• Published 7th Apr 2013
  • 5,457 Views, 148 Comments

Fugue State - horizon

When a barrage of musical numbers hits Ponyville, Lyra's fear of their mind-altering properties strains her relationship with Bon Bon to its breaking point.

  • ...

Op. 5, Mv. 3: "Recapitulation"

And there she was — back in all her glory, balloons on her flank, hair poofed out:

"Come on, ponies, I wanna see you smile!"

"PINKIE!" the crowd roared with Bon Bon — echoing around the square, swaying signs, rattling windows. Even the music was drowned out for a moment, long enough for a stray thought to flit through Bon Bon's mind: I bet they heard that all the way in Manehatten.

But then the snares kicked back in, and the chorus swept them away, grinning maniacally, surging down the streets behind the Elements of Harmony:

A true, true friend helps a friend in need!
A friend will be there to help them see!

Trumpets blared. Lines of singers marched in perfect time. Ponies sang from balconies and somersaulted over each other at the edges of the crowd. Bon Bon, not quite quick enough for the front-row spot she'd enjoyed at Pinkie's return, fell in at the back of the crowd between Carrot Top and an unfamiliar sky-blue mare with a grey mane.

A true, true friend helps a friend in need!

Galloping to the beat of the impromptu parade's giant bass drum, Bon Bon leapt, and some power beyond muscles propelled her skyward, breaking the bonds of earth, bringing her to an impossible touchdown on a second-story rooftop. Far below, Twilight's closest friends hoisted her to the top of a pony pyramid, and she burst out into magical illumination that bathed Ponyville, matching the sun in the newly cleared sky.

To see the light!

"To see the light!" Bon Bon echoed, in perfect unity with the dozens of earth ponies and pegasi of the rooftop chorus.

That shines!

"That shines!" she sang, heart soaring, as she raised a forehoof with the others.

From a true, true friend!

The final note soared and held amid the pink glow of the Elements' group hug. Laughing, dancing, embracing, Ponyville rejoiced in its rejuvenation. Then the drums beat out a coda, and the spell wound to a close.

Heart still hammering to the beat, filled with the best kind of exhaustion, Bon Bon let herself sink into gravity's embrace. She felt a moment of vertigo, then remembered that she was on the peak of a rooftop as she overbalanced, legs windmilling, about to bounce down a steep incline and then two stories to the ground —

There was a hard jerk on her tail, and she fell onto her stomach on the soft straw, held in place until she got her hooves underneath her. She looked back. It was Carrot Top, lying flat against the opposite slope of the roof, Bon Bon's pink-and-purple tail in her muzzle. She let go, spat out some stray hairs, and gave Bon Bon an apologetic grin.

Bon Bon laughed. Not because it was funny, but because it was so perfect. Here she was, about to get hurt by a musical in the most ridiculous way possible, and a true, true friend had kept her safe —

Just like Lyra always had.

The soaring joy from the musical came crashing down in the instant between breaths. Her body bucked and curled, and the laughs became hysterical, helpless sobs.

Lyra was gone. Bon Bon had given her an ultimatum and walked away. What madness had possessed her?

"Bon Bon?" Carrot Top asked.

She couldn't respond. Sobs hammered her body like a drum, to a frantic tempo — Lyra's gone, Lyra's gone, Lyra's gone. She felt herself losing control of her muscles — head getting light —

"Bon Bon!" Hooves roughly shook her, then clung to her. She was dimly aware of straw sliding underneath her. "Help! Somepony —"

♩ ♬♬ ♩ ♫ ♩

The world around her was a gauzy, detached blur. Carrot Top's terrified face; the rooftop sliding and then lurching to a stop; the hooves of pegasi; beating wings; a slow descent into Town Square. The gentle embrace of the earth. Carrot Top's face again. Bon Bon blinked, and focused on the orange muzzle. The haze retreated.

"Bonnie!" Carrot Top said. "Thank the stars. What happened?"

Bon Bon sat up and swallowed through a painfully dry throat. "Oh, Carrie. I made a mistake. A big one."

"Never mind that. Lie down. Redheart's on the way."

