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Through Fire · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
"It's a funny word," Pinkie said, draped like a mass of pink moss down the side of the fainting couch Rarity kept in the Boutique's front showroom. Not the most vital piece of equipment, perhaps, but she'd availed herself of it a time or two in the past, she supposed.

At her workbench, Rarity allowed a smile to tug her lips, jabbed the purple thread through the eye of the needle suspended in her magic, and went back to the seam she was stitching. "Oddly enough, Pinkie, I've always been under the impression that you found most words funny."

"True." A slithering sound prickled the fine hairs along the base of Rarity's mane, and she glanced up to make sure Pinkie wasn't doing anything unfortunate; she'd just slumped a little further down onto the floor, though. "But 'cleanse' is extra, special funny," Pinkie continued. "Two clickety-clack consonants at the beginning, then two vowels that sound like one vowel but not the vowel they look like they should sound like, then two more slippery-slick consonants before that last silent 'e' like the caboose on a train."

Rarity nodded absently, her attention on the seam again. "Compare it to 'lens.'" She tapped a hoof against the glasses perched on the end of her snout. "'Cleanse' is nearly twice as long, and yet the only difference in sound is, as you say, that little click at the beginning."

"Or 'props' and 'propose.'" More slithering led Rarity to look up once more, Pinkie now oozing across the carpet like a chunk of partially melted strawberry ice cream. Chiding herself, Rarity changed her mental image to a large feline sprawled bonelessly in a puddle of sunshine, Pinkie's voice coming out all slow and yawning. "Slide one little 'o' in there like a ring over a fetlock, add an 'e' caboose..." A leg—Rarity couldn't tell from this angle if it was fore or hind—rose lazily into the air and waggled. "And look where you end up."

A snap of her scissors let Rarity tie the purple thread off, and she reached out with her hornglow for the spool of red thread. "Well, when it comes to alternate vowel sounds, I've always been partial to 'choice,' 'choose,' and 'chose.'"

Motion swirled in the corner of Rarity's vision: Pinkie suddenly up on all fours, her eyes wide and her tail puffed up behind her like a tumbleweed. "I gotta go," she announced, the words running together and breathless. She leaped clear across the showroom, and the front door opened and closed so quickly, it only made one clickety-clack sound to Rarity's ears.

Several heartbeats went by, but when Pinkie didn't reenter, Rarity sighed and returned to rethreading her needle.

Out for her constitutional that evening after the rest of the afternoon had crawled by, Rarity caught a glint in the grass at the bottom of the hill where she always stopped to enjoy the first gleam of the moon across the Whitetail Woods.

Half stepping and half sliding down the slope, she came upon a simple but lovely gold ring. A more thorough examination discovered it to be the sort with a sizing enchantment that would allow a pony to slip it on over a hoof before tapping it till it tightened to fit perfectly about a pastern, fetlock, or shank.

Looking around showed her nothing but shadows among the trees, a breeze rustling the branches. She'd seen no ponies on her way through the outskirts of town, either, lights glowing in the houses and the air humming with the quiet murmurs of families at dinner.

So she stopped by Twilight's castle and left the ring with Spike to put in the 'Lost & Found' box before she headed home.

That weekend saw the whole town gathered at Sweet Apple Acres for McIntosh and Sugar Belle's engagement party. Applejack and Rainbow Dash both drank a good deal of the harder cider, but since they became sentimental rather than bellicose, Rarity found that she didn't have to do anything more than listen to their increasingly slurred stories as the evening darkened into night.

She'd taken on the role of riding herd on the two, as it were, since Pinkie was, of course, everywhere, checking the levels on the punchbowls and the selection among the sandwiches, adding a balloon to a table or a joke to a conversation or a record to the DJ's set, her smile and high spirits never flagging. Fluttershy was, of course, nowhere—she'd departed soon after wishing the happy couple the best, but then Rarity had always suspected her of carrying a torch for McIntosh—and Twilight had been asked to act as a sort of master of ceremonies for the whole affair.

It all proved to be splendid in part and whole—again, of course—but as Applejack and Dash listed further into their cups, Rarity couldn't help but watch Pinkie's performance with awe. 'Performance' was the only word for it, too, the way she was always on, always there, always knowing exactly what needed to be done to keep the party rolling or swaying or jumping.

