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Fanfic / The Witch of the Everfree

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"My name is Sunset Shimmer. I am the strongest unicorn in all of Equestria, and my life is over. I'm in hiding and on the run, and I have no idea where to start putting things back together."
—The story's short description

The Witch of the Everfree is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic For Want Of A Nail fanfic by MagnetBolt.

Following her dismissal as Celestia's student, Sunset Shimmer doesn't go through the mirror to the Equestria Girls universe. However, she still wants to be somewhere outside of Celestia's influence, so after accidentally faking her death, she hides out in the Everfree Forest, where she slowly starts a new life as the forest's resident scary-but-benevolent witch.

This fanfic contains examples of:

  • Alternative Calendar: Sunset comments at one point on how the griffons have to adjust their dates every four years because of their wind-based calendar, suggesting that Equestria's calendar is based on something which doesn't require that.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's not clear whether or not Sunset is correct in thinking that Celestia comforting her when she has the Feather Flu is a hallucination.
  • Animal Nemesis: The Great White Wolf becomes one for Applejack after it kills her parents.
  • Anti-Hero: Sunset
  • Badass Boast: Sunset to a manticore:
    Sunset: Youíre not going to take me down that easily. Do you know who I am? Iím Sunset Shimmer! I burned down half of a stone castle! I threw myself out of a train because I donít let ponies tell me what to do! I blew up my professors on purpose as part of my mid-term! Youíre just a stupid monster and you donít have a snowballís chance in Tartarus against me!
    • She also gives a nicely understated one to Nightmare Moon:
    Sunset: In case you hadnít heard, Iím the strongest unicorn in Equestria, and Iím villain enough for this town. Iím going to send you back to the moon in pieces.
  • Big Entrance: Sunset likes doing these when she attends parties in Ponyville, using illusions to lower the ambient light, make her voice echo, and generally seem more dramatic.
  • Big "WHAT?!": When Twilight tells Sunset that she wants to visit her, Sunset lets out one of these.
  • Booby Trap: The castle already has a bunch when Sunset finds it, and she adds even more herself.
  • Brick Joke: Sunset teaching Twilight to interrupt monologues.
  • Burn the Orphanage: Sunset inadvertently destroyed the orphanage she grew up in when some bullies who thought she was magically weak dared her to cast a spell and she responded by putting every bit of power she could into a light spell.
  • Cassandra Truth: Twilight manages to predict both Nightmare Moon and Discord's returns before they happen, but Sunset doesn't take her seriously, assuming that if they were actual threats Celestia would be doing something about them.
  • Celebration Miscalculation: Since Pinkie doesn't know when Sunset's birthday actually is, she just takes guesses, leading her to throw Sunset a "birthday" party every month or so.
  • Character Development: Celestia learns from the mistakes she made raising Sunset, and generally manages to avoid repeating them with Twilight. Or with Sunset, once they reconcile.
    • Sunset learns the value of friendship, and tones her Pride down to the point where she can actually admit her mistakes.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Nightmare Moon is impressed with Sunset's willingness to blow up Ponyville's town hall for the sake of stopping her.
  • Companion Cube: Applejack is in the habit of naming her trees.
    I groaned and leaned against an apple tree. It was probably named Rupert or Jackanape or something like that.
  • Covered in Scars: Sunset, after her encounter with the manticore when she first enters the forest.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sunset has her moments.
    Twilight: Sometimes I donít sleep for days!
    Sunset: I usually sleep at nights myself.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: After Sunset throws a fireball at a tree in the Everfree Forest:
    Twilight: You could have killed us! Using fire in the forest is going toÖ you know! Start a fire. A forest fire. In the forest.
    Sunset: Eloquent.
  • Determinator: Applejack, during her quest to kill the timberwolf that killed her parents.
    She gave me a determined look, the kind only a foal with no sense of self-preservation could have. I was pretty sure Iíd given ponies that exact look a few times.
  • Don't Look At Me: Sunset keeps herself covered in her cloak whenever she can, because she doesn't like letting ponies see her scars.
  • Dramatic Irony: Twilight tells Sunset that she needs her to be at the Summer Sun Celebration in case Nightmare Moon shows up, because she wouldn't trust Rarity to help her banish an ancient evil.
    Twilight: I doubt she even knows how to cast a fireball spell!
