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End of an Era · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Fire In The Promised Land
The traces of the wagon harness bit into Peridot’s shoulders as she pulled, leaving lines of fire down her flanks to her burning hooves. Fire was good, fire was the friend of a unicorn, in fireplaces and in ovens, bringing heat to the world and food to the belly, but this fire ate into the aching muscles beneath her coat and threatened to rob her of life as it burned the last vestige of fat from her pampered ribs and noble chest. Soon, she would be out of fat to burn and she would waste away as she walked, ever onwards, away from her home and in the direction of a mere promise.

As the days had passed, the endless trudging through drifts of snow had progressed to slogging through slush, then mud, until finally sprigs of grass peeked up in clumps, giving weight to Princess Platinum’s promise of a new home. To either side, as far as the eye could see, ponies of all types trudged along just like her, with the strict cultural divisions of Unicornia thrown into the ash-heap of history, just like the golden spires and shimmering fountains of her homeland, now buried beneath endless snow and ice.

All of the ponies in the exodus had suffered loss. Peridot’s eldest son had foolishly joined an expedition to the highest peaks in the Unicorn Range to confront the Windigos, and had been mourned when only two frostbitten earth pony servants staggered back to the city with tales of the brave unicorns turned to ice and shattered into bloody red shards. Her other son had been with King Bullion’s escort during the terrifying descent from their mountain home and caught in the avalanche which had swept the cream of unicorn society into a churning ball of ice and stones cascading down the mountain into the valley far below.

Peridot, at least, admitted to the death of her sons. Princess Platinum had stated quite firmly that her father was merely lost, and at any moment he would return to take his proper place as king. In his absence, she had refused to take up the mantle of queen as she roamed through the mass of fleeing ponies, giving reassurance and confidence where it was the most needed, and even taking her own turn under the harness of any wagon which seemed to be flagging during their journey.

Even the most arrogant and noble unicorn remaining could not do less when their own pristine princess was knee-deep in mud, pulling the wagon of a common earth pony servant. If the nobles had their way, the wagons would be piled high with the contents of their mansions, heaped with statues and piles of gold while earth ponies bent to their proper place under the harness. Instead, both king and princess had relentlessly stalked through the evacuation of the city and ordered their priorities with steel discipline.

Only the most needed of things would be taken. Sculptors wept outside their snow-packed galleries as they collected only their most-needed tools for the trip, while poets stood in the streets and read aloud from their works before feeding them into the fires for warmth. Princess Platinum had even thrown her crown into the rubbish a dozen times, only to have one pony or another retrieve it and carry it in her place. Food, foals and the bare essentials were all that made it onto the massive caravan, but as the punishing journey went on, the departure from their ice-choked city left a trail.

Hardly a night went by without one pony or another found dead from fatigue or stress, left behind under whatever cover could be scraped together as the wagons once again departed with the light of day. Broken wheels and trash, discarded tools and unneeded material trinkets, all scattered across the graves of the dead as the ponies moved ever onward. They were hungry, sick, soaked in sweat and bloody with the scratches of ice and rocks, but they still trudged along toward the warm land which Princess Platinum had promised.

The cultural divides of ponykind had cracked when the Windigos had first appeared, but now had been shattered completely in exchange for simple survival. The distinctions between pegasi, unicorns or earth ponies no longer mattered when the day was done and the herd gathered together in small clumps to give in to their exhaustion. The breakdown had even struck Peridot where she least expected it, as the eldest child of her senior servant was now showing the first signs of being swollen with foal, and the pregnancy could only be the result of her eldest son’s attentions during the cold, dark nights. At one time so few moons ago, the possibly hornless foal would have been an embarrassment to her House, gotten rid of or hidden to conceal the shame, but now Peridot could only pray to whatever unknown gods of this new land that her grandchild would survive, even if she perished. Undoubtedly, there were many in the vast herd in much the same situation as the cold of the unceasing winter had driven together pairs of ponies who never would have associated before. Warmth was warmth after all, and the fire of love could drive away the chill of the Windigo, if only for a brief time.

