Hey! It looks like you're new here. You might want to check out the introduction.

Reversal of Fortune · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
Twilight looked at her niece, staring through the telescope. The girl had come so far from that chubby, winged ball of destruction she'd been as an infant. She had her mother's long legs and neck, but had gotten Shiny's more stubby horn and heavy hooves. What really stood out though, was the—apparently recessive—shaggy, northern coat. Cadance, being heir to the Crystal Empire, obviously had ancestors from the north, and while Night Light had said his family had ties to the old Empire as well—and Shiny did get a bit of the stocky build from there, she supposed—Twilight couldn't think of any direct relatives who had the heavy, winter-ready coats of the true north.

Until Flurry Heart.

The girl was, to put it mildly, "well insulated." To put it less mildly, she weighed less than Fluttershy but looked as bulky as Big Mac. Though, come to think of it, Twilight never really had weighed Big Mac. Maybe if you shaved him, she pondered, he'd be no bigger than Cadance. She snickered at the thought.

"What's so funny, Aunt T?"

"What?" Twilight stammered, coming out of her reverie before waving a hoof dismissively. "Oh, nothing, just admiring how much you've grown."

"Blech!" Flurry stuck out her tongue as she turned away from the telescope and her illustrations. "Everyone's always saying stuff like that to me." Flurry Heart put on her best Celestia voice. "Oh my, haven't you grown into a handsome young mare!" Then Luna "Thou dost remindeth me of thy mother's own youthful countenance."

Twilight moved close and gave a gentle hug with her wings. "You know it's because we love you, right?"

Flurry rolled her eyes and sighed before returning the hug. "Yeah, I know. But does everyone always have to point out what I look like? Like, can't I just be me without having to be compared to my mom, or your cousin, or that friend's sister's mother's aunt whoever?"

"Of course you can," Twilight said. "But you'll also always be our little Floofy."

"Ugh," Flurry ran a hoof down her face. "You're doing it again, Aunt T. Just because I couldn't say my own name until I was three, doesn't mean it's still funny. I'm not a little kid anymore!"

The last bit—while not quite yelled—made Twilight pause. "I'm sorry, Flurry. I... It's just because..."

Flurry glared, daring her to finish the sentence without being condescending.

Just before she could open her mouth to try, Twilight heard the doors to the study bang open.

"Who... wants... Cooookies!" Pinkie Pie bounced into the room, while somehow also balancing a tray of treats on her back.

Twilight had initially been planning to come alone to the Empire, and spend some time with her niece while Cadance and Shiny took a much needed vacation for their anniversary. But somehow, Pinkie had heard about some ancient baking techniques being rediscovered, and insisted she had to try out the "refractive solar ovens" being rebuilt by the crystal ponies.

At first, Twilight had been hesitant to let her come, looking forward to a mellow holiday herself, but Pinkie, ever determined, had something to say in negotiation. Specifically, she had said: "I. can. Bake. Literal. Rainbows. Into. Cooooookies!" More specifically, she'd said it with that look in her eyes that could be felt by everything in a hundred mile radius with more sense than a nematode.

So, Pinkie had come on the trip.

Flurry gave one last side-eye at Twilight, before her countenance brightened and focused on the bearer of the baked goods. "Pinkie, you look..."

Twilight saw it too. Her friend was... Well, half her normally poofy mane was singed to a crisp. One eye was twitching, seemingly of its own accord, and her bright pink coat looked to be nearly fifty percent soot by volume.

Over the past few days since they'd arrived, Twilight had barely heard a thing from Pinkie. At least, not since the initial disappointment when she'd learned the "ovens" in questions were more like "kilns" or "forges" and designed for creating magic artifacts and weapons at thousands of degrees. Apparently that had not stopped her though.

Approaching Pinkie a bit like one would a skittish animal, Flurry gave a sniff. "They, ah, smell good, Aunt P."

Twilight walked over and surveyed the tray of... items, several of which seemed to be slightly melted into the metal of the tray itself. "Yes, and they look..." The normally eloquent part of her brain reached for words, but came back only with: "Done."

"Heheheh..." Pinkie laughed in an only slightly disturbing way. "Yes, finally! Took me for-ev-er to get the recipe right!"

Pinkie's head swiveled back and forth between the other two. "Well," she said. "Come on, dig in! Lemme know how scrum-didly-delicious they are!"

Levitating a "cookie" from the tray, Twilight examined it. It had an outer surface that looked more like glazed pottery than any normal icing. The weight was also about ten times what she'd expect for a treat that size. In any other circumstance, she'd want to run the thing through a mass spectrometer before touching it, much less eating it, but Pinkie Pie was right there, staring at her with those big, sad, and very, very manic eyes! So she took a bite.

