused.)

Anyway. I am NOT going to look at the rest of your gallery because it's Father's Day and I need to actually spend time with my family. So there. :scootangel:

>and now I've gone and spent it all being hooked on this thing.
Muhaha! My evil plan is coming to fruition! Fruission? Fruit-ion? Dangit.

>Zaraturvara wanting to eat his own tail made me grin. Is his name a reference to Zarathustra? Googling Zaraturvara only returns this fic.
Heh. Not a direct reference, but it did serve as a strong inspiration. Zarathustra is another name for Zoroaster, who had a bunch of nifty philosophical ideas that were later turned into the first monotheistic religion.

As for Zaraturvara, here's a hint or the determined: both names come from the same language.

>Twilight should so totally have demolished his opener about creation implying creator, though!
When Zaraturvara baits a trap, he uses real bait. :)

Although if Twilight had agreed with his argument whole-heartedly and without hesitation, he would have immediately launched into a crushingly convincing tirade about how god cannot possibly exist, and the very idea of organzied religion is pure superstitious nonsense. He doesn't care what you think, as long as you think about what you think.

>Anyway. I am NOT going to look at the rest of your gallery because it's Father's Day and I need to actually spend time with my family. So there.

I need to make a phone call. Just quick.


As for Zaraturvara, here's a hint or the determined: both names come from the same language.

"Golden Fruit"..?

Ding. :raritywink:

And why is this important?

“Well, aren’t they all the same?”
“Quite the opposite: They are all unique. One of these fruits—and only one—will grant you power everlasting.”
“What about the rest?”
“Death,” he said.


Well AJ's chosen fruit was golden so he's named for the right fruit, though I suspect that's too obvious an interpretation... although the tree is a metaphor anyway which makes the fruit a metaphor for the snake so the eating is less of an acquiring of knowledge than an acceptance of his viewpoint... but that's bollocks, because it obviously had a tangible effect on her, sooo it's the other way around, with the snake being the fruit, and his words are just a taster of true knowledge in the same way the scent of an apple is the precursor to the full taste...

Or something. I dunno. All I can really think about is that Applejack basically put a huge snake in her mouth. And there's too many fics involving that already. :twilightoops:

>All I can really think about is that Applejack basically put a huge snake in her mouth. And that happens in too many fics already.

Ew. Fortunately for us all, she picked the wrong fruit.

Fortunately for her, the wrong fruit is the right fruit: The first step to enlightenment is to be aware of your mistakes and shortcomings.

Eesh, damn mate. Very nicely done *slow clap* I truly, wish I was more awake so I could give a more in depth commentary but sodding heck, this was truly a beautiful piece. The puns and the symbolism rife in every piece, I freely admit I didn't cactk it all til the very end and truly it was masterful, I think I understand just a bit what Aj must be going through.

Uh... I don't get it.

The big truth she had revealed was... that she was going to die of old age? Like, do ponies not know that already? How? I mean, I get that you imply that Celestia and Luna keep ponies a bit blissfully ignorant, but not knowing about death? And if she does know about death... what's the big deal? And as far as "knowing the difference between good and evil," come on. In the show, we see them make that differentiation all the time. Now, if you meant not knowing that the two can intermingle, I again have to throw a flag. The concept of a "moral gray area" has been shown on the show several times. If you are saying that the ponies are unaware of that, then I really have to just walk away. This isn't G1-3.5.

Firstly, this story was concieved and composed within a mere forty-eight hours. It has its flaws. I'll be the first to admit that I started with a premise I thought was interesting, but that it had to be somewhat shoe-horned into the setting of the show. As you point out, this story would make much more sense if it was set in the G1-3.5 era of My Little Pony. Looking back on it, MLP:FIM already explores a lot of mature and intelligent topics that previous generations never would have considered touching with a ten foot pole. Also, as a shameless cop-out, I never explicitly stated that this story is a part of official canon.

That being said, the main premise of this story is that no amount of intellectual or scientific progress will allow a species to achieve spiritual or moral enlightenment. Equestria is highly advanced, intellectually and philosophically, and they surely must have laws against things like murder... but not because "God said so," but because "Murderers are assholes. Knock it off." If we assume that religion is handed down to us from a higher power, what would it be like to be a part of a civilization that has not yet experienced this? How closely would it resemble our own? Of course Applejack knows she'll die. But before now, death had no spiritual significance to her. She was living blind.

If I understand you correctly, your issue is that "the characters in MLP:FIM are clearly not blind to such issues, so this inner conflict makes no sense." My answer: yeah, they probably aren't blind, but it's not beyond the realms of possability. Has a character in MLP:FIM ever died and been mourned? Have we seen the characters deal with the consequences of a death in the family? Even the major villains are simply transformed into good guys, trapped in stone, get flung into space, or vanish in a poof of black-and-green smoke. Obviously, death exists. But it's either glossed over or never adressed in the first place.

