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Through Fire · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
Demise Reprise
“Betcha five bits I don’t die right away!” called Rainbow Dash. Twilight had just entered her castle’s Map Room to find her friend hanging upside-down from the chandelier some fifty feet above her.

“What.” said Twilight, her punctuation as audibly distinct as it was nonstandard.

“Cannonball!” With no further explanation, Rainbow Dash hurled herself downward, wings beating furiously as she worked to reach terminal velocity in a fraction of the distance any other pony could achieve it. With a sickening splat, she crashed headfirst into the table, her neck instantly snapping as every bone in her body shattered. Her hindlegs stuck upright for a long moment, quivering atop the undifferentiated ruin of her head and torso, then slumped sideways onto the table. She—the body—didn’t move.

That was an extremely impressive piece of acceleration, Twilight thought, even if it wasn’t really a “canonball.” For about a quarter-second, that thought had her brain to itself, before its inevitable companion arrived. Twilight elected to speak the latecomer out loud.

“Dang it, Rainbow Dash, what is it this time?!”

“Hey Applejack, can I talk to you a minute?”

Applejack paused her farmwork mid-buck, smiling at her friend. “Well howdy, Twilight! I didn’t hear you coming!” Her smile slipped a bit, as she noticed Twilight’s dour expression. “Uh, is something the matter?”

“Rainbow Dash just killed herself.”

“Ah.” Applejack nodded sagely. “Well, it’s like my granny always says: ‘You can lead a pegasus to water, but you can’t stop those featherbrained degenerates from drowning themselves, oh lordy they’re so dumb, I mean, seriously, some of my best friends are pegasi, but do you know that—’ well, she goes on like that for a while. You get the gist.”

“Anyway, I won’t keep you,” Twilight hurriedly continued. “I was just hoping you could tell me how to get bloodstains off of furniture.”

“Well of course! It depends on whether we’re talking fabric or—wait a minute, how did you know I knew how to clean up bloodstains?”

Twilight shrugged. “Well, you’re a farmer, aren’t you?”


Twilight looked over her shoulder and, seeing that they were alone, continued. “Come on, Applejack. You and I both know that a pony who raises livestock is going to… well, is going to know a thing or two about bloodstains.” She smirked. “I wasn’t Celestia’s prized protigee for nothing, you know. It’s basic deduction.”

Applejack chuckled. “I guess there’s no pulling one over on a know-it-all like yourself. You know, not many people realize just what we do with the critters we keep. Makes you wonder why they think we have ‘em!”

Twilight tossed her head. “Well, to be fair, it’s not an obvious connection from ‘shearing sheep’ to ‘they’ll inevitably get accidentally nicked sometimes, therefore a farmer probably has plenty of experience cleaning up bloodstains.’”

Applejack stopped chuckling. “...Are you ser—no, actually, that’s fine, let’s go with that. Yup, lotta sheep-shearing accidents.”

“So about the—”

“Bloodstains, right. C’mon, I’ll give you a bottle of the stuff we use.” She turned, nodding towards Twilight to follow her. “So you’ll get her cleaned up and then… what? Head out tomorrow?”

“Yeah, let’s aim for dawn. Might as well get this over with.”

“Hey Fluttershy, got a second?”

Fluttershy looked up from the feed trough she was filling, a gentle smile on her face. “Of course, Twilight! It’s good to see you.”

“You, too. Anyway, Rainbow Dash just killed herself.”

Fluttershy lifted her hooves to her mouth in terror. “Oh no! That’s horrible! I didn’t even realize she was depressed!” Tears filled her eyes, and her breath began to hitch. “I—I’m such a terrible friend! She was crying out for help, and I never even—”

“Hey, now, relax,” Twilight said, in as soothing a voice as she could manage. “Look, I’m about 98% sure she wasn’t upset or sad or anything.”

Fluttershy bit her lip. “She… she wasn’t?”

“No, I’m pretty sure this was more of a ‘Rainbow Dash made six specious leaps of logic’ suicide.”

“Oh.” As quickly as they had come, the tears were gone. “Well, that’s a relief, I guess. What did she think she was going to accomplish?”

“I was sort of hoping you knew,” Twilight confessed. “She didn’t even try to monologue at me this time. I assume she thought it’d be self-evident after she succeeded.”