It was... not entirely unlike gingerbread. If gingerbread had a molecular weight on par with the middle layers of a neutron star.

"The secret," Pinkie excitedly explained. "Was to get juuust the right ratio of asbestos to lead in the icing, so it evaporates right as the beams are at maximum dispersal!" She hung her head a tad and her remaining hair, singed as it was, nevertheless seemed to find a way to slump too. "Of course, you only have about one eighth of a second to pull them out of the oven at that point, so it took me like a hundred and eleventy tries to get it right."

Twilight, having stopped chewing somewhere around the word "asbestos" took the break in eye contact as a chance to levitate the bite out of her mouth and stash it in a nearby planter for later analysis. The rest of the cookie went back on the tray as she made a show of "swallowing" the bite she'd taken.

"So?" Pinkie asked nervously.

"I... think they need work," Twilight said.

"I kinda sorta maybe thought that," said Pinkie, slightly dejected. "I mean, I'm getting all the colors of the rainbow, but it's still missing something."

"How about we go downstairs and get some dinner for now, and you can make another try at desert again later?"

"Righty-o, dinner ho!" Pinkie said, now cheering up a bit. "But I'll leave these here in case you want to feed the hamsters later!"

As the other two left the study, Twilight turned and cast a quick warding spell around the tray Pinkie had left on the table. Not that anything with a nose would likely even try to touch them, but... well, Flurry was probably too old to believe yet another one of her hamsters had gone to a farm up country.

"I think she's just uncertain about her place in the world," Cadance said, her form ethereal and tiny upon the desk.

Twilight leaned back, confident the sending spell would keep her framed regardless of position. "She just seemed so... upset today when I used her old nickname."

Cadance laughed, "Twilight, how awkward were you at that age?"

"Mmm... pretty awkward, I guess."

"And you were just a normal unicorn, around other unicorns. Nearly all the children Flurry's age are crystal ponies there, and absolutely none of them are alicorns. She wants to fit in, but has no way to do so."

"So, every time we point out how she looks..." Twilight leaned forward again, sighing. "It's reminding her of how different she is."

"And worse, the only ponies she can compare herself to are literally princesses basically worshiped by the entire populace."

"I wouldn't say we're worshiped at such, more of—"

"Because you don't like that part either, but you know that's how everypony looks at us. Flurry knows her aunts all cast a long shadow, and—"

"And she hates being reminded of it every time we compare her to others."

Cadance nodded. "I've been trying to get through to her, but she's a teenager, sometimes the last pony they want to talk to is their mother. I'm hoping maybe you'll have better luck."

"I'll try." Twilight smiled, "Good night, Cadance."

"Good night, Twil—

"'Night Twiley!" Shining Armor interjected from off screen, just as the spell was cut.

The next morning, Twilight found herself in the castle's study well before dawn. It was spring, and she'd agreed to take over celestial duties, managing the sun and moon for the season while the elder princesses went on a grand diplomatic tour. She'd gotten used to waking—or at least, still being awake—for dawn and dusk each day, but tonight she'd just had things weighing on her mind.

Candles lit, she paced through the study where she'd been informally tutoring Flurry Heart over the past few days. The filly had shown interest in both astronomy and optics, and after Twilight had shown her how different crystals could diffract light in ways that let one study the distant stars, she'd begged to see more.

Pacing, Twilight came to the illustrations near the telescope. The folio was still open to the sketches Flurry had been making of the sun's corona, as seen through the heavily smoked glass of the telescope. She flipped backwards, reviewing the spectral lines Flurry had dutifully copied, showing the hydrogen and helium lines in the sun, as well as other spectra they'd captured from a candle's flame, a vial of pure oxygen, and several gems, before returning the book to the coronal sketch.

She's good, Twilight thought, running a hoof gently over the arcs of solar plasma drawn in exquisite detail. Really good! Might be we'll soon have a cutie mark in the family for art!

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of hooves clinking ever-so-gently on crystal floors.

Flurry Heart, horn lit with a soft light spell, poked her head into the room. "Oh, sorry," she said, upon seeing the room occupied. "I didn't..." She paused, seemingly frozen in thought.

"Couldn't sleep either?" Twilight said, doing her best to give a warm smile.

Posture softening, Flurry moved into the study. "No, not really, I guess."

The two ponies stood in awkward silence for a moment.


"It's just—"

"No, you go first," Twilight insisted.

Taking a deep breath and letting it out, Flurry began. "I'm sorry for snapping at you yesterday. I know you didn't mean anything by what you said, it's just..."

"No," Twilight interrupted. "I'm sorry. You were right, you're not a child any more, and sometimes I forget that. You deserve to just be yourself, not my—or anypony else's—version of how we see you."

