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Forbidden Knowledge · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
Journal of Forbidden Knowledge
Twilight Sparkle was completely and utterly lost. She didn't know how exactly, she had been through the Canterlot library more times than she could count. How in Equestria could she have gotten herself lost? Twilight flew up to look over the tops of the bookshelves attempting to find any way of exiting this labrynth from Tartarus. When she could not find a way, she sighed and landed. As she began to walk some more, she noticed a very dark section of the library that was blocked off by an iron gate.

Twilight walked towards the gate, and looked it over. She had not seen this section of the library before, and was curious as to what was in there. She grabbed the gate with her magic, and pushed it, hoping that it would open. When it did not, she pushed it harder. After a solid ten minutes of this, Twilight let out a quiet screech of defeat and swung her magic back. This pulled the gate, breaking the lock and swinging it open. The gate hit Twilight in the chest, and she was sent flying backwards towards a shelf of books.

She hit the shelf with a thud, landing heavily on the floor in front of the shelf. She rubbed her flank, sore from the fall, and stood again. She stood before the doorway, looking inside to see if there were any lights further down. What she saw, however, was an unending abyss of darkness. Twilight sighed, contemplating turning around, before using her magic to light a small portion of the way.

As she walked inside, she saw that the walls were covered in mold and dirt, most likely meaning that nopony comes down here to clean it. She continued to walk, before giving a small squeak as a mouse scurried past her. Twilight's ears drooped a small bit, before she continued to walk. After walking for what seemed to be an eternity, Twilight turned around to exit, ready to leave.

Twilight was stopped, however, when her face collided with a stone wall. She pressed her hooves on it, fearfully, attempting to push back the wall. She then turned, thinking that she might have subconsciously made a turn, but found that there was still only wall on each side. Twilight began to breath heavily, fear taking over as she found that she might never be able to get out of here. She began to panic, and tried to teleport out of the hallway. When that had failed, she began quickly running down the hallway, hoping to find an exit at the end of the tunnel.

Twilight came to a halt as she saw a book in the middle of the room, lighted by a small patch of sunlight gleaming down on it. Twilight quickly ran to the book, looking upwards to examine the hole, questioning whether it was big enough for a pony to fit through. She frowned however, as she saw that the hole was only about the size of two books. She fell to the floor in both defeat and exhaustion, waiting for what she knew was the end.

Twilight saw the book, quietly laying on the pedastal, seeming to be wanting her to open it and browse its contents. She stood, and walked over to the book. On the cover was a golden emblem of a beaker, bubbles coming from the top. On the bottom was a small engraving that read, "The Study of Equine Magic. A study by-" the name was scratched out, making it impossible to be read. Twilight was hesitant at first to open it, but then felt that if she was going to die, that at least she would be able to die without curiousity. She opened the book to the first page, and began to read.


We recieved the test filly today, age of 12. She was a small unicorn, perhaps too small for most fillies her age. It was enough, however to run the tests we needed to. The parents were very willing to give this child up. Maybe they simply didn't want the child, or maybe they're afraid of what the child could become. After all, we only wanted subjects that had a very high level of magic. None of the simple unicorns would be able to give us clear enough results. We shall see what will happen with this child.


We began testing today, the child is powerful indeed. She posseses magic mastery skills that others would not be able to tap into. Even some that the most powerful unicorns in all of the land could not posses. This child is perfect for our testing. We will enter her into the real testing now. We will, however. need a new name for her, so then I can stop simply calling her "Child." She is beginning to think that I am her mother, and that simply will not do. Personal affection between me and the subject could cause... Unwanted effects. I think I will just call her "Subject T598."

Twilight looked up from the book. At least now she knows that the pony writing the story is a mare. It's not much to go off of, but she feels as if she knows that the pony is real now. She returned to reading the book.


The real testing began today. The process was slow, but it did bring results. T589 was very reluctant to enter the room, fearing that we would do something evil to her. I wouldn't blame her. Those white walls always reminded me of what I had done in there. And if I could sense the evil in that room. She surely could. I'll spare the details of exactly what we did, but needless to say, the new scientists are going to be hearing her frightened screams for a while now. They'll get used to it though. Hell, I did.

