Fanfic: It's a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door
It started so simply, on what should have been a wonderful Plowpony's Day…Twilight Sparkle was just trying to help her friend Rarity learn how to teleport. But when an attempt to demonstrate goes horribly wrong, Applejack, Rainbow Dash and Rarity set out to find a way to fix her damaged horn before she runs out of time. But their quest will take them out of Equestria, forcing them to face the elements, the unknown, and their own demons and self-doubt along the way.A My Little Pony: Friendship Is MagicFan Fic by Jetfire, It's a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door fleshes out the lands beyond Ponyville with a grand tale of adventure, rife with Character Development, particularly for its three heroines. A short fluffy informal sequel by the same author can be read here.
Action Mare: Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity (which might be surprising until you see her in the show).
A Day in the Limelight: Chapter 13 focuses entirely on Rainbow Dash, and 15 focuses entirely on Rarity. Chapter 11 is the only one dedicated entirely to Twilight, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie.
Art Shift: A minor, text-based example. In the scene where Rainbow Dash enters the Dreaming the text changes to bold, spoken lines are given colors to show who's talking, and everything is referred to in present-tense rather than past-tense. It changes back to normal eventually, though.
Aerith and Bob: Justified; different cultures have different styles of naming.
Alliterative Name: Niles Nigellus, messenger of the Pronghorn Network. All the other pronghorn follow the same pattern, with names like Clive Croeuxus and Audrey Alleinus.
Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The girls' final challenge before they can get the Beneviolet home? A World Snake, a giant four-eyed serpent whose length is measured in miles. It's stated the thing's eyes are the size of an Ursa Major, its teeth the size of Ponyville, its scales the size of an Ursa Minor, and its head the size of the area between Ponyville and Canterlot. The thing uses the Archback Mountains as a nest. It's heavily implied to be what the residents of Shimmerwood are keeping locked away, and is one half of the reason Twilight would have died had the trio cut any corners in their journey, the other half being the fact that only a young Beneviolet is strong enough to cure Twilight.
A reader from the story's comments section did the math, and concluded that the World Snake is the size of Guam.◊
Barrier Maiden: According to Lady Falalauria, the Deer of the Shimmerwood are a barrier race holding back something in the Archbacks.
Big Damn Heroes: In chapter 18, Twilight Sparkle, having just recovered thanks to Rarity getting the Beneviolet to her in time, saves Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash from being killed by the World Snake.
Big Eater: Since she burns off so much energy flying, Rainbow Dash has to eat a lot more than the others.
Blow You Away: Dash's ability to spin up tornados proves useful at times.
Brick Joke: When first starting their journey, Applejack is furious when she realizes she forgot one particular tool: rope. Much later on, Lady Falalauria's parting gift to her is a coil of enchanted rope.
Call Forward: Lady Falalauria's parting words to the trio asks them not to be too disappointed by what happens at the Gala, much to their confusion.
Similarly, Falalauria has a lot of parallels to Galadriel, in particular her noble beauty and one very brief, very terrifying moment that reveals a darker side of her.
In fact, the deer in general are Tolkein's elves with the serial numbers filed off, even by admission of the story's fans.
Charm Person: The Bearer of Loyalty can inspire and strengthen the loyalty of others. Upon learning this, Rainbow Dash briefly worries if this means she can unintentionally charm others into becoming her friends, but is reassured.
Chekhov's Gun: To ease the burden of their deadline, Spike gives the girls a bottle of his dragonfire so that they can send the Beneviolet back immediately. Amazingly enough, it survives long enough to finally be put towards its intended usage in chapter 18.
In an early chapter, Rainbow Dash is forced to admit she's never been able to get the hang of generating lightning. Several chapters later, she runs into a storm-riding pronghorn courier who offers to teach her.
Similarly, much is made of Rarity's difficulty in learning to teleport in early chapters, and she eventually learns how from the deer-folk of the Shimmerwood.
And everything the girls learn — Applejack learning to Stand Firm from the earth ponies of Gildedale, Rainbow Dash learning to control lightning from the pronghorns, Rarity learning how to teleport from the deer—comes in handy during the confrontation with the World Snake in Chapter 18. Basically, had anything gone differently, Twilight would have been toast.
Not in the main story, but discussed. Rarity had always given gifts to ponies before they were needed, even if it was days, weeks, months, or years later. It's revealed that this is because she has the gift of Long Sight.
Claustrophobia: Rainbow Dash seems to have it, though she sees it less as "fear of enclosed spaces" and more "fear of not being able to see the sky", as seen when she freaks out during the blizzard, before the avalanche that traps them.