  • The Dreaded: Sunset eventually becomes this to the creatures of the Everfree Forest; as time goes on, they become increasingly prone to avoiding her, since attacking her is overwhelmingly likely to end with them being burned to a crisp.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even at the peak of her rage against Celestia, Sunset makes a note to minimize casualties among Celestia's guards when she comes back for revenge.
    • She's also shocked by the extremes of Twilight's imagination regarding how bad she used to be.
    Sunset: I told you I was a bad pony who did bad things, remember? I meant it.
    Twilight: What was it? Necromancy? Blood Magic? Chaos Magic? Double Chaos Magic? Necro-romantic spells?
    Sunset: Wow. Your imagination went right to some really dark places when I said I was a bad pony. Iím not a monster, Twilight. I was just a jerk.
  • Explosive Overclocking: Sunset, after reading the Clover Manuscript, figures out how to force extra mana into simple spells. However, as more mana is put into a spell, the spell becomes increasingly likely to blow up in the caster's face.
  • Faking the Dead: While Sunset doesn't actually intend for her escape to look like a death, after she realizes that it did look that way, she goes out of her way to avoid letting Celestia realize that she's actually still alive.
    • She's not quite as thorough as she hopes to be; Celestia realizes that she's alive as soon as she starts writing back to Twilight.
  • Food as Bribe: Cadance distracts Twilight from asking about how old she is compared to Shining Armor by offering her coffee.
    Cadance: Hey! Wow! They have lava cake on the menu! Letís get a round of those, and Iíll let you have coffee if you stop asking questions.
    Twilight: Celestia says I canít have coffee after the accident with the west garden.
    Cadance: Thatís why itís bribery, Twilight.
    Twilight: ...Deal.
  • Forgets to Eat: Twilight, according to Spike.
  • For Want Of A Nail: The story starts with Sunset staying in Equestria instead of going through the mirror, and diverges from there.
    • The exact nail appears to be Sunset having a panic attack right after Celestia throws her out, which prevents her from overpowering the guards escorting her out and heading for the mirror.
  • Friendless Background: Sunset never bothered to make friends despite Celestia's pestering, which leaves her without anywhere to go after she's kicked out of Celestia's castle.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: From the moment they met, Sunset resented Cadance for having been adopted by Celestia, which Sunset wanted to happen to her.
    • Cadance, meanwhile, was jealous of Sunset for her closeness to Celestia; while Cadance was the one Celestia had officially adopted, Sunset was the one she spent all her time with.
  • Guilty Pleasures: Eating bacon, for Sunset. Understandable, given that ponies are typically herbivorous.
  • Heroic BSoD: When she thought Sunset had died, Celestia had to cancel court for a week because she couldn't keep herself together.
  • High-Dive Escape: Sunset pulls one to get away from the guards who have her cornered on the train to Ponyville, teleporting off the train as it crosses a high bridge.
  • Incompletely Trained: Cadance, as an alicorn, has a huge amount of magical power, but she barely knows any magic, so ends up much weaker in practice than either Sunset or Twilight.
  • Indy Ploy: Sunset starts out thinking this way, but she isn't quite as effective at it as she thinks she is, and eventually starts coming up with actual plans.
    I didnít need to plan. I was Sunset Shimmer, the strongest unicorn in Equestria. Planning was for ponies who didnít have the strength to just do what they wanted. I could do anything.
  • In-Series Nickname: Pinkie starts calling Sunset "the Pony of Shadows" after her Big Entrance to Applejack's birthday party. She eventually rejects the name after her Vision Quest.
  • Invisibility: One of Sunset's precautions when she decides to stick around for the Summer Sun Celebration is to turn invisible.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sunset starts out as this, but the "jerk" part fades out over time.
  • Kill It with Fire: Sunset's default strategy in combat. Made easier by the fact that she enchanted herself to be fireproof, allowing her to light her surroundings on fire without needing to worry about getting burned herself.
  • Large Ham: Sunset isn't one in ordinary conversation, but she hams it up a lot whenever she either wants to intimidate someone or wants to make a Big Entrance.
  • Machine Monotone: Sunset enchants her journal to recite any messages Twilight writes to it, but she doesn't know sufficiently advanced illusion magic to get an actual voice link going, so instead it recites the text in her own voice with a completely deadpan tone.