The slow descent of the Sun triggered a practiced reaction for the grazing ponies in front of the line of wagons. The wide line, spread apart so each scattered blade of grass could be eaten instead of trod upon, slowly began to condense together in tired clumps and groups. Campsites were started, with little dots of campfires from precious scavenged wood as the ponies gathered to warm themselves before the darkness swallowed the land and the creatures of the night came out to hunt. The slow wagons did not reach the campsites until the Sun had touched the horizon, but Peridot Brings The Dawn did not hurry her actions as she shrugged free of the harness. Her task as Dawnbringer was passed to others for a time. The strain of raising the sun and moon had backlashed on her several days ago, and she had been told to not use her magic until it recovered. She took the news much like a pegasus being told not to fly or an earth pony not to walk, and had thrown herself into the only activity she could by pulling the family wagon so the servants and her lone remaining daughter could graze on what little bits of grass stuck out above the scattered snow and mud while they plodded onward.

The earth pony servants and farmers who had been traveling with them already had a small campfire going with a pot of gooey oats starting to simmer by the time Peridot dropped her rump into an empty spot by the fire. She really did not need the warmth, as hours of walking had kept her warm, but it kept the cooling chill away as the clammy sweat on her coat began to finally evaporate. She accepted a bowl of watery oats from her daughter, Twinkle, as the slender unicorn filly sat and watched her afterwards.

“Go on,” said Peridot, nodding toward the other ponies. “Your father is joining with the Nightbringers to raise the Moon. Prepare a place for him at the wagon when he is finished, and get some rest. I will be along shortly.”

“No, Mother.” It was a bit of a shock to hear her daughter talking, because Twinkle Twinkle had always been a very quiet child, even before the snow had begun to fall. If still waters ran deep as the old saying went, Twinkle’s waters were frozen solid and went down for many furlongs. She just sat there, with her skinny sides the faint shade of pale wisteria showing ribs as she breathed, and looking at her mother with dark violet eyes so close to black as to be indistinguishable in the shadows. She lit her horn with a pale pink glow, and the bowl of watery oats floated closer to Peridot, with a spoon beginning to descend into it much the same way as she had fed the little filly years ago. “Eat,” said Twinkle.

She obediently opened her mouth and accepted the first spoonful of oats from her daughter, keeping careful track of the level remaining until she held up one hoof. “Enough, Twinkle.”

Her daughter did not react, but just remained with the spoonful of oats hovering in front of Peridot’s lips. It took an astute observer to pick up on the subtle clues, as Twinkle was a frustratingly closed pony who never seemed to smile or frown, but her mother could sense the sharp tension inside her ebb slightly as she accepted the last bite of oats and leaned over to give her quiet daughter a brief nuzzle. “Lie down,” said Peridot once she had finished chewing. “I have something which must be done.”

It was odd to hold the cooling bowl in the crook of one hoof instead of her magic, but Peridot had been through the magical exhaustion of raising the sun before, and was used to the limitations of earth ponies. She waited until Twinkle had strode slowly off to the family wagon for her nightly resting spot before Peridot walked over to where the small family group of servants were gathered, and to Willowbark, who watched her approach.

“Dawnbringer Peridot,” said Willowbark, lowering herself into a deep bow alongside her family. “We are honored.”

“You are hungry,” said Peridot bluntly. “Eat.” She passed over the half-full bowl of oats to the reluctant young earth pony mare and fixed her with the most firm glare she could manage. “You carry my grandchild, but even if you did not, you were the favorite of my son, and I will not see you go without as long as I have breath in my body. Again I say to you. Eat.”

“I…” The young mare hesitated, looking back and forth among her family. “I do not deserve—”

“None of us deserve this,” said Peridot. “We have all lost much, your family and mine, as well as all ponykind. I say this not as the Mistress of House Starshine, nor as a unicorn, but as the mother-in-law I wish I was, standing by your side with my son as your husband. I cannot demand that you eat in order to keep your strength up, but I can ask. A third time I say to you. Eat.”