Rarity told Pinkie all this the next day in her showroom. She was putting together a particularly tricky hemline while Pinkie lay on the floor wiggling a feather-on-a-string-on-a-stick at Opalescence, the cat lying beside her and pawing at the thing in an equally desultory fashion.

"Yeah," Pinkie said, a smile spreading across her snout as slowly as a good, thick caramel sauce. "Nothing's better than helping good ponies have a good party." She flopped her head over so that her smile was pointing at Rarity. "AJ and Dash get outta line?"

As much as Rarity knew a proper lady never made rude noises with her lips, well, some situations simply called for such things. "The day I can't handle those two." She shook her head. "Still, from some of Rainbow's less-coherent ramblings about Big Mac, I received the distinct impression that Fluttershy might not have been the only one of us to harbor unexpressed feelings."

The feather dipped to touch Opal's nose. The cat blinked, then snatched it with all four paws, wrapping her considerable self around it and wrenching the stick away from Pinkie.

Or rather, away from the spot where Pinkie had been sprawled an instant before. Because Pinkie was now standing. "Welp-a-rooty!" she said. "Thanks for letting me play with Opal, but I've got more flippety-flopping to do! See you next time!" And the front door seemed to spin around a vertical axis as Pinkie shot through it.

When it came to rest with the door's outside facing in, however, Rarity sighed, set down her work, and headed up the street to Chisel's carpentry shop.

With the door refastened correctly, Rarity spent several more hours on the hemline, then stretched and stepped outside for her evening stroll.

The glint this time caught her attention immediately. The sun, not quite set yet, was shining low through Ponyville, and just exactly at eye level, something glittered from inside an azalea bush beside Trailing Arbutus's Garden Supply Emporium across the street.

Blinking, Rarity trotted over. She had to blink some more when she saw another ring, this time wedged in among the leaves and flowers. She took it gingerly in her magic, all the while checking up and down the empty street, and couldn't help gaping to find that this ring also had a sizing enchantment on it. If she hadn't known better, in fact, she would've sworn that this was the very same ring.

Quickly unfurrowing her brow—no need to invite wrinkles, after all—she made her way across town to the castle, a lovely evening darkening the sky around her.

"Huh," Spike said, squinting at the ring; he was leading her down a hall into one of the libraries. "Nopony came to pick up the other one, I don't think..." Pushing the door open, he called, "Hey, Twilight! Did anypony claim that gold ring from last week?"

Twilight didn't look up from the books spread over the table between her and Starlight. "What gold ring from last week?" she asked.

"The one in the 'Lost & Found.'" Spike pulled a box from a lower shelf and flipped open the lid. "With the resizing spell."

That got both of them to look up. "Resizing spell?" Twilight's eyes widened. "Those can be tricky."

"I'll say." Starlight set down the book she'd been leafing through. "Especially with a ring. I mean, you miss one parametric variable in the casting process, the thing could tighten so much when commanded, it'd snap your hoof clean off!" She leaned forward. "Can I take a look at it?"

Rummaging through the box with one hand, Spike held the ring up with the other. "Here's the one Rarity just brought in, but the first one she found..." He looked up as the wavering mint-green of Starlight's magic plucked the second ring from his claws. "You sure nopony came to claim it?"

"Wait." Twilight's gaze followed the ring floating across to settle on the table in front of Starlight, then she turned to Rarity. "You found them both, Rarity?"

Rarity nodded. "And for the record, every reputable jeweler is familiar with the sort of sizing enchantment one uses on rings." She brushed a hoof at her chest. "I've never had occasion to cast it, but I recognized it at once."

A snort drew her attention to Spike, kneeling in front of the box, the floor around him covered with an assortment of objects: a rubber ball, a notebook, several glasses cases, some random papers and toys. "That's everything." He picked the box up, flipped it over, and shook it. "The first ring's gone."

"But—" Rarity tried to organize her thoughts. "Wouldn't that mean that somepony took the ring from your 'Lost & Found' without your knowledge? And wouldn't it further mean that said pony then lost said ring almost immediately only for me to find it once again?"

Spike just shrugged.

Across the room, Starlight whistled. "It's a nicely put together spell." The ring drifted over to Twilight's side of the table. "All the valances balance the way they should, and I don't detect any trip wires that could trigger it to go haywire or anything."