"Anyone else's."

"Excuse me?"

"You said "anypony" but that's speciest. You should say "anyone" or "anybeing" instead."

Ever the grammarian, the correction really threw Twilight's mind for a loop, almost as much as the unexpected confidence with which it was delivered. When her brain caught up with itself, and she'd remembered to close her jaw, she realized, well, she's not wrong. She looked at her niece. "I guess I never realized that."

"I know, which is why I didn't say anything, but... well, you said it several times, and I know it's just how you've always said things, but how would you feel if you were a griffin or a minotaur or some other species and heard that all the time?"

Twilight nodded. "Point taken. I guess I just never meant it that way, so..."

"I know, Aunt T, and I know you never meant anything mean in calling me Floofy either. But it..." Flurry blushed and lowered her ears a bit.

"But," Twilight finished for her. "It feels a bit like a tease when you're the only one growing a winter coat."

Flurry nodded, but kept her eyes downcast, trying to hide her blush still.

"Flurry, please, look at me." Twilight gently lifted her chin with a hoof. "I know this is a tough time for you. It is for every filly at your age. I know it's harder on you being unique as you are, but believe me, everypony—I mean everyone thinks you are amazing. Just because no one else looks like you doesn't mean you aren't beautiful."

Fighting back tears, Flurry stammered. "Everyone always says that but... But thank you, Aunt T."

The two hugged for a moment, before Twilight reluctantly broke the embrace. The sun should've been up several minutes ago, but she had an idea. "You know one of the best parts about being an alicorn?"

Flurry smiled. "Eating all you want and never getting fat?"

"No dear," Twilight said. "That's not an alicorn power, that's a teenage power." Twilight gestured for Flurry to follow her out onto the balcony. "The best part is raising the sun!"

Flurry Heart looked at her uncertainly, hesitating on the threshold.

"I know it's cold out," Twilight said, surveying the patches of snow still covering some of the more shaded rooftops and alleyways.

"Is it?" Flurry said.

Twilight chuckled. Of course the floofball didn't feel it! "Okay, so what's the problem?"

"It's just... I've seen Aunt C and Luna both do that a bunch."

Twilight turned around. "I'm not asking you to watch, I'm offering you a chance to try it for yourself!"

Flurry pawed a bit at the floor with a forehoof, a nervous tick Twilight had seen Cadance do as well when nervous. "What's wrong?" Twilight asked.

"It's just... I don't know that I'm ready, or that I can..."

"It's okay, Flurry. I'll be right here with you. Trust me, it's just a little bit of practice is all. No pony—Sorry, no one will know but us. Just give it a try."

Hesitantly, Flurry stepped out onto the balcony. The two ponies stood, gazing over the city and to the snow-capped peaks beyond it.

"Okay," Twilight began. "Close your eyes, and think of all the warmest things you can. Think of the sunlight on your face in the summer, of sun-drenched earth, and the warmth in all life. Find that feeling, and follow it out, out farther than you ever thought you could."

Flurry closed her eyes and opened her mind, doing her best to follow the instructions, her face making, objectively, the cutest scrunched up expression Twilight had ever seen.

Avoiding any outburst of auntly "d'aww"ing though, Twilight started her own monitoring spell. Sensing and waiting for the tendrils of spellwork Flurry was attempting to form. She found them, and saw them vaguely reaching toward the horizon, but they were disorganized, temporal at best. So she reached out, her own spell gently coaxing Flurry's into a more coherent form, guiding it imperceptibly toward the sun.

"A little harder, and a little further," Twilight instructed. "You're almost there!"

Flurry pumped more energy into her spell, and then, with a shock, her eyes popped open. "I feel it!"

Twilight smiled at her. "Good! Now, feel it for a minute. Get a sense of the thing, of the place, of the energies."

"I... I'll try." Flurry closed her eyes again.

"Remember what you were drawing yesterday? The flares and arcs, the spots and the whorls? Find those, find what they look like on the inside."

Twilight watched, proud as both an Aunt and a teacher.

"Oh wow," Flurry said. "I can... It's like... It smells like summer, but too loud!"

That was a new one, Twilight thought. Sure, every unicorn had their own synesthetic way of describing the magic sense in terms of the more mundane ones, but "the sun smells too loudly of summer" was one of the more bizarre. Yet, she knew, that surely indicated Flurry had made a solid connection.

"Okay," Twilight said. "Now raise it, slowly."

"What?" Flurry opened her eyes. "It's so big, I could never move something that large!"

Twilight could sense the filly's spell slipping. "No, it's not a levitation spell. Just relax. Remember those feelings of warmth and light?"

Flurry took a few deep breaths. "Okay, I feel it again."

"Right, so you don't move the sun yourself. You coax it into moving for you."

