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Glim Glam's Neverending Shim Sham - Better Late Than Never Edition
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Gentlemen, behold!

I have returned, and assuming that interest in these threads continues, I will henceforth be resuming my review series, though I am altering my approach slightly. I will explain below.

>What the hell is this?!?
These threads first began as a mostly humorous response to a certain obnoxious British poster who shall remain nameless. Way back in the bygone days of 2018, this individual attempted to shill a fanfiction he'd written by starting not one but two threads about it. The response to his opus was almost universally negative, and unfortunately he was not the sort of person who handled criticism well. The resultant shitflinging war would become known in the annals of /mlpol/ history as Glimmergate II.

This unnamed individual's intense autism eventually became so repellent that I took it upon myself to go through his work line by line and tell him, quite explicitly, everything that was wrong with it. This turned out to be a much larger project than I'd envisioned, and it ultimately took several months to complete. Due to the author's fixation with Starlight Glimmer, which formed the center of the controversy, I adopted Glim Glam as a moniker.

I started the project under the assumption that it was just a bit of funposting that would run its course and then end. As far as literary criticism went, I was mostly just blowing smoke out of my ass and having a giggle; I assumed that sooner or later the drama would die down and my tripfagging would get annoying. As such, the original plan was to finish what I had to say about Silver Star Apple and the Search for More Money, Love, The Meaning of Life, and Magical Cards, and then let "Glim Glam" drift quietly off into the sunset as long as I'm spilling my guts here I might as well come clean: I was also the guy who was tripfagging as King Battlebrit.

However, for whatever reason, people formed an impression that I actually had some idea of what the fuck I was talking about when it came to books, and so I received several requests from various Anons to review more fimfiction stories. After doing a couple of these, I realized I enjoyed reviewing stories, and also that as a writer I was learning a surprising amount from these authors mistakes, and thus Glim Glam's Infinite Ham-Slam was born.

My previous reviews are listed below, in reverse chronological order:

Neo-Equestrian Obstetrics
by Kassaz
>>>/mlpol/348497 →

I.D.: That Indestructible Something
by Chatoyance
>>>/mlpol/342944 →

Our Girl Scootaloo
By Cozy Mark IV
>>>/mlpol/331344 →

Rainmetall (included in the Our Girl Scootaloo thread, post # indicates start point)
By /mlpol/'s very own Mexican Anon
>>>/mlpol/338993 →

The Best Night Ever
By Capn_Chryssalid
>>>/mlpol/327793 →

Fallout: Equestria
By kkat
>>>/mlpol/284789 →

The Sun & The Rose
By soulpillar
>>>/mlpol/269307 →

Friendship is Optimal (included in the Past Sins thread, post # indicates start point)
By Iceman
>>>/mlpol/266598 →

Past Sins
By Pen Stroke
>>>/mlpol/248482 →

Would it Matter if I Was?
By GaPJaxie
>>>/mlpol/202151 →

The Original Silver Star Threads:
(these threads are pretty chaotic and I don't begin "reviewing" until midway through, but they're an entertaining read if you have the patience to comb through them)
>>>/mlpol/165646 →
>>>/mlpol/166716 →

>No, seriously, what the hell is this?!?
To my eternal surprise, these threads have not only continued to generate interest here, but I've also had a couple of odd people from outside the site wander in and ask me to review things. A couple of anons have said that my comments on a few stories might be of value to the MLP fan community at large, and have suggested that I reformat them to make them a little more...palatable.

Again, when I first began this project, I assumed these were mostly just shitposts being written on a site that few people bothered to visit, and as such I had no compunctions about peppering them with vulgarity and slurs because really, if you can't use the internet to anonymously hurl epithets at a complete stranger, then what is it even for?. With a couple of exceptions, most of the stories I've reviewed are well-known, well-loved stories written by horse-famous authors. As such, I feel like I've mostly been punching up, and I make absolutely no apology for any comments I've made about how god-awful most of this dreck actually is when you examine it closely.

However, in a slightly broader scope, asking someone from the more genteel quarters of the fandom to comb through page after page of me calling Pen Stroke a faggot may be a rather tall order, particularly if they are unfamiliar with the way imageboards work. So, I have decided to make the following changes to my approach:

1. These threads will still be done in the same read-and-react format to which you are all accustomed, and in general not much is going to change. However, I am going to make a conscious effort to make my commentary a smad less obscene no promises, but I do intend to try, and I am also going to try to get through individual stories more quickly (especially the long ones).

2. I will also be hosting an off-site blog (currently in development, link will be posted when it's ready) containing truncated reviews of select stories, reformatted to be more accessible to the broader MLP fandom and fanfiction community. Reviews posted to this blog will be formatted like normal articles, and will be a summation of my thoughts on the fics being discussed, rather than a long, meandering read-through, and will contain 20% fewer gay jokes and ethnic slurs. Updates will be posted as the project progresses.

Now then, with all of that out of the way...

Current Story:

by getmeouttahere


requested by that anon who keeps bugging me about it
1 - Wake Up Roomie

>You slowly drag your beaten and battered body through the halls of Canterlot castle. Flecks of dried mud and blood peel off from your tattered clothes as the nobleponies milling about in the grand hallways retch and turn away at the sight and smell of you. Paying them no mind, you continue on, carefully cradling your prize close to your chest.
From the way this is formatted, plus the subject matter and the fact that it specifically features Anon rather than just some anonymous human, I'm at least 85% certain this originated on 4chan, and was adapted from greentext. As a man who likes to write things in greentext and then adapt them into prose later, I have high hopes for this. Which usually means that by the end of it I'll be telling the author he can shit out his own eyeballs, but...nevertheless, I remain optimistic. I will note that I'm a little put off by the author's decision to retain the second person perspective; I probably would have changed "You slowly drag your beaten and battered body..." to "Anon slowly dragged his beaten and battered body..." and so on. However, there's no law in place that says you have to do this.

I will also note that this is a pretty good way to open a story. The character has clearly been through some shit, but we know absolutely nothing about it, so we are immediately curious.

Anyway, the opening scene does a pretty good job of grabbing the reader's attention. Anon pushes his way into the Sisters' throne room; again, he is rather bedraggled and has clearly been on a long and trying adventure. He is carrying some mysterious object, which turns out to be something called the Orb of Ascension.

>Her wings flutter as her body shudders with uncontrollable euphoria.
This is an awkward bit of description. First of all, the rhyme between "flutter" and "shudder" feels inappropriate, and "uncontrollable euphoria" seems a bit much on top of all the fluttering and shuddering that is going on in this sentence. I'd probably just go with "she flutters her wings in amazement" or something to that effect, but really it's author's choice here.

>“...How did you get past the Terror Caves?” she asks, her stare sharp enough to pierce right through you.
>“By running and screaming like a little girl the entire time.”
>“The Forsaken Shoals?”
>“Tamed a giant crab.”
>“The Bloodfeast Slaughterfields Retirement Community?”
>“It’s hard for retirees to feast on blood and slaughter things when someone’s stolen all their dentures...”
>“...Estrus Valley?” She flashes you a questioning glance.
>You tremble in response. “I... I don’t know. I think I did something to myself to make sure I’d never remember... ever.”
This immediate bit of levity following Anon's dramatic entrance to the scene lets us know that, while this story might have some heavy moments, the tone overall will probably be light-hearted and fun. The inclusion of "Estrus Valley" lets us know that bawdy humor is not off the table. This "exchange" ba dum tss between Anon and Celestia here is nicely done. It flippantly glosses over Anon's trials and tribulations, and lets the reader know that, however curious he may be about what Anon has been through, it's nowhere near as important as whatever is to come. The combination of adventure and humor is appropriate for a story featuring Anon.

Anyway, it's clear enough that whatever this thing is, it's powerful enough to make Celestia lose her usual regal composure. She demands that Anon hand the device over to her, and Anon reminds her that she promised to give him something in return if he managed to fetch it for her. He also reminds her that, due to some kind of magical fuckery built into the orb, it has to be transferred willingly from owner to owner, so if she wants it, she needs to give him what he wants.

As it turns out, what he wants is for Celestia to somehow convince Twilight Sparkle to leave him alone. Apparently Twilight has developed a creepy stalker-type obsession with Anon, to the point that he feels that some kind of royal restraining order is the only option left. He is so desperate, in fact, that he undertook what appears to have been an extremely dangerous and hopeless quest to retrieve this orb-thingy just to rid himself of Twilight's affections. It's implied that every other pony who's attempted this quest has met with a bad end...however, since he's Anon, he naturally succeeded where all others have failed.

>Just before I left, she gave me a rough draft of a research paper titled ‘Why Young, Educated Unicorn Mares Make Ideal Marriage Partners for Humans, Summarized in 49 Key Points’. It was 450-FUCKING-pages long, and there was an actual photo of my dick in there overlaid with a nerve map that explained which positions and thrusting angles would be the most pleasurable for the both of us if I were to hypothetically have sex with her! I don’t even know how she got the fucking photo in the first place, but it needs to stop, Celestia! I’ve had enough!
>At last, the eternal annoyance that is Twilight Spergle will finally be out of your life forever! No more ‘experiments’, no more teleporting into your house at all hours, no more being woken up by her voice outside your bedroom window as she recites her latest extremely cringe-worthy yet technically flawless love poem...
I am now at least 96% certain that this story originated on 4chan.

Anyway, I'll pause here for some first impressions. I've been doing this long enough to know that first impressions are basically worthless; I've done several that seemed promising at first, but by the end I was yelling at the author to shit out his own eyeballs. However, I will say that so far, this one seems promising. The prose is solid so far, and the tone and subject matter grabs me. Very light-adventure and very Anon, equal parts high-art and shitposting, which tends to be exactly the kind of thing I enjoy reading. I will tentatively say that I like this so far.
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Well... I have been relatively good at figuring out when a post belongs to you or not in the past but I actually had no idea that you were KBB. Once (I think it was KBB you went under that time) you wrote about a guy going to wierd type of afterlife and at that time I thought you two had a similar writing style. But I never thought you two were actually one and the same person. I literally thought you were two different people all this time. Although, sometimes I wonder if you were Rueben, or whatever his name was, in the Anonfilly thread or ASSFAGGOT, now when I think about it.

All this time you had me dancing to your flute. Playing with me and my feelings. Have you no empathy? :'C

Wait wait, didn't you review your own story (Aka you reviewed KBB's story). Haha, and told yourself that you made good metal refrences in it? Also, that reminds me. You once told Nigel that he should learn from the Dale Gribble story, back when you hadn't declared that you wrote it. It was due to this post that I went to you and ask you to review it where upon you explained that that would be hard since you made it to begin with. ^^
>didn't you review your own story
There's actually some context to that tho. You disqualified yourself for one.
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Are there other people on this site or is it just you me and Nigel?

There is a page break, and when the next scene opens we get a distinct impression that time has passed and things have changed considerably. Anon is staring at a bowl of cereal for which he has no milk, an unforgivable circumstance for which it appears his roommate is responsible. We learn that his roommate is none other than...Celestia.

A clearly incensed Anon attempts to berate the apparently former Princess for drinking up all of his milk without buying him another carton. Celestia refuses to take the situation seriously and gently mocks him, so Anon impales the milk carton on her horn and sits down to cry about it. At this moment, when the reader is no doubt feeling mighty confused about any number of things, the author takes a moment to drop in a little backstory. Here is a quick rundown:

Anon arrived in Equestria an indeterminate amount of time in the past, and was taken in by Twilight Sparkle. Twilight quickly developed a crush on him, which Anon did not reciprocate. He initially tried to let her down easy, but she turned out to be more obstinate than he'd expected.

>It was around the point when she decided it’d be a good idea to stick some things in your various exit-only orifices for the sake of determining your fetish via experimentation that you felt enough was enough.
Wait a minute, how many "exit only" orifices does Anon have? Because if he's anything like me it should only be one. Oh...wait. I get it. Ouch. Yeah, I am now 100% certain that this story originated on 4chan.

Anyway, Anon's suffering only worsens from here. As Twilight's crush became progressively creepier and more obsessive, Anon found that few ponies took him seriously when he tried to explain his problem. Twilight's friends didn't believe the crazier-sounding portions of his story, and seemed to even be in favor of the two of them getting together. Further complicating the matter is that Anon is not attracted to horses in the first place, which, unsurprisingly, Twilight does not seem to either believe or accept.

Anon's persistent entreaties of "no means no" eventually bear fruit when he gains an audience with the Sun Princess. Since she is no doubt well acquainted with her star pupil's autism, she has an easier time believing Anon's story. She offers him a deal: she will "somehow" make his Twilight Spergle author's words problem go away, if in exchange he obtains some sort of magical artifact for her. If you managed to follow the events of the first scene, it shouldn't be hard to piece the rest of it together.

However, it turns out that this is only the first half of the story.

Once Celestia had the magic rock, she did something Anon was not expecting: she used its power to transform Twilight Sparkle into an alicorn (don't know if I clarified it but the Twilight in this story so far has been the unicorn version). Then, she dumped her crown and the title of Day Princess onto her confused student, and immediately retired. Yep, the whole "epic quest for the magic artifact" was just a little ol' scheme Sunbutt cooked up to allow herself to abdicate.

There's a minor detail I should probably clear up before I continue: the magic stone Anon obtained is apparently a magical artifact that transforms any pony that swallows it into an alicorn, and this is how Twilight's transformation occurs. As with most of the stories I review I'm coming into this one more or less blind, so I don't know anything about its background. According to the fimfiction page it was written between February and December of 2013, so it would have begun right around the time that Magical Mystery Cure aired. I'm not sure if this was written in part to riff on what would have at the time been a controversial development in the series, or if by pure chance the author just happened to be writing a story about Twilight becoming an alicorn at the exact moment the canon Twilight became an alicorn. Either is plausible, but I'm leaning more towards the former. My guess is that the idea here was to put a humorous spin on a controversial development in the actual series: instead of Twilight earning alicornhood by passing Celestia's friendship course, Celestia just dumps it on her because she doesn't want to be Princess anymore. In any case, it should be noted that, in this author's canon, the Orb of Ascension is the reason that Twilight becomes an alicorn, not passing a friendship test or performing an elaborate musical number.

Anyway, for a few brief moments Anon thinks he may have been cleverly rused; however, Celestia actually upholds her part of the bargain. She casts an elaborate spell on Anon and then flies away. Twilight, by this time, seems to have overcome her initial surprise at the afternoon's turn of events, and has realized that she now has limitless cosmic power as well as complete legal authority over the realm. Since the Twilight in this story seems mainly to think with her clit, her first thought is to use this power to bully Anon into being her royal boy-toy.

However, it turns out that the spell Celestia cast is called a Geas (incidentally it turns out this is a real term; the author has done his homework here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geas). The spell states that, so long as Celestia lives (which if I understand this universe correctly should basically be forever), Twilight cannot touch Anon physically, magically, or legally. It seems that Twilight, at the moment of her absolute triumph, was craftily checkmated by her former teacher.

I know we're only about a chapter in, but I will say that I am unironically really liking this so far. The premise is clever and so far I have zero complaints about execution. The author even has the sense to end his infodump appropriately, saving the explanation for how Anon and Celestia came to be roommates for a later date.
iirc there was a minor conflict of interest when I entered a story into a contest that you had also asked me to judge, and it was complicated by the fact that only I would have known that it was a conflict of interest. If I remember even more correctly, the story I posted was basically just another shitpost bantzing on Nigel anyway, so I think when it came time to review it, I just complimented myself on a few superficial details I thought I'd done well, and then found some arbitrary reason to disqualify myself.

At first I was trying to maintain separate identities; the original idea as I recall was to have the Glim Glam trip handle reviews and criticisms, while King Battlebrit would be my "author" persona. It got hard keeping them separate and eventually King Battlebrit just sort of faded into the woodwork.

>Although, sometimes I wonder if you were Rueben, or whatever his name was, in the Anonfilly thread or ASSFAGGOT, now when I think about it.
No, I don't think that was me. I post in the Anonfilly thread from time to time, but always as Anon. The only original piece of writing I've ever posted to that thread was this piece:

That one was originally written on 4chan, though; I just reposted it here so our thread would have it.

> Also, that reminds me. You once told Nigel that he should learn from the Dale Gribble story, back when you hadn't declared that you wrote it. It was due to this post that I went to you and ask you to review it where upon you explained that that would be hard since you made it to begin with
This sounds probably more or less accurate. To further complicate matters the Dale Gribble thing was just written as Anon, I don't think I formally claimed it under either of my trips until you asked me to review it. I don't remember if I mentioned it to Nigel as an example, but that sounds like something I'd do. Basically sucking my own dick while discreetly making it look like I wasn't sucking my own dick, only to be hoisted by my own petard in the end. I just couldn't keep track of the lies upon lies.

The question you should now be asking is: are you real? Or are you just another of my creations?
Between that profile pic and your writing style, I could tell from just one chapter of Exchange that you were the writer of I Dream of Luna.
Goddamn I feel old now. I feel a lot of things. Thanks for being a good writefag for all these years, I guess is where I start.

Sven is a Glim Glam puppet confirmed
Not sure if this was directed at me or not, but I want to clarify that this thread is just a read and review of Exchange, I'm not claiming to have written it. It does look like you're right, though, the author of Exchange did also write I Dream of Luna.
Ah...I thought you said you refrained from reviewing it because it was your work. Apologies. Been busy. Working. Papers. ....packing.
No sorry, that was a side conversation about a different story.

Anyway, we return to the present. Celestia is now consoling Anon about the loss of his milk, but it turns out that not all is lost. Celestia has produced some milk magically, she assures us; not in the way you're probably thinking, so Anon will not have to eat dry cereal after all.

>And, as if to confirm your worst fears, a single drop of creamy liquid drips from one of her teats to the carpeting.
>Your eyes meet hers as they travel back up her body, and you find her expression unreadable as your chewing ceases and you very, very slowly swallow your mouthful of cereal and milk.
Nope; scratch that. It's exactly what you were thinking. I am now 110% certain that this story originated on 4chan.

At this point, the antics cease and the plot continues. It turns out that Celestia isn't just pulling this milk stunt to fuck with Anon. Her circumstances have become a bit delicate since we last saw her, and this is literally her doing her best to help out around the house.

Since she is no longer the Princess, she has lost access to the Royal Treasury. Presumably, as a Monarch (or Diarch or whatever), she had no personal assets since she was, by definition, 1/2 of the State. Since this is no longer the case, the State's resources are no longer hers. Luna doesn't appear to have reacted well to her little stunt either, so she is refusing to provide help; as a matter of fact, Celestia has been banned from entering Canterlot for the next 100 years. It's probably worth remembering that at this point in the world's chronology, Luna has only been back in business as Princess for a short time as well, and probably doesn't need this much stress dumped in her lap, let alone the added burden of dealing with Twilight's autism.

Anyway, we get the rest of the backstory now. After going on a two week abdication-vacation, Celestia returned to Canterlot to show Twilight how to be a princess and to smooth things over with Luna. Luna, as I've explained, is not really in a forgiving mood, so Celestia is basically on her own at this point. She moved in with Anon because, apparently, she has no money and nowhere to go. How she paid for her vacation is left unexplained. Being a 1000 year old magical horse princess doesn't make you any wiser, it would seem, as she quite clearly didn't think this plan through.

Anyway, it looks like Anon now has unexpectedly found himself with a wacky, Odd Couple style roommate...who is also the Former Princess of the Horse People.

Celestia informs Anon that she plans on spending the day looking for a job, and she would like him to take the day off from Sugar Cube Corner and come with her Sugar Cube Corner and Applejack's Farm seem to be the standard go-to work options for Anons or OCs who emigrate to Ponyville in these stories. Anon reflects for a brief moment that, while Celestia can be annoying sometimes, she's also fun to have around, and he at least somewhat owes her since she did technically figure out a way to stop Twilight from trying to rape him. The chapter basically ends here.

Also, as a side note, I found this in the comments:

Cackling Moron:
>I'll assume the milk carton is still there until told otherwise.

This sounds like a perfectly fine idea, so I am going to do the same.

2 - Job Hunting

We rejoin Anon and Celestia (presumably with a milk carton still impaled on her horn) walking around the streets of Ponyville on a typical sunny morning. The ponies of this world seem to take bizarre developments well in stride, as the text notes that they have grown easily accustomed to having both a talking monkey and a 1000 year old former ruler/goddess living among them. Considering they live in a setting that seems to come under threat from some ancient world-ending evil about once or twice per year, this really isn't all that surprising.

A unicorn named Lyra approaches, licks several of Anon's fingers without warning or permission, and runs off. This act annoys her companion Bon Bon, and amuses Celestia.

>“It seems your popularity among young mares is as strong as ever, Anonymous,” she says while tilting her head in thought. “What could it be that draws them to you, I wonder?”
Anon is the human that mares love to love.

>“Is the attention really so unwelcome? They’re probably just curious about you. I’m sure they mean you no harm, aside from a certain... notable exception.”
>“It’s not completely unwelcome,” you answer. “It’s kind of flattering that they’re interested, even if I’m not. It’s just tiring sometimes.”
>She nods with sympathy. Being a former Princess she undoubtedly knows more about things like this than you ever will.
Considering the subject matter and the place from which I am now 120% certain this story originated, I'm assuming that Celestia is probably attracted to Anon, and that while Anon is not presently attracted to her or any other pony, he will eventually learn to stop worrying and love the horse poonanny. However, for the time being, I'm mostly just enjoying the buddy-comedy angle between Anon and Celestia here. If this never becomes anything more than a platonic goofball friendship, I honestly think that would be just fine.

Anyway, being reminded that mares find him attractive reminds Anon that he still has Crazy Old Maid Sporkle to worry about, and he thanks her again for the spell she placed on him. Celestia tells him that he needn't worry, and thanks him for putting up with her myriad eccentricities. Meanwhile, Pinkie Pie overhears their conversation and misinterprets what's going on between them, and comic mishaps ensue.

Anon informs Pinkie that he needs to take a personal day so he can help Celestia look for a job. He asks if it might be possible for the Cakes to take her on at Sugar Cube Corner, and she reacts strangely. Even though it sounds like the Cakes could use the help, they can't hire Celestia, for reasons which Pinkie can't disclose. The plot appears to be thickening.
>Are there other people on this site or is it just you me and Nigel?
There's the obnoxious faggot that begged Glim to review this story, but he fucked off for a while.

Hi, I came back to /mlpol/ to post a funny shock video of a pajeet raping his grandfather only to see this lovely thread.

Thank you for this review, Glim. I look forward to reading it.
>Thank you for this review, Glim. I look forward to reading it.
Certainly. I am humbled that enough people are interested in my opinions to keep these threads going for as long as they have.

>Horse owners back on Earth must all be super fucking rich or something because this ancient magical one you’ve had lounging around the house has been slowly eating you into poverty for a while now. But soon she’ll be able to buy her own damn cakes and hay smoothies and you’ll actually have money for leisure activities again!
From what I know, feeding a horse is expensive enough when you're just buying hay or bulk feed or whatever it is that irl horses eat exactly. Feeding Sunbutt's fat ass on value-added foods like smoothies and cakes must be costing Anon a fortune. Free crotch-teat milk aside, I fully sympathize with his predicament.

Anyway, there's some more banter here, but the long and short of it is that, while it's passing strange that the Cakes are refusing to hire Celestia and Pinkie won't say why, Anon remains confident that Celly will be able to get hired somewhere.

Page break. We rejoin a considerably more demoralized Anon at the end of the day. It seems that they have been all over Ponyville, and not one single establishment has been willing to hire the former Horse Princess of the Sun. They are now at Sweet Apple Acres, which appears to be Celestia's employer of last resort.