The mare stood quietly, without even a glance at her silent family behind her as she digested the impossible things her unicorn mistress had said. Then she bowed her head, stuck her nose in the bowl, and quietly ate until the last flake of oats was gone and the bottom of the bowl had been licked clean. “Thank you,” said Willowbark with eyes downcast once she had finished. “Thank you, Dawnbringer Peridot.”

“I…” Peridot hesitated, unwilling at first to make the unprecedented move, then flowed into the words a unicorn was never to say to a common earth pony. “I would ask for you to call me… Mother.”

The young earth pony was taken aback, looking up and blinking her dark blue eyes several times before asking, “Are you certain? The rest of the unicorns—”

“The rest of my pretentious kind can bite my cutie mark,” said Peridot as a small spark of ire rose up in her heart. “If you were good enough for my son, you are good enough for me.”

The thought stayed warm in her chest as Peridot returned to the family wagon where her exhausted husband had already collapsed next to one wheel with little Twinkle snuggled up to his side. It had warmed enough since their frigid departure from the city that they no longer needed to wrap themselves in every blanket they had been able to bring, but Twinkle was the most precious creation they had remaining, and they slept on either side of her to protect the last remaining fragment of their life together. Peridot bent down painfully from the aches and twinges of her day in the harness only to find a small pile of damp grass placed right where she was to lay her head. Undoubtedly, either her husband or child had placed it there, gleaned from their meager grazing ahead of the wagon. With substantial reluctance overcome by the burning hunger in her belly, she silently ate their sacrifice down to the last blade of grass before settling in beside them, three bits of warmth in the cold darkness.




The clang of alarms and the flare of illumination spells woke Peridot from a dream of drifting ice and snow blowing endlessly over the spires of her childhood home and into the harsh reality of fire blossoming up in the sky as pegasi darted and danced around huge flying monsters.

Dragons!

The screams of frightened ponies filled the air as the massive shadows in the sky darted down, spraying dragonfire across several wagons before swooping back up into the air. One shadowy drake veered in their direction only to turn away when Obsidian fired a bolt of magic in its chest, making the dragon silently vanish into the smoke as it sought less-protected prey. Her husband was powerful, but his magic had done no more than annoy the dragon, much as the flashes of unicorn magic from all around them in the darkness did not seem to be very effective against the attackers.

“Too strong,” rumbled her impassive husband, holding back a second bolt of magic while looking for another target. “Scales are too thick for magic.”

A second dragon tumbled past, this one with a dozen pegasi swiping and jabbing at it. The golden armor they were wearing was a last minute improvisation by the earth ponies and unicorns as they prepared to leave their home, taking one last frantic effort to protect the militant pegasi who were to protect them. Forged by earth ponies from whatever metal they could grab at the time and hurriedly enchanted by unicorns, the armor was proving its worth now as a dragon caught one of its pursuers in a crushing swipe that bounced the pegasus off the ground, only to have him spring right back up into the air and ram a spear into the monster’s belly. The tumbling melee passed on out of sight with Obsidian still not having fired his magical bolt, and Peridot’s husband looked around the sky for another, less-obstructed target.

“We need to get to the ballista,” gasped Peridot as she finally made it to her hooves. An unexpected fire of protective rage flared in her chest as she watched distant shapes in the smoke plunge down on the defenseless ponies and the screams of terror abruptly cut off. “Twinkle, you stay here and protect the servants.”

Her daughter simply looked back with her normal impassive gaze, not seeming to be worried in the slightest about the screams of death and destruction all around. With a nod, Twinkle turned to begin herding the nervous earth ponies into safety, or at least getting the youngest and most vulnerable hidden under the wagon where they would not be trampled by the panicked ponies. Obsidian, however, turned to look at Peridot with a sharp glare.

