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Rising From the Ashes · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
Ars Vivendi: Memento Mori
Staring down at Vinyl Scratch’s body and the crimson pool growing beneath it, Octavia sighed and went to fetch the mop.

She hadn’t meant for it to happen, of course. While she had been upset that Scratch had broken yet another of her cellos, even now, something like that would never cause her to raise a hoof to her marefriend.

Not that she could fully exculpate herself. She had, admittedly, pushed Scratch in annoyance.

It was just that, as an earth pony, the gesture had had rather more effect than she’d intended.

Of course, even then, she could never have anticipated that Vinyl would slip on a spot of water and slam into the counter. Or thought that would be enough to cause the knife block to tip over. And she doubted even Celestia herself could have guessed that, of all the knives, her brand new ten-inch chef’s knife would be the one to spin off the counter, gravity guiding it towards the unfortunately exposed neck of her beloved DJ.

On a positive note, a knife that sharp would certainly make dinner preparations much easier.

Yanking open the closet door, she didn’t flinch as the hooded pony skull within grinned its broad and bony smile.

“Are you tired of this yet?” the Pale Trotter asked in a voice as cold as a Windigo’s kiss. Its hollow sockets burned with pale blue flames, helpfully illuminating the storage space with their ghastly, ethereal glow. It saved Octavia a few moments of fruitless searching by revealing the mop and bucket in the opposite of the expected corner.

“Sod off,” Octavia grunted, pulling the bucket out with her teeth and kicking the door shut behind her.

Not that it made any difference as the skeletal pony phased through the door and followed her back to the kitchen, its breath creaking and rattling like an ancient and barren tree in a storm. “You can end this at whenever, Octavia. You just have to say the word.”

“I believe I already told you to sod off,” she growled around the bucket handle, flinching as the mop handle shifted and smacked her on the snout.

“Come on! You have to be getting tired of—”

“What bucking part of sod off do you not understand?” The bucked clanged as it hit the ground. “And for the last time: stop bloody lurking around our house! I know you can just show up whenever you want! You don’t have to wait around, you git!”

It huffed. “There is no reason to be rude about this.”

“No reason to—” Octavia sputtered. “You keep killing Vinyl! I think I’ve got plenty of reason to be miffed. It is, in fact, getting real bloody tiresome.”

“Of course. Blame the skeleton pony with the scythe.” The Pale Trotter’s ghastly flames rolled in their sockets. “I have kept the bargain struck by your princess in both spirit and word. The fact that your marefriend has been marked for death is not my fault. I merely guide those who pass. Believe me, if I could avoid seeing the two of you again, I would gladly—”

Octavia picked the bucket back up and resumed her trek towards the kitchen, tuning out whatever else the specter had to say.

It took a few minutes to throw out the remains of her shattered cello, as well as mop up the worst of the blood. While she couldn’t completely clean the kitchen with Scratch’s still-cooling corpse occupying a large part of it, she had found that tackling with the majority of the mess first generally made things easier in the long run.

Once she had done as much as she could, Octavia leaned down and kissed the mortal remains of her marefriend, feeling the tingle of the magic implanted within her flow from her lips to the body. It only took a moment for Scratch’s eyes to flutter open.

“Huh? Whuzzat?” Scratch asked, though to the untrained ear it probably sounded a bit more like the gurgling of a pony with a cut throat.

“Easy, love,” she said, putting a gentle, but firm, hoof on Scratch’s shoulder. “You had an accident with a kitchen knife. Just lay there and wait for the magic to finish healing you.”

Once upon a time the sight of Scratch’s flesh knitting together had disgusted her but, over the last year, the grotesque sight of magical regeneration had grown dull. After all, there were only so many times you could be horrified at watching your love’s head reattach itself or her scattered ashes reconstitute into a single pony. “Should be just little longer. This one wasn’t too bad.”

As Scratch rose, wobbling, Octavia gave her another kiss.

