After receiving an urgent letter from Princess Celestia concerning a grave danger to Equestria, Twilight Sparkle undergoes a crisis of faith. Can she perform a grim task for her beloved mentor, even if it means sacrificing all that she cares about?

Based on a story prompt by TraleRayne. Extra special thanks to Dream of Ponies and Noble Jury.

Chapters (9)
Comments ( 317 )

your last blog post isn't working... interesting.. will read later :derpytongue2:

is too working, you just have to go to the blog directly from the user page. It's cuz the title is unset.

Only 20k words ? Are you feeling sick ? Is everything alright ?
I'll read it tomorrow :)

1737732 eh, you can't click on the title then you can't go on the blog post, might as well redirect you somewhere else

oh well. looks like I'm going blog post hunting again:derpytongue2:

I don't even know where to start with this story......

If the full title were "Fear and Loathing in Las Pegasus" I would have been temporarily amused, but I wouldn't have read it. Since it isn't, I approve.

If this is going to end how I think it is... poor Twilight.

You really like torturing these creatures, don't you?

WHAT. Celestia.. THAT'S FUCKING RIDICULOUS. You're telling Twilight to kill her best friends. That... that just doesn't happen!

Wait wait... a dark tag, but no sad or tragedy? :trixieshiftright: Meaning bad things will happen... but not necessarily world destroying things. Have I found an SSAE story I can enjoy without fear of a downer end?

The chapter names aren't capitalised... by SS&E... I need to go home and rethink my life.

Shit's getting real...


I to was lead here by the mysterious blank block notification. How appropriate it seems like it doesn't exist when it belongs to the author responsible for the unsung o.O


I see what you did there

In other news, holy shit. You really must have built up an excess of grimdark writing your recent comedy fics.

Well worth the read.

Not to toot my own horn here, but by the middle of the story, I had almost gotten it right. I was so bloody close. But I was too expectant of it to suddenly veer off course, jump the railing and plunge headlong into the gut-wrenching sea of tragedy you're known for. I was so sure it was going to.

Fun read.

Edit: Ch. 3 "...problem at hand."
At hand?

This is far too cheerful for a skirts story. I expect sadness, misery and murder will be back on the menu next chapter :P

I'm caught between shock that SS&E has written a story with a happy ending (as in genuinely happy, not just bitter-sweet) and admiration that a prompt-driven story has turned out being so genuinely awesome. I'm intrigued as to how exactly Celestia's going to respond to Luna's actions, though.

Princess Celestia sending Twilight out to kill her friends? That's so.... in character. Hell, I just clicked this by accident, but now I'm SO reading this.

Hmmm... Yes I can see this making a mental breakdown Twilight. BUT I can't see her just going through with this without confronting Celestia directly. If I were in Twilight's place, I would be seriously concerned that it was Celestia who had been compromised. As for the mane 6, I would be looking for loopholes — ways to neutralize without killing irrevocably. Maybe get a nice cockatrice, or learn the spell for stoning ponies.

[comment posted after reading chapter 1 — yes I am putting myself at a disadvantage doing that but I figured I would put my initial opinions before seeing the rest]

Unsuspecting me: Oh this looks like an interesting story.
'Sees who author is'
Oh snap, not sure whether to be excited or prepared for manly tears

The celestia is a spy

Scary Luna is scary. This exemplifies just how important it is to meet in person for things of true import rather than trusting it to a letter.

It's on my reading list merely because of your Kierkegaard reference—or perhaps it was merely referencing the Aquedah? Either way, good on ya.


Powerful story.

Spreading darkness... corrupting ponies... few left we can trust... oh and would you mind terribly killing all your friends.

Methinks there is one less pony we can trust than Celestia thinks there is.

AbeTwilight say, "What?"

"we all want the truth. but when that truth has the ability to crush everything we've ever known...
is it still worth it?"

I mean, sure, it isn't too beleivable that Celestia would order this, but that's not what I am complaining about.
You have just dedicated an entire chapter to berating Twilight for her lack of faith in her teacher.
I'm sorry, but when a person orders you to do something that contradicts everything they've ever taught you, it is only right to question them.
When it is something so horrible and permanent as _murdering your friends who she ordered you to make_, it can only make sense to request confirmation (at the very least) before you kill your own battle-brethren.
It is not that her respect for Celestia has diminished, it is that her confusion and sentiment _match_ that respect - which should tell Celestia how close to her limit she is pushing poor Twilight. Of course, such qualities are unwanted in a living weapon, which can only be how the princess views her at this point, to even make that request.

