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Returned From Sabbatical · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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With a bright flash of light, the Canterlot Throne Room gained two alicorns. This raised the inventory to three, one of whom was speechless.

“That was so invigorating!” declared Celestia, giving her bundle of various souvenirs a gentle toss to land in front of a shocked servant. “Would you be so kind as to see those laundered and returned to my chambers, please. Oh, Twilight! We have so many stories to tell about our vacation. Once we’re back up to speed, we’ll have you over for a good, long discussion.”

“We can scrapbook!” declared Luna, giving a larger bundle of her own a toss at a servant, who was too surprised to dodge and wound up buried under a pile of memorabilia including a giant collection of stickers over the bag which obscured each other until only “Where is Wall Drug” could be discerned on top.

“Several scrapbooks,” added Celestia, giving the circle of Royal Supplicants a brief glance. “With a public release, of course. In book form.”

The speechless alicorn remained so, although her mouth was moving rather slowly.

“Well, you seem hard at work,” said Celestia, giving each pony in line a respectful nod of her head. “Finish up and I’ll be back for the afternoon shift.”

“And I the eve,” declared Luna. “Several denizens of darkness will undoubtedly need my attention. They miss sparring with me so when I am absent. Did you know one of them cried when I returned from the moon? Even brought me lilies before his next trouncing. For monsters, they can be quite compassionate.”

“You’re not here!” blurted out Princess Twilight Sparkle, with a series of sudden curls springing up along her mane with such vigor that it nearly knocked her crown over her eyes. “We thought you were dead!”

“Dead?” Celestia’s vacation afterglow faded only slightly. “You read the note we left, correct? Well, the note that Luna left. I passed the task to her when I had to make a quick shopping trip to pick up sunscreen.”

“Me?” Luna pushed her sunglasses up onto the top of her horn and blinked several times. “You said the note was completed before you transported yourself to the store. I specifically remember you called out, ‘Luna! Got the note!’”

“I said get the note, dear sister, since I had to hurry to get your suntan lotion. Then when I returned, you said the note had been taken care of and you had the train tickets.”

“I said since the note was complete and I had the tickets it was time for us to go.” Luna looked puzzled. “You always take care of correspondence with your student.”

“Well, I thought…” Celestia considered the sheer volume of stunned astonishment that Twilight was putting out, somewhere ‘needs a bag to breathe into’ and ‘the spider was this big’

“Court is dismissed,” announced Luna. “We shall resume later when this minor misunderstanding of my sister’s has been resolved.”

Later became much later in good order, until all three alicorns found themselves out in the Royal Gardens for a moment of relative privacy.

“I panicked a little at first,” admitted Twilight in what was certainly a vast understatement. “Then I realized what you had done. Everything was suddenly on me.”

“And your friends,” said Celestia in a gentle verbal nudge.

“Well… The ponies of Equestria needed somepony to uphold as a role model. A single focal point as it were. Since you were both gone. So…” Her eyes traveled upward until all three of the princesses considered the huge sigil of Twilight’s cutie mark attached to the outside of the Royal Towers. “All of my friends except for Applejack had suggestions for symbols to indicate the start of my leadership of the country. That’s Rarity’s idea. It glows at night,” she added.

“And…” Celestia looked up a little more and considered the huge sun symbol inscribed on the side of Mount Canter.

“Pinkie Pie,” said Twilight. “Princess Luna’s mark is on the other side of the mountain and… it rotates. You know. At night. And glows, also. I’ll go turn it around so you can see.”

There was a flash of light and Twilight was gone, leaving only the Sisters among the garden’s flowers and occasional creatures.

“Don’t say it,” cautioned Celestia.

“I must.” Luna looked down when a rabbit with a golden collar hopped past. “Next time, how about we leave Applejack in charge?”
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#1 · 1
I can always appreciate a bit of fun banter between Best Sisters. Their back and forth here comes across really smoothly, which is great considering that this makes up most of the raw word count of the story.

It is a little unfortunate for me that most of the jokes didn't quite land their mark. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the level of ridiculousness never really has the room to swell to an expected degree. I think we spend a lot of our word count before we even learn about the "presumed dead" situation, and then another big chunk goes into the sisters blaming each other in a way that feels really familiar for fics of this kind of subject.

The last joke of having big gaudy symbols made to commemorate princesses who aren't actually dead is a pretty great idea, but by then there's really not enough pure wordcount to elevate this idea to the emotional absurdity it needs for the joke to live up to its potential. The pacing constraints of minifics can be really brutal, and I think this story gets the worse end of the deal in many ways.

