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End of an Era · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
Opal, Gemstones, Salt, Wood, Crystal and Stubbornness
There is a portion of Canterlot library now that is hidden from its guests, not by secret doors or palace guards, but with a carefully cultivated obscurity. In truth, it’s not located in the library at all, only in its budget.

Celestia had been emphatic on two points: Everypony who wished to visit would be allowed, should they ask. Also, that nopony should know that it were here to ask about.

Her sister found it a shamefully disrespectful manner in which to honour the memories of national heroes, but perhaps in a few decades hence she would be done with this selfish mourning period and cease hoarding them unto herself.

As Luna’s silver-shod hooves clicked down the empty marble hall, she took time to consider the early morning light streaming through the stained glass windows. These memories ponies knew about. The hall of stained glass stood testament to the valorous deeds of those entombed - enshrined? - here.

Coming in so soon, before the small crowds and school groups were to arrive, allowed Luna the side benefit of the morning sun hitting those windows almost perpendicular, filling the darkened hall with bright and festive colours stretching almost to the other wall. Still, such a warm and gentle light, as befitting the early Autumn.

It felt significant as she approached the vault that contained most of the Elements of Harmony at the far end, hoofsteps echoing the whole approach.

She considered teleporting the distance, but it seemed disrespectful to the moment.

Her horn slid neatly into the lock, and the wall parted.

The vault had once contained a box with the Elements of Harmony resting on velvet lining, an armory in times of national crisis. The Tree of Harmony had seen fit to instead give them more directly to their bearers, and so it had been repurposed almost a century ago to be a receptacle more fitting to containing them once again.

It had been over a century ago, after all, when Rainbow Dash had died young, in a blaze of glory, that the refurbishments took place.

She lay closest to the entrance, her tomb rising up to Luna’s collarbone and stretching further back against the wall than Rainbow needed space. She had once made the joke that she wanted a big coffin, so everypony thought she must have been bigger than she was. Her friends had honoured the unintentional request, and here she lay in a tomb of opal, appearing at first to be of stately white marble but, as you approached, you could see all the trapped rainbows echoing within. It was, decidedly, “awesome”.

On the opposite side of each casket, ordered chronologically, were bookshelves chronicling their lives, free for public perusal should they find a qualified librarian who even knew about this collection.

Luna plucked from them a scroll tube she had read dozens of times before, back from when everybody, even they, seemed to think them immortal.

Dear Princess Celestia

According to my latest research, the Laminos mountain range isn’t a mountain range at all! It’s actually the dormant body of a dragon named Laminos! This is unprecedented if true. That dragons could grow to such monolithic sizes, and what this could potentially mean about their lifespans, is unfathomable!

Fortunately, Rainbow Dash and I seek to fathom it. She heard it was geology, and thought that was boring, but I told her actually because it might actually have been alive, it was archeology. That got her excited. Spike’s excited, too, for obvious reasons.

We’ll report back on the findings of our adventure within the week.

You faithful student

Princess Twilight Sparkle

Still hit her like a punch to the gut, even after all these years.

To the right of the scroll was a book summarizing Twilight and Rainbow’s findings and the events of what happened next, written a short time later by a very credible biographer. Her work had moved mountains, unfortunately.

She moved instead to the other scroll, sent during the immediate aftermath.

Rainbow’s dead and it’s my fault

Regret is the feeling of trying to change something which has already happened.

The pain in the message leaked through both ink and through time.

But still, Luna smiled softly at the opal tomb.

With the passing of time she’d come to appreciate Rainbow’s death differently. She went exactly how she would have wanted to, and was remembered for it well.

A gold plaque shimmered on the opal, and these fateful words inscribed forevermore:

Rainbow Danger-Responsibility Dash
The loyalest of friends
Loving adoptive sister
National hero
Died in combat with a mountain to save a Princess

Twilight would insist to the last that Rainbow had done it all herself, but she knew from her dreams -- dreams that would plague her for years after -- that she had done much, wishing only that she could have done more when Laminos had awoken, hungry.

So while it was true that Rainbow had fallen in the line of duty, well...

A matching plaque to this one, carved thickly into basalt, lay at the bottom of the Laminos Crater.

There had been a state funeral held in Canterlot, of course. Cloudsdale drifted by to overlook the procession and generate a thick carpet of black, rumbling storm clouds. There had been a few complaints about the Wonderbolts performing at the procession, but none made by any who knew the deceased. The performance itself was... rapturous, with the Wonderbolts flying upside down and weaving in and out of the thick cloud layer, giving the appearance of fish breaking the surface of a mirrored and turbulent ocean.

That too, had been ‘awesome’.

