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On Thin Ice · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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“I would like… a beer.” said Princess Cadance, still wearing a confused, uneasy smile. She closes her eyes nods at her own words. “Yes, a beer, please!”

Chaser shot another glance around the hole-in-the-wall where she served as bartender. It was the height of the mid-afternoon dead-hour, and there was nopony else there but the princess sitting on her stool at the counter.

“Um, Princess,” she said, in her customer service voice because she didn’t know how else to speak to an actual, literal, alicorn. “We’ve got, uh, many kinds of beer.”

Princess Cadance’s expression crumpled just the smallest bit.

“Oh,” she said, her eyes darting through the stacks of bottles behind Chaser. “I’m, um, kind of new to the whole alcohol thing, honestly. I mean, I’ve had a salt lick or two, but I guess I haven’t really…”

She trailed off.

Instincts from almost eleven years of bartending made the following fifteen seconds of absolute silence indescribably uncomfortable for Chaser.

“Can I suggest an imperial lager? We just got a crate of ambers from the Empire just the other day.” said Chaser.

“Sure!” said Cadance, perhaps too cheerfully. “Perfect!”

Chaser fetched a bottle and filled one of the establishment’s fancier beer glasses with half of the contents before placing both on the countertop in front of the Princess.

Cadance picked up the glass, eyed it, tried to discreetly smell the drink, and then swallowed it all in a gulp. She emptied the rest of the bottle into the glass, and tossed it down the hatch again.

“That was…” said the princess, blinking. “I’m not sure how that was.”

“Do you want another?” said Chaser keeping up her customer-serving voice.

“Yes,” said Cadance, even though she didn’t seem to mean it.

Another lager disappeared, equally unceremoniously, and when the princess asked for a third, Chaser couldn’t keep her sense of unease bottled up any longer.

She fetched the beer, but as she opened the bottle, she spoke.

“Princess, beg your pardon, but folks don’t normally take their drinks like this,” she said, diplomatically. “Plus, we’re quite a ways from the Empire, so I have to wonder…”

“Star-damnit!” blurted Cadance, suddenly. She folded her wings over her face, and slumped in her seat. “Star-damnit, I’m so obvious, aren’t I?”

The outburst caught Chaser off-guard for a second, but this wasn’t her first upset customer. She caught a hold of herself again quickly.

“Nothing’s obvious,” said Chaser, truthfully. “Except maybe that you have something you want to say.”

Cadance was quiet for a moment longer, staring at her untouched third drink.

“Sometimes, I really think I’m a mess. I don’t even know how to get drunk right.”

“You’d be a bigger mess if you did know,” said Chaser, the words leaving her mouth almost before she realized it.

Princess Cadance laughed, dryly.

The following silence was both better and worse than the last ones had been. She would talk now that she got started—Chaser knew from experience.

“Me and Shiny got into a fight,” she said. “And, well, I’m the Princess of Love.” She put a depreciating stress on the title. “So I thought I was right. I knew I was right. But we were both mad, so I took a quick flight to cool my head.”

Chaser momentarily balked at the idea of a six hundred mile trip being called a quick flight.

Cadance continued, unaware.

“Now, I’m not sure who was right,” she said. She took a sip from her glass, and crinkled her nose at the taste. “And if I don’t know, then, I don’t think I’ve been a very good Princess of Love.”

“Part of love is fighting,” said Chaser.

“Excuse me?” said Cadance.

“My Pa used to say that you need to fight to be in love.”

“That’s an… interesting expression,” said Cadance, with all the carefulness of a subject matter expert being polite.

“What he meant was…” Chaser bit her lip as she tried to put the idea into new words. “If you don’t care enough about somebody or something to fight about it, then you don’t care enough to really be in love.”

“Oh,” said Cadance. “That’s a… that’s a good way to put it.”

The compliment made Chaser suddenly self-conscious, and she waved her hoof dismissively.

“Just running my mouth a little. I really don’t know anything.”

“Well apparently,” said Cadance, resigned eyes returning to her half-empty glass, “neither do I.”

It was almost funny, the way she said it, but Chaser didn't laugh.
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#1 · 1
I imagine there are a lot of bartenders named Chaser.

Something I liked:

Not gonna lie, I have a soft spot for stories that put Cadance in a less-than-ideal position. This is no different. I feel like too often she's put in the position of the character who always knows what she's doing, and that's boring. It'd be like writing a story about Jesus and having him be Christ-like, I don't wanna hear about it. So imagine my grin as I was reading this, especially for the first half or so, when it's not entirely clear why Cadance is reaching for a drink. The dialogue between her and Chaser also feels pretty natural, although I say this as someone who has a fetish for ellipses. I just like naturalistic dialogue like that.

Something I didn't like:

I do feel, however, that the reason for Cadance being in this situation should be a little more creative. Her and Shining having their obligatory annual blowout is not something I would think of as deserving this behavior. Then again, I have to wonder what exactly caused them to have a blowout in the first place, considering Shining is a total bottom. Not to say healthy relationships can't involve fights, because obviously they do every now and again, but the way Chaser treats Cadance's plight makes it come off like she endorses fighting between partners on a regular basis. And I'm pretty sure that's not healthy.

Verdict: Some pretty strong dialogue elevates this entry into a good-but-not-great spot. I like it.
#2 · 1
This story hooked me by the end of the first paragraph and kept reeling me in the whole way through. I enjoyed the story, the message, the dialogue. There're a few things to clean up (tense shift in second sentence for example). I think you could improve the description of at least the first silences; I had to reread this part to understand it better.

It almost sounds like this is their first big fight, but that stretches belief. A brief lampshade referencing previous, lesser fights might improve the scene with better context. Might.
#3 · 1
My major difficulty here:

Is that the piece stops before it comes to any sort of an ending. To me, that makes it a scene rather than a story, something that happens a lot in minific rounds. It's a nice scene, yes, and like the Toola Roola story, I'd really like to see it expanded into an actual story.

#4 · 1
A deceptively straightforward entry, this one. I like the ideas at play here, dear Author, even if they don't exactly mesh completely with the narrative as it moves along. I can somewhat buy the absurdity of Cadance flying halfway across Equestria to a bar after an argument, mostly cause the show itself has done a lot more absurd things in the past. That aside, the exchanges between her and Chase is fantastic. Definitely a highlight of this entry.

I also think there's a charm with this story being a mere conversation between two pillars of uncertainty. I don't really mind them not coming together to find an answer that satisfies them, though I can't say the same for everyone else. The ending's something that fluctuates depending on one's mileages, I'd wager. I do believe that there can be more done to bring about Chaser's character, not through the dialogue but maybe through the environment of the bar she's tending. It'll certainly give us a better idea of who this bartender is beyond just another ear for her problems.

I do admit that were it not for the story's title, I would've missed what you were going for completely. Perhaps there's a way to better juxtapose Cadance's consumption of beer with her intake of knowledge? Perhaps Chaser could play a more active participant in the story to really get to the heart of Cadance's problem? All I can say is that the story has a lot of potential complexities that I can only speculate given how little we know of their circumstances at this point, which is something that can be solved with a nonexistent word limit. To which I say shoot for the moon.

Thanks for writing, and good luck!