“You go get cleaned up while I finish with this.” Looking at the bloody knife on the floor, she rethought the night’s plans. Cooking no longer appealed. Not that she’d have time now. “Then I’ll go get us takeaway. Saddle Arabian okay?”

Vinyl stood in the shower, letting the water run over her, watching as red swirled and gurgled down the drain. Twenty minutes and she was still trying to scrub blood out of her fur. And they were almost out of soap and brushes.

Again. Probably bleach, too.

She sighed and sat down, the no-slip mat barely shifting under her. Her neck still hurt. Sure, she might’ve looked good as new, but the pain always hung on. Princess Twilight’d told her it was just some sorta psycho-something-something, but it really didn’t make a difference. If it hurt, it hurt.

“You don’t have to keep coming back, you know.”

Vinyl nearly had a heart attack – a feeling she could now identify decisively – and barely managed to contain an indignant squeak of shock as the Pale Trotter suddenly stood next to her, its soggy black cloak clinging to its bones and its flaming eyes hissing as water ran over them.

After a moment of standing under the spray, he sighed. “This is a bad time.”

“You think?” Vinyl growled.

“My point stands, however. The contract, as worded by your princess, stipulates that Octavia cannot revive you without your consent. If you wish to pass, you can. Whenever you’d like. Right now, even, if you really wanted.” Noting the silence, he pressed on.

Vinyl eyed him. “Don’t you have better things to do? Like I’m sure there are plenty of other ponies and griffons and whatever dying somewhere not in our shower.”

“There are. Which is why your erratic mortality is a real problem for me.” He glanced back at the shower head. “Could you please turn that off? It’s ruining my cloak.”

“No,” she said, emphasizing her point by returning to scrubbing. She somehow still had blood on her breast.

“You have to admit, this arrangement is highly inconvenient for everypony involved. Sure, you get to generally keep living, but… well. Octavia spends an inordinate amount of time picking up the pieces.” The Pale Trotter coughed, its bones rattling. “Literally, on more than one occasion.”

Vinyl tried not to think too hard about those deaths as she continued to scrub.

“You’ve had a truly good run, Vinyl. You really have! You got your marefriend out of Tartarus. Not many ponies can say they did that. And certainly no other pony can say they also got to come back from that particular sacrifice! Meanwhile, you’ve gotten a whole year and then some to spend with her.” He set a bony hoof on her shoulder. “I get it. I really do. It’s scary. I’m scary. But you all have to go sometime. And, well, if I had a marefriend? I certainly wouldn’t want her getting comfortable with mopping six pints of my blood off the floor. Not only is that really annoying to deal with, but honestly? It would kind of creep me out. A pony who can do that is a pony who has been forced into some real dark places.”

Vinyl’s scrubbing slowed.

“Anyhow. Just some food for thought.” The Pale Trotter grinned. Not that he could do anything else. “I’ll be there if you need me.”

“Scratch! I’m back!” Tavi’s voice rose above the sound of the shower.

The Pale Trotter was gone.

Vinyl only hesitated for a half-second before she stood up. “Cool! I’m nearly—” she started as she stepped out of the shower, but couldn’t finish, the words dying in her throat as she tripped over the shower’s lip and slammed muzzle first into the floor at just the right angle to fatally snap her neck.

Octavia slathered jelly across the toast she’d prepared for their breakfast. And slathered was most definitely the right term as she tried to smooth out the mountain of preserves that she’d loaded on the bread.

“Hey, Tavi? Sure you don’t want me to do that?”

She nodded. With their luck, Scratch would find some way to put a butter knife through her heart. While she missed having a helping hoof in the kitchen, there were just too many hazards that threatened to turn a pleasant breakfast into another corpse clean-up.

Besides, there were benefits to accidentally using too much jelly. Next time she went to the store, she would have a reason to get earth pony friendly jars even sooner. She added that to her mental shopping list: soap, brushes, rags, a new mop, bleach, more foal-proofing supplies, more rugs, and food stuffs she didn’t need the help of a horn to access easily.

