In today’s story, dive into the depths of history to find a familiar legend distorted by time.
The Tale of the Three Alicorn Sisters
[Slice of Life] • 1,064 words
A classical Equestrian fable, passed from mouth to mouth; from quill to page. The children of yore are the parents of today, and as they grow and change, so does the classic tale. Let us explore this tale as it may one day be known.
In the magical land of Equestria, three regal alicorn sisters rule for the good of their subjects, all the types of ponies, until one day, the shadow of jealousy comes upon one of them. How will the three sisters deal with this? Will harmony be lost forever?
Open the storybook, reader, and let us find out.
FROM THE CURATORS: “So, the premise of this story is basically ‘now that Twilight’s a princess, how will the legend of the two sisters change and mutate over the next few centuries?'” Chris said as he nominated this story. “Right off the bat, I love the premise.” He wasn’t alone. “Not only do I like the premise, I like how the views of the princesses seemed to have changed over time,” JohnPerry said, and Horizon added: “The big thing right here is the recontextualization of the legend, in a way that feels authentic to both the show’s events and the show’s internal framing of its core myth.”
While a good idea is enough to draw eyeballs into the story, it was the solid execution of that idea which won us over. “Celestia seems less divine and just as petty and flawed as Luna, and even Twilight has an arc,” JohnPerry said. “Reworking the classic legend into a completely different moral is a stroke of genius.” Horizon felt it was stronger for taking a broad view: “It would have been easy to write a ‘Twilight saved Luna’ surface retelling, but this captures all of the trio’s failings and lessons.” And Chris was impressed with the way the story reflected on the world which told it: “Fairy tales are inevitably products of their times and need to be understood as such,” he said. “The way this story shows us how Twilight and the girls have changed (and will change) Equestria for the better is empowering, deliciously subtle, and open to interpretation.”
Ultimately, the tale was quite moving despite its minimal size. “I love that, despite essentially compressing the first two episodes of the show and glossing over all the details, the tale of redemption still drew a sincere emotional reaction from me,” Present Perfect said, while Horizon noted: “It packs some big ideas into its thousand words.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Autumn Wind discusses orphaned plotlines, rainbow factories, and humble goddesses.
Give us the standard biography.
What’s there to say? I’m a software developer from way out in Quebec, working my first job after recently graduating university. I’m an average guy living an average life, and that’s just fine with me.
FIM’s been a source of entertainment ever since I joined the fandom, early during the hiatus between seasons 1 and 2.
Until this fandom, I’d never had more than a very very passing interest in fanfiction, and Pony remains the sole fandom I’m active in.
Here’s a quirky fandom fact about me: I was the one who introduced Aurora Dawn (the author of the infamous Rainbow Factory) to the show and the fandom. I never could have predicted what I was about to unleash.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
When I ended up writing my first fic (it came out of left field to me), I figured I’d need a pen name to publish it, and none of the pseudonyms and handles I use elsewhere truly fit the pony world. I figured I’d puzzle out some kind of pony identity. My main hobbies were either too technological or too disconnected to name a pony after, so that was out. The idea finally came: “If I were a pony, what would I really, really like?”
My birthday’s in October, and I’ve always been fond of fall colors and weather, so I figured I’d go for something related to that, and boom, the character and name of Autumn Wind came to mind.
Incidentally, when I first hashed out his appearance, I used autumnal colors, and failed to realise the palette I picked … already exists in the show. That’s the story of why I ended up with an OC who looks like a scrawny Big Macintosh with a long mane. Oops!
Who’s your favorite pony?
That’s a tough call. I love a lot of the characters.
I’ve got to say, though, as much as it’s a bit cliché to have the forefront main character as one’s favorite, it has to be Twilight Sparkle. I find her pretty easy to identify with, and very entertaining. Having a lonely childhood due to various factors and struggling to grow socially late in life, when everyone is way ahead of you, is a struggle I’ve known.
What’s your favorite episode?
It’s a really, really tough call, but I’m going to have to go with “The Best Night Ever.” Season one was generally quite solid, but “The Best Night Ever” was the first time the show really, really wowed me, particularly with “At The Gala.” Seeing our favorite ponies get their dreams crushed is just heartbreaking, which makes it all the more endearing when we see they still get some manner of a happy ending at the end.
I also have a soft spot for it because it introduced Prince Blueblood, to whom I owe the fic that really brought me into fic writing: To Be a Better Stallion. (I suggest checking it out. It’s a bit rough around the edges, as I was a neophyte writer back then, but I’m pretty proud of some of it.)
A few other episodes that really impressed me would be “Pinkie Pride” (and not specifically for the Weird Al factor, though that was a plus) and the recent “Amending Fences.”
I couldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t take a moment to highlight a few unfavorites: “Daring Don’t,” “Power Ponies,” and my personal nemesis, “Secret of my Excess.”
What do you get from the show?
Endearing entertainment and attaching characters. I’m not here for some deep experience, and I think expecting a family show to always hold up to advanced scrutiny is foolish. However, entertainment is something this show delivers well on.
My favorite episodes are the one that play off the characters’ personalities well and introduce interesting situations without needing to bring in massive gimmicks that change the setting entirely.
I like for the show to keep continuity, and detest the introduction of elements that just don’t make sense in-universe.
What do you want from life?
I want an enjoyable routine. I’m not an adventurous person. I thrive on simple pleasures and not needing to put in too much work to get them. A quiet house, some friends and a lover, and no big worries looming over my head. That’s all I ask for.
Why do you write?