"I don't need a nurse." She could hear the beating of her heart in her ears. It was the rhythm of the orchestra from the train station. "I need Lyra."

"You stay here. I'll get her." Carrot Top looked around the dispersing crowd of ponies. "Where is she?"

"Manehatten. Oh, Carrie, I … I think I broke up with her." Bon Bon felt fresh tears flow, but these were a gentle release rather than an explosion. "We had a musical number, well, the start of one, except I hurt her, and then I gave all my bits away, and she wouldn't come home."

Shock spread across Carrot Top's muzzle by degrees. "Oh, Bonnie …" she whispered, then set her jaw and held out a hoof. "Let's go. I just heard the train pull in. If we hurry we can catch it."

Bon Bon simply nodded; there were neither adequate words for her gratitude nor time to find them. She hoisted herself to her hooves, took a few tentative steps, and galloped, Carrot Top keeping pace alongside.

Their hooves were a drumbeat, the background conversations of the ponies that they passed a harmony. Violins sprung to life deep in Bon Bon's mind, a rapid, sharp melody giving urgency to their run. She felt her body settling in to the rhythm, the fire of exertion lighting in her lungs and spreading through her, crackling and hissing like a far-distant thunderstorm. A chorus of phantom voices sprang up to join the instruments, swelling into a grand chord seeking its final note. Out of the corner of her eye, amid the disinterested ponies strolling by, Bon Bon saw Nurse Redheart glance at them, do a double take, and raise a hoof. Then they were past her, whipping around a corner, hooves digging in as they leaned into the turn.

"Where is she staying?" Carrot Top shouted over the thunder of their motion. "Does she have relatives there?"

"We were paying for a hotel in Sun Square," Bon Bon shouted back.

Run, run, the voices in her head whispered, urgent and discordant.

"When did you leave?"

"Yesterday at lunch."

"I just can't believe it. You two are such —" They rounded another corner. "Watch out!"

Bon Bon's head snapped back toward Carrot Top, who was staring past her open-mouthed — and then the world upended, with a dull smack and a masculine yelp. The world lurched and tumbled around her in a chaotic tangle of limbs, battering her breath from her lungs as it spun to a halt. The voices in her head scattered like bowling pins.

A low moan from underneath her brought her mind back into focus. Bon Bon lifted her head, woozy, and looked down into a grey muzzle topped by a shock of dun-red hair.

"I'm sorry!" she said. "I'm so sorry. I've got to catch a train. I —"

She stopped, glancing off to the side. A pair of spectacles sat twisted and cracked a hoof's length away. She got her hooves underneath her and turned to look back. Lyra was staring open-mouthed at her. Carrot Top was staring open-mouthed at Lyra.

The silence was pristine. Exquisite.

Bon Bon rolled off the busker and struggled to her hooves, not daring to take her eyes off Lyra, not daring to blink.

Lyra's eyes filled with tears. She smiled. "Hi. Um. I figured it out."

"Wait," Bon Bon blurted out, her vision blurring. She limped forward. "You were right. All of it. I don't care. I just want one more chance —"

"Bon Bon. I love you. I. Love you."

Bon Bon reached forward with a hoof. It met Lyra's in midair. "Lyra," she said, "I love you."

She leaned forward, closing her eyes. Lyra's lips were soft and smooth, cool in the spring air, yielding to warmth as they both pressed inward.

Lyra was the first to pull back. Her hoof against Bon Bon's was trembling. "Encore," she said, "play the song."

"Lyra?" Bon Bon asked, heart pounding.

The busker chuckled. "Miss Lyra, look around you. Ponyville's all musicaled out, it is. If that kiss didn't bring every pony in the county running, I doubt the princess herself could start a number right now."

Lyra breathed out a wry almost-laugh. "Doesn't that figure. I'll have to owe you one, sweetie."

"It's alright, honey." Bon Bon smiled. It really was. "I have what I wanted. I don't need my musical any more."

"But you shouldn't have to give up musicals for me. I have a problem. Help me fix it."

"You were right, though. Musicals are dangerous. Let's leave them to the ponies with destinies."

"… I think we have a lot to talk about."