Still, a little would be nice. Maybe they could hire a housecleaner. Though she wondered how hard it would be to find one that didn’t mind dealing with viscera. Or, at least, how much they’d have to pay somepony to not mind dealing with it. Cleaning supplies alone were already gutting her personal fortune.

“Thanks for making breakfast! It smells great!” Scratch said as Octavia dropped the last of the plates on the table.

“You’re welcome. And remember to eat slowly.” The words not even needing to route to her brain, instead being uttered as unconscious habit. “And small bites.”

Scratch’s smile faded just a little, a heaping forkful of hashbrowns stopping just short of her mouth. “Right, right.” She sighed as she adjusted the bite.

The two ate in the comfortable silence of a couple who had long ago dispensed with the need to fill the air with idle prattle every second of every day. Or, perhaps, simply the comfortable silence of a couple who did not wish to discuss the unmitigated disaster that yesterday had been.

Stirring her hash browns, Scratch broke it. “You going to be okay?”


“Your cello. You have a recital next week, don’t you?”

Octavia smiled. “Scratch, I learned very shortly into dating you that I should have backups of anything I might need. Including instruments. This marks, what? The fifth cello you have somehow found a way to shatter? I’ve come to expect it.” Her smile grew. “Though I truly would appreciate if you stopped doing it. Really. I mean it. I would not miss that at all.”

Scratch chuckled, running a hoof through her adorably unruly mane. “Yeah, I really am sorry.”

Octavia’s smile withered as she looked down at her plate. “Scratch, about that recital…”


“I was wondering…” Her heart thudded against her ribs as she tried to force the words out. She had been wrestling with this request for the last week, willing herself to forget it, but all their recent misfortunes had finally pushed her to this point. “I wanted to ask you…”

She could see the worry starting to creep over Scratch’s expression. “Yeah?”

“Could you not come to the recital?”

Scratch stared at her, realization setting in behind those cerise orbs. It wasn’t too hard to see the brief flicker of pain there either. “Oh. Yeah. Sure! I get it. No worries.”

“I mean, I still want you to come with me to Canterlot, Scratch. It—”

“It’s cool, Tavi. You don’t have to explain yourself.” Sliding off her seat, Scratch walked around the table and kissed her on the side of her muzzle, grinning like a fool. “Pretty sure those fancy ponies showing up for one of your shows would stop calling you if your marefriend had a chandelier drop on her, or she fell down the theater steps, or got murdered by a crazy music critic, or whatever. It’d definitely spoil your show.”

Octavia bit her lip. She wanted to deny it, of course. To say that she really wanted Scratch there, sitting in the front row, just like she always had been. But she didn’t. She just nodded. “Thanks for understanding, love.”

Vinyl sat on the bed in their Canterlot suite, staring out the window, imagining she could see the Canterlot Theater.

Since they’d started dating, she’d seen every one of Tavi’s recitals. She’d ditched her own stuff to do it. She’d snuck past ushers to deal with with being late. She’d made a point to always be there, right in the front row, right where Tavi’d see her.

And now because of this stupid bucking curse, Tavi didn’t want her there.

She’d left snacks, though. ‘Cause it’d be super inconvenient if Vinyl went on a walk and got hit by a cart.

Flopping back on the bed, she thought about what the Pale Trotter had said.

She was lucky to go a few days without dying. Even with all the precautions they took, something always happened. Bad falls. Muggers. Asteroid strikes.

It was bad. You couldn’t get used to dying. Even knowing Tavi could bring her right back, it never stopped eating at her, wondering when it’d happen next. And, of course, it hurt like a bitch most of the time. Sometimes the aftermath was worse. She hadn’t really felt it when a rogue dragon had incinerated her, but getting reduced to ash had left some serious psycho-whatever effects. She’d been a quivering wreck for days after.