They had still been young and in the public eye, by then, having faced down Discord, the Changelings, hosted diplomatic sanctions, saved the Crystal Empire, thwarted Tirek, pushed back the Kelpies... Dash herself spearheading new relations with the gryphons.

Her birthday was, for the next decade, recognized as a national day of mourning and remembrance. Her friends would honour and remember it far longer.

So many scrolls and books filled the space between Dash’s opal tomb and the inverted geode that housed Rarity, the next of the bearers to fall.

By then Twilight had found a distressing truth. Where was the scroll... It must be about a third from Dash, towards...

Ah, there it was.

Dear Princess Luna

Twilight rarely messaged her directly, always having a preference for Celestia and informing Luna by proxy, which made each letter directed to her that much more significant in her memory.

Are you familiar with the concept of dryads?

Well, I’m sure you know of them, but I’m referring specifically to the idea that they’re tree spirits bonded to particularly old, significant trees. They live so long as the tree lives, and die with it.

Is there any historical evidence of the inverse being true?

With Utmost Respect
Twilight Sparkle

Maybe only seven, eight years after Dash had died, and still Twilight figured it out decades before anypony else would even suspect. Of course she kept it to herself. Celestia had taken to chastising her for paranoia out of grief, which is why the letter had been directed to her, instead.

Another reason to be so disappointed in her sister. She had a dangerous habit of woefully underestimating her student time and time again.

In retrospect, it was obvious Twilight was looking into the Tree of Harmony, but she had been far too dense to see it at the time, and the letter too bereft of context to infer from. Another regret, another thing that had already happened she was still trying to change.

Rarity, then.

She had died... old enough that a young pony sees it as a life well lived, young enough that it’s a tragedy to those long enough out of their youth. There were streaks of elegant silver in her mane which she refused to dye out or hide, adamant that she was beauty, and if people’s idea of beauty or she were to have to change...

Well. She didn’t blink, not to the very end. And it must be said, she aged like wine. Of the four entombed here, she was the only one to benefit from preservation magic, and her tomb filled with an inert noble gas to slow decomposition should the magic fail for whatever reason.

Twilight had been in a macabre mood after Rainbow’s death, and sought to perfect details for her friends in case of emergency. Endearingly pragmatic.

Rarity had thrown herself into her designs and shows and performances year after year after year until her heart gave out. Then, she continued to do so for another three years until it gave out a second time.

Then another five years more working like a mare possessed until it didn’t start again.

The first heart attack had scared Rarity more than anything. She had slowed down for a little while, longer than Luna had expected. High salt levels from years of hors d'oeuvres and wine and little else. An incredible amount of stress she refused to admit or acknowledge.

Trying to stop seemed to make it worse. She was never the sort to be able to just... stop and relax.

Luna pulled another scroll.

“Dear Princess Celestia.

I’m aware I have not written in quite some time. Dreadfully sorry about that, I’m just far too afraid you’re simply as busy as I am, and don’t wish to make of myself a nuisance. I’m sure my friends have written countless reassurances on my behalf that I have been taking it easy, squirreled away in my fabulous, but tasteful, mansion with any number of scrumptious young men to while away my time with... I’ve rather gotten the hang of tennis recently.

Get your mind out of the gutter, your highness,

I’d like to imagine you smiled at that, because I feel I know you better than one might expect.

And, because I expect one knows me just as well, I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that I’m about to disappoint my friends immeasurably.

I’ve rather found I can’t
not be creating. And if I am to be creating, I cannot be giving it less than my all.

I suppose all this is a dreadfully longwinded way of saying I am retiring from retirement, come what may.

Most sincerely and emphatically
Lady Rarity”

The second heart attack had come shortly after. She had apparently used a powerful electrical spell on her heart when it had happened, and it had sufficed long enough to get her into the emergency ward.

It was there that she wrote again, a pair of letters.

Luna held those up, now, side by side. They were ensconced in the same scroll tube, after all.

Dear Princess Celestia

I find myself infirm again, most dreadfully.

It seems clear then that my path before me forks thus: Coax myself into a retirement of high society and reap the rewards of a lifetime of work. Enjoy a prolonged existence in the luxury I do so deserve.


I work myself to the grave trying to build for myself an enduring legacy in the ephemeral world that is fashion, where a success is any garment that lives to see a second season. I charge recklessly into oblivion with a Dashing smile, working until I collapse so thoroughly from exhaustion I dare not rise again, in a futile and foolhardy effort to weave a frail web that will stand against the gust.

The decision, then, is an obvious one to me.

Tell me, what are your thoughts on gold silk?

Allonsy, Dear Princess.

Dear Princess Luna

You already know. Don’t be coy, it’s most unbecoming of you.

I don’t feel up to writing it twice, as I believe I achieved perfection fussing over the last letter. You and your sister can share a monologue between yourselves, I trust?

