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And at the End, You Shall Remain Alone · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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The Emissary
“I did not summon for anyone.”

“You did not, your Lordship, yes,” the young Emissary acknowledged with a practised bow, one unsightly from someone of his lanky stature. “I came here of my own volition.”

The Lord-of‐Old narrowed his gaze. Gifted he was with the power of sight, and his eyes had seen it all— the First Dark, the First Light, Daysbirth, Nightsbirth, Kingsrise, Kingsfall, the skies smothered in purple ash, the malice of Sun and Moon, every forgotten empire, every vivacious ruler, every little life lasting unto its end, everything.

Likewise, in the eyes of the Emissary standing before his colossal form, the Lord-of‐Old saw the budding green of truth, and nothing else.

“You know not of my demands?” he questioned with a deep frown. “Did you not notice the trails of grey I’ve left overhead? Were you not notified?”

“It sorta took me a while. Needed some help figuring it out,” the Emissary professed, twiddling his claws. “Nevertheless, I stand before you well-informed, your Lordship.”

The Lord-of‐Old spared only a haughty snort at the other’s defiance. “And yet you still chose to present yourself before me. You, the interloper.”

“I just… I don’t think it’s right, your Lordship.”

“Realize that you tread upon dangerous territory, young one,” the Lord-of‐Old warned, the cave rumbling from his fanged snarl. “You’re questioning our culture. You’re questioning century upon century of our kind’s tradition, bestowed upon us by the Serpents Between The Stars, and right now, you stand before me in dissension, refusing me of my pride. Of my final dignity.”

“I’m not here because of any of that,” the Emissary explained, crossing his arms. “In fact, I don’t even care about any of that.”

“Watch your tongue, newt,” he growled. “Need I remind you that in the end, you are but an outlander, tarnished by the customs of your compatriots. Your words have no power here. Now, leave before I decide to set you alight.”

“Not everything has to be about pride, your Lordship.”

The Lord-of‐Old saw fit to smirk, for he had never heard a more ridiculous statement in all of his lifetime. “You seem to misunderstand something. Pride is but a fragment of the whole, young one. This is about celebrating the life of the dragon as they near their denouement. A moment of reminiscence and retrospection. I know not of how the customs over there had changed, but I recall it not being too dissimilar from your kind, is it not?”

“It’s… different… no, it’s more than different. Not why you’re doing it, but the way you’re doing it, it’s… i-it’s...” the Emissary struggled to find the right words, which came to him after he paused and took a deep breath. “It’s selfish. It’s cruel. It’s not fair to anyone else, especially to those close to you.”

“Such is the nature of life’s end, young one. The sooner you understand, the better.”

“It’s not the same. It just isn’t,” the Emissary asserted with a shake of his head. “You know, it doesn’t have to be like this. You don’t have to face it alone.”

“It is but the nature of our kind. Surely you understand that.”

“Yes.” In that single word, the Emissary carried wisdom beyond his age. “And when that day comes for me, I’ll face it. But never alone.”

“When that day comes, you’ll throw aside your honour and pride?”

“No, your Lordship. I’ll exchange it.”

“With what?”

The Emissary only smiled, providing another practised bow before stepping out of his cave. For a moment, the Lord-of‐Old pondered upon those words, until a different figure emerged from the entrance to his home and stepped into view. Her head hung low, her gaze averting his piercing scrutiny as she made her approach.

“You never listen to me, do you?” he grumbled.

“I tried stopping him, Dad, I did!” she cried. “I told him time and time again that it’s pointless to convince you, to just leave you alone, but he kept on insisting—”

“Come here,” the Lord-of‐Old calmly asked of her, to which she complied. “Raise your head. Steady your poise. You’re the Dragon Lord now. Show your strength, as I've taught you.”

In her realization, she smiled. “There’s more of us waiting outside. The family, friends, some from Equestria and beyond,” she began. “Should I…”

“Bring them in,” the Lord-of‐Old closed his eyes and made his final plea. “Please.”

Thus, she did.

And in his final moments, the Lord-of‐Old smiled the biggest smile of his life.
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#1 · 1
· · >>WritingSpirit
Hmmm, this one fell a little flat to me. Nicely written - the opening in particular is quite strong, and the voicing was great. So kudos there! But I feel it doesn't work as well in a minific format. The word count is too constrained to both set up the norm and subvert it strongly enough in the space of 750 words - the sudden shift leaves the reader with whiplash, and by the time we're starting to adjust, the story's over.

That being said, I'd be interested in reading an extended version of this.
#2 · 1
· · >>WritingSpirit
Obscuring the characters' names here is kind of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it allowed the twist at the end to come through, but on the other, it robbed the characters of their voices - Spike and DRAGON LORD TORCH both have very distinctive voices, and you did a great job of capturing them, but they only snapped into place for me when it got down to the point where Torch dismissed Spike becaus he's basically a pony.

This was simple, but I actually did like it pretty well. And I thought that the idea - of Spike's final victory over dragon culture - was cute.

