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And at the End, You Shall Remain Alone · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Resolve's End
Maud hadn’t seen many changelings before; it took her a good long, look to convince herself that she was staring at one, and another one before she could overcome the disbelief that one was crying.

This changeling looked not unlike the other changelings Maud had seen. She was brightly-colored, even in the dim evening light, with wings so thin and fragile—the antitheses of rock—that Maud couldn’t help but not care for them. And her face was buried in her hooves, hidden underneath a mop of hanging teal hair.

“What are you doing here?” Maud asked.

The changeling sprang up with a lurch, whirling and hissing; her menace was diluted by fresh tears glistening in the moonlight on her cheeks.

Maud blinked, tilting her head.

To her surprise, the changeling backed down right away. She inched back, falling to her haunches. She looked so frail and thin Maud didn’t realize how very tall she was right away. Taut skin exposed a suggestion of ribcage, while gaunt cheeks made her face skull-like.

“Starving,” the changeling replied, though she didn’t need to say it aloud. Before Maud could think what to say to that—tears weren’t something she knew how to handle—the changeling asked, “Do you know who I am?”

Maud didn’t know many changelings. She shook her head.

The changeling’s mouth pursed up into a bitter scowl. “I figured,” she said. One of her hooves pawed at the ground, showing flecks of dirt through the holes dotting her limb.

“Is that why you were crying?”

The changeling sucked in a snort of a breath. Anger flickered through her eyes, as if the act of speaking infuriated her, but her mouth opened inexorably. “It’s not fair,” she said. “I was living the right way. The natural way. Then they despoiled themselves.” She curled her lip, then hung her head. “But the right way forwards told me that ponies needed to be punished.

“But I saw them. Just a few days ago. They were happy. They didn’t even know I’d tried. My plan failed, and they never noticed.”

Maud blinked. Then stepped closer. Then sat down in front of the changeling. “Do you want to talk?”

Again the changeling snorted, lifting her leg and showing the holes in it; up close, Maud could see the color fading into black here and there, like some ichor was seeping up from beneath the changeling’s skin and corroding her cheery exterior. “This is what happened the last time I tried that.” An angry tear rolled down her cheek. “They all made this work.”

“You’re different,” Maud said. “So am I.”

The changeling glared at Maud.

“My children betrayed me. They found their own way. What kind of queen would I be if I let them outdo me?” the changeling hissed.

Maud frowned.

“Get away from me,” the changeling said.

Maud wished she had the words to tell the changeling how wrong she was.
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#1 · 1
· · >>horizon
This is a:

Lovely idea, but it reads to me like there's a whole section in the middle that's just plain missing. I have so many questions--how did Chrysalis manage to become a sherbet moose without going through the same emotional epiphany as the others for one--that I can't track the characters' progression from beginning to end. I'd definitely say this deserves expansion to dig into the entire story that's only being vaguely referred to here, but as a minific, I can't get it to work.

Mike
#2 · 1
· · >>Naiad
I liked this. Chrysalis is hurting, and not just because she's starving, but because she's unable to do what everyone else is able to do so effortlessly. She had an idea about how the world worked, and it was broken - and as we see from this story, it isn't just that she never tried, but that she tried and failed.

This is an interesting presentation of her as a woobieish character, which is doubly interesting because of the implication that maybe she really is rotten, which is why it doesn't work for her. And while I'm not sure if I buy the idea that she would have tried previously, if you are going to present her as a character we should feel sorry for, this is a good execution, so this qualm is probably mostly just my interepretation of the character.

Also, using the stoic, unemotional Maud as the character that Chrysalis has to use for emotional support here is a clever idea.
#3 ·
· · >>TitaniumDragon
“I was living the right way. The natural way. Then they despoiled themselves.”

So, Chrysalis thinks her way was right, but then says the other changelings "despoiled" themselves. Implying the way wasn't quite right, after all. Chrysalis also seems to be in a reformed changeling form – the narration describes her as "brightly-colored", while canon Chrysalis is anything but; and yet, she's apparently starving, somehow. From a technical standpoint, I spotted some superfluous commas and, especially by the end, repeated use of the same "the changeling (verb)ed" construction to describe Chrysalis' actions.
#4 · 3
·
>>Samey90
Chrysalis is starving because she can't make it work:

Again the changeling snorted, lifting her leg and showing the holes in it; up close, Maud could see the color fading into black here and there, like some ichor was seeping up from beneath the changeling’s skin and corroding her cheery exterior. “This is what happened the last time I tried that.” An angry tear rolled down her cheek. “They all made this work.”


She tried to become a rainbow moose, but she can't actually do it, hence why she still has holes in her legs and is fading back to black.
#5 ·
· · >>Naiad
I think I'm with >>Baal Bunny: I'm left with a few too many questions about how the mechanics of this change work, given the fact that in canon it's spurred by a conscious, deliberate change of heart. The lampshading in the middle about "the last time I tried" to talk is a good start, but just raises more questions than it answers: what was the epiphany she came to then, and how does she get from there to the bitterness she's at now?

Compounding the problem is that I'm really getting mixed messages from Chrysalis:
“I was living the right way. The natural way. Then they despoiled themselves.”

“They all made this work.”


And while it would be very natural for her to have mixed feelings about the situation, a minific doesn't allow you the luxury of nuance.

Finally,

“Get away from me,” the changeling said.

