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Note: Expanded my thoughts from here and here. Being Starlight's first episode of Season 9 and from a prior synopsis, one could guess a low-stakes episode, magic-oriented, or possible repeat of a Every Little Thing She Does. That couldn’t be any further from the truth. Magic's involved, but it wasn't central to the story. With her friends off for Spring Break, she's running the school now until they return, and she needs something to organize her time in school while also not being in office. Casting an alert curse on a bracelet was convenient and made sense: Once they need her help, she'll be right there. Unfortunately, she didn't foresee what was to come. Her schedule just before Spring Break became so hectic that she not only got many ponies lined up, but Silverstream came over several times for very small problems related to an unnamed project. And to make matters worse, Starlight was unable to help Trixie gather the right objects for Maud and Mud’s spring solstice party the next morning (with Sunburst invited, too) and Trixie had to prepare it all by herself. The episode spends a good amount of time gradually building tension, starting with the innocent(ly funny expressions by Trixie) and ending with the stressful. Some examples include: Trixie casually drinking tea and eating sandwiches as Starlight juggles between her office and the picnic. Starlight helping her students while trying (and failing ) to hide her nerves. As Trixie reminds her of the errands, Starlight stays conspicuously silent as she looks around and taps her hooves. As Ocellus deals with her identity crisis, Starlight tries to solve it while rushing through. Starlight leaving the store once her bracelet buzzes, accidentally dropping the streamers she plans to buy. After Starlight realizes she missed out on everything and failed to keep her promises, she crouched and smacked her muzzle on the ground. Suddenly, her bracelet rang again. During this first third of the story, a lot of great faces were animated to accentuate the stress building up amongst themselves and each other, like their eyes increasing size, Trixie's sneers, Smolder's smirk, and Starlight's anguish. The dialogue was also top-notch, adding to both the humor and drama. Additionally, despite being Starlight-centric, Haber doesn't write Trixie in the wrong for expecting her to keep her promise, too. Yes, Starlight was justified to not keep 'em, even though she tried her hardest to keep up. Being in charge of the school for now, she's responsible for their safety and guidance if need be. To her, rejecting any help could mean missing out on something truly important to solve and letting Twilight et al down. Nevertheless, Haber doesn't let Trxie's feelings go or feel marginalized, spending good time airing her frustrations and then confronting her after taking care of the party arrangements. So when Silverstream asked for help one more time, the moment when Starlight turned her away and took off her bracelet until the Break ends made sense and didn't feel rushed through. So when Terramar alerted her that Silverstream vanished and then called her out for turning her away (Thanks, Trixie ), could you blame her feeling terrible for the whole thing? By closing the school early, she believed she could've solved an actual problem rather than any nerve-wracking nitpick from earlier. After realizing that she was in the Everfree Forest to likely research cockatrices, the tension climbed hundredfold and added further uncertainty for Starlight. Early in the open, Starlight explained how becoming a counselor allowed her to use her "checkered past" to get to others' shoes and aid them below the surface. The guilt she felt from seasons ago disappeared. But that guilt returned and only increased as the episode and danger progressed. Even after they all realized SS was safe and sound, that guilt never went away. The communication between the rest of her friends also felt very complete with plenty of humor. Some of the best moments were as follows: The anime-like blood vessels ready to burst and SG's shock really sell the joke and immediately show how even he gets on her nerves. Trixie standing up for Starlight to Terramar and eventually accepting partial blame for her disappearance. After Terramar criticized Starlight's party for not being "perfect," everyone, including Maud, glared crossly at him, shutting him up. In acts of desperation, Starlight looked in even the most unconventional places, such as inside Pinkie's party cannon and on a crowded bookshelf. Moments like these show both the panic creeping from within and the guilt that she already possesses. This little exchange: In the final two acts alone, there was plenty of flirting between them in comparison to Maud Couple from last year. Mud's little smile after Maud's reply feels genuine and shows appreciation for each other. The lesson has some similarities with Zeppelin, but they’re not the same. In Zeppelin, it’s about how it’s not selfish to have time with yourself. Here, it’s about not getting bogged down with a very stressful job to spend quality time with others. It’s a really good lesson. There are two problems. When Starlight and the others made it inside the open ruins of the sisters’ castle, they assumed the cockatrices won’t fly in and only surround. One big problem. Cockatrices can fly high, and they got too close to a flock of migrating ones by watching them from a cliff above. What if the