Color Coded Characters: The Earth Ponies of Gildedale have darker coats, rather than the pastels of Ponyville.
Colossus Climb: Rarity does this to the World Snake in order to get the Beneviolet, with help from Dash and AJ.
Cool Down Hug: Used twice. Once by Applejack and Rarity on Rainbow Dash after she nearly goes catatonic when they're buried in a snow cave after an avalanche. The second by Shield Maiden on Rarity after she freaks out at the prospect of having to kill something.
Culture Clash: Gildedale is a FAR cry from what the heroines are used to in Ponyville…
Darker and Edgier: Though not in an unrelentingly grimdark fashion; compared to what they are used to in Equestria, Gildedale is much rawer and filled with more perils.
Defrosting Ice Queen: Or king, rather. Lord Hammer Hoof of Thatcholm starts off a jerk who will allow only Applejack to cross Gildedale, but later opens up considerably after AJ, Dash, and Rarity prove to him that the Komagas can be herded away from residential areas, negating the need to constantly battle them.
Determinator: What keeps all three on course, but especially Applejack.
Rarity during the World Snake showdown.
Die or Fly: How Firefly taught Rainbow Dash to start flying.
Dont Think Feel: The difference between unicorn and deer teleportation: unicorns think of where they want to appear, while deer focus on the sensation.
It's also the secret to "controlling" lightning, as all pronghorns know. Rainbow Dash learns this lesson as well during her time in the Dreaming.
As of Chapter 15, this includes dreaming of her future self and full potential. Can't get much more things to come than that.
End of an Age: Ushered in by the great war between the deer; as Lady Falalauria eventually reveals, they are responsible for magic being required to keep the world running in most areas outside bastions like the Everfree Forest.
Lady Falalauria: You ponies must manage nature because we deer broke it.
Fainting Seer: A side-effect of Horn Rot is going into random fits that involve visions of the past or future. Very painful fits with difficult-to-decode visions.
Fantastic Racism: Gildedale, an Earth Pony country, looks down upon Pegasi and Unicorns and scorns their magic. Naturally, this causes tension when they discover Dash and Rarity's presence in their land…
Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The roving Dale Guard fight by dividing their force into three distinct battle lines, use a recognizable standard as a rallying point, and refer to their formation as a "century." They're basically the early Roman Legions, but in pony form.
Find the Cure: The entire journey centers around doing this for Twilight.
Flower from the Mountaintop: Exaggerated with the Beneviolet, a flower that grows high in the Archback Mountains, is a powerful healing plant, and is able to cure many illnesses, especially those of a magically degenerative nature. It's worth mentioning that the Archback Mountains, home to the magical cure-all, are also past the Everfree Forest, over another mountain range, across the plains of Gildedale, and finally through the enchanted forest of Shimmerwood.
Foreshadowing: Plenty in the first chapter, but this line stands out:
Applejack: Well, I'd never want to be anyplace but right here in Ponyville. I'm not the adventurous type.
Early on, Rainbow Dash mentions that Pegasi don't get cold. Turns out her mentor Firefly was the exact opposite — she never got hot, but struggled with the cold.
In chapter 3, Pinkie Pie worries about the monsters Rainbow Dash could meet beyond Equestria's borders. Unfortunately for Applejack and company, one of them turns out to be real: a world snake.
Grammar Nightmare: Rarity gets irritated when Rainbow Dash refers to her race as 'Pegasuses' instead of 'Pegasi'.
This becomes a Running Gag, as other characters start correcting Rainbow Dash on this point. In fact, it seems that the only character who doesn't use the correct pluralization is Rainbow Dash herself.
Irony: Early on, Rainbow Dash vows that if they haven't found the Beneviolet after ten days traveling together, she'll ditch Applejack and Rarity and go on alone. When the tenth day comes, Applejack is openly encouraging her to go for it, but she hesitates, not wanting to leave them alone.
And shortly after the above, they learn had Dash gone on alone at that moment, they would have failed their mission because she wouldn't have learned the true way to save Twilight in time, namely, sending back a young and potent Beneviolet. And even then, there was still the World Snake guarding it.
Meaningful Rename: In Gildedale society, young ponies are simply called 'Filly/Colt [Body Color]' until they earn their cutie mark, at which point they choose a name that informs others of their role in life. Shield Maiden, for instance, is a warrior, and Birdspeak speaks with birds.
Mood Whiplash: Used to drive home how abruptly and without warning the side-effects of Horn Rot can hit when Twilight is playing a game with Pinkie and Spike.
News Travels Fast: Averted; the ponies of Gildedale were unaware of why last year's solstice was so long.