>“So, who was your previous employer and what was your job title there?” the farmpony asks.
>“I was employed in the service of all ponykind as a member of the Diarchy. My primary title was Princess of Equestria, but I believe I also held around 150 or so additional official titles. Would you like me to list them?”
>Applejack shakes her head. “No, that’s alright. So, what makes ya think ya’d be a good fit for this position?”
I like how Applejack still goes through all the standard HR bullshit even though both of them know perfectly well that this is all perfunctory. Applejack, for her part, is visibly distressed about something, and seems to be desperately trying to find some excuse not to hire Celestia, in spite of the fact that she is, if anything, massively overqualified for this job.

The interview concludes with AJ hastily informing Celestia that the position has been filled, and that she can't hire her. This is obviously a lie and AJ is obviously uncomfortable saying it, so Anon finally explodes and demands to know why she is turning away such an obviously qualified candidate who is willing to work for minimum wage. However, a clearly remorseful AJ can only respond that the matter is "out of her hooves." Anon leaves the farm in disgust.

Page break. The perspective shifts abruptly here. The story is no longer being told in the second-person; the narrative shifts to a conventional third-person view, though everything is still written in the present tense. We see Applejack, clearly upset, bucking a hole into her own barn in frustration. After a short exchange with Big Mac, a strange portal opens up, and AJ is sucked through to Canterlot Castle.

I'd actually like to pause for a moment here and remark that this stylistic shift is jarring, and I don't think it was handled well. Greentext stories are almost always told in either the first or second person, with a narration style similar to a visual novel game, with the story broken into individual lines and fed to the reader one line at a time. This allows for a more casual mode of storytelling, where the author is free to meander and use looser prose than they would if they were writing in a traditional format. This is part of the reason I think greentext tends to produce better first drafts than prose. However, sometimes the author needs to break away from the main character's perspective to show events that are happening somewhere else. Even though breaking perspective like this is generally a no-no in traditional prose stories, in greentext the author can usually get away with it. Visual novels will sometimes do this as well, sometimes using visual techniques like changing the text color or switching to NVL-mode to signify the change in perspective.

When adapting the story from green to prose, however, this creates problems, as we see here. While it's still clear enough what's happening, the sudden transition from a second-person "you do this, you do that" format to a conventional third-person-omniscient point of view is jarring. As we saw with Fallout: Equestria, the author's choice of perspective can have a huge impact on the story later on. A first or second person perspective might work fine for most of the story, but it can become inconvenient if you need to cut away at times and show the reader something that would be outside the narrator's frame of view. In this case, the second-person perspective hasn't really added much to the story so far, and seems to have been chosen arbitrarily because that's how the green was written. If it were my project, I probably would have just rewritten it in a standard third person format.

Anyway, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Rarity and Fluttershy are all seated at a table, and greet AJ as if they'd been expecting her. After some mild banter about Rainbow Dash eating all of the pretzels, Twilight makes a somewhat exaggerated entrance:

>The room goes silent. Standing near the grand doors at the back of the room is a radiant alicorn princess. Her large purple wings are spread majestically as her oversized golden horseshoes, torc and tiara shimmer in the room’s artificial light.
I'm a little curious whether post-alicornification Twilight is still a normal-sized unicorn who just gained some wings (pic 1), or if she has physically transformed into something that more closely resembles the other alicorns (pic 2). I don't think the text has clarified this yet.

In any event, it's clear that Twilight's newly-acquired power has gone to her head. She enters the room dressed in all the accoutrements befitting her new station (tiara, golden slippers, etc) and makes her friends observe "protocol" by bowing to her. Her friends don't seem to be taking all of this especially seriously, however.
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>The purple pony princess takes a regal step toward the head of the grand table. Then her horseshoe slides off, she missteps, and promptly falls flat on her face.
>Rainbow tries really, really hard not to laugh. “N-Need any help there, ‘Princess’?”
>“I’m fine!” Twilight picks herself up with the aid of a few wing beats. “UGH! These stupid things are still sized for Celestia! Buck it!”
This actually seems to more or less answer the size question. Since Celestia's shoes are too big for her, the implication seems to be that Twilight's alicorn appearance is basically what it is in the show post-S3: basically just unicorn Twi + wings.

>With a flash of her horn, she teleports into her seat instead, then attempts to assume her closest approximation of a pretty princess pose. Unfortunately, given her absolute lack of natural grace, it just ends up looking awkward.
Basically, normal-sized Twilight is wearing Celestia's Royal Princess ensemble: the shoes + the crown + presumably whatever that collar-thing she wears is called. However, all of it is too large for her, and her efforts at behaving like a Princess are not especially convincing. The visual effect is somewhat reminiscent of a little girl playing dress-up with her mother's clothes, which is admittedly pretty cute. However, it's also clear that Nu-Twilight has acquired some pretty dangerous powers.

Anyway, it seems like her friends so far aren't taking "Princess" Twilight all that seriously. They crack jokes, maintain the same familiarity with her they've always had, and seem disappointed that she hasn't needed their help with any of her new duties. However, to their relief, it seems she does need their help with something:

>Twilight giggles. “No, no... nothing like that. All of those problems are foal’s play for me now. No, this is much more important... much grander in scope... it’s the last, greatest test Celestia left for me; the last problem I need to solve...” She stands in her chair and dramatically flares her wings. “Girls, I need you to help me rut Anon! Repeatedly! For science!”
While Celestia's scheme to solve her own problems and Anon's problems in one fell swoop might seem clever at first glance, she seems to have made some pretty huge miscalculations, the most significant of which was underestimating Twilight's autism. Not only has the geas she cast not caused Twilight to give up on Anon, it seems to have exacerbated her desires by adding an intellectual challenge. Moreover, Twilight has misinterpreted the spell as some kind of final test she needs to pass. So, not only is she still trying to jump Anon's bones, she now believes that she has Celestia's blessing to do so, provided she can pass the "test." Celestia has unleashed quite the monster here.

Anyway, her friends seem a bit weirded out by the request, but at the same time they are probably used to her crazy shit by now. They attempt to gently convince her that Anon is not interested in ponies and is therefore a lost cause. Only Fluttershy appears to be somewhat sympathetic:

>Fluttershy smiles at Twilight’s outburst, a soft blush on her cheeks. “I think I understand. You really love him, don’t you, Princess?”
In all seriousness, Fluttershy is probably the freakiest mare in this whole bunch. She strikes me as the type that spends her evenings secretly writing raunchy fanfiction involving mythical creatures.

Anyway, again, it seems Twilight has interpreted an impediment meant to discourage her as a legitimate challenge. To review, the geas prohibits her from:
1. Touching or getting near Anon
2. Casting spells on Anon
3. Enacting any laws as Princess that specifically mention Anon.

And again, unfortunately for Anon and probably Celestia as well, Celly's underestimation of Twilight's autism has proven to be the Achilles heel in her plan. Twilight has already discovered a loophole in the spell: while she can't do anything to directly affect Anon, she can influence the environment in a way that separates Anon from Celestia. Apparently, if Anon and Celestia are driven apart (it's not clear if this means physically separating them or driving an emotional wedge between them; if I had to guess I'd say both), the geas will weaken to the point that Twilight can break it through brute force. At this point, she reveals phase one of her scheme, which provides an answer to the puzzle from the previous two scenes: she has enacted a law stating that no businesses can employ alicorns. It also seems that she, rather than Luna, was responsible for freezing Celestia's assets.

Her friends have a somewhat mixed reaction to this announcement. Applejack is appropriately horrified, and refuses to have anything to do with her plan:

>“Ah’m yer friend, Twilight. Always have been, always will be. But this...” She points a hoof at the royal edict laying on the table. “This is plum foolishness. Ah had to turn away a pony today... a good pony who just wanted ta work hard and who could’a done wonders for my farm... all because’a some crazy scheme you’ve got goin’ on ta get a coltfriend that ah can’t even begin ta understand!”

She attempts to leave. However, Fluttershy intervenes:

>“S-Sometimes sacrifices have to be made for the sake of love, Applejack. If you’re really the Princess’ friend, you should be supporting her in this.”
Ten bucks says Fluttershy has already written a 250,000 word smut-fest about Twilight getting railed by Anon.

Anywho, the opinions of her other friends are somewhat divided. Rarity agrees with Fluttershy, albeit for somewhat different reasons, and Rainbow Dash just sort of casually goes along with it. Pinkie hesitates, but reluctantly agrees to help. AJ sticks to her guns, refuses to have any part of it, and leaves the castle. Twilight acknowledges that she was expecting this outcome, and states that AJ's cooperation is not essential to her plan. As she begins to unveil Phase Two of her dastardly scheme, the scene fades and ends in a page break.

Anyway, there's a page break and we return to Celestia and Anon. The usual second-person perspective also resumes. Nothing significant really happens in this scene; Celestia is feeling depressed about not being able to get a job, and guilty about being a burden to Anon. Anon comforts her and assures her that he knows she's giving it her all, and tries to cheer her up. The chapter ends here.

3 - The Walking of the Leaves

We rejoin Anon a little further into the future. It is now Autumn, and Anon seems to be in a chipper mood. He seems to believe that his Twilight Sparkle problem has been solved, and while he still has money problems, he feels pretty good about life in general. The scene is now adequately primed for the other shoe to drop...

...and drop it does. Anon returns home to find his house flooded. It appears his wacky roommate was trying to fix a leaky toilet, and things just kind of went south from there. Oh, that Sunbutt. Anon is understandably upset, and insists that Celestia not do any more magic. However, she convinces him that she can fix it using a localized time-reversal spell, and her persistence wins him over. She succeeds in reversing time to just before the toilet broke, and now everything is back to normal. At this point, Anon is now able to fix the original leaky-toilet issue using conventional methods while Celestia watches.

We're on Chapter 3 already, and so far I'm still enjoying this story. It has a few rough edges here and there, but overall this is definitely on my list of the better stories I've read and reviewed. To date, the only longer work I've read that I enjoyed as much as this was probably The Best Night Ever, and I honestly think this is slightly better done.

In a lot of these review threads, I've pointed out some of the tropes and cliches that are often clumsily and uncreatively rehashed in these fanfiction stories. However, it's worth mentioning here that tropes and cliches are not necessarily bad, nor is there anything necessarily wrong with using a well-traveled plot as the basis of a new story. Whether you're trying to get a serious message across or just entertain a few anons on a Mongolian horsewhispering forum, at the end of the day the quality of any story rests on the author's ability to make the reader care about the lives of his characters and the goings-on in his world. You don't necessarily need a lot of deep lore or complex worldbuilding to craft a good setting, and your characters don't always need tragic backstories or complex personalities to be likable. A plot doesn't need to be intricate or even original; if you have a palette of good characters to work with and enough talent to spin an entertaining yarn, you can tell people the same story they've heard 1000 times before and still have them hanging on your every word.

In this case, the author is not really breaking any new ground in terms of plot, premise, or even characters, but he still has managed to produce something that (for me at least) is a far more enjoyable read than the larger, more ambitious projects we've looked at in the past. I'm not sure where the story is headed exactly, but so far the premise is pretty basic RomCom territory, to the point that this story could easily be rewritten as a John Hughes comedy or a school romance anime. You've got Anon, the cavalier everyman protagonist who just wants to live a peaceful, laid-back life, and isn't really interested romantically in any of the other characters Celestia is his friend who, despite being considered attractive or even beautiful, can't quite seem to make it out of the friend zone. Twilight, meanwhile, plays the role of the crazy, obsessive girlfriend/stalker whose sole purpose is to cause mischief. That's all there really is to the story dynamics so far, and so far it works perfectly.

Character-wise, the author is just working with the basic MLP cast + Anon, but again, it's handled well. His dialogue needs a bit of work, but I like his characterizations of the main cast. In this post here >>>/mlpol/358191 → I gave a simple breakdown of the M6 ponies and why these simple characters are able to give rise to such a wide variety of interpretations in a wide variety of settings. The basic theory is that each character starts from a simple, core concept derived from the source canon, which can be expanded into a general personality type. From this, an author can extract any number of possible strengths and weaknesses that can be used to turn these characters into something appropriate for nearly any type of story or setting.

Take Twilight for instance. In her canon depiction, Twilight is a serious, scholarly character who is detail-oriented and something of a perfectionist. She also tends toward obsessive-compulsive behavior. From this basic depiction, the author was able to construct a personality that works for the type of story he wanted to tell. This author's interpretation of Twilight is of a neurotic, obsessive, socially-awkward mare who allows her unrequited attraction to Anon to fester into a creepy obsession. Contrast this with Celestia: in the canon source, Celestia is a wise, patient, graceful mother figure. Like Twilight, she is also clearly attracted to Anon, but is considerably more patient and down-to-earth. She can accept that Anon is not attracted to ponies or so he claims, and is willing to wait it out, or even to just remain permanently in the friendzone if that's all Anon wants. The specific circumstances of the story also allow the author to show us a side of Celestia's personality not often seen in the show: a more relaxed, goofy, awkward mare who means well but doesn't always make the best decisions. The author gives us a glimpse of how Celestia might behave when she's off the clock. It's worth noting that soulpillar attempted a similar portrayal in The Sun & the Rose, but it became bogged down by the other problems in that story.
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The other M6 characters haven't had a huge role so far, but it's worth noting that they are also characterized appropriately. Consider how each character reacts to Twilight's proposal in the previous chapter:

>Rainbow flies over to Twilight and pulls her into a hug. “If it’s what the Princess wants, there’s no way I’d leave her hangin’! She’s still an egghead so she needs all the help she can get with this kinda stuff!”
Rainbow Dash is athletic, impulsive, and generally carefree. She has a sense of right and wrong when she needs to, but for the most part she just takes life as it comes, and doesn't spend too much time pondering consequences before acting. Her real opinion of Twilight x Anon as a couple is unclear, but she's willing to engage in some mild shenanigans to help her friend get laid, if that's what she wants.

>Rarity nods. “She’s right. Princess Twilight obviously feels this is important, and she hasn’t really hurt anypony. Though I can’t quite see the attraction, her devotion is so romantic... won’t you help her win her true love?”
Although her depiction in the canon series becomes more politically correct as the seasons progress, her early-season depiction was as a girly-girl who wanted to find a storybook romance. Here, she clearly sympathizes with Twilight's desire for the same, while simultaneously understanding from experience that it almost never works out that nicely in real life.

>Sighing, the earth pony turns her attention to Pinkie who’s kept oddly quiet so far. “What about you, sugar?”
>“I...” She shuts her eyes and shakes her head a few times. “I’ll help too.”
Pinkie's reaction is interesting. She is similar to Rainbow Dash in that she is extroverted and tends to act without thinking. However, she is also portrayed as being weirdly perceptive at times, often picking up on things that the others miss. Here, she seems to understand that Twilight x Anon is a doomed project, and probably also understands that this will adversely affect Celestia in ways that Twilight either hasn't thought of or doesn't fully appreciate. However, she lacks Applejack's rigorous moral convictions, so she's more conflicted about what she ought to do. In the end, she reluctantly decides to go along with her friend's plan even though she's fairly certain it's not going to end well. If I had to take a wild guess about where this story will eventually end up, I'd say that Twilight will become increasingly unhinged, and her stubborn refusal to let Anon go will lead her to take crazier and crazier actions which will also involve increasingly serious abuses of alicorn power. Sooner or later her friends are going to start getting cold feet hooves, whatever and will start backing out of the project. My prediction is that Pinkie will be the first one off the ship. We'll see if I'm right.

AJ and Fluttershy we've already gone over.

Anyway, back to the story. Celestia fixes the mess she made, and then Anon fixes the toilet. They have a little buddy-comedy bonding moment, and then Sunbutt shuffles her fat ass off to the kitchen to fix dinner. On the way, she makes a request: tomorrow is the annual running of the leaves, and she wants Anon to join her. Anon doesn't want to participate in a race, but Celestia explains that there is a pre-race event in which less athletically-inclined ponies are allowed to walk the route and admire the leaves one last time before they are all knocked down. This sounds a little better, so Anon agrees.

At this point, Anon receives some troubling news. Apparently, there is a rumor going around that he sneaks into ponies' houses at night and hugs them. Significantly, the rumor appears to have originated with Rarity. Anon assures Celestia that it isn't true, which seems to disappoint her somewhat:

>“So, it’s not true?” she asks with an oddly disappointed look. You answer her with a sharp glare, causing her to cower a bit. “Ah… I see. I’ll admit, it did seem a bit far-fetched considering your… usual disposition, but it begs the question as to why she’d be spreading this type of rumor in the first place.”
In contrast to what I was saying about characterization earlier, this seems like kind of a poor choice. I think the author's idea was to drop his first direct hint that Celestia is secretly hoping Anon's disdain for mare-pussy is just an act. However, unless she's intentionally putting on an act, it's a bit out of character for her. They've been roommates as well as friends for awhile now; Anon's likes and dislikes should be pretty clear to her. Also, it stands to reason that she might have noticed him sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night. Also, if she honestly believes this rumor, one might expect her to be at least a little put out that Anon is running around town committing non-consensual hugging with strange mares, when he's got a perfectly huggable mare back at home.

Anyway, Anon seems to have more or less deduced that Twilight is probably behind this.

>Celestia giggles. “You’re being a bit paranoid, don’t you think? Regarding the decree, I’m sure there was a valid reason for it, and I’m also sure that these other things are mere coincidences. Trust me, Twilight likely has her hooves full running the country right now, and as I told you before, I’m certain that her infatuation with you will fade with time and distance. And don’t forget the Geas itself and the protection it offers. You have nothing to fear, my little human, so stop letting fear consume your thoughts.”
This seems a little out of character for her as well. She's been Twilight's mentor since childhood, plus she's got like 1000+ years of life experience. If anything, the roles here should be reversed: Anon wants to believe that all the strange goings-on are just coincidence and that Twilight has moved on, while Celestia is beginning to suspect that her autismo student might have something up her sleeve, or whatever a horse might have in place of a sleeve.
>She strikes me as the type that spends her evenings secretly writing raunchy fanfiction involving mythical creatures.
Nonsense! Don't be silly! She would never do such a thing! And she certainly wouldn't write under a silly pseudonym like "Notflootershai." Case closed, your honor!
I actually love the fact she was too shy to write Anon fanfic without a pseudonym, but not clever enough to inadvertedly out herself in said pen name. Very accurate to my headcanon of Flutters.
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Anyway, there's a page break. We rejoin Anon and Celestia the next morning at the Walking of the Leaves. As they stroll, Anon has a flashback to an earlier episode, when he was new in Equestria and Twilight was 20% less insane.

Anon and Twilight are in Twilight's library, Anon is reading a book. Twilight brings him a cup of tea, and asks him how his reading is going. Anon reveals that he is combing through spellbooks in order to try and find a way home. Twilight attempts to gently dissuade him:

>Her ears fold back. “G-Going home? Anon… Princess Celestia’s already told you that it isn’t possible to send you back. If she can’t find a way, if she can’t find a spell, then… then it can’t be done.”
>She trots over to you, a look of genuine concern on her face. “Yes, I think that’s true, Anon, but I just don’t want to see you disappointed in the end. I know you miss your home, and I know you miss your friends, but…” She steps back and looks you in the eyes, a cautious smile starting to form. “But… that doesn’t mean you can’t make new ones here, right?”
It's pretty clear that she has some ulterior motives, but at this stage of the game it doesn't look like she's gone full-blown psycho on him yet.

The flashback ends when Celestia nudges Anon back to reality whoops, there goes gravity. Anon observes that the two of them seem to be the only ones out here at the moment, which is odd since Celestia had said that the "walking" was supposed to be some kind of tradition. Celestia responds:

>“Well, it was a tradition several hundred years ago, but perhaps it’s fallen out of favor with the local population. Ponyville was founded by earth ponies, and the purpose of the walk prior to the Running of the Leaves was for the settlers to not only reflect, but to consecrate the ground as a way of giving thanks to the land that provided for them throughout the year, the bounty of which would need to last them over the coming winter.”
It's a little hard to tell whether or not this statement is meant to be taken at face value. On the one hand this sounds like the kind of thing that would be legit in this setting; at the same time, this could have just been a ruse to get Anon to go out walking with her.

>You raise an eyebrow. “‘Consecrate the ground’? What do you mean?”
>Her smile growing wider, Celestia adjusts her pace so that she’s directly beside you, shoulder to shoulder as you walk.
inb4 some kind of ancient fertility rite that involves getting freaky in the park

>“With each step I take here, I channel a bit of magic into the ground through my hooves. Most earth ponies do this unconsciously, and it’s through this act of transference that plants are encouraged to grow and stand strong.”
Huh. Still not 100% sure if this is legit or if she's trying to jump his bones.

Anyway, they continue to walk and chat. Anon confesses that before things got out of hand, he actually enjoyed Twilight's friendship. Celestia assures him that sooner or later she will get over him, and the two of them will be able to become normal friends again.

>“…If you say so. But I’m not just worried about me… do you really think Equestria’ll be able to last through the reign of Princess Spergle? You basically just said that her leadership qualities aren’t really all that developed yet.”
This seems like a fair point, actually. I'm still not 100% convinced Celestia thought this one through.

>“Lulu is there to guide her, and to prevent her from making any large or dire mistakes. The rest of being a Princess is merely learning through experience, and learning is where Twilight shines. She was more than ready for the role.”
Way to dump it off on your sister there, Sunbutt.

Anyway, there is some more walking, and some more internal reflection from Anon. He again notes that, despite Celestia's occasional hijinks, he enjoys having her as a roommate. The chapter ends here.

In the comments section, our friend "Cackling Moron" remarks:

>Ooh, ooh, that developing chemistry! Oh it's good! Douse me in it and set me ablaze!
>Little glimpse of a slightly less, uh, motivated Twlight, too!
>Ah, I revel.
This is actually a pretty spot-on summation of the chapter.

A user named AlduMareHoover has this to say:
>Ok. Now I feel pretty pissed off at twilight for doing this to poor celestia and anon by basically using her power to make celestia unemployed and a burden to anon which really irk's my nerve's at far she would go in this story all for the sake of a thing caller "love" when it could only be probably lust even after anon is waving a clear white flag that says "Not interested"
>The verdict?.
>I pity you and you're way of showing you're "love" twilight
I really have nothing to say here, I'm just easily amused by the bad grammar and ESL that is usually on display in FimFic comment sections.

Anyway, that's another chapter in the bag. So far I am continuing to enjoy this, and have little criticism to offer. The story is a bit slow-moving I suppose, but the slow pace is also pretty comfy. This fic could probably be adapted into a dating sim or a visual novel pretty easily.
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4 - Business Trip

>“Hurry up, Non-non! We need to go now or we’ll miss the train!” the pink party pony currently pacing around on your front porch pleads.
I'm not sure if the alliteration here is intentional or not, but all the 'p's in this sentence made me read it in a Daffy Duck voice.

Anyway, while it's not clear how much time has passed since the end of the last chapter, it appears that Anon and Pinkie are going to Canterlot for a few days on business. Considering they both work at a cake shop, I'm not sure what sort of 'business' would necessitate an out of town trip requiring both of them to be present, but I suppose we'll find that out in due course. Celestia hands or magic-floats, or whatever Anon his suitcase, and Anon admonishes her to be on her best behavior. Celestia promises not to have any wild orgies in his absence.