Which leaves me one question before I go Dashing off again:

How do you feel about a silver silk gown?

Allonsy, Dear Princess

The Dashing was capitalized for both. The meaning was obvious.

Say what you will, but those two were the most competitive of the six by far. And Rarity, ever the romantic, would never settle for being outdone.

Luna only ever wore the silver silk gown to the Grand Galloping Gala every year. It was the only thing in a very long lifetime that ever made her excited to go. She broke her own rule occasionally, between herself and her mirror, because Rarity had a way of making a design so wonderfully flattering.

When she put that dress on, she always saw her best possible self look back at her. Celestia had similar feelings about her own dress, which appeared for all the world like it had been dipped in sunbeams and stretched to her skin.

Thus, staring at Rarity’s jewel-encrusted tomb filled her with a deep anger again. For on it lay a very simple plaque:

“For those truly in need, take a gem and let it inspire you. Remember to pay it back whenever you’re able.”

Not a single gem had come to have been shared. And while Rarity’s many philanthropic organizations had withstood the test of time, there seemed to be something very deeply wrong with denying her this one last wish, that one day this tomb would be reduced to simple granite as tokens of inspirations were plucked one by one by those truly daring or desperate enough to chance the palace guards... and perhaps, one day, returned.

Romantic? Absolutely. Wildly naive? Undoubtedly.

But To be this generous, after death, was a true Rarity.

Another state funeral, more restrained this time.

Their conquests over insurmountable odds had become less frequent, though no less significant. Rarity’s procession was mourned almost as much as Dash’s had been, but also remarkably differently.

Dash had been a roar of crying ponies on the streets and thrown flowers at portraits and posters of her smiling face along the route. An explosion of frantic energy.

Rarity instead was mourned by all in a manner befitting nobility. Orderly lines of quiet ponies dressed all in black stretched from the train station from Ponyville, the town in which a quiet service with her friends had been attended prior, all the way to the gates of the castle. The line was not remarkably thick at places but it was unbroken nonetheless.

The murmuring was quiet and dignified.

Canterlot fell silent and, as a city, stopped as all eyes were on Rarity one last time. She was carried through the streets in a glass coffin, preservative magic already in effect, looking for all the world like she was sleeping through what was, perhaps, her crowning moment of glory.

Perhaps she made the right decision. She went on her own terms, and without regrets.

A week later, a book was sent in place of a friendship letter. Luna walked along the shelves until she found... ah yes, this one.

A Treatise on the Theoretical Ramifications of Inverse Dryadica on the Tree of Harmony
By Doctor Princess Twilight Sparkle

Ever since Rainbow’s death, Twilight had thrown herself into her work in a big way. Not just the academics, but taking it upon herself to become a vanguard of the kingdom like her brother before her.

The battle scholar had taken a particular interest in the Everfree, and her newfound martial prowess enabled her to take long expeditions alone. She had come to prefer it that way.

Fortunately her friends didn’t particularly let her, but there was only so much they could do, and a line had been drawn at the days-long camps outside the Tree of Harmony observing every minute detail.

Luna scanned through the resulting work, sent to her a scant month after Rarity’s death.

The treatise was full of the sketches she had done over years, categorizing minor details and observations, frequent magical aura and potency tests, and the results had been utterly damning:

When Rainbow Dash had died, a part of the tree had died with her. This had been reaffirmed by Rarity’s death, and a chilling quote from the book on page... it was towards the back certainly... ah, yes, here. The dogeared one she kept turning to whenever the thought to crossed her mind.

Another branch has fallen from the tree in front of me and lies now, at my hooves. It seems to have amputated itself neatly, and already begins to rot. The time is 11:49am. I suspect one of my friends has died. The branchest was closest to Rarity’s symbol on the trunk. Though the observations in the coming weeks may prove critical, I cannot bring myself to remain here right now. Normally I would leave Spike in charge, as he is qualified, but if my suspicions are what I fear them to be then it would be remarkably cruel of me to do so.

Rarity would be pronounced deceased just three minutes later, after attending a Manehattan charitable brunch.

The Elements had been removed from the Tree and instilled in their bearers, but it did not seem that there was a way for that power to be returned. A mutual, symbiotic relationship had been established and that link had been severed twice now.

Twilight did not tell her friends, just the Princesses. The life of the Bearers had become a matter of grave national urgency, and it seemed the only solution was to tell them not to be mortal anymore.

This was not a flippant remark. Luna walked past Pinkie’s tomb, carved from slabs of rock salt from her family’s farm, to Fluttershy’s plaque.

She was one of the two Elements not interred here.

Instead there was an oak plaque informing the reader that Fluttershy was buried in the Whitetail Woods holding weeping willow seeds. She always did want to be a tree...