Quite comical when only a few chapters later are the magical messengers in charge of delivering that explanation encountered.
In fact, in Chapter 14 one of the characters wondersinvoked why the Pronghorns didn't stop by Gildedale what with it being so close to Equestria, and it's suggested Celestia wants to deliver the news herself as a professional courtesy.
Not Helping Your Case: When Rarity turns up her nose at teleporting, Pinkie cheerfully chimes in with all the nasty accidents that could've happened. Twilight adding that accidents are rare doesn't help.
Dash is rude and brash to the Dale Guard, and makes a scene at the dining hall, as well as being hostile and snappy in general. Understandable, given their rude welcoming and everything else stressing her, but not really helping to endear her to anyone, either...
Our Dragons Are Different: According to Dale legend, the komaga are dragons punished by their gods with the loss of their wings and fire, who over the aeons have degraded into mindless, slavering beasts.
Our Elves Are Better: The Pronghorn, whose horns are functionally similar to those of unicorns. The first pronghorn introduced, Niles Nigellus, is a polite, smooth-talking and well-traveled charmer who offers Dash the chance to realize one of her greatest dreams by guiding her through The Dreaming.
There's also the Deer of the Shimmerwood, who are known as aloof guardians of the forest who speak in riddles, come from an ancient civilization, and use powerful magic. As Dash puts it, "Deer are weird."
Out of Focus: After the journey begins, only chapter 11, half of 17, and a few snippets in 18 focus on what's going on back in Ponyville with Twilight.
Pinky Swear: To reassure Sweetie Belle, Rarity makes a tail-twister promise with her, winding their tails together and swearing that she'll find the Beneviolet in time.
Plot Detour: Applejack is extremely worried about this, to the point that she calls Rainbow Dash on wanting to learn more about the Pronghorns and, in Chapter 14, attempts to convince Dash to go on without her and Rarity to grab the Beneviolet. Luckily, she doesn't. If she had, the mission would have failed and Twilight would have died, either by picking the wrong Beneviolet or death by World Snake.
Plot Hole: Whatever happened to the World Serpent?
Precursors: In ancient times, the Deer were the dominant race, but grew too proud and all but destroyed themselves in a vast, sprawling war. While pockets survive, such as the denizens of the Shimmerwood, they can no longer rise to their former glory, nor do they wish to.
She has another epic one at the beginning of chapter 18.
Reasonable Authority Figure: Pretty much everyone the pony trio comes across, although the denizens of Gildedale (especially Lord Hammer Hoof) require a bit more effort.
The Resenter: Rainbow Dash resents having to take Applejack and Rarity along, believing they'll only slow her down — without them, she just KNOWS she could've made the trip in two days flat! Worried about running out of time, she vows to herself that if they haven't found the Beneviolet after ten days, she'll go on ahead without them…
Resigned To The Call: Applejack isn't too thrilled about leaving Ponyville, but can't bring herself to refuse when Twilight already has so much faith in her.
Rhyming With Itself: Zecora does this once with two different meanings for 'patient', and gets called on it by Dash.
Ride The Lightning: The Pronghorns teach Rainbow Dash this skill. The Sonic Rainboom means she can travel at the speed of sound. Her new lightning ability means she scan travel at the speed of light.
Lady Falalauria of the Deerfolk. Though what she doesn't do is also important, given how she was weighing the lives of our heroines versus the potential tragedy they could cause in the course of their journey…
Rule of Empathy: Despite their distaste for Pegasi and Unicorns, several members of the Dale Guard clearly sympathize with their plight.
Rainbow Dash also alters her impression of Shield Maiden after she comforts Rarity when the unicorn breaks down at the thought of killing anyone.
Running Gag: Rainbow Dash being corrected on her pluralization of 'Pegasus'.
Rarity: I've got no grand designs to be a great sorceress, like that wretched Trixie; I want to make my mark designing the crème de la crème of Equestrian fashion. I do one thing, and I do it well.
Seer: Falalauria, Lady of the Shimmerwood, has this power. Specifically, she can see the network of Choices set before a given individual, as well as divine their True Nature and which Choices they are most likely to make, drastically raising the accuracy of her predictions.
Sequel Hook: There are multiple hints that in the process of completing their quest, the three travelers have unleashed "something," according to Falalauria; hence why she considers killing them. It's also stated that the other members of the mane cast who didn't get to go on the adventure will have the opportunity to learn about what their elements do for them.
Plus, we get very little closure on Applejack's burgeoning romance with Ashtail, and how it can continue once she's back in Equestria.