Bon Bon nuzzled her. "We do. But everything is going to be fine."

A low rumble built up. Every hair in Bon Bon's body stood on end. She looked around, startled, as the sky lit up and an unearthly shriek blasted at them with almost physical force. A beam of light lanced from the library into the heavens, too bright to look at, casting shadows in the midday sun.

In the deafening silence that followed, every bird in the city took to the air. The sound echoed back at them from the nearby hills. Dogs barked. Foals wailed.

Five ponies dashed out of the library — Twilight Sparkle's best friends — ornate jewelry glowing and smoking around their necks. "Sweet mother of stars," Rarity shouted, "she's gone!"

Bon Bon's heart sank. "Leaving?"

Lyra hesitated.

"Leaving," Carrot Top and the busker chorused.

Lyra smiled, looking into Bon Bon's eyes. "We could use a vacation."

Bon Bon laughed. "I hear Canterlot's nice this time of year."

Author's Note:

♩ ♬♬ ♩ ♫ ♩

Coda: The Season 3 finale has already shown us what happens after this story ends.

♩ ♬♬ ♩ ♫ ♩

If you liked this story, check out the sequel! The adventure continues in my contribution to the Versebreaker Anthology, a short story titled "On the Roof" (4211 words, [Romance]).

After the Manehattan musical number comes to the attention of the Princesses, Lyra is invited to Canterlot to train with an elite organization called the Versebreakers, dedicated to saving Equestria from out-of-control musical numbers. However, on arriving, Lyra quickly faces a choice between her love and her career ... and it's not the one she expects.

Comments ( 129 )

Spoiler-free author's notes:

This story is a strange but sincere homage to the Season 3 finale, inspired by this conversation and the chance observation that Lyra is missing from all the Ponyville musical numbers.

Super special props to Benman. If the story fails to suck, it's his fault. Additional thanks to Gemini Star, Horse Voice and Silver Quill for prereading assistance.

The chapter titles use fugue terminology.

Edit, 2015/04: There is now a sequel! (It contains spoilers for Fugue State. I recommend reading this one first.)

That was very, very interesting. I liked how it all worked. Reconciling how ponies feel about the musical numbers they get swept up into during the course of the show is a favorite mental exercise of mine. I hadn't noticed Lyra's absence, though.

Makes my toes tap and my mind start to rhyme. Love it.

Hooray Horizon! Congratulations on your EqD appointment! WELL DESERVED!


2388425 2387884 Thank you!

2387223 What first caught my attention was Bon Bon, without Lyra, in the front row for Pinkie's return. Then I rewound a little and realized Lyra was nowhere in that number. Then I rewound to the beginning and realized that neither of them was in "Morning in Ponyville". The story seized my brain and wouldn't let go after that.

2388531 Sounds not unlike the way some ideas bound into my head, actually!

Well... This was a nice read :)

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Did I ever tell you how much I like the ending? Because I really like the ending.

Aw heck, I barely deserve thanks. I showed up late, only made a few usable comments, and was interrupted by the flu before I could finish. :pinkiesick: Will read the rest shortly.

(Will read in a bit.)

This reminds me of something I found a while back.


This actually inspired me to write that Silver teaser back there.

Sorry if not actually relevant.

On the other hand, Lyra has no problems being present for the coronation parade. I guess they worked it out in Canterlot.

And now, thanks to this, I'll be some day watching some convoluted Bollywood epic, and when they break into a song -- average is about every 3.7 minutes -- I'll be looking at it through a pony-based filter.

My headcanon hurts. :twilightsheepish:

Absolutely and positively fantastic. If this becomes featured, you deserve it. Bravo, bravo, encore, peppermint gum.

Wonderful! An amusing premise with a solid execution. :twilightsmile:

Hey, congrats on the feature! :pinkiehappy:

Oh god this makes far too much sense. Note that Princess Celestia will only allow herself to sing while she's in a self-contained pocket universe. :pinkiegasp::twilightoops:

2390103 Hm. Good question. How many Fic's do we have where Celestia sings? (I know of one :)

I was soooo tempted to write an epilogue chapter containing only the word "Coda" and a picture of a framed photo showing Bon-Bon and Lyra in the background of the Canterlot scene. Eventually decided against it because it felt gratuitous, but yes, absolutely, in my head that is how this squares with canon.