And Tavi’d been there for her. She’d ditched all her other obligations and they’d just snuggled. And that’s what their life had been for the last year.

Tavi comforting her when she had a nervous breakdown.

Tavi cleaning up her corpse.

Tavi coming up with new ideas to try and secure their house.

Tavi doing all the work.

Tavi getting used to her marefriend dying over and over again.

She deserved better than that.

Vinyl rubbed at the tears building in the corner of her eyes.

They’d had a good run. They’d gotten more than they should have.

Maybe that was enough.

Octavia peered out into the packed auditorium from behind the curtain. Even in the dim light she could make out the legions of Canterlot’s elite. Everypony who was anypony was out there right now, waiting to hear the one and only Octavia Melody perform.

No. Almost everypony.

She pulled away from the curtain and began to pace.

“Are you alright, Miss Melody?” Spot Light, the stage manager, asked.

“Yes, yes, I’m perfectly fine.”

He offered her a doubting look. “Miss Melody, I haven’t seen you pace like this since your first time on the Canterlot stage.”

“I am fine, you silly old bugger,” she said, blinking away the moisture in her eyes as she tried to ignore the regret gnawing at her stomach.

Vinyl rolled over on the bed to find herself snout to skull with the Pale Trotter. “Figures you’d be here.”

The skeletal pony sighed. “This is sad.”

“Shock,” Vinyl said. “This sucks. Shouldn’t you be wearing some sort of stupid party hat and tossing confetti?”

Its flaming eyes blinked out. “This is really sad.”

“We covered that.”

The Pale Trotter turned and faced out over Canterlot.

“So what’s really on the other side?”


Vinyl found the energy to quirk an eyebrow. “Seriously?”

“Think of it like a really exclusive – well, maybe not really exclusive but you get the idea – club and me as the doorpony. I’ll get you in, but I’m not really sure what’s going down inside.”

“That metaphor sucks,” Vinyl grumbled. She couldn’t even get something as simple as a straight answer on what really happened when you crossed the river or passed the veil or whatever.

“Simile. I said ‘like a club.’ That makes it a simile.”

“Fine,” Vinyl said. “That simile sucks.”

Silence filled the room. The classic, uncomfortable and awkward sort.

The Pale Trotter shifted from hoof to hoof.

“So, I just need to not want to come back next time and that’ll be that?” Vinyl asked. “I’m dead for real? No coming back?”

“Yeah.” The Pale Trotter shifted again, looking back towards her and then back out the window.

“What the buck is your problem now?” Vinyl snapped, annoyance finally overtaking her languishing spirit. “You spend the better part of a year hounding me and Tavi about how annoying my revivals are and how I’m a huge burden and how I’m ruining her life and it’d be so much better if I just gave up the ghost, but now you’re acting like I just kicked your freakin’ puppy.”

Sitting, the Pale Trotter shook its head. “You two have been a phenomenal disruption to my existence. You have completely demolished the way I work. My job is to help ponies accept they’re dead. Done. No coming back. They got a one way ticket into the afterlife club. No matter how much they love somepony or think they’ve got unfinished business or feel the placement of that banana peel was super unfair, it’s my job to convince them to clear on out. I’m good at it. I, in fact, pride myself on the fact that Equestria has been ghost free for over a millenia.”

Vinyl clapped her hooves. “Good work. Guess we really messed that up for you, huh?”

“I don’t spend a lot of time with ponies. A few minutes, generally. An hour at most. And like I said, when I come calling, it’s hopeless cases. Usually when I arrive, there’s no going back. No matter how much you want it. You’re… an anomaly.”

“Kinda worked that one out already.”

Snorting, the Pale Trotter stood. “I’m going to regret this, but I will tell you this one thing, Vinyl. One thing. Because if I don’t, I am going to feel like a horse’s ass for the rest of eternity. After that? It’s all on you. I wash my hooves of whatever happens next. My conscience is free and clear.”


“Octavia wants you at the recital.”