It had grown for thirty years now, and had matured into a gorgeous tree that provided shade for all manner of little creatures in the summer.

Below it, though, a soapstone carving of Discord, looking very at peace.

Luna had broached the topic to Discord at one of the Reformed Villain Book Club meetings Twilight had started and initially enforced. While Chrys was distracted with another trashy romance novel, she’d managed to take him aside and remind him that Fluttershy, too, was dreadfully mortal.

It hadn’t seemed to occur to him before. Not even with her increasing age, not even the deaths of Rarity and Rainbow had shaken him out of denial. To him, Fluttershy seemed as ageless and eternal as himself.

After putting the refreshments table in his pocket, he left rather abruptly. Celestia received a letter.

“Dear Princess Celestia.

Discord offered me eternity. I had to politely decline.


Sincerely, Fluttershy.”

The next time she saw him, she asked him about the situation. Apparently Fluttershy had been very persuasive in her reasoning. A little too persuasive. The mad god being what he was, he decided that he was going to spend the rest of his life with her.

So he gave his up.

Apparently, he confessed to Luna, he had to put it all somewhere. Apparently he’d decided to invest his in a particular handful of weeping willow seeds...

Sappy old bastard. She missed him at the bookclubs. When he started aging, he truly did start acting mortal in the most bizarre ways. His sense of humour certainly improved. And one time a few years later, for the book club, he’d brought a clutch of fables. She almost didn’t notice, he was reading behind the covers of his usual graphic novels.

She didn’t even know the old fool could be shy about something.

He’d said Fluttershy’s grandchildren liked it when he read to them, and that they liked how he told the stories with the best voices. Luna had never seen him so proud, and Chrys had sat up, licking the air with interest. Apparently whatever Discord felt for that family was delicious.

Strangely touching.

Fluttershy was the first to not be nationally mourned, to not have a state funeral. She and Discord both went together -- her first, and him deciding to follow soon after -- and was attended locally, by Twilight and Applejack, by her family, and by all the woodland creatures for miles around.

The resulting bird migration actually disrupted weather patterns from Appleloosa to Las Pegasus.

The bookclub attended as well, from a safe distance. Celestia made a callous comment about the Tree of Harmony failing as it was, at least it had taken such a monumental threat to national security with it.

She hadn’t chanced him his redemption in his later years.

Pinkie Pie, by contrast, in her tomb of salt -- the only rock you can eat!!! And it’s a preservative!!! And it makes candy taste better!!! -- was mourned with forty eight hours of straight partying in the streets, something she had been planning for years in advance. All her friends attended, which unfortunately devolved into another impromptu national holiday.

It was bizarre, but Pinkie had been so adamant leading up to her final years that she’d live forever if she could, but she couldn’t, and she didn’t want everybody to be sad like they were for Rarity and Rainbow, because she didn’t want anybody to be sad over her, ever ever ever.

Another scroll from the case, then. Luna needed to exorcise some demons, today, it seemed.

Dear Princess Luna

I know you know all about nightmares, so I was hoping you could help me with this one pretty super duper please?

Today I had a dream that I forgot a pony’s birthday, except I was awake. It scared me a lot.

What do I do?

Your Friend
Pinkie Pie

This one Luna understood even at the time, which made it hurt all the more.

Pinkie Pie was not a forgetful pony. She had a special mind for birthdays especially. She’d even found out Luna’s.

She... what had she done again?

“I baked you a cake every seventeen days and just gave it to you like an afterthought and, because it’s me, you just probably thought ah, it’s just Pinkie being Pinkie, and forgot about it. And because it happened every weird prime number of days, you didn’t figure out my pattern! But as soon as it was your birthday, you’d see significance in the cake for the first time and ask about it, which is how I’d known I’d gotten it right! And even if you didn’t, I’d have got to share cake with a Princess, which was also great.”

She’d done this every seventeen days for three years before she got lucky, on her seventy first guess.

What the letter had been telling Luna, then, is that Pinkie had noticed the first signs of dementia.
No magic in Equestria yet devised could treat it, in spite of Twilight Sparkle’s prolonged efforts.

Pinkie had long ago married a charming and infinitely kind children’s show presenter, but never managed to have kids of their own. They’d tried very hard, and Pinkie would admit in a particular dream Luna... observed that he was just infinitely kind, but remarkably generous.

No greater tragedy befell Equestria that its two kindest ponies, no two who loved children and teaching more, would not... It was a cruelty. The true greatness of the two certainly turned their unspent potential for love and caring outwards rather than inwards to bitterness.

She had married older, though, and he could not accompany her through those last few years, as dutiful as she was to him for his.

Thus as close as she was to everybody, there was nobody but the Princesses and the remaining Elements who would come to know that she was... having increasing difficulties with memory, with ability to think.