The short sequel 'A Day for Spike And Twilight' also adds to the number of hooks with its reveals about Spike and dragons in general.
Talking the Monster to Death: Rarity, upon reflection, realizes she may have pulled this off when Lady Falalauria revealed to her that their actions would bring about potential disaster, and was considering killing them to prevent it.
Team Mom: Applejack steps even further into this role during their journey.
At the same time, Fluttershy is stepping up to fill the void for the other half of their True Companions in her absence.
Teleportation: Rarity's inability to do so — and Twilight's determination to teach her despite her insistence that she's perfectly alright with not knowing — leads to Twilight's accident and sets off the plot.
The Deer of the Shimmerwood are excellent teleporters, though in a different fashion; instead of the sparkly bursts that accompany unicorns, they are simply here one moment and there another.
Tempting Fate: With their goal practically in sight, AJ, Dash, and Rarity comment that they have not seen any of the strange creatures Pinkie was gushing about at the beginning of it all. You'd think they'd know better.
Took a Level in Badass: Applejack, upon learning from Ashtail how to Stand Firm, the Earth ponies' innate talent.
Rainbow Dash, upon discovering how to harness and ride the lightning like the pronghorns.
Rarity, who learns how to teleport like the Deerfolk. Oh, and that she has the gift of Farsight.
All three of them during the showdown with the World Snake, whose head has the Beneviolet on it. Dash flings lightning bolts at it to piss it off, then lures the thing into Applejack who's standing firm (with encouragement from Rarity). The snake bounces off, and Rarity uses her teleportation along with Applejack's magic rope to get onto its head. After plenty of effort and close calls, Rarity just barely manages to grab the Beneviolet before the snake bucks her miles into the air, with enough force to create a sonic boom. And it's at this point that she pulls out the Dragonfire bottle, opens it, and spits the flower into the outpouring fire. That takes some serious composure. She even seems content to fall to her death having saved Twilight, but luckily Dash catches her.
Twilight as well. For most of the story she is essentially bedridden, unable to do much without suffering crippling pain. When the mission succeeds, however, she takes a Leap of Faith and teleports across a continent and through a magical barrier created by the World Snake. This is a magical barrier that Applejack, Rainbow Dash and Rarity acknowledge cuts them off from the magic they learned, and Twilight teleports through it like it's not even there. Reacting to the World Snake, she then teleports the four of them out through the barrier and back to Ponyville. Twilight credits the Beneviolet for temporarily increasing her magical power, but this is still pretty awesome.
Falalauria: The Element of Loyalty grants those aligned with it the gift of inspiration and strengthening.
Rainbow Dash: Inspiration? You mean I give them ideas?
Falalauria: After a fashion. Because you are so loyal to your friends, your home, and the causes you believe in, you can inspire others to feel the same degree of loyalty to their own causes- or to your causes, or any cause you choose. Moreover, you can inspire them to move forward in the face of daunting challenges. If their courage is failing, you can restore it. If their strength leaves them, you can help them find more. If their spirits are broken, you can mend them. I suppose a better way of putting it is that the Element of Loyalty grants those aligned with it powers of leadership.
The Unreveal: You never do find out what was in the cave at the top of the Drackenridge Mountains. Falalauria surmises that a Siren or a Balrog could have produced the enchanting song, but also states that Sirens don't live in caves and that only original Balrogs have that power.
You also never find out what scares the Komagas into stampeding across Gildedale every year.
Though it's quite possibly the presence of a World Snake.
Somewhat unlikely given that the Komogas stampede from south to north, while The World Snake lives in the Archback mountains, which lie to the west. Although, if the World Snake really is as long as its name makes it out to be...
What the Hell, Hero?: When Dash tells her friends about Niles and the Pronghorn Network, Applejack furiously calls her on not immediately telling him about Twilight's plight and asking for help. Dash's protests about his offer to teach her how to ride the lightning only makes it worse, with Applejack flat-out accusing her of being selfish and short-sighted.
Even so the pronghorns reveal that they can't do that anyway, due to their first priority always being maintaining the Pronghorn Network.
Rainbow Dash also quite thoughtlessly mocks Rarity for not being able to teleport, when she's already feeling tremendously guilty about that inability being the reason for Twilight's accident. Applejack quickly gets her to realize the mistake.
Your Days Are Numbered: The normal cure for Horn Rot takes three weeks to brew. But Twilight's case is more severe; Zecora predicts she has two weeks, two-and-a-half at most.
This is eventually explained as a side-effect of the potency of her powers: the more magical ability one has, the worse the ravages of Horn Rot can become. Indeed, Zecora's prediction ends up being almost too long.