FimFiction Link - Short ID: 508279/cold-and-broken
Published: Dec '21
'Cold and Broken' is a two thousand and seven-hundred word oneshot. After the Unification of Equestria a single unicorn stays behind in the cold wastelands of her home, stubbornly refusing to leave. As she wanders the frost, she stumbles into a cave, where she faces a dormant evil that forever changes her life.
The idea that some ponies simply refused to play along with the unifying tribes and went their own way is an intriguing one. Though, I'll be honest, I'm not entirely sure how Cosmic Dust even survived until now without starving or freezing to death. As we find out from the story, she's on her last legs even before her confrontation with the entity and yet she's not suicidal, so I'm at a bit of a loss at what her plan was. Either way, she eventually wanders into a cave and her arrival disturbs an ancient gateway (apparently nicked from RuneScape,) through which a cosmic horror infiltrates Equestria.
I like the way this entity is described, it's clear enough that the reader can mostly visualize what Dust is looking at, but also incomprehensible in a way that leaves room for one's imagination to fill in the blanks. While the protagonist ultimately triumphs over the creature, the story implies that it is merely lying dormant. Dust in return pays the ultimate price: Her horn is shattered during the confrontation, leaving her weakened and incapable of using magic. Realizing the folly of her actions, she sets out home, hoping her family will be willing to take her in once more. This ending part is probably my favorite in the entire fic, the repercussions are dire, but not in a way that makes the fic feel too edgy or overly wallowing. Dust ends up as an unwitting hero, who was only able to stop the calamity due to her own stubbornness and ego.
Sadly, however, while I like the concept and the bigger strokes of the narrative, the execution is fairly amateurish. The fic suffers from word- and expression-repetition, but what really undermines its impact is its length. It's almost impossible to establish an OC and build the world up in such a short story, while also presenting a conflict, even if it is a self-contained one. The reader hardly gets to learn anything about the character of Cosmic Dust. Aside from the color of her magic, her appearance is left completely ambiguous. Similarly her past and why she's so antagonistic towards Clover (aside from being proud of her magic) is never explained. Finally, the duel with the creature and her subsequent recovery also happen extremely quickly. Not to mention, if we consider logically what happens, the being also ultimately proves to be fairly inept at killing a single malnourished and nauseous pony, which takes away quite a bit from the seriousness of the situation.
Overall: 4/10 I like the concept and I like Dust's character, but I feel like there is far too little substance in this fic to remain really memorable.