“Did she?”

Twilight gave Fluttershy a flat-lidded glare. “She splattered herself all over the Map Room table with no explanation. What do you think?”

“Right, sorry.”

Twilight sighed. “It’s fine. I’m just gonna go clean her up now.”

“Okay.” Fluttershy rubbed her hooves together. “Um, so—”

Yes, we have to go get her, and no, I don’t enjoy it either. But something something Power of Friendship, I don’t know.” Twilight massaged her temple. “Honestly, at this point I’m not sure that even the bonds of Harmony merit the number of get-out-of-Tartarus-free passes we’ve cashed for her.”

“Um, if you’d like, I can get the other girls,” offered Fluttershy. “I mean, if you’d rather get home and clean.”

“Well, cleaning up one of your best friends’ bodies after her horrific death would usually be pretty low on my to-do list, but when the alternative is explaining to my friends that they have to take an early-morning road trip to the underworld because Rainbow Dash is an idiot, and then still have to clean her up anyway… yeah, if you want to tell them, that’d be great.” Twilight turned to leave. “Applejack already knows. Meet at the castle first thing tomorrow?”

“We’ll be there.”


Twilight looked at the corpse. The broken shards of Rainbow’s ribs pierced through her skin in several places; a wide pool of blood had coagulated atop the table, and a long line of sanguine made its way to the edge of the table, dripping down onto the rug Twilight had just bought last week. She lifted the bottle of peroxide with one tendril of magic, and a bundle of rags with another.

“Just great.”

Tartarus is an unwelcoming place. The land surrounding the stygian cave is suffused with a dark miasma that defies sensory description. A sound which no ear can hear but which makes every soul quaver fills the air—the keening of the restless souls beneath. Smokeless blue flames ring the entrance, dancing a macabre saltarello to unheard music, on unfelt winds, in the scentless stink.

And amongst it all stands Cerberus: watchdog of the underworld. Looming tall over the fires, his massive form eclipses the cavern, mutely warning any who would dare approach of the futility of bringing forth those souls whom Death or the Princesses have decreed must reside there forevermore.

“Um, could you please go fetch Rainbow Dash’s soul for us, mister Cerberus?” asked Fluttershy. One of the heads growled half-heartedly, but the other two barked and slobbered in a disquietingly friendly way. Outvoted, the first head rolled its eyes, and the dog loped down into the cavern.

“Can you imagine if we actually had to go down there and get her ourselves?” Twilight asked. “It’s bad enough just having to hike out this far.”

Rarity shivered. “Oh, my,” she murmured. “To face the horrors of Tartarus ourselves, it’s almost more than I can bear to think about.”

“Um, we’ve been there before, though,” pointed out Fluttershy. “Three times, I think? Twice?”

“Yeah, it’s really just ‘take the staircase down, then you’re there,’” added Applejack.

“Well, yes,” admitted Rarity. “But you must confess, there are a lot of stairs.”

Applejack opened her mouth to respond, but at that moment a three-toned baying echoed from the cavern mouth. Cerberus emerged from the blackness, holding a non-corporeal mist in the very-corporeal teeth of its middle head.

“Aw sweet, you guys came back for me!” said the ghost of Rainbow Dash.

“We always do…” Rarity said with a sigh.

“...For some reason,” added Applejack, under her breath.

“Yeah, great!” cried the mist. “So, let’s get going!”

“Before we do,” interjected Twilight, “would you mind telling us why you killed yourself this time?”

Suddenly, the mist looked very nervous—an impressive feat, considering it possessed no identifiable form or structure. “Erm, do I have to?”


“Right.” The mist made a gulping sound. “So. Ah… you know how your life flashes before your eyes right before you die?”

“Not nearly as well as you do, dear,” quipped Rarity.

“And you know how when you’re bored, time seems to go really slow?”

Twilight put her hoof to her face. “She hasn’t even explained yet, and I already have a headache.”

“So, I was setting up the rainclouds on Friday, and it was, like super-boring, right? Because you just push the cloud over here, and then you wait for it to finish raining. And you can’t make it hurry up, because Ponyville’s municipal flood insurance already hit its limit after the first time I tried that, so you’re just hanging around waiting, and—”

“You can get to the point anytime,” said Rarity.

