• Member Since 22nd Mar, 2012
  • offline last seen Oct 17th, 2018

DuncanR


T

Applejack, while surveying the border between Sweet Apple Acres and the Everfree forest, stumbles across a perfectly ordinary, garden-variety talking snake. In an apple tree. The mane six, of course, decide to be neighborly.

What's the worst that could happen?

A story with religious themes, funny and thoughtful in equal turns, and without any super-depressing grim-dark or blatant preaching. It was conceived, written and edited in just three days, and won first place in the "Deal with the Devil" Writeoff competition. You can find the original (unedited) version, along with plenty of other great entries, right here. It's been awhile, but be sure to check them out if you haven't already!

Chapters (7)
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Comments ( 136 )

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.

2242980
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!

2243001
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.

2243137
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.

2243281
>Looks like Applejack looked beyond the veil and didn't like what she saw.
The truth hurts, don't it? :ajsleepy:

2243498
>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.

2243833
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.

2244117
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.

Awww, Pinkie likes somebody. :pinkiehappy: It was adorable and you did a really great job with the emotion. Nicely done, sir. :pinkiesmile:

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?

2245926
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.

2248699
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?

2249527
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.

Very interesting. Not only are you reading a story, but it's educational as well.
All my nerd feels :twilightblush:

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:

2570609
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.

2571468

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.

“Though it’s a shame we never danced. People say I’m a pretty good dancer.”

stickerish.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/ISeeWhatYouDidThereWhiteSS.png

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:

2730703
>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.
Father's...?

I need to make a phone call. Just quick.

2731019

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

"Golden Fruit"..?

2731460
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.

2731488

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:

2731722
>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.
:twilightsmile:

*Grins* I like this immensely. I'm not sure I entirely understand where you're going with it yet but that's half the appeal. And in answer to the snake's query, murder is never acceptable. even if it is the best option it's still abhorrent and should be regretted, no matter how good or evil the person at risk is or the neutrality of the people you save.

*blinks and grins* Damn... This is hilarious, especially since I hang out with math nerds and so he was very amused by the snake's argument.

*Grins* Count on Pinkie to throw everything on its head. I tend to think of the snake as a sympathetic character so this is right up my alley ^^

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.

Poor, poor snakey.

He doesn't know what he's in for.

Also, my upthumb brings the number of likes up to an amusing number.

Crowley!

When you understand that reference... you will have known fine literature.

Mr. Snake is certainly genre savvy. :trixieshiftright:

It's time we put a fresh coat on the fourth wall. :unsuresweetie:

I mean, what can you really say about this story? It's in its own little kitschy, self-effacing barrel of irreverence.

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.

4076650
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.

ih1.redbubble.net/image.12178515.4853/fc,220x200,white.jpg

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

Okay, this whole thing is great, but this chapter earns it a place in my favorites. :pinkiehappy:

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

Intriguing, since he actually became the embodiment of greed instead...

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

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

4082316
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

“But it’s the everfree forest! It’s where everything scary lives!”

I don't understand why everfree forest is not capitalized, but you do this several times, so I guess it must have been intentional.

“Aww!” Applejack gave he a gentle nudge.

her

and as long as you’ve got me to keep an eye on you everything’ll be just fine.”

comma after you

Applejack stared at the dirt road and the thick wall of fetid, blue-green foliage to either side.

1. To me, "road" implies that it was ponymade. I'd prefer path. But okay...
2. Fetid? What, it smelled bad? Shouldn't they have panicked upon encountering a foul stench in the Everfree? That means timber wolves are afoot!

If y’all don’t want visitors you can just say so and I’ll leave you be.

commas after visitors and so

She came to the end of the road and the foliage gave way

comma after road.

She stepped into the clearing and lookeddown at the smooth, lush grass beneath her hooves. It was perfectly manicured, without any trace of weeds or shrubs.

1. looked down
2. Manicured? I don't think you can use this word that way. Manu- means it's about hands. Like manuscript.

