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

The Morning After · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
A Good Filly
"Miss, can we ask you a question?"

I didn't recognize the voice, but the cadence and the rhythm of the steps told me the only thing I needed to know. Guards. I felt cold. My muscles tensed, I almost missed a step but caught myself in time. Never show hesitation, never show doubt.

Tourmaline had felt it, I'm sure of it. She leaned a bit into me, but she didn't show any fear. She was a good filly.

I glanced around in the mad hope that there was somepony else they could be talking to. There wasn't. We were alone in the alley.

I turned around and kept Tourmaline behind me. If things became ugly she could try to run. She knew the way to my brother. She was a good filly.

The guards stood at the entrances of the alley, armor, blue crests, didn't see any weapons. I swiftly lowered my eyes. "Yes, sirs?"

One stepped forward. I suppressed a shivering. I had to stay calm, keep my head low. I still had a chance to come out of it a go home.

"Miss? Is there a problem?"

Tourmaline shrunk behind me. I couldn't see her, but I felt it. I prepared to throw myself at the guard if things went south. I kept my tone low, but loud enough so he could hear me. "No problem at all sir. How can I be of service?"

"Miss, if there is a problem please tell us. Your filly seems scared of something. Did something happen?"

That was it, I had to buy some time, I had to...

"No sir, it's just a bit cold here, and I... I forgot my scarf." Tourmaline had spoken, her tone had been steady. She was a good filly.

"Uh, well, OK then." Hesitation, bad sign. I felt his attention shifting. He still seemed suspicious, but maybe we weren't the right kind of ponies they were looking for. "Miss, you know that if there is something you can talk to us, right?"

"Certainly sir. How can I be of service?"

"Well, Miss...?"

Maybe he hadn't seen my mark. I could give a false name, I had a couple of them for this kind of occasion. No, that was too risky. It could be a trap, and we weren't too far from home. It wasn't too strange for us to be here. "Shining Facet, sir."

"Yes, Miss Facet. Well, this is a bit embarrassing, but we became kinda lost. We would prefer to not have to backtrack to the palace, so, could you please tell us the way to the Ruby Lane?"

They were out of their district, this made them less predictable, I had to leave as soon as possible. Without looking up I said, "You need to go left, then turn right at the third alley, and then you will be there, sir."

"Thank you, Miss Facet. That helps a lot. Hey, Flash, I told you we had to go in the other direction." His attention was back on me. "Well, we will go now. Thank you again, and if there's a problem, any problem, don't hesitate to ask any guard. We are here for you."

"Thank you, sir. But there is no problem at all."

"Have a nice day." They left.

Tourmaline pressed into my side, I relaxed, closed my eyes and took a deep breath. We made it.

"Mother, can we go?"

I looked down at my daughter. She was calmer than me, I had to be stronger for her. "Yes, we can go."

I still felt a bit weak on my legs, happened every time, but we resumed our walk.

"They seemed nicer than the other guards."

That was a dangerous thought. "We still need to be careful, sweetie."

"Do you think it was true? That we could go to them if there was a problem?"

I thought about it. Sombra was gone, or so they told us. We had bowed down before the new Princess, we had shown our submission, I hoped that was enough.

On the other hoof, there had been the fair and the Crystal Heart glowed again. Yesterday there hadn't been any talk about some glorious future, nor had anypony disappeared in the night, nor had there been the rattling of chains. Yet.

"We shall see, sweetie." Asking guards for help seemed such a strange idea. I could hardly wrap my head around it.

I hoped Tourmaline would see such a thing. She was a good filly.
« Prev   24   Next »
#1 · 2
Huh, nice.

So this is a really good idea, and the execution mostly carries through. The whole aftermath thing, the interaction with the guards, the creeping feeling that something's wrong that built until the end; very well done on the whole, a nice bit of societal worldbuilding that gives us a peek into a different (but realistic and believable) mindset.

I do have to question, however, what the meaning of the 'good filly' thing was. It recurred three or four times, but it didn't really seem to be pulling its weight. If it was a motif, I missed the meaning.