Her ability to appear in mysterious places, out of potted plants, the strange magic that surrounded her made it easy to play off when she had simply gotten lost out of confusion, until she had to move back to Ponyville from the home she had shared with her husband in the suburbs. To be closer to the other Elements again.

She cultivated that, of course, the belief that she was just crazy old Pinkie Pie. Ponies would say, she’s always been so random. And she would laugh, because she never wanted anybody to worry about her, no matter what.

Luna didn’t read the scrolls this time. This one hurt a little too much.

Twilight had fought Celestia about it once, drunk. The pink and purple bands in her hair had turned silver and white, but her eyes burned when she decried Celestia for being unable to help. And Celestia had admonished Twilight harshly for confronting her, and for doing so inebriated.

She and Fluttershy would care for Pinkie as she grew more confused, and her fear eased with each passing day as she grew less and less aware of her own condition. Soon she forgot even her husband.

Her last words had been to Fluttershy. Pinkie had been confused, and scared then. She had asked...

“Where’s Rainbow Dash? I haven’t seen her in a while.”

And so she passed.



But ponies would always remember the parties, the joyous celebration of the life that had been and was. That was the legacy she left behind, the memory long after her own had failed her.

When Pinkie died, the Tree had stopped blossoming. When Fluttershy passed, every leaf upon it shrivelled into nothingness and laid it bare.

Which just left Twilight, the oldest of the six interred here and the last to die. Her status as an alicorn had granted her longevity, yes, but-

Luna jumped as somepony slapped her on the butt, hard.

“Snuck up on ya, did I, your Royal Moodiness?”

Luna smiled, even as she nursed the welt. “Applejack. Still have a hoof of iron, I see.”

“Yeah, well, helps to keep a firm hoof around the little ‘uns or they’ll overwhelm ya. What you doing back here again?”

Luna thought about it. What was she doing here again?

“Remembering.” She admitted. “Paying my respects.”

“Nah, that ain’t it at all. You’re regrettin’ things again, aincha?” Applejack knocked her hat back, and though the muscles beneath those bags and wrinkles were still strong as steel cables, she trembled like a suspension bridge caught in a crosswind. “What I go and tell you about regrets, Black Snooty?”

And her smile widened, even as she winced at the old, familiar name. “Regret is trying to change-”

Applejack waved it off. “See, you do remember, and here you are actin’ like a dang fool over it again.”

A comfortable silence.

“They were the best of us.” Luna admitted.

Again the hat knocked back, and Applejack mosied over to the dark purple crystal that encased Twilight’s form, a gift from the empire. It was a little rough, but Spike had far more elbow grease to give than prior experience sculpting, that was to be expected. “Yeah. Maybe Twilight was the best of us all. You’re up to her now, I reckon.”

“Am I really so transparent?”

“Reckon you read the same scrolls in the same order at the same time, every year. Reckon I managed to catch you in the act this time though. Gotta get up real early in the morning to pull one over these old bones, Your Highness.”

Luna stared at Twilight.

“It’s been decades. How-”

Applejack cut her off. “If this is gunna be a remark about my age, Princess, I’ll have you know I’m just far too stubborn. Someone’s gotta be lookin’ after the little ‘uns.”

“I was not, but now I’m afraid I must. You have been saying that for three generations now.”

A snort, and the wobbling Applejack rested her weight against Twilight’s crystal coffin. Luna winced, but the gesture was certainly far too affectionate and necessary to broach upon outright disrespectful. Besides, the old mare might whoop her one if she tried to protest. “Well, ain’t my fault the family breed like bunnies, no mistake. Soon as I reckon they’ve got things under their belt, whole new ones sweep in to take up the slack.”

Applejack; Dread Babysitter Eternal.

“The Tree of Harmony is just down to the trunk, now, you realize.” Luna intoned. “All of Equestria might fall should the grand matriarch of the Apple family fall.”

“But no pressure, right, Highness?”

“I'm sure it's nothing you're not used to.”

More silence.

"I do miss 'em, you know." Applejack admitted matter-of-factly. "Raised lord knows how many, scattered ourselves across Equestria, and even then I don't think an Apple's ever had such luck with friends." She nodded towards the opal tomb. "Rainbow brought us together when we didn't know it, and so she was the first." She nodded towards the crystal she was leaning on. "Twilight? Brought us together when we did, and so she's the last."

"Forgive me, but wouldn't you be the last?"

"Yeah, well," the old mare snorted, grinning wide as ever, "heck, haven't gotten round to it yet, have I? I'll tell you when I make my mind up on the whole thing."

Silence still.

"What do you think about them being hidden away like this?"