provoked cockatrices decide to fly over the walls or through the old windows? They were just as vulnerable inside the ruins as out, yet the episode lowers the stakes a bit here and assumes they’re safe until they walk out. It was really dumb of everyone to gather and breathe there. At the very end, Silverstream admits to Starlight that her advice didn't amount to anything in the long run. First off, the joke wasn't funny. Secondly, it all but made Starlight's stress over "not doing her job" pointless and marginalizes the moral, as SS's visits didn't factor at all into the conclusion of her Spring Break project. Had Trixie not interrupt, Starlight would've completely lost her temper and given her the riot act. That said, it’s really good, and given the fact that Starlight’s takeover of the school may be inevitable, she really needed this episode. Good work, Haber!
This is a story (or at least the introductory chapter of a story) starring my intentionally ridiculous OC Corncob: A cockatrice-turned-alicorn who was inexplicably transformed during a particularly rousing game of Checkers. I talk about him here from time to time, and I've finally written something longer than a forums post. The Ongoing Epic of [the Alicornatrice Known Simply as] Corncob by Siegfried Danzinger Chapter One - The Fateful Checkers Game Between a Squirrel and a Not-Chicken Tony the Squirrel lowered his mechanical paw towards the board with utmost care and unerring precision. His metallic fingers (more clamps, really) slowly squeezed together with a sound like a toaster doing something inappropriate to another toaster, and the selected Checkers piece was caught in a nigh inescapable grip. You could see it in his beady little squirrel-eyes: Victory was surely his. He made his move; hopping one of his opponent's pieces with an unintelligible - but nonetheless arrogant-seeming - little chitter in, no doubt, squirrel-language. Corncob was sweating under his feathers. He had to hand it to the guy: Tony had never played so well. While Checkers and board games in general were considered a waste of time by most cockatrices, Corncob had developed a vast love and deep appreciation for the mechanics of the game. And by this I mean that he realized he could move the pieces with his beak without them falling over or spilling off the board. (Chess had been a disaster; he'd managed to swallow a rook.) If he failed to stop his opponent's aggressive, very nearly competent (I mean c'mon, he's a squirrel) onslaught, Corncob's defeat would be so total and so shameful that he may never have courage enough to play again. And that was when it happened. Were you sitting in Tony's position, you'd have seen the following: A heretofore quivering chicken-and-lizard-like creature suddenly went quite still. The once apparent fear in his eyes gave way to a seeming emptiness. Which gave way to an appearance of being half-full. Which ultimately gave way to a look of steely purpose. Which momentarily faltered and resembled an unexpected release of gas, which quickly returned to the steely purpose thing. The cockatrice had never before experienced anything remotely like this. He'd played dozens of Checkers games. Well, maybe not dozens. At least four. Three, and no fewer. His short term memory was very - fittingly if not fortunately - short. He'd played at least one game; that much he knew. But that at-least-one-game had not so much as come close to pushing him towards the far boundaries of his burgeoning Checkers-related skills. This game did push. It pushed very hard - a shove, really - and promised to deliver the cockatrice to a place well beyond his limits. "Limits? What are those?" said some new voice in his head. Formerly, that voice would have been a cluck; this one was decidedly in pony-language. (Note: Pony-language is the language most commonly spoken by ponies. This is, of course, assuming you are a chicken-like creature that doesn't particularly follow linguistics.) There were several explosive bursts of alternately orange and purple lights; Corncob's side of the table was all but engulfed by them. Tony, now contemplating wetting himself, shook violently and clung hard to the table with his metallic appendage. Something like smoke flowed over him, and the suggestion of a shivering silhouette began to form behind a billowy wall. Alicorns are a thing in Equestria. Ponies with both horns and wings that typically end up in ruling positions because they just do. The way a pony becomes (or "ascends to," if you prefer) an alicorn isn't entirely consistent, but there's one point on which you can usually rely... ...Chicken-lizard things don't go alicorn. Never have. Not once. There was this one dream I had where... But NO. Just doesn't actually happen. This time: It happened. The smoke slowly cleared. Tony was still holding fast to the edge of the table; he'd even less cause now to let go. Towering over the terrified squirrel (when you're a squirrel, it's not especially hard to be towered over), noteworthily positioned exactly where that bizarre example of indigenous poultry had once sat, was an orange-and-purple creature several times its original height and bulk. It still roughly resembled the cockatrice known as Corncob, but it was essentially a Corncob that would be regularly suspected of steroid abuse. The fact that he had spontaneously sprouted a spiral horn several feet in length was rather secondary at the time. But, to the curiously damp squirrel, the real horror lie on the board: