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The sequel to The Weed, and part of The Weedverse, Venenum Iocus depicts the continuing adventures of Tarnished Teapot and Maud Pie as they settle further into married life.

After surviving a deadly volcanic eruption in the previous story, Tarnished and Maud are approached by Twilight Sparkle, who has them investigate another magic hotspot: The Scariest Cave In Equestria. They end up meeting old and new allies in the Stiff Upper Lip society, and participate in a fight for the fate of Equestria as Grogar the necromancer seeks to further his own goals.


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Venenum Iocus contains examples of:

  • Adult Fear: Seeing the footage of Mount Maud's eruption reminds both Pinny Lane and the Pie family just how close they were to losing Maud and Tarnish. Pinny Lane was especially clingy to her son.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Chief Dig Dag is literally disarmed by Flamingo.
  • And I Must Scream: The petrified, half-corrupted alicorn in the Centaur city has been trapped with his agony and madness for millennia. The heroes can't even put him out of his misery.
  • Anti-Magic: Nullwood has this effect on things nearby making it an excellent material to construct a box for Grogar's Crown.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Crown Of Corruption.
  • Astral Projection: A skill Tarnish picks up and how Celestia provides assistance during the climax.
  • The Atoner: Tree Hugger's father was a wealthy railroad magnate whose business practices led to the corruption and destruction of much of Equestria's environment. However, he became an environmentalist who helped undo much of the damage after realizing that Tree Hugger would end up inheriting a Crapsack World once he died.
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  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Egg-type caravans, for most ponies, due to sheer cost. But when you're being funded by Tree Hugger, it's suddenly a lot more viable.
  • Baby Factory:
    • The females enslaved by Dig Dag became this for their race, being kept from having an education so all they would do is make more babies.
    • The Greater Alicorns were genetically altered to become this to repopulate after the disaster the Centaurs foresaw.
  • Badass Adorable: Kabuki.
  • Badass Boast:
    • When Tarnish attempts to refute Celestia's claim that she would take him into her school were he still a colt, by saying that he is dangerous, she has only one thing to say:
      Celestia: So am I.
    • Later on, Flamingo gets much less calm one during the climax.
      Flamingo: BAD DARKNESS! BAD! GO AWAY! I AM THE ELEMENT OF PINKNESS! I AM SENT BY THE TREE AND I WILL PURGE YOU! YOUR DARKNESS IS NO MATCH FOR MY PINKNESS, YOU BIG MEANIE!
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: After Tarnish snarks off at Celestia once too often in a frustrating conversation, she invokes this trope to try and get even, bringing him to the soul of Grrr.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Tarnish and Maud rescue Trixie from being enslaved by Diamond Dogs.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: They destroy Grogar's crown, but at the cost of Maledico's orb.
  • The Cavalry: Celestia sends Philomena to drive off Grogar's shadows and allow Tarnish to escape the Cave.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The saddlebags Tarnish scavenges from right at the beginning of The Weed? They're now discovered to be a Bag of Holding.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Apparently some of the "fellas" that Cranberry has rescued took exception to being rescued by a mare.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Celestia threatens to feed Tarnish buttery scones and tea when he refuses to reveal Maledico.
    Celestia: Surely you can tell me just a little… or else it will be the cream cheese tarts! No doubt, those will shave years off of your life, years that you will miss!
  • Cool Car: The Egg, the basic structure is made from airship-grade aluminium, and it has more storage space than older carts while being a significant amount lighter as well as containing living accommodations (including, to Tarnish's delight, a sink). Unfortunately, most ponies can't afford it due to sheer cost.
  • The Corruption: The Black Star twists anything its power touches.
  • Cue the Sun: Downplayed, Celestia delays the sunset to buy Tarnish time to destroy the Crown.
  • Culture Justifies Anything: Dig Dag attempts to claim that he has a right to preserve his culture, even when that culture involves slavery.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Octavia when she encounters Long Ears, much to his distress.
  • Disney Death: Helianthus is disintegrated by a Nullwood door. Fortunately, it just destroys her body, kicking her soul into the Astral until Celestia can make her another one. Later on, Philomena is shredded by Grogar's shadows, but being a phoenix, it doesn't really do much.
  • Dispel Magic: Anything passing through a Nullwood door is subject to this effect.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • The heroes take care to bury the bones of the spectral guardian. A common tradition in an Earth Pony funeral is to dance on the grave, mirroring springtime traditions of dancing on the planted seeds to pack down the earth.
    • Diamond Dogs burn their dead in the forges, believing the souls of good dogs to join the Everflame and make the forge's products stronger to help their descendants survive.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Grogar is working for them, and they provided the Black Star that forms the heart of his Crown.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Flamingo is able to manifest as a spirit and take the fight directly to Grogar's shadows during the climax.
  • Emotion Bomb: A fear-based one is in the entrance to the Scariest Cave.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The Centaurs foresaw one, and did what they could to help the world survive it. Later, improperly destroying the Crown Of Corruption could result in one, if the heroes are lucky.
  • Foreshadowing: Tree Hugger describes Tarnish's aura as being more rooted to earth than aether, foreshadowing the reveal of his being a Druid.