"What?" A chill shot down Rarity's spine, and she took an involuntary step back. "You think it's some sort of ghastly trap?"

"No!" Twilight's magic snatched the ring and brought it up to where she could squint at it. "I mean, yes, it's possible, but ponies don't do things like that." She scowled at Starlight. "Most ponies wouldn't ever consider it."

Starlight coughed into her hoof in such a way that the words "Cozy Glow" emerged more or less clearly.

Twilight's scowl deepened, but so did a sudden reddish color about her cheeks. "I said 'most ponies.'"

A grin spread over Starlight's face. "Well, then, it's a good thing I'm not most ponies, isn't it?" She waved the hoof she'd coughed into. "'Cause now we know the ring's safe, and our faith in ponykind has once again been restored."

Rarity shuddered, the theory she'd been putting together about the ring's provenance going a bit shaky. Yes, Starlight's judgment in these sorts of matter was likely unimpeachable, but one more test wouldn't hurt. "Well, I'll be just as happy to leave it here with you." She turned for the library door and raised her voice slightly. "But if I come across it a third time, well, such a simple and lovely piece, I might just decide to keep it."

"Okay, Rarity!" she heard Twilight call. "Thanks for dropping it off!" Then, more quietly as the library door swung shut, "Maybe we could go over the castle's security cantrips?"

"Ya think?" Starlight's dry-as-goat-cheese voice made Rarity smile, and she trotted down the hall toward the front door.

Wednesday saw the girls gathered for their weekly picnic behind Fluttershy's cottage, always a pleasant way to spend a late afternoon. It twinged at Rarity a bit that the six of them had become so busy of late that they had to schedule their get-togethers like this, but she knew they all preferred it to the alternative of not meeting at all...

The sky shone, of course, as did the company, and in those moments when the conversation flagged, one of Pinkie's sweet non-sequiturs—"D'you think zucchinis mind always being at the end of the line when the vegetables stand in alphabetical order?" or "Wanna try tying cherry stems into knots with your tongue?"—got them all laughing and chatting again.

"I'm continually astonished," Rarity said to Pinkie the next afternoon: she sat at her workbench again, but this time, Pinkie had taken most of the sofa cushions from around the entire Boutique and piled them into a ramp between the fainting couch and the showroom's floor. She would climb up over the back on the couch, stretch out on it, then roll herself down the ramp onto the floor before climbing back up and rolling down again. "You always know how to keep things lively."

"It's a gift," Pinkie said, taking another roll. "And I love the word 'gift' 'cause it's got three completely different kinds of consonants inside."

Finishing off another pocket, Rarity nodded. "'Pumpkins' is my favorite when it comes to words packed full of consonants. And the gourds themselves, of course. So large and round and golden."

Somehow, Pinkie managed to freeze for the length of an indrawn breath halfway down the ramp of cushions, but she did then continue her tumble to the bottom. "But we don't wanna leave the vowels out. I mean, look at 'about' and 'already.'" But instead of clambering over the back of the couch again, she instead sprang for the door. "And look at the time! Some of us hafta go, go, go!"

"'Go,'" Rarity said without looking up. "A slightly nervous swallowing sound followed by an 'o' like a ring over a fetlock."

But Pinkie was gone so quickly, Rarity wasn't entirely certain the door had even opened before it was slamming shut.

The afternoon's remaining hours were perhaps the longest Rarity could recall, but she was determined not to vary a jot from her routine. Whatever exactly was going on here—she had a number of speculations, of course, but if the matter was anywhere near as delicate as it seemed, she refused to draw conclusions in advance of the facts—her routine played a large part in it. So she sat sewing and stitching till her usual hour no matter how much she wanted to leap up and storm out into the street.

And this time when she opened the front door to step into the gathering dusk, the ring was sitting quietly and neatly on the stoop.

Stuffing it into her saddlebags, she cantered—not galloped; a lady seldom galloped, after all—across town to Sugar Cube Corner. She stopped outside to take a deep, cleansing breath, smiled at the thought of the word that had started this whole chain of events a week ago, and pushed her way inside.

A few early evening diners sat here and there, but Rarity had eyes only for Mrs. Cake at the front counter. They exchanged pleasantries, and to Rarity's eventual question, Mrs. Cake replied, "Oh, Pinkie's upstairs in her room, I think."