Applejack rubbed her jaw. "Well, some ponies might see it as respectful, giving them their rest like this. But you got Dash, here, right? She wouldn't stand it, bless her. Rarity neither, she put way too much work into this whole, being remembered thing. Twilight would be against it on general principles, 'cause this is meant to be a museum, right? Ooh, she'd hate ponies not being allowed near so many one-of-a-kind history books." She nodded at the friendship reports lining the shelves.

"What of Pinkie?"

"Well, I reckon she'd be alright either way, wouldn't she, so long as she weren't alone."

They agreed on that.

Luna frowned. Something was definitely wrong here.

"You didn't come here just to catch me, did you, Applejack?"

Applejack tapped a trembling hoof to the side of her nose. "Right you are, Princess. Reckon I came here to pay my last respects. Trunk split on the Tree this week, Princess, and I think we both know what that means."

Luna sighed, deep and bitter. Her throat started tightening up, drying. "Just been far too stubborn?"

"By a mite, yeah. But it's all catchin' up to me. Lasted far longer than I had any right to. Outlived some of the trees, honestly, and ain't that a dang sight? I've had my fair share."

"Equestria thanks you for your service. I thank you for your friendship."

"You're a little terrible at this, ain't you, Princess?"

Luna's lips absolutely did not tremble, she assured herself, and her eyes remained dry.

She was about to lose the last of them. Equestria...

Applejack coughed, throwing herself up off the crystal tomb and back into Luna's side affectionately. "Hey, it's alright, Luna. I'm old, I'm tired, I'm cranky, and I creak like a rusted barn door."

Luna rubbed her eyes against a foreleg, sniffled a little. "I just wish, with Twilight-"

"Hey, now. None of that. No regrets. You did your best with that one, tried your hardest. She just wouldn't settle down, would she? Ain't your fault. Just... look after the place when I'm gone, yeah? I don't want nothin' fallin' on the head of my family just because I turn my back for a little bit. There are little 'uns to think of, you know?"

"There always are..."

"Well. Was nice seeing you Princess. I'll be headin' home now. Don't reckon we'll be seein' each other again."

"Awfully blunt."

Applejack didn't look back as she pulled her weight back underneath her, started walking out of the museum with all the vigor of a much younger pony. "Nah. Just honest."

And as Luna watched after her she thought to herself... this is it.

Here ends the age of harmony.

Without the magic of harmony, Equestria was about to enter into most troubling times, and it no longer had its greatest ponies to guide it.
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#1 · 4
· · >>Bad Horse >>Morning Sun >>MrNumbers
Opal, Gemstones, Salt, etc, etc

Okay, first review up! Opal, Gemstones, Salt, Wood, Crystal and Stubbornness.

First, author, I applaud the deliberate omission of the Oxford Comma. Good choice. However, I’m not sure that a six-item list is the best title for a story. We’ll see how it plays out, I guess.

The first thing that strikes me is the perspective. It seems to be third-person omniscient, as there’s no clear character we’re attached to. But then we get to this line:

Her sister found it a shamefully disrespectful manner in which to honour the memories of national heroes, but perhaps in a few decades hence she would be done with this selfish mourning period and cease hoarding them unto herself.

This is clearly shaded with Luna’s perspective, and it uses somewhat archaic language (‘unto herself’) at the end. So right away this feels like a Luna story even though Luna’s name hasn’t even come up yet.

So, this is something I’ve seen before -- story telling by proxy. Luna is visiting the tombs of the Elements, and by perusing them we get hints at how they lived and died. It’s a story about a story, in other words.

It can work. I’ve seen it happen. The Princess Bride uses the framing device of a grandfather reading a story to his sick grandson, after all.

But let’s talk about Telling for a moment. We get Luna reading a scroll about poor Rainbow’s death, and how Twilight thinks it’s her fault, and then this:

Regret is the feeling of trying to change something which has already happened.

The pain in the message leaked through both ink and through time.

Was that necessary? I thought Twilight’s scroll conveyed her regrets very well -- there’s no need to bludgeon the reader over the head with it.

By now the title’s conceit is becoming clear. Six words, six tombs. But that last one, ‘Stubbornness.’ That sticks out enough to pique my interest.

So, after the second tomb, this story is starting to read like an extended obituary for a good friend. And there’s four coffins to go!

So, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie. I love the Reformed Villains book club idea, and Chrysalis tasting Discord’s emotions. But then we get to this line:

No greater tragedy befell Equestria that its two kindest ponies, no two who loved children and teaching more, would not... It was a cruelty.

Old ponies dying of old age, surrounded by friends and loved ones, is not a tragedy! Unless Luna has simply gotten sappy in her old age, she should surely recognize that young ponies dying is much more tragic (though not, technically, a tragedy as the Greeks would have understood the term).