“Okay, so, I was up their being bored, and then I thought, ‘If my life flashes before my eyes, but the last bit goes super-slow, then that’ll make it take longer for me to finish dying, right?’ Because, well, obviously.”

Obviously.” Twilight barked a laugh. “Yes, ‘obviously’ is obviously the word which best describes this conversation.”

“But then, waiting to die while you were watching something boring would be boring too, so that’d make it take even longer! So then you’re lying there, not-dying, forever!” The mist quivered a bit in Cerebus’s jaws. “So you see, it was all a brilliant ploy to achieve true immortality!”

There was a long silence. Rarity finally broke it. “Honestly, it’s not the worst reason to kill herself she’s ever come up with.”

“That is a low bar to clear,” growled Twilight.

“Well, yes, but this is Rainbow Dash we’re talking about. Isn’t it fair to grade her on a curve?”

Applejack broke in. “So, ignoring the part where none of this makes any sense to anypony with half a brain… your plan was to lie in unbelievable agony, on Twilight’s table, for all eternity?”

“Uh, no, obviously.”

“Every time she says that word, it hurts just a little more,” groaned Twilight.

“I mean, yes, I’d lie there in pain for a little bit, but then you guys could just come heal me with a magic rainbow laser, and then I’d be immortal and awesome at the same time! Which is why I waited to do it until you came home, Twi. That way you’d be right there to get the girls and make with the living-forever-ity. Besides, hanging around on the ceiling was way boring, which was perfect!”

“Um, once you stopped being bored and in pain, wouldn’t you just die like regular anyway?” Fluttershy asked.

Twilight leaned over and asked, sotto voce, “That’s your problem with the plan? Really?”

But the mist was already hemming complentavely. “Well, I wouldn’t be dead because laser magic… but yeah, once I stopped being bored, I wouldn’t be immortal anymore. I guess I’d just need you guys not to heal me, then…”

“Unbelievable agony, on Twilight’s table, for all eternity,” Applejack helpfully repeated. The mist scrunched its nothing in thought.

“...Aw, crud. This is one of those plans that doesn’t work if you’re awesome, does it?”

“There do seem to be a lot of those,” Fluttershy comisserated.

Applejack began counting on her hooves. “Getting a decent job, doing your own taxes, elementary-level study skills, basic hygiene…” She frowned. “Well, there’s more, but I’m outta hooves.”

“Okay, whatever. I’ll think it through better next time.” The mist seemed to vibrate a bit. “Welp, ready when you are! Let’s get RD back in the game!”

There was another long silence.

Twilight cleared her throat. “Actually, before we do that, we have a list of demands.” She levitated a scroll up from her bags, unrolled it, and cleared her throat a second time. “Number one: don’t kill yourself anymore.” She looked up from the scroll. “Actually, there’s only that one demand.”

“I wanted to add ‘please,’ but I got outvoted,” Fluttershy put in.

The mist vibrated again. “That’s it? Sure, fine. I promise I won’t kill myself anymore unless—”

“I’m gonna stop you right there, hun,” said Applejack. “We’re thinking more of a blanket suicide ban. As in, no killing yourself, not even if… well, you fill in the rest, but not even then.”

“Not even then?!” cried the mist. “But that’s the most important time to be able to kill yourself!” It harrumphed. “Honestly, I don’t see what the big deal is. You can—”

“Rainbow Dash,” Rarity firmly interrupted. “Most ponies don’t get a second chance at life, let alone a… fifth?” She looked questioningly at the other girls.

“Sixth,” Twilight supplied.

“Sixth,” continued Rarity. “But for whatever reason, the Elements of Harmony have apparently decided that your continued existence is a net gain for the powers of Friendship, Love, and Goodness. That notwithstanding, we are getting tired of being the Elements’ designated conduit for bringing your lazy flank back topside.”

“Um, harsh,” muttered the mist.

“The first time you killed yourself, I think all of us understood,” Twilight put in. Then she frowned. “Well, for a certain definition of ‘understood,’ anyway. Part of me still believes you simply didn’t realize you’d die if you tried the ‘Super-Secret Wonderbolts Technique of Jumping Off a Cliff With an Anvil Strapped to Each Wing.’”

“I’m still a little surprised she didn’t realize Spitfire was trying to prank her,” whispered Fluttershy.

“I’m not,’ Rarity whispered back.