>You chuckle to yourself as a mental image creeps into your head of Celestia as a horse version of Ferris Beuller, desperately making a mad dash to get things back to normal minutes before you get back home.
This sentence is overly verbose and reads awkwardly. I agree with the author that the image is funny, but it takes too long to explain, which kills the humor. In general, if you have to go this far out of your way just to make a pop culture reference, it probably isn't worth it.

Anyway, they yak back and forth for a bit, and then Anon heads outside to where Pinkie is waiting.

>Her smile immediately returns. “That’s okay! But Mr. and Mrs. Cake are already there ahead of us, so we need to go-go-go!”
Wait, Mr. and Mrs. Cake are also going on this trip? Who's watching the store? Why do all four of them need to go to Canterlot together? I'm now legitimately curious what's going on here.

>Man, this has been the week from hell. Even with the extra help the Cakes hired, you still barely finished the gigantic catering order for the upcoming Weather Control Administrator’s Convention at the Canterlot Mareiott Hotel. All that’s left now is to help deliver the goods with Pinkie and the Cakes. The good news is that all you really have to do is hand things over to the hotel staff and they’ll take care of the rest. The bad news is that it’s so late in the day that you’ll be forced to spend the night tonight in the hotel itself before returning to Ponyville the next morning.
Oh, I see. It looks like they're just delivering a big catering order, and they have to stay overnight. Presumably they all need to go because it's a large order, and carrying it in will be a group effort. A passenger train seems like a really odd choice for transporting a catering order; probably a wagon or something would make more sense, but whatevs.

In any case, since they will be going to Canterlot and Canterlot is where psycho-horse lives, the larger issue seems to be that Anon now has to venture into the belly of the beast, so to speak. What's more, he won't have Celestia along to protect him. The whole event feels like a rather contrived way of forcing this exact situation, but whatevs.

Anywho, page break. Anon et al are on the train to Canterlot.

>The Cakes have their own private booth a little further up the car, and you’re sharing one with Song Smile, who not-so-surprisingly HASN’T STOPPED TALKING FOR ONE SECOND SINCE YOU GOT HERE.
Incidentally, a "private booth" on a train is called a "compartment." Also, where is the catering order? Is it in the baggage car, or did they have to purchase extra seats for all of the cakes and pies and crap that they're lugging along with them? Seriously; the logistics of this are bugging the crap out of me.

ANYWHO, Anon continues his usual introspective reflection during the train ride. He only really has two things that he ever reflects introspectively about: Twilight's obsession with him, and having Celestia as a roommate. So this time, he chooses the latter. It seems that, while he does enjoy having Sunbutt in his home, she is becoming a legitimate financial burden:

>It’d be easy to ask her to leave. The truth is, even with the bonus pay from all the overtime you just worked, you’re about two weeks away from being destitute. There’s no way you’d tell her that, though, because you’re scared. Not due to the money situation, and not because you don’t know what the future holds…
>No, you’re scared because you know if you asked her to leave, she would. She totally would. And you can’t imagine your life without her anymore.
Also, since she's literally unemployable and she put herself in this spot in order to help (You) out of a jam, it would be a little shitty to just put her out on the street. Though to be fair, she also had her own agenda, and I will once again stress that she clearly didn't think a lot of this through.

>“...and then she hit the emergency override button and the control rods were removed and the reactor core went into a critical meltdown! And that’s how the nation of centaurs was destroyed! Why don’t you like ponies, Non-non?”
This is a pretty amusing piece of Ponk dialogue.

Anyway, in her usual tactful way, Ponk suddenly brings up the subject of Anon's disinterest in tapping horse poon. They go back and forth for awhile, but basically the gist of it is that Anon can't date ponies because the Space Pope forbids it or something. With maximum subtlety, Ponk lets out that she knows "at least three ponies" that want to ride the Human Express, and she thinks he should just learn to "listen to his heart" or, probably more accurately, the contents of his pants.

As an aside, there's a pretty clear implication that Pinkie herself is probably the third pony who likes Anon, so I may have misinterpreted her reaction >>366751 to Twilight's plan. I assumed her reluctance to help Twilight bag Anon was due to a moral qualm over how Twilight was treating Celestia, but it seems the issue may just be that Pinkie wants Anon's meaty member all to herself. I will adjust my theory appropriately as the situation develops.
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>Anon observes that the two of them seem to be the only ones out here at the moment, which is odd since Celestia had said that the "walking" was supposed to be some kind of tradition. Celestia responds:
<“Well, it was a tradition several hundred years ago, but perhaps it’s fallen out of favor with the local population. Ponyville was founded by earth ponies, and the purpose of the walk prior to the Running of the Leaves was for the settlers to not only reflect, but to consecrate the ground as a way of giving thanks to the land that provided for them throughout the year, the bounty of which would need to last them over the coming winter.”
>It's a little hard to tell whether or not this statement is meant to be taken at face value. On the one hand this sounds like the kind of thing that would be legit in this setting; at the same time, this could have just been a ruse to get Anon to go out walking with her.
It has to be ruse or I'd say it's not the best way of doing it.

If this is a real thing but the author wanted Anon and Celestia to be alone to talk during it, there are so many ways for him to accomplish this with another more plausible escuse. Like, most of the contestence being old and them having younger bodies just natrually getting ahead of the back or Celestia lagging behind just so that they can end up alone.
Also, I don't really see why this is necessary. They are literally living together: They are alone together all the time.

>The whole event feels like a rather contrived way of forcing this exact situation

I let me imagine if I was in Anon's situation here but I also shared his gross disintrest of horsepussy ;P Seriously, the question isn't "would I Twi?", the question is "Would I be able to stop with her?" ^^

But if I honestly wanted to keep away from Purple horse, then I would never set my foot in Canterlot ever again, ever. What the Cakes are gonna force me or lose my job? Do they not watch the news? Have I yet to bring my roommate to show 'em Sugercube Corner? Are we also gonna spend the night at the Gilman's hotel?

This would have worked better if the following major questions (probably some more that I'm forgetting about now) where answered and also if those answers where tied to the same source.

Here's my proposal, take it for what it is:
Q: Why can't Celestia come with?
A: Because Twilight convinced Luna to meet with her sister again after all this time so they didn't create a rift between them like before.
Q: Why must Anon go to Canterlot?
A: We forget about trying to move Anon to Canterlot, instead we either move Twilight to Ponyville (if the geas doesn't stop that) or have Anon move somewhere more neutral so that he doesn't suspect anything.

There specifics here I skip over but the point is that all these questions should be answered by it being part of Twilight's scheme to meet Anon.
These are good observations; it's worth looking at a couple of these points more closely.

>If this is a real thing but the author wanted Anon and Celestia to be alone to talk during it, there are so many ways for him to accomplish this with another more plausible escuse. Like, most of the contestence being old and them having younger bodies just natrually getting ahead of the back or Celestia lagging behind just so that they can end up alone.
What I was getting at here was more about whether Celestia was telling Anon the truth about the "Walking of the Leaves," or if she just made it up in order to be alone with him for the day. However, the meta-level question of whether the author engineered the situation on a clumsy pretext is worth considering as well. The scene itself is actually rather superfluous; the only event that arguably advances the story is the flashback which shows us another dimension of the Twilight character. However, I think the author's main goal here was just to create a comfy scene in which Anon and Celestia are walking in an autumn wood together.

As to whether or not the scene is even necessary, you could make arguments either way. On the one hand, it doesn't advance the plot; the most significant event is a bit of character development that occurs in a cutaway scene, which could easily be moved somewhere else. On the other hand, the comfy aesthetic is...well...comfy. The pacing of this story overall is a bit slow and meandering, and the author tends to rehash a lot of the same basic concepts over and over: "Celestia is a pain in the ass sometimes, but I enjoy having her around" is an idea that Anon has gone over multiple times throughout the first four chapters. Ordinarily this is something I'd complain about, but for something like this, a relaxed and meandering pace actually kind of works. The entire aesthetic of this story resembles an aimless stroll through the woods: we're not getting anywhere quickly, but getting somewhere isn't necessarily the point.

>Also, I don't really see why this is necessary. They are literally living together: They are alone together all the time.
This is also a good point. Even in an intentionally slow-paced story, having the same events and conversations occur too many times will get monotonous sooner or later. There are only so many comfy strolls through the woods you can send a character on before the reader starts getting bored. The nature of Anon and Celestia's relationship is pretty well established at this point, so it's probably high time for events to start moving along.

>But if I honestly wanted to keep away from Purple horse, then I would never set my foot in Canterlot ever again, ever. What the Cakes are gonna force me or lose my job? Do they not watch the news? Have I yet to bring my roommate to show 'em Sugercube Corner?
Good points all. The trip to Canterlot I think is definitely a contrived event, and the author goes pretty far out of his way to make sure it occurs. My guess is that, since we saw earlier that Twilight has roped her friends into whatever her master plan is, Pinkie was somehow given the role of ensuring that Anon went on this trip. I also assume that the catering order will turn out to have been placed by Twilight herself, or by someone working under her direction. However, as plans go, this one is a little flimsy: there are any number of perfectly good excuses Anon could use for refusing to go along. It also makes sense that, if he absolutely must go to Canterlot, Anon would want Celestia to come on the trip with him, and there's really no reason why she couldn't.

One of the weaker points in the story so far is Celestia's nonchalance towards Twilight's behavior. As I stated earlier, Celestia has lived much longer than any of these characters and has quite a bit more life experience, and she also knows Twilight better than Anon does. It stands to reason she would be more aware than anyone of just how obsessive and single-minded Twilight can get when she decides that she wants something. Giving Twilight alicorn powers in this state and expecting her to behave responsibly is comparable to giving an alcoholic the keys to your liquor cabinet and asking him to keep an eye on it for you.

>Are we also gonna spend the night at the Gilman's hotel?
It would be a rather abrupt and amusing turn of events if they did.

>We forget about trying to move Anon to Canterlot, instead we either move Twilight to Ponyville (if the geas doesn't stop that) or have Anon move somewhere more neutral so that he doesn't suspect anything.
I'm inclined to like this idea a little better as well. I guess I'll reserve final judgement until we've seen how the Canterlot trip plays out.
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Anyway, the conversation between Anon and Pinkie continues along these lines. The gist of it is that, while it's fairly clear to the reader that Pinkie probably likes Anon and is conflicted about her role in Twilight's plan, Anon himself remains fairly clueless.

>She lets out a cross between a laugh and a sigh. “Non-non, you wouldn’t be able to tell one if she was right in front of you. You’re denser than Anonium, the densest material known to ponykind!”
>You should probably feel insulted by that, but the way she said it pulls a laugh from you instead. A fond memory, from back before Twilight started getting really crazy, creeps into your mind. She was so excited to have invented a new super high density composite material during one of her experiments. You were deftly deflecting all her advances at the time and she figured it was because you didn’t know she was interested. She ended up naming it after you in frustration, but you’re not really that dense, right?
This is a prime example of taking a joke just a couple of steps too far. Pinkie's crack about Anonium makes enough sense and is funny enough in context that we don't really need a second paragraph to elaborate on it. If the author wants to add another dimension to the joke by having it turn out that Anonium is a real element, it would be much more effective to have this pop up later in the story. The way I would probably do it is to have characters occasionally crack jokes about Anonium throughout the story, so that it becomes sort of a mild running joke. Then, at some random moment later on, it could be revealed that Twilight really did discover an extremely dense element, which she named after Anon. Remember: humor is all about timing. The more time you spend explaining a joke, the less funny it becomes.

Anyway, as an aside, the train passes some sort of large building being constructed in Canterlot, that resembles an arena or stadium. The text makes a special point of mentioning this, so I assume it's going to be important later on.

>A sudden knock at your cabin door draws your attention from the sight, and Pinkie leaps up to answer it.
Ships have cabins; trains have compartments. This may seem like a minor gripe, but terminology is important.

ANYWAY, the knock at the door turns out to be Fluttershy, wearing a comically-obvious disguise. What follows is a comically-obvious ruse, in which Pinkie tries to convince Anon to give "Meester Notfluutershai" his autograph. While it isn't clear what the actual goal is here, it's clear enough that this is some scheme of Twilight's, and that both Pinkie and Flutters are in on it, so Anon firmly informs them that he's not buying it. He seizes Fluttershy in his manly human hands, and deposits her outside the cabin compartment.

>No, it certainly isn’t. For the past several weeks, Yellowquiet, Squiggletail, and Speedysnooze have all been harassing you to various degrees.
It isn't a huge deal, but I've noticed this author makes rather liberal use of these sorts of nicknames for the ponies. I've said in past reviews that, even when writing fanfiction, it's better to treat your stories as self-contained works that don't require the reader to be intimately familiar with the source material in order to understand what's going on. This goes double when making references to memes, nicknames and in-jokes within a given fan community. There's nothing wrong with referencing that kind of stuff, provided the uninitiated can still follow what's going on.

These nicknames are borderline, since they refer to attributes of these characters that aren't covered in the text itself. For instance, while it's obvious enough which pony "Yellowquiet" is referring to (since the text specifically references Fluttershy's coloring and portrays her as meek and quiet), "Squiggletail" and "Speedysnooze" refer to traits that don't automatically make sense in context. We haven't really spent enough time with Rainbow Dash in this story to know that she likes to nap between bouts of physical activity, and I'm not sure the shape of Rarity's tail has come up at all.

In this specific passage it's basically fine, because the author goes on to clarify in the next paragraph that he is talking about Fluttershy, Rarity and Rainbow Dash respectively. However, I bring it up because there have been a couple of instances where it's been less clear. For instance, in an earlier passage, the text states that Anon is sharing a booth compartment with "Song Smile." When reading this, I took it as a given that the author probably meant Pinkie; however, I also googled "Song Smile" just to make certain he wasn't talking about some obscure background pony.

ANYWAAAAAY, the train is now pulling into Canterlot station. Anon and Pinkie retrieve their belongings, and the scene ends.

Page break. Anon is lying awake in his hotel room. Despite having convinced the Cakes to let Pinkie bunk with them for the night so that he could get some shut-eye, he has been unable to fall asleep. His mind wanders for a few paragraphs, and then he gets up to get a glass of water. However, when he reenters the room, he comes face to face with...Twilight Sparkle.

>in which Pinkie tries to convince Anon to give "Meester Notfluutershai" his autograph.
I think signature one contract kinda deal. "I hereby sign that, I, Anonymous, will revoke the Geas conjured (or wahter) up by former Princess Celestia and submit the rest of my life as the concubine of Princess Purple horse. P.s. I'm massive faggot, huge even."
This is more or less what I assumed.
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Anon is naturally a bit curious as to how Twi is able to appear in front of him, what with the geas and all. As it turns out, it's not the real Twilight but a remarkable simulation. Specifically, he is dealing with some kind of hologram or astral projection that, while not allowing her to touch him, uses a small enough amount of magic that the geas isn't triggered. She explains that the process she used is something something zebras, something something ritual magic, blah blah blah, talk nerdy to me, book-horse.

>“It’s okay, Anon. I expected as much, and I have all the time in the world,” she coos, smiling and spreading her majestic wings. “I just wanted to say thank you. For everything. I found out later that it was you who retrieved the Orb that allowed for my ascension. I knew you always loved me, even if you were reluctant to show it, but this... this was more than I could ever have dreamed. Soon, I’ll be able to return your amazing gift and boundless love in ways you can’t even imagine...”
As with Celestia earlier, it's a little hard to tell if we're meant to take this statement literally or not. Twilight has mostly been a background presence in the story so far; this is the first time we've seen a direct interaction between her and Anon taking place in the present. You could probably read this a couple of different ways. One interpretation is that Twi has gone so crazy with lust that she now literally believes Anon gave Celestia the orb as a way of getting close to her, just as she literally believes that the geas is some kind of test from Celestia. Alternatively, this might just be her way of telling Anon that resistance is futile, so he might as well grease himself up and prepare for one hell of a weekened. Either way, though, the key takeaways here are that Twilight is bat-shit-crazy, and that Celestia made a grave miscalculation in giving her alicorn powers.

Anyway, from here she goes on to explain that the massive hippodrome-type structure he noticed on the ride up is actually some kind of magical sex dungeon, which she intends to lock him in during their honeymoon. She also informs him that she has calculated a seventy-three-point-some-autistic-decimal percent chance the two of them will be married within the next 60 days. So, to summarize: she has some kind of wacky scheme up her sleeve or up whatever she would have in place of a sleeve, there is a roughly 73% chance it will work, and Anon has roughly two months to figure out what it is and prevent it somehow.

With the rapey portion of her monologue more or less out of the way, she now moves on to the geas. In a surprising twist which should surprise absolutely no one, we learn that, while it may have slowed her down, Celestia's spell has ultimately done nothing to deter the Princess of Autism from pursuing Anon. Rather, the challenge has galvanized her, prompting her to spend every waking moment researching it. She claims to have found several exploitable cracks (one of which is the one that is presently allowing her to astral-project into Anon's hotel room). She also rather ominously informs him that, if she can't penetrate the fortress, she will "destroy the mountain, bringing the fortress down with it." At this point she attempts to hologram-tongue-kiss Anon, which kills her spell and causes her image to disappear.

>You close your eyes and picture Celestia in your mind. Never before have you wanted to see Sun Horse again so badly. As the adrenaline begins to leave your body, you focus on her image and finally fall into a fitful sleep.
As others have pointed out, it's odd that Anon didn't ask her to tag along on this trip for precisely this reason.

Anyway, there is a page break, and when the next scene opens, Anon is back at home. This adds to my overall confusion about why the Canterlot trip was even necessary in the first place, since story-wise nothing happened there other than the encounter with Twi. It seems to me that, unless there's some technical reason why Anon would need to be in Canterlot in order for Twilight to astral project herself like that, the scene could have taken place just about anywhere. Also, how did the delivery of the gigantic catering order go? We never heard anything more about that. Seriously, did they have to book multiple booths cabins compartments to hold all those pies? How did they transport them from the train to wherever they were going? This is bugging the crap out of me.

All jokes aside, the whole event was handled rather clumsily, and is my first major gripe about the story so far. It's obvious the catering order was just a flimsy pretext the author came up to bring Anon into Canterlot, and was not important in and of itself. However, if you're going to do something like that, the event in question should at least be plausible. You can't just inform us that the entire staff of Sugar Cube Corner had to take the weekend off to deliver some preposterous number of banana cream pies to Canterlot and not expect anyone to have any questions. Particularly if, for some inexplicable reason, they have decided to travel by train, and would presumably have to rent out an entire private car just to hold all those freaking pies.

In any event, it seems that at least part of the author's rationale for this ill-conceived catering venture was getting Anon out of the house so that Celestia could...fill it with treasure. Anon enters his living room, only to discover that it has somehow been transformed into Uncle Scrooge's money bin in his absence. Celestia informs him that she...did something...to a dragon, and...yada yada yada they now have a bunch of treasure. Alrighty then. And, that's the end of the chapter.
>Hi Anon!
>Here's my plan to rape you ^^
>Now, don't go an tattle to the former Princess of Equestria and my former mentor Celestia that is now your roomie.
>Of course, it's hopeless so don't even bother.
>Just because she has lived at least a thousend years ago, has alicorn magic and is good enough with it to at least lift the sun and knew about this geas thing, I'm sure she can't do anything about this?
>It's not like she could just storm the castle and take the crown away from me, right then and there.
>It's not like the average joe pony would support the traditional and familar face of her next to me.
>It's not like she can go to my parents and easily win them over.
>It's not like I idolize her and would be devastated if she just scolded me.
>She has no leverage whatsoever.
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>Seriously, did they have to book multiple booths cabins compartments to hold all those pies? How did they transport them from the train to wherever they were going? This is bugging the crap out of me.
I think it's a refrence to this episode: https://mlp.fandom.com/wiki/MMMystery_on_the_Friendship_Express
There the mane six help the cakes transport a cake to Canterlot on a Train.
I don't know if this helps but... it's all I got. ^^
Ha ha ha! I don't know what word to use to describe it but why do fanfics find the most awkward moments to talk like that about the show their author watched?

5 - A Step

>You’re a lone, rich man sitting on a couch surrounded by so much dosh that you could probably swim through it like Scrooge McDuck if you wanted to.
Heh. Great minds think alike, it would seem.

Anyway, it looks like Anon can at least scratch money trouble off of his list of woes, because Celestia somehow robbed a dragon's hoard. I'm still a little curious how she managed to pull this off, but we'll put a pin in that for now. The salient point is that she was able to pull it off, which implies that she could have done this at any time. Meaning, Anon has been scrimping and saving while busting his ass in order to support his unemployed roommate, and she's just been letting him do it, in spite of the fact that she could have gone and robbed Equestria's equivalent of Fort Knox any time she wanted. Anon is understandably a bit miffed about the whole thing.

She tries to explain herself, but Anon is apparently in no mood to hear it. He makes a big show of cracking his knuckles and advancing toward her with murderous intent, she makes a big show of cowering in fear, and then the two engage in a long slapstick chase sequence around Ponyville.


>Your pace slows a bit as these unconscious thoughts begin to edge ever closer into your conscious mind’s perception.
This sentence is bad and you should feel bad.

Anyway, Anon chases her around town, and eventually out of town into a nearby meadow. By this time, he's realized that Celestia the all-powerful alicorn is not running away from him because she's genuinely frightened of him, she's doing this because it's fun. He now realizes that he, too, is having fun. He waxes philosophical about the various ways in which Sunbutt's presence has melted his icy heart like a cool island song, and then yada yada yada he catches her.

>And then the moment is broken when, in a burst of speed that surprises the both of you, you tackle her and the two of you go tumbling through the grass in a mass of arms, legs and wings. You come to a stop under the shadow of an apple tree. Celestia gazes up at you with surprised magenta eyes and you stare back down at her as you both pant for breath.
>She lies on her back, forehooves held close to her chest which rises and falls with each breath she takes, and her mane spills out around her head as if she’s fallen into a puddle of pastel colors. Your own two arms support you above her, hands placed just above her spread wings, and you notice several white feathers slowly drifting around you in the wind.
I may just be a few biscuits short of a gravy train, but I'm starting to suspect this won't just be a lighthearted platonic buddy comedy after all.

At this point, Anon has worked enough raw aggression out of his system to be able to express himself verbally. He restates his case a little more calmly, and Celestia explains that, while there were many egregious abuses of her alicorn powers she could have used to solve his money problems much sooner, she really wanted to get a job and work like an honest pony instead. She only resorted to grand larceny when it became clear that Twilight was playing hardball with the work permits. In short, she is basically saying: "I could have conjured up a massive pile of gold to help with my half of the utility bill any time I felt like it, but I wanted to see if McDonalds would call back first." I feel like Anon should still reasonably have a gripe or two here, but we'll put a pin in that for now. It seems her heart was in the right place, at least.

In any event, it seems the treasure is a moot point. Celestia doesn't intend for them to keep it all; robbing the dragon was all part of a convoluted scheme to buy Anon a gift. A gift that is apparently expensive enough to require an entire dragon's hoard worth of gold to pay for inb4 giant stone tiki head in garage. Also, she paid off the mortgage on Anon's house, so that was nice of her. Also, it turns out that she can't rob any more dragons, because reasons:

>Celestia laughs again and shakes her head. “No... I’m afraid there’ll be no more of that. Agamemnon, the dragon whom I confronted, is a bit of a special case. He’s an old stalwart who renounced his clan, so consequently there is no clan to avenge him for having his hoard stolen. Most dragons belong to one of several great clans, and any attack on them is perceived as an attack on the entire house. Fighting a dragon with clan ties would likely result in an all-out war between dragon and ponykind, and Luna would be absolutely livid if I were to cause something like that...”
I'm also assuming that, in the event of a total dragon-pony war, Twilight would be too busy trying to get her rocks off to help with Equestria's defense. I'm really beginning to pity the Luna in this story.

