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Seeing Double · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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Seeing Double
It was after the appetizer had been served, consisting of a single square salt lick, when the attaché to Princess Ember noticed a change in the composure of his superior. Her sapphire confidence had been blunted with glaucous gray; and she loomed over her salt square, not going near but unable to look away, as though on the edge of a precipice.

When the envoy asked what could be the matter, she pointed with a ragged finger to the head of the table of the reception hall, where Twilight Sparkle and Starlight Glimmer were seated together, speaking discreetly with each other like quiet robins.

“There’s a new event organizer,” she informed him, “who has chosen our ship on which to christen his latest venture.”

The envoy admitted that he didn’t grasp the oracle.

“He doesn’t understand the order of the Royal Procession,” she replied with impatience. “He has seated two ponies who are exactly identical next to one another at the head of the table, trying to sabotage our mission.”

“No need for such suspicions, Princess,” said Slider. “I’ve worked in the Foreign Ministry for years. This is simple stuff—as you will see,” he corrected himself, catching a cutting glare from his mistress.

“The Foreign Ministry was a joke for decades,” she reminded him.

“Sometimes,” answered the wise deputy, “an undertaking develops most profoundly when it is allowed to lay dormant. Listen.” He turned his body to conceal his explanation. “A pony has many features—horns, wings, coats of a dazzling array of colors. But we know that the easiest way to identify one is by their distinctive call. This is the result of many years’ research.”

“Good to know I have an assistant well-acquainted with the binomial nomenclature of ponies,” Ember replied.

Twilit Crackle and Glimmer Go-Fish, to be precise, are who we are concerned with here, if I am not mistaken.”

Princess Ember lit up with a flash of hopeful recognition. “Glimmer Go-Fish! That’s the one! What do we do, then, Slider? You’re the expert. Things might get bloody if we can’t get the princess to intervene on behalf of our claims...”

“Yes, yes,” he answered trivially. “Now, Twilit Crackle—she has a voice pleasing to the ear, like the ramble of water over the smooth pebbles of a riverbed. It sounds like this—cabbagescabbagescabbagescabbages…

The Princess, who, besides being the figurehead of her people, figured an adroit student, closed her eyes and imitated closely: “Cabbagescabbagescabbagescabbages…

“Yes. And if you listen you will notice a subtle difference between her and Glimmer Go-Fish, whose voice is like a wheel which licks up and flicks the mud of the Lake of the Four Winds in gnarled spits. Like this—Yyyack! Yyyack!

Ember repeated these sounds, and, meditating on them, exalted, “Yes! Yes, I think I can hear it.”

“Pardon, Majesty,” came a footman pony with a refined face, “but the Princess is ready to give you an audience.”

Ember glanced at her hosts, who had finished making chat at the head of the table and waited in silence as the din of the reception hall fell under the spell of their nobility. She turned back to Slider in the pall of the stillness which had come over the room; and, rising slowly from her seat, followed behind the footman, to where she would be received by Twilight.

She was introduced, and stepped forward with one, two, then three bows in the direction of the two mares.

“Majesty,” she said, looking sidelong, “We have come to seek your appeal on a legal dispute which has arisen between the Dragon Lands and Macintosh Hills…”

She hesitated to provoke a request to proceed.

“…Regarding certain land rights belonging to some of the princes of said Dragon Lands—” she paused again, receiving only smiles—”the titles to which have been deemed forgeries by the examining magistrate, Ipso Facto.”

She kneeled down. “We beg your indulgence and arbitration on this matter… Uh… Tailgate Fluttersparkle.”

“But I’m Tailgate Fluttersparkle!” cried a multicolored pegasus at the rear, as loudly as the force of her low voice could muster.

Glimmer Go-Fish’s eyes glimmered with resentment. She propped herself up over her clean-licked plate, and growled before the whole company with a voice like a creaking wheel, “I know you… You’ll just never learn, will you?”

The reception room murmured in disbelief; but Princess Ember, maintaining her bent knee, grinned at a private victory.