I write because entertaining ideas come to me. I’m a very spontaneous writer, as a matter of fact. The fics I’ve written have all practically written themselves out in my head. I write to entertain myself, and even more so, I write to entertain people who have similar tastes to mine.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
Writing a good story requires some amount of subtlety.
Too often, I see fics that are more or less nothing but the pure distilled essence of what they aim to be. Shipfics that start with the characters suddenly having huge crushes and not knowing how to deal with them. Comedy that shove ridiculous premises in the face of the reader, rather than take some time to establish some clever quirk of story and play off of it.
Too often I see villains who are one-note monsters rather than people with harmful priorities, love interests who are nothing but empty vessels meant to receive fluffy platitudes, and protagonists with no defining trait beyond having a narrator following them around.
A reader with a modicum of experience has seen the purest form of the genre to the point where they are bored sick of it. A reader with the least amount of maturity and life experience cannot relate to a cardboard cutout.
Give your fic space. Take the time to explore what it could grow into, and pace your plot out to give your reader time to breathe.
Reflect on your characters. Do they make sense as a person outside of the scope of the fic? Do they have realistic motivations, or are they merely automatons following your plot?
This is probably the hardest part of writing, but it’s what distinguishes the great authors from everyone else.
I’d also like to take a moment to warn people of a thing I’ve seen done in a few fics that leaves me heartbroken every time: A fic’s synopsis pitches a particularly interesting premise. Salivating, I start reading, only to find that the fic ends as soon as it has established said premise. Writers, please don’t do this to your readers. For example: A fic has for premise “Scootaloo leaves Ponyville to attend a special flight school in Cloudsdale that might be able to allow her to fly.” You start reading, looking forward to seeing how this plays out. The fic opens up with Scootaloo being hesitant to go or not, having a heart to heart with Rainbow Dash about it, then saying goodbye to her friends, and leaving for Cloudsdale. You reach for the “next chapter” button, looking forward to seeing her arrive. As it turns out, the fic is complete there. The fic was actually about Scootaloo deciding to go, not about her actually attending.
I’ve had this happen to me twice, and it’s absolutely crushing. Writers, please think of your orphaned plotlines!
What was the inspiration for The Tale of the Three Alicorn Sisters?
I’d recently rewatched the first episode of the show, and a simple curiosity came to mind:
“Now that we know what really happened then, it’s pretty clear that a lot of detail was lost through the past. I wonder how Twilight’s own story would be seen when it goes down in history.”
Armed with that curiosity and the idea to try and pastiche the writing style used in the opening tale, The Tale of the Three Alicorn Sisters practically wrote itself.
The first pitch was a whole lot shorter, and that was a bit of a concern to me, until a friend objected to the fact that Twilight’s friends weren’t mentioned at all. That was the catalyst to the “Honest pony, kind pony, loyal pony, etc” element, which, I feel, really brings the story together.
How far into the future do you see this tale being told in Equestria?
The first draft the story actually ended on Twilight closing the book her own student had fallen asleep on. This bit was cut because it wasn’t adding much, more than anything, but seeing Twilight as a tall, Celestia-like figure did point to a general time period.
In the final version, I’ve chosen to leave the exact time period a mystery to the reader and myself both. As a matter of fact: I don’t have a clue.
A rough guess would put it a thousand years after the show, to make a nice number and be symmetrical with the original telling.
Instead of a simple retelling of how Nightmare Moon was defeated, you incorporated a strong moral into your tale in which each princess has flaws and learns a lesson. What do you see as the conditions of that future Equestria, where a tale like this would be told?
I picture an Equestria where Twilight’s friendship studies have become some sort of popular philosophy. Concerned with being perceived as perfect goddesses, the princesses would likely push for a more humble portrayal, one which shows them as capable of learning from the ‘common people’, portrayed by the virtuous ponies mentioned.
Why isn’t Cadence present in this tale?
Before anything, I want to say that I like Cadance as a character. She’s endearing and likeable, and does a good job of filling in the roles the show needs her to fill in.
That being said, I feel like she just doesn’t fit in the show’s alicorn cosmology, which was a pretty big component of this fic. Celestia and Luna have been established as borderline goddesses from the start of the show, which places them as a sort of pantheon.
Twilight’s ascension, later in the show, is clearly a Huge Deal™, which implies some sort of entrance in this same pantheon, placing her at a roughly equivalent level to the sisters. I can easily see her, with time, becoming seen — even by herself, Celestia, and Luna — as the youngest of the three alicorn sisters.
I should mention here that it’s a personal headcanon of mine that Celestia and Luna are sisters not by blood, but by having shared multiple centuries of close companionship.
Meanwhile, as far as the show is concerned, Cadance seems to be a pony who … just happens to be the alicorn of love. It’s an odd fit with the rest of the cosmology, given the way she more or less came out of nowhere. Admittedly, I haven’t read the supplemental material involving her own ascension, but I feel this is something the show truly failed to address.
I didn’t feel I could truly include Cadance in the fic without some major detours, and without making the fic a whole lot worse and badly paced. In the end, the readers are free to draw their own conclusions about what her absence entails.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Remember what I said about being a spontaneous writer? As of late, I’ve been on a pretty big down period. Writing motivation is at an all time low, especially after a work I felt I’d put a lot of heart in, The Garden Beyond, sort of flopped on me.
If there’s anyone out there who’d like to read more from me, please let me know. You guys are the reason I write, so if I have fans out there, make some noise and I might just make a comeback.
In the meantime, thanks for the feature and the interview!