So while the story reads quite easily, courtesy of your great dialogue and prose, I did not engage with the jokes quite as much as I wanted to. I think I really want to like this piece a lot more than I did, so I'm curious to see how these jokes landed with other reviewers.

Also, I suck at writing, reading, and reviewing comedies. So take my uneducated opinions with a grain of salt.

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#2 · 1
It’s quite fun, but I regret, as does Bachi (well, I infer that reading between the lines of his review, but I might be wrong), that you didn't go the whole hog here. It’s whacky, but not as whacky as I wanted it to be.

Celestia and Luna materialised in the middle of the throne room. They were greeted by the ‘woh’ and ‘wah’ of a large assistance kept away from the dais by a thick ribbon stretching from wall to wall and supported by occasional gilded uprights.
‘Look, look mummy!’ a colt said in a high pitchy voice, ‘they just brought in two more statues of the old princesses!’
‘Shush,’ his mother said. ‘Don’t interrupt the guide.’
‘Last time I visited the museum,’ another pony whispered, ‘this wasn't part of the show. They must have added new routines.’
‘Those costumes are wonderful’, his wife replied. ‘They really look like the old princesses!’

Well, I hate to toot my own horn, this was more or less what I wrote a long time ago (was it the round ‘Princesses not Included’?).

The dialogue between the sisters is funny, there are several good things in it (such as the sunbathing lotion), but it takes too much space. You could’ve shortened it and make way for some other joke.

I don’t really get the last part about the symbols being engraved in the landscape. I don’t see the point, or how it relates to Pinkie Pie. That one fell flat for me.

Overall, not bad an idea, but not full-fledged either. You’re still midway of the ford, get it further into zany land and you’ll get my full support.
#3 · 1
I like this! It's not a gutbuster, but it's amusing.

My only complaints are that I wish you used names in the first sentence, and more vitally, I wish you told us early on how long they were gone. The Princesses returning to their throne room is normal -- the Princesses returning to their throne room after being missing for five years is immediately interesting.
#4 · 1
· · >>Rao
Didn’t the princesses retire? Wasn’t there a ceremony and all that? My knowledge of show canon after about season five is foggy, but something here is jarring.

To me, this reads like two vignettes. Nothing which happens in the second part comments upon or expands the first. It could be really funny that Twilight thought her mentors had suddenly died, canon notwithstanding. Maybe they have headstones in the garden where they picnic. Maybe Celestia and Luna bicker over who has the better grave, and Twilight has to placate them. As it is, for me, it’s missing a through-line.
#5 · 1
· · >>Monokeras
There was much ado about their retirement, yes. Which is a bit of a cop out on Luna's part since she was AFK for 1,000 years but that's a fic for another day.

Anyway! The bombast of a minor miscommunication spiraling into such a catastrophic issue is a solid idea. Very "for want of a nail the kingdom was lost," but not a drama. But my suspension of disbelief is quickly shaken. No note, sure. But certainly Twilight would have had Spike try to send a letter. Failing that, Celestia and Luna gallivanting about the country for so long would have made it into the news, or at least reached back to Canterlot by word of mouth.

However! Based on the shirt "Where is Wall Drug" it could be that they were completely out of country. Wall Drug is a real tourist attraction in North Dakota, adjacent to Badlands National Park. If they were out past the Badlands in Equestria, that means the most likely place they were vacationing is Somnambula, which is definitely a ways out there and far removed from common gossip. And that explains Luna's need for extra sunblock and sunglasses.

QED suckers! Or maybe fanfic authors are just very good and reading meaning into details that might not have been there at all.

Also we've had two stories now with Luna in sunglasses and I think I really dig the imagery it gives off. Good work to both of those authors for stumbling onto my new hype button. Where were we?

Right. So, likelihood of them dropping off the map completely aside, them popping back up to everyone's astonishment is feels a little understated. They're all shocked, clearly, but neither the staff or Twilight actually do much with that shock until Twily pops off. Seeing them pop back up like this sounds akin to seeing a ghost or such, which I think would inspire at least a little fear with the shock.

Turning Mount Canter into essentially a giant nightlight is a funny bit of imagery, even if it feels under set up for the reveal. Imagining the HOA reactions has me going though.
#6 · 1
· · >>Rao
QED? That’s Quantum Electro Dynamics?
#7 · 1
Yes, but not this time. Although knowing how photons interact with standard matter would certainly help keep the giant lights on.