Okay, two ponies left.

And, uh…

Well, based on the ‘stubbornness’ in the title, I was half-expecting Applejack to be the last survivor. I wasn’t expecting her to be a survivor, though. That’s some intense mood whiplash, especially with how jocular she is.

Then she wanders off, leaving Luna alone, and we’re back to sad. How, she wonders, will Equestria survive without the Elements of Harmony?

I don’t know, of course, but just tossing this out: the same way they survived for the thousands or so years she was on the moon and the elements were balls of rock in her old castle.

This story features some good writing, but it’s in the service of a premise that doesn’t deliver much. The main character never does anything. The secondary characters just die. Celestia, apparently, never lost any close friends during her thousands of years of life until just now.

Also, this story has been written already. Several times. In fact, it’s a pretty common story -- the mortal ponies die and the immortal ponies are sad. If you want to stick out from that crowd, you need to do something extraordinary, and simply being more sad probably isn’t the way to go.

So, in conclusion:

Pros: good writing, decent mechanics. A bit of telly language, but not too much.

Cons: Nothing particularly original. Takes the ‘everypony is sad because the elements finally died’ trope and runs it into the ground.
#2 · 1
Tragic, but not maudlin. The most apt description would be “paying respects,” because this is tremendously respectful to all involved, ending on a nicely ominous note. My only complaint is that it would’ve been nice to get more information about Twilight.

As CiG noted, this is well-travelled ground, but there’s something to be said for a good execution, especially with the hints of tension between the sisters. Nice work.
#3 · 14
>>Cold in Gardez
First, author, I applaud the deliberate omission of the Oxford Comma. Good choice.

You monster.
#4 ·
it's true, this type of story has been done often.

I'll start with the mini-stories, as Luna remembers each of the ponies' lives and their ends. each one had a little something new I hadn't seen before, while still being true to the characters. a little bit of the author's personal touch, those original ideas, I think goes a long way to keeping readers interested in this trope, instead of dismissing it as a cliche. some might prefer more inventiveness over tradition, but I think it was just enough to work well, while still being grounded in canon.

so, I liked the Mane 6's mini-stories. they were pretty nice. one of them gave me a little inspiration for an odd story idea.


but there's one more story: Luna's story. the framing story that ties them all together. I do like good framing stories.

this one falls into a common mental trap. a trap I've known well myself when trying framing stories! the structure is boring.

Luna goes to Rainbow. and then she goes to Rarity. and then she goes to Fluttershy. and then, and then, etc.

you could rearrange these in any order, except for the final pony, who MUST be last. these kinds of stories are much stronger if there's a reason for the order you chose. outside of obvious chronological order, they need some kind of link - one pony should lead to the next for a reason (e.g. there's a good reason Applejack is last. notice how that's the part where Luna's story starts becomes interesting). otherwise you could just throw out the framing story and have it be 6 seperate chapters that are linked together.

without that structure, everything depends on the strength of the individual mini-stories holding it up. and again, I think these are pretty strong on their own, but imagine if they weren't? readers will notice the pattern, and if they don't enjoy (let's say) Fluttershy's story, they'll skim past it looking for the next pony's story. or even worse, stop reading there. I might read another story about the Mane 6 dying, and get the details mixed up with this one.

as a more unified whole, it becomes a lot more difficult for a reader to skip sections, mix up details, or forget the order. it'll make a bigger impact.
#5 ·
Enjoy - Opal, Gemstones, etc… — A+ — Even and smooth, although for a few moments there I thought Fluttershy had been turned into a weeping willow. Nice transitions, engaging descriptions, and a good job making it go from the beginning to the end without the urge to skip forward.
#6 ·
There really isn't much of anything new here, but it still does a good job of hitting the feels, in my opinion. AJ's part is the best, and if she had already been dead like the others, I think the story would have been weaker. Unfortunately, that reveal is almost immediately spoiled by the title, as soon as the reader realizes the pattern.

As others have said, it's not the greatest story ever, but I think it is pretty good, and it exceeded my expectations for a genre that I long ago grew tired of.
#7 ·
· · >>The_Letter_J
I found bits and pieces here I enjoyed, but I think much of this spends its time being a bit too vague. The problem I see is that the central 'hook' is 'When the Elements die, the Tree of Harmony dies'.

And...what? An age of uncertainty, okay, but why? What does the Tree do? As others have pointed out, Equestria did just fine for 1,000 years without the Elements. Give me an In the Garden of Good and Evil where I have some inkling of why the passing of an Age is bad.

Speaking of that...

>>Cold in Gardez
Write a sequel to In the Garden of Good and Evil already. Make it a magnum opus of adventure!
#8 · 1
>>Morning Sun
And...what? An age of uncertainty, okay, but why? What does the Tree do? As others have pointed out, Equestria did just fine for 1,000 years without the Elements.