I really don't have a whole lot to criticize here besides that. Perhaps a spelling mistake or two, but meh. Have a proofreader look at it later.
#2 · 1
No amount of flugelhorns and funnel cake can heal the kind of scars Sombra inflicted. Not immediately. A haunting portrayal of the lasting trauma of the crystal ponies, with a great blend of suspense and tragedy. That said, I do have to agree with Not_A_Hat with regards to the “good filly” refrain; it never really went anywhere. Still, that’s the one flaw in this gem.
#3 · 1
Not that I've ever lived in an oppressive, dictatorial regime and then been shot out of time for untold millennia, but if I had done all those things I think I'd react much the same way as Ms. Facet. A good look at the aftermath of Sombra's reign and the cautious attitude of the Crystal ponies after their first taste of freedom.
#4 · 2
Wow. This is incredibly powerful, and the premise took me by surprise once I got to it. (I think it's slightly noncanonical due to the rapid effects of the artifact, but I don't care—it's more realistic and deep.)

I'm not sure the titular repetition reinforces the premise as much as it could have, had you chosen something different... but it does illustrate the mother's primary concern which works well for establishing mindset.

Sorry, I don't really have much I can suggest for this one.
#5 · 1
· · >>Trick_Question
Yeah, not sure why the title was chosen and repeated like it was, since it doesn't seem to relate to the main theme of the story. Ignoring that, the rest is pretty good though. I kept wondering why they'd be afraid of guards, thinking she was a thief or changeling at first. But the setting and context at the end made a much more interesting (and deep) story out of it. Well done!
#6 · 1
· · >>Orbiting_kettle
Agreed, but I think I already said that. The motif was just a little too repetitive and it distracted me from the story more than aiding the mood.

I think part of the problem is it made the story seems like a moralistic poem from the 1800's, and the story was otherwise outstanding and serious and inconsistent with that manner of storytelling, where nothing else is repetitive or sing-songy. I think it'd have more impact if you hadn't ended the story with that line, and if you'd only mentioned it at most once previously.

Then you'd need a new name for your story, but you should choose a new name. This story isn't really about the filly, exactly, is it? She hardly does anything. It's about her mother's actions and the hopefulness that slowly emerges, which the filly in part personifies, but she's not exactly a synecdoche for the message.
#7 · 1
Wow. I like it.

I kinda figured out what was going on before Flash Sentry was mentioned by name. But it definitely fits. After who knows how long under the non--so-gentle hoof of Sombra, it's unrealistic to expect the Crystal ponies to bounce back overnight.

I'll agree with the other comments that I don't really see the point of the "Good filly" line being reused so much... But that's mostly a minor quibble. Two thumbs up!
#8 · 1
Took me a little while to get the premise of this, but once I understood it, you had me on board. This is a premise that I've seen explored in other fiction that I enjoy (a benevolent occupying force examined from the perspective of the occupied), and while I agree that your motif is overplayed and falls flat, your general execution more than make up for it.

Love it.
Post by Shadowed_Song , deleted
#10 ·
· · >>Trick_Question >>Orbiting_kettle
This is well written but I cannot really identify the conflict, or rather I am confused by the way you present it. Mother and daughter seem to be in a fix, possibly after some sort of wrongdoing. I was also at some point expecting the mother to have given a hiding to her daughter or something of sorts. Your setting waylaid me.

Turns out this is way “brighter” and they simply don't trust the guards. But, if I have construed the story correctly, what means that key sentence “she was a good filly”? I am at a loss. I can’t reconcile both aspects.
#11 · 1
· · >>Monokeras
This story is a post-Sombra snapshot of ponies who were recently slaves, and are still too traumatized to trust that their new rulers are benevolent. The filly has not experienced the depth of horrors that her mother has, so she's less wary—but she trusts her mother's judgment.

The "good filly" thing is a motif intended to tie the story together, and it kind of touches upon the theme (in that the mother's only concern is protecting her foal, and also the difference in generations), but I thought it didn't work well.

EDIT: I only mean the motif didn't work well. The story is fantastic; the motif is the only flaw.
#12 · 2
Yes, I got that, of course, but this interpretation doesn't come 100% clear until later in the story. The first lines seem to suggest that the mother has breached some law to the knowledge of her daughter (or even, as i said, committed some sort of abuse on her) but the filly is good enough not to report it to the guards (we do not know at first that the whole scene takes place in the Crystal Empire).

That the mother shuns the guards transpires only from the middle of the story on, and that sudden change was slightly jarring to me.
#13 ·
Ooo, this is a great one to end my finals slate with. It's dark and powerful and does a lot of things right.

I'm going rogue and saying that I think the recurring line worked. The most important thing to that mother was that her daughter learn what it takes to survive in the bad situation they found themselves in, but she also considers it good that the daughter has more optimism than she herself does. It's a perfect little nugget of almost hypocritical, or at least cognitively dissonant, thought process, which I can totally relate to having as a parent.