With a thank-you, Rarity headed for the stairs, knocked on the appropriate door, and sat down in the hallway.

Scuffling from within answered her, but nothing more.

"Pinkie?" she called, giving another knock.

More scuffling, then the door creaked open, Pinkie peering out wearing a large black bushy mustache. "No, no," Pinkie said, her voice sounding like a yak who'd eaten too much pudding. "Pinkie not in right now. You leave message, Yorick see she get it."

Fixing her half-lidded gaze on Pinkie's face, Rarity activated her horn and drew the ring from her bag.

Pinkie's eyes shot open, her jaw and mustache both dropping—though only the latter actually hit the floor. "Not here!" she whispered urgently. Rearing back, she planted both front hooves on the ring and shoved it back into Rarity's pack. "What's that you say, Rarity?" she then asked loudly. "You'd like me to come and keep you company at the Boutique while you do some boring old sewing or something? Why, sure, Rarity, I'll be happy to help! Pinkie Pie's always happy to help her friends get through their days with her joking and her joshing and her tomfoolery!"

For an instant, Rarity kept her partial glare on Pinkie, but she couldn't hold out against those big, blue eyes and that quivering lower lip. "Fine," she said with as much of a hiss as she could manage when the word she'd chosen lacked an 's.' "Oh, Pinkie Pie!" she continued all falsely bright and chipper. "Thank you so much! A pony always knows she can count on you!"

Marching back to the Boutique, Rarity kept a smile as phony as Pinkie's former mustache stretched over her snout. Pinkie for her part chattered and danced and waved to any ponies they happened to meet until the front door was clicking closed behind them.

At which point things became very quiet very quickly.

Rarity closed her eyes, not wanting to turn around to look at the showroom with Pinkie standing in it. So instead, she addressed the wall. "'Props,' you said. And 'propose.' And the 'o' sliding in there like a ring over a fetlock." Still not turning, she reached her magic into her bag and let the ring drift upward.

"It's not like that," Pinkie said, though if Rarity hadn't know it was her speaking, she never would've been able to guess. "Yes, you're smart and pretty and wonderful and great, Rarity, but I don't wanna date you or marry you or anything."

The clamp of dread that had been tightening in Rarity's chest at the thought of having to break the heart of one of her dearest friends loosened so suddenly, she almost staggered forward into the door. Spinning, she stared wide-eyed at Pinkie. "But the—!" She waved the ring up and down. "And the—!" She flailed a hoof at the ramp of cushions she hadn't yet dismantled. "And the—!"

"I know, I know, I know!" Clasping her forehooves to her chest, Pinkie fell onto her knees. "I messed up everything and got all confused and couldn't figure out how to fix it and—"

"All right!" Rarity tried her best not to shout, but she was fairly certain that 'shout' was the only applicable word. Taking a breath, she removed her saddlebags, set the ring gently on top of them, and attempted to go on in a more measured tone. "Perhaps you could simply tell me what this has all been about."

Pinkie was shaking, but she slumped back to sit on the floor without bursting into tears the way Rarity had half feared she would. "It's about me being on fire all the time," Pinkie murmured, her head turned away so her unfocused gaze fell on a part of the floor several paces to Rarity's right. "And how I'd really, really, really like to have someplace somewhere with somepony where I don't hafta be all laughing and singing and exploding."

It took Rarity a moment to find some words. "But you don't have to be that way with us, Pinkie. All of us love you just the way you are."

"Correction." Pinkie held up a hoof. "I do have to be that way." She drew in a shivering breath. "I love the girls, and I know they love me, but the me that they love isn't every me that I am. I'd like— I need a place where I can step out of the regular me, shake the wrinkles away, maybe make an alteration or two, then slip it back on and burst into flames again."

Rarity had to nod. "Cleanse," she said. "It's a funny word."

"It is." Pinkie's ears perked for the first time since they'd entered the Boutique. "But I can't do it alone, Rarity, and I can't have just anypony help me with it, either. But you're so shiny and clear and faceted like a big diamond that the light shines through and turns into all its pretty colors, so...so I was hoping..." She crept forward and touched a hoof to the ring. "Would you accept this token of my esteem cleaning?"