2390103 2390126
In an earlier draft, the busker's tale was about the very first musical, when Celestia and the moon sang a duet to reconcile after Luna's banishment. It was changed to tighten up the story, but I still love that headcanon.

2389805 The magic of pony is strong and subtle.

2389118 2389471 2389866 2390075 Thank you!

Yes, ha ha, very funny, I can't even find it on the "Most Popular" list … although I suppose I should also check with View Mature turned off and BZFLGRBTGARRBLOMFG WHAT IS THIS SORCERY.

:pinkiegasp: :rainbowhuh: :rainbowderp: :twilightblush:


The first chapter goes good places. That chapter end, though: it hurt. This gon' be good!

Second chapter carries the thought. I want to see where this goes.

And despite all the fumbling, it comes out with a laugh. Yay! :pinkiehappy:


I once found a story with seven views and no votes on the "popular stories" list. And I thought at the time that Princess Will Save Us was getting considerable attention fairly quickly for being hot off the submission rack. :ajsleepy: Ah, well. No one ever said the math was fair.

(Also, as long as you got those replies and messages, don't worry about replying. I've learned to deal with these periodic absences you leave off to, doing whatever it is you do. Being Batmane, or whatever. It's just nice to hear from you.)

this here, was excellently ridiculous. two moustaches WAY, way up :moustache::moustache:

Author, please tell me: can you give me the sheet music depicted in the main story art?

Ha ha ha! I see your indie cred has been destroyed.


(I'll read this soon, I promise)

That was adorable. Bravo! :moustache:

I've explored this idea earlier, and I still don't get it.
How dah Tatarus do musicals in Equestria happen?:rainbowhuh:

I'm guessing chapter 4 is going to be Op. 5 Mov. 4: "Episode"?

Ah, the phenomon known as HMS Pinafore syndrome. This insidious disease is common among Disney films and a plague on anything coming out of Bollywood.

Equestria is rife with it. One could go quite, quite, mad.


Near as I can figure it, Equestria has bidirectional four-dimensional attractors woven into its spacetime. Situations in the future, even merely potential ones, can affect the past and present, providing subtle (and less so) probability pressures which make certain actions and events much more likely. Thus we have musicals, which are self-reinforcing strange-attractor events; strong coherences between careers, cutie marks, and names; narrative reinforcement (the more momentous the event, the more likely it will conform to established narrative pattern); and there's a strong likelihood that where a powerful need exists, something will have its past and destiny nudged until it can arrive to fill that need.

I can't help but think that at least part of the chronal pressures which pull things into patterns are somehow linked to the near-timeless existence of Princess Celestia. Her unchanging presence in the timestream may require magics which force raw chaos into macroharmonic patterns. Whether this is related to when she and Luna linked the Elements of Harmony to astronomical external power sources in order to depower and defeat Discord, I'm not sure. Might make for an interesting story, though.

Well... I have to say I am still confused and yet interested. Grammar and also the ponies personalities are still all right in this story. But I am still waiting for the main events and conflict. Or at least some more specifics to the problem besides that off the hoof musicals are an odd thing based off of magic.

ALSO Lyra IS best pony (followed by the main 6 and a few other fanon favorites). I just hope she is happy with Bonbon as indicated in the story.

Ooooooh. That was pretty great. I never would have noticed the missing Lyra by myself.

Very nice! I love the conceit here, and I love how you explore it and bring it off. I'm going to suck at providing much critical commentary this time, because I'm partially preoccupied with the fact that my own story hit EqD just as I was starting to read this, but I certainly didn't notice any serious issues in reading that I felt harmed the story. It was very sweet, and just so much fun to read a world-building take on magic and musicals.

I think this marks the first Lyra story I've read, actually. Same for Bon Bon. I don't know if this is very indicative of how other authors write them, but I have to admit I really enjoyed them both.

Glad to see that your first feature box story is something that definitely deserves all the good attention it's getting.