Vinyl stared at him. “Really?”

“Like I said: one thing.” The Pale Trotter and started for the window, its body growing translucent he passed through it and disappeared into the open air.

The question has been a stupid one, of course. Deep inside, Vinyl had already known the answer. She’d known it before he’d told her. She’d just ignored that she’d known it.

Hopping off the bed, she was out the door in an instant.

Octavia’s bow danced across the strings, but her heart was still. The piece was supposed to carry with it the joy of the Summer Sun Celebration, but to her it echoed hollow and empty in her ears. Even the ponies in the audience seemed able to feel it, strange glances and muted whispers filling the auditorium, drowning out her music.

Her ears twitched at the noise of a door opening across the grand hall.

Even with the spotlights shining at her eyes and the house lights bare pinpricks, she could recognize the outline of her beloved DJ. Her heart leapt and with it the music soared.

By the time she had finished and the applause thundered around her, she was in her own world, joyful tears filling her eyes as Scratch leaped onto the stage and slammed into her, sending the two sprawling in a loving embrace, muzzles locked in a kiss before they had even stopped sliding.

“I’m sorry,” Octavia whispered. “I shouldn’t have said that, Scratch. I shouldn’t have asked you not to come!”

“It’s fine, it’s fine! Really!”

“Even if it’s tough, I want us to last as long as we can. No matter how hard it is. No matter how many stupid things happen. No matter how much bloody bleach I have to buy! I don’t want you to go without me!”

“I won’t,” Scratch promised. “I’ll always come back to you. Here and wherever comes after.”

Octavia kissed Scratch again. There were no words left. No feelings that needed to be explained. Nothing else that needed to be regretted.

In that moment, everything was perfect, and nothing could take that away.

Not even the stage light that fell and crushed Scratch.
« Prev   2   Next »
#1 · 4
· · >>AndrewRogue
Now that was surreal. and unexpected. and morbid.

luckily, I'm into all three.

It starts off pretty shocking, like a random series of unfortunate events. I like that it doesn't reveal its cards just yet, letting the moment build up as awkward and horrifying, though not dramatic. and THEN it slowly reveals that Vinyl is cursed. and for some reason, the timing of this works just right, at least for me! like, "duh, of course this is what's happening. what else did you think it would be?" It's just the right level of absurd to click with me.

some of the technical parts of the plot could be fleshed out more -- I want to know just a little bit more about how this contract happened. does this mean Vinyl will live forever, or at least until Octavia dies of old age? is Octavia in danger of getting caught in one of these accidents too? it's not a huge deal, it doesn't need to go into the entire dang backstory, but it feels like it's teasing me.

the climactic reunion is the standard cliche, which I don't mean to say is bad, but that it's acceptable and works. I admit that it was sweet and made me smile... which makes the final line all the more funnier when it hits. It works on an emotional level, it feels adequately earned, but I think it needs more buildup along the rom-com tropes. The "break-up over a misunderstanding" scene (not literally) didn't hit very hard, just as a mild disappointment. The hotel scenes with Vinyl are great, though she doesn't get to do much physically (for her safety). I think we need more of Octavia's emotional turmoil, because it's only explored for a few paragraphs here. She can be physical, lashing out at the external world around her, in contrast with Vinyl who is cooped up internally.

So yeah, instead of a romantic-comedy, we somehow got a romantic-black-comedy out of that picture prompt. It starts with that broken cello, introduces some new ideas, and develops them towards a conclusion. It might seem like a non-sequitur, but I see it as mixing in a creative spin on the text prompt. It lives up to the core spirit, rebuilding out of destruction, without turning it into a parody for the sake of humor.

A very strange and silly story, but I think it's got some real substance hidden in there.
#2 · 2
· · >>AndrewRogue
Well, Discworld's Death is definitely getting a workout these days. I think Pratchett would be pleased. I was surprised that I actually ended up liking this. I felt there needed to be a little more context as to what was actually happening, but that may just be me liking to have more context for stories in general.