“Wife, we should not abandon our family.” His eyes twitched to the sky, and the held bolt of magic finally shot away, bouncing off the ribs of a passing dragon and causing the beast to wheel away while hissing in pain.

“If we do not hurt them, if we do not kill them, they will return,” snapped Peridot, feeling the fire in her chest rage hotter in impotent fury as ponies died. “They will see us as nothing more than food, and will harvest us as grain before the scythe until the last are consumed. Come!”

She broke into a gallop in the direction of the ballista, a crude device slapped together by earth pony artisans in the last hours before they had left Unicornia. By using captured torsion of a wooden crossbar, it could fling a spear much further than even the most powerful unicorn, although it had only been used to frighten away larger predators until now. By the time she had galloped to the device with her husband close behind, it had already seen a close attack of at least one dragon, as several wounded ponies lay scattered around the area, and one massive earth pony was slowly winding the device all by himself while bleeding from a shallow cut across his forehead.

Throwing herself into the winding mechanism beside him, Peridot grunted as the ratchet clattered, one sharp noise at a time while expecting at any second the blaze of dragonfire sweeping over her tired body. Behind her, there was a bright glare of silver light and the sharp tang of magic as Obsidian forced an enchantment spell onto one of the spears which had been scattered around the siege machine as if they were foal’s toys. The scent of blood and fire made the primitive part of her pony mind want to hide and quake in terror, but the thought of the dragons attacking her sole remaining child drove the fear out of her mind and replaced it with the feral growl of a mare facing off against predators in the wild.

The smoke drifting around the night air billowed as another dragon flew overhead, beleaguered by a dozen pegasi but snapping and swinging as a pony might when beset by a swarm of bees, only in this case, the bees were getting the raw end of the deal. One pegasus was caught by the dragon’s tail in a stunning slap, spinning out of control and bouncing off the ground a short distance away in a violent tumble ending in a spray of dirt and a virulent curse.

Flames had scoured the pegasus of his helmet’s crest and most of his tail, but he staggered back up and shook his head as he caught sight of the earth pony ballista, as well as the mismatched crew. “Don’t load it like that!” he called out, darting over next to the device and supervising their work.

Obsidian accepted his assistance loading the glowing spear, but he swatted away the pegasus hoof reaching for the triggering device as another dragon flew by, a mere ghost in the growing smoke.

“No,” grunted her husband. “Closer.”

“Closer, right,” said the pegasus. He shouted up into the clouds of choking smoke at another of his kind, pacing his words with a note of command that brooked no disobedience. “Private Pansy! Get a couple of your squad and lure one of those big monsters here! We’ve got a surprise for it.”

The pegasus saluted with a sharp “Yes, Commander!” drifting down before she darted away into the smoke.

It took interminable minutes before Peridot spotted another of the massive beasts, shimmering a deep magenta in the reflected light from the smoke and illumination flares as it lunged and snapped at a cloud of bothersome pegasi. They seemed to be almost herding the dragon like a troublesome bear, judging their spearing jabs and close passes with the bravery of ponies who had nothing to lose. One pegasus had not dodged very well, and was clenched fast in one talon-tipped fist, still struggling against her imprisonment but apparently alive enough to scream while fighting to get free.

The pegasus commander reached for the triggering mechanism again, only to have Obsidian block his hoof again.

“Closer,” he repeated. “Taunt it and draw its attention or you could hit the captive.”

“All right, if that’s the way you want to play the game,” snapped the pegasus. He held up his forehooves over his head and shouted at the top of his lungs, “Oy! Fathead! Yeah, you there with the tiny brain and the oversized ears. Didn’t your mother used to clean our toilets?”

As the dragon roared, the pegasus commander waggled his rear at it, but only briefly, because the dragon followed its roar by darting forward at an astonishingly-rapid velocity with its mouth opening up to breathe.

“Shoot! Shoooot!!” shouted the captive pegasus as the dragon drew close and inhaled. The commander scrabbled for the trigger again, but Peridot blocked him this time, holding the larger pegasus back with a strength born of desperation as the dragonfire poured down on them and her husband lit up his horn.

