There is much Love in the craft of today’s story.
The Rise and Fall of the Dark Lord Sassaflash
[Dark] [Adventure] [Crossover] • 116,239 words
Wanted: Porter, assistant, jack-of-all-trades, minion. Applicants should be strong, loyal, pain tolerant, cold tolerant, unambitious. Must be capable of following simple instructions. Ideal applicant should be of low to average intelligence and mildly deformed, but exceptions will be made for extraordinary candidates, with extraordinariness to be determined by employer. Must be willing to begin work immediately.
Remuneration will be in the form of room, board, and insight into the true nature of the cosmos. Extremely generous bonuses up to and including subcontinents may be awarded if merited and if circumstances permit. Interviews for the position to be conducted at 108 Haybale Lane at 10:00 AM sharp on 4/7. Applicants are expected to be punctual.
—The Dark Lord Sassaflash
FROM THE CURATORS: “This story does just about everything right,” AugieDog said, “but I want to feature this just for the opportunity to write ‘Nyarlathotep is Best Pony.'” And while the Outer God was a memorable character in a work jam-packed with them, our reactions more closely mirrored Augie’s first statement. “A truly fantastic read,” FanOfMostEverything said in his nomination, and Horizon echoed that sentiment upon assigning this a top score: “Oh my yes. One of the best things I’ve read in recent memory. This is the sort of story that makes me happy I read fanfic.”
At the heart of those glowing reviews was an unusual yet sublime fusion of ideas. “What the author’s Mendacity does for fae folklore, this does for the Cthulhu Mythos, seamlessly integrating it into Equestria and making you wonder how we never noticed it until now,” FanOfMostEverything said. And it did so with a remarkable adherence to pony themes. “We’ve already featured At The Mountains of Discord, which was an excellent Lovecraft tale that happens to be about ponies, and I think this is near the other end of the spectrum: this is a fantastic pony story that happens to be about Lovecraft,” Horizon said. “It’s fundamentally hopeful and redemptive in a way that keeps MLP firmly at its core.” That caused AugieDog to note: “The story also made me realize just how Lovecraftian some of the canon bits of Equestria are: the crawling chaos of Discord; the parasprites as sort of ‘rats in the walls’; just the Everfree forest in general, really, or the way a dragon can show up to take a nap and doom the entire realm. And, well, Swamp Fever, anyone?”
Magnificent character work was one of the factors bringing those ideas to life. “Sassaflash and the Mule are perfect together, and I love how Sassaflash pretty much speaks the way Lovecraft writes,” AugieDog said. “The world-building is wonderful throughout — I was especially impressed by the way the author made the not-yet-reappeared Crystal Empire so vital to the story.” FanOfMostEverything agreed: “Sassaflash makes for a fascinating protagonist, utterly driven by her quest but not immune to the magic of friendship even at her most obsessed.” And the story around them was consistently exemplary, Horizon said: “This just kept surprising and delighting me around every corner. Even the screaming left turn of the story’s final arc, which in the hands of most authors would have faceplanted into confusion and plot holes, is seamless and brilliant.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Dromicosuchus discusses dream Jives, Marx sprays, and Skyrim inspirations.