I'll admit I was surprised Vinyl actually made it to the stage, but I'm also a sucker for romances, so it still works for me. Not really sure what to add... other than that I suddenly have an urge to go read Binky Pie again...
#3 · 1
· · >>Fenton >>AndrewRogue
A well-balanced blend of romantic feels and comedy blacker than CoffeeDad's morning cuppa joe. What I'm saying is that Syeekoh probably wrote it.

In fact, if you changed the names of the characters, this could easily be a sequel to Solving For Death, which may have even been the intent. Hell, Octavia and Vinyl could just be placeholders for "Twilight and Starlight."

While I'm on board for the most part, the premise itself is dealt with in an altogether too quick-fashion. It's just casually mentioned in the middle of a conversation with Death (comically treating the fantastical as mundane is one of my favorite comedy tropes, by the by) that Vinyl played out the Orpheus/Eurydice myth to get Octavia out of horse-Hell, and that this is why she apparently cannot stop dying. And I was like... no, go back to that, explain that. That's a big deal; how did that happen?

You always need to strike a balance between exposition that the reader needs to hear, and information that the characters in the story wouldn't logically just recap to one another in casual conversation. In this case, dwelling on the circumstances behind this current situation might have been a good storytelling decision.
#4 · 1
· · >>AndrewRogue
I'm quite the fan of black comedy, so I suppose it's not a surprise that I think this is very well done! It manages to be hilarious without devaluing the emotional struggle the couple is going through and the weight of Vinyl's decisions to depart or continue. I really respect an author that can write about dark topics without making them into only a joke, and I think you nailed that here. Kudos for the great story! :twilightsmile:
#5 · 1
· · >>AndrewRogue
Both my OctaScracth sense and my Greek mythology sense are flooded with endorphins right now. I like the genre so you didn't have to do much to please me but you still did and that pleases me even more.

The major flaw (for me) has already been raised by >>Posh. You didn't explain why Vinyl can't die and it frustrates me that I have to imagine how you would have written Vinyl getting Octavia out of Tartarus.

Because of that, it can't be top tier (it seems I gave this too many times) but it's still a strong story in my book.
#6 · 3
· · >>Posh >>AndrewRogue
Black romantic comedy, huh?

I can dig it.

I actually liked the implications here - doubly so that Death is getting annoyed with the whole affair, and that Vinyl hates being a burden, you know, dying all the time because she got cursed after stealing Octavia back from Tartarus. That Octavia can bring her back with a kiss is cute, and of course the ending made me laugh out loud.

I actually disagree that you need to go into too much detail about what happened to get Octavia out of Tartarus; I'm not sure if you want a big disruptive thing in there.
#7 · 3
· · >>TitaniumDragon
I actually disagree that you need to go into too much detail about what happened to get Octavia out of Tartarus; I'm not sure if you want a big disruptive thing in there.

Suggestion: While I agree that it would be disruptive to explain it to the reader (and, like I said, it wouldn't make a great deal of sense in-unverse for the two of them to recap Vinylpheus and Euryditavia over toast), maybe it could be something that's at least brought up in conversation between the two of them. Tavi says something like "you wouldn't keep dying if it weren't for me," and Vinyl would say "I don't want to have this talk again," or... or I dunno, something like that.

Like, rather than Deathpony just saying "that happened," have the two characters to whom it happened reference it in dialogue, to show the effect that it had on their relationship. Maybe have them touch on it in addition to Deathpony bringing it up during his scene with Vinyl.

I mean, if I went into Hell to rescue my first-chair cellist girlfriend, I'm pretty sure we'd at least pay lip service to the fact, even if we wouldn't have a full-blown breakfast-time recap of the ordeal.

lip service hurrhurr
#8 · 1
· · >>Rao
I dunno, I think its kind of funnier because it is a totally off-handed mention. Like, you had this big crazy epic adventure, but it was a thing you did, you know?
#9 · 3
· · >>AndrewRogue
I believe the proper name for this is "the noodle incident." And I'll agree that it's the proper fit for the story in the scope we're exposed to it. We get just enough clues that some things went down, and our beloved couple are still rolling with the consequences a year later.