    • She updates it to use Twilight's voice after they meet in person, but never gets around to fixing the tone.
  • Make an Example of Them: After Sunset hits her hard enough to visibly burn her mane, Nightmare Moon banishes Sunset to the dark side of the moon with Celestia.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Sunset sees Celestia as this for the first few years after she runs away, interpreting her Trickster Mentor act as just a facade.
  • Multi-Directional Barrage: When Sunset is surrounded by timberwolves, she's perfectly fine with it, labeling it as a "target-rich environment" rather than the ambush it was intended to be. Then she proceeds to drive almost the whole pack away with a single spell.
  • Mundane Utility: Zecora's cauldron is useful, not only for potion-making, but also for tea-making.
  • Must Make Amends: Fluttershy nearly died in an accident (implied to be her fall from Cloudsdale) and Rainbow Dash blamed herself for not being there, so she dropped out of school in order to stay with Fluttershy and make sure that she would always be there for her in the future.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Applejack gets snapped out of her blind rage at the Great White Wolf for killing her parents when seeing Sunset slowly killing it for her. Her reaction in turn causes a milder one in Sunset, who then finishes it off quickly.
  • Nervous Wreck: Sunset has a series of panic attacks in the immediate aftermath of her removal as Celestia's student, and thereafter whenever she comes too close to encountering Celestia.
  • Noodle Implements: Pinkie Pie on whether it's possible to make Maretyoshka pinatas:
    Pinkie Pie: I will need to do party science to find out. Iíll need five hundred pounds of paper mache, two bags of glitter, an old priest, and a young priest.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Everypony assumes that Sunset is dead after she takes a long fall into a river.
  • No-Sell: Nightmare Moon's magical aura is sufficiently powerful to absorb everything Sunset throws at her before it even hits her, at least until Sunset realizes what's going on.
    • She appears to do nearly as well against Sunset's followup attack, but Luna tells Sunset later that it actually came much closer than it looked to beating her, even if she didn't show it.
  • No Social Skills: Averted. While Sunset has no interest in day-to-day politeness or friend-making, she can be polite when she cares enough to try.
  • Oh, Crap!: A few times in a row during Sunset's fight with Nightmare Moon. First Twilight has one when Sunset mentions that her "exit strategy" has a blast radius, then Sunset has two in quick succession when Nightmare Moon manages to No-Sell Sunset's trap and comes out of a super-compressed beam of fire with no visible damage beyond a burned mane.
  • Orphanage of Fear: Sunset analogizes her orphanage's social food chain to the Everfree Forest's physical food chain.
  • Parental Substitute: Celestia was one for Sunset before their fight, but she didn't directly acknowledge it, leading Sunset to become jealous of Cadance for having been officially adopted by Celestia. After their reconciliation, Celestia starts actually calling Sunset her daughter.
  • Parenthetical Swearing: When Sunset attacks the Great White Wolf, she yells "Take this, you birch!"
  • Perception Filter: One of Sunset's stealth aids at the Summer Sun Celebration is a Background Pony spell, which makes her and her surroundings appear utterly uninteresting to any observers.
  • Pet the Dog: When she's ejected from the palace, Sunset notes that the guards escorting her out are just doing their jobs, and resolves to minimize casualties when she comes back for revenge on Celestia.
  • Playing with Fire: While Sunset has a wide variety of spells at her disposal, she has a particular affinity for fire magic, and has a set of enchantments on her to make herself fireproof.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Rainbow's "thing with the thunderclouds".
  • Pride: Sunset's main flaw at the start of the story. She gets better about it over time, to the point where she manages to shock Cadance by admitting that Twilight is smarter than herself.
  • Properly Paranoid: When Sunset feels like she's being followed, she assumes she's just being baselessly paranoid, but casts a scanning spell anyway. Turns out she was completely right, leading her to turn around and decide she actually wasn't being paranoid enough.
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: Much to Sunset's surprise, the prophecy about Nightmare Moon which Twilight got out of an old storybook is actually true.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Applejack pulls them on Sunset when she's on the verge of refusing to help find the Great White Wolf.
    • Rarity pulls them too, trying to draw a story out of Sunset after she offhandedly mentions having met a griffon ambassador.
  • Rage Against the Mentor: Sunset gets a short one at the very beginning of the story, when she's removed as Celestia's student.