“And I can almost understand the second time. After the rest of us went on that epic quest to discover the means of reviving you only to learn that the power was inside us all along, I think we all had a lot of questions about how our newfound ability to resurrect you worked, and what its limits were.” Twilight frowned. “Which still doesn’t excuse you immediately killing yourself so we could ‘see if you can do it again,’ but to repeat: I can almost understand it.”

“I’m glad I have such understanding friends,” drawled the mist. “So, resurrection laser? Anypony?”

“But the last four have been stupid, even for you,” Twilight finished. “And all of us have decided that we don’t want to spend the rest of our lives galloping back and forth to and from Tartarus every time you think of some reason why you’d like to stop breathing for a while.”

“Aw, that’s not fair! How come the rest of you get to kill yourselves whenever you want, but I don’t?”

“Because we don’t keep killing ourselves! And also, we don’t get to kill ourselves whenever we want!” She turned to the other girls. “Unless you all think there’s some reason ‘don’t kill yourself’ shouldn’t be a group rule, that is.”


“It’s fine.”

“I’ll manage.”

“Great.” Twilight returned her attention to the mist. “So. Either you agree not to kill yourself, or else you can just stay in Tartarus Time-Out until you change your mind.”

“Wait! What if… okay, what if all of us are trapped in the middle of the desert, and there’s nothing to eat, and the only way for the rest of you to survive is for me to kill myself so you can feast on my flesh?”

“First, eww. Second, no. Third, see one and two.”

Rarity cleared her throat. “Far be it from me to undercut this ultimatum, but maybe Rainbow Dash would be a little more willing to accept… supervision?”

Twilight arched an eyebrow suspiciously. “What do you mean?”

“Well, what if the new rule was, ‘No killing yourself, unless you get Twilight’s permission first?’”

“But what if she says no?” whined the mist.

“I would! Every time!” Twilight shouted. Then she took a deep breath. “But okay. Rarity, I see what you’re getting at.”

“It’s like Granny always says,” added Applejack. “‘Those dang-blamed sky hooligans just can’t survive without us real ponies propping them up, keeping them fed, and stopping them from constantly killing themselves and each other. And let me tell you, the crisis we face from the rise of miscegena—’”

“Okay!” Twilight said, her voice cracking slightly. “Rainbow Dash, do you promise not to kill yourself unless I specifically give you permission to?”

The mist mumbled something inaudible.

“What was that?”

“Yes, mom. Geez.” The mist vibrated again. “Now hurry up and laser me!”

Twilight looked at Rarity. Rarity shrugged.

“Alright, let’s do this, I guess.” The girls closed their eyes, as the overwhelming force of pure Harmony engulfed them.

One timeless instant and a massive laser-blast later, they all lay prone on the ground, exhausted. The mist was glowing with a light of ineffable pureness. Cerberus released it as an ethereal chord echoed from Existence itself, and the light guided the mist gently through the blue flames, setting it down in front of the girls. The light swelled, became a blinding flash, and, with an anticlimactic plorp, vanished. Everpony took a minute to blink away the blindness.

“You’d think Harmony could come up with a way to do that without so much melodrama,” Twilight groused. “Well, I guess it doesn’t really matter, since we’re never going to have to do this again. Right, Rainbow?”

“Yeah, yeah,” the freshly reconstituted Rainbow Dash said, utterly failing to appreciate the miracle which was a new body for her dispossessed soul. She flapped her wings, lifting up off the ground. “I promised, didn’t I? Cross my… wait a minute.” Rainbow Dash tried again to cross herself with her hoof, and for a second time, failed to. “What the hay?”

“Um, Rainbow Dash?” asked Fluttershy. “Why don’t you have any legs?”

Rainbow’s head darted side to side, then down.

“Twilight?” she slowly asked. “Why don’t I have any legs?”

All of the ponies took a minute to ponder that, while the bewinged but otherwise limbless Rainbow Dash hovered in front of them.

“Uh, guys?” Rainbow Dash asked. “Where’s Pinkie Pie?”

Fluttershy looked down. “She, um, said she was busy this morning. And that she’ll be by later if we still need her.”

What?! What’s more important than bringing back Equestria’s coolest Wonderbolt? And also one of the six guardians of reality or whatever?”

“She said it’s Twist’s borthday.”