Either she's decided to enjoy one last meal with her friends, or Celestia is going to be rather upset with her faithful weapon.
Both can be taken in rather unpleasant directions, so I am not too certain what to expect from here.

Only you can make a story this dark and have me enjoy it. It would be nice to believe that things are all going to turn out nicely... but somehow I don't think that is happening. Skirts you evil, cruel, amazing person.

Geez - and I thought *Celestia* was hard teacher...

Spoiler warning for those who read comments before the story for some weird reason...

Seriously, Luna?
I mean - I know Celestia likes throwing challenges at Twilight blind, but what WAS your plan B if Twilight didn't pass that test?

"Um... Sorry sis. I doth made a mistake and accidentally convinced Twilight to vaporize the other Bearers of the Elements of Harmony by fooling her into thinking thou ordered her to. And now she's either a comatose wreck or I've just turned the most powerful unicorn of this generation into a raging psychotic who wants to kill thou when she sees you next...."

Edit: And yes - i do understand that was kind of the point, to see the strength of Twilight's moral character when she has to place herself against the Princesses - but YEESH! Luna plays hardball and a half...

Still - it was yet another excellent story from SSaE. Although I have to admit, MY first reaction was to do what Twilight eventually did - hop a train, request to see the princess, and demand an explanation in person; because those orders made no sense....

Oh great, another story. I don't have time foERMAHGEHRD IT'S BAH SKEHRTS!

*starts reading*

This is going to end with Twilight killing her friends and then finding out Celestia's the one that's twisted, or Twilight's going to find out that it's Luna that sent the letter and she's becoming Nightmare Moon again. OR, Celestia's telling the truth. OR, someone's impersonating Celestia to screw with Twilight. Several other possibilities come to mind, but the one I'm hedging my bets on is the first one.

Absolutely perfect, everything about this story was great. I'm actually thrilled that I didn't win the trivia thing, because then this wouldn't have been created. You are a paragon of artistic talent Skirts!

I'm not entirely sure how to respond to that.
There is, of course, a deep, abiding _hate_ for Luna. What she just did is completely unforgivable.
That said, her reasons for doing as she did are perfectly understandable.
I am, however, slightly worried by her current reasoning. It is easy to blame the long dead - they no longer have the power to defend themselves, and likely have none willing to defend them. Yes, Trail Rain was foolish to fail to note Luna's corruption, however, so too is such loyalty to one's ruler admirable. Regardless, whilst it may be strictly true that others played a part in the event, it could not, would not have happened had Luna not willed it to. She chose to start on that path, as a free agent, and she was perfectly capable of seeing the possible fallout from her decision - no other can be blamed for the results of her decision.
As I say, her reasons are understandable - without her faithful general, her insurrection would have been far less devastating than it was. By proving Twilight to not be blind in her faith, she has assured herself, at least, that a similar thing cannot happen with Celestia. And she clearly expects severe penalties for having done this, but proceeded anyway to guarantee the safety of her nation. I can respect this.

Chapter 3: >>> Of course the Princess was right. She was always right. Her knowledge was infinite; her wisdom knew no bounds.>>>


Yeah... Twi, use yer damn brain for once.

Fuuuuuuuuuu...n? :pinkiehappy:

No, Pinkie, this is not fun! This is serious! :twilightangry2:

I have no clue where this is headed, but if it's headed where I think it's headed... MUST READ MOAR.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think I see what's going to happen. Abraham and Isaac, anyone?

Oh wait, it's SS&E. Nope, Happy Ending is unavailable. Please leave a message. :facehoof:

>>>She is right to imply such a truth, to prepare your spirit for what is to come. However, in time, Equestria will face a trial by fire. There is no telling when or where, but forces far more powerful than Discord, far more elusive than Chrysalis, and far more malevolent than Sombra will assail this beautiful landscape.>>>

:facehoof: Oh god... Shortskirts, what the buck are planning to do to these poor ponies now? You keep breaking them.

Anyway, more powerful than Discord. Wow... just, that's Marvel comics level of absurd god-moding there. It was when Marvel starting carting out super-gods in the 90's that I totally lost interest in it. It was like the Buu Saga of DBZ without any comic relief to relax the completely ludicrous power levels. Inevitably, they had to retcon virtually everything and reset the entire multiverse because they'd written themselves completely into a corner.