Twilight recoiled, thinking that maybe this pony wasn't quite sane. After all, who would do such a horrible thing to an innocent youth? Twilight looked down, noticing that there were some pages ripped out, and hoped to find them on the floor. She searched, but came up with nothing but dustballs, dirt, and more mice. She sighed and returned back to the book, reading from the next available page.


The T589 is starting to fear us now. This could be a problem later on. We choose children because they are more trusting of adults than older ponies are. They would willingly enter a room if an adult told them to because they find comfort in them, view them as their own family, as their guardian angels. As for now, however, we will simply wait it out, see what happens. Maybe we'll keep her off the testing for a day to clear her mind.


Today we let T589 have a day or relaxation. We were also allowed a break, and able to leave the lab. Most went to a small pub that was close by. Me and my apprentice instead, went to visit her parents. They had, apparently, been sending letters asking about me, so she figured that the best way to deal with her parents questions was to have me simply introduce myself to them. I was clearly not what they had in mind, seeing as their reactions towards my looks were not the best. They actually didn't seem to like me much at all. Conversation was sparse between us, and I couldn't have been more happy with that.


Testing was restarted, and the T589 seemed to be more willing to enter the room now. Maybe it was because she trusted us again. Maybe it was because she didn't care anymore. Maybe... It doesn't matter, all that matters is that she was willing to enter, and it is a good sign. Now we won't have to deal with a screaming filly thrashing about and nearly giving us brain damage. Once the T589 was in the room, the Princess had decided to pay me a visit. By that, I mean that she had just appeared behind me without warning, nearly making me jump out of my skin. When I had asked her why she had "graced" me with a visit, she claimed that it was about T589, and that it was a private matter. We entered and she made sure the door was shut before she began talking. She told me that she wanted to terminate the testing. I had to ask her to repeat the question due to the fact that I couldn't believe what I was hearing. After she had made herself clear, I told her that we could not terminate the testing, seeing as we were reaching completion. She had began to speak once more, before deciding it was the end of the matter, and left my office. I shook as I sat down in my chair, fearful that the Princess would soon find out that I had told a bold-faced lie.

Twilight shivered as she thought of how many more years the poor child could have suffered. More pages were torn out,another seemed to have had a slight bit of water damage, making it impossible to read. Twilight then felt how dry her mouth was, and went on a search to find where the damage may have come from, if it even did come from in here. Her search, this time, was not fruitless, as she found a small puddle towards the edge of the room. She happily gulped up some of the water, before returning back, this time laying on the ground placing the book in front of her.


I believe we have finished what we needed to do here. Anything more that we could have gotten out of T589 would have resulted in her death. We did come close with the last one. Would have completely ruined everything we hoped to accomplish if it weren't for somepony noticing the vitals. I'll have to find them and thank them for that. Celestia would have been one angry princess if that had happened. Thinking on it, the princess has become quite attached to T589. Maybe that's why she wanted us to stop a few years ago, back when T589 was 13. It doesn't matter now. The subject will be released with new memories tomorrow. We'll have five of our best scientists pretend they are friends, and give her a small dragon that will also be implanted with false memories.

Twilight looked up from the book, slightly scared now. She didn't like that this filly was seeming to look like it was herself. She soon, however, laughed the thought away. This couldn't have been her. She was in Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns at the time. She turned the page, and smiled slightly at the way the writing looked. It was very neat, and seemed much different from the writing of the other mare. She shifted a little, making herself a little more comfortable.

Entry Number 68:

Seeing as Dr. Epistími is sick today, I'll be working with Dusk. I decided that I wanted her to have a real name instead of that awful subject name that Epistími gives her. She's a living organism, not some apparatus that we can just throw away at any time. I decided that we all needed a break today, especially Dusk, so there was no testing. Most of us left to drink our problems away, but I decided to stay with Dusk.

I visited her cell (let me add that it was quite literally a prison cell,) and looked inside for her. She was there, sitting against a wall. I quietly approached her. After I called out her name, she turned to me in shock and fled to the far end of the room. I quickly stated that I wasn't there to hurt her, and she relaxed some. She came a little closer to me, but not too close. From there I began to start a conversation. It was very one-sided at first, but she quickly grew fond of me.