"How do I do that?"

"The sun is light, and warmth, and life, and all of those things. But all those things are also in you. Send your own heat and light to it, as light seeks light."

Flurry wrinkled her brow, but kept her eyes closed, a good sign, Twilight thought. She observed as the magic tendrils strengthened as Flurry sent energy toward the horizon. She'd need a lot more than that, so Twilight gave her a minute, but the output didn't increase.

"You need to try harder, Flurry."

"I... I'm afraid. I don't know what I'm doing, maybe we should just stop."

Twilight put a wing over her shoulder. "There's nothing to be afraid of, you're doing great, you just need to put more energy into it."

"I... I'm trying, Aunt T, but..."

Flurry made a visible show of effort, brow scrunching even more. Yet Twilight sensed no more energy on the magical side of things. What was the problem? She knew her niece had it within her to do this. Even as an infant she'd had more magical power than anypony she'd ever seen.

"Flurry," Twilight said, her voice more serious. "Take a break for a minute."

Flurry opened one eye, and saw the stern look on her aunt's face, then let the spellforms drop.

"Tell me," Twilight said. "What's wrong? Why won't you give it your all?"

It took a moment, but eventually Flurry responded. "I'm afraid."

"Of what?"

"That I'll... over do it. That I'll break it."

Twilight waited for her to continue.

"Remember when I was eight, and I set the tablecloth on fire at that restaurant?"

Twilight nodded as she thought back. She hadn't been there, but Cadance had given her the recap. They'd managed to put out the fire quickly enough that nopony got hurt, but...

"I'd just been trying to warm up my soup. But it... I lost control and nearly burned down a restaurant."

"Oh!" Twilight said, realization connecting. "I don't think I ever realized what's why it happened." But of course it made sense. That's about the point where Flurry suddenly seemed to get her power under control. But maybe... "But you've been afraid to really push yourself ever since, haven't you?"

Flurry nodded, visibly shaking, though Twilight couldn't quite tell if it was relief at admitting the problem, or at the fear she still faced.

Twilight wrapped her up in huge hug, wings and all, as determined as an aunt to could be wring the sadness right out of her.

After the gurgling started, she relaxed a bit.

"Oh Flurry," Twilight said after taking a moment to clear her own sniffles. "You were eight! Nopony has control of their magic at that age. I mean, I turned my own parents into plants on accident when I was even younger!"

"I know, Aunt T, but... Aunt C was there to help you calm down and control your spell. I'm an alicorn. If I have an accident, it might really hurt someone, and no unicorn is going to be able to contain my magic."

Oh my, Twilight thought, seeing the genuine fear and sadness in her niece's eyes. The poor dear! "Flurry, you're not eight anymore. You're a young mare in your own right. You've haven't had an outburst in years, and you've learned so much since then."

"But... What if I..." Flurry said, through sniffles. "What if I haven't? What if I mess up and really hurt someone?"

Twilight wasn't sure what more she could say. Facts and statistics weren't going to help fight an irrational fear, any more than they would convince a child there's no monster under the bed. Heck, Twilight thought, I did my own statistics on that and it still didn't help when I was... Then it dawned on her.

"Hang on, Flurry, wait here a minute, and I'll be right back."

"Where are you—"

"Just wait here. Five minutes tops, I promise!"

Twilight headed inside and looked at the table of various gems and crystals they'd been working with. No good, Flurry would recognize any of those. So she galloped off toward the guestroom she'd been staying in, before digging into her box of trinkets. It wasn't much, as she wasn't a very sentimental mare, but Twilight Sparkle still kept a small box of mementos from various adventures. Nothing big, nothing gaudy, just small, seemingly useless things that mattered only for the story they were connect to.

Most of the items were too mundane to work. She needed something that could pass for being magical, and protective, the way Smarty Pants had protected her from the monsters. Various quills, small rocks, a bent spoon, a chemistry pipette, a tangled string... No good. But there, yes. That'd do. A small bit of sunstone, not much different than quartz to a casual observer, but in the sun...

Twilight came trotting back into the study and returned to the balcony where Flurry was patiently still waiting. "Sorry about running off like that," she said. "But I found it." She held the stone out to Flurry, who took it in her own aura.

"What is it?" Flurry asked, turning the vaguely translucent rock over in her field.

"It's an ancient relic to help with sun magic."

"Where'd you get it?"

"Actually," Twilight said, improvising, "Luna gave it to me not long after I became an alicorn, back when I was having trouble raising the sun myself."


"Yeah," Twilight said, doubling down. "And she told me Celestia gave it to her when they were young, and Celestia was first teaching her to control the sun herself."

Flurry's eyes lit up at that. As much as she might regret standing out as an alicorn, she also felt relief that this stone was maybe something that had helped others like her in that regard. "How does it work?"