Anon and Celestia yak back and forth for awhile. Anon asks why Celestia wanted to live with him when she could have gone anywhere in Equestria after retirement. The gist of it is that Anon is the only creature she's ever met that doesn't insist on treating her with near-religious deference, so she can let her hair down around him, so to speak. When the conversation concludes, they head home, oblivious to the fact that Rainbow Dash has been spying on them.

Page break. We are once again abruptly transitioned to a third-person perspective. Twilight and her friends are gathered in the throne room at Canterlot. Twilight receives a report on Celestia's recent treasure-acquisition, as well as the fact that Anon's house is now paid off. The news seems to upset her; it appears that bankrupting Anon was a crucial part of her plan.
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>Twilight Sparkle falls back on her haunches, her crown tilting a bit as her mane and tail begin to become frazzled once again.
>“I can’t believe it,” she gasps. “I was certain I had her in checkmate! All my observations of her past behavior and the historical records never pointed to ANY kind of extreme action like this with the exception of Luna’s banishment...” She starts to chew one of her hooves with worry. “It looks like I completely underestimated you, Teacher... I’ll need to adjust my plans accordingly...”
Maybe Celestia knows what she's doing after all. When your enemy can predict your moves, become unpredictable. t. Sun Tzu probably.

Anyway, we are now given a little more insight into what Twilight's plan might entail. Celestia's geas seems to be powered by surprise surprise friendship, specifically the friendship between Anon and Celestia. The stronger the bond between them, the stronger the geas becomes. Twilight appears to have been planning to drive a wedge between them and thus weaken the geas to the point that she could attack it with brute force and then break it. Making Celestia unemployable, so that she would mooch off Anon and drive him crazy, appears to have been part of this. Presumably the desired end was for Celestia to eat Anon out of hearth and home, forcing him to evict her. Failing that, he might allow her to stay, but would eventually resent her to the point that their bond would weaken anyway, thus leading to the same end.

>Tears begin to fall down the pretty Princess’ face as Rarity trots over to comfort her.
no commentary, I just like this song.

Twilight spergs out for awhile, trying to rework her magical sex equation so that it ends in a little wakka chicka wokka chicka, but she just can't get the gosh-durned algebra to balance out. Rarity attempts to comfort her by reminding her that she's a Princess now, and can probably marry anyone she wants. Twilight breaks down crying and confesses that, when she was a filly, she used to read fairy-stories about princes and princesses being brought together by destiny. Growing up as an autistic bookworm meant that she never really managed to date anyone of her own species, but when Anon arrived in Equestria, everything changed:

>“Even though I know it sounds silly, and even though it’s completely irrational, I… nopony… knows how he was brought here, and I think that maybe… maybe it’s destiny at work, just like in the old stories. That’s why I know he loves me. I can feel it! He’s just afraid to show it, but I know it’s there… and I know I can bring it to the surface if I keep trying! None of the heroines of those stories ever gave up, and neither will I!”
In it's own autismo way, this is actually somewhat touching. It's a pity she never internalized the concept of "dial it back a bit."

Anyway, her friends move in to comfort her and reassure her that they are with her all the way on this insane venture, particularly Fluttershy, who seems weirdly invested in this on a personal level I still think she secretly gets off on the idea of her friends getting railed by mythical creatures. Twilight thanks them and assures them that no matter what happens they will always be friends. The mention of friendship segues into her latest "eureka" moment, and gives her a new idea on how to break the geas, though we are kept in the dark on it for now. The scene fades out.

Page break. We are still in third person, but the perspective now shifts to Celestia's point of view. Anon is sleeping, Celestia watches him sleep for a bit, she leans in to give him a kiss, then backs off when he snorts and stirs a bit. The scene is short, but it basically provides confirmation of what we already suspected: Celestia's interest in Anon is more than platonic. However, unlike Twilight, she is willing to content herself with mere friendship, at least for now. The chapter ends here.

6 - Snow Day

Time has once again moved forward. We rejoin Anon in his living room, enjoying a comfy snowy morning.

>You hear some shuffling from behind you, followed by a bang and a groan as Sun Horse rolls off the couch and into the floor
Sun Horse rolls onto the floor.

Anyway, not a ton happens in this scene. It is, however, quite comfy and I would encourage you to read it yourself if you are following along. The main takeaway is that, while Twilight has not made any inappropriate advances lately and life has been good, the two-month period leading up the marriage Twilight insists will happen is nearly up, and Anon is growing increasingly anxious about what she's got up her sleeve or wherever.

Page break. Later that day, Anon is sitting in the living room reading a book. Sunbutt bursts in, announces that they are out of cupcakes, and asks if he will go with her to Sugar Cube Corner. Anon doesn't want to go out in a blizzard, but Celestia insists, offering to allow him to ride on her back. Anon eventually relents, and the two of them set off.

>It’s like being in an inside-out snow globe. An invisible magical sphere surrounds you, keeping the blizzard at bay. The falling snow cascades around the barrier in a mesmerizing chaotic dance. The chilling wind no longer reaches you and the sound of the storm is muted. You can barely see anything past the barrier... it’s as if you’ve stepped outside the world itself and into a place created for the two of you alone.
This guy occasionally writes some pretty nice paragraphs. I haven't highlighted all of them, but there are quite a few in here that are like this. The prose in this story overall isn't remarkably good or remarkably bad, (which for fimfiction is the same as saying it's good), but it's clear that this guy can write some nice description when he sets his mind to it.
That episode had crossed my mind, actually. I more or less assumed the author was going for something like this, but I maintain that logistically speaking, a passenger train is a very silly way to transport a large catering order.

Also, there are some other things worth pointing out. In the episode, while a large number of desserts are indeed being transported, the desserts are for a contest in which several passengers are participating. Each participant is only responsible for one dessert, not an entire train full of desserts. More significantly, both the desserts and the train are central to the plot of that episode.

The "Friendship Express" episode is a loose parody of "Murder on the Orient Express" by Agatha Christie, where instead of a murder, the crime is someone going around taking bites of the various desserts. In order for this setup to work, there have to be desserts and the story has to take place on a train inb4 Samuel L. Jackson is sick of all these motherfuckin cakes on this motherfuckin train.

In this story, however, both the cakes and the train are superfluous. The focus of the chapter is on something that happens to Anon while in Canterlot, so all the author really needs is for Anon to be in Canterlot for some reason. Why specifically he's there and how specifically he gets there aren't really important, so if the author chooses an implausible reason and an implausible mode of transport it just makes the situation feel contrived. Moreover, it has the potential to distract the reader and make them focus on the wrong details. For example, I've spent more time on the logistics of transporting motherfuckin cakes on a motherfuckin train than I have on Twilight's revelation to Anon, which is supposed to be the focus of the event.
i poosted :) in the thread:)
Does this also repeat the mistake made in Fallout Equestria where the author hyperfocused on superfluous details (Tenpony Tower logistics, the rich selling luxuries to get scavenged pre-war money to give to scavengers who kill raiders for 200 year old cans of baked beans, trains on train tracks with a working steam whistle yet pulled by horses in a world sometimes without steam power, sometimes with modern construction equipments and hydroelectric dams and a deadly fucking death ramp of doom straight out of No More Heroes in the middle of Ponyville) yet his attempts to insert his headcanons that excuse this strangeness are so fucking gay they hurt the story and would be better off removed?
Yes, I see that. Very nice job!
Jesus Christ, this is all one sentence, isn't it?

Anyway, to answer your question, it's not really the same issue. In this case, the author has a relatively simple problem to solve in that he needs to get Anon to Canterlot somehow, and he's chosen a weird and complicated way of handling it. The real issue is that, for reasons pointed out here >>366814 , Canterlot is a place Anon would logically want to steer clear of to begin with. The author probably realizes this, so he just cooked up something fairly silly as a pretext for having him spend the night there. Even though the story isn't meant to be taken all that seriously, the pretext he chose is still flimsy and implausible. Plus, it unnecessarily complicates things, since now we have a new story thread: Anon is supposed to deliver this gigantic catering order to some hotel. Since we never actually see him do this and nothing more is said about it after he encounters Twilight, the matter is left unresolved and feels like exactly what it is: a flimsy pretext to force a character into a situation he wouldn't logically put himself in. A simpler solution would just be to have the scene take place somewhere else, or to have Twilight come to Ponyville as Sven suggested.

The FoE example is more an issue of the author prioritizing references over having a logical and consistent setting. The economics of Tenpony Tower never made any sense; it was just another Fallout reference that was clumsily wedged into the story without proper thought. The train thing was probably done to reference this visual gag from the show, which in the author's defense doesn't make much sense in the show, either. However, in the show it was probably just done to be silly and cartoony. Having ponies pull train cars along the tracks instead of using the engine makes sense in a post-industrial setting where the resources needed to run a train are no longer available. However, it makes absolutely no sense for the ponies to pull the locomotive along with the freight cars, since it's heavy and serves no purpose. The author's excuse, that they bring the engine so they can use the steam whistle, just proves that he has no clue how steam engines work.

To summarize: in the case of this story, the author came up with a clumsy solution to solve a legitimate narrative problem. In the case of Tenpony Tower, the author wanted to reference something from the Fallout game that could have worked in his story if he'd put a tiny bit more thought into how it could be adapted. In the case of the train, the author is trying to headcanon some random detail from the show that made no sense in the first place, and had no reason to be in his story; in other words, he's trying to answer a question that nobody asked.
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Why do you think bronies tend to have that "Shoving headcanoned awkward contrived Voodoo Shark level answers to retarded nerdy questions nobody asked into an unrelated story even if it overcomplicates things and causes entirely avoidable problems" problem? This guy does it, Kkat does it, Past Sins probably did it, and I don't remember if the human knight story or Chatty's ID: Indestructible Dumbass did it.

This isn't filling in the blanks for the sake of worldbuilding details that will be vital later, like adding multiple countries and races and continents to Planet Equestria, or foreshadowing while providing a logical excuse for why psychic alicorns cannot detect Zebras. This is purely a nerd flexing for his nerd audience, like putting retarded fanmade names and the appearances of background ponies on side characters when you could have saved time just inventing an OC to fill that role. Or writing a retarded plan involving memory loss and lying to the audience and offscreen bullshit that breaks suspension of disbelief like talking a villain into giving you the nuke he's threatening you with so you can give it to your zigger friend who has an invisibility cloak and convenient immunity to mind reading. Shit man at that point just give the nuke to a suicidal stealthy robot, being unable to psychically detect robots makes more sense than zebras acting like Dark-Type Pokemon.

It's like all these authors view writing primarily as a chance to personally show off how smart they think they sound when they pull this shit even if they completely fuck up what they were going for. Like crap Hollywood writers, but with less grace.
<Tears begin to fall down the pretty Princess’ face
Oh, boo hoo hoo.

Look Twi, I can related to wanting to being rapey. I think we all been young. However, I must mention the elephant in the room: What if the situations were reversed?

When I made a scheme to rape my childhood sweet-heart and failed, none of my friend s neither helped or contacted me after I went to jail. They probably only copied my homeworked for themselves.

Check ur horse priviledge!

>It's like all these authors view writing primarily as a chance to personally show off how smart they think they sound when they pull this shit even if they completely fuck up what they were going for.

(But I can relate to your sentiment, I think anyway.)
just a lil bantz
Considering my inspirations when I wrote shit pony fanfiction as a teenager, and what I included specifically because it's what bronies seemed to love, I'm amazed my shit fimfics weren't worse. I still can't believe I used to write dialogue like a Videogame Dialogue Tree where "What do you think about x?" starts a long-winded rehearsed monologue about that followed by a return to the dialogue menu where you can ask about something else and get another monologue.

I think once I started compromising on what I wanted to write (Romance story where OP smug git learns power is less important than love and being a loved ponyville citizen and good dad is better than being a powerful OP lonely rich cunt in canterlot) with what people seemed to really fucking love seeing (the OP smug git protag is always right, all the bitches love him, he has a sick hoverboard and is good at everything, any male rivals exist to make the protag look superior instead of making him look inferior and in need of growth, and he has fight scenes with Team Rocket-esque baddies over superpower-granting items because a proof-reader called romance without fight scenes boring) artistic integrity went out the window. To say it was a child's attempt at being creative would be an insult to all those 9 year old violin prodigies with 6 years of professional training under their belts. I'm no writing prodigy. It was definitely amateur writing.
This is a thread for discussing Exchange by getmeouttahere, not previously reviewed stories or stories you have written or are working on. A little side banter is fine, but please do not turn this into another Nigel's Blog Thread.
Thank you.

Celestia confesses to Anon that she has been self-conscious about her height from a young age. She also confesses that, ever since Anon told her about the way humans ride horses in his world, she's wanted to try this arrangement out. Anon realizes that he feels the same way. So, the situation works out well for both of them.

This riding scene is actually pretty well executed and comfy; again, I'd encourage you to read it on your own, as I can't really summarize it in a way that would do it justice. The long and short of it is, they make it to Sugar Cube Corner, have something of a moment together, and then Pinkie Pie shows up and ruins it. She hands them a box of cupcakes she had prepared for them, claiming that she had a premonition that they would need some.

Ponk also delivers a somewhat ominous warning:
>“Snow isn’t the only thing that’s gonna fall today, Non-non. You should get Celly home.”

Anon decides to heed her advice. They take their cupcakes and gallop off into the snow, and the chapter ends here. Again, not a ton here going on in the way of action, but all in all this was a comfy and well-executed chapter.

7 - Encounter

Anon and Celestia return home the same way they came, one box of cupcakes the richer. Anon continues to enjoy riding on Celestia's back.

>Damn, Anon, haven’t you outgrown stuff like this yet? Or maybe we never really do, considering the giddy millennia’s-old co-conspirator by your side.
"Millennia" is already plural, so there is no need to add an 's'.

Anyway, they prance merrily through the snow, until suddenly their passage is blocked by...Twilight Sparkle.


Celestia is momentarily startled, but figures out quickly that Twilight is just astral-projecting herself. They greet each other amicably, both pointedly avoiding any mention or acknowledgement of Anon. Twilight tells Celly she wishes to deliver a friendship report for old times' sake, an idea which delights Celestia. However, the content of the report changes the tone of the conversation:

>She stops her pacing and looks the white alicorn in the eyes with sincerity. “…And you have. Overcoming the Geas on Anon has been one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever faced, but with the help of my friends I’ve finally done it, and from that experience I’ve grown. I’m here to show you the fruits of your tutelage and guidance.”
Celestia seems genuinely surprised that Twilight interpreted the Geas this way again, if there is one weakness in her portrayal in this story, it's that she logically should have seen all of this coming a hundred miles away, but w/e, and tries to explain that it was not a test, but is essentially Equestria's version of a restraining order. However, Twilight cuts her off.

In typical autismo-Twilight fashion, she goes off on a long-winded explanation of how she was able to figure out the Geas. She explains that, by having her friends perform various actions in proximity to Anon, she was able to determine how close she is able to get, under what circumstances, and to what degree she is able to indirectly use magic against him. The tl;dr is more or less what we suspected: the Geas is powered by the friendship between Celestia and Anon, and the closer they are to each other emotionally, the stronger its repellant effect on Twilight.

Anyway, in a turn of events that is no surprise to us, but for some reason is a surprise to the 1000 year old all-powerful alicorn who has personally tutored this pony from foalhood, we now receive final confirmation that Twilight has gone 100%-certified batshit whack-a-doo. It seems that lust, combined with Twilight's natural autism, has transformed this pony into a horny lunatic driven by a single all-consuming obsession with Anon's ding-dong sort of a "Moby Dick" situation, if you follow me. Absolutely nothing is sacred to her anymore: not her friends, not Celestia, not even Anon himself; the only thing she cares about is getting her hooves on that sweet, sweet candy.

We soon bear witness to just how far gone she really is. After loudly proclaiming that she has solved the puzzle, she turns her attention to the heavens. After a comedically drawn-out pause...Rarity suddenly comes crashing down from the sky, and smashes into Anon's house, destroying the house in an explosion of magic and apparently killing Rarity. It does not appear that Rarity was a willing participant in the event.

Meanwhile, Twilight launches into another long, autismo explanation of what she's done. The long and short of it is that, by linking Anon to herself via the Geas, from a magical standpoint Anon and Celestia are now the same entity. Likewise, should Twilight cast a similar Geas on any other pony, that pony would, in effect, have the same magical signature that she does. Thus, any pony affected by Twilight's Geas would be repelled by Celestia's Geas. So, hypothetically, if she were to cast a Geas on one of her friends that was designed to repel Celestia, it would produce a double-whammy effect and...yada yada yada, it's magic and I ain't gotta explain shit. Bottom line is, magically speaking, Anon and Celestia are one and the same due to the Geas, and Twilight has figured out that by casting a similar Geas on her friends and lobbing them at Anonalestia like bombs, she can attempt to overcharge the magic in the Geas and break it through brute force. Yes, Twilight is actually this crazy.

Suffice it to say that Celestia is horrified by this flagrant abuse of both friendship and magic. Anon is equally incensed. He bluntly informs her that his Moby Dick was well beyond her reach even before she started using her friends as projectile weapons; after this callous display, she's pretty much got a snowball's chance in hell. However, we learn that Twi is only somewhat less evil than she seems. She didn't actually kill Rarity; it was just a clone of her she made in the mirror pool.
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>Again, she lands near the two of you. “It’d be more accurate to say that I’m killing clones of my friends. There’s a little pond in the Everfree called the Mirror Pool... very convenient for creating an army of expendable clones which I can enchant with a Geas and detonate without worry. Everypony knows that since the Bon Bon population control act of 1131 was ratified, clones aren’t really ponies. They’re technically autonomous magical constructs, and can thus be destroyed indiscriminately with no repercussions!”
My understanding was that clones are treated as three-fifths of a pony. Or maybe that's zebras; I'm a little hazy on Equestrian law.

Anyway, Celestia (finally) realizes that she might have made a serious mistake in giving Twilight's crazy ass unlimited cosmic power. Twilight is unperturbed by any of her accusations; it's unclear whether she's legitimately oblivious to her teacher's concerns, or if she just plain doesn't care anymore. Either way, she is clearly not backing down.

Twilight lobs some more Rarity-bombs at them, forcing Celestia to adopt evasive maneuvers, teleporting the two of them into the sky and flying away. They are pursued by a series of Rainbow Dash clones, who keep trying to Allahu Akbar them from all sides.

A decently-executed chase scene follows. Yada yada yada, eventually Anon and Celly get away.

Page break. Anon and Celestia land in a snowy field somewhere. It seems they have finally escaped. And then, suddenly, they are confronted by...Twilight Sparkle.


An exhausted Anon begs her to just leave him the fuck alone already. He does not love her, he never loved her, he is never going to love her, so won't she please just fuck off? Twilight just laughs this off, and tells him that he just doesn't realize that he loves her yet, and that he will learn the error of his ways after a few nights with her. Besides, why should she give up now when she has already won? Anon looks down and, to his horror, sees that a Fluttershy clone is clinging to his leg. Twilight informs Celestia that she will detonate the clone on command.

Undaunted, Celestia tells Twilight that it's time to stop. The Geas was not a test for her, it was a protection spell she cast at Anon's request.

We now see that Twilight probably understood this on some level all along, as well as the fact that Anon wasn't interested. She has thus far kept her poor little heart from breaking by huffing unhealthy amounts of copium. Now that copium can no longer sustain her, she completely flips her shit:

>“DON’T YOU DARE SPEW THAT GARBAGE ABOUT NOT LIKING PONIES AT ME!” Twilight’s Royal Canterlot Voice rings out across the field, scaring the sparse few winter birds from their nests. “I’ve watched you through my friends, Anon. They’ve told me how you look at her.” She turns to Celestia, her breathing ragged. “And they’ve told me how you look at him. Tell me... was it all part of the plan to strengthen the Geas, or did you really start to fall for him? Or maybe you just wanted to hurt me as much as possible by taking something else precious to me away!!”
I'll repeat that for the most part, characterization in this story is well handled. Up until now, we've mostly seen Twilight as this crazy, obsessive antagonist who is willing to callously destroy anything or anyone she perceives as standing between her and her goal. This initially comes across as just willful obliviousness, but here we see that she is acting out of genuine hurt. Deep down, she probably understood all along that Anon wasn't interested, even though she had built up this autismo fantasy about how the two of them are destined to be together. What's more, she has clearly noticed that Celestia is also interested in Anon, and what's more, Anon seems to be reciprocating her interest, even if he doesn't actually realize it yet. Being thrown over by Anon is painful enough; being thrown over in favor of Celestia is far worse. The matter is complicated by the fact that she loves and respects Celestia as a mentor, teacher, mother figure, etc. From Twilight's perspective, this is a pretty serious betrayal: Celestia is someone she admires and wants to emulate, but now she's suddenly become a romantic rival. Losing Anon to Celestia just reinforces how inadequate she feels compared to her mentor. The effect is maybe comparable to how Sweetie Belle might feel if a colt she had a crush on developed a crush on Rarity instead.

What's interesting about this is that, although Twilight is clearly cast as the villain in this story and we are supposed to be rooting against her, Celestia is not above reproach here. I don't get the impression that she intentionally did anything to hurt Twilight, but her actions so far have been pretty irresponsible. She wanted to abdicate her throne, and used Twilight's crush on Anon to manipulate him into bringing her the Orb. Then, she dumped her responsibilities on Twilight (and Luna) and ran off to live with Anon, adding insult to injury by casting this spell that prevented Twilight from coming near him. Again, her motivations were not malicious; she'd been a Princess for a thousand years and just wanted the chance to live a carefree life for awhile, which is understandable. It was also clear enough that Twilight's advances made Anon uncomfortable. However, Celestia completely failed to take Twilight's feelings into consideration (Luna's too, for that matter). Twilight is still young and immature, and while her actions may be a little beyond the pale, we can at least see where she's coming from. Celestia by contrast is supposed to be the adult in the room; she should have anticipated this as a possible outcome. Her biggest sin is underestimating the depth of Twilight's feelings: she assumed that this was just an immature crush and she'd get over it quickly. Twilight clearly feels differently, and clearly doesn't appreciate being treated this way.
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So are we at the climax of the story already? I thought the bulk of the story would be Anon and Celestia slowly falling in love with each other as Twilight executes schemes to break them apart. Kinda like a monster-of-the-week show but with plots instead of monsters. So like one episode Celly and Anon argue with each other because they think the other did something wrong but it was actually Twilight that caused it the whole time unbeknownst to them but in the end of the chapter or arc they decide to forgive each other because no one meant any harm kinda deal.
>So are we at the climax of the story already?
No, it's not episodic and this is just the beginning of the story. IIRC, this is right about where the story begins to pick up.

Mind you, this story's a massive, TCB-tier doorstopper of an autistic fanfiction, but written a fair bit better than most of that garbage.
I get the impression that most of what we've read has been expository so far.
>“ENOUGH!” she screams. “I don’t want to hear it. I still respect you, Celestia, and I’m still grateful. But you’ve LOST THIS GAME and now it’s time for you to bow out gracefully. You gave him to me when you gave me the crown and I will not be denied!”
>The white alicorn’s eyes narrow. “I will not. Anonymous is not a prize to be won, or some sovereign entitlement to claim. He’s a noble, living creature and he is precious to me too.”
Twilight is being pretty cunty here and this is probably the right response, but Celly is only dumping fuel on the fire at this point. This whole situation could have been nipped in the bud if she'd employed a tiny bit of common sense of course, if she'd done that we wouldn't have a story in the first place.