Why is this so? My story posits that the ponies of Equestria live in a state of blissful ignorance because they are not yet ready to make the spiritual step required to appreciate how precious and temporary life truly is. Is that an accurate portrayal of canon? Hecks no. The simple truth is that MLP is a cartoon show for little girls. An episode about death, mortality, or a funeral would be super-depressing, and corrosive to the profitability of the My Little Pony franchise. The execs probably stated in the contract that no characters of any sort can die for any reason (Take a look at what executive meddling did to the english translation of Dragonball Z... hilarious!).

So yes, the truth is that sometimes death happens and ponies mourn. But the fact that I know it'll never be the focus of a canon episode gives me an "in" to hint that this story might be possible.


Doo dee doo do... doo dee doo do...!

Author Interviewer

I enjoyed this far more the second time 'round. :) Good show!

During one episode, probably the one with love poison, the CMC crashed into an elderly stallion who looked like he was giving a eulogy. There was a coffin peeking in at the edge of the screen.

I've been mulling over my thoughts on this story all day. First, the stuff I liked. Everyone is familiar with the biblical tales, and by drawing on those, you evoked powerful feelings of surrealism in the reader. I'm an athiest, and even I found the environment steeped in an aura of eldritch power beyond our ken. Intensely compelling!

And then Zaraturvara at the center of it all. The readers know not to trust him, due to the biblical allusions, but they're also aware that the author might be turning the story on its head intentionally. The readers all know a LOT about the biblical snake already, but they don't know how closely this snake will match that one. We know he COULD be incredibly dangerous, and that ambiguity makes the character intriguing. It got me to look at every line the snake said, searching for answers to the questions: "Is the snake trying to tempt them? If so, how? What is the snake's motivation?" This, again, makes the story very compelling.

I have some big issues with the ending, but before I talk about them, I need to show you where I'm coming from. So here's what I deduced from the story:

Zaraturvara shakes up ponies' beliefs, and once they're uncertain what the right answer is, he offers up the fruit as the ultimate truth. By accepting the fruit, a pony chooses to seek truth eternally, to look upon the world oneself and make one's own decisions about it, instead of accepting another's teachings. Rejecting the fruit - the knowledge - would be choosing to blindly accept those teachings without thinking about them. With each pony, Zaraturvara tried a different approach to get them to rethink their own values. He talked about murder with Fluttershy to get her to ask herself, "What is kindness?", He talked about creation to shake Twilight's scientific mind, and got Spike to question his destiny as a dragon, with the ultimate goal of offering the fruit to each once they were shaken enough. Cool beans.

So uh... What was Applejack's belief? How did Zaraturvara shake her up? He got her to think that maybe good and evil are shades of gray instead of black and white? That didn't really come across too well. When he started to get into those moral dilemmas, Applejack immediately clammed up just as the others did, telling Zara not to use his fancy mind games. So Zara gave up on the games and just laid it all bare - good and evil, you don't know what they are, eat the fruit and you'll know. And Applejack's just kinda "welp okie dokie then guess I better eat the fruit then!" I never got the sense that Applejack's values were shaken up, so it felt very strange when she accepted the apple, as she had no understandable motivation to do so.

Even if it were written differently, and he successfully got AJ to think seriously about the nature of good and evil before offering the fruit, I still can't sign off on it. All the other conflicts presented are critical to those characters - Twilight has struggled to find scientific explanations for everything in the show, Spike has struggled with the nature of being a dragon, and even Flutters has struggled with the true nature of kindness - those are all conflicts that are critical to their characters, and that fact made reading their conversations incredibly engaging. But AJ dealing with good vs evil? I never noticed her struggling with that in the show, did you? It seems to me that this conflict doesn't fit with her, and I read through the whole last chapter with a frown and a raised eyebrow. I wish Spike had been the weak link, as I liked his conflict the best. Would have blown my mind to finish the story that way.

TLDR, I really got the sense that Zara was pushing just the right buttons with Rarity, Spike, Twilight, and Fluttershy to shake their faith in their beliefs, with the hope that the ponies would then accept the fruit of knowledge, wanting the answers to their moral quandaries. However, I never got the sense that Applejack's faith was shaken, so her acceptance of the fruit came out of nowhere. The conflict she was presented with didn't resonate with me either, since it seemed a poor fit for AJ's character.

Oh, and then there's the Pinkie Pie chapter. Uh... not sure what to say about that. I loved reading it, but I don't really get how it fits into the story as a whole. Oh well...

“You’re blowing this completely out of proportion and frankly, it’s embarrassing to watch.

comma after proportion.

