FimFiction Link - Short ID: 504836/lead-us-not
Published: Oct '21
'Lead Us Not' is a seventeen thousand and one hundred-word horror shortfic. Not too long after the tribes have been reunited Sunny discovers the Summer Sun Celebration and intends to revive it. However, not all is well, as during her sleep she finds herself in a void, where she meets a ghastly alicorn who torments her with horrible visions, causing her to remain just as tired as she was before. Every time she wakes up she forgets the events as she tries her best to invite the other tribes to the celebration. Through her journey, her health continues to deteriorate and the nightmares intensify as we learn more about the ghost's - who's Twilight turned mad from grief - past. The crystals contain her essence, captured by three unnamed ponies of past, and now she intends to use Sunny to free herself. Eventually Sunny succumbs to the influence and lures the rest of the M5 to the lighthouse (except Pipp who's absent from the story) and demands the crystals from them. Upon being denied, she singlehandedly murders the others and slots the crystals into the altar. She's suddenly yanked back to the void, where Twilight goads about what an awful friend Sunny was, before thanking her for freeing her. Then she leaves her behind. The story ends with Sunny in the void, without hope and with the knowledge that she murdered her friends.
Let's start with the good: Twilight in this story is intimidating. She mercilessly torments Sunny and from the beginning it's clear that she outmatches her in every way. The flashbacks are fairly gruesome too and provide just enough of a glimpse into the past for us to understand what's going on and why the tribes separated from each other.
As for the bad: All of the characters act super nonchalantly about Sunny's state until the very end. Everyone is far too willing to let her do her stuff instead of insisting that she should really just stay in one place and rest. Even when Izzy realizes that Sunny's "sparkle" is dark, which is very unusual, she does nothing to investigate further. It's hard to root for the M5 when they're so oblivious that Twilight hardly has to do any manipulation. My biggest problem with the fic, however, is the pacing: The story meanders far too long on the tribes planning the celebration, which ultimately turns out to be a disappointing red herring anyways. If the plan was to bring the crystals together anyways, wouldn't it have made for a more climactic ending and a great allusion to S1E1-2 that just like NMM all those years ago, Twilight too escapes during the festival? Except in this case the friendship shtick doesn't work and it ends in a tragedy.
Also this is a minor thing but where is Pipp? The story only mentions her once and even then she's not actually present.
Overall: 6/10 The horror parts are pretty good, but the rest of the story is very awkward. I can only somewhat recommend it.