"Well," Twilight wasn't great at lying, but she did know what the stone actually did, so... "Let me show you." She also realized the sunrise as at least a half hour late at this point. "I'm going to bring the sun up, just a bit, to the horizon." She closed her eyes and did so, reveling in the warmth she felt every time she connected with the faraway orb.

As roosters began to crow in the distance, Twilight took the stone and held it in front of herself and Flurry. "See how the sun is hidden behind those clouds? Well, if you take this relic, and look through it, you can see how the color and brightness changes depending on how you turn it, right?" She demonstrated, then let Flurry take the stone and do the same.

Twilight realized this lie wouldn't have worked even two days from now. Sunstones were literally on day five of her lesson plan about diffraction. But for now, maybe it'd be enough... if she could convincingly lie.

"So you see," Twilight said, fib primed. "The relic is connected to the sun, and always finds it. It focuses your spells and keeps them controlled. All you have to do is hold this while you cast your spell and you can't miss!"

Fluffing her wings and rolling her shoulders to stretch, flurry turned to face the sun. "If you're sure, Aunt T."

"It worked for Celestia, it worked for Luna, and it worked for me!"

Twilight let Flurry take the lead this time, giving advice only sparingly as the young mare again made initial contact with the sun. Once the bond was strong, it was time to really begin.

"Okay Flurry, now like before, I want you to take your own light and warmth, and pour it into the connection."

Flurry did so, putting more energy in than she had before by a fair amount, but still far short of what was needed.

"Relax and let yourself go," Twilight encouraged. "You're holding the relic, so everything is fine."

Flurry poured more energy into the connection still, and Twilight could feel the sun responding every so slightly.

"That's it! You're almost there." Twilight moved around to stand in front of Flurry, her voice guiding her toward the sun. "You can do it. I believe in you. You just have to believe in yourself! Give it all you've got!"

A smile spread across Flurry's face, even as tiny drops of tear formed in the corners of her eyes. Twilight smiled in return, seeing the dawn sun glint off of them. Then with a heave of determination, Flurry's horn burst with a light so bright Twilight had to turn her head away.

When she'd finished blinking the spots out of her eyes, she felt the warmth on her back of a midday sun!

"You did it!" Twilight cried, hugging her star pupil.

Flurry opened her eyes, tears running down her cheeks as she looked around at the bright daylight, causing the entire city to glimmer and shine. "I did, didn't I? Though maybe it's a tad too high?"

"Yes," Twilight said, then chuckled at the noon-day light. "A tad. But you did wonderfully! I knew you could!"

"That relic you had really helped too! Thank you for that!"

"I... Yeah." Later, Twilight thought. For now... "You're welcome. I'll show you more later, but for now, how about some breakfast?"

"Now that you mention it, I'm starving!"

Twilight grinned. "That kind of magic really takes it out of you!"

After the meal, Twilight retreated to her own room and, after responding to several panicked scrolls from the other princesses wondering if Discord got ahold of the sun again, she took a nap.

Some time after lunch—hard to tell with the sun a bit wonky—she woke and headed up to the study. As she entered, Twilight found Flurry heart pacing frantically back and forth, her mane and coat frazzled and a look of sheer panic in her eyes.

"Flurry Heart, what's wrong?" Twilight said, rushing into the room. "You look awful."

"I did it, Aunt T. I told you it'd happen, and now... now it did. That, that relic you gave me. I, it... it made me break the sun."

Putting on her best educator voice, Twilight tried to clam her. "Slow down, Flurry. What happened."

"Maybe it was the relic. You said it was Luna's, right? Maybe some of it got in there and now it's in me. Now I've done it! I broke it!"

"What's in you? What are you talking about."

"The Nightmare!" Flurry practically screamed. "I finally let go, and opened myself up, and maybe it got in me from the relic somehow, and now it's in the sun."

"Whatever would make you think that?" Twilight asked, doing her best to sound reassuring, though knowing her incredulity was showing as well.

"Just look, look at the sun!" Flurry gesticulated wildly toward the telescope. "I was going to sketch some more and..." She trailed off in a series of manic half laughs.

Going to the telescope, Twilight saw it was still set up with the dark, smoked glass for solar viewing, so aimed it at the sun and looked. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust, then she saw it. It looked... a bit like the mare in the moon had, during Luna's banishment, but... on the sun? That wasn't possible."

"See, see it?" Flurry said. "I let the Nightmare get to the sun!"

Okay, now Twilight herself was getting a tad worried. She cast her sun-bonding spell out toward the sun, though much more slowly than usual, ready to close the connection in an instant if she sensed anything evil.

