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* Princess Not Included · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
Relinquishing
(4) Upon that day each year, which shall be established as the 90th day following the New Year, shall one score of the most powerful unicorns of age not less than twenty and two, take upon themselves the direction of both sun and moon for a period of not less than 24 hours, nor shall either alicorn aid or disrupt their practice in any way during this time.

-Excerpt from the Magi Carta




Twilight and Celestia watched from one of Canterlot Castle’s many parapets as, below them in the bailey, twenty unicorns prepared an arcane circle in the predawn darkness.

“It’s not fair,” grumbled Twilight.

Celestia nodded diplomatically. Twilight knew that nod all too well. “It’s not,” she repeated, emphatically. “The document says ‘either,’ not ‘any.’ The signers clearly meant you and Luna!”

Celestia nodded again. “The signers certainly were thinking of me and Luna when we drafted that document,” she said. “Of course, there were no other alicorns in Equestria back then.”

Twilight sighed. “I know. It’s just… I’m finally old enough to take part in the solunus circulum, and now, even though I’m perfectly qualified, I can’t.” Her ears drooped. “I’ve been hoping to take part in this ever since I was a little filly. It’s one of the most important historical traditions of ponykind!”

Celestia extended a wing over Twilight’s back, offering a gentle hug. After a moment, Twilight leaned into her. Neither spoke right away.

“Twilight,” she eventually said, “this isn’t just about getting to move the sun and moon around, is it?”

Twilight shook her head.

“What is it, then?”

Twilight didn’t answer immediately. When she did, she looked up to the sky, her gaze wandering as if tracing the path of the still-absent sun. “It’s not really about the sun and moon at all. I mean, I already got to control them once. When I had your power.” She paused, and Celestia waited patiently for her to continue. “It wasn’t the same as what the circulum does, of course, but if all I cared about was getting to do some hooves-on astronomy… well, I’ve already done that.”

“But there’s something else?” Celestia prodded.

“It’s just… every great unicorn I’ve ever read about, in any of my textbooks—hay, in any of the fiction I read—it always tells you how many circulums they took part in. It’s how you know they were great! And I—”

“You want everypony to think that you’re great?”

Twilight’s cheeks flushed. “Oh, no, I didn’t mean that I…” She trailed off as she turned to look at Celestia; she was smiling a bit too pleasantly. “You’re mocking me,” Twilight said, more sourly than she had intended.

“A little,” Celestia agreed. “But tell me, why is it really important to you?”

Twilight looked back to the bailey. “I guess it’s that… it’s that this, right here, is something that all of my heroes have done. This exact spell, together with nineteen other unicorns, for this exact purpose. It’s been this way for thousands of years, like a string that goes all the way back to when ‘Unicornia’ wasn’t just a fairytale setting. A string tying every wizard and mage together, all the way back to Star Swirl the Bearded.” Through her wing, Celestia could feel Twilight’s body tremble, slightly. “Maybe it’s self-aggrandizing, but… but I really wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to touch that string, to connect myself to all that history.”

Celestia didn’t speak until she felt the tremble stop completely. “You know the reason why the Unicornians insisted that Luna and I relinquish the sun and moon once a year, don’t you?” she asked.

“Yes,” Twilight answered. “So that if anything happened to you two, there would still be wizards who knew the spells to keep the cycle of day and night, and who’d performed those spells before.”

Celestia nodded. “If something were to happen to Luna and I—well, something already did. And when Tirek came, it fell to you to take our place.” She smiled. “Though thankfully, only for a brief while. If something were to strike all of us, it’s important that there be unicorns ready and able to step up and ensure the cycle continues.”

Twilight nodded. “I know. It makes sense to exclude me, really. It would be silly to let me take part.”

“Yes, it would be.” Celestia paused. “That doesn’t make it feel any better, does it.”

“No.”

They lapsed into silence, then.

And together, they watched the sun rise.
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#1 ·
· · >>Chris
This is a definite top contender. In a short, simple story it weaves together a poignant bit on how life throws us curveballs - on how opportunities we get close off other paths. Bittersweet, and that last line just encapsulates so much. Bravo.
#2 · 1
· · >>Cold in Gardez >>Chris
I was getting ready to write an irritated post that "the minific competition is dead" and "750 words is too short" when I read this. This is beautiful. I hope it wins. I hope it beats my story.