I was soooo tempted to write an epilogue chapter containing only the word "Coda" and a picture of a framed photo showing Bon-Bon and Lyra in the background of the Canterlot scene. Eventually decided against it because it felt gratuitous, but yes, absolutely, in my head that is how this squares with canon.

Gratuitous? That would have been perfect, if only because I feel the ending might fly over a few heads otherwise.

I loved the concept, and you pulled it off rather fantastically. It's refreshing to see a story like this every once in a while.

2390372 Ooo. Nightmare Moon - The Musical. A Broadway production with a bigger budget than Spidermare, and just the same luck. I dare ya. :pinkiehappy:

The music in the cover art is from J. S. Bach's Fugue no. 2 in C minor, BWV 847, from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1. Here's the actual excerpt I used; unfortunately I don't have a copy of the full song.

2391985 2392685
Fugue State is complete. Sometimes, to talk about a big phenomenon, you have to tell a small story. This was a story about Lyra and Bon Bon and their relationship, and everything about the musical numbers was in service of that. I'm sorry if I haven't told the story you were looking forward to read, but I appreciate the feedback.

As I said in 2390372, we can see this story's epilogue in the episode itself … hmm. 2393577, I'd feel horrible adding a one-word chapter just to add that image in, but I'll drop it in the Ch3 author's note.

2391974 2392412
As to the explanation for musical numbers: 2392616 wins.

Considering that I do leave ambiguous the dividing line between musical tunes (i.e., show tunes) and Musical Numbers, that could be quite interesting.

2390977 2392944 2391911 2391359 2393433 et.al.: Thank you!
@Bradel: At least you can say you were following me before I went mainstream. :twistnerd:

That was quite a fun read. Poor bastards have no idea how bad that decision is.

Congrats on the feature, you deserve it.


Oh I did enjoy it. I just didn't notice that it was complete. :facehoof:

I also find it interesting that you called it Fugue State but the chapters name the three main sections of sonata form. :twilightsmile:

A story that shows Lyra as a normal pony, not obsessed with humans? I'm in!

And after reading it, I still am. This was a very interested story and heartwarming one too. It may have been a bit simple, but I think that's why it works so well. I also like how Bon Bon isn't a nag in this, which makes her lovable and sweet. The way she should be, heh.

Aaaaw, Lyra and Bon Bon. Such a sweet pairing. Well done!

'Course they don't. It's Destiny! :rainbowwild:

Thank you, and congratulations in return on "The Night the Carousel Boutique Burned" joining me in the featurebox!

Interesting! The fugue form was something of a historical precursor to sonatas, so the terminology overlap makes sense. (The title was chosen for its contrapuntal implications and the double meaning.)

Thank you! I was aiming for showing their fundamental contrast — Lyra as driven, and Bon Bon as supportive — without descending into cliché, so it's wonderful that the characters ring true. They are a great pairing … IMHO, sweetly and subtly dysfunctional in a way that they've both made work.

It reminds me of Growing Carrots, but with more clarity and D'awwws

Oh look it's featured now, didn't I totally call it or wat?

You've managed to make a silly musical number into a potentially horrifying mind control spell and used it to discuss free will and what it means to follow your destiny.

Holy shit you MAGNIFICENT BASTARD. I apPLAUD you good sir!

On the surface, I can see how Growing Carrots and Fugue State look similar. They're not. They're really not. (This is a romance; GC goes for the throat of existential horror.) But GC is an excellent story! Thank you for the link.

2396737 You did :twilightsmile:

2397044 Thank you! I made the choice to use this crazy disturbing mind-control scenario to tell a love story, of all things. I'm impressed myself that it worked.

I thought this was masterfully done, and I love you so much for he simple reason that your terminology was correct. Thank you for getting music right.

2401261 Thank you! I played piano for many years as a little sprout. Glad my memory (and research) held. :twilightsmile:

ha! - this was perfect. :twilightsmile:

2401755 The best part was undoubtedly the carefully woven, compelling romance you tied in to the creepy-ish musical numbers, and I loved the idea that only ponies with a destiny got them. A fascinating read made that much better by the proper fugue terminology. (If you have an epilogue it would be the coda)

((God I'm a nerd))

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