The snort that Rarity let loose was entirely unladylike and entirely appropriate. "I shall treasure it always. Especially since 'treasure' provides another example of that odd-sounding 'ea' we noted previously in 'cleanse.'"

Rather than shooting up to the ceiling, Pinkie rose slowly from her crouch. "Like 'meant' but not 'mean.'"

Rolling her eyes, Rarity stepped into the ring, tapped it till it tightened about her shank, picked up her panniers, and started for her workbench. "Don't get me started about 'meant,' darling! 'Bent,' 'sent,' 'went,' extent.'" She hung up her bag. "Where does 'meant' get the nerve to go around flaunting that extra 'a' smack dab in the middle of everything?"

She looked back to see Pinkie propped against the wall as stiff as a two by four, her eyes closed and the corners of her mouth curled up just the tiniest bit. "It comes from 'peace' and 'cease,'" she said. "But 'meant' just hasta be different, doesn't she?"

"She does." Rarity picked up the suit coat she'd been working on. "She ever so certainly does."
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#1 · 1
· · >>Baal Bunny
Okay, first of all, you missed an excellent chance to have the antipenultimate paragraph feature the ring snapping shut in a trap and cutting Rarity's leg off. You can't leave that Chekhov's Gun unfired, friend!

...Okay, maybe that wouldn't have been appropriate to the story you're telling.


More seriously: I love the word-fondling going on here, and I suspect a lot of people will, because... well, you're writing for an audience composed almost entirely of writers. So excellent job identifying your audience, first off. I do take exception to the idea that the L in cleanse is in any way a "clickety-clack" consonant, though, and since your audience is, again, composed of writers, describing letters in a way that makes me go "wait, what?" is actually a bigger issue than it probably seems (still a few orders of magnitude short of a story-wrecker, sure, but I'm just saying that "that's not what L sounds like!" isn't as miniscule a complaint as it might seem out of context).

I felt like we lost some of Pinkie's voice at times throughout this story. Now, some of that's expected and even necessary given the content, but I think a few very small tweaks to her... not so much the words, even, as their cadence, to make it match the patterns of her voice a little more closely, would make a big difference.

But that's dwarfed by the things I love about this story. There's the aforementioned word-fondling, for starters. There's the way you deftly faked me into thinking you were writing a shipfic, and then gave me something I didn't even know I wanted, but that it turned out I wanted much more. There's the dry narrative humor you put to use in describing Pinkie, and how you generally manage to write it in such a way that her exuberance and ineffable Pinkie-ness come through without turning your whole setting into a joke. Point is, I found a lot to like in this story, and came away from it with exactly the kind of warm, bubbly feeling that I'm sure you intended.
#2 · 1
· · >>Baal Bunny
Honestly, I have mixed feelings about this story. I think most of it came from the points that Chris made, that being that Pinkie lost her voice through the story. I like that concept that Pinkie can't be cheery all the time, but she is very emotional. If she isn't cheery, then it is very noticeable. Whether it be from her words or facial expressions. Pinkie wears her heart on her sleeve, so it is easy to tell how she feels about something.

Other than that, I do like you chose Rarity as the character that gets to see this side of Pinkie Pie. Rarity is a drama queen, but she knows the struggles of having to look like that you know what you are doing. In a sense, Rarity and Pinkie both wear a mask. Rarity is fine with taking it off, but Pinkie isn't. Truthfully, Rarity would be the only character to understand what Pinkie is going through. This left me with a bittersweet feeling. Mostly due to that I have been in Rarity's position., so it hit close to home.
#3 · 1
· · >>Baal Bunny
Damn, son. That third-person Rarity-voice is so on-point it's insane. That's gonna carry this story super well in my ballot, let me tell you.

But story-wise I'm a little concerned. What's with this ring? When you dissect its journey throughout the story, it's really bizarre, and I don't understand Pinkie's obsession with it. Does it even have to be there at all? It honestly feels like a distraction, and I was legitimately worried that you were going to end this with an actual marriage proposal after having zero romance between these two leading up to it. I mean, I'm glad you didn't, but then what was the point?

In terms of others' struggles with Pinkie's voice in the boutique scenes--I think this is easily fixed. Make Rarity find it weird too. If you had her stutter the first time Pinkie starts talking about linguistics, and mention a couple more times that "she doesn't sound like herself when she's around me" I expect would get everyone on board, and the reveal will even be that little bit better. Because the story isn't about this ring it's about What's Eating Pinkie Pie?