Fire washed over the translucent barrier Obsidian projected across the siege machine and its crew, leaving the dragon frozen in surprise when the smoke blew away. It only lasted a moment, but that was all it took for the pegasus commander to adjust the aim of the ballista and stroke the triggering mechanism, sending the hard-driven enchanted spear deep into the dragon’s magenta-scaled chest and nearly out its back. With a piercing shriek of pain, the dragon contorted in agony, flinging the captive pegasus out into the darkness as it crashed onto the ground, then with one final bellow and a spray of grass and dirt, the dragon rolled over a nearby rise and thrashed out its life.

The mismatched crew stared at the furrow the dragon had plowed in the muddy grass as the pegasi above gave a ragged cheer. The earth pony next to Peridot who had helped load was the first to recover, patting the ballista on its rough wooden surface and rasping, “Was that close enough?”

“Oh, yeah,” breathed the pegasus commander with his eyes narrowing and a victorious grin beginning to emerge onto his face as he pointed. “Come on! There’s some more over there. Let’s go—” his grin became feral “—hunting.”




What seemed like years later, Peridot finally managed to take a breath without hearing the sounds of dragons above. They had fled, leaving the bodies of ponies and dragons scattered around the torn landscape as the false light of impending sunrise began to paint the sky.

Despite the crushing fatigue overtaking every living pony remaining, the dead ponies, or what was left of them, were buried as quickly as possible. Some of the missing had run away and some were lost to a horrible fate, but the vast majority had survived yet another night, and for that, the survivors were grateful.

Once the last of the pony bodies had been placed under the ground and mourned, Obsidian strained his magic along with the remainder of the unicorns, a line of colorful dots in the darkness stretching as far as the eye could see in each direction. There were holes in the line, their light weak in others, but all lit up as the Moon slid down below the horizon and the Sun rose on the scene of blood and death.

The dead dragons were ignored as the ponies turned to their morning tasks. There were more important needs than to bury the monsters. They would be left behind as the ponies moved onwards, left to rot on the muddy battlefield. They were dead. There were far too many dead by now.

The living were what was important. The lines of ponies began to form again, ready to start their journey onward in the direction of Princess Platinum’s promise, fewer in number but still united in purpose. Peridot and Obsidian trudged back to their wagon, coats caked in ashes and mud, only to stop as the empty hill came into view.

Where the wagon had been was nothing but a torn blanket and empty dirt, trod into a thick morass by the claws of several dragons. There was no wagon, no servants, and most importantly, no Twinkle.

Peridot stumbled forward onto the hill, groping at the discarded blanket in the forlorn hope that it somehow concealed some hint that her last foal was still living, but there was nothing but a few strands of dry grass and several pale hairs. Crushing fatigue rooted her to the spot while the dawning sun burned hot on her neck and the world seemed to fade away. She took a deep breath, bowed her head, and finally released the tears she had been holding back for months. To her side, her silent spouse held a trembling hoof across her back and also joined in her sorrow with tears of his own as they held each other.

A gentle touch on her shoulder made Peridot twitch and open one eye to see a familiar pony, blurred through tears but still and silent in front of her with all the weight of one who bore tragic news. Behind Willowbark stood the rest of the family servants, each surviving earth pony slumped in fatigue on the muddy ground with their heads bowed, ever obedient to her will as they had been to her household for generations. Their survival was an unexpected sight, but her daughter was not among them, and Peridot’s heart sank in despair as the young earth pony mare began to speak.

“Dawnbringer Peridot. Nightbringer Obsidian. Lady Twinkle saved our lives.” Willowbark swallowed while her tense neck trembled, but she continued, with her voice as strong as the namesake of all earth ponies. “When the dragons appeared, she ordered us to our neighbor’s wagon down the hill, but she stayed behind to draw their attention. She said the pittance of gold stored in the floorboards of your wagon would delay them, and that we all were to hide and be very quiet.”

