Today’s story is a hell of a tale.
Nine Days Down
[Dark] [Adventure] • 136,069 words
Sometimes it’s fun to play the damsel in distress. Princess Celestia knows this better than most. Usually it works out fine. Really, she could have escaped at any time, but Twilight and her friends have been so effective in the past that this time, Celestia may have let things get out of hoof. It was all fun and games until she got unceremoniously tossed into Tartarus. Even then, it wouldn’t have been so bad; she’s a goddess, after all. But alas, Tartarus is not Equestria, and Celestia is not all she could be when trapped there. Even worse, it appears that she didn’t get thrown into The Pit alone.
Now, a mostly-mortal Celestia and her faithful student must traverse the wilds of Tartarus, the fabled prison of all the things that were deemed too monstrous, too disturbing, too outright dangerous for world they know. Surely an exit will present itself …
FROM THE CURATORS: Stories about the underworld have a lengthy pedigree — and if this one is any indication, it’s easy to see why. “This is an emotional rollercoaster full of fascinating scenes and characters, and I’m glad Cold in Gardez put up a blogpost praising it,” Chris said in his nomination. “I made it through the first chapter almost entirely on the strength of CiG’s recommendation. But man, once we get into Twilight’s head, the story really comes into its own. The author does wonderful things with a variety of folklores, and makes Tartarus a complicated, terrifying entity in its own right.” AugieDog was equally impressed with the mythology: “Taking a bunch of the Greek and Roman ideas about Tartarus — heck, there’s even more than a little of Dante’s Inferno happening here — the author goes all out to fit the Equestria we know from the show into a larger and scarier cosmos that Celestia and Luna have done everything they can to keep at bay.”
It was more than the mythology which turned our heads, though. “All the characters shine — I’ll even go out on a limb and say that this story contains the Warrior Luna to end all Warrior Lunas,” AugieDog said. “And I’ll also make special mention of how well the author understands the essence of Twilight Sparkle. I mean, she not only has a perfect moment of epiphany at the story’s climax, but in the chapters following, because she is Twilight Sparkle, she starts rethinking and second-guessing everything about that epiphany.” Soge, for his part, appreciated the way the story truly dug into those characters: “Even the most gratuitous of the fight scenes feel full of purpose, showing Twilight what being a Princess would entail in this reality, and the ethical imperatives of the decisions that seem to be forced on her. Of course, everything culminates in her epiphany, which is portrayed amazingly well.”
Overall, there was enough here to impress us that it even overcame some of our curators’ natural dislikes. “If I’m recommending a fic with Twilestia stuff, that should tell you just how much the rest of the fic wowed me,” Chris said. Soge summed it up: “Setting the Twilestia aside, this fic is a real treat, a tour-de-force of worldbuilding and characterization with an amazing, singular focus — a picture of a legacy which Twilight, as a Goddess, would inherit, and how she managed to embrace it in her own terms.”
Read on for our author interview, in which JoeShogun discusses planetary deities, piled princesses, and an hour of doubt.