As the first tendrils made contact, it felt just like the warm, summer day she'd expect. She let more of a connection flow, and continued to sense nothing but love and light and warmth... though there was something slightly different than before. Twilight smiled.

"Flurry, it's okay!" She shouted, as Flurry had paced to the far end of the room. "Come over here, and let me show you something."

Flurry came to her side.

"See this?" Twilight held up the relic. "It's just a sunstone. It's not magic, just crystal."

"But you said it was..."

"Flurry, I am so very sorry, but I lied."

"But if it's not magic, then... the Nightmare is in me!"

Twilight grabbed Flurry with a field and physically pressed to keep her from nervously stamping her hooves. "I don't think anything is wrong, Flurry. There is no Nightmare."

"But that... it's the mare in the moon, but... but in the sun!"

"No, just because it may look like that, doesn't mean it's the same."

"So if it's not the Nightmare, then what is it?" Flurry asked. "Do you know?"

"Not quite, but I have a hunch. No, wait..." Twilight grinned. This would be a learning opportunity. "I have a theory!"

Twilight Sparkle spent the next few minutes directly Flurry through the minutia of setting up the spectrograph. Even though she could do it herself in half the time. From there, she has the young mare direct the scope at the sun, and as it projected the spectral lines on the paper, Flurry was instructed to copy it down.

Once done, she had Flurry find the spectra she'd recorded from the sun a few days prior, and look for any differences. There, at the far octarine end of the spectrum, were three bright, new lines.

"So," Twilight explained. "That's what was added to the sun since last we observed. Correct?"

"So that's the Nightmare?" Flurry asked. "Those lines?"

"That's what's new but we don't know for sure what it is. I don't think it's the Nightmare at all. But we should check all possibilities to be sure. Let's start with the other spectra we already have. Do any of them have those same lines?"

Flurry started looking through the folio, and quickly found several. "Oh no, it's everywhere!"

"Not everywhere," Twilight was quick to point out. "Just, so far, in this room, and on the sun. And these other spectra don't have the same lines at all. So the question is, what do the ones that do have them have in common?"

"What?" Flurry asked.

Twilight laughed. "No dear, I'm asking you. I want you to figure this out."

Flurry, though still nervous, was gradually calming by osmosis, as Twilight had hoped. It's hard to remain panicked during the mundane slog of research. "Umm... there are mostly rocks, but this one is a vial of water."

"And the ones that don't have the lines."

"Well, except for the sun, they're mostly far away, like clouds or stars, or the sky itself. But the first two are also rocks."

"Very good, and when we tested those, did you remember how we did it?"

"Well, you... you were holding them up over the flame while I used a mirror to shine light through the vapors."

"And the later ones?"

"Well, she'd mounted the mirror and things, so I just held them up myself..."

"So what does that tell you?"

"I don't know, Aunt T. Just tell me!"

"One more test, then I promise."

Flurry nodded.

"Okay, this is very simple. Just cast a small light spell in front of the spectrograph and tell me what you see."

Twilight was pleased to see the gears click even before Flurry had performed the final experiment, as the young alicorn seemed to visibly relax as she cast the final spell. Sure enough, exactly as Twilight expected, Flurry's own aura cast three bright lines, right where they'd appeared in all the samples she'd been levitating, and which now appeared in the sun.

"But I don't get it, Aunt T." Flurry said, after reaching the same conclusion. "I understand it's my magic that did changed the spectra, but what about the dark figure? Is that me? Something inside me?"

Twilight turned and manipulated the telescope, letting it project the image of the sun onto a blank part of the table. There, though inverted, was the image of a horned mare, in silhouette on the face of the sun.

Twilight turned back to Flurry heart. "Does that look like you?"

Squinting, Flurry Heart leaned closer to the table. "Kind of, I think. It's a stubby horn like mine."

"Uh huh," Twilight rolled her eyes toward her own horn, which clearly ran in the family, but feared the gesture was lost. "But otherwise, the mane, the muzzle, remind you of anyone?"

"Yeah," Flurry said, a bit exasperated. "Me!"

"You seriously think that mane and face is fluffy enough to be you?"

Flurry looked up, confused, but starting to relax a bit more.

"It's me, silly!" Twilight said. "I was standing right between you and the sun when you cast the spell."

"So... I'm not... I'm not the Nightmare?"

"No, you silly Floof!" Twilight wrapped her up in another big hug, and beginning to cry. "You're not the Nightmare. You're the exact opposite!"

"What do you mean."

Twilight felt tears running down her cheeks, full of pride in her wonderful, amazing niece. "That image up there. It's not a dimming or an infection. It just a shadow!"

Flurry gave her a look, as if to ask what exactly that meant, and Twilight laughed again. "It's wonderful, that's what it means. It means your inner warmth and love and light, and all those things you were projecting—That light in you is so bright that it literally cast a shadow on the sun!"