Deep, chasm-like scratches clearly marked the path that Corncob's piece had traveled. The cockacor- alicocka- alicornatrice (it'll do) had taken every one of Tony's remaining pieces in but a single move. Defeated and thoroughly disturbed, the squirrel stiffened, fell out of his seat like a tumbling statue, and drifted into a lovely state of unconsciousness on the ground. Corncob, the cockatrice-turned-alicorn, stood up from the table; ideally, as ominous and overly dramatic music played in the background. He turned his batlike wings over in front of his eyes. Scanned, intrigued rather than surprised, over his new bulk. A sudden instinct (sounds better than throbbing headache) told him that his forehead had done something new with itself lately. "A horn," rumbled the internal voice from earlier. "And with it, the world." But then Corncob realized that he wasn't especially evil. "A horn," rumbled the internal voice from just a moment ago. "And with it... Horn... Related things. Not necessarily evil things. But definitely things." The newly-minted alicornatrice (it will grow on you) tilted his head to the sky, squinted with a secret purpose (or else the sun was in his eyes), and rocketed into the air. An unconscious squirrel was later discovered, given inexpert and rather half-hearted CPR, and then tossed into a trash can - more out of tidiness than anything else.
The Everfree Forest is one of the more interesting locations in the world of MLP: FiM. For all intents and purposes, it is the only known place in Equestria that is 'outside' Celestia's rule, in the sense that ponies do not regularly make a habit of going in there at all, and have little influence on it's inhabitance. I decided today, while walking around at the park and waiting for my sister to be done what she was doing, to make a serious analysis of the forest's inhabitant creatures. This will easily be one of my longest posts to date <3 Please Note: You will find that some of these creature's explanations do contain some of my own personal head canon, since the show explains very, very little about them. However, my head canon is logically formed based on hints from the show, so it shouldn't be too far-fetched to believe. You know, hopefully -- Parasprites 'Oh monster of so little size, is that a Parasprite before my eyes? Tales of crops and harvests consumed. If these creatures are in Ponyville... you're doomed.' Deceitful by their charming and irresistible appearance, Parasprites are best explained as self-replicating locusts. Always ravenous, yet one of the smallest creatures of Everfree, the Parasprites' self-replicating abilities are tied with it's hunger. The more an individual Parasprite eats, the more it can replicate. This follows suit with each replicated Parasprite, as well. Being able to replicate asexually and rapidly in this manner can result in a swarm of Parasprites, all coming from a single parent Parasprite to begin with, within a few hours or less. Despite being an A level pest that can eat an entire town's supply of food within no time at all, Parasprites are not harmful to ponies in the least. In fact, when they're individually content, they love nothing more than to sleep with, on or next to ponies. All in all, Parasprites and their individual appetites are harmless. They are a pest and a nuisance solely due to their insatiable self-replicating ability, that can run a town dry of food exceedingly fast. Worthwhile note: Parapsrites are not unlike 'Tribbles' from the Star Trek series. Both are bizarre little creatures that are adorable in appearance, and even act affectionate, but take over and replicate dangerously quickly. Extra: by TheUlasht -- Manticore 'A Manticore! We've gotta get past him!' Half-lion, quarter-scorpion, quarter-dragon, the Manticore is the brute of the Everfree Forest. It's massive fangs and claws, backed with powerful limbs, can rip through almost any enemy that dare get in its way. Despite it's intimidating appearance however, a Manticore is only truly deadly when it is angered. Unfortunately, Manticores have a habit of being easily angered, and when it becomes such, it is libel to rampage and attack anything in it's path. Alternatively, a calm Manticore usually poses little threat to ponies, unless it is provoked. Whether being a large cat that prefers to mind it's own business, or a horrific beast bent on destruction, the Manticore is one of the larger and more battle-equipped creatures of the forest, and sits near atop the food chain. Worthwhile note: The Manticore is fully capable of showing gratitude to those who aid it, and is even willing to allow them to do so. The creature's apparent intelligence is something that is still being studied. Extra: by TheUlasht -- Cockatrice 'A cockatrice! It's a frightening creature with the head of a chicken and the body of a snake. Now, come on!' The Cockatrice deserves the title of 'Scourge of the Everfree Forest' for more than one reason. Not only is this small but incredibly dangerous creature feared by every other living thing in the forest, but it is not even it's own sustainable species. A Cockatrice is only born when the egg of a chicken is accidentally incubated and hatched by a snake or toad, rendering the creature a freak of a nature that is rare in of itself. At birth, the Cockatrice is given the permanent ability to turn creatures to stone by making solid eye contact with them; it is for this reason that the Cockatrice is avoided like the plague by all creatures big and