Maud wished she had the words to tell the changeling how wrong she was.


As written, this reads like Maud disagrees with her final statement telling her to leave. I think I get what you were going for, but you may need to overhaul that section to bring the point out more clearly.

On the bright side, I do really like the offhand observation about "the antithesis of rock" near the beginning. The descriptions are good, and both characters feel quite in character. There's definitely the core of something good here.

Thanks for writing!
#6 ·
· · >>Naiad
This...

Okay, it's an interesting choice of characters to have interact. Conceptually as well, the one who lives off emotion paired with the one who naturally shows very little. It's nice to have Chrysalis go through her spiel, but I couldn't quite figure what the issue was. It sounds like she wants to change like the rest of her hive did, but when given that chance by Starlight earlier, she refused it, and that part of her decision to pursue it now never comes up.

So we get her explanation, but then it's just left there as the whole point of the story. Except it doesn't go anywhere. She describes what her problem is, but there's no indication of how she'll even start going about resolving it, or what she'd even consider a resolution to it. On Maud's side, too, she just listens, but she doesn't help Chrysalis through any of it, suggest a course of action, sympathize with her... barely anything. So what was her purpose in the story? Just to get Chrysalis to explain her position? She could have done that with an internal monologue.

This is a great setup and a cool choice of characters. It just needs some more development.
#7 ·
· · >>Pascoite
Thanks for the feedback, everyone! This idea had started to come to me back when FOME was doing his recent villain-centric contest, but at the time, I wasn't sure how to make a full story out of it. Looking back, it might've been too ambitious to think that it could fit all wedged into a minific like this, but oh well. "Cool idea, needs more development," seems to be a common theme throughout these comments, which I totally agree with.

>>Pascoite
It's nice to have Chrysalis go through her spiel, but I couldn't quite figure what the issue was.

The thought in my head was that Chrysalis, having failed a whole three times in a row to accomplish anything lasting or significant through the villainous ways we've seen from her in canon, realized that things weren't working. She was alone, shattered, demoralized, all that stuff. When she sees that the other changelings have managed to turn things around for them by adapting their methods, she attempts to do the same, less out of an earnest desire to change and more out of a recognition that what she's been doing simply isn't working.

Which probably didn't come through very clearly in the story itself. Will have to have a think on that.

On Maud's side, too, she just listens, but she doesn't help Chrysalis through any of it, suggest a course of action, sympathize with her... barely anything. So what was her purpose in the story?

In all honesty, I picked Maud because the idea of Chrysalis, who literally needs love, coming across one of the least loving ponies around felt tragic and ironic and stuff. Which actually made me think of Limestone first, but then the parallels of Maud being an abnormally antisocial pony and Chrysalis being an abnormally selfish changeling hit and I thought there was a much better chance of a good ending for Chryssie down that road.

But I do agree, Maud doesn't end up doing very much here.


>>horizon
I'm left with a few too many questions about how the mechanics of this change work, given the fact that in canon it's spurred by a conscious, deliberate change of heart. The lampshading in the middle about "the last time I tried" to talk is a good start, but just raises more questions than it answers: what was the epiphany she came to then, and how does she get from there to the bitterness she's at now?

I think my reply to Pascoite covered a bit of this, but to clarify more: "The last time I tried" was meant to refer to Chrysalis' first attempt at going the garishly-colored Thorax route, sharing love, all that stuff. The epiphany that lead to her bitterness was that she just couldn't get it to work for her.

And while it would be very natural for her to have mixed feelings about the situation, a minific doesn't allow you the luxury of nuance.

Yep, definitely seeing that now!

As written, this reads like Maud disagrees with her final statement telling her to leave. I think I get what you were going for, but you may need to overhaul that section to bring the point out more clearly.

Where's a :facehoof: when you need one? Thanks for the catch, I can definitely see how that doesn't read the way I wanted it to!

>>TitaniumDragon
I really enjoyed reading this comment, because you nailed some of the things I had in mind while writing this story. Especially what you said about her being maybe rotten--the concept that stuck in my head with this story idea was Chrysalis being so bad at loving other people and getting them to love her back naturally that she's simply not capable of sharing love easily the way the rest of the changelings decided to.
#8 ·
· · >>Naiad
>>Naiad
I'd suggest a little different road for Maud. She's the least outwardly expressive of her love, true, but that doesn't mean she's bereft of it. In fact, she has explicitly said she loves Pinkie very much. And Pinkie says Maud is as emotional as any other pony, but she just doesn't show it. Chrysalis is in a unique position to sense the truth of that. Appearance doesn't matter to her, and she could feel as much love emanating from Maud as she could from anyone else.
#9 ·
·
>>Pascoite
I'm reading what I said and realizing I didn't explain myself very clearly. Yes, I realize that Maud's hardly bereft of love--and I think the story insinuates there's at least a little empathy going on there--which is why I ended up picking her as the other character here. I'd originally thought of Limestone, who I think would have had a much harder time connecting with Chrysalis, but reconsidered to Maud precisely because Maud was the more loving of the two. Sorry for the confusion!

That being said, ooo, I really like some of that. I hadn't thought about how Chrysalis' emotivore status could be used there, but now that you mention it, yeah, that could possibly work fairly well with Maud's stoicism. I'll definitely have to think about how to implement that the next time I come back to this idea.

Thanks for pointing that out!