Willowbark moved with trembling hooves, stopping a distance away from where the family wagon had been parked and pointing up into the air with one hoof. “There were two dragons right there, and she faced them down. We were all so frightened we could not move, but your daughter just stood right here in the open and rebuked them until they seized the wagon and flew away, taking her with them. She was so brave.”

“She’s alive?” Peridot moved forward, reaching out with one hoof to the earth pony servant before she caught herself and returned to her husband’s side. “She’s alive,” said Peridot, her voice cracking.

Willowbark shook her head. “She was, but she can’t be now. They would not have kept her alive for long, Dawnbringer. They are beasts.”

“She is alive, and will rejoin us soon, my daughter,” said Peridot through narrowed lips. “I refuse to admit otherwise. Are you and your family ready to depart, Willowbark?”

“How can you—”

“We must go. The greater herd is already moving.” Peridot looked in their direction of travel and took a deep breath. “The bodies of the dragons will draw predators. Have your neighbor’s wagon prepared to depart at once.”

“There could be others who fled during the attack,” said Willowbark.

“The pegasi are searching. They will bring them to us as we travel.” Peridot took in the group of frightened earth ponies and the heavy wagon at the bottom of the hill with one sweep of her eyes, as well as the slow trembling of Obsidian at her side. “Have my husband loaded into the neighbor’s wagon to rest before he collapses. We shall join their herd, and pull our weight.” Peridot fixed the nervous earth pony mare with a direct look. “As my newest daughter, I expect obedience. Now, please.”

While the young mare helped Obsidian to the waiting wagon, Peridot took one last glance backwards at where the land of Unicornia had been before the ice and snow had swallowed it alive.

Then she walked down the hill and took her place in one of the unused wagon harnesses as the earth ponies spread out and began to walk, ever onward to the promised land.
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#1 · 1
· · >>georg
Quibble: Using the name Peridot will make many readers think this is a Steven Universe crossover. Know your audience. Bronies are likely to watch Steven Universe. At least read the Wikipedia page on it.

The good news: This is at the top of my slate. This was the only story on my slate that I wanted to finish.

The bad news: IMHO, to write at a publishable level, an author needs to master 2 tracks: technique (grammar, style, dialogue, description, tension, scene structure, plot structure) and theme.

Technique is hard, and this story is there in terms of technique. Congratulations!

Theme is... not hard, and not easy. It is the thing that some people know intuitively and some people never learn. It is what makes a story resonate. I couldn't discern a theme. I guess I mean, what could this story mean to me? What in my life will ever make me think back to this story?

Usually an adventure story takes a character arc as its theme; see the scriptnotes analysis of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" for a great example. There is no character arc here. In this story, the character arc would most likely be Peridot learning in her own life the lesson she must teach to the tribes. But Peridot is already at Mary Sue levels of modern late-20th-century egalitarianism at the start of the story. She's so egalitarian that it's a plausibility problem. She should end up still not as modern-minded as she is in this story, and start out somewhere well south of that.
#2 ·
· · >>georg
I do love seeing a truly noble take on Princess Platinum.

An excellent tale of the dark reality behind the not-Christmas pageant. I especially like the parallels between Platinum and Peridot’s denial when losing loved ones. With regards to Bad Horse’s comment about Peridot’s egalitarianism, I think that could be addressed by starting the story earlier, so we can watch her haughtiness erode under the pressures of the long road and the needs of survival. Still, you probably should tone it down a bit. It's hard to believe that tribal divisions could ever flare up in this generation after such an arduous exodus.
#3 ·
· · >>FrontSevens >>The_Letter_J >>georg
I'm gonna at least agree that Peridot was far more altruistic than she should have been (maybe make her less accepting of her son's biracial child at first and have her change her mind by the end of the story?). And I'm a little confused on whether or not the unnamed pegasus officer was supposed to be Hurricane. I want to say it was, but unless I'm missing something, Hurricane wasn't a dude...