“Her what?”

“She said it’s like a birthday, but on the day you would’ve been born if you weren’t born on your birthday.”

There was a third long silence.

“Oh, I get it! Borthday!” Twilight exclaimed. “That’s actually pretty clever, for Pinkie.”

“Um, guys? Focus a little bit here?” Rainbow Dash hovered angrily in front of Twilight. “Contrary to popular opinion, I can’t be the world’s best flier without legs. I need them for signing autographs! So how’re we going to fix this?”

“I don’t know.” Twilight scratched her chin. “I guess Pinkie’s absence meant the resurrection was only a partial success, though how that ended up meaning ‘no legs’ is something that would require a lot of research. I’ve got some books back at the castle I could—”

A glint entered Rainbow’s eye. “So this is all because Pinkie wasn’t here?”

“Well, that seems like the most—”

“So if she’d come, but somepony else stayed home, what would’ve happened?”

“Without more research, I can’t even begin to—wait.”

The glint became a gleam.

With all her authority, Twilight looked her legless friend in the eye and said, “Rainbow Dash: no.”

Bettertoaskforgivenessthanpermission!” cried Rainbow, and before Twilight could react, she slammed her head down on Twilight’s horn, its point piercing through Rainbow's skull and driving deep into her brain. As Rainbow’s corpse suddenly became dead weight, Twilight was awkwardly thrown to the ground headfirst, locked in a forehead-embrace with the newly-deceased pegasus.

The other girls rushed to help Twilight, but she quickly pushed the body off of her. “RAINBOW DASH, YOU GET BACK HERE THIS—”

She stopped mid-tirade, as Cerberus’s middle head snuffled, then snatched something invisible from the air. That invisible something coalesced into a familiar-looking non-corporeal mist.

“Nice!” the mist said. “Now, Rarity, you go get Pinkie, and tell her that she and the others can try bringing me back without you this time. Everypony else, wait here.” It giggled. “This is gonna be so awesome!”

Twilight tried to wipe the brains and blood off her face, but only managed to smear it around. Applejack offered her a handkerchief, which she accepted gratefully. “So… are we bringing her back?” Applejack asked. Seeing Fluttershy’s glare, she quickly added, “I mean, yes, we’re bringing her back eventually, but, uh… are we doing this now, or…”

“Yes, Applejack, we’re still going to bring her back,” Twilight grumbled. “Though I suppose, based on what we now know, we should probably wait for Pinkie to show up.”

“I don’t see what the hurry is,” sniffed Rarity. “I vote we leave her here, at least for the rest of the weekend.”

“As tempting as that sounds, no,” Twilight said, more firmly this time. “We’re going to bring her back right away, because I just remembered something.”

“And that is…” Applejack prodded.

“Well, Rainbow Dash might learn something if we let her rot down here a while… but frankly, I doubt it. On the other hand, if we bring her back, I can make her do something that’ll actually embarrass her.” Twilight shrugged. “Granted, she probably won’t learn anything from that either, but it’s worth a shot.”

Rarity arched an eyebrow. “And what, pray tell, are you going to do to embarrass her?”

Twilight grinned mirthlessly. “Before she killed herself, she bet me she wouldn’t die right away. Rainbow Dash owes me five bits, and by Celestia I’m not going to let her get out that bet by dying.” The grin became a little more genuine. "After all, I'm a Princess, which means I have the power to enforce debts, with the whole government of Equestria at my back. And the only thing more certain than death... is taxes."
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#1 ·
· · >>Chris
Ah, a dark comedy. The character portrayals, in my opinion, were spot on (exaggerated, but pretty spot on). The play with the plot armor was appreciated. That, and the other girls was sick of Rainbow's BS. Honestly, if this concept played out in any other genre, I honestly think it wouldn't work. It could be use for horror, but it has the most potential as a dark comedy. I really can find any fault's in the story, so good job! I would like to see other stories like this in the future.
#2 · 1
· · >>Chris >>Chris
I whined about OOC comedies in my Soviet Equestria comment so I don't want to do it again, but for this one it bothered me less because the comedy is absurd enough that I'm less agitated about the lack of shock-horror shown by the characters. Plus, they've apparently been through this a lot, so okay, I'm on board.