small. Unlike the Manticore, which boasts tremendous power but only uses it when provoked, the Cockatrice is a small creature that bullies around other creatures, turning them to stone simply because it can. The creature is so dangerous that it has no natural predators, something that votes in it's favor, as it is a rare occurrence in nature. A typical Cockatrice's life-span is unknown. Worthwhile note: The Cockatrice's petrifying gaze is not permanent. The creature has the ability to reverse the effect at will if it so desires, and the process can be negated and cancelled mid-way if the creature looses it's concentration. Extra: by TheUlasht -- Timberwolves 'I turned, and there before me stood the Timberwolves! I've never run so fast in my life.' The only existing predator in the Everfree to hunt in large packs, the Timberwolves are a danger to ponies, and like the Manticore, are near the top of the food chain. Made entirely out of enchanted wood, leaves and twigs, the Timberwolves are aggressive and incredibly territorial. Few other creatures outside dangerous loners like the Cockatrice would dare to tread into known Timberwolf territory. Whereas most other predators of the Everfree Forest are solitary hunters that do not pick out a precise section of the forest to regularly hunt, the Timberwolves, being pack animals, do. Their existence in the forests surrounding the mountains of Canterlot and the Everfree Forest was first noticed before the founding of Ponyville, in which a mare picking Zap Apples was attacked by the beasts. Since that point, Princess Celestia deemed them a serious threat to pony-kind, and made it a priority to alter the territorial reach of the Timberwolves, to push them deeper into the Everfree Forest and away from the forest's edge, where they may have continued to attack ponies. Worthwhile note: Though their hunting territory has been pushed back into the Everfree, the Timberwolves have been allowed to exit the forest seasonally, for when their howling is used as a sign for the coming of the Zap Apples. -- Bog Hydra 'Is...that a...HYDRA!?' Most of the Everfree Forest is just what the name implies; a forest. However, Froggy Bottom Bog is a less dense, and -usually- less dangerous place than the rest of the Everfree. But the bog is connected to the forest, and can thusly house danger as the forest itself. The Hydra exemplifies this fact better than any other creature, as it prefers the marshy bog, where it can hide underwater and stalk it's prey before attacking. Having an average of four heads, the creature has been known to have up to seven, and in rare cases, even nine. Each head possess it's own functional personality, and antics like laughing at another head's misfortune is commonly noted. The Hydra is quite possibly the most dangerous solitary hunter in the Everfree, alongside the Cockatrice. It's completely massive and has multiple heads, all of which have razor-sharp teeth. The creature has the ability to strike with lightning speed just like a cobra, and will gleefully pursue it's prey for the sport of it, for quite some time, before it may lose interest. Worthwhile note: The Hydra is known to possess a powerful odor that accumulates on it's body from living in the swamp's mucky water. This smell is the one and only tell-tale sign that a Hydra is stalking up from behind you. Extra: by TheUlasht -- Ursa 'Wait, you brought this here? Are you out of your little pony minds!?' The Ursa are a group of gigantic celestial bears, whose' fur resembles the night sky. Like cave dragons, which dwell all over Equestria, these bears usually haunt massive caverns located on the ground. Some Ursa will even use abandoned dragon caves as their own, and vice-versa. Ursa are split into two specific categories: Minor and Major. Ursa Minor Also known as Juvenile Ursa, these bears are usually shades of blue. They are very young, and are comparable to children and teenagers. Not dissimilar from Manticores, Ursa Minor's are easily angered, especially if they are awoken from sleep. They too will go on a rampage and attack anything in their way, regardless what it is or if it can fight back or defend itself. Ursa Juvenile's usually live with their parents: Ursa Majors. Ursa Major The largest beasts in all of Equestria, Ursa Majors can be the size of a small to moderately sized mountain. These creatures have absolutely no natural predators. Not even the largest of dragons will dare pick a fight with an Ursa Major, even if it was backed by several other adult dragons. Fortunately, these behemoths prefer the underground, and the insides of hollowed out mountains. While Ursa Minors may occasionally rampage outside in the open, Ursa Majors are usually not seen, for they rarely leave their caves. Worthwhile note: Not much is known about Ursa's specifically, but it is believed they have a great deal of magical influence, something that their night-sky appearance hints towards. -- Unoted Creatures: Dragons: These creatures have been shown to live everywhere, and more specifically, the volcano region shown in the show. Call me lazy, but this is my excuse for not making them an entry. Sea Serpents: Though listed as living in the Everfree, the only one we saw was sentient, could talk, and was sophisticated like ponies. Aka, not a wild animal per say. So again, my excuse for not listing them. Phoenix, Windigoes, etc: Not listed as living in the Everfree Forest. Hope everyone enjoyed <3 You may now commence with thoughts and feelings and whatnot.