“Tell me, miss Applejack. Is it wrong to steal?”

capitalize Miss

I will admit that not every single character gets shaken up: Rainbow Dash and Spike don't really get a lesson. Neither does Pinkie Pie, but I'll get to that in a bit.

Not sure how much of this will makes sense. At the end of the day, I need to judge the story I actually wrote instead of the one I dreamed up.

So uh... What was Applejack's belief? How did Zaraturvara shake her up? He got her to think that maybe good and evil are shades of gray instead of black and white?

Remember: it's the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The argument aimed at her is "You think you know what's true and what's false, but you have no way of being absolutely certain." Not sure if Zaraturvara's head fake actually makes sense in retrospect.

Applejack's beliefs weren't shaken up as drastically as her friends' beliefs because of one crucial detail: it turns out Applejack's beliefs are already correct (Yes, murder is always wrong. Killing in self defense is not the same as murder). She just doesn't realize it on a conscious, self-aware level, and is thus unable explain it to/share it with others . The tree offers meta-knowledge: knowledge about knowledge. She becomes Equestria's first moral philosopher.

There's the things you know, and there's the things you don't know. Most dangerous of all, however, are the things you don't know you don't know.

But AJ dealing with good vs evil? I never noticed her struggling with that in the show, did you?

Let's make an ass out of you and me, and assume Applejack's real struggle in my story is with The Truth. "Good and Evil" is simply the particular truth she's forced to face.

I reference you to the episode where Applejack goes out of town to compete in a rodeo, and everypony expects her to come back with much-needed prize money. In that episode, Applejack lies to her friends about her failure. That's very un-Applejack of her, but it happens.

I love that theme. In the show, Applejack can be dishonest. Rainbow Dash can be disloyal. Rarity can be selfish. But when they are, there are consequences. Twilight Sparkle, in particular, suffers from severe consequences whenever she tries to use her magic irresponsibly: Look at Winder Wrap Up and Lesson Zero: her spells always seem to go wildly out of control when she applies it to selfish or deceptive ends. My theory is that it's a mental block: she's unconsciously screwing up whenever her magic conflicts with the ideals of her Element of Harmony.

Oh, and then there's the Pinkie Pie chapter. Uh... not sure what to say about that. I loved reading it, but I don't really get how it fits into the story as a whole. Oh well...

Pinkie Pie would have had her beliefs shaken ("You only use happiness to hide from the harsh consequences of reality." "If that's true, why do I care about the happiness of my friends?" "Ah... well... let me get back to you on that one.") except that she turned it around on Zaraturvara and shook his beliefs before he realized what was happening. Pinkie's gonna Pie.

I'll fully admit, I wrote this chapter primarily to show more of Zaraturvara's character and personality rather than Pinkie Pie's... but I also wrote it for the sake of pure, silly enjoyment.

Surely you're Joking.

Yeah there are so many things wrong with the whole garden of eden story. Here's a funny video about it:

And another video about it:

Others have already written up their particular reviews that may or may not line up with my own, so I will just throw down some basic and generic opinions of my own.

I overall love it.

Yes, THANK you for all of the metaphorical / embodied concepts applied therein. Very Planescape, which touches my heart and keeps it toasty warm at night.

Favorite parts in ascending order; Applejack confronts Zara, Pinkie Pie shows Zara the town, and bestly in my personal bias Zara sits with Rarity and Spike. I love how Spike connected with Zara. I ESPECIALLY love the varied references to the classic tales of dragons & knights and their themes. Hmm, now that I ponder it, I can see why Fafnir was not brought up. Even if Spike did grow as well... Fuel for another fic perhaps...

I appreciated how many of the characters, even Twilight the researcher, default to "We'll just ask Celestia." It's important not to blindly obey authority, regardless of whether that 'authority' is religion or science. We have to think about why we believe what we believe, not just what we believe.


While that is the point of the story, at the same time there's something to be said about letting everyone run wild with their own thoughts and ambitions. Immortal rule by someone who loves you, guides you to take care of yourself, protects you and gives you an environment to find yourself and thrive in so you can live the best life you could want, happy and free? Not even stunted or oppressed, but truly fulfilled and uplifted?

I don't know about some folks, and even if I'm not the follower type I'd take that over what we ended up with any day of the week.


asking someone in authority is not actual blind obedience.

Overall I find this story very weak, especially the ending, since canon Applejack has dead parents and an old and fairly unhealthy grandmother. Just because death isn't flat out mentioned in the show doesn't mean she doesn't understand the concept and of all the Mane 6 I'd say that she'd be one of the most aware

"best" and "least bad" means exactly the same thing.


Killing the crazy man was wrong, but not killing him would be far more wrong.

This is an extraordinarily specific and unlikely scenario you've got there, buddy.