It's fucking CiG again, isn't it? :P
#3 ·
· · >>Bad Horse
>>Bad Horse

Uh, I was about to ding the story for this:

“Twilight,” she eventually said, “this isn’t just about getting to move the sun and moon around, is it?”


But if you want to give me the credit (and it really is a nice story), I'll take it :3
#4 ·
· · >>Cold in Gardez
>>Cold in Gardez Ding on what basis?
#5 ·
· · >>Chris
>>Bad Horse

It's just a little blatant. I mean, is the reader so stupid that he needs Celestia to drive the plot forward with an obvious question like that?

Then I remembered the last five or so Writeoffs I've done, in which I end up ranting about how subtlety is the key to failure in these events. So, in that light, I absolutely don't blame the author for using a somewhat forceful touch.
#6 ·
· · >>Chris
Damn! I wish this story was on my slate, because this is really really good. The characterization is effective, it feels exactly right for its length, the dialogue flows naturally, and most important of all, the ending is satisfying. Easily the best entry I've read so far.
#7 · 1
· · >>Chris
I love this:

For objective reasons such as those stated above--and for one big subjective reason. It's an even better approach to the basic set up for Half the Day is Night, the Pony novel I wrote way back during the last half of season 1. Imagine an AU where, after banishing Luna, Celestia asked this group to take over running the night. What would be the social and political ramifications of Luna returning and wanting to take her old job back from this thousand-year-old magical bureaucracy?

Anyway, this is good stuff.

Mike
Post by Monokeras deleted
#9 · 3
· · >>Chris
I don't know, this story just didn't click for me.

I mean, it's just...there.

Twilight hasn't really learned anything, Celestia doesn't exactly have any good thoughts to offer...I mean, this can be read as a simple comment on the state of things which will be forgotten in half an hour :-/
#10 ·
· · >>Chris
Given the number of stories where there’s panic in the streets because both the diarchs and the unicorn magic needed to move the sun have been lost, this is actually a very good idea. Heck, I’m considering adding this to my headcanon.

And that’s just the concept. The story itself is a great conflict tailored for Twilight, having to accept how her wings will alter things in ways she’d never considered, because she’d already planned out those parts of her life. Excellent work.
#11 ·
· · >>Chris
Wow, the second story I'm reading, and it's even better than the first!

I love your headcanon of the Unicorns practicing controlling the sun and moon once a year... My only problem with it is that it makes too much sense for Equestria, a land full of sealed, forgotten evils with Chaos Gods kept as lawn ornaments...

Twilight and Celestia's dialogue felt believable and organic to me, and I liked your explanation for Twilight's unhappiness... All in all, very well done!
#12 ·
· · >>Chris
I feel like it would have been really easy for this to go in any direction. I don't think Twilight needed to end this still feeling depressed? She could have just as easily been cheered up by realizing what she did during Tirek's attack is what these ponies are practicing for, or something like that.

I'm not saying that as criticism; your ending is perfectly understandable too. But what it means, I think, is that I'm not understanding the character motivations here on the level you'd like me to? Although your characters work fairly well, they're just not deep enough for me here. Perhaps that's on my end, I dunno.
#13 ·
· · >>Chris
I have nothing new to say. Well done.
#14 · 6
· · >>Chris >>horizon
Ten minutes later in the light of the new dawn, a single unicorn left the small group still discussing the ritual down in the bailey and vanished into the castle. Far above, Princess Twilight Sparkle watched, still respectfully silent next to the temporarily unemployed Sun and Moon. It was a moment she had dreaded far more than the ritual itself, and there was no way to prevent it other than flying away into the bright sky and leaving the inevitable confrontation to Celestia and Luna, who undoubtedly had faced far more embarrassing moments.

As the tapping of new shoes on ancient granite flooring neared behind her, Twilight turned to greet the young unicorn headed her way. She was far too young for this to have been more than her first circulum, and the bright and cheerful smile filling every single bit of her face indicated just how happy she was to have participated, or as Twilight's sinking heart realized from the tiny golden sun clipped to the unicorn's cape, to have been selected to lead the ceremony this morning. She stopped a respectful distance away from the three alicorns and bowed with practiced grace before speaking.

"This is such an honor, Your Highnesses. Thank you." Her grin became even larger. "With particular thanks to you, Princess Sparkle."

A response was warranted, and although Twilight waited for either of the elder alicorns to make it, they both remained stalwartly silent, with Celestia even prodding Twilight with the tip of one wing and just the faintest sly smile. Finally, Twilight Sparkle took a deep breath and said the words she had been dreading.