After that, we started talking about science. She's actually a very smart pony. It's a shame that she's going to lose all her memories of me and what she knows by tomorrow, but I guess it's for the best. I wouldn't wish the memories of this place on anypony, not even our nation's worst enemies. I remember questioning Celestia of how everypony in Equestria was going to be given the false memories, to which she surprised me by saying she wasn't. The ponies of Equestria were simply going to put on an act for her. Even making any villians she had encountered and won against fake. I guess you can have the power to do that if you were the ruler of an entire country. We're all forbidden to tell her, and she's forbidden from ever finding this journal.

Twilight flipped the page, and immediately began to feel a little nauseous. With the nausea also came a headache, as if information were pouring into her head at an extremely fast pace. She winced and drank some more water from the puddle, thinking that it might have just been simple dehydration. It didn't seem to help, so, in defeat, Twilight returned to the book and looked down at the page. The writing was once again Dr. Epistími's, but it seemed more scribbled, as if she didn't care about what her writing looked like anymore. She began to read, the headache worsening with each word she read.

ENTRY NUMBER 69: Oh Celestia... What have we done? T589 was given the false memories, but not without a fight, she caved in the entire wing that I'm in. A wave of pure magical energy was released upon giving the memories. With how fast the it took from the time the memories were given to the time of the wave, I'd say that it This is it, then. This is the end. I'm going to die without ever seeing any of my family again. I guess it's for the best though. I'd never be able to look at my daughter again without seeing... her... T589... No, I guess I should call her by her new name, she at least deserves that from me. After all I did to her, I can at least call her by her new name, her real name. If you happened to have found this journal, which you probably did, I give you my apologies, Twilight Sparkle.

Twilight stumbled backwards, shocked at what she had just read. She was the filly. She was T589. She was Dusk. Suddenly, it was as if there was a fog lifted from her mind, and all memories of her friends, siblings, parents, and victories were destroyed, and in place was a large amount of memories of test tubes and scalpels were replaced. She remembered Dr. Epistími, along with her aprentice Dr. Minuette.

Twilight looked to the ground in realization. That's why Minuette had seemed so happy and excited that Twilight had come to visit her again in Canterlot. Because not only was Twilight still alive, but she remembered her. Twilight then screamed into the empty room, her head feeling as if it were being hit with a hammer. She soon fell to the ground sobbing, wishing that it was all just a horrible nighmare, and that soon, she would wake up.

She then pounded the ground, wishing that she could stop the memories from fading, but there was nothing she could do. She felt every happy memory fade from existence, and fell to the ground, crying. She didn't even have friends and a real family. She soon stopped crying, and stared blankly at the wall in front of her. There was nothing that she could do, nothing that could be said or done. Nothing.
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#1 · 1
While I like the concept of Twilight's entire life having been entirely fabricated for scientific purposes, I had two major problems with this story.

First of all is the lack of a proper build up. At the beggining, we're told Twilight is in the Canterlot Library, and has somehow gotten lost. Not two paragraphs after this she finds the room with the journal and starts reading. This is a missed opportunity to better build up the atmosphere and dread leading up to the discovery of the journal.

And speaking of the journal. It didn't feel like a scientific journal at all. By that I mean Dr. Epistími sounded too cold and detached from what she was describing. Not an objective, procedutal detachement from the scientific method, but more of an "I'm not too invested in what's happening" detachement, and that comes off to the reader.

It was a good effort, but I felt the story fell short in several points.
#2 ·
There are significant issues with this story.

The journals are the backbone of this story and if you can get them dry and professional enough and into a coherent voice you can get this story up to "interesting but flawed."

Just remember that the journals do not exist to tell the story but to catalog events in order and you should do fine.
#3 ·
I wrote this review while riding on the train, so don't be too finicky.

First, language. You use very simple sentences, which indicate you don't have much experience as a writer. Fine, welcome to our brighter world. I would give you two pieces of advice:

1. Try more complex sentences, especially when you describe the background of your scene.

2. Vary your words, expand your lexical swatch. Many of the words you use are repeated; as an illustration, take the following passage and consider the words “hit, shelf, stood, see/saw”: “The gate hit Twilight in the chest, and she was sent flying backwards towards a shelf of books. She hit the shelf with a thud, landing heavily on the floor in front of the shelf. She rubbed her flank, sore from the fall, and stood again. She stood before the doorway, looking inside to see if there were any lights further down. What she saw […]” Later: “Twilight began to breath heavily, […]. She began to panic, and tried to teleport out of the hallway. When that had failed, she began […].”