  • Gratuitous Latin: The story title, Venenum Iocus, is also the scientific name of poison joke.
  • Groin Attack: Used to revive Tarnish after he nearly drowns. He spends the next few chapters complaining about it.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The Timber Wolves were created by the Centaurs as a defense mechanism, but their magic got corrupted, turning them into the monsters of the modern day.
  • Green Thumb: Tarnish, while sleeping outside in the Pie farm with Maud, causes poison joke flowers to spontaneously grow around him.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Maledico sacrifices what is left of his existence to destroy the Crown of Corruption.
  • Heroic Willpower: The only way Tarnish is able to carry Grogar's Crown out of the cave so it can be destroyed.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Because of the events of The Weed, Tarnish has become known as "The Most Dangerous Unicorn in Equestria" in certain sections of the media, with those same groups calling for his institutionalization and/or experimentation. Twilight Sparkle swears she'll protect Tarnish, though, and assures him most of it's just bluster.
  • Mating Dance: Tarnish and Maud, and Vinyl and Octavia have one at the Society ball. An interesting one because the dance starts with the pairs as Maud/Octavia and Vinyl/Tarnish and is somewhat risque due to Vinyl trying to provoke Octavia, but it's not until they actually swap to their romantic partners that it really turns into this trope.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: The Scariest Cave not following this trope frustrates the heroes in the early stages of their investigation, and tips them off that there's something weird going on.
  • Mood Whiplash: After an intimate and emotional discussion of rape by the group, Helianthus teleports into their campfire.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Minori taught Dig Dag how to be both smart and strong, and he instead turned against her, enslaving her and the other females of his tribe.
  • Not So Different: Continuing on from The Weed, the intro to the very first chapter makes it clear that Tarnish and poison joke are not very different from each other, in that they want to help others, but ponies fear them because they can't understand them (or care to).
  • Precision F-Strike: Maud, describing the dark side of high society to Tarnish.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Maud appreciates the potential for this that Tarnish's Voodoo Dolls permit.
  • A Pupil of Mine, Until He Turned to Evil: Dig Dag was Minori's student, and learned how to be smart and strong. He later used his newfound knowledge to gain power, and enslave the females of his tribe, including his former teacher.
  • Reality Ensues: Tarnish is left with quite a bit of trauma from narrowly escaping a volcanic eruption. He even rewatched the film he caught of it, just so he could make sense of things.
  • Rescue Romance: Vinyl and Octavia became friends when an unscrupulous stallion conned Vinyl into thinking he could give her a job, but instead tried to force her into prostitution. Octavia beat him to a pulp and they fled to Las Pegasus.
  • Ring of Power: The heroes find a powerful Ring of Elemental Authority in an abandoned ruin, granting the user power over fire relative to their natural power as a unicorn. Vinyl ends up taking it.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The cave contains the bound essence of Grogar and his crown.
  • She's Back: Pinkie Pie is in a depression after learning her coltfriend only wanted to sleep with her because she was the Element of Laughter. But a telegram from Cheese Sandwich, requesting her help, puts her back on track.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: The sight of Tarnish, once Habby Dasher has seen to him, is enough to strike Maud dumb and make her drop her wine glass in shock. Maud's formal gown later has a similarly stupefying effect on Tarnish.
  • Shoot the Dog: The Stranger considers her slaughter of the defeated Diamond Dogs this, and attempts to convince Tarnish of the rightfulness of her cause.
  • Shower of Love: Seeing the facilities at their Society apartment gives both Maud and Tarnish ideas.
  • There Is Only One Bed: "A quaint Trottingham tradition", due to the rampant poverty in the area, and a significant part of Vinyl and Octavia's early relationship. Becomes something of a Running Gag with the pair later ending up with guests in their bed, completely innocently (Octavia likes the sense of togetherness, although some bad experiences have led to trust issues).
  • They Would Cut You Up: Discussed with regards to Tarnish, but Twilight says that she wouldn't permit it, and most of it is just bluster to look like the talkers are doing something.
  • Tracking Device: How Vinyl and Octavia find Tarnish and Maud, there's a spell on the book Vinyl gave Tarnish that lets her track it.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Tarnish has an entirely understandable response to the treatment needed for Trixie's infected leg.
  • Voodoo Doll: Tarnish learns how to make these, but in a nod to the folklore roots of the trope, using them for hexes is considered taboo. He later uses one to heal Trixie, and seriously considers hexing The Stranger, and ends up using Sneezeberry extract to drive her off. Even that earns him a lecture from a more experienced worker.
  • Weakened by the Light: The Ghastlies in the upper levels of the Scariest Cave begin burning when exposed to sunlight, fortunately for Tarnish and Flamingo. Later on, Grogar's shadows cannot harass Tarnish once he leaves the Cave.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Tarnish waking up after the Society ball in bed with Vinyl and Octavia, as well as Maud. Nothing untoward happened.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Tarnish gets a lecture in the Astral from a zebra shaman for using Hoodoo to bring harm.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: An act of epic destruction and an act beautiful creation are both required to safelynote  destroy the Black Star at the heart of Grogar's crown.

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