FimFiction Link - Short ID: 413755/life-is-magic
Published: Jul '18 — Oct '19
Life is Magic is a 94k word story about the meeting of two realms. Suddenly, light appears, and a being becomes conscious of its own existence. With no memory of the time before, this being can only go off the memories of it the body it took over: Twilight Sparkle.
I'm not sure what I expected going in, but I was optimistic. Red tags aside, a horror story about Twilight being replaced by an creature from beyond reality with untold power sounded interesting, and the story starts with this Skal-Gazaath gaining consciousness back in Canterlot, just as Twilight was reading the book telling the coming of Nightmare Moon.
What follows is this elder god in twiggle clothes going to Ponyville to oversee the preparations for the Summer Sun Celebration. Not all is fun SoL shenanigans, though. When your gal Skal first arrived to Equestria, not only did she lose all her memories of being the Dead Goddess, but she also lost control of her unimaginable power, so she's accidentally been making thralls here and there. It's actually quite interesting to see how the story balances the down to earth aspect of this being trying to be a pony and doing pony things, with the otherwordly horror of how other ponies react to this creature.
And horror it is. From mind bending to murder and ressurrection, Skal-Gazaath leaves a mark that doesn't go unnoticed. Overall, I think the story has a very solid first third. And then it goes to hell.
The first problem arises when a servant of Skal-Gazaath follows her into Equestria and it all goes teats up as the regular eldritch bingo starts playing out. Mind controlled ponies. Sky turns dark. Portals. Tentacles coming out and killing everything. It is quite the departure from what came before both in tone and in pacing. Now I wouldn't be bothered if this was just a huge tonal shift and we kick into gear for the next stage of the story. The problem is that just as things hit their peak, Skal's second in command possesses Spike and hits a reset button on everything.
It just feels so pointless. It's not like we gained some insight on the Dark Dimension that we didn't have, or got some more characterization on Skal (she was unconscious the whole time). And everyone forgets what happened immediately, save for two exceptions that don't really matter on the long run.
But fine. Let's say this was just a narrative hiccup and the story gets better after this. Yes and no.
The gang figures out Nightmare Moon is still coming, but they have a bigger threat in store. Back in the Dark Dimension, Skal became the Dead Goddess after overthrowing Nel-Baloth, and he never really let go of that. So now that she's gallivanting around Equestria, he thinks this is the perfect chance to take back his Throne. Which is also in Equestria.
Now, the girls have to deal with NMM as well as this other creature. The first problem is solved by Moony recognising Skal's aura as soon as he sees her. She laments that her grand return to Equestria has been thwarted by this clash between elder gods. Nevertheless, she recognises that if she wants to rule over Equestria, there has to still be an Equestria; so she agrees to help the girls. Nel poses a bigger threat, since he's taken over Celestia as his vessel.
And just when you expect Twi-Gazaath and co. to run through the Everfree and discover which Elements they embody, the story goes off the rails for the final time.
For plot reasons, Rarity is looking for the rest of the M6, NMM teleported to the Castle to find the elements, and Twi and Pinkie go to see the Tree of Harmony, where they find the spirit of alicorn Twilight Sparkle because, surprise! This story is compliant with latter seasons canon.
How do they know about Chrysalis, and the Tree of Harmony, and all that? Good question. Anyway, this happens next:
>I was more or less the spitting image of Celestia in appearance if Celestia had dark violet fur, a pitch-black mane and tail that was more violent twisting and writhing than it was graceful flowing and waving, and a few other oddities.
>The most standout features in my personal opinion were my irises, which both bore the amethyst colored shape of a six-pointed star much like my original cutie mark, and my cutie mark itself, which still retained its shape of a six-pointed star, but thinner, pitch-black like my mane and tail, and surrounded by a thick black ring. My horn was also more akin to what Chrysalis had atop her head than an actual alicorn's horn, at least in its shape if not its color and composition. To the 'me' that had existed in this timeline, the wings were a new addition, but to the other 'me'—the older 'me'—they'd been there ever since I'd transcended to alicornhood, long before I... did whatever I did to ascended past that.
But hey, maybe you're okay with this development. I sure wasn't, but I sticked to it because there was only one chapter left. You can figure out how it ends. That's right. It doesn't.
Nel kills some characters, kidnaps others, and leaves mwahahaing while Twi-Skal goes "Oh, no! I must defeat the evil!" and then the story ends.
Yeah. One of those.
Needless to say, this wasn't how I expected the story would go. And honestly, I stopped really enjoying myself around the time the reset happened. Even if you enjoy some part of it, I can't imagine you'll enjoy the others. I just don't feel it's worth it.
If you're still interested, just read the "Interlude – What She Found in Hollow Shades". It's a decent self-contained spooky tale. Other than that, give it a pass.