3. Mind your grammar and avoid tense shifts: “As she walked inside, she saw that the walls were covered in mold and dirt, most likely meaning that nopony comes down here to clean it.” (Besides the change from past to present, ‘it’ should be ‘them’.)

Now the story itself. The set up feels too contrived. Twilight gets lost in a library she knows like the back of her hoof (how is that even possible?), finds that door (delete the passage about her pushing on the door: it is meant to be funny, but your story is not so it feels out of place), walks inside (why? She's looking for an exit); gets trapped (how?); how do mice survive here if all is closed?; discovers a book miraculously lit through a chink; drinks from a puddle (how that puddle formed? Isn't the water dirty?).

On the diary itself, some parts are contradictory: the lead scientist says she dislikes the foal considering her as her mother, yet later it is written that it's an advantage that foals are gullible and easily led on. We don't really know what those experiments are about, why Celestia condones them, and the end, memory erasure, is simply too simplistic: you won't get away with such a hocus-pocus! :P

And while I don't mind the story being told through the pages of an ad-hoc diary, this stills comes across as very, very telly, and it will turn off a lot of readers. It's a lot of information stuffed into a hardly palatable dish.

The underlying idea is interesting, but that fic needs a lot of polishing to make it shine.

Since Horizon’s scale seems to be popular: NW
#4 · 1
Try for a little more variance in your sentence structure for a more interesting style. For a good number of the first paragraphs, most sentences begin either "Twilight" or "She". The third paragraph's sentences begin with "She" three times in a row.
There are numerous problems with the execution. First I want to mention the logic of the journal. Is it Doctor Epistími's personal journal? Because it doesn't read that way, since the entries are numbered. Yet the language is too casual to fit as a scientific journal. In either instance, why would her apprentice have access to it? I imagine Doctor Epistími would discover the additional entry and not be too pleased with its contents.
Also, consider this: they don't read as journal entries. People don't write indecisively. They don't contradict themselves. They erase or scratch things out (an effect you can easily portray by using a strike-through). "This is it. This is the end." I don't imagine someone stopping to write this if that's how they truly feel.
To be clear, I don't have an issue with the story unfolding from a journal. The journal just needs to know what kind of journal it is.
Next, I wish to talk about the set-up. It feels... contrived. Everything is just so, in order for Twilight to end up with the journal. It makes the circumstances difficult to believe, and as a result, makes it difficult to connect with the story. Try to think of a more natural progression for your story.
Finally, and most importantly, I offer you the age-old wisdom, "Show; don't tell." You should try to avoid expressly stating what a character is thinking or feeling. The line "Twilight looked up from the book, slightly scared now." is a good example. I try to explain it this way: when you envision this scene, you have an image in your head. Describe it to us. Twilight is slightly scared. What does that look like? Are her eyes dilated? Is she shivering? Is there a bead of sweat trickling down the back of her neck? Whatever it is you picture, paint it for us.
Now, for all that I've said, I don't want you to think this is bad, or that I consider it bad. All of these are rookie mistakes. Most people make them, learn from them, and grow as writers because of them. As you continue writing, you continue improving, and that's all we can ever strive for, after all.
In reading this, my curiosity was grabbed and I was invested in seeing how everything would end. The dark feel and sterile atmosphere of the story reminds me of SCP-231, if you care to take a read. [Content warning: not for those of fragile constitutions (as in, Fluttershy shouldn't read this), especially if not familiar with the SCP Foundation. Viewer discretion is advised.]
I encourage you to continue writing. You demonstrate the skills and desire to be a good writer, and I hope to see you again as you improve.
#5 · 1
Alright this was a fancy little thing trying to put on a show. The story felt like it was a new borne puppy trying to get my attention. It just doesn't know better. Did that sound harsh? I hope it didn't. It's cute in a way but of course just needs some training. And who doesn't love Puppies! Come here ya boo-boo boo! Awwww! It's a good story that just needs some work and you'll have the right to consider this a wonderful piece. Let's go it's elements shall we?

