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On Thin Ice · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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Things to Learn
In the bedchambers, princess Twilight lay draped over her lover Nightingale. Shadows lingered where the covers ended. Twilight had her back to the candle, so Nightingale only saw the silhouette of her face and her glowing purple eyes.

“If you were a book, I’d study you,” Nightingale said.

Twilight snorted.

“No, really. Call me a good noodle, cuz I would go to college and study it. I’d get a PhD in Twilight.”

The covers shuddered as Twilight giggled. “Stop.”

“I’m not just trying to go another round. I need you to know I’m being serious.”

“I know you are.” Twilight’s hoof found hers. They lingered for a moment, interlocked. “We could go another round.”

“I’m tired,” Nightingale lied. “And I need to ask you something.”

“Okay, shoot.” Twilight shifted from her side to her back. An unspoken cue to cuddle. Nightingale obliged.

“Of all your best friends, who was your best best friend?”

The flame on the single candle flickered. The shadows jumped in surprise.

“You answer first.”


Twilight wiggled her hips and giggled. Pure dragonfire. “Really. You first.”

“You’ve got sixteen hundred years on me. Your answer is gonna be way better than mine.”

“No it won’t.”

“Ugh. Fine. You’re my best best friend.”

“Mmm, I knew it.”

“Now you.”

Twilight paused another moment. “The elements of harmony were my first friends, so they were obviously very special to me.”

“But if you had to pick one.”

“I’d pick all of them.”

“That’s six.”

“That’s perceptive.” Twilight smiled. Even in near-darkness it shone. “But we were one in a sense. Connected by harmony. Is that good enough?”

“Sorta.” Nightingale drew her hoof back. “I know you were one. But out of all of them, you did pick one.”

Twilight’s face grew blank. Shadows moved in. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, you picked one. Out of all the elements of harmony, one of them was your lover.”

“I--” The shadows leapt again. Twilight’s eyes went from the curtain to the covers to Nightingale--then right back to the covers. “That’s insulting to my friends’ legacies.”

“Taffy Tavern Tabloid, issue twenty seven, page twelve.” Nightingale recited the reference with practiced ease. “It was a late return at the library from an anthropology student, so I looked through it before I put it back on the shelves. You were caught having an affair with one of the bearers, but when the reporter took a picture of you you panicked and wiped the film. And their mind a little. Which probably wasn’t an accident, was it?”

For too long, the only sound came from the ambient energy playing through the castle.

Finally, Twilight spoke. “It’s unlike you to believe tabloids.”

“You said I was your first.”

“You are.”


“Does it really bother you?”

“A little.”

“Okay, fine. I admit. You’re not my first. I had another love fifteen hundred years ago. It was wonderful, and then she died. I spent the next fifteen hundred years moving on.” She slid closer. Always evading. Always stationary. The night was so many things. What was she now? “Now we’re here. Would you allow me one short moment of happiness every two millenia?”


“Would you do that for me?” Twilight paused suddenly, her eyes no longer glowing so much as burning. “I’m serious.”

Nightingale paused. Words came and went. She settled on nothing.

“It took me fifteen lifetimes to get over it. Then I chose you. Do you understand?”

How to turn a word into a hammer. How to turn a centuries-old lie into a declaration of love. There was always more to learn with Twilight.

“I don’t think I understand,” said Nightingale.

Twilight squeezed her. “I’m glad you don’t have to.”

So many more questions lost to that eyes-closed spinning and spinning, that perfect weightless heavy sensation. Pure dragonfire.

But to have one last nugget of revenge--

Nightingale took the initiative and pinned her to the bed. “When I’m through with you,” she said softly, “it’ll take you ten millenia to get over me.”

Twilight cackled. “You’re dark.”

But Nightingale knew that was a lie too. She was just a pony. What was she but a single candle’s flame flickering in an endless night? It scared her as much as it thrilled her.

Just before she couldn’t possibly be pulled away, she leaned over and blew out the candle. The flame flickered. The shadows danced.

Darkness--real darkness--enveloped them.
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#1 ·
· · >>WritingSpirit
Look, I don't wanna judge anyone... but Nightingale is a thot.