My main issue with the comedy, though, is that it is seriously quip-dense. It kind of reminds me of what some people don't like about Joss Whedon's work in that every character seems to have a bachelor's degree in banter. But in this story, my God, there's no end to it. I could swear over half the dialogue was quips. And when it gets like that, I start to lose interest in the story, because it drags the pacing to a halt, and it becomes too easy for you to dwell on the same joke by having each character give their own quip-take on what's just happened.

Take the Tartarus scene, for example. Half of that is quips, and the other half is "as you know, Bob". Those two things can really drag your story when you overdo them.

But enough bitching! Some praise. That first Twilight-Applejack scene was goddamn hilarious. Plus, it serves as a good establishment that yes, they have dealt with this before, nothing to worry about, just need to get some bloodstainer and then we'll relive this excruciating revival routine tomorrow. I liked it. What's different in this scene, and what made me like it the most, is that it was simultaneously being funny while moving the plot along, pretty much the whole way through.

Finally, the gore is really conflicting with the tone of your story. I understand what you were going for, but for the most part this story is like PG-13, and then on two occasions it becomes disgustingly visceral. Obviously this can work, see: Shaun of the Dead, but usually the gore is happening throughout the story, rather than in a couple startling moments.

Or, it could just be that the gore is conflicting with the show's tone too much for my tastes. I dunno. It put me off.

That's all! Thanks for writing, fam.
#3 · 1
My first thought after reading this is "the last line is pretty funny, but I don't know how well it ties the story as a whole together. It ends the story on a nice joke, but doesn't really make a perfect ending." That thought is followed a moment later by, "I just read a story about Rainbow Dash's serial suicides, what the heck?" So, I guess my point is that I feel for Twilight in the first scene, having now had my brain pull the same trick on me.

Dark character-assassination comedy isn't really my bailiwick, but I did appreciate that I was able to recognize the main characters from their mannerisms and behaviors. They're twisted, sure, but they're not unrecognizable, and I think that made this a little more palatable to me. After reading >>Miller Minus's comments, I very much agree that this is extremely quip-heavy. I think I ended up liking that about the story (quips are funny!), but that might just be because I'm more interested in the "comedy" part of "dark comedy," and was just happy that the story wasn't too mean-spirited. Which is a funny thing to say about a story where Twilight and co. seriously consider not resurrecting their friend, but there ya go. Anyway, point is: fix the quippiness, yes; lose the humor, no.

As a side-quibble: is Tartarus really a place pony souls go? I mean, it seems more like it's just a prison in the show. This didn't bother me too much as a reader (it's definitely within the realm of "sure, I can go with that"), but I can see this bugging some people, so maybe a little tweaking of the cosmology is in order.

But in the end, you made me laugh at Rainbow Dash using Twilight's horn as an impromptu seppuku knife, so way to go, there!
#4 · 1
· · >>Chris
Okay, so this is just hella dumb and also hella fun. You do a great job with joke set-up and execution, especially with the first couple of setpieces with Dash and AJ. And you strike this excellent balance in tone that's definitely got a little bite in it without being gross or off-putting. Nicely done!

Now, I'm going to have to get weird and vague with my critique, so I hope you can bear with me. I think this story comes across rather simply, because it doesn't really do anything with its edginess. Now, I know that you're doing a lot of character deconstruction here, but I've seen most, if not all, of these tropes before. The fandom's pretty old at this point, so a lot of the inversions you've picked (Twilight as the longsuffering cynic, Dash as the fucking idiot, AJ as the not-really-racist realist) are actually well-trodden ground. In other words, I think you've tried to tilt the applecart, but the applecart has gotten so sick of getting tilted all the damn time for the past eight years that it grew a pair of legs to brace itself.

Maybe I'm taking Aragon's "Comedy is Serious Business" theorem a little too much to heart, but I really think a cool way this could have subverted expectations would be if the story and its ending somehow managed to actually tie things back to the show's themes, after initially treating them with such irreverence. But, that's just me spitballing, so let me wrap things up.

In short, I like your humor, I like your jokes, and I love the tone. But I didn't walk away from this one quite fully satisfied, and I think that's because in hindsight, the edginess feels a little straightforward. I think this is a very strongly executed piece, but it could use just another wrinkle or just another "twist" to take it to a higher level.
#5 · 1
· · >>Chris
You know, I never rarely get tired of reading stories that are setups for a single, culminating joke or gag, and seeing the very first word in this story be what's called back to at the end—the bet—makes it all the more enjoyable. I appreciate the clear line through the story leading up to the final moment.