But to be perfectly honest, I couldn't in good conscience call the sniper's actions in that scenario "wrong." The crazy man should have been subjected to a cursory background check, or should not have been released from a psychiatric ward. The shop owner an the clinic manager are the people to blame. The police officer is not morally repugnant, because he is simply protecting the public safety. He certainly would have been acting in the wrong had he refused to take the shot.

Obviously, it's an unfortunate tragedy no matter how you look at it. But the police should be concerned with ethics rather than morals.


asking someone in authority is not actual blind obedience.

It's perfectly sensible to ask someone in authority. The problem arises when you're unwilling or unable to properly weigh their advice.

Overall I find this story very weak, especially the ending, since canon Applejack has dead parents and an old and fairly unhealthy grandmother. Just because death isn't flat out mentioned in the show doesn't mean she doesn't understand the concept and of all the Mane 6 I'd say that she'd be one of the most aware

If you live on a farm, you know what death is. Even if you don't butcher your animals for meat or leather, animals will die of age. And yes, according to storyboard artist Sabrina Alberghetti, Applejack's parents are "officially" dead. But in this story, she doesn't have an emotional reaction to death.

But even a cursory amount of research also reveals that the death of Applejack's parents will never be directly addressed in canon, because this is a cartoon show for little girls, and for no other reason. Sure it happened, but it happened off screen and we will never see Applejack mourn the way a human being would. My story suggests that her lack of any strong emotional reaction to death is a metaphor for Hasbro refusing to address such issues directly, and risk making the cartoon less marketable. Saturday morning cartoons are as close as you're going to get to a garden of paradise: Wile E. Coyote will NEVER catch the Roadrunner. And no matter how many anvils land on his head, the Coyote will NEVER die. They are both immortal.

Do I really believe this? Nah. My personal head canon is that Applejack's parents died, and she went through a period of healthy mourning. We just didn't see it. But the idea that she might have been robbed of a chance to mourn because the marketing department whitewashed her past is a little chilling to me.

5543396 And that is a very valid point also. Both extremes can be equally bad. Your comment seems to mirror the story in that loving parents will still discipline their children because it is in the interests of the children for them to do so.

5543503 And that is a very valid point. There isn't anything wrong with asking an authority figure. Perhaps I misinterpreted things, but it seemed to me that, rather than argue the whole thing through and then go to Celestia, they stop part way through and suggest asking Celestia. It seems to me quite unlike Twilight to leave an argument unfinished like that. But that's just my interpretation.


seemed to me they were leaving the argument anyway and he said something to try to pique their interest, which it did, but only enough to suggest going to someone more knowledgeable . And that any questions to Celestia would merely be about matters of factual information not any sort of guiding philosophy.

And I can see Twilight backing out of arguments.

5545802 Fair enough. I'll probably have to reread the work and reassess my opinions.

Wow, whats with the dislikes.

5544262 Not always...

Can you give an example? I'm not sure that's actually possible.

5546616 really depends on your definitions. Best typically means the best of all possible outcomes.
What's best is that you never came across this situation to begin with.

What's least bad is you choose the outcome that hurts people the least.
Again, it's a matter of semantics.

I suppose it is, if you use it like that. I was talking more about the logic thing. The least bad is the best outcome because everything else is more bad by comparison. Like, the emptiest bottle out of a dozen is the one that is least full. Can't really have those mean separate things that way.


>> Walabio

> “Killing the crazy man was wrong, but not killing him would be far more wrong.”

> “This is an extraordinarily specific and unlikely scenario you’ve got there, buddy.”

> “But to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t in good conscience call the sniper’s actions in that scenario ”wrong.“ The crazy man should have been subjected to a cursory background check, or should not have been released from a psychiatric ward. The shop owner an the clinic manager are the people to blame. The police officer is not morally repugnant, because he is simply protecting the public safety. He certainly would have been acting in the wrong had he refused to take the shot.”

> “Obviously, it’s an unfortunate tragedy no matter how you look at it. But the police should be concerned with ethics rather than morals.”

I do not believe that what the police-sniper did was wrong. the real point is getting away from binary good versus bad into the fuzzy rear world:

If killing is simply bad, the police-sniper could not kill, even though it would save the lives of many children.

Utilitarian Ethics states that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. The police-sniper saved many children by killing 1 man. This eventually leads to the rich world of the ethics of Secular Humanism.


Utilitarian Ethics states that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

Most Utilitarians temper the coldness of that statement by acknowledging certain fundamental values that are outweighed by nothing, such as the fundamental human right to life. A code of ethics that supports everything from giving someone roses as a present to eating their children, if only the greater good is served, is not functional or humane.


It is my experience that most Utilitarians after realizing that states that it is good to kill 1 person for using the organs for saving many, move onto full Secular Humanism, which has safeguards against such violations of the autonomy of the individual.

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