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While a number of fanfics focus on Prince Blueblood doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, today’s story takes the unique step of following that process through a battle with depression.

gloryGlory
[Sad] • 8,782 words

No one’s important. No one’s special. Except for the princesses.

Blueblood’s always known this. He’s always accepted this. He’ll never be special. He’ll never do anything important.

But now he has to. There’s too much at stake.

He knows he’ll fail, but he has to try. Because…

FROM THE CURATORS: Blueblood as indifferent nihilist: certainly a unique take on his character, and one that won us over despite our initial doubts.  “It doesn’t quite match what’s in the show,” JohnPerry said, “but it’s intriguing enough for me to give it a pass on that angle.  The tone of this piece and the themes of depression are deeply compelling and maturely handled.”  In our discussions, Chris summed up why: “Glory offered a very interesting take on the kinds of circles depression can lead one into; the idea that ‘if I invent something, it doesn’t matter because someone else would have done it later anyway’ seems a classic example of something that might be obviously fallacious, but can sound true in your more vulnerable moments.”

The story offered rewards beyond the depth of that theme — such depths that we all found different things to appreciate.  “It’s got a really original villain, something that’s hard to come by,” PresentPerfect said.  “Add to that a light but succulent dose of worldbuilding and a strong meshing of internal drama and setting, and there’s a whole lot to like here,” Chris said.  And JohnPerry added: “I appreciate the fact that the author gives a choice between two superbly written endings.”

Read on for our author interview, in which Rune Soldier Dan discusses pragmatic ponies, robots vs. monkeys, and in vino veritas.


Give us the standard biography.

I’m a nurse on a hospital step-down floor. It’s emotionally rough, but it pays good. Some days I deal with people who ruined their own lives and don’t even care. Some days I comfort great people in their hours of illness and death. Some days I feel like part of “the problem,” some days I do amazing things for people beyond all other help. Every day, I clean poop.

Is it any wonder I turn to pastel ponies as a way of recreation?

As far as my hobbies… well, I do pretty much every nerd activity. Historical wargaming, miniatures gaming, D&D, tabletop games. MLP has gotten me into comics and CCGs, and I even ran a MLP RPG using the 1991 “Toon” system. Good times.

I did a little hobby writing before my MLP fanfiction career, though never with the passion and eye for improvement I have now.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

“Rune Soldier Louie” is one of my favorite shows of all time. It’s a Swords and Sorcery anime, but one packed with laughs, self-parody, and a lot of heart. A well-done english dub, too.

My first name is Dan, so thus: Rune Soldier Dan.

Who’s your favorite pony?

Tough call. I think Rarity wins the ‘best character’ award, thanks to the many different facets of her personality. She has quirks, but — unlike many of the others — isn’t defined by them.

My favorite, though, is Applejack. She works hard, frets about money, and looks out for her family. As a f***ing adult, I can empathize. She’s often the voice of common sense, even when common sense is “wrong” because it’s a kid’s show. When Rainbow waits until the last minute to study for her test, Applejack is pretty realistic in saying she’s up a creek without a paddle. There was a magic solution and everything worked out, but in the real world? Pro tip: Yes, you do need to study.

“Bats!” is another example. We’re meant to sympathize with Fluttershy, but Applejack is the adult in the room. She’s a farmer, protecting her livelihood against an invasive pest. So that’s… wrong? Meanwhile, Fluttershy’s telling her to let the bats squat on her property and eat her income. And that’s… right?

I’m not complaining. On the contrary, I sort of like the idea that Applejack has just a bit too much common sense for the wacky world around her.

What’s your favorite episode?

“Simple Ways,” followed closely by “Look Before you Sleep.”

Both Applejack and Rarity are confident types, who know what’s right and aren’t afraid to argue it. And they’re so different that their definition of “right” varies wildly, so when they go hoof-to-hoof…

Well, those are really my favorite moments of the show. Pragmatic vs. Creative. Stoic vs. Dramatic. Monkey vs. Robot. They’re so unlike each other, yet so forcefully unlike each other that they can’t help but clash. And it’s made all the sweeter because (to me) they seem personally closer than any of the other Mane 6.

And “AH LOVE BEING COVERED IN MUUUUUD!!!”

What do you get from the show?

Ah, balls. I don’t know.

What do you want from life?

To make people smile, to make people think, and to help people appreciate life. I want the world to be no worse by my passing. And I want to always earn what I have, and not long for things I cannot have.

Why do you write?

I got the pony bug, and I got it hard. It’s making me do pony things. You know how it is.

Ambitiously, though? I want to make people think, even if it’s a topic they don’t want to think about. Blueblood’s become a favorite of mine for this: There’s no reason a “mean” guy can’t have “nice” qualities (Blueblood Chronicles), or can’t be brave when the situation demands (Glory). Because that’s the way people are. We all have flaws and bigotries, and different masks we wear for different crowds.

My philosophy is one of tolerance, even to those groups and people you might not happen to like. And I hope to convey that in my works. In the end, we’re all human (pony, whatever).

(And sometimes I write for fun, but the above sounded better.)

What advice do you have for the authors out there?

Robert Frost once said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” If the heartrending scene you’re writing doesn’t make your eyes water, don’t expect others to be moved by your words. Similarly, what humor will others find in your joke if it doesn’t make you yourself smile?

What inspired the self-fulfilling prophecies comprising Blueblood’s thoughts?

Cabernet Sauvignon. *laughs*

But seriously, I could hardly even tell you. “Glory” was written in a night of frenzied creativity with little prior thought. Some people thought I was trying to make a religious point, or an atheist point, and I guarantee there’s no truth in either.

If anything… well, I can’t be the only one who has sometimes felt that nothing I do will ever matter. I guess I was inspired by my own bouts with depression, and the liberating, terrifying knowledge that such thoughts are utterly wrong.

Tell us a little about having a character save the day without being a badass hero.

“Badass” had no place in Glory. If Blueblood had found THE MAGICAL STRENGTH WITHIN ALL OF US and beat his foe in some badass sword duel, it would have been stupid after all that bleak anticipation. It would have crassly gone against the mood that had been building from the first lines.

By avoiding using the “badass saves the day” trope, an author forces himself to make the fight more personal. He can’t rely on fancy swordsmanship to fill up space, nor does he get to phone-in the dialogue with smarmy quips and manly shouts of defiance. The author must save the day using a human, rather than a Bad Dude. A human with human emotions: He’s scared. He’s out of his league. He’s doing a job that a badass should do, but there are no badasses to be found.

It puts the focus on the emotions behind the fight, rather than the fight itself. And it makes it all the sweeter when the flawed, unready human finds a way to beat the odds.

Which is the “real” ending?

The end of the first chapter.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

“Glory” brings out a lot of mixed feelings from me. Some people liked the story, some people REALLY hated it. Some people liked the epilogues, some people REALLY hated them. All the back-and-forth shook me up bad at the time.

*Shrug* What can I say? Authors get emotionally married to their work. In hindsight, it was all just internet drama. A bigger part of my ambivalence stems from working to stop a suicide around the time “Glory” was finished, so the story will always — weirdly and unpleasantly — remind me of that.

Still, I suppose the adage “art through adversity” applies. “Glory” was definitely my most successful effort at gut-punching emotion, and I’ve been able to take that experience and build on it. My current fic-in-progress is much bigger, and takes a lot of cues and lessons from “Glory.”

Just as importantly, I still like to read it. It’s a damn good feeling, to have written something that can give you chills even so many months later.

(If this is your kind of thing, Goomba Brony did a dramatic reading. it’s quite good: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovb5iExVXZw)

You can read Glory at FIMFiction.net.

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