But at the same time, I'm not sure that the Lord-of-Old's point of view came across very strongly. It felt a bit unfair in that way, though, let's face it, Torch has always had a bit of a soft spot over his heart. Good thing there aren't any talking thrushes around.
#3 · 1
· · >>WritingSpirit
The reveal is simultaneously the best and the worst part of the story.

On my first read-through, I was actively frustrated at the fact that we had no context for the first two thirds of the word count. The only information that we're given is that one of the characters is capital-O Old, in the high fantasy sense. But there are a lot of characters and entities in the MLP universe that fit this bill. So, I almost felt like I was reading a confusing piece of OF for a little while.

But when I hit the reveal, it definitely worked for me, in that it felt satisfying, and it played in with the themes in the end very nicely. So I think it is very important that you maintain this twist, in its basic structure.

However, I do think you can give us more hints without being in danger of revealing your hand. For instance, why not just tell us that one or both of these characters are dragons at the very beginning? At the very least, it'll let the readers have some kind of picture of what's going on, instead of trying to imagine two disembodied voices going at it.
#4 · 1
· · >>WritingSpirit
I can't straighten out the perspective. The narration is stating opinions and personal impressions, but it wavers as to which character's viewpoint it's using. Some of the early description isn't quite landing, either, like I can't really visualize what's so awkward-looking about a tall character bowing.

In the end, I guess this was about convincing Torch he didn't have to be alone when he died? It seems like you meant the Emissary to be Spike, but since he's described as tall, maybe he's older here? I don't know.

So much of the story is spent on the Lord-of-Old even having the concept explained to him that it's not particularly emotional when he gives in or even reacts favorably. There's no journey for him. It's like, a couple characters plead with him, and he spontaneously becomes convinced, with a smile the only evidence of what this means to him or what kind of change comes over him. Yes, we're assured it's the "biggest smile of his life," but that's like a shipfic assuring us two characters are in love while never doing much to prove it to me.

This is another one that has pretty nice atmosphere going on, but that doesn't take me through a satisfying character arc.

There is a school of thought that a minific doesn't have to have a plot, that it's enough to create a memorable image and surprise you in some way. In that vein, I could see the Twilight time clones story as surviving on concept alone, but I don't have even that here. It's a scene set up to make Torch sympathetic, but it's not really invested in his arc enough to get it there.
#5 · 1
· · >>Pascoite
Completely slipped my mind that the first round was supposed to end today. Well then, now that my story's out of the running, there's only one thing left to do:

It's Rewind Time

First off, I'm glad this one managed not to tumble through the first round. Not exactly happy with how this story turned out. It's usually what happens when I'm half-focused, as I was (and still am) preparing another pony-related story to be released on FimFic on new year's day, which I had a lot more fun working on compared to this story.

Looking back at it, the concept is still a bit too nonspecific. I guess it did help in simplifying things by a lot, but with how broad it was, I think it only makes things a lot less weighty in the end. This story would probably be better off narrowing down to something more specific than just resort to "it's culture, bro."

Nothing much else to say. Except maybe that I'm half-awake in the process of writing this? Though to be honest, that applies to almost everything I do these days.

Onwards to individual responses:

The opening was probably the part that I most enjoyed writing. I'm like J. J. Abrams, in the sense that I know how to start a story but always trip and fall flat near the finish line.

Pretty much agree with everything else you said. Not sure how I'll go about extending it unless I tweak a little

Glad you liked the idea, at least! The latter point you made about old man Torch's POV was one of many things that bugged me while writing this. Couldn't figure out a way to settle all them issues I had on my hands with the time I had left, so I just went ahead and try to circumvent them instead.

It's also probably a reason why I withheld their names to try to make it at least interesting.

The story hinges too much on the reveal, to be honest.

About them not being shown as dragons, I was trying to pull off something that builds up slowly and gradually. Guess I may have been a bit too vague on my part.

I think I used the word 'lanky' to describe Spike as both tall and thin. Don't know if there's a better word that describes it better (I'm sure there is), but it's the mix of both that Torch finds unappealing. Also, yes, Spike is older here.

Pretty much nailed my biggest problem with this story on the head, in that the whole story just comes off as too impersonal, which I find it does because I didn't really sink my teeth deep enough to really bring it out. It's something I'm still figuring out when it comes to even my longer stories, much less my minifics.

All in all, fully agree with what you said here, though I just want to add that a minific shouldn't have to sacrifice plot to create an image that is memorable and astounding. Not misconstruing your words or anything, just inserting an addendum to your point.

Thanks a bunch for the comments! Good luck to everyone still in the running, and have a good Christmas!
#6 · 1
For my part, I agree that you should never have to sacrifice plot for anything in a minific, but the two schools of thought I mentioned are ones illustrated in a book I'd recommend: The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction. It's a series of essays by professionals who are all well known and published in the field of short fiction. And even the professionals disagree on this. A couple of the essays say that just because you're writing something very short, that doesn't absolve you of needing a full plot arc. But another couple say that flash fiction's whole point is to create a stark and memorable image in the reader's mind, and if that means plot gets pushed out of the picture, so be it. And at least one took a more extreme position, saying that image should be not only the primary focus, but the only one; such stories explicitly shouldn't have a plot.