Something I liked:

Hard to describe precisely how it does this, but I like how this entry builds tension without anything really being at stake. There's something about the interaction between Twilight and Nightingale that feels off, and the prose doesn't feel the need to make this underlying tension too obvious. It's a relationship that feels low-key unhealthy, more so because Twilight doesn't seem like she's in the right emotional state to care for somepony like she did before. I think how Twilight deals with her lover's clear imperfections says more about her own imperfections than her lover's.

Something I didn't like:

Unfortunately, my investment in this otherwise engrossing tale is stunted by several big questions I have. I understand the need to use an OC in this case, but I have to wonder why Twilight went for Nightingale in the first place. We know nothing about their history together, and we don't learn anything about Nightingale outside of this very narrow context. I also find it hard to believe that not only would it take over a thousand years for Twilight to "get over" the loss of her friends, but that she would roll in the hay with somepony who doesn't seem that special. Some suspension-of-disbelief problems here.

Verdict: A well-paced piece that could really use some expansion. It's fine, though.
#2 ·
The story kinda worked for me, but the details of the story didn't. The time skip was unbelievably long, leaving me with the feeling that Twilight was lying about other lovers, which maybe fit with the encroaching darkness (as if she was considering murder to hide her secret trysts). Maybe this story was too subtle about what's really happening rather than too far-fetched about the surface narrative. But if the surface narrative was supposed to be interpreted as false, then it's probably too unbelievable in-universe so that ponies can too-easily find the cracks in the story.

Argh. I'm just going around in frustrating circles with how I should interpret this. One or more possible interpretations need to be more believable / better-supported.
#3 ·
I'm a sucker for stories that are mischievous with their subtlety, so it's nice to stumble upon one that checks all those boxes in brief passing. The dialogue definitely is the main highlight of the story, with the imagery of flames and shadows coming in a close second. There's this general feeling of vexation permeating throughout that leaves us with more questions than answers, which leaves me excited to know more.

I do agree with >>No_Raisin that I wished we had a glimpse of the significance of Nightingale in Twilight's life. Perhaps give a little insight into an encounter between the two that might further bring emphasis on how small Nightingale feels in comparison to Princess Twilight. Granted, it'll be hard to pull off in a minific without it sounding like a manufactured exposition dump. Would like to see it in the expanded version though, especially considering this version is this compelling already.

Thanks for writing, and good luck!
#4 · 1
Another that doesn't:

Quite add together in my mind. First off, if "when the reporter took a picture of you you panicked and wiped the film. And their mind a little," then how did the information get into this Taffy Tavern Tabloid for Nightingale to find it 1,500 years later? Also, what motivates Nightingale to bring it up? The line "to have one last nugget of revenge" near the end makes Nightingale sound spiteful, like she's the sort of pony who purposefully plans to ambush her lover while they're in bed together. So, yeah, I need to know more about her and what's she's up to for this to start working for me.

#5 · 1
I really, really like how quickly this piece establishes its OC perspective character. We get her name (Nightingale), her role (to smooch Twilight) and her personality (bold and flirty) in the first five short sentences. As a whole, I thought this was a very effective opening, and it immediately made me want to read the rest.

After reading the whole thing, though, I think I ended up with some questions about Nightingale's motivations. I've ended up questioning whether or not she genuinely cares for Twilight, which is something I'm not totally sure was intended. In short, this is because I don't know why she's springing an obviously loaded conversation on Twilight. She deliberately asks emotionally provocative questions, and we're not really told why. It could be that she's dealing with insecurities herself, or it could be that she's sadistically enjoying the reaction she's getting from Twilight. Both of these very different interpretations are equally supported by what we see.

So basically, we see one (or maybe even both) characters get very close to being very upset, and we're not entirely sure why. It's a little strange to me that despite Nightingale being the perspective character, I ended up feeling a bit alienated from her. So I think that in any kind of revision/rewrite, it might be a good idea to pay extra attention to how Nightingale (who is, by design, largely an unknown) comes across to the reader. Giving her a more well-defined and/or sympathetic goal to having this conversation would go a long way towards making her interactions with Twilight feel meaningfully developed.

Thank you for submitting!