“The purple one,” she thought to herself. “The purple one with the horn and the iconic haircut.”
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#1 ·
· · >>PinoyPony
Miller made me read this (I usually don’t read pony fics because I dropped out at such an early stage that I miss most of the background).

I agree this is totally… discombobulating.
And by discombobulating I mean nonplussing.
Or even flabbergasting.

In other words, this is mind boggling.

But the prose is really good.
Befuddling, I say

Oh well

#2 ·
Thank you, >>Monokeras for going first, it helps to know I'm not the only one finding this... discombobulating.

Now, you will have the luxury of peering into my thought process while going through this piece:

My first sign of trouble in comprehension was:

The envoy admitted that he didn’t grasp the oracle

I had to look up the meaning off the words 'envoy' and 'oracle', even then, I'm still not getting what is happening in this sentence. But then:

“He has seated two ponies who are exactly identical next to one another at the head of the table, trying to sabotage our mission.”

Oh, now I see where this is going. Continue.

“But I’m Tailgate Fluttersparkle!” cried a multicolored pegasus at the rear, as loudly as the force of her low voice could muster.

I've completely forgotten about this little gaggle that Ember had trouble differentiating the two ponies. It seems as the makers of the show were conspiring against the dragons from the start! You got me good! I was poised on the 'abstain' button, but then, a save! Woo!

Pardon these inane rattlings from a simpleton. But, if I may, there's nothing quite like a good laugh nowadays...

Thanks be, for writing!
#3 ·
Pretty silly:

But I can't say that it really worked for me. My biggest problem is the POV at the beginning. We're in Slider's, and the narrative identifies Twilight and Starlight by their correct names. But then when Slider starts talking to Ember, he uses these other names for them. Is he purposefully setting Ember up to fail? I didn't get any indication of that. So why, if he knew their names before, does he not use their names now?

The slip into Ember's POV works quite well, so kudos there, but I don't understand what her "private victory" is at the end.

The whole piece has a nice idea behind it, but I'd need those couple of things ironed out for me.

#4 ·
Her sapphire confidence had been blunted with glaucous gray

I'm surprised she didn't turn purple from being sketched in such a turgid style. The characters all sound alike, and the punchline of this shaggy dog story got locked in the house, where it was forgotten behind a bric-a-brac yard.
#5 ·
· · >>Monokeras
Here's a fact: in season seven, (the recently crowned) Princess Ember visits Ponyville in a diplomatic role and can't tell the difference between Twilight and Starlight, because "[they] both look and act so much alike".

I enjoyed this bit of meta-commentary on the mid-life reboot of the main cast.

The idea here is to extend and add roots to Princess Ember's confusion. Not only can she not tell the two ponies apart, but the indolent Foreign Ministry of the Dragon Lands has been having the same difficulty for years, and have studied ponies from afar, as it were, in the manner of ornithologists.

Thus, the envoy Slate's savvy in international affairs resembles a birdwatcher, in that he identifies "horns, wings, and coats of dazzling colors." But most importantly he is acquainted with their "calls" in a kind of distant, academic way (how many bird calls can you identify?) and makes his recommendation for Ember to proceed with her difficulty on this basis.

Ember tries to give Starlight and Twilight the opportunity to speak during her petition, by making pauses, but is served with dead silence. Finally, not being well-learned in Pony Latin, she attempts to recall their "binomial nomenclature" and produces a mangled name--which, no doubt to further confusion, happens to be the name of a mangled pony in the audience (a Fluttershy/Rainbow Dash hybrid).

Ember's "private victory" is that she believes she now knows which of the identical luminaries is the real princess of Equestria, based on Slate's description of their speech--when Starlight scolds her, she is able to deduce Twilight, ipso facto. But of course, both Starlight and Twilight have horns, are purple, and have "iconic haircuts".
#6 ·

Uh. Not bad an idea. A pony twitcher? :)
Your fic plainly illustrates what I said about my non filling a slate: that’s the kind of references I can’t get, having dropped out too soon.

In any case, I do repeat and stress, though, that the prose was excellent.

See you next time!