That's it. Lovely work. Thanks for writing!
#4 · 1
· · >>Baal Bunny
I spent a good deal of time contemplating this story after my initial read. It's got a lot of elements that I enjoy in my ponyfic. I think the characters are generally on point; I think their dialogue is witty and intelligent. Everyone that's in here seems to have a role that suits them, even the ones with relatively minor contributions. I really liked Glimmer and Twigger and their little exchange, especially.

And while I see a lot of criticism of Pinkie's dialogue and voice... I disagree. Even when she's not an eldritch bounce-goddess, no part of her dialogue or her character feels less than true to herself. And I think there's enough precedent in the ponyfic community, and in the fandom, for us to accept a slightly depressed Pink-Ponk who needs to turn off the party now and again as a valid interpretation of the character.

(The focus on phonetics and linguistics and etymology, I'm not too sold on; that doesn't feel entirely authentic, but Pinkie herself is characterized well.)

With all that said, it still didn't land with me.

The scenario with the ring struck me as needlessly complicated, and it took me a couple of reads (and an exchange in the writeoff discord) to really grasp how that worked in the story. When I'd finally put it all together, I was just left baffled. So, Pinkie was inspired to do something nice for Rarity (by a comment which Pinkie made about rings and forelegs), but rather than give her the gift directly, she left it in a spot where Rarity was likely to stumble upon it. Then, when Rarity turned it in to the lost-and-found, which is something that never actually came up in the story (so how did Pinkie know where it was?), she broke into the castle, stole it from the box, and left it in yet another spot where Rarity would find it. At no point did she just... give her the ring, tell her she wanted to do something nice for her, and why.

And on a sidenote, it's weird to me that, in a story about how Pinkie feels she can only be authentic around Rarity... Pinkie needs to be cornered before she's honest with her about her intentions.

Am I missing something? Did I misread the story? Tell me; I want to know if I did. I feel like I did, and that there's some very obvious bit that I've just overlooked.

A lesser issue I had was with the story's structure. The author skimmed over a lot of less important scenes, or rushed transitions, in order to keep the focus on the most important beats in the story. In a contest where we need to be economical with our word use, I think that's a smart move, because it allowed them to focus on the more crucial stuff without wasting time on minutiae. So, stuff like Rarity finding and returning the ring to the castle before the dialogue scene with Glimmy and Twiggy with only two sentences of transition and zero scene break... works.

On the other hand, I think there's a missed opportunity here. This story argues that Pinkie has to present facades, even around her friends, and that it's only in Rarity's company that she feels free to be herself. But we don't see how Pinkie behaves in these social situations; the audience is largely left to infer based on our knowledge of how she acts in the show.

It would, however, help us more if we saw that contrast firsthand, between the more languorous and thoughtful Pinkie in the Rarity scenes, and party girl persona. Develop those scenes beyond mere summary.

Overall, a decent character piece that could be great.
#5 · 1
· · >>Baal Bunny
Okay, so you can go ahead and place me firmly in the camp of "loved it" when it comes to that wordplay bit in the beginning. And really, I'm loving all of the voicing here as well. Pretty much everyone gets the chance to really pop, outside of maaaaaybe Twilight. But really, even Twilight is excellent, which goes to show just how fantastic everyone else feels.

Now, I'll have to be honest and say that in terms of plot, it does feel just a tad like we're going in circles. We spend a lot of time with the ring, and I can't help but feel that in the end, it didn't really warrant that level of attention. What's a lot more interesting to me personally, is getting to learn more about Pinkie and what makes her shy enough to not want to give the ring to Rarity directly. I mean, you can definitely use the ring as a framing device, but right now the way things are set up, it looks to the reader to be the #Main_Point aof the story, and it's a bit confusing when it turns out that it isn't.

In short, I think Pinkie needs another helping or two of screen time—this story is about her, after all. Giving how strongly all the characters are voiced, I really feel like you've got the toolkit to really do some work with Pinkie, but IMO you might want to take a step or two away from the mystery elements, which are really taking up a lot of the reader's emotional investment right now.