Meanwhile, at the solar forge-cum-oven:

"Guys! Guys! It worked! Everypony, it worked! The cookies are a success! The missing component in the spectrum was love!"
« Prev   6   Next »
#1 · 1
· · >>Baal Bunny >>Xepher
Today's a snow day, so instead of going to work, I'm going to see if I can't read and comment on 33,000 words of fanfiction. The best plan, yes? Yes!

This was a fun, feel-good fic, and a great one to open with. There's a lot of very natural-feeling moments throughout--stuff like how Shiny is shouting into the 'telephone' from the background, for example--that give your story a pleasant sense of verisimilitude. Some of the Pinkie stuff does feel a little far afield of that (this is "personal preference" rather than "definitive advice," but I wouldn't have her give Twilight anything that constitutes a lethal poison; that strays a little bit from where I feel the rest of the fic's tone is), but not so much that it really broke my immersion. And Flurry's teen-portrayal (and the smart decision to physically other her in ways beyond "just" her alicornification, i.e. ways that can be read as not just "better than other ponies") is a genuine, relatable grounding to base a story on.

I did feel like Twilight and Flurry's testing ran a little long, and didn't have enough payoff. Or rather, went too long without payoff; there aren't any particularly enlightening-to-the-reader revelations until we get to the end, so everything between "I have a theory!" to "It's me, silly" is just buildup--and I it felt like too much, to me, unless you're going to have some meaningful-to-the-reader secondary revelations mixed in there to keep the audience's interest up. I think a little more could have been done to address Flurry's teen angst towards the end as well; as-is, that feels like the heart of the fic for the first two-thirds, then gets almost entirely sidelined (I did like the callback to Pinkie ending, though. Don't change that!).

But overall, a very solid entry, and one that I enjoyed reading. On to fic two!
#2 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny
Quick Takes:

Some fun turns of phrase in the Pinkie Pie section.

She's a teenager but doesn't have her cutie mark? Do alicorns age slower maybe?

Twilight being accidentally "speciest" is amusing.

A sunstone as Dumbo's feather?

Starting to get more typos here in the latter bits.

Okay, that ending... what a great visual metaphor!


Lots of little details in "teenage" Flurry to make her feel real.

Jokes/gags in the Pinkie bit were amusing.

The scientific approach to resolving things felt very Twilight.


The pinkie bit was a bit long for only being (really) a setup for post-credits stinger.

Lots of typos cropped up near the end. Definitely felt rushed.

The "research" bit at the end needed more clues (or more foreshadowing) to let the reader grasp things sooner. Or it just needed to be shorter. As it sits, we're as frustrated as Flurry in getting to the answer.


A very solid story with a great visual metaphor at the end, and bonus points for using the prompt image so directly. But things could be a bit more focused. The story feels a bit like it's torn between "scientific mystery" and "teen angst/family bonding." I can see how it's tying them together, but that needs to be done a bit more smoothly. Probably wouldn't hurt to see more from Flurry's perspective, to really get a sense of her self-doubt. Still though a really enjoyable read with a heartwarming payoff.
#3 ·
· · >>Xepher
I'm going to:

Largely agree with >>Chris and >>Xepher. The heart of the story--teenage Flurry learns that she's not necessarily a monster--is very nice, but the spectral analysis stuff left me completely behind and the Pinkie stuff seems to come from nowhere and lead nowhere.

But I find myself full of questions. Has Flurry permanently altered the sun's radiation signature? And if these three lines appear on the other readings Flurry took herself but not on the ones she took with Twilight's help, how is it that Twilight hasn't noticed them before? I'm guessing that whatever substances they're testing have been through this spectrographic process before, so wouldn't these extraneous lines have stood out as not normal? Does Twilight have her own detectable radiation signature? Or is Flurry unique in this way, too?

There's a lot here to work with, author--maybe Pinkie's continued failures to make something edible could be a lesson for Flurry in perserverance? And I hope you'll keep working with it!

#4 ·
· · >>Xepher
Before I start, this is a critique of what one reader understood reading what you wrote. I have not read anyone else's critiques, and won't until after voting ends. Take what I say if it proves helpful or ignore it; your choice.

First off, I can see that this is not a first-draft. Most of it is written expertly, but you didn't catch everything and those road apples really irked me because all were obvious... to me, but proofing one's own writing is the worst! Right? May I suggest that you either read your stories aloud when you think you're done, or have your phone/tablet/computer read it to you? This is what I do.