Anyway, it seems that Twilight still has an ace up her sleeve (or wherever; I should probably find an idiom that works a little better in Horseworld https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mY9gVIcRkkI ). She invokes "override protocol: bluejay", and suddenly stuff starts to happen. The flutterbomb still attached to Anon's leg explodes, and then there's an even bigger explosion in which Celestia herself seems to explode. When everything is done exploding, Anon finds that something strange has happened to Celestia:

>At last, your hands find a matted fur coat and with a heave you manage to free her upper body from the compacted earth. But the pony before you looks so different... gone is her great multicolored mane, now replaced by dirtied and much shorter strawberry-colored hair. She seems a tiny bit smaller, too, but thankfully still seems to be breathing. Between the white coat, strawberry hair, and brown patches of dirt that still cling to her, she almost looks like a bucket of that Neapolitan ice cream she likes so much…
The long and short of this seems to be that, through some chain of magical autism, Celestia has had her magic negated and has been bumped back down to normie status:

>“She was bombarded by the last of my overcharged Geas weapons, designed to be the antithesis of her own magic. When she wakes up, she’ll probably be on the level of an average unicorn, if even that. She’ll fully recover in time... in two hundred... maybe five hundred years or so. It’s unfortunate, but without her cooperation there was no other way to break her Geas, Anon…”
The text doesn't specify whether or not she is still an alicorn. I'm guessing yes, but her powers are significantly reduced now.

Anyway, it turns out that, in a noble gesture of kind-of self-sacrifice, Celestia pumped a bunch of extra magic into the Geas armbands that Anon wears don't know if I mentioned this or not, but that's part of the spell, but according to Twilight, it's only enough magic to last two days. After that, the Geas will be completely destroyed. Then, Twilight plans on whisking Anon away to her rape-stadium, where she will proceed to do unspeakable things to his presumably virgin body.

Page break. Anon takes the unconscious Celestia to the glue factory hospital, and stays with her until the end of visiting hours. He then wanders around town, feeling lower than a bow-legged caterpillar, musing upon how he is now homeless and destitute (not sure if homeowner's insurance is a thing in Equestria).

Suddenly, he is approached by Applejack:

>You lift your head to see Applejack standing in front of you wearing an apple themed scarf and her classic Stetson hat.
Technically, Stetson is a brand name that wouldn't exist in this setting. I'm inclined to give the author a pass here since there's not really a 100% in-world way to describe the style of hat AJ wears. "Cowboy hat" would be the appropriate generic term, but cowboys don't really exist in this world either...

>“Heard there was a lotta commotion in town today. Mac said he saw bright lights ‘n whatnot flashin’ in the distance a little after noon.”
Twilight blew up Anon's house, and the aftermath of the blast she used to take out Celestia is described as "a crater so large it's taken out a portion of the lake and forest with it." Even considering that the Apples live a good distance from town, this seems like a pretty major event that would be visible from a good distance away; referring to it as "a lotta commotion" feels like a bit of an understatement.

Anyway, after some light banter, AJ informs him that she is here to deliver the mysterious 15 million bit "gift" that Celestia mentioned earlier on, the one she'd paid for with dragon treasure. At first, Anon is confused about what exactly his "roomie" purchased for him. AJ tells him to look up.

>There’s an airship hovering above Ponyville. But it’s not just any airship. It’s huge, like those rich pony yachts you’d see floating around the larger cities from time to time when you visited.
I understand this is meant to be a gag, but this also feels like something that would be pretty hard to miss.

Anyway, long story short Celestia bought Anon his very own airship.

Page break. AJ takes Anon back to Sweet Apple Acres, where there is space to land the airship. They climb aboard, and she shows him the interior. It's basically your standard Final Fantasy style airship: sort of a combination flying fortress and luxury yacht, complete with living quarters. I'm a little curious about the logistics here; I never knew the Apples were in the airship business, although it sounds like the actual construction was handled by one of the remote branches of the family. They're a large family and they seem pretty mechanically inclined; it's probably plausible that they might have relatives who could build something like this. I will admit that "Celestia buys Anon his very own airship" was not one of the turns I was expecting this story to take, but I'm willing to allow it for now. Let's see where this goes.

Anyway, he wanders around and explores the airship, then finds that Celestia has left him a nice letter and a complimentary fruit basket.

While he is reading the letter, he is suddenly approached from behind by Celestia, who has discharged herself from the hospital. He naturally thanks her, but says he's uncomfortable accepting such an extravagant gift. However, Celestia seems to have made this purchase with more in mind than just thanking Anon for his hospitality.

>She trots with you into the living area. “If you can’t accept it as a gift, then think of it as an exchange, Anon.

Anyway, she tells Anon that she needs him to go on a journey with her, apparently somewhere far enough away that they will require an airship to get there. Since Anon has a pretty good incentive to get the fudge out of Equestria sometime in the next two days, he agrees. The two of them decide to go have dinner with the Apple family, and the chapter ends here.

8 - Departure

Despite the fact that there are only two of them and this ship apparently has plenty of bedrooms, Anon and Celestia have a long drawn out argument over where Celestia is going to sleep. Anon insists she take the bed in his room, she insists that she will take one of the guest rooms, eventually Anon's insistence wins out. Anon excuses himself so that he can go read the instruction manual for the airship before their big trip tomorrow. Celestia requests that Anon stay with her for the night, because she's still injured and horny. There is some mild romantic tension, that teases at their developing relationship but doesn't go anywhere, and then Celestia drifts off to sleep while Anon lies next to her in bed reading the manual.

Page break. After a few hours of trying to teach himself how to fly what is essentially an airborne ocean liner by cramming the entire owner's manual in one night, Anon finally gives up and decides to just wing it tomorrow:

>You’re fairly certain you can fly the ship with some practice. The controls are straightforward (And interestingly enough primarily designed for human hands— she thought of everything!), and you’ve played enough videogames in your lifetime to have a general idea of how this kind of stuff works…
Ask the guys on that Titanic-viewing expedition how well that approach tends to work out. Seriously, you'd think for 15 million bits Celestia could have hired a pilot for this thing; maybe a grizzled old sea-captain pony, with a pegleg and an eyepatch and a wise-cracking parrot on his shoulder. Someone who goes "arrrgh" a lot, and could add a little extra color to their long voyage.

Anyway, Anon drifts off eventually, and finds himself in a dream world. Princess Luna is there, and while he hasn't spent much time interacting with her (he's actually rather intimidated by her), he agrees to go along for a chat.

Princess Luna conveniently explains what Celestia plans to do. Apparently, she needs to travel to a place called "The Cradle" in order to restore her alicorn power, so that she can repower the Geas and protect Anon's virginity from Purplerape. There is a glaring logical hole here that is worth pointing out:

Celestia gives two main reasons for why she bought Anon the airship. The first reason is sentimental: he is always talking about how much he enjoyed mountain climbing on Earth, and she wanted to give him a way to reexperience the feeling of being above the clouds. A sweet gesture, but an airship seems a bit much; that's like buying someone their own yacht because they told you they like going to the ocean. The second reason is practical: it involves this long, mysterious journey they need to undertake. However, Celestia stole the treasure hoard and put in the order for the ship roughly a month and a half ago; Twilight didn't fuck up the Geas until today. Celestia appeared genuinely surprised when Twilight revealed just how far she had been willing to go in order to break the spell, and up until that point Celly seemed pretty confident the spell would keep Twilight at bay. She had no reason to go to The Cradle before today, and thus no reason to order the construction of an airship. Like the trip to Canterlot earlier, Celestia's reasons for commissioning the ship feel contrived, and this whole plotline feels like it was rather clumsily slapped together.

Anyway, it turns out that "The Cradle" is a place Anon has already been: it's the place where he retrieved the Orb of Ascension. He knows it as Equus, the Lost Island. It's apparently some kind of origin point for the world's magic, and for some reason alicorns can't go there. This probably explains why Celestia had to send Anon to retrieve the orb, since she would not have been able to get it for herself. Conveniently enough, this also means that Twilight can't follow him there, so assuming he can make it to the island in one piece, he should be safe from her rapey autism for a little while longer.

However, this will not be a walk in the park. Anon had to undergo many trials in order to retrieve the Orb of Ascension the first time around, and he's not looking forward to going through all of that again. However, if it saves him from Princess Autismo, he's willing to endure it. He just needs to have one minor plot point cleared up before he can exit the dream: how exactly is he supposed to take Celestia to the forbidden island if she's an alicorn and alicorns can't set foot hoof, whatever on the island? Well, fortunately, the author has an answer for that one: it turns out that Celestia isn't technically an alicorn anymore.

>Anonymous, make no mistake. Sister still has wings and a horn, but these things alone do not make an alicorn. As she is now, she is beneath the magic of even a lowborn such as Niece Cadance. Equus shall not reject her in this state.
kek, nice burn on Cadance. These alicorns sure like to take swipes at each other.

>Hear us well, Anonymous. That we have been able to so easily discern Sister’s plans is not due to the fact that we have known each other all our long lives. They are apparent to anypony with the foresight to consider the options available, and this includes Twilight Sparkle. She is content to wait in Canterlot for your Geas to expire because she believes you have no way of reaching Equus in time. But if word were to come that you were in possession of an airship capable of making the journey, we can safely say she will spare nothing in pursuit of you. That is the message we came to deliver this night.
There is a bit of a logic hole here as well. Again, it sounds like this airship is bucking huge, and Big Mac and Apple Bloom were flying it around over Ponyville earlier, plus it had to be flown all the way here from wherever it was built. While AJ has recused herself from participating in Twilight's lunatic schemes, her other friends still live in town. We saw Pinkie Pie earlier today, so we know for a fact she was nearby and could plausibly have seen this ginormous thing. It's probably safe to say that word of this will get back to Twilight in relatively short order. Also: Twi is pretty detail-oriented, and it seems like a commission placed for an aircraft of this size is something that would have made its down the grapevine to her at some point over the last month. There has to at least be a licensing process or something that would need to go through government channels.

Anyway, after this, there is some discussion of royal politics. The gist of it is that Luna is still pretty angry with her sister for dumping this bowl of shit in her lap or whatever horses have instead of laps; I really need some new idioms, but at the same time she loves her sister and can appreciate that she just wants to find her own happiness. As such, she is willing to help Anon and Celestia escape, and do whatever she can to keep a lid on Twilight's autism. However, the situation is complicated by the fact that technically, she and Twilight are equals now. The way Equestria's wacky diarchy is designed, neither Princess has the authority to override the other, and in the event that the two disagree on some matter of policy, it has to be voted upon by a council of nobles. There are some flies in the ointment here as well: Luna has been away for the past 1000 years, and most of the nobles either don't know her that well or still think of her as Nightmare Moon. By contrast, the Sparkle family has been part of the Canterlot elite for centuries, and most of the nobles know and like Twilight.

While Luna promises that she will do her utmost to cockblock Twilight, her resources are limited. So, she advises Anon to depart no later than noon tomorrow.

>Princess Sparkle has eyes and ears everywhere and Sister’s gift won’t remain hidden from her for long.
That it's remained hidden for as long as it has is nothing short of a miracle. Maybe I'm overestimating the size of this thing, but from the way it's described I'm envisioning something like pic related: basically an ostentatious, airborne Carnival Cruise ship. Not exactly a low-profile means of conveyance.

Anyway, Luna concludes by offering him the standard pre-quest spooky dream warning: be on your guard, look after her sister, don't take any wooden nickels, etc. Then, the dream ends.

Page break. Anon wakes up to discover that it's now morning, he never finished reading the owner's manual for the Starship Titanic, and that sometime during the night, he inadvertently started spooning Sun Horse. To his embarrassment, he also discovers that Apple Bloom has stopped by to invite them to breakfast.

Yada yada yada they wake up, agree to join the Apples for breakfast, and climb out of bed to get themselves ready. Anon catches himself noticing the shape of Sunbutt's posterior, which strikes him as passing strange since he totally isn't into horse that way, but he snaps himself out of it. On the way downstairs, they discuss their plans. He tells him about the dream he had and his conversation with Luna.

>Speaking of Twilight, how did the reading go? Do you think you can pilot the ship now?”
>“Uh... probably?”
>She laughs. “That’s not very reassuring. But you told me before that you’re a more... ‘hands on’ learner, right? I’m sure it’ll come to you when needed.”
Celestia's whole "fly by the seat of your pants or whatever horses would have; it's amazing how poorly most human idioms translate into Horseworld" attitude hasn't led them astray so far, so what could possibly go wrong?

They arrive at the farmhouse and sit down for breakfast. We get a brief introduction to the members of the Apple family.

>But perhaps the most surprising of all is Big Macintosh. He seems fairly straightforward at first glance: not much of a talker, built like a brick shithouse, does his job quickly and efficiently, and probably smarter than he lets on. But last night at dinner you learned that this pony is a HUGE. FUCKIN’. NERD.
>Seriously. The best thing you can compare him to are those train geeks back on Earth you’ve seen from time to time on TV. You know the ones that own like every model of toy train ever made and can tell you everything about them down to what size bolt holds a particular piece of the engine in place? That’s Big Macintosh, except instead of trains, it’s airships.
This actually answers an earlier question I had. Again, I generally approve of the characterization in this story. While there isn't really anything in the show canon to suggest the Apple Family might be involved in the construction and sale of airships, headcanoning Big Mac into an airship otaku is plausible and works for this story. The idea is in line with his general canon personality as well.

Anyway, they talk for a bit, and Big Mac offers to give Anon some quick flight lessons before they head out. Anon thinks that sounds just super, so they head back to the ship.
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There is a page break, and we rejoin Anon, Celestia and Big Mac a few hours later. Big Mac has finished showing Anon how to fly the ship, and he seems to have developed enough of a basic proficiency to not get them killed.

>You’ve spent the past several hours practicing basic flight. Mac was even kind enough to give you a technical tour of the engine room and explain how all the various systems work together to keep the ship afloat. His knowledge of this stuff really is uncanny.
I'm sure he has chores and stuff to do and maybe the family can't spare him, but it seems like the author should have at least considered having Big Mac tag along as the airship pilot on this adventure. Celestia had more than enough treasure to compensate him for his time, and it would be nice to add a few more personalities to the group. Anon and Celestia have a pretty good dynamic together, but I'm not sure it will be enough to carry the story for another 18 chapters.

If I had been writing this, I probably would have had Celestia hire Big Mac to be a combination Pilot and Mechanic for the duration of the journey, instead of just giving Anon a crash-course on the basics and expecting him to pick it up as they go. I'm sure a gigantic bag of gold doubloons would have been more than enough to compensate the Apple family for the loss of manpower horsepower?, so it wouldn't be that implausible of a development. Meanwhile, Apple Bloom, who is clearly interested in the airship, would want to tag along as an assistant. Big Mac would of course say no, but she would probably stow away somewhere. Better yet, all three crusaders could stow away somewhere, only to be discovered when the ship is already underway and it's too late to turn back. AJ could even join them; I'm sure Granny Smith could handle the farm by herself. The additional characters could create some fun new dynamics; in general, the more clay you have to work with, the more building options you have.

>And with that, the red stallion turns to leave. Celestia trots over to your side at the console, and the two of you watch him descend the stairs to the living quarters.
>“You appear to have something on your mind, Captain,” she whispers.
>“Just my instincts telling me that without him on board we’re probably doomed,” you sigh.
>She pushes you forward with a wing. “Well? Surely you know how to remedy this situation.”
>You know what... she’s right. You need to listen to your own intuition more, just like Pinkie told you back on the train to Canterlot. And your intuition is telling you now, at this very moment, that without this pony’s help this quest, or expedition, or whatever the hell you want to call it is destined to fail. A ship like this needs an engineer.
>“Mac, wait,” you call out as you rush to the stairs after him.
Heh, I'll be damned. Great minds think alike, it would seem.

Anyway, after a long discussion, Big Mac agrees to join the party. Meanwhile, AJ overhears him volunteering, and the two of them get into a fight about it.

>“...But you know me,” Applejack continues with a sly grin. “Ah don’t think ah could sleep at night worryin’ about ya bein’ out gallivantin’ around the world with a shady character like Anon, so...” She walks over to the two of you and removes her hat. “Anon, ah don’t know if you’ve thought about this or not, but unless one of ya really knows how ta cook y’all might not have a good meal for a while. Ah’d like ta offer my services for the time bein’ as your ship’s chef, if’n ya’d have me.”
kek. This is just getting eerie.

>Applejack smiles. “It’s much appreciated, Anon— er, Captain. Horseapples, it’s gonna take me a while ta get used ta callin’ ya that.”
I still think it makes more sense for Big Mac to be the Captain, but whatever. It's technically Anon's ship, I guess.

There is a page break, followed by a single brief scene and another page break. Once again, the perspective switches jarringly; second person was a bad choice of overall narration for this. Anyway, the scene is short, so I will just dump it in verbatim:

>“Madame, we’re approaching the specified coordinates. Your orders?”
>A half-filled wine glass cradled by a faint blue aura floats amidst the unusual silence of the bridge.
>“Proceed as you were instructed. Disable the airship and capture its occupants.”
>“As you wish.”
This scene is intentionally vague, but I get the impression we're dealing with one of two possible situations here. The first is the obvious choice: Twilight is on to them, and is in pursuit. However, it's possible that this is just what the author wants us to think. The "faint blue aura" may be a clue. Twilight's aura is purple, while Luna's is blue. It's possible that Luna's promise of help was a doublecross, intended to put them at ease and delay their departure. This would actually make sense at a narrative level as well, since Luna's scene didn't really accomplish much beyond delivering some exposition that could have just as easily been delivered by Celestia. We'll see which way the author is planning to go, but I'm suspecting it's the second option.

Anyway, page break. It seems that whatever operation is being conducted to intercept them, our intrepid heroes are not yet aware of it. They ascend through the clouds, and are treated to an awe-inspiring view of the clouds and landscape spread out beneath them this story has some seriously comfy visuals. Unfortunately, they do not get much time to enjoy themselves: AJ points out some aircraft in pursuit behind them, which Big Mac identifies as military ships.

The ships begin firing on them, and Anon does his best to make evasive maneuvers. As the ship lurches about, they hear a commotion:

>“APPLE BLOOM?!” Applejack cries, running over to her younger sibling. “You’ve got three seconds ta explain why ya ain’t in school right now!”
Fucking lol, no wonder I'm enjoying this story. This guy basically thinks like I do. Also, it looks like Pinkie stowed away too.
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I'm glad that you're enjoying the fic. I had a feeling that it would be palatable since getmeouttahere was an apparent /mlp/ oldfag and I think it really shows in a good way.

The story only gets better from here on out as things begin to pick up pace as our cavalier couple proceeds across Wacky Horse Peninsula.

Not sure if it goes against the thread rules, but Exchange is pretty massive and maybe anons are apprehensive about reading it for that reason. I'd suggest checking out "The Lusty Human Butler" written by the same author. It's a very brisk read that works well as a sample for getmeouttahere's writing style. If you like it, then you'll probably enjoy Exchange. It's also canon to Exchange, iirc.

Anyway, it looks like the headcount currently stands at six: Anon, Sunbutt, AJ, Big Mac, Apple Bloom, and Ponkamena. Anon continues to make evasive maneuvers, and in an amusing twist, it turns out that Pinkie is unusually adept at manning the ship's guns. Also, the ship has guns. Celestia didn't actually order any guns, but it looks like Pinkie may have installed them herself...or something. Not 100% clear on this point. But whatever; Ponk blasts one of the enemy ships out of the sky, and they make their daring escape.

9 - Dawn Star

The perspective shifts again, and we observe Big Mac showing Apple Bloom how some parts of the ship work. The purpose of the scene seems to be to reveal some backstory on Big Mac: we learn that he had an adventurous streak when he was younger, and largely sympathizes with his sister's desire to explore and get into trouble. We also learn that he developed an interest in airship mechanics from a young age, and their parents at one time were setting money aside for him to study engineering in Manehattan. However, things didn't quite work out that way and he ended up staying down on the farm.

Eventually, they run into AJ and they banter back and forth for a bit. Mostly, the purpose of this scene is to show some interaction between the siblings and present their family dynamic. AJ is the practical, no-nonsense sister who often takes on a strict, disciplinary role with Apple Bloom, while Big Mac is more of a fun-loving big brother who spoils her. Both siblings seem to have adopted a parental role towards Apple Bloom, which makes sense.

Page break. We rejoin Celestia and Anon on the bridge. They appear to have made it out of Equestria without incident, as they are now flying over the ocean. The sun is setting.

They yak back and forth for a bit. Celestia tells Anon that he needs to name the ship, and Anon replies that he's decided to call it Dawn Star. When Sunbutt asks him to elaborate, he explains that when he was little, he called the planet Venus the Dawn Star, because it was the last star visible before the sun came up.

It's pretty clear from their interactions that, although Anon still hasn't consciously acknowledged an attraction to her, he's obviously beginning to see her as more than a friend. There's a lot of eye-gazing and mane-stroking and that sort of thing going on. Then, almost on cue, the dinner bell sounds, breaks the romantic tension, and it's back to friendly buddy-banter.

Anon puts the ship on autopilot, and they head down to the mess hall. AJ and Pinkie have whipped up a delicious spread of food that, as far as I can tell, consists entirely of desserts with a side of salad.

>You note that Celestia in particular is going to town on her cobbler with gusto.
"Going to town" makes it clear enough what she's doing; "with gusto" is just overkill. I would just say "You note that Celestia is going to town on her cobbler," or maybe "Celestia is really going to town on her cobbler."

>Pass the salad, please.
Probably the first time anyone's ever heard her say those words.

Anyway, that's enough about Shamu's fat ass I'm just playin' Sunbutt, you know we love you. There's some more playful banter, and we learn a bit more about the how and why of Pinkie's winding up on this ship. Apparently, Anon's main job at Sugar Cube Corner was to keep Ponk from eating too many pastries, and as soon as the Cakes found out that Anon would be leaving, they basically pushed her out the door. Beyond that, the rest of this scene is mostly just light entertaining banter. They discuss sleeping arrangements, which of course gets awkward. The conclusion is that Anon and Celestia will sleep in the Captain's Cabin, Pinkie gets the guest room, and the Apples will bunk in the crew quarters like the common laborers they are.

Page break. The perspective shifts again the author's choice to narrate this story second-person looks like a bigger mistake every time this happens; in a third-person story I wouldn't even blink at these transitions but here I find them very awkward. We are now in Canterlot Castle, where we see Twilight Sparkle, eating dinner alone like a loser I'm just playin', Purple, you know we love you. A guard enters, and brings her some kind of magical communication orb, which she uses to call Rarity.

It appears that Twilight has placed Rarity in charge of some elite branch of the military whose sole task is to track down and retrieve Anon. Unfortunately for Rarity, Twilight seems a bit peeved that today's operation was not a success. Rarity promises to do her best to keep him from reaching the Island.

>The fashionable unicorn solemnly nods. “Truly, they’ve lost sight of what’s most important. As the famous romance novel authoress Mistress Notfluutershai would say, ’True love comes before all’. I, for one, feel you’re doing the right thing, and I’m happy to help in any way I’m able.”
kek, I was just joking about the "Fluttershy writes erotic fanfiction" thing, but it looks like I've managed to read getmeouttahere's mind yet again either that or he is reading mine somehow. This is seriously getting weird.

Anyway, we learn a little more about what's going on. It seems my theory about Luna doublecrossing Anon was probably a miss; the implication seems to be that it was Rarity commanding the airships earlier. Twilight, meanwhile, does not handle the news about Anon downing two of her airships well.