Shout out in particular to Applejack for letting Twilight go on being barely a hair less naive than everypony else when it comes to farm work and animal husbandry.
#6 ·
· · >>Bachiavellian >>Chris
I'm not the best person to ask for an opinion, but here goes:

In all its weirdness, this was interesting. I feel like you could potentially even expand upon the idea if you wanted. This story raised a couple of questions that I would like to ask here:

- There is a Tartarus, obviously, which in this instance is a form of afterlife. Is there also a Heaven, where the "good" ponies go to, or do all ponies their equivalent of Hell when they die?
- Follow-up: Character-wise I could see Dash getting sent to Hell. But if there is also a Heaven for good ponies, what does it say about the Elements if their Bearers go straight to Hell when they die? (Sorry if I missed something important here)

Onto the story itself. I liked the flow of the dialogue. It felt natural, and the voicings were great too (I live for Sassy Twilight, so thank you for that.)

I'm not sure how to go about improving this. I think you could maybe compress it or leave some of the less important descriptions or dialogue out; it felt like the plot may have dragged a little, at points. Personally, I don't think the visceral side of things added much either (Both are just matters of taste, though).

(I’m also not certain whether Dash would say “Contrary to popular opinion.” Sounds more like Twilight to me.)

Anyways, I had fun reading. Thanks for writing ^^

Edit: Disregard the questions. I did a dumb.
#7 · 1
· · >>Anonymous Potato
>>Anonymous Potato
RE: Tartarus, in Greco-Roman mythology, basically everyone goes to Tartarus/Hades when they die, regardless of how good you are. The only exceptions are demigods and the like, who go to Olympus.
#8 ·

Oh, yea, you're right. I should've remembered that.
#9 · 1
· · >>Chris
If someone held a gun to my head and asked me to name a single, blackly comedic MLP fanfic that absolutely nailed characterization, dialogue, and humor, to a T... and I have no idea why I would ever find myself in such a situation, but bear with me... I'd probably name this one.

Narratively, though, I find it a bit thin. The cast's dialogue is all so rich and entertaining that it elevates and carries the story, but especially toward the end, whilst debating the ethics and rules of allowing Dashie to kill herself, I felt that the story was wearing out its welcome, stretching the same joke across too much space. I would recommend trying to get to Dashie's second... seventh? Seventh suicide attempt a bit quicker to keep a sense of momentum going.

(For the record, the premise of the cast standing around in Hell, castigating Rainbow for killing herself, while Cerberus stands there impatiently holding her in his mouths, was entertaining enough on its own. Just don't overextend it)

I also find myself at a loss as to Rainbow Dash's logic...

“Okay, so, I was up their being bored, and then I thought, ‘If my life flashes before my eyes, but the last bit goes super-slow, then that’ll make it take longer for me to finish dying, right?’ Because, well, obviously.”

...I assume she's talking about relativity, here, but the roots of all these assumptions seem insufficiently connected to her course of action. Don't get me wrong, if someone from the Mane Six were going to kill herself for a dumbass reason, it'd be Rainbow Dash. I kinda just wish I understood her logic (or what passes for it) a bit more.
#10 · 1
· · >>Miller Minus
A'ight, retrospective time for...

Demise Reprise

So, like many people clearly did, my first thought when I read the words Through Flames was of crossing between life and death. So I wrote a story about doing that over and over again--even when your friends really wish you'd pick a side and stay on it (hint: there is a correct side).

My original thought was to have most of the story be about Twilight getting her exasperated/annoyed friends together, but as I started writing I felt like that was stretching on too much and getting same-y, so I cut it down to just AJ and Fluttershy, and instead of having "okay everypony, time to go get Dash again" the endpoint, decided to dive into Dash's psyche. Unfortunately, it's kind of a shallow pool.

(Honest, RD is my favorite of the main six!)

Anyway, there seems to be a consensus that the outside-Tartarus stuff dragged a bit, or at least was a little wheel-spinny, so when I edit this I'll see if I can give it some more forward push without losing the weary dark humor I was aiming for. That bit seemed to come through, at least, which I was glad to see; character-twisting dark comedy isn't something I've really tried before, so I was glad the humor of it seemed to land. Thank you all for the comments; you've given me plenty to work with when I edit. And congrats to our winners, and to everyone who entered.