At some point the escalation just jumps the shark. I have felt from the start of Season 2 that Discord must be the most powerful being in the Ponyverse. Anything beyond that just becomes completely unreasonable. Think about what Discord could accomplish if he SERIOUSLY used his powers. Yeah, pretty much ANYTHING. He'd be unstoppable. To make him onipotent, you only have to remove his vulnerability to the Elements and you have an enemy that cannot possibly lose. How do you win against something that can tear a solar system apart with a snap of his fingers and has no vulnerabilities to anything? You can't win, end of story. Unless you then pull out some crazy deux ex weapon or inexplicably over-powered hero (Franklin Richards) from the Nexus of all Realities and blah blah blah...

There's no justification for anything more powerful than Discord. Equally as powerful but more clever, perhaps. But as far as power goes, he's already at the very edge of plausibility. Anything more and it raises the unanswerable question of why the devil/entity hasn't already kicked the crap out of the multiverse.

>>>"She does not understand the darkness that comes with my nightly tasks. She cannot fathom the vacuum of warmth that I must embrace in order to become one with the moon.>>>

But... Celestia raised the moon for a thousand years... I think in all that time she's gained rather an intimate understanding of it. And with the Crystal Empire, it was Celestia who showed Twilight the powers of darkness. Hell, Celestia USED those powers! Seems to me she knows far more about everything than she's letting on, and THAT is canon.

Anyway, Luna... damn... at least God had the sense to send an angel to watch Abraham when he commanded him to slay Isaac and stop him before he actually did it. Luna, you've got those shadowy powers and stuff, you kinda coulda followed and kept her from killing the others if Twilight wasn't smart enough to stop herself.

You fail at all levels of intellect, Luna. ALL LEVELS. You are unworthy. I, as one who clearly would have carried out this test in a far more reasonable manner, am clearly completely worthy of power, for my wisdom and intellect exceed yours by... about 20%. :rainbowkiss:

I'm very glad I was wrong about one aspect, and even more happy that I was right about it possibly being Luna. :twilightoops:

What Luna taught Twilight is a very valuable lesson to learn, but remembering to recognize when you're following the path you desire and when you're just being a stubborn mule is a good thing to keep in mind. Still, I'm glad that Twilight couldn't possibly go through with killing her friends. I wonder if she'll tell them what had her so worked up? I'm sure she'll wind up at least telling AJ, since AJ will likely drill her about it until she caves. :ajsmug:

Bravo, good sir or madam! Bravo indeed! T'was an excellent and indulging story that I enjoyed very much from start to finish. Do write more! :twilightsmile:

Not featured yet? *checks watch* ....aaany second now!

Well, this was the obvious answer. I am just a bit disappointed, given I was expecting something... more unexpected, thus the unexpected was expected... if that makes any logical sense.

Now I expect the next chapter will be completely unexpected. :pinkiehappy:

Woo! A SS&E story where nopony dies horribly! I was really concerned there for a while. I really enjoyed this, and while I support Luna's idea, I gotta say that that's a hell of a hard way to play it.

Felt out of place and OOC for Twilight not to realize this, especially because the story's set after the Season 3 opener. Worse, that episode gave us Twilight being shown that she had to fail a test in order to truly pass it - or fail one test to pass a greater (unspoken) one. Oblivious Twilight is almost a meme, but after three seasons this is stretching it a tad thin.

Instead of a tear-filled breakdown at her mentor's hooves, I was hoping to see Twilight confront Celestia with shields up and guns blazing, having assumed that the real Celestia would never have asked this of her, and reasoning that a Changeling or other doppelganger was sitting on the throne.

Dialogue felt awkwardly stiff and / or forced in places, especially during and after the throne room scene. SS&E is capable of so very much more; I'll chalk this up to a rushed execution and the constraints of working with a writing prompt (or three, even if they're self-imposed).

Still deserving of its Featured status, mainly for the premise combined with SS&E's usual flair and panache.

Twitch.......twitch......Celestia u do realize what u just asked Twilight to do.....correct?......:twilightoops:

oh now thats a comparison I never thought of........thats a rough test of loyalty though not to mention how her friends would react......I know Celestia can troll but this

I'm going to assume either:

1. It's a false Celestia sending these messages, or
2. This is some weird test and her friends aren't in actual danger or being killed.

Onward to chapter 4!

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