“Princess? Dear? This might be a bit presumptuous of me to say, but... perhaps you should slow down? You were never really good with alcohol, if I recall correctly...”
God damn it, if this guy also headcanons Twilight as a crazy drunk...

“Oh, this?” Twilight beams, holding up the empty glass. “This isn’t wine. It’s really Capri Sun®. I get the servants to squeeze it out of the little pouches for me so I can drink it in a glass.”
Oh, okay; that answers that. Nice to see that absolute power hasn't gone to her head.
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>Not sure if it goes against the thread rules
Don't be put off by my earlier post, this is meant to be a pretty relaxed thread and shitposting/side discussion is welcome. I mostly just need to use the cattle prod on occasion to keep Nigel in line, as he tends to derail these threads when given free rein.

I was actually thinking I might check out some more of this guy's catalog; I'm liking him so far. I'll probably give the butler one a read at some point probably won't review it, but will definitely read
I'm not really big fan yet. We'll see if that changes.

I don't really feel like going in on it that much right now so here's my brief, "eeh"s. Then, I did anyway.

1. Anon's denseness. Seen this before and usually it's kinda just a drag since nothing happens. "Is nyx really nightmare moon? No, she is too sweet for that. But what if she is?"

2. I haven't really gotten a good grasp on the pairs' chemistry, yet. It seems like they just like each other, which is fine but not that intresting. I almost prefer if they got together already and we see how they be in a relationship, which they kinda already are.

3. The contriveness of certain scenes are forboding, especially since we're clearly moving away from comfy slice of life to a more serious story. I don't mind silliness otherwise but you can't have your cake and eat it too.

4. This is sort of a half-point. I understand that it's for fun and for the sake of the story but I don't believe that Twilight would act in the ways she does if even if she really like Anon.
Who knows, lust is pretty powerful motivational force and this Equestria seems to be reverse gender role kinda universe so, maybe.
But I press, (X) doubt, for now.

Just my two cents. I have only read your review posts, not the real story.
Did u just spoil this here?
>I mostly just need to use the cattle prod on occasion to keep Nigel in line, as he tends to derail these threads when given free rein.
Believe me, I know. I've been around for years a while. Your wrangling is very much appreciated, by the way.

>I was actually thinking I might check out some more of this guy's catalog; I'm liking him so far
Beyond Exchange, it's mostly just silly wish fulfillment stuff with yandere mares. Not really everyone's cup of tea, I'm sure. I still find his stories to be charming, but that may be my nostalgia talking.

That being said, I still think his stuff is a notch above most of the slop on fimfic.

I'm sure this is largely directed at Glim, but I'm going to go ahead and toss out my ¢2.

Yeah, he's pretty much a blank slate for the reader to project himself onto to some extent, like many AiE stories.
I'll try not spoil anything, so I'll just say that the pacing is slow in regards to their character progression. It'll pick up as the story transitions from its SoL beginning to a more adventurous narrative.
Despite the (minor, imo) tonal shift the story remains humorous and fairly lighthearted throughout it all.
Understandable. It may help to keep mind that this story is ancient and clearly draws heavily from the wackiness of the Faust era, like Purple Autism's obsessive mental breakdowns.

I can see how some of the characterization can be a hang up for some, but I honestly don't remember anything particularly flagrant in the story that I couldn't flex around my suspension of disbelief.

I should mention that I haven't given the story a proper read in five years and I'm flying by memory. Also I'm fatigued and sick, so if I talk like a fag and my shit's all retarded, that's why.

Pardon any mistakes if I've misconstrued anything.
>I'm sure this is largely directed at Glim
Ah ah ah, GG. Fool me once...

>Yeah, he's pretty much a blank slate for the reader to project himself onto to some extent, like many AiE stories.
Yeah. That was my impression as well. Maybe, there can be benefits for that as well.

>It'll pick up
Then I'll give it more time.

>the story remains humorous and fairly lighthearted
Okay, then we'll see how it works out.

>wackiness of the Faust era, like Purple Autism's obsessive mental breakdowns.
I feel like it's more specifically that it draws from the lesson zero episode but that was back in season two after all so, yeah, my your analysis is still accurate.

>Pardon any mistakes if I've misconstrued anything.
Nah, it was perfect man. A+ reading comprehension.
>two after all so, yeah, my your analysis is still accurate.
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Just a friendly reminder. You don't even have to continue our collab if you don't feel like it, but I just wanted to remind you of it if you had forgotten about it.

I really like our story, both writing- and reading-wise. However, I'm not gonna force you to do anything ^^. Also, I can wait, that's the least I can do.

I have notice that you do juggle just a bunch a different projects: The Nigel movie, Dale Gribble in Equestria, Review thread, our collab, movie nights (not sure how demanding this but still) and mod work. So I get it. Jfyi np dw ggwp is all G. ^^
lol sorry, I know it's been awhile since you posted your last chapter. I always take on too many projects, and then I end up procrastinating on all of them.

Anyway, just to let you know what's going on, I am also enjoying our story and I fully intend to continue it. However it's also been a long time since I last worked on it and I don't remember some of the early details, so before I write the next installment I want to go back and thoroughly reread everything we have from the beginning, which I haven't gotten around to doing yet. I had actually planned to get started on that last week, but then I noticed the /mlp/ writing contest mentioned here >>>/mlpol/366760 → and decided to bump that to the top of my priority list for the month, since there is a finite deadline for that event (October 13).

The way I've been doing things recently is I will just balance working on writing projects with working on this review. I try to make a review post or two at least every couple of days, and on the days where I don't do a review post I work on writing. As soon as I get my story wrapped up for /mlp/ I'm going to shift gears and work on our collab. Ideally I want to get the next chapter done by the end of October, because I plan on doing NaNoWriMo again, and so if I don't get it done before that starts up I probably won't get it finished before the new year.
>I noticed the /mlp/ writing contest mentioned here
> I plan on doing NaNoWriMo again
I should have typed it man, paraphrase: "And your probably gonna write for the comp and for november again."

I didn't type it because I kinda dismissed the idea since you got so much going on already that I was like, "Nah, he's probably not gonna do that." Especially the november thing, but here we are. ^^

>and so if I don't get it done before that starts up I probably won't get it finished before the new year.
That's fine.
>I am also enjoying our story and I fully intend to continue it.
Heh heh heh, that's all I want to hear from somone like you. ^^
That makes me happy. ^^

Here's some lewd glimmers as a reward for all your efforts to the pony race. The Fuhrer would be prude.
Some more images.
One more.
Now Im done. Promise. ^^
How wonderful to return to this board after 8+ months to find my favorite cartoon horse smut reviewer is back at it again. While I've seen that you're quite active in the writefag thread your review threads are the primary reason I return to this board in the first place. Always a delight to read.

I've started to read Exchange and I'm liking it so far. I think it'll be the first time I'm reading a story alongside your review so that'll be interesting I'm sure.

I'm going to be bold and repeat my request for you to review The Rise of Darth Vulcan by RHJunior as I did a few threads back. I expect you have more important and engaging things to do than review an unfinished and slow-updating story (last chapter from 2022-01-09) but I'd love to read your takes on a fic I have a nostalgic affection for.

Whatever you choose I'll be eagerly waiting for the next post you make continuing the current review.
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Thank you, I'm happy you're enjoying it. I've neglected this thread for a couple of weeks to work on some writing projects, but will probably be getting back to it in a few days.

>The Rise of Darth Vulcan by RHJunior
I remember this request, or at least I do now that you've reminded me what it was called. I was trying to recall everything that I'd been asked to do and I remember there was one somebody had requested that had something like "Darth Vader" in the title. Is this it?

Anyway, I expect to have Exchange wrapped up in relatively short order since it's been a pretty quick read thus far. Someone has been bugging me to do Project Horizons pretty consistently for a really long time now, and while I don't think I'm going to do the whole thing, I feel like I should probably do at least some of it, so that will probably be next. After that, the Darth Vulcan thing looks like it would be a pretty good choice, so I can go ahead and put that on the list. I think at some point I'd like to take a look at some of the Conversion Bureau stuff as well.
Yes, that is the one. It can't be found on fimfiction since RHJunior was, and I might assume is to this day, a peculiar figure. Him being an avowed Christian fundamentalist and young Earth creationist, and often expressing his views in the comments, led to some conflict with the users and staff of fimfiction and eventually he deleted his account and moved to AO3 instead. This was many years ago and my memory is a bit fuzzy but I think that's how it went.

I recall you agreed to check out Project Horizons in previous threads so I'm not surprised it takes priority, and I have only a surface-level familiarity with the Conversion Bureau (mainly that its seems to be the essence of skub put into writing) so that'd be interesting. Though I'd be lying if I claimed that I was not excited over that you're seriously considering my request.

Whoops, I kind of forgot about this. Anyway, continuing from where we left off.

You may remember that Twilight and Rarity were in the palace having a conversation. Twilight shows Rarity an outfit she saved:

>A deep purple robe, covered with perfectly accurate constellations, floats in the air along with its matching starry headpiece.
The text doesn't clarify the significance of this, but we are meant to assume it is the stupid-looking Gala dress that Rarity made according to Twilight's specifications back in some long-forgotten episode. Normally, I would object to the author's referencing some obscure detail from the show and relying on the reader's presumed knowledge to explain why this thing is important. However, in this case, it basically works, because it's made clear through context:

>The unicorn’s nervous smile immediately fades as a look of horror washes over her face. “No... no, it can’t be... I thought that abomination was destroyed!”
>“Nope~!” Twilight chirps. “It was still in my closet where I left it!” Her smile fades and she adopts a menacing grin. “There’s a banquet for the nobility in a few days. Everypony who’s anypony in Canterlot is going to be there. I might just wear this little number to it... and if I do I’ll be sure to let everypony know that it’s a Rarity original~”
>The unicorn gasps and wobbles on her hooves as if on the verge of fainting. “You... you fiend! How could you?!”
>Twilight places the disastrous dress aside and smiles cheerfully as a few more giggles escape her mouth. “Though, as long as you don’t fail me, you have nothing to worry about. Bring me my Anon and you have my word that this dress’ll never see the light of day again. Simple, right?”
Even if the reader has never seen the episode being referenced or has simply forgotten it since it happened forever ago, they could still figure out what's going on here. At some point in the past, for some reason, Rarity created an apparently ugly-looking dress for Twilight. Twilight still has it. She intends to use it to gain leverage over Rarity by threatening to wear it at an official function and brag about how Rarity made it for her. Even if the reader doesn't catch the reference, they can still figure out what's going on.

Anyway, the more salient point here is that Twilight is getting worse. Her obsession with Anon has consumed her to the point where she no longer has any moral qualms about bullying her friends into doing what she wants, so long as it serves this goal.

>Rarity dramatically hangs her head in defeat. “Yes... you’ve made yourself very clear, Princess. I, Rarity, shall do as you request.”
It's also clear that power has gone to her head. She now makes her friends bow to her and refer to her as "Princess."

Anyway, Rarity agrees to do as she asks, and then she mumbles to herself about how much she wants Anon's human penis in her horsegina, and then she goes to sleep. End of scene.

Page break. We rejoin Anon and Celestia in yet another awkward moment. They are now in the bedroom, trying to decide who is going to sleep where. He complains that he will have to sleep in his clothes because Twilight nuked his house and he lost everything, but Celestia tells him to look in the drawer. He discovers that, once again, the Horse Princess has seen to his every need: he now has a full wardrobe tailored to his individual preferences.

>Your heart nearly stops. All those conversations you had about climbing, all those little questions she asked... not only did she listen to every word, she remembered them almost perfectly...
Celestia's single-mindedness when it comes to Anon is annoyingly similar to Twilight's. Their current predicament is mostly the direct result of a series of blunders she made. She seriously underestimated the depth of Twilight's obsession, and made a grave miscalculation in not only abdicating the throne, but ceding it to Twi. However, she was attentive enough to remember that Anon liked mountain climbing and...presumably bought him some clothes that would be suitable to such a purpose.

>You close your eyes, but your smile doesn’t fade. You’re no magic expert, but it doesn’t take one to see that there’s no way this silly horse, who can’t even muster the magical energy to pull up her own sheets or lift a fork at the dinner table, can stand against Twilight as she is now, or probably even as she was before. Your rational mind tries to tell you those words were merely meant to comfort you, like a parent telling their child everything’s going to be fine as the house burns around them.
Case in point. The Geas is now almost completely spent; by Anon's calculation it will be gone by tomorrow. Also, despite still having her wings at least I believe she does; I took a rather long hiatus from this and I might need to skim the previous chapters to remember all the details Celestia is basically just a regular unicorn now.

Anyway, Anon isn't sure whether Celestia's confidence is just bravado or if she actually has something up her sleeve maybe I should just give up on the whole idiom thing, but he decides to trust her. They have another borderline-sexual-but-not-actually-sexual cuddling moment, and they go to sleep.

The chapter ends here.

10 - Purple Wings

>By morning, the rolling ocean below you has been replaced by the vast plains and deserts of Latigo.
Well, that was quick. I was rather expecting at least a chapter or two of Odysseus-like trials and setbacks before they actually get where they're going. Maybe a few stops on some islands inhabited by weird and dangerous creatures. But whatever.

>“It feels weird to see it from the air like this,” you say as you take another sip.
>Celestia nods. “Yes, and much has changed since I was last here. Without ponies to temper it, nature now runs free. What were once lush forests are now rolling deserts, and what were once barren wastelands now teem with life.”
I'm not actually sure that's how nature works. But whatever.

Anyway, the author takes the opportunity to feed us a bit of deep lore. The continent they are now flying over, Latigo, was apparently the home of the three pony tribes prior to the unification see S1 episode whatever for details. Their ultimate destination, an island called Equus which I believe is at the center of an inland sea somewhere in Latigo I might have to skim previous chapters to verify this as well, is believed to be the source of all life in the world.

>“Well, if they wanna know what happened so bad, why not just ask somepony who was there?” Pinkie asks with a giggle. She gives Celestia a big smile, only to find a gentle one returned back to her.
>“I’ve learned many things over my long lifetime, Pinkie Pie, but perhaps the most important is that we should live in the present. The past is the past, and the future is unwritten. Lessons can be learned from yesterday, and elaborate plans made for tomorrow, but only through actions taken in the present do we forge who we are.”
I'm actually a little unclear on the significance of this. Pinkie seems to be implying that Celestia lived through some of these events, but it seems as if most of them ought logically to predate her. Celestia is old, but she hasn't been around forever. I don't remember if there is any canon time frame given for the Hearth's Warming unification event, but it feels like it ought to be older than 1000 years in the past.

Events like all life emerging from a wellspring in the center of the known world definitely feels like "dawn of time" territory, not "1000 years ago" territory. To put things in perspective, a 1000 year old person living in our time would have been born during the High Middle Ages. Old enough to have seen some shit, certainly, but relatively young in the grand scheme of things. To put this in perspective, the High Middle Ages was the apex of European Christian civilization, but a person living in that period would have needed to be 1000 years old in order to have actually met Christ. A person living in Christ's time would have needed to be about that old in order to have seen the Bronze Age and met their legendary pervert. And so on.

Granted, we don't know exactly how old Equestria is supposed to be; they could be a relatively young civilization for all we know. However, if you're trying to create a deep-lore mythology for a fictional universe, it's worth considering that time can go back a long, long way. Our world's recorded history goes back about 10,000 years I think, so basically the lifespan of ten Princess Celestias, and that's just the stuff we know about. The age of Earth itself is something like 5 billion years; you'd have to go through about five million Princess Celestias in order to see that far back. Just food for thought.

Anyway, there's some more banter here, and it seems like the author's implication is that Celestia and Luna did physically witness the events he's talking about. Maybe getmeouttahere is a Young Earth Creationist; who knows? In any case, Celestia informs us that in the present era, Latigo is inhabited by all sorts of dangerous and unpleasant creatures, including dragons, minotaurs, and something called "murderhounds" all I can say here is that they better not turn out to be as big a letdown as the Hellhounds in FoE were.

In any event, the conversation now returns to more practical matters. They are still being pursued by Twilight, and AJ confirms that Twilight is unlikely to just give up something which, I will again point out, Celestia ought to have known, since she has known Twilight far longer than AJ has, and is arguably closer to her.

>“Ah understand what you’re lookin’ ta accomplish here,” she says, turning to Celestia. “Ya want ta get some magical rock thing that’ll bring your power back. But what ah want ta know is... what are ya plannin’ on doin’ afterwards? Ah hate ta be the bearer of bad news, but ya unleashed a monster on us and ah need ta know if you intend ta do anything about it.”
This seems like a valid point. I will also once again state that this mess has been almost entirely Celestia's fault, yet she has thus far exhibited a rather cavalier attitude about all of the mayhem she's caused. I assume that this was at least partly intentional on the author's part and done for the sake of humor, but still. You'd think a 1000 year old horse princess would have a better sense of responsibility.

Anyway, while they're talking about all of this, Apple Bloom suddenly observes that they are being pursued by a fleet of airships, which appear to be gaining on them.

>“Speak of the devil and he shall appear, as they say,” Celestia grumbles, rolling her eyes at the sight.
Who says that? Would that really be a saying here? Is there some kind of horse-devil I don't know about? Is said Devil only 1000 years old too? I will seriously never tire of going through fanfiction and nitpicking stupid little details like this :DDDDDD

The ships are being commanded by none other than Rarity, and she and AJ are understandably surprised to run into each other. Rarity appears on deck via some sort of magical projection system and demands their surrender.

>You feel the temperature around you drop by several degrees. Holy. Shit. The way she said it and the look on her face... this is a side of Celestia you haven’t ever seen before, aside from little glimpses of it back when she was a Princess.
I can't help but feel that, if she'd taken this attitude with Twilight a bit earlier, many of their present troubles could have been avoided.

Anyway, Celestia uses Intimidate on Rarity, and it's super effective. Rarity blusters, and tells them to prepare for combat.

>W-W-Well, then! I suppose it’s settled! I don’t know what you intend to do when it’s thirteen against one
I'm pretty sure Fluttershy wrote an erotic fanfic that began with this premise.

Anyway, they stand around on deck for awhile arguing about what to do (presumably their ship is still moving and the fleet hasn't quite gotten within firing range yet, so this seems cricket). The situation seems hopeless and blah blah blah. Then, Big Mac announces that he and Apple Bloom have come up with a convenient bit of plot armor secret weapon.

>Apple Bloom bounds up the stairs from below deck with a strange metal rod in her mouth, which sort of looks like a cross between something you’d see hanging in an auto repair garage and some weird D&D scepter.
I'm pretty sure Fluttershy wrote a fanfic about this, too.

ANYWAY, the long story short is that Big Mac's giant rod is some kind of magical tuning device that fucks with the timing of magical engines. Since Rarity's ships are already overclocking their engines in order to catch up to them, then all they have to do is fire this device at each ship and its engine will instantly kerplode. The catch is that you have to get close in order to use it, and getting this close to any of the pursuing ships would bring them within cannon range of all of them. Welp, it looks like the situation is once again hopeless. Too bad they don't have some kind of flying horse on board. Oh, wait, they actually do have one of those.

So, Anon hops on Celestia's back and the two of them take off. Meanwhile, Ponk manages to down one of the ships using the cannon she brought.

Page break. We switch to Rarity's perspective. Despite having no prior military experience, she seems oddly comfortable with commanding an airship battle, and likens it to dressmaking:

>Rarity smiles. As an artist who has created countless incredible dresses in the midst of the storm of chaos that is her little sister Sweetie Belle, a frenzied battlefield like this is nothing. She can see the design in her mind; all that’s left is to realize it.
I feel like I should raise some sort of objection to this, but honestly? Fuck it. It's an MLP story, and it's not like we haven't witnessed far more ridiculous events in stories that pretend to be far more serious than this one is. I'm going to allow it.

Page break. We now get the perspective of Big Mac and AJ on the bridge.

>“Ah dunno if you realized this, but these controls ain’t exactly designed for hooves!” he yells back, banking the ship hard to avoid yet another volley. “If you think you can do better, she’s all yours!”
This seems like a bit of a design flaw on Mac's part. I get that the ship was custom-built for Anon, but you'd think there would be a second set of controls designed for horses, just in case.

Anyway, blah blah blah, airship fight. This bit is split into several short sections divided by page breaks, with the perspective switching back and forth. Perfect for an action sequence like this, but again, we see that the overall second-person perspective was a bit of a regrettable choice in a story where the view needs to change so often. The tl;dr of it is that they are hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned, and Rarity prematurely declares victory. And then, suddenly, there's Anon, really showing everyone what a man armed with a convenient piece of plot armor and riding a flying horse is capable of. Rarity spits out her victory champagne on cue.

>The unicorn rears back in shock. “Celestia and Anonymous are WHAT?!”
Having sex in midair, when they're supposed to be taking down airships with their plot-armor cannon. Oh wait, never mind; I'm looking at Fluttershy's fanfic again.

>The distinct lack of the sound of cannon fire on the wind causes two orange ears to perk up and two emerald eyes to glance back to discover that the enemy fleet, or what’s left of it, has gone oddly silent.
This sentence is bad and you should feel bad.

>The Dawn Star begins to turn away, much more slowly this time due to the damage it sustained, and once again locks its course on Equus Island in the distance. An orange flare rockets into the sky and ignites above it, bathing everything nearby in a soft light.
This, however, is a nice visual.

Anyway, tl;dr Rarity has to choose between shutting down her engines and allowing her quarry to escape, or having her engines destroyed and also allowing her quarry to escape. She wisely chooses the former. Meanwhile, her quarry escapes.

Anon and Celestia return to the Dawn Star. The ship has sustained minor damage to its turning system, but is otherwise fine. Rarity, meanwhile, has lost seven of her original thirteen ships, and will be unable to move for at least a day (if I understood things correctly). So, it seems they are now once again on course for Spider Skull Island, or wherever they're trying to go...

...or at least it seems that way, until the perspective changes again, and we see Rarity firing off some kind of projectile spell she has for some reason. At least this author has the sense to distribute his plot armor evenly between heroes and villains. Some kind of magic beam fires off, and hits the Dawn Star as it's making its escape. It damages a number of vital systems, and the ship begins to go down. Big Mac is not sure whether they can make it to the island just on momentum. Meanwhile, it is now past noon, and the last of the geas bands are fading from Anon's wrists.

Awesome to hear that we managed to successfully mindbreak you into reading (some) of Project Horizons. I forget the particulars of the thread, but did you consider checking out some of the other 'big five' (the most acclaimed and 'biggest' fics in the FO:E subfandom), or did you settle solely on PH?
>I forget the particulars of the thread, but did you consider checking out some of the other 'big five' (the most acclaimed and 'biggest' fics in the FO:E subfandom), or did you settle solely on PH?
I forget the titles of the other big ones, but I've been to a couple of FoE panels at conventions since doing the review of the original fic and I'll admit I'm a little curious. I might want to at least take a look at them. I find subfandoms like FoE and FiO and so forth interesting mostly because the original works were so poorly done, yet they managed to spawn these massive cult followings. I'm curious to see how some of the derivative works compare to the originals.
Definitely an interesting endeavor to give a sense of completeness to this whole critical saga. For reference/ reminder, the 'big five' (those stories successful enough to gain large enough acclaim, or considered to be 'as good as' the original by fans within the subfandom) include the original and are as follows:

>Fallout: Equestria
>Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons
>Fallout Equestria: Pink Eyes
>Fallout Equestria: Heroes
>Fallout Equestria: Murky Number Seven

All of these are available on Fimfiction obviously.
Alright, I'm back.

