See the softer side of a much-beloved bureaucrat with today’s reader-selected tale.
A Canterlot Carol
[Comedy] [Slice of Life] • 6,464 words
The business of government never stops, and paperwork never rests, even on Hearthwarming. But this particular Hearthwarming, Cabinet Secretary and tea enthusiast Dotted Line plans to do his level best to see it, at least, take a break. His ponies need to go home to their families, and he, well, he has plans this Hearthwarming.
FROM THE CURATORS: This week’s feature is a little unusual — we asked readers to choose a story from one of our already-featured authors in order to return the spotlight to their vast wells of talent. Ten nominations and hundreds of votes later, when the dust finally settled, this Hearth’s Warming Eve tale had captured the most hearts.
“Ghost of Heraclitus’ Whom the Princesses Would Destroy is in the Pony Fiction Vault. Twilight Sparkle Makes a Cup of Tea is in the RCL. But this is, I think, the crown to the scepter and robe,” Titanium Dragon said in A Canterlot Carol’s nomination. “Whether it be Dotted Line’s conflict with eldritch monstrosities inhabiting his chimney, his conversations with his staff that shows that they are true comrades, to the conversation with the Zebrican ambassador about Prince Blueblood’s non-apology, all the way through to Dotted Line’s plans, every part of this is memorable and enjoyable.” Voters agreed, and so did we: “This is equal parts amusing, thoughtful and touching, and often in surprising ways,” Present Perfect said. (Bradel, for his part, so enjoyed the story that he recorded a dramatic reading of it.)
While we found the story engaging throughout, one of the elements that we repeatedly singled out for praise was the way in which it built up themes for powerful later impacts. “It’s the ending where this story truly shines, where we see how far Dotted Line’s compassion and dedication extends,” JohnPerry said. “For a story dealing largely with bureaucratic affairs, this one is surprisingly heartwarming.” AugieDog noted that this care with continuity extended to Ghost’s later stories: “Read the sequel, too. Several things that are set up in A Canterlot Carol don’t pay off till An Afternoon for Dotted Line. I can’t imagine the one story without the other.” But that’s worth the effort, Present Perfect asserted: “Dotted Line is one of our fandom’s greatest treasures. I don’t know how Ghost is so consistently entertaining, save that he, too, is a treasure.”
Read on for a special return interview, in which GhostOfHeraclitus discusses approximate peace, legendary tea-pickers, and Ghengis Khan’s naps.