Specific comments:

Thanks for the comments, and welcome to the Writeoff! "I hope to read more stories like this" is a great compliment, and I appreciate it.

>>Miller Minus
Point taken on the quipping; there are a few bits that are literally "here's a sentence of moving the plot forward. Here's three reactions. Here's another sentence moving the plot forward. Here's two more reactions. Here's..." I'll keep on eye on that going forward. Thanks for pointing that out!

I totally get what you mean about wrapping it around to the show themes. I think I need to workshop the ending a little bit (the current one is funny, but it's not really thematic) and look at giving this more of a through-line in that regard. Thanks for the comments!

Glad you enjoyed!

>>Anonymous Potato
Thanks for the suggestions, and especially good call on the Dash line. I appreciate it!

Hey, high praise! I think that giving this a little more thematic focus and maybe shortening it a bit will address your criticisms, so, I'mma do that.

Also! specific comments on other stories:

>>Miller Minus

I've seen most of the school episodes and I don't remember it being implied to be zero-effort for either party.

Well, it's pretty clearly low-effort for the teachers; despite the main six being the principal teachers, it doesn't seem to interfere with AJ's ability to run a farm with only her brother for support, with Rarity's ability to manage a small business franchise, etc. And from the students perspective... well, their studies don't seem to take up much on-screen time too, but unlike the main six, they don't have extensive, complicated lives that we know aren't being interfered with. I guess that's more into personal opinion than canon fact, then, but the lessons we've seen them learning are how to share sweets, how to hug... real kindergarten-level stuff.

Anyway, I'm not saying that a story about the academic rigours of Friendship Community and Technical College can't exist, but without addressing that in any way... well, to me at least, it doesn't jive with what we've been shown.

I'm just saying, what you've presented in this story is something that I, and plenty of other readers, can and will 100% read as statutory rape.

I'm sure the author knows that already, and I don't see why you brought it up in the first place, beyond just providing the disclaimer that you don't care for the ship.

Well... I disagree. About being able to assume the author knows that, that is. A lot of people don't find contemporary-age Twilestia problematic, and I don't assume that they're all able to somehow intuit exactly what about a particular portrayal of Twilestia is or is not likely to cross someone else's ethical third rail. That's kind of moot, though, because the reason I mentioned it (which I thought was clear in context; I apologize that it wasn't!) was because it's a disclaimer. Like, that footnote is me saying "when I say this about your story, I am quite confident I'm speaking for a significant group of readers, but they aren't your readers for this fic." As a writer, I would consider that useful information to know about my story, and if possible, would want a reviewer to make clear who they might reasonably be talking for, and to what extent that group overlaps with my target readership. I'm sorry I didn't convey that well!
#11 ·
· · >>Chris

I mean... I guess if you'd prefer the writers lampshade that the school requires effort every time they want to write something that takes place outside it then you do you, but to a couple of your other points:

their studies don't seem to take up much on-screen time

Well of course it doesn't; that'd be boring. But they take place off-screen all the time.

but the lessons we've seen them learning are how to share sweets, how to hug... real kindergarten-level stuff

Are we watching the same show? I've seen references to them writing essays on monsters, learning the history of Equestria, and studying in groups for upcoming tests. Sure it's not Introduction to Quantum Biology but in the context of the show it's meant to be challenging at times. I'm not normally one to go after other peoples' interpretations, but you seem to be implying that the school is a waste of time that everybody's letting Twilight do because it's adorable.

But if that's really how you see it then okie-doke.

#12 · 1
>>Miller Minus

Okay, so, unless that's all from the most recent season (which I haven't watched), then I legit don't remember that stuff.

And if it is from the most recent season... well, ignore the idiot who doesn't keep up with the show, I guess!

Not gonna be at Bronycon, but have fun! And buy my book, if you wanna :p
#13 · 1
Now this is my kind of comedy. Black and ridiculous. Comedies about death are usually great, and the execution on this definitely puts it up there in my books. Also, Rainbow Dash being literally too dumb to live is just such a great idea I can't help but laugh.

And the borthday joke was masterfully executed. Kudos.