  • Rebuilt Pedestal: Sunset eventually realizes that Celestia actually did love her and that her own actions were the main driving force behind their initial conflict.
  • Revenge Before Reason: After her parents are killed by a timberwolf, Applejack goes into the Everfree Forest determined to make it pay, ignoring both the dangers of the forest and the fact that she doesn't know where the timberwolves actually are.
    • Sunset also had this. Her refusal to be controlled by Celestia ended with her plummeting into a river.
  • Scars are Forever: Sunset gets pretty majorly scarred by a manticore when she first enters the Everfree. It's exacerbated by her habit of scratching at her wounds.
  • Shipper on Deck: Cadance seems to ship SunLight.
  • Ship Tease: At one point Twilight is on the verge of talking to Sunset about "strange feelings" which she considers to be "too personal" to discuss in front of Cadance, but Cadance kills the moment before she can spill the beans, and she never brings it up again.
  • Shout-Out:
    • At one point Sunset quotes Jaya Ballard, task mage.
      Sunset: Of course you should fight fire with fire. You should fight everything with fire.
    • One of the books Sunset finds in the Ancient Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters is "The Book of Megan".
    • During their fight with Nightmare Moon, Sunset tells Twilight to cross the streams.
    • During the same fight, she pulls a Vaarsuvius: "I prepared explosive runes this mor-"
    • When Pinkie is listing the Noodle Implements she'll need to test the possibility of creating a pinata full of pinatas, she closes with "an old priest and a young priest."
  • Solitary Sorceress: Sunset spends her first few years in the Everfree as this, and actively cultivates it as her public image. She becomes more social as time goes on, though, starting to visit Ponyville occasionally.
  • Starting a New Life: The story is all about Sunset doing this following her fight with Celestia.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Sunset's combat strategy in general is pretty heavy on explosions.
    • Special credit goes to her fight with Nightmare Moon, which ends up leveling the upper half of Ponyville's town hall.
  • Suicidal "Gotcha!": Sunset pulls one to get away from the guards who are following her, teleporting off of a train as it crosses a bridge. Unusually, she has no specific survival mechanism in mind, and ends up only surviving by dumb luck.
  • Surpassed the Teacher: Twilight eventually surpasses Sunset at magical theory. Unusually, rather than dropping out of their mentor-student relationship at that point, they just switch, with Twilight starting to teach Sunset instead of the other way around.
  • Take a Third Option: Sunset does this when cornered by guards on the train to Ponyville, teleporting off a bridge rather than either fighting them or talking to them.
    Guard: There isnít anywhere to run, so you can either listen peacefully or we can do things the hard way.
    Sunset: There's always a choice, as long as youíre willing to accept the consequences.
  • Tempting Fate: "Don't be stupid. Iím a unicorn. We canít get the Feather Flu."
    • "Twilight, itíd take an escaped god of chaos to keep me away." This one gets lampshaded by the narration.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Sunset has liked bacon ever since she had a dinner with some griffon ambassadors who fed it to her.
  • Tree Cover: Cadance tries to surreptitiously watch Twilight and Sunset's Ship Tease moment from a tree branch. Then she accidentally rustles it, killing the moment.
    • Sunset accidentally teleports herself into the branches of the Ponyville library when she sees Celestia's guards arriving in Ponyville, and proceeds to curl into a ball and hope the guards don't notice her.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: After Sunset kills the Great White Wolf for her, Applejack realizes that it hasn't made her feel better at all, and isn't going to bring her parents back.
  • Vision Quest: Sunset has a short one after she accidentally terrifies Twilight: she asks Zecora for help, and Zecora suggests finding her spirit guide, which will help her see herself as others see her. She sees a ponified version of her demon form. Her maybe-hallucination of Celestia may or may not have been part of it too.
  • Wild Magic: The Everfree Forest has a haze of magic which scrambles incoming scrying spells, making it an ideal hiding place. However, it also makes it somewhat more difficult to cast spells while inside it, which prevents Sunset from teleporting out of danger as quickly as she would otherwise be able to.
  • You Are Not Ready: Celestia repeatedly telling this to Sunset was one of the things which initially drove them apart; it didn't stop Sunset from continuing to research the mirror and alicornhood on her own, but it did cause her to become increasingly resentful of Celestia, as well as leading her to incidentally read some books on dark magic in the process of her research.