"You're welcome, Trixie."
#15 · 6
· · >>Not_A_Hat
Relinquishing: A Retrospective

I don't actually have a lot to say before getting to individual responses, but I want to say that I'm very gratified by the positive response to this story. Seeing the comments trickle in here over the past week has been a much-needed pick-me-up, and the little gold medal is a wonderful cherry on top. Thank you all.

I'll probably put a touched-up version of this in microfic collection on FiMFic over the weekend, assuming I have time to do that touching-up by then. Now, person-specific comments!

>>Morning Sun

That's exactly what I was going for, and I'm glad it came through!

>>Bad Horse

Between this and the nice things you said about Wyrmlysan on TD's recommendation blog, you have been disconcertingly nice to me lately. I think your evil facade is slipping, and the mushy-hearted Nice Horse is starting to peek through!

>>Cold in Gardez

I haven't been around for the last few writeoffs, but I certainly see what you mean about the line being blatant. On one hand, I want it to be; Celestia's trying to socratically guide Twilight into expressing herself so that she doesn't just stew. On the other hand, I don't want readers to think I think they're stupid. I'll take a look at it, but I don't think I want Celestia to be to subtle--if not for the reader's sake, then for Twilight's.

>>GaPJaxie

Thank you!

>>Baal Bunny

Given to someone who's got a copy of Morning, Noon & Night on his bookshelf, that's high praise indeed. Thanks!

>>devas

Sorry that this story didn't work for you. Unfortunately, I don't think I can make it work; if a glimpse of how life doesn't always conform to your plans, not just despite, but even because of your successes, isn't something you see as worth exploring, then I don't see any real way to address that in the context of this fic.

That's not to denigrate your opinion at all! I'm just saying that I don't see any way to address your comment, in the context of this story. Thank you for taking the time to think about it, regardless; I do appreciate the comment.

>>FanOfMostEverything

Thank you!

>>TheCyanRecluse

Celestia's gotten genre-savvy to the point where she doesn't really bother with contingency plans any more, assuming instead that some conveniently-located savior of Equestria will pop up without her bothering to worry about it overmuch. The ancient Unicornians, being less versed in the ways of preordained success, didn't want to leave anything to chance :) In all seriousness, though, thank you!

>>Not_A_Hat

It's funny; I would have thought that a story where Twilight goes from being forced to the sidelines during an event which was a lifelong goal to "cheered up" in a few hundred words would show her to be very shallow indeed! My goal was to show how important this was to Twilight, and how it had been a benchmark she measured herself against, hoped to achieve, perhaps even planned on, growing up. It sounds like that didn't come through clearly, though. Do you have any suggestions to communicate that more clearly?

>>GroaningGreyAgony

Thank you!

>>georg

"Epilogues by georg" should be a thing.
#16 ·
· · >>Chris
>>Chris So, I've thought about this for a bit, and I feel like there's two things going on here... and neither of them are really very much on your end.

Firstly, I've never felt Twilight was strongly characterized by a love for tradition? Perhaps I'm wrong about this, but it's never seemed a core part of her character to me.

Maybe touching on places in the show where Twilight has shown a love of tradition, mentioning how those things have been powerful for her, might build that characterization a bit more? Something like dressing up for Nightmare Night, or the Hearths Warming Eve stuff, could rationalize her desire to be part of what's going on in regards to her character.

Secondly, I think I'm not the sort of person who places a lot of value on tradition in my own life. Stability in general is not a goal I hold very highly? Security yes, but stability... Perhaps that's why I don't connect with this as personally as some.

Maybe touching on why tradition is important to her could make it a bit more sensible for someone who doesn't connect as strongly with wanting to be part of history? More than just how important it is; what is it about attaching herself to history that draws her? It's not the fame. The sense of being part of something bigger? I dunno. Perhaps this is in there and I just missed it. :P

Well, I hope this is helpful, but... this story was already in the top third or fourth of my ballot based on construction and what, so it's not like I had any serious problems with it. Sometimes I'm just not who the story is aimed at, and that's totally fine too.
#17 ·
·
>>Not_A_Hat

Thanks for going into detail like that! I'll definitely have this in mind when I get to touching up the story.
#18 · 2
· · >>georg
>>georg
I'd love to also drop this into Never The Final Word.
#19 ·
·
>>horizon
You got it.