The serpent’s body was as thick as her own neck and it’s long, looping coils were slung over one of the tree’s lower branches.

comma after neck

“You’ll be back,” he said. “And I’ll be here.”

he? Just a second before, it was "it." Is it "he" now because he's talking, and we would able to determine the sex from the voice if we could hear it? But he said "hullo" before, and was still "it!"

Applejack sprinted down main-street with Applebloom on her back,

main-street? I've never anyone else do street names that way. Why not Main Street?

“Snake!” Applejack threw applebloom on a nearby beanbag chair.

capitalize applebloom.

Applejack pointed a hoof in her face. “I don’t wanna hear no excuses outta you! You coulda got hurt real bad!”

Applebloom looked to looked Twilight with a sigh. “Think you can talk some sense into her?”

Twilight nudged Applejack’s hoof aside. “Can you describe this snake for me?”

1. looked to looked to looked to looked to looked
2. Act out these lines. It seems to me that Applejack's hoof is hanging in the air for an awkwardly long time.

Her horn glowed and a selection of books slid off the shelves and hovered into the air in a circled around her head.

1. comma after glowed
2. circle, not circled

We’ll look into this right away but it’s not an immediate threat. Your family is safe.”

comma after away

Constrictors of that size aren’t poisonous and they generally don’t attack anything that’s too large for them to swallow whole. It probably threatened you because you stumbled into it’s home:

1. comma after poisonous
2. its, not it's.

Twilight bit her lower lip and looked away. “This...changes things a bit.”

space after ...

As soon as she blinked the garden was gone.

comma after blinked.

“You really aren’t afraid of me?” he said, “not even the least little bit?”

1. period after said, not comma.
2. Feels a little awkward to me to use "said" when it's a question.

but suffice to say I deal with a very wide variety of people in my line of work and I never know what to expect from any of them.

comma after work.

The serpent struggled for a moment to swallowed the eggs.

swallow

My name is Twilight Sparkle and I work for the local public library.

comma after Sparkle.

“Actually, I have reason think you might be a completely undiscovered species!

reason TO think

“I don’t have one”

period

He was the god of fire and trickery and you wouldn’t believe the sort of trouble I get into because of his reputation.

comma after trickery

We’re both reptiles so we might have something in common.

comma after reptiles

“Thanks!” She squeaked. “Pleasure’s mine!”

“Do please, have a seat.”

1. she, not She.
2. "Do please" still sounds way more awkward than "please, do" to me, but okay...

they townspeople changed the name of their town to Tarascon in it’s memory.”

the

“Where the hell did that come from? How is this not your fault!”

“You’re just a child, aren’t you? Even after all these years you’re a selfish, conceited child!”

1. Weird to me to not use a question mark after fault
2. comma after years

The serpent reared it’s head up. After a moment he slithered forward.

1. its, not it's
2. comma after moment

Pinkie Pie hopped down Ponyville’s main street

Before it was main-street, now its main street. I've only seen people use Main Street.

He watched her for a time, lost in thought.

“What? Is there something on my face?”

He dabbed the lace kerchief against her runny nose one last time.

So after Pinkie blew her nose in the kerchief, the snake took it and dabbed her nose? Gross! Who does that? xD

5445583

I don't understand why everfree forest is not capitalized, but you do this several times, so I guess it must have been intentional.

Everfree was not capitalized fora very good reason: I'm a dummy.

2. Manicured? I don't think you can use this word that way. Manu- means it's about hands. Like manuscript.

Changed to "trimmed". Also, I just remembered that although ponies don't have manicures, they do have pedicures. Does that mean the grass should be described as "perfectly pedicured"?

Ah, the imagery!

he? Just a second before, it was "it." Is it "he" now because he's talking, and we would able to determine the sex from the voice if we could hear it? But he said "hullo" before, and was still "it!"

Oooh... good catch. I forgot he wasn't a "person" yet. The curse of knowledge strikes again!

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.

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