Maybe this could be a little stronger if the mother's paranoia still had some touch points back to the situation they were in. I didn't really have any clues until the very end that this wasn't the old empire, and I feel like it could be stronger if it was clearer about that sooner. Otherwise though, I have nothing to complain about.

Tier: top contender
#14 · 1
The Great

Another good take on the prompt. Very strongly emotive.

The Rough

Maybe I'm dumb, but none of the clues clicked strongly enough to actually get me to where and when this story was taking place. Like they were definitely there! Gem puns, Flash, etc. Add in that the show presentation of the post Crystal Empire was (obviously) positive and none of it quite added up to get me to "Crystal Empire immediately post-Cadence." And without actually knowing that... the body fell super flat to me. I had no ability to empathize with her concerns because it is -such- an overreaction to all the assumptions I was able to make.

That said, I'm not sure you should particularly change anything on the basis of that review.
#15 · 4
· · >>Trick_Question
So, well, color me surprised. Thank you all for the feedback, it is always appreciated and I'm quite happy you liked the story.

I was brainstorming ideas for the write-off for a while until I narrowed it down to "The Morning After the Revolution". And then I remembered again what my best friend told me years ago. His parents were political refugees who had fled from a dictatorship. They came to Italy and lived there for a long time. And yet, even if they knew they were safe, for years, every time they saw some police officers in Riot Gear (for some soccer game) or checking cars for whatever reason, they went stiff. For such a long time Police and military had been the enemy, the people that could whisk you away, the people that meant danger or even death, that the reaction had become almost instinctive.

"Stories about Ponies are stories about people" Cold In Gardez (n.d.)

And then, thinking about what the aftermath of Sombra's reign must have been come almost naturally.

Now to the justified criticism moved to this story.

It seemed that the motif baffled the reviewers, which means I somehow failed to deliver. It was my intention to use it both as a sort of mantra, the thing you repeat to yourself when you are almost panicking, and as a focus of the worries of Shining Facet. My intention was to show that she would, if things went south, to distract the guards and allow her daughter to flee, and also that she was keeping her calm just barely. I will clearly have to rework it.

I think part of the problem is it made the story seems like a moralistic poem from the 1800's

I think, if it's okay with you, that I'll need a better explanaition for this. I'm not sure how to interpret this, but I really want to understand it. Maybe we can do it through PM's as to not add noise to the thread here.

Turns out this is way “brighter” and they simply don't trust the guards.

I kinda think it made it all worse, but the explanation of why that is so is outside the scope of this post. Maybe we can continue this discussion in chat sooner or later.

Again, thanks to everyone who took time to comment and criticize, I really appreciate it.

Oh, I also may need some help with editing and proofreading before I post this on FimFiction. If there are some volunteers that would be splendid :D
#16 · 1
· · >>Orbiting_kettle
I just meant the repetition made it seem like a poem where the motif was inserted to reinforce the message of the poem.

It reminded me of a children's book, "And They Were Strong and Good", that talked about some White kid's ancestors and just described a few things about each family and then dropped the title again at the end of every page. It was kinda creepy because they looked super-stern and angry, kind of like old photos sometimes do because you had to hold still for several minutes.
#17 · 1
· · >>Trick_Question
Thanks, now it's clearer.

I can see what you mean, I'll have to see how to fix that or at least lessen this impression.
#18 ·
One way might be to vary the mantra a little, even if by only adding or removing a word, or combining it with a previous sentence via — or ; or something. But there are plenty of options. It was easily one of the best stories in the contest even in its current form: I don't think you need to change anything. But the mantra did stand out a little and seemed strange at the end because there wasn't quite enough focus on the foal to make that the central message.

But that's a single read. Maybe if I read the same thing tomorrow I'd change my mind. :derpytongue2:
#19 · 1
Reminds me of a line out of Skywriter's excellent In The Bleak Midwinter

I sighed. "Don't your—I mean our—people feel the need to celebrate something in these short, cold days? To lift their spirits at least?"

"Short days are long nights," said Rose. "And the cold is the king of the wastes without, ever hungry, ever greedy to claim our tiny island of warmth and light. We do not celebrate in the dark and cold. We huddle together, crying out to the howling void and praying that it will avert its jaws from us for one more day." Rose took a little sip from her mug.