But, I'm still rating this one pretty darn highly.
#6 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny
I haven't looked at the others' reviews, so I don't know if they caught what I missed. But here we go:

The narrative voice here is good. The prose I found quirky, creative, and original. Good job. Story-wise, I like the idea of Pinkie running the risk of burning-out (fits with her saying she's constantly on fire. Very nice), and the word-plays worked quite well with that. Your portrayal of the characters is pretty spot-on too (I particularly liked the dry humor of Starlight). 

Now, I'm still an amateur writer (and a reader, for that matter), so I'm fairly certain I missed something important here, however, I found the entire point of the ring a little questionable. I'll try to explain my thoughts as clearly as possible:

I'm assuming Pinkie got the ring because of the idea of the token, and the wordplay. I also got the idea that she runs out at the start because she feels she messed up (the ‘propose’ word-play). But she then gets the ring back after leaving it behind - on purpose, or not - for a reason that I don't know, and does the same thing again.

First of all, why was the ring important, since Pinkie was not actually proposing? If the ring was just for the wordplay, why did she keep getting it back? If Pinkie didn't realize the wordplay would give the wrong idea, why did she storm off? I suppose you could peg most of that as Pinkie just being Pinkie, and not knowing what to do when she makes a mistake, but to me, that only comes to mind retroactively (it’s not clarified what Pinkie feels she ‘messed up’.) A character making mistakes is fine, if not great even, in terms of narrative, but I wish it'd been explained somewhere, because it didn’t come instinctively to me.

Secondly: why was the sizing enchantment important? The ring, I felt, was already unique enough. It even ties in with Rarity somewhat (her knowing gems and all, though I wouldn't call her a jeweler) - was there a reason here that I missed? Furthermore, I don’t understand how the ring ties into Pinkie? I had thought that if she were to give someone such a token, it'd be something more along the lines of quirky, maybe party-related. (There could naturally be several reasons for this, but I'd appreciate clarification or explanation.) 

Lastly, I think the only reason, that is given to the reader, how Rarity knew the ring was Pinkie's is the wordplay - and possibly that it keeps getting lost - which seems a little far-fetched to me, considering she found the ring the first two times by happenstance (if I understood at least that correctly).

Somebody will no doubt correct me on these, so I'm sorry I didn't get what you were going for here. I’m sorry, but if I don’t ask these questions, I’ll never learn.

I enjoyed this story greatly, nonetheless. Don’t get me wrong; any sort of nitpick I had was solely to point out the parts that I felt could use a little clarifying, to make the story even greater. This was really good.

Thank you so much for writing. Have a great weekend!
#7 ·

Here I am agreeing with everyone. Have Pinkie be more Pinkie in the scenes outside the Boutique, author, have Rarity wonder why Pinkie is so sedate when they're alone together, and make the ring a proper MacGuffin--something that drives the plot but isn't really integral to the story that develops. Stuff like that. :)

#8 · 3
>>Miller Minus
>>Anonymous Potato

Thanks, folks!

And congrats to the other medalists! I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to comment on every story--the San Diego Comic-Con was this week, and I've been going since the early 1980s--but I did read 'em all to make sure I could produce an informed ballot. It was a good group all the way around!

As for my story here, the prompt brought me the immediate image of Pinkamina in all her psychotic glory ranting about how Equestria must be cleansed through fire, but I wasn't at all interested in writing that. Taking a step back, though, led me to think about Pinkie and wonder if maybe Pinkie's every bit as introverted as her twin sister Marble but that she's learned how to play the part of an extrovert since she's so driven to give parties. I know that in my case, I need to be alone to recharge after I've been playing the extrovert, so how would Pinkie go about doing that?

Word games with Rarity, of course, and from there, the first draft flowed pretty straightforwardly. It needs fleshing out as folks pointed out, and I'll be doing that this next week, I think. I might also wanna commission some cover art--there aren't a lot of pictures out there of Rarity and Pinkie together...

Oh, and "cleanse" starts with the same two letters as both "clickety" and "clack," hence Pinkie's description. I can have Rarity express some reservations about it, though. More conflict for the scene!

#9 ·
This is a delightful story. Rich and verbose and weird in all the best ways. Rarity and Pinkie just ooze character all over the place. I honestly don't have any criticisms; I think you hit exactly the note you wanted to with this. Good job.