The story contains many delights. I actually rated it pretty high. Unlike others who struggled to get a full story up, you produced a cornucopia of content! While this has probably happened to me before, nobody has given me this specific advice I have heard told others. Once you've started writing, look for where the story actually begins. (Usually, this is a recipe for getting over blank-page-can't-start-writing syndrome, specifically, just write whatever until you find the actual beginning of your story, but I digress.)

Your story is an onion. Your real story is a gem, and I'm not saying this to humor you.

The real story is Twilight helping her OP niece overcome her fears to raise the sun, and handling the aftermath together. I found it moving (no pun intended). If you start where Flurry finds Twilight not being able to sleep and ends with the meaning of the mare on the sun, you've got a winner. I would suggest you clean it up and publish it on FimFiction, stat.

The next layer of the onion is Flurry being furious about growing up a teenage alicorn. While this is also quite interesting, it's just deep background. None of it, other than being an alicorn teenager with angst matters to the core story, and in the core a sentence or two will suffice. The machinations you went through to explain Flurry being fluffy doesn't jibe with canon. What does that even bring to the whole story or even to this layer except extra words. As cute as the holo spell-phone connection (from The Movie, right?) is, I found it disorienting. With a little cleanup, it might serve to introduce the core story by setting Twilight taking care of Flurry, but the story could just as well happen at the Friendship Castle on an overnight visit. In other words, this middle layer kind of works, but doesn't really flow.

The outer layer of the onion is Pinkie. She is unnecessary to the story in the beginning and her presence in the end distracts from the unmitigated solar warmth of the "shadow" revelation toward the end. What does Pinkie add? Ask yourself that.

In summary, I suggest you look in the work, and possibly your others, and cut the unnecessary fluff (pun intended). Find where the story starts.

Good job on the central core, though. I mean, yeah, upvote!
#5 · 1
· · >>scifipony >>Chris
>>Baal Bunny

Thank you all for the feedback. I definitely need to refine the pacing (especially the ending "research" bit.)

I wasn't nearly clear enough in the story, as I'd originally meant to have a bigger bit with Pinkie at the end, but of course she would never poison anyone! If you read carefully, she says the lead/asbestos mixture evaporates! The idea was that Pinky was actually smarter than Twilight was giving her credit for, and basically (since the ovens are so hot) creating ablative shielding that boiled away at just the right speed so not only did the cookie inside bake just right, but also so that the last of it boiled away and exposed the cookie to the beam at full dispersal, (where it can only last like 1/8th second) just enough to imbue it with the same spectral powers they were originally meant to imbue into armor, weapons, and other stuff.

Now, as to why my brain came up with that many details about baking cookies when I was on a very tight time crunch for this story? Well, my brain hates me sometimes. :-)

Baal, to answer your questions: My headcanon is spells leave signatures, so while it's not "permanent" the sun will have an "afterglow" for a while. The lines appeared in all the samples because her aura was literally glowing in/around them as she levitated them. That is to say, her aura's glow was entering the spectrograph. Any/all unicorn magic would have spectral signatures as unique as fingerprints, so yes, other unicorns would have signature lines if they cast a spell in front of a spectrograph. Not all of them could literally leave a lasting mark on the sun, however!

Lastly, scifipony
First off, I can see that this is not a first-draft.

That's possibly the best compliment I've ever had. Not only IS this a first draft, it was actually a very rushed one, written end-to-end in one go, starting about six hours before the deadline. I did make one INCREDIBLY rushed attempt to edit when there was about 10 minutes remaining, but mostly just got to fix typos in the first 1/3 of the thing. I swear, if I could ever stop doing the "last possible minute" thing and actually edit/revise...

That said, yes, I need to clean up the extraneous stuff and get to the "core" of the story. I didn't even know what the story was until it happened while I was writing though. The Pinkie bit got away from me because writing Pinkie is fun, but I agree it doesn't really serve the story (as seen.) The solar ovens were meant to be more of a clue/connection to what happened than they ended up being. Basically "the secret ingredient is love" in baking, so I was trying to double-down on my metaphors.

Flurry being overly fuzzy is meant to be one of the body-image issues surrounding her teen angst. To me, that is important, as little "odd" details like that are what tend to sell me on stories and bring characters to life beyond canon, and keep things like "teen angst" from feeling so generic. It also ensures that the silhouette at the end looks demonstrably different from what Flurry's would (proving it's not her.) I'll see if I can integrate it a bit more naturally when I revise though.

Holo-spell was just "phone call" in Equestria for me... I don't know if it was in the movie or not. Mostly that was a short cut to speed things up as I ran low on time. Cadance gets to directly TELL Twilight (or rather, the reader) some things I didn't have time to properly show.
#6 ·
Regardless, the part of the story I pointed out was my favorite for the event. I hope you chose that edit (I'm biased), and I'd love to pre-read for pub on FimFiction.