Anyway, all that aside, I liked this story tremendously. Easily one of my favorites so far.
#4 ·
· · >>Posh >>The_Letter_J >>georg
I like the action in this one, I like the tone, I like the characters. The atmosphere feels rich and the story pulled me in. I liked this. Good job. :>

My biggest gripe with the story is the large infodump in the beginning. It’s still technically story, but it keeps describing things that had happened, and for me, it was distracting bouncing back and forth to Peridot.

It also feels like I joined mid-story. It was sort of a mini-arc, fighting the dragons, Peridot thinking she’d lost her daughter, and hoping she’d find her alive. So there was an arc, but I feel like I’m watching a passing train instead of riding it from start to finish. Which, maybe this story is better-suited in long form, and maybe the word limit was too short, but the large infodump and the lack of closure didn’t make this story feel complete as it is.

>>Posh
Hurricane and all the other ponies in the Hearth’s Warming play were played by the main six, who happen to be female. I don’t think any of the historical figures were explicitly said by the show to be female, with the exception of Princess Platinum, where it’s sort of implied. They could be either gender, you misogynist scum :v :v :v Or, like, the male equivalent of a misogynist >.>
#5 · 2
·
>>FrontSevens

Hurricane and all the other ponies in the Hearth’s Warming play were played by the main six, who happen to be female. I don’t think any of the historical figures were explicitly said by the show to be female, with the exception of Princess Platinum, where it’s sort of implied. They could be either gender, you misogynist scum :v :v :v Or, like, the male equivalent of a misogynist >.>


I am filth. D:
#6 · 1
· · >>georg
This is simply a lovely story. I praised Slingshot, but that one holds its own, even w/r to a clear medalist.

There's really little I can say. It was both entertaining and suitably dark. I simply regret that the story sort of ends abruptly, without clear resolution. It picks up midway and, as BH points out, the psychological evolution of Peridot cannot be a satisfactory conclusion, because she already evolved before the story begins. So all we're left with is an unfinished voyage.

Thus, this story badly needs a sequel, or an expansion. But I bet it will medal nonetheless (even if it is not on my slate). Congrats, author, for your obvious skill and richness of imagination that I envy you.
#7 · 1
·
>>Posh
>>FrontSevens
There was some book or other something of questionable canonicity that said Commander Hurricane was male, and many people's headcanons have accepted it.

I really don't have much to say about this story. It will definitely make finals, and I won't be surprised if it medals.
#8 ·
· · >>georg
"Peridot": Yeah, was confused for a second that this was a Steven Universe crossover (which I'd be all in favor of.) As that's not exactly a common name (or even word) I'd be really surprised if the author did NOT get this from SU. That's a minor quibble though.

Second up is the idea that Peridot is too progressive for her time. Okay, yeah, she kind of is. In my reading though, I filled in a lot of backstory in my head, meaning it took her a lot of time and struggle to start treating earth ponies with respect, etc. We just happen to jump in far later. The downside is that means her character growth there (limited as it is in the span of the story) isn't really the story.

So, lastly, what is the story? It's a great scene, and the dragon fight has fantastic action and emotion in it, as does the march before it, but the ending doesn't really conclude anything. We really have two scenes... the long march, and the big fight, and then it just ends, more than finishes.

All that said, I really did enjoy this one. It's well written, and kept me hooked the whole time. Definitely a strong contender, but I feel a couple of others edge it out in terms of execution.
#9 · 7
·
Fire In The Promised Land is mine, as you now know. It is a brand-new opening chapter that goes with my stalled fic Twinkle Twinkle, Speaker to Dragons, which I hope will give me enough of a push to work my way through it. There are a couple of points I was hoping to pass along to readers, so let me Tell for a second here:

1) Peridot is the mare of the family, a ruling unicorn of a royal house, and is very used to giving orders, even to her husband. No worry about Women's Lib in this era.