So anyway, the ship's a goin' down due to Rarity's wacky shenanigans. Fortunately, they can see the island of Equus on the horizon, and Big Mac thinks there's a slim chance they might be able to stay airborne long enough to reach it. The geas is now completely expended, so it's pretty much do or die time.

>The entire island is essentially a giant volcano that descends straight into the sea.
A volcano would ascend upward from the sea, not descend into it. Actually, it's a stationary land mass, it wouldn't technically be capable of doing either. I get what the author is trying to say here, but the wording is awkward. Should probably say "the island is a giant volcano that rises from the sea" or something to that effect.

Anyway, this seems like kind of an interesting location. The island is, as stated above, a giant volcano. The sides are just barren rock, but the crater of the volcano is teeming with life. Presumably this is the place that is supposed to be the wellspring of all life in Equestria.

There are some other practical concerns here. The outer slope of the volcano is steep rock that can't be scaled, and there's no way to get in from the bottom, and yada yada yada. Right now, their main focus is reaching the island before the ship kerplodes.

But oh noes! Suddenly Twilight Sparkle appears.

Now that the geas is kaput, Twilight is of course free to whisk Anon back to her dungeon of despair and have her randy way with him. Apple Bloom, the child character who is only tagging along for the sake of adventure, naturally has only a vague understanding of what the quest is actually about. So, she inadvertently says the quiet part out loud:

>Apple Bloom scratches her mane. “Huh. I don’t get it. I mean, I’m pretty sure Anon loves Celestia, but ya say he’s marryin’ you? Weird.”

This, of course, sets off Twilight's autism. She falls into the "crazy old-maid Sporkle" loop, with the twitching eyes and the unkempt mane and all that.

>Celestia closes her eyes and shakes her head. “Twilight Sparkle... it pains me to see you like this. I truly thought you were prepared, but it seems my lessons were deficient, and my judgment poor. You were not yet ready for the burden of true power or leadership, my little pony, though admittedly one rarely is.” She opens her eyes again and you see only sadness reflected in them. “I’m afraid, once this is all over, that I’ll have to take back the crown until such time as you can prove you are truly worthy of it.”
Reminder that literally every misfortune suffered by these characters thus far is due to a single yuge mistake made by Celestia. If I have any major criticisms of this story, it's that almost the entire plot stems from Celestia holding a gigantic idiot ball.

>Twilight laughs. She laughs so hard that tears spill forth from her eyes, which she wipes away with a hoof. “T-Take back the crown! That’s rich! Look at you! I mean, really, look at you! You’re POWERLESS! I can feel it! Can you even lift a teacup now, or even one of your own feathers?” She shakes her head, a few giggles still escaping her lips. “You say it pains you to see me like this?! For me to see my former teacher, the pony I looked up to above all else, in such a pathetic state, pains ME!”
I will also say, however, that I really like Twilight as the villain. In one of the previous writing threads, I gave a fairly detailed breakdown of how to characterize the M6 [ >>>/mlpol/358191 → ]. The idea is that each character's personality stems from a relatively simple core concept, and that personality gives rise to sets of positive and negative traits that can be used to place the character in different story roles. With Twilight, you have a nerdy, smart girl who is studious and detail oriented, but also prone to obsession and overreaction. In this case, the author has chosen to play up her obsessive single-mindedness and turn her into the story's villain. Granted, I haven't read a ton of these fanfictions and for all I know this has been done to death, but for my part I think it's a pretty original use of the character.

Twilight makes a good sympathetic villain. She does what a villain is supposed to do: she creates havoc and stress for the other characters, and takes morally reprehensible actions that make the reader root against her. However, her reasons for doing what she does are both understandable and in line with her canon characterization. The reader can sympathize with her while still hating her guts, and even fans of the character, who otherwise might not like seeing their favorite pony in the role of a villain, can appreciate that her actions seem like things she would actually do.

This is a character who does not handle stress well, being stressed from multiple sources. On the one hand or hoof; fucking idioms, she has a nerdy crush on Anon, which her natural autism has transformed into an all-consuming obsession. At the same time, she has had god-powers basically dumped into her lap reeeee idioms, along with the responsibility of running the entire kingdom. She tends to freak out in situations like this. Her mentor Celestia, whom she respects and is constantly trying to impress, is the one who dumped all of this responsibility on her. On some level, Twilight probably understands that Celly did this for purely selfish reasons: she wanted to abdicate her responsibility and live a carefree life, so she dumped it all on Twi. Twi simultaneously resents Celestia for doing this, while also wanting to impress her by rising to the challenge and doing a good job. Meanwhile, the love story is complicated by Celestia also being her chief romantic rival. So, Twilight is an emotional cauldron right now. While the reader may not approve of the various insane and morally questionable actions she takes, he can at least understand why she is doing these things, and sympathize with her on some level.
>Murky Number Seven
That one stands out for some reason, I think I remember hearing something about it. I might take a look at that one after PH.
Misery porn that ratchets up the grim edgy nature of the setting and one of its locations to a degree that is comical nonsense, maybe that's why.
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>She shakes her head, her perfectly coiffed purple pony princess mane remaining pristine as it flows in the wind and her crown glimmering.
This imagery contrasts with what the author gives us a few lines earlier, with her hair popping out of place as she becomes visibly stressed.

Anyway, I don't entirely grasp the details here, but it seems like once again Twilight is unable to abscond with our hero as she wishes, due to some kind of magical technicality. The barrier surrounding the island, which prevents alicorns from entering I think, means that her powers won't work. They conveniently managed to cross this barrier while the two characters were exchanging barbs, so Twilight is forced to make an exit.

Meanwhile, the ship has finally run out of spunk. It soft-crashes into the water, and Anon is able to maneuver it to the island. As I recall it had several gigantic holes punched into it and it seems like it shouldn't be seaworthy, but we'll put a pin in that for now. At any rate, since the danger seems to have temporarily passed and they still have the challenge of the island ahead of them, they sensibly decide to take a lunch break. The chapter ends here.


11 - Guidance

As the chapter opens, Anon is suddenly underwater for some reason. The author keeps us presumably deliberately confused for awhile. Celestia pulls Anon out of the water, some mild playful hijinks ensue, and we learn that they have somehow found their way to a swamp at the "southwestern edge of the Cradle."

Suddenly, a wild Luna appears, signaling that they are in a dream. She helpfully explains that, even though her alicorniness prevents her from traveling to the island in person, she can still enter their dreams and give them advice.

>Ah, now you remember why Luna scares the shit out of you. She can tap into and manipulate your dreams anytime she wants, regardless of distance. Your body shudders involuntarily at the thought of Twilight having that ability... it’d be an unending rape-tastic nightmare for sure...
I believe this was the plot for a Nightmare on Elm Street/My Little Pony crossover that Hasbro sensibly shelved. Either that or it's the premise for another one of Fluttershy's fanfics.

>“Information, huh? I guess that’s good, but if I remember all the adventure stories I read as a kid, I’m pretty sure our spiritual guide is supposed to give us some kind of artifact to help us on our quest at this point. Maybe an amulet that repels nerdy purple alicorns or something?”
I'd have to go back and line up events to make sure, but I feel like this story uses the classic "Hero's Journey" outline as its model.

>You turn and wink at Celestia, coaxing a slight smile from her.
Does she wink back? What happens in dreamland stays in dreamland, after all.

So anyway, Luna leads Anon and Celestia around the side of the dream-island to show them a lake where they can hide their boat, and tells them there's some kind of side-gate or something that's protected by magic, which they can use to enter the caldera of the volcano. She gives them some quick instructions on how to get there.

Next, Celestia and Luna have a brief conversation. It seems that Luna is still a bit miffed about Celestia abdicating the throne and dumping crazy old maid Sporkle on her to deal with. They go back and forth for awhile in that old-timey language they use with each other.

>“We understand the need to seek for joy to ease the burden,” Luna says softly. “But such joy must only be found in certain places, and in moderation; a lesson we learned well after tasting the fury of the Elements at thine own hooves. So do not entertain the fantasy, for one single moment, that we do not understand what thy true intentions were, or the emotions swirling in thy breast. They spill forth even now from the very name he calls thee, Celosia!”
The implication here is that Luna understands perfectly well that Celestia's abdication was motivated by selfish desire, presumably the specific desire for Anon's mighty member. She calls her out for this of course, but also noteworthy is that she calls her by the name "Celosia." On the next line, Anon repeats this in his mind to confirm that it was not a typo. Presumably there is some significance to this name that will be revealed later. Either that or being on the moon for 1000 years will cause a pony to forget her sister's name.

Anyway, after this the dream ends, and Anon and Celestia both wake up on the ship's deck. Turns out they nodded off for about half an hour at the controls. The others, who were watching them sleep apparently, tease them for a bit. Then, they all head off to eat lunch.

Page break. Perspective switches again, and we see Twilight returning to her flagship, which I guess is now traveling with the fleet of airships that Anon et al shot down earlier. There is a bit of physical comedy as Twilight, who still hasn't quite learned how to fly, fucks up her landing and crashes on the deck in front of her entourage. Also, Rainbow Dash is there.

>Twilight sighs and facehoofs.
I really, really hate the word "facehoof," but I've come to grudgingly accept that authors in this fandom will probably never stop using it.

Anyway, Twilight has a security meeting scheduled, but she has to take care of something first, so Dash goes on ahead of her. Rarity is there, crying and being dramatic because she failed to capture Anon, so now Twilight is going to wear that ugly dress she threatened to wear.

Since Twi is still absent, they take the opportunity to discuss how crazy she's recently become. The general consensus seems to be that, while they are still basically willing to help Twilight bag Anon, it's beginning to look like a fool's errand. It's increasingly clear to everyone except Twilight that Anon is not just playing hard to get, but is genuinely rebuffing her affections. Dash, however, seems to think he can still be won over by force.
Anyway, Twilight shows up while they're talking about her. She assures them that everything is still within her control, that she in her infinite autism has planned for every contingency so far, and her quest to gain ownership of Anon's ding-dong is proceeding on time and under budget. She also assures Rarity that she understands she did her best, and that the dress in question has been destroyed.

She now lays out the next phase of her plan. The barrier around the island blocks alicorns from entering, which means she won't be able to go there herself. However, it does not block ordinary ponies, so she plans to send an army in to bring Anon back the old-fashioned way.

>The butter yellow pegasus trembles a bit for emphasis.
This is an example of something I've noticed this author doing quite often. I've been letting him get away with it partly because he's doing a much better job of entertaining me than our previous authors have, and partly because I just recently discovered that this is even a problem. Someone brought it to my attention when reading one of my stories, and now it's something I look for when reading other people's work.

Basically, the issue is that this author tends to refer to his characters by description rather than by name: the "butter-yellow pegasus" (Fluttershy) or the "pristine white unicorn" (Rarity), etc. If the character is just being introduced and we don't know their name yet, this is fine. It's also fine if you're trying to work in a description of the character's appearance without breaking the flow of your narration. However, once you've established who the character is and what they look like, there is no need to keep referring to your characters this way; in fact it can get obnoxious and confusing if you do. In this case, it's been well established that Fluttershy is a butter-yellow pegasus, so there is no need to refer to her as such every few lines.

Again, I've been letting this slide because it's a rule I've only recently discovered, that I've also been called out on myself, so I feel a bit awkward chastising someone else for it. However, I have noticed that this author does it quite often, and it's probably worth calling attention to at this point. Disclaimer: as I've said numerous times before, while I do consider my talents to be above-average for most of fimfiction, I am by no means an expert on writing, nor do I claim to be. Part of the reason I enjoy doing these analyses is that I learn stuff too.

For further reading on this subject:

Anywho, Twilight continues expositing the details of her nefarious scheme to jump Anon's bones. It seems she's thought of just about everything. Celestia's being reduced to ordinary unicorn status means that she's no longer a threat, and even though they are searching for a stone that will restore her alicorn powers, she won't be able to use it until she is beyond the barrier of the island. Thus, all that Twilight really has to do is surround the island with whatever ships she has left and send in a pegasus squad to retrieve her errant fuccboi.

So, all that's left for her to do is to dispatch her army. She puts Rainbow Dash in charge of this. Also, she gives her a magical anklet that glows brighter the closer she gets to Anon. It also improves her speed. There is apparently a side effect, but Dash leaves before Twi can tell her what it is. Presumably this will remain a mystery until it becomes plot-relevant. Also, as an added enticement, Twi promises to get Dash an all-access backstage pass at the next Wonderbolts show if she succeeds in her mission.

There is a bit more comedy, and then the chapter ends. I've still got about 2000 characters left, but this is probably a good stopping point for today. I'll do some more of this later tonight.

12 - The Altar

We rejoin Anon and Co. at the cove that Luna showed them in dreamland. It appears that the airship still functions as a watership for some reason, and they were able to find the place okay. Celestia is in the process of...doing something. Trying to work some kind of juju magic to get the gate open I guess. There's some rather overstated hammy emotional interaction between her and Anon, and yada yada yada she speaks the incantation to open the gate.

>“Cotton candy.” She speaks the words slowly and deliberately, as if reciting an incantation. This must be the ‘keyword’ Luna mentioned... wait, what?
>“Really?” you stammer. “THAT’S the keyword?!”
>“It was his favorite,” she says with a sad smile before stepping away.
Celestia seems to have more of a past than we've been led to believe. The author tastefully drops this subtle hint, and then moves on with the story.

Anyway, the "gate" turns out to be some kind of magical geyser that lifts them up, carries them over the lip of the volcano, and drops them down into the caldera. After getting their bearings, they decide that Anon and Celestia will go off to look for the Sorcerer's Stone (or whatever), while the rest of them stay here and work on fixing the ship.

The geography here is a little confusing. If I'm understanding it correctly, the magic geyser dropped them into a jungle that used to be a wetland, but the wetland dried up, and also there's a lake here, which is where the airship was set down...whatever. They use the airship's lifeboat to cross to the jungle (they all go together, because I guess Big Mac needs to chop down some trees in order to fix the airship).

So now, they go trudging through the jungle. There is some mild joking around, and we get a bit more explanation about how exactly these Orbs of Ascension are obtained. Basically, the seeker has to go to an altar and meditate, and some sort of magical hoopajoo jimjams the hoosafudge, and whimmy wham wham wozzle an orb appears, which only the person who summoned it can touch (these are all highly technical terms, btw). However, before it can be used, the seeker must carry it through thirteen separate magical gates, which charge it up with whatever magical jizzjams are needed to turn it into an Orb of Ascension.

It's probably easier if I let Celestia's fat ass explain it:

>“Yes,” Celestia continues with a tired sigh. “But even so, it is necessary to visit them all in order to fully empower the Orb. Each gate marks the wellhead of one of the world’s thirteen magical leylines, and as such, when the stone passes underneath the gate, it becomes empowered by the leyline’s magic. That all thirteen lines originate from Equus Island is what produces its powerful magical field, and also what makes the island, quite literally, the center of our world and the very source of magic itself.”

As an added bonus, we get some unsolicited headcanon about Princess Cadance:

>“Well,” Celestia replies, “you may not know this, but she was born a pegasus. Her family, seeking to increase their station, paid an adventurer a handsome sum to retrieve an Orb for their daughter, but he failed to visit more than half the gates before returning, resulting in Cadance becoming a lowborn alicorn. Lowborns were much more common in the past, but ponies eventually realized that the risk involved was not worth the reward they obtained. Truly completing an Orb of Ascension is incredibly difficult and exceedingly rare, so you can imagine my surprise when Anon stumbled into my throne room one day with a fully empowered Orb in his hands.”

Okey-dokey. Anyway, they eventually come to a grove of trees that look suitable for chopping. Anon and Celestia continue off into the jungle, while the rest of them commence to lumberjacking. Apparently Anon and Celly need to get to the altar before sunset; I'm not sure why this is or if it was mentioned somewhere earlier. I'm assuming it has something to do with the way the magic works. In any case, Anon is cautiously optimistic that they will have enough time to maneuver:

>She’s absolutely right. You got extremely lucky when the pursuing airship fleet decided to discharge their engines. It’s bought you the several days you’ll need to retrieve the Orb, but if you squander this opportunity you’ll no doubt be contending with the Royal Guard in addition to the Trials of Equus, and your odds of getting through this with your purity intact will plummet even further.
The implication here seems to be that Anon has once again underestimated Twilight's autismo resourcefulness, and assumes that they will have a few days head start before they need to worry about pursuers. We, however, know from the last scene that this will not be the case.

Anyway, Anon and Celly have another borderline-flirty moment, and then Celestia suggests that he ride her, which is actually quite practical, since they have a lot of ground to cover and she can fly. However, for some reason, she doesn't fly, she just walks. She still has her wings, right?

In any case it doesn't matter, because all of a sudden Rainbow Dash out of nowhere. Apparently, thanks to her new bracelet, she is now so fast that she managed to outrun the rest of the squadron she was leading.

>“Oh. Well, yeah, there’s that too, but I was thinking more along the lines of if Skittles and Squiggletail are here, it means Butter Squeak won’t be far behind. Out of the goon squad trio she was the most annoying by far.” You rub your eyes and address the speedy pegasus. “The answer to your question is no, by the way. What the hell is wrong with you?”
Yeah, the "lavender unicorn" business in this story is pretty severe. Anon references three separate characters in this paragraph alone, without using a single one of their names. If I were giving this author formal notes, this is probably the first thing I'd call attention to. The nicknames are funny, but it makes the text a little hard to follow at times.
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>I really, really hate the word "facehoof," but I've come to grudgingly accept that authors in this fandom will probably never stop using it.

Nothing this down so I can add it to the list of autistic fandomisms I am putting into my story to make you suffer. I hope you like ponies saying 'buck' instead of 'fuck' as well.
Noting*, whoops.

>Great... looks like Twilight made Speedysnooze an artifact that lets her tap into the Speed Force. You lean down and whisper into Sun Horse’s ear, “Uh... what the heck do we do now?”

Anyway, there's some back and forth between the three of them. To her credit, Rainbow Dash does not seem overtly hostile to either Anon or Celestia; she's clearly just doing this to help Twilight. However, her competitive nature combined with her whole "loyalty" thing means that she's likely to be stubborn. She tries to convince Anon to come along willingly, which he refuses.

They attempt some subtle trickery to try to outwit and outrun her, but in both instances they fail. Eventually...Rainbow Dash ends up challenging Celestia to fisticuffs. Hoofsticuffs. Whatever. fucking idioms.

And then...this happens. It's probably easier if I just dump the text in verbatim:

>The pegasus does a few circles in the air before landing on a patch of barren earth. She puffs up her chest, takes in a deep breath, and begins to speak:

>Chapter XIV, Scene VIII

>Int. Treebrary Foyer

>The sun is setting outside the small town of Ponyville as another day comes to a close. TWILIGHT SPARKLE, a unicorn, trots around the dwelling to begin lighting the candles for the evening. The door opens and ANONYMOUS, a human and TWILIGHT’s lover, enters.

>TWILIGHT: “Oh, Anon, you’re back! How was work?”

>ANONYMOUS: “Fine, but it was hard to focus today because I couldn’t get your delicious plot out of my thoughts. Have I ever told you that it’s ten times more luscious and toned than Applejack’s?”

>TWI: *giggles* “Yes, all the time!”

>TWILIGHT moves to light another candle but ANONYMOUS quickly picks her up and holds her in his strong human arms.

>TWI: “W-What are you doing, Anon?”

>ANON: “You’re so cute, Twilight... even cuter than your friend Fluttershy. And you’re beautiful too, like Rarity, but way better and less bitchy. I... I want you now.”

>TWI: “Oh, Anon!”


>Rainbow sits there, completely mortified at what just came out of her mouth. You’re in about the same state, entirely unsure what to make of it.

So...uh...yeah. It appears that this is the "side effect" that was mentioned earlier. Apparently, there is an entire subgenre of human-on-pony romance fiction out there presumably 90% of which has been written by Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash's bracelet makes her...compulsively read it out loud. Or compose it on the spot. Or...something. Yeah, this is a pretty weird twist.

>ANONYMOUS carries TWILIGHT to her bedroom and places her upon her super cool looking star patterned sheets.

>TWI: “Anon, what are we going to do on the bed?”

>ANON: “We shall make love, Twilight. In the missionary position, as is the human tradition.”

What, no *POMF*? Fucking amateur hour. Tell Fluttershy and/or Buttersqueak that I want my money back.

Anywho, Rainbow Dash is now...apparently catatonic with embarrassment...and then...her squadron shows up...and...they decide to...take her back to the ship so the doctor can examine her. Yeah. Pretty weird twist, but it seems that once again the day is saved, thanks to Fluttershy's cringy fanfiction or whatever. I guess.

>You’ve experienced a lot of crazy shit in your time here, but this particular encounter has left you absolutely speechless.
Yeah, that about sums it up.

Sooo...since it seems that Rainbow Dash has been defeated for the time being, Anon and Sunbutt continue along their merry way.

>You begin walking in the direction of the altar once more, side by side. Instead of the pensive silence from before, Celestia hums a gentle tune which eventually starts to raise your spirits.
I'm still not quite sure why they're walking instead of flying. My understanding is that Celestia lost her alicorn powers but still technically has her wings. In fact, I'm certain of it, because her wings were specifically mentioned earlier in the chapter. Why not just fly to the altar? This seems like kind of a logic issue.

>A chuckle escapes you as the image of Rainbow explaining this episode to a therapist pony enters your mind. Celestia takes notice and nudges you with a wing.
Yeah, I suspect that we'll all have something to talk about with our therapists by the time this adventure is over. Also: the text just explicitly mentioned that she has wings. Why are they not flying right now?

Anyway, page break. It looks like they made it to the altar by sundown. The magical hoopajoo fires up, and Anon gets his stone. Looks like all they have to do now is pass through the seventeen gates of Koonga-Del-Rey, or whatever the flying fuck.

Since it is now past sundown, they decide to make camp for the night. They whip up some stew and have a casual dinner. When they finish, Celestia seems to be in a pensive mood. When Anon prods her about it, she decides that now is as good a time as any to lay her entire tragic backstory on him.

Unfortunately, we only get the short version. I'll do my best to sum up what the author gives us:

A long time ago, Celestia used to be an Earth Pony named Celosia. She appears to have lived on this island with her two friends. She refers to these friends as "brother" and "sister," though they don't seem to be related by blood. "Sister" is strongly implied to be Luna, but the identity of "Brother" remains unclear.

Something happened. It's not clear what, but it seems to have resulted in Celosia gaining an ascension orb, which she used to become an alicorn. Whatever happened, it caused a seismic shift that resulted in the formation of the present world. It also seems that "Brother" died somehow, and that Celestia's actions are to blame.

I'm not quite sure where the author is planning to go with all of this. I assume we'll get more information later on, but the problem here is that now the main character has information that we don't, and it affects his relationship with Celestia. Oh, also: once Celestia finishes spilling her guts, they kiss. So I guess they're more than friends now.

13 - Road of Trials - I

This chapter begins a three-part series, with each chapter comprising a single day. It sounds like running around to all thirteen of the gates they need to visit is a task that will take three days.

>It’s not the rays of dawn that awaken you as they have so many times in the past due to your habit of forgetting to close your blinds, but that’s not too surprising.
This sentence is bad and you should feel bad.

So anyway, in a shocking plot twist, it seems that Anon has abruptly changed his horsefucking stance from anti to pro. Celestia's tragic backstory seems to have been the cool island song that finally melted his icy heart, and they appear to be boyfriend and girlfriend now. Anyway, they wake up together, and spend a bit of time cuddling and kissing and whatnot.