Pale Trotter (excellent naming) deciding to be an awesome wingman, against his own best interests, is terminally endearing.
#10 · 2
· · >>AndrewRogue
Genre: Dark comedy romance

Thoughts: The mix of darkness and comedy in the beginning... oh, it's brilliant. Brilliant I tell you. The shower scene is even more brilliant for the sheer volume of hilarity that gets mined out of bits like the interaction between Death and the water, and then Vinyl falling down.

I felt like the darkening tone in the middle made sense. Without any ill will toward the characters... I kinda wanted to see that explored more. It's a uniquely uncomfortable situation and the story reaches toward unexpected depths with what it starts to do there. So in that sense, going for the unmitigated happy ending feels almost like a let-down, because it swerves away from those depths.

But I probably wouldn't have minded as much if it wasn't Death himself who came around, considering that he had just given Vinyl a pretty hard sell on the hereafter a few scenes before. It feels too easy--dare I say, bordering on cheap--to have him suddenly just be all like, "Eh, nevermind."

Ultimately though, those are all the complaints I can come up with here.

Tier: Strong
#11 · 2
I laughed harder than I probably should. There are some good scene ender lines.

The meat is just a little thin on this one, though. While I like the arc that's going on, I feel you don't quite sell it well enough and lean a little too much on the Pale Trotter to push both directions. He's the one who really gets in Vinyl's head on the negative side and the positive side. You really need to give a little more on Octavia and Vinyl's issues with her condition. Make Vinyl feel like more of a burden. Make Octavia feel a bit more tired of having to deal with Vinyl.

Also, there are a couple nagging questions. As stated, the actual nature of the curse and how Vinyl got it could use a little more exploration. You don't need to lay it all out, but a little more would help.
#12 · 2
· · >>AndrewRogue
So sorry I didn't get this one read *during* the period or had it come up in my slate. Excellent.

Best. Ending. Ever. *splat*
#13 · 4
· · >>Novel_Idea >>Haze
This title took way longer to come up with than it should have and took like, six iterations before I settled on this version. Roughly speaking, it means something along the lines of "The Art of Living: Remember That You Have to Die."

Probably. I failed Latin twice in college.

Anyhow, real talk, I was just about ready to skip this round because I was burned out, but then Haze went and drew a Vinyl and Octavia picture. And I was all "Goddammit. I can't very well not write when a literal invitation to do TaviScratch is stuck out there. That would shame me immensely. I mean, I have a bunch of TaviScratch art on the wall immediately behind my computer. How can I chicken out now?"

Which left the question of what to write about. And I'll be honest, I don't quite remember how I got to the idea for the story. I'm pretty sure it was some logical chain of thought along "Well, what would be amusing for Octavia to do under these circumstances? Kill Vinyl. How do I make that romantic?" And, well, you see the result.

The story arc was mostly a natural consequence of the way I write. I hadn't actually intended for the story to take the turn it did, that's just what I ended up writing because I'm not good at sustaining humor. The idea of treating Vinyl's condition a bit like a serious illness that requires constant care just sorta came to me, and that framed the remainder of the arc. That said, as usual, the problem with the way I write is that coming to that conclusion as I'm writing means I have to build additional detail back in, and the Writeoff often leaves limited time for that, so I leaned pretty heavily on the Pale Trotter to motivate there.

I will shamelessly admit right now that I am unduly proud of the last line of the story and suspect it may be one of the better closing lines I've written.

re: build-up: Yeah, can't argue that. I think it'd really sell things a bit better to just solidify the conflict a bit more. Just get them to the point where Octavia is a bit exhausted of dealing with Vinyl, and Vinyl feels that.

re: technical details: Another yeah. I actually wanted to make a point about the curse only being dangerous to Vinyl, but nopony besides Octavia feeling comfortable about it anyway (e.g. if she attended Tavi's concert, she'd had a radius of empty seats around her).