2) Peridot is undergoing several changes: Fat to skinny, peaceful to violent, having a complete family to only having a husband and an illegitimate grandfoal on the way. Each change is chipping away a little bit of her, and turning her into a far different mare than she was originally. All of the ponies in the exodus are going through similar changes, including Princess Platinum, who went a little crazy with the loss of her father.

3) Obsidian has almost *zero* lines because he’s subservient to his wife and that’s his general nature, quiet and strong. This helps keep the focus on Peridot.

4) Twinkle Twinkle is weird, because she has damage to the amygdala in her brain (birth defect), causing a complete and total lack of fear as well as some other odd behaviors. This is only gently touched on, as it is not important in the first chapter of the story. It is later (note the clip I have below).

Let me address a few concerns:

I’m not a Steven Universe fan, so I really didn’t know how calling her Peridot was much like calling your fic’s magic school student Harry, or your vampire character Edward. I’ll consider changing the name, but I may not. I like it.
>>Xepher
>>Posh
Peridot being a Progressive. Um. Not really. Desperate measures for desperate times. When she does the oatmeal scene, she’s clutching to any family she can, after having lost two out of three of her foals. And she’s certainly not giving up her position.
>>Monokeras

Yes, it deserves an expansion. I’m working on it :)

>>FrontSevens
I’m working on the infodump, seeing how much of it can be pushed back to later without losing the reader. In a way I have to do quite a bit of dumping to set up the story, particularly with the dragon attack. In the story, Chapters 2-End will be in Twinkle’s POV exclusively.

>>FanOfMostEverything
>>Bad Horse

Here we go into Egalitarianism again. Think of it as genetic capture. Willowbark is carrying in her womb one of only two surviving gene samples from her family. At the end of the chapter, she’s the *only* link to continuing their House (that Peridot can know for certain). Quickly counting down the list of things she is *not* doing that a Dark Ages feudal lord/lady might do in that situation: Remove Willowbark from her family and force her into theirs, either by lying about a wedding or simple decree. Order Willowbark’s family to sacrifice their own food/grazing in order to keep her healthy. Declare the child to be a member of the House without acknowledging the legitimacy of the mother.

In the end, she is doing the honorable thing regardless of tradition because she still has her honor, even though everything else is being taken from her. In the following chapters, her rather strange child will also confound dragonkind with these strange ideas and contrary behavior.


The nearest wagon where she could hide was too far for her to reach before the dragon would land, and it obviously could catch her no matter where she ran, so Twinkle Twinkle remained exactly where she was sitting, watching her last minutes with deliberate intent.

She had never been eaten by a dragon. It most likely would hurt, but it was not anything she could prevent. There was always the possibility of using a spell to suicide, but as they had started on their trip away from the frozen wasteland their home had become, Twinkle's mother was very insistent about that being the absolute last resort only when all other options had been eliminated. As the dragon opened its mouth, Twinkle Twinkle remained stationary, taking her last moment to study the dragon's teeth and throat structure. It reminded her of a lizard, except for the long, sharp teeth where most lizards had a lesser denture, more of a bony jaw with rough edges. There were actually three types of dragon teeth, which she really did not expect, and since the light was dim, she lit her horn up to get a better look.

"What are you doing?" The dragon pulled its head back, closed its mouth with a snap, and gave Twinkle Twinkle a nasty look, which was really saying something since the dragon's head was several times the size of the young pony, and there was a lot of space for nasty on that face. "Why aren't you running around screaming like the rest of them?"

"It wouldn't help," explained Twinkle. "You're much larger and faster than I am."

"Of course it wouldn't help!" snorted the dragon. "Do it anyway. Go on. I'll give you a head start."

"Why?" It was Twinkle's favorite word, and since she did not think she was going to use it much more, she saw no reason not to use it now.

"Because I can't eat you if you keep looking at me. Now go on. Run." The dragon snorted, and little wisps of flame crisped the dry grass at her hooves.

"That makes no sense at all," said Twinkle. "I don't want you to eat me, so logically I should stay here and keep looking at you."