>In several minutes you’ve packed up camp and are on your way toward the first of Equus Island’s thirteen Wayshrine Gates, munching on some energy bars while you walk.
Wait, where did he get energy bars? Did they hit up an equine 7-11 before their airship crashed?

Also, I still don't understand why they don't just fly to the gates and save a massive amount of time. This is actually a pretty significant plot hole: time is of the essence here, since Twilight clearly intends to take Anon back to Equestria by force, and Celestia doesn't have the power to protect him. They need to get this orb thing taken care of as soon as possible. I can understand the author wanting to make them walk in order to draw the adventure out, but there needs to be some plausible in-world reason for it. If Anon just hopped on Celestia's back and she flew them around to the thirteen gates, they could probably get this whole three-day challenge banged out before lunchtime.

We've already seen Rainbow Dash and her underlings flying around, so we know that there is nothing in the caldera limiting pegasus flight. We know that Celestia still has a pair of wings, and I don't recall hearing anything about them no longer being functional. Anon has ridden on Celestia's back before, both on the ground and in the air, so there is an established precedent. As a matter of fact, they just did this a couple of chapters ago, during the airship fight, and I don't remember anything about Celestia being injured or rendered flightless since then. There is no logical reason why they shouldn't be able to just fly to the thirteen gates, and every logical reason why they would want to. Unless someone can point out some glaringly obvious thing that I missed, I have little choice but to call shenanigans here.

Anyway, whatever. They make it to the first arch without incident. Apparently, each one of these things is a magic gateway that teleports to a pocket dimension, where a trial will need to be completed. The first of these trials is called "The Subterranean Waterfall."

As the name would suggest, they are transported into a cave containing a waterfall. Their task is apparently to climb up the wet cliffside without slipping and falling off into a bottomless abyss. As one might expect, this is much more challenging if you happen to be a horse. Fortunately, Anon has already been through all of these challenge-areas once before. In this case, he had the foresight to drive some rock-climbing anchors into the walls before he left, and to bring along a harness to hoist Celestia up as they go.

>The sight of the sunlight dancing upon the falling droplets of water is mesmerizing. It’s almost like someone’s pouring a bunch of diamonds into the chasm below. You look up to the top of the falls; your ultimate destination.
>“I’m guessing we can’t fly up, huh?”
Seriously, it's bothersome that this author seems to remember only intermittently that one of his characters can fly.

Anyway, as they climb, Anon thinks back to their conversation the previous night, and the author sketches in some more substantial details of Celestia's backstory:

Celestia, as we learned earlier, used to be called Celosia. She was an earth pony, who had the ability to make flowers grow wherever she walked. Incidentally, this name scheme is actually rather clever: "Celosia" is a type of flowering plant, so the name simultaneously corresponds to her abilities and bears a phonetic similarity to the name she ends up with when she ascends. Anyway, it seems that when she was younger, the three pony castes still existed as they do presently, though there was much more strife between them. They seemed to have stronger versions of the powers that they currently possess: the unicorns controlled the rising and setting of the sun, the pegasi controlled the weather, and the earth ponies had the power to make plants grow.

>The legends of the Cradle were older than time itself. It was a place held in both fear and reverence, built and blessed by our progenitors. Many times throughout history had the tribes sought to uncover the fabled great magic hidden there, but despite sending numerous expeditions, which often clashed against one another, the great magic was never found. All three tribes had given up searching before I was even born, determined that the rumored magic was nothing more than myth and devoting their resources to other pursuits.
I had thought that Celestia grew up in this caldera, but it seems I got that detail wrong. I think the idea is that this volcano-island is actually at the center of an inland sea contained within another island. I'm not 100% clear on whether that island or the volcano-island is called Equus; it's a point the author has been a little murky on. I think Equus is the surrounding island, and the volcano is called The Cradle. In any event, it seems that Celestia and the ponies of her era lived on the regular island, while the volcano island was some kind of sacred magic place.

Incidentally, the timeline here corresponds with the time period of the founding myth given in the show: Chancellor Puddinghead and the Windigoes and all that.
"Buck" in place of "fuck" doesn't bother me too much, oddly enough. I think I've used it myself a couple of times. Just steer clear of "squee" and we shouldn't have any problems.

Anyway, Celosia, being the most powerful flower-grower in all of earth-pony-land, is selected by Chancellor Puddinghead to journey to The Cradle and bring back the magic of something-or-other. So, she crosses over to the volcano and wanders around for a few weeks, until eventually she meets someone. The flashback ends here.

As an aside, I like the way this backstory is being fed to us in small, digestible chunks, rather than in giant infodumps as we've seen in previous stories. I wish more authors understood how to do this.

Anywho, the daydream ends, and we learn that Anon and Celestia were able to climb up the waterfall without incident. That's 1/13 trials complete.

>Together, you step outside the cave and into the warm sun, and in an instant you find yourselves back on Equus, just beyond the first gate.
Reee, now it's sounding like the volcano is called Equus after all. In that case, I have no idea what the surrounding island is called, or if there even is a surrounding island. Oh, whatever; I guess the geography isn't that important.

There is a page break, and they arrive at the next arch. Once again, the author seems to have a selective memory about Celestia's having wings, because apparently this trial involves crossing an ocean, and Celestia suggests that they fly over it.

Anyway, whatever. The next trial is "The Great Ocean and Horseshoe Island."

This trial turns out to be kind of a nothingburger. There's a huge ocean, and an island, and that's about it. Since they flew over the ocean, the "trial" mostly involves walking across the island until they come to a rune that takes them back. Anon even remarks on this, and Celestia explains that the location of each trial passes through one of the leylines of the world, and their goal is just to gather the magic of the leyline. Well, whatever; that's 2/13 down.

Next up: "Desert Ruins."

This one is a little more interesting. They arrive in a vast desert populated by giant Tremors-esque carnivorous sandworms. However, there's a twist: instead of sensing vibrations in the ground, they detect shadows, which means that flying is out. I feel like there's a little bit of a logic hole here, since even if they walk they are still casting shadows, but whatever; we'll put a pin in that for now. They can't fly because sand-worms, and they can't wait for nightfall because crazy old maid Sporkle is still after Anon's junk.

So, they have to go trudging across the hot, sandy desert. Trudge trudge trudge. Unfortunately, the sandworms start chasing them, so they have to trudge a little faster. Trudgetrudgetrudge. A short but decently-executed chase scene follows, Celestia defeats the sandworms by kicking over a pillar at just the right moment, they find the rune, and the trial is complete.

Next up: "Terror Caves."

This place is a network of caves populated by diamond dogs. They skulk about for a bit, trying to avoid the dogs. Skulk skulk skulk. Meanwhile, Anon starts daydreaming again and we are fed another piece of backstory from the previous evening:

>A twist of fate crashed into me in the form of a dark sapphire blue pegasus with the rather funny name of Gloomy Plume.
If I'm following this correctly, I'm assuming that this is the pony who eventually becomes Luna.

Anywho, Gloomy Plume turns out to be a pegasus deserter who ran away from her tribe because she wasn't interested in war or politics, she just wanted to study the stars. It seems that her wings were stronger than those of the average pegasus, and because of that Commander Hurricane drafted her into the army. She didn't like it there, so she ran away to The Cradle, or Equus Island, or whatever it's called exactly. She and Celosia become friends, and hang out on the island together. Celosia nicknames her "Lulu."

Meanwhile, back in the present, the diamond dogs have found them.

>With a sickening crack, Celestia bucks the sentry unconscious. She even put a damn dent in his stupid looking helmet... you make a mental note never to startle her from behind.
So I guess surprise buttsex is out of the question? I suddenly have conflicted feelings about traveling to Equestria.

Anyway, good news is that they've found the exit rune. Bad news is that it's in the middle of the diamond dogs' mess hall. For some reason the rune doesn't seem to affect the dogs, not sure what's up with that, but we'll put a pin in that for now. The leader of the pack steps up, and for a moment it looks like a boss fight. Then, suddenly:

>‘Leader’ perks his ears up. “Scratchings? Oh... oh no...”
>The scratching gets even louder, a nearby wall collapses, and giant fucking spiders begin streaming into the room.
Why would these dogs choose to live here?

So yeah, the room suddenly fills up with giant-ass spiders. While the spiders attack the diamond dogs, Celestia and Anon hop onto the rune and make their escape.

>Yeah, turns out the Terror Caves were aptly named after all.
>Fucking spiders...
Seriously, their realtor must have been laughing all the way to the bank.

Next up: "Forgotten Outpost."

This trial is in some kind of limbo dimension, where stone ruins float around in a black void filled with lightning. They have to make their way from stone to stone, dodging the lightning and so forth and so on. Anon wonders who built this weird-ass place and why, and Celestia explains that the "progenitors," some mysterious race that existed before ponies arrived on the scene, had built most of these places. Presumably the gates and the leylines and all of that were constructed by them as well.

Originally these floating islands were blocked off by a series of puzzle-locks, each more challenging than the last, which made this trial a bit of a doozie for Celestia and Luna when they came through here. However, when Anon was here, he didn't realize they were puzzles, so he just took them apart with his Leatherman tool. So, they breeze through this area in fairly short order.
369464 369466

When they emerge from the gate they see that the stars are out, so they decide to call it quits for the evening. That's 5/13 trials complete; not bad for day one, even if most of the trials were pretty straightforward. They make camp, have dinner, and hunker down for a night of passionate, rugged horse sex. End chapter.

14 - Road of Trials II

>The journey to each Wayshrine is becoming longer and longer as each subsequent gate is further away than the last.
Again, is there any particular reason they're walking to these shrines instead of flying to them?

>She lands a safe distance from the sixth shrine and you prepare to dismount, only to be stopped by a raised wing.
Huh. You know, it's starting to look like maybe they have been flying this entire time. This is a detail the author should probably have made a little clearer; most of the time the text doesn't specify.

Anyway, the next place is called: "Forsaken Shoals."

>Small, wispy white clouds are scattered across the bright blue sky, still tinged with the lingering colors of dawn. A peninsula linked to the mainland rests across the ocean waters far in the distance. But easily the most striking aspect of the scenery is the constantly shifting sandbar, visible just below the water’s surface, which connects your beach with the far peninsula. The shifting currents constantly distort it, creating a silver road through the water that dances like the aurora of the northern skies...
In general the prose in this story is so-so; it's not great, but it's probably good enough for fanfiction, and nowhere near as bad as some of the other stories we've read. However, I will note that descriptions of natural areas is one of this author's strong suits.

Anyway, this lagoon is inhabited by giant crabs, which apparently gave Anon some trouble the last time he was here. However, once again, Celestia's flight ability downgrades this trial to a mere errand. Nothing much happens here, mostly it's just Anon and Celestia having another cute and comfy moment together.

Next: "Labyrinthine Woods."

As the name would suggest, these woods are quite labyrinthine. Anon and Celly wander around for awhile, occasionally getting manhandled by rape-vines. The subject of the mysterious "brother" pony comes up during conversation, which segues into yet another flashback.

It's probably easiest to just pull the description of this guy directly from the text:

>He was an older unicorn stallion, obviously entering his twilight years, though with a certain stubbornness that indicated he was only as old as he felt. His brown, somewhat faded coat, black mane and tail with streaks of grey, and almost comically bushy eyebrows presented an odd dichotomy between a venerated elder and somepony you weren’t certain you should trust, and his odd cutie mark of a four leaf clover drawn upon the pages of a spellbook did little to reflect upon the nature of his character. He appeared out of the blue one day as we were walking toward the caldera’s southern edge, and he seemed almost as surprised to find us as we were to find him.

Anyway, this guy's name is Clover, and we soon learn that he is the very same Clover who was portrayed by Twilight in the Hearth's Warming Eve play about the founding of Equestria (S2 episode whatever). It seems that he was cast out by Princess Platinum for being a peace-mongering hippie who kept trying to bring the three pony tribes together. So, he came to this island to live in peace and tranquility and stuff. He met up with a couple of bozos named Celosia and Lulu, and the rest is history. The three of them became friends, and as soon as their friendship reached the "is magic" stage, a magical column of fire appeared and created the altar that we visited in Chapter 12.

Anyway, the flashback ends. Celestia comes across some old carvings that Clover made, which help them find their way through the woods. They reach the return rune without incident, and then it's on to the next place.

And the next place is: "Bloodfeast Slaughterfields Retirement Community."

We've heard this place referenced several times throughout the text. Basically, this is a nursing home retirement community for minotaurs, which for some reason also contains one of the leylines that control the world's flow of magic. As you might expect from this description, this segment is pretty much pure comic relief. Anon poses as an orderly, hides Celestia somehow (the text is not 100% clear on how they do this exactly, but I think it involves her hiding inside a cart he wheels around), and tries to make his way through to the exit rune. Along the way, he gets stopped by an old lady minotaur who attempts to seduce him. Apparently, this lady was the reason this particular trial was so traumatizing for Anon the last time around. Celestia comes to his rescue, and together they make their escape.

Next place: "Road of Fire."

Once again, we'll just go with the description the author provides:

>This place is a vision of hell. The radiating heat of the lava pouring down the side of the distant volcano is debilitating, robbing you of your strength. Each step must be careful and measured in order to ensure that your next footfall will be on ancient igneous rock instead of 1000 degree black lava. The earth rumbles and a nearby vent erupts, spewing deep red magma and superheated rock behind you. It’s impossible to predict where the next one will be, and honestly it feels like it’s up to pure random chance whether you’ll live through this or not...

As they cross this fiery hellscape, Anon recaps his time spent in Equestria. He recalls initially befriending Pinkie Pie and Twilight, and how Twilight's advances slowly went from being cute to completely out of control. He laments not nipping it in the bud, but also suspects they might have ended up at the same point either way due to her severe autism. Then, a fiery vent explodes, and Celestia injures her wing protecting him.
I kinda have drifted off in terms of care for this story. Kinda similar to how I drifted off when it came to that "Sun and the Rose" story. This is fine btw, not every story needs to appeal to me nor do I need to deny that it didn't captivate me. But on that subject those two stories are kinda similar in that our mc is a male human that ends up, despite swearing they aren't into hoers from the beginning, dating Celestia. You know which story I'm talking about right? The one with the knight coming to Equestria and stuff.

What do you think so far? Could you compare them with each other? You seem to be more positive towards this story for longer than that one iirc, which I really might not. I think you, as you have tendency to in these review series to like the story at the beginning but later think it's trash. I think that Sun and rose thingie was one of them. Correct me if I'm wrong. It's all a blur. I'm curious on what you think about the pair in comparison to each other.

Despite Celestia's injury, they make it out of the lake of fire more or less intact. Anon bandages up Celestia's wing because he apparently has a first-aid kit on him somewhere, and then they proceed onward to: "Progenitor Graveyard."

This place is the exact opposite of the last place: an arctic ice field somewhere in the frozen north, or south, or wherever. It sounds like they have about 100 miles of tundra they need to traverse, but fortunately Celestia's injury doesn't stop her from galloping across it. As they go, Anon begins to daydream again, and we get the next chunk of Celestia's tragic backstory:

When we last left Celosia, Lulu and Clover, they had just somehow friendship-magicked an altar into existence. The altar grants each of them a magical stone, but they aren't quite sure how to activate the magic.

At this point, Celosia is forced to confess that the whole reason she came to this island was to find this powerful magic and bring it back to the earth pony tribe, so they could use it to subjugate the unicorns and pegasi. However, she explains that she no longer wishes to do this, because friendship is magic and so forth. After discussing the matter for awhile, they conclude that since they've gotten to be such good friends, and since none of them were ever all that enthused about helping their respective tribes win the war in the first place, they should activate the magic stones and then use the power to become all-powerful demigods who rule the world with an iron hoof unite the three pony tribes.

Over a period of two and a half years, through extensive trial and error, they cross through the thirteen gates and charge up their orbs. Even still, they can't quite figure out how to get the dang things to actually work. However, when Lulu willingly gives her orb to Clover, something happens that solves the puzzle for them, although we are going to have to wait a bit for the specifics because it trails off here.

Anyway, back in the present, they arrive within sight of the exit rune. However, Celestia seems to have overextended herself, and collapses. Anon makes a fuss, but she seems to be more or less okay. He helps her to the rune, and then they are back on Equus Island again. They have dinner, Anon fusses over her some more, and they go to sleep. End chapter.

13 - Road of Trials - III

>Again, you’ve packed up camp and are off at dawn. You can’t fly to the next gates now, so the travel time between each one will be longer than usual.
Yeah, it looks like they actually were flying between these gates. I guess that explains how they were able to do 10/13 in two days. However, the author really should have made it a bit clearer. In the earlier chapters, it was stated that Anon was riding on Celestia's back, but whether they were flying or riding was left ambiguous. Either that or my reading comprehension sucks; sometimes it's a tossup. However, I don't think I'm wrong here.

Anyway, they make it to the next gate, step through, and find themselves in: "Estrus Valley."

Here is the author's description:

>A great, verdant valley appears before your eyes. Grassy inclines turn to steep, rocky mountains on each side. A calm river weaves its way along the single, well-worn road, providing plenty of pure water to drink. The sun is warm, but not overly hot. In essence, it’s perfectly relaxing.
Sounds tranquil. I wonder what horrible and presumably erotic surprises are lurking just around the corner?

>Yeah, good old changelings. They sure love their... well, their love, and they’ll go to any lengths to get it.
Ohhhhh, okay. I see where this is going.

Before I get too deep into this one, I should probably clear up another minor mistake I made earlier. I was initially under the impression that the gateways led into pocket dimensions that existed solely for the purpose of the trials. This is actually not accurate; the gates do indeed teleport to other places, but they are real places that exist in the same world as Equestria and the island of Equus. The point of the gateways is that they lead to places where these "leylines" cross, which enables someone holding one of the stones to charge it up with magic and shit. The author actually cleared this up pretty early on, I just haven't mentioned it.

Anyway, this particular leyline runs through a valley that connects two pony cities. In the middle of this valley is a Changeling hive. The Changelings strategically placed their hive in this valley because any pony traveling between the two cities would not be able to avoid it, thus they could ambush wayward ponies and feed on their love. However, the advent of air travel (which I'm assuming means balloons and/or zeppelins and/or airships for non-pegasi) rendered this strategy obsolete. So, in the CURRENT YEAR, the only ponies who enter this hive are the ones who are specifically looking for what the Changelings have to offer. If you take my meaning.

So, Anon shows up at this hive because he literally has to pass through it to magic up his stone. Immediately upon entering, he is propositioned by 200 clones of Bon Bon. Celestia predictably cockblocks him, which may or may not be what he actually wanted, since it seems that his attitudes on horse poon have changed since the last time he was here. However, she is now acting a little strange:

>So, on a related note, when would you like to consummate our relationship? Because I’d really like to do that soon.

> So you’ll find the time to face the Trials of Equus, and run from being forcibly wed to a demonstrably crazy pony, but you won’t find the time to rut me? Am I that ugly to you?

>“What? What the hell’s gotten into you?!”
>“Nothing! That’s the problem!”

Couple of things. For one, I actually thought they had consummated. It wasn't stated, but was heavily implied. Two, there are a couple of possibilities here: either she's a changeling, or she's in heat. I guess we'll find out which it is momentarily.
> But on that subject those two stories are kinda similar in that our mc is a male human that ends up, despite swearing they aren't into hoers from the beginning, dating Celestia.
>What do you think so far? Could you compare them with each other?
The similarities between this one and Sun & Rose had occurred to me as well, I was thinking of doing a comparison a little later on. I can go over it a little bit here.

It's been a long time since I did S&R. I do remember thinking it had some potential, but the idea wasn't quite there yet, and the execution was poor enough that I just couldn't give it a solid thumbs-up. I think I did that one right after either Past Sins or Friendship is Optimal, and I liked it better than either one of those, but at the same time they aren't high bars to pass.

Here is what I think this current story has going for it.

Part of it is just purely subjective taste: this is a lighthearted action-adventure tale that is also half a romantic comedy and at least 30% shitpost, and that just happens to be one kind of thing that I enjoy. This author makes his share of mistakes, and I might be going a bit easier on him than I have on others simply because I enjoy what he's writing about (I probably did a bit of that with The Best Night Ever as well). At the same time though, this story also has some objective good points that it deserves credit for.

For the most part, I find this to be a well-plotted story. The beginning is admittedly a bit slow, but as soon as the adventure kicks off, I find that the pacing is pretty solid, events happen about when they are supposed to happen, there aren't any weird digressions or extraneous meandering unnecessary subplots like we saw in some of those 100k+ word monstrosities that we read. Some of the humor is a little cringe, but it's cringe at a level I find acceptable for a story that is fundamentally about a man fucking a cartoon horse. This guy clearly either spent some time learning to properly plot a novel, or else he has a significantly above-average instinct for how it ought to be done.

As I said, his actual writing is kind of meh. His prose I can take or leave: he can be really eloquent when describing the outdoors or nature, but most of the time this story reads like a slightly-above-average greentext. This doesn't really count against it, though. Ideally you want to be both, but if you have to pick one, it's better to be good at building a story and bad at writing than the other way around unless you just want to write technical manuals or something like Iceman. This guy is a pretty good storyteller and a passable writer, which by the standards of what I've read on fimfiction so far pretty much makes him Shakespeare.

By contrast, Sun & Rose started out with some good ideas, but wasn't really able to develop any of them well. The premise I thought was interesting and could have made a really good story: Celestia wanders through the EqG portal into medieval England and becomes human, gets bonked on the head and loses her memory, then ends up getting married to some guy from that time period. Then, she regains her memory and goes back to Equestria, and her husband follows her in, but has to contend with the fact that his waifu is now a horse for crying out loud. It could have been a very enjoyable romance/adventure story, but...it just wasn't.

The main character, as I recall, was sort of a mishmash of a lot of half-formed ideas. He had kind of a complicated backstory that wasn't fully explained; his mother was a peasant and his father was a nobleman, somehow they wound up married despite that being pretty unlikely back then, and their lowborn-bastard son became a high ranking knight somehow, despite that being even less likely...I remember being confused by a lot of it. Also, the guy was meant to be kind of a sad, tragic figure, but again, the author didn't develop him all that well, so he came across as kind of unintentionally comical at best and a boring drip at worst. The author didn't really put enough thought into why this guy was so sad and traumatized, he just sort of assumed that anyone from this time period would naturally be this way, because life in the middle ages was rough compared to today. His background was a little too generalized to make him sympathetic, and he didn't have any other noteworthy characteristics, so mostly I just found him dull.

As I recall, the characterization of Celestia was decent, and I found her generally likable. There were also a couple of other characters in the story who could have been interesting but were severely underutilized: I think the main character had a female pony friend that could have played a bigger role, and the villain, Chucky Larms, despite having literally the worst pony name I've ever heard, actually had a lot of potential that was never realized. Plus, the story veered off in some pretty weird and stupid directions OMG RATS!!!1!.

On the technical side, the writing was just god-awful. The guy misspelled common words and fucked up really basic grammatical shit like all the time. On top of that, he tried way too hard to gussy up his prose. The effect was like spray-painting a turd with gold paint and then decorating it with glitter. The writing style just screams "babby's first writing project," but he tries to cover it up with badly-written purple prose, which just makes it scream even louder, in excruciating pain no less. I could forgive a lot of it if the story itself was better, but...it just had too many problems. If he spent a little time learning and practicing and then did a rewrite of the same idea, it might turn out much better, but as it is it's pretty disappointing.

Exchange is technically better written and better plotted, and it doesn't try to take itself anywhere near as seriously as Sun & Rose did. All in all it's a much more enjoyable read.