That is far too kind a comparison. The Pale Trotter has little on Death, though there was definitely some... inspiration there? (Also a very brief temptation to USE ALL CAPS, but I restrained myself.)

I am indeed not Majin. Though I did briefly consider while I was writing that this indeed did have some similarities to Solving for Death.

Thank you kindly.

I'm gonna address all these re: backstory comments down at the bottom. Bear with me.

I am completely satisfied knowing at least one person who wasn't me laughed out loud at that.

Pale Trotter is a true bro(?)

And here I was worried I shifted the tone a bit too dark too quickly. Good to hear it sounds like my transition was a bit better than I thought it was.

I wanted to address the unmitigated happy ending thing. I can sorta see what you mean with it, and I suspect I can plumb those depths a bit more, but there was very much a concerted effort here to... well, reject the oft common answer of taking the escape option and portray that a couple who really, truly love each other might want to milk their time together for all that it's worth, even if there is pain and suffering involved. Fight for what they have, as it were.

Beyond that, agreed that I lean way too heavily on the Trotter for both swings on Vinyl's end. I thiiiiiiink there is something to be said for him contributing (there is some cuteness to him relenting to the idea of "You know what, you two really do love each other"), but it really needs to be Vinyl's concern and Vinyl's choice.

I'd complain you cost me gold but hahahahahaha no.


So, since this came up, I thought I'd talk about this since I'm STILL undecided how to address this during revision since I see feelings both ways.

There was a period where I was considering adding a brief bit of spiked narration after scene 1 or 2 that was a very silly and brief "how we got here" sort of narration involving a misguided attempt by Twilight (drunk on her recent successes) to reform the Alicorn princess of death, Muerte Death. This met with unfortunate results as Tavi was recruited (unwillingly) to be one of her Dreadknights and, unfortunately, Murete Death's defeat did not restore her, forcing Vinyl to go on an epic quest into the depths of Tartarus, dropping some sick beats on the keepers of souls, and trading herself for Tavi. Tavi, in turn, marched straight to Twilight, said "this is your fucking fault, fix it" and thus some hard won friendship speeching and paperwork bought Vinyl a reprieve that allowed her soul to remain post-mortem and Tavi to restore any damage done.

However, Vinyl is still marked for death by the universe (think of it like Equestria has the whole Discworld death hourglass thing going on, and Vinyl's has either distinctly run out or just sort of flows randomly now), thus the current situation.

I obviously decided to pass on including it for the moment because my current version of it is derpy and a little too much for a quick summary and I thought it was a bit funnier to just let it hang in the background. I've had some non-writeoff suggestions on things to do with it (including involve Discord, potentially replace the Trotter with him, but I'm walking back on that). I've also been mulling a more compact and punchier joke to potentially use.

So yeah. That's where I was (and I guess, still am) with that. We'll have to see where my brain takes me.

Anyhow, as usual, thanks to everyone and I'm glad you all enjoyed it.
#14 · 1
(Also a very brief temptation to USE ALL CAPS, but I restrained myself.)

I normally would be all for that... but this is Death we're talking about. He looks at the rules of the universe and says "BUCK THAT. I'M DEATH. I DO WHAT I WANT!"
#15 · 3

even as a summary it's still pretty funny. almost like a Douglas Adams style expository tangent, where the details aren't important because it sounds like a ludicrous tall tale anyway.

I vote you should include it! but keep it relatively quick, and tell it in a funny unexpected way, then it won't be distracting.

Anyhow, real talk, I was just about ready to skip this round because I was burned out, but then Haze went and drew a Vinyl and Octavia picture.

This might be the best kind of inspirational influence: making people be creative and win medals even when they don't feel like it!