I personally love stories that get you involved through entries, clues, and flashbacks. It adds this spice that just makes taking in the character so much bolder than normal. You learn about their history. Their life. The accomplishments of what make them proud. Even their weaknesses and drawbacks. The choice of unveiling Twilight's past wasn't a bad choice. In fact I thought it was really smart. I will say however that you played it wrong. It's just that a lot of it doesn't make sense and your build-up seems to be lacking somewhat. Take the time to stretch things out and thing carefully about how you want it portrayed. you had an idea but didn't seem to decipher it well enough for your audience. You're giving us a story, so we want to avoid as much confusion as possible give reasons and explanations as to why this is happening and why such things have happened in your story. Let us know why this experiment was so important that the Princess was involved. Take us through how Twilight even got lost in the first place. And why in the world would Twilight soil the sanctification of a LIBRARY!? So many questions left unanswered give a negative reaction by the ending of the story.

The take on keeping this a solo journey is a very hard thing to do. Keeping it as adventurous as possible to mitigate the slumps of the story is usually the most common way to shape these types of scenarios. You actually did that and added a mysterious feel to it. To use something normally used in horror classics about forbidden knowledge and whatnot. It was great. I could follow along with Twilight and see exactly what was bothering her during her journey. My only problem with this is that you kept it too simple. If she is the only traveler in this story, you need to highlight everything she is experiencing. Unlike most stories that focus on multiple characters. Authors cannot jot down every detail for every character, as it would overdo the story with details and things we the audience would not care about. Since the journey is solo and does actually highlight one character you wouldn't be able to go overboard with this feature. As Twilight is the main focus, so should her view on everything affect us since we're lacking interaction with other characters. It replaces that normal dialogue and script like reading style to a more point of view reading style.

Now this was very close to being a negative as well on boarder line of a positive. The idea and premise of this piece was by far one of the most creative and simple things out of a story. It didn't have some complex cast and had only one thing to uncover during the whole read. It was a simple concept that just didn't seem to play right on your part. The idea is fantastic. And I implore you to continue exploring and experimenting with these ideas. Just because you played these parts wrong, didn't mean you didn't have something good here. It may have been a bad choice implementing both parts of this story but it was still fun to read and I'm glad you shared it. You took a simple idea and still made it entertaining. So this is going up on positives for the initiative of just being yourself and staying completely simple and easy to follow. Good work!

Not gonna lie. I was confused throughout the whole story asking questions that the writer just never seems to answer. Why was Twilight lost? Why would she break into a forbidden section of the library that's obviously gated off for a reason? Why is scared of the mice in the first scene but doesn't care that there's a mouse in the journal? In fact why is there a mouse in the journal? Why is Twilight drinking dirty water that is dripping form a stone wall? Where is the water coming from? Why is there a sunlight spot for this particular book? Why is it in a room that seems to house it like it's a precious commodity? The list just continues to go on and on and on. now I understand it's problem length wise is being held back by the contest limitations. I completely understand. This style of writing is meant to be very lengthy with it's traits and very fluffed out to have a full effect. Since it is a story within a story that just happens to be a point of view journey for Twilight. The way to solve this to make up for the ridiculous amounts of detail the story needs would probably be to have somepony else give Twilight the journal. Rather making her find it. Have her suddenly just receive it and read through the book. Or she could get lost in the library but come out with new knowledge. Either way you'd have to eliminate one of the other points of your story to make this fit within the boundaries of the contest.

So we already went over this, but I wanna make sure you understand that these two points that you strongly focused on needed pretty much more detailing to make it pop. I wasn't with Twilight on her journey. It just kind of skimmed through it, thus it had no effect. I loved the entry part, but it went by so fast that there felt like little to no build up. Going through something like that should have explained a lot more with it being a historical journal type of reading. Adding these two together in a 8,000 word limit is probably your biggest choice that affected the story. Overall these two combined would make a novel. A short book so to speak before it can make it's full effect. Example being one of my favorites. Is H.G Wells "The Time Machine". Doing one or the other would have actually made this story stand out as I have previously stated. Right now I just think it would need more room and plenty of time to shape appropriately.

This story was fun. While flawed it was still very fun to read. I don't see much wrong besides some shaping of the story and that it needed more time. I can't say that it's flawed when the author doesn't get enough room to engage himself in his own story. The effort is there but I think you need to slow down get comfy and write. Just write. It felt like you had a lot on your plate before you got done submitting this piece. Which I don't blame you. We all have lives to focus on. Overall thumbs up. Keep working and I look forward to your next submission.