Oh yeah. I forgot to say something about this bit in my earlier review.
I think this part actually makes sense. Sure, no one knew about the Tree or used the Elements in a thousand years, but it was still there and still alive. Whatever it did was still being done. But in the season 4 premiere, we saw what happened when the Tree started to get weak: the plundervines started growing, attacked Ponyville, and kidnapped two princesses. Once the Tree is completely gone, the plundervines could easily come back, and anything else it was holding back could show up as well. Honestly, they probably should have already, since it is clearly quite weak again by the time this story takes place.
#9 ·
· · >>MrNumbers
This was quite touching, and really flowed well. Unfortunately, it's retreading tired ground. There are so, so many stories that basically reflect on the mane 6 after they're dead. This one, while certainly as good as any of the others, doesn't bring much new to the table. The exception, of course, is the title. Nice job tying in a few of those things... Pinkie, with salt "A rock you can eat!" is quite clever. The others are a bit less so though. The "reverse dryad" is clever as well, but doesn't actually lead to anything.

Overall, this is still a strong contender for me, but doesn't make the very top simply because it is a bit of a rehash. Had it shown something new, or pulled some fun twist out of the dryad thing, it'd be a lot stronger.
#10 ·
A good read, even though some constructions left me dubious.

I don’t feel competent enough to comment further.
#11 · 2
· · >>Cold in Gardez >>Posh >>The_Letter_J
>>Cold in Gardez >>Xepher

Oh I love you two so much right now.

This story was written as satire of sadfics, everything I hate about the genre, why they work anyway, and how they tend to do critically well in spite of it.

I took literally the most retread, worst, most boring initial concept I could think of with only one rule in mind: "Make it sadder".

There's enough of a framing device and background, linear plot to justify the progression, but not enough that you're punished for skipping an entire pony you don't care about.

The fact that this is now the best I've ever performed in a Writeoff is... something I'm going to need to go and reflect on.
#12 ·

I'm glad to hear this was a satire.

I'm conflicted now, though. As a satire I'm fine with it doing well in the rankings -- however, we both know that's not why it did well. It did well because plenty of people were fine with it on its merits as a sadfic.

That's what has me down today.
#13 ·
>>MrNumbers I'll be honest with you; I read it as a straight sadfic and didn't care for it. I abstained from voting when I saw how well it was doing with everyone else, though.

But I think I can appreciate it more as satire now that I know.
#14 · 5
· · >>MrNumbers
This story was written as satire of sadfics, everything I hate about the genre, why they work anyway, and how they tend to do critically well in spite of it.

Honestly, if I had known that, this story would have been knocked down to near the bottom of my ballot. As satire, this story fails miserably. Even though I know that it's supposed to be satire, I still can't see it. When I read this story, all I see is a standard sadfic.
It takes more than just writing a sadfic ironically to make it satire. You need to write a story that is sad, but has an at least somewhat clear "this is stupid" message. If you wanted to do that, I would have recommended making the story about Luna instead walking through the Ponyville cemetery, remembering the lives and deaths of every single pony you can think of. It would be sad, but it would also be a bit ridiculous, and it would have a clear "everyone dies, so stop making such a big deal about it" message.
#15 · 2
· · >>The_Letter_J

I liken it to Cabin in the Woods. It's satire of a standard horror movie, because it works as a standard horror movie.

This is meant to work on its own as a standard sadfic because if it didn't, I would be mocking as an outsider, as someone who didn't understand the genre well enough to ape it. When I write it like this, I prove that's not the case, which is why I got a comment like this from you before the reveal:

and it exceeded my expectations for a genre that I long ago grew tired of.

So where's the parody?

The parody is in how ridiculously over the top it is.

To paraphrase a discussion I had with Chuck Finley when submitting this: First all the Elements died, sure. AND Rainbow died young AND Rarity killed herself for her art AND Discord died. AND Twilight died, what a twist. AND Pinkie had dementia AND she couldn't have kids AND her last words were missing Dash but forgetting she was dead AND Applejack is the last one AND she's dying too AND so is the tree of harmony AND Celestia is crippled by mourning AND Tyrant Celestia overtones AND Luna is sad AND harmony magic is dying too.

The plot arc is inconsequential and only hints at a larger, more interesting story. There is no character arc because Luna is only really a framing device. I was blatantly emotionally manipulative. There is no moral, no deeper message or meaning -- Death of the Author if you want to make it about regrets though. Everything, everything I hate about the sad-tag genre portrayed here absolutely straight.

I really don't know how much more I could do to this to make the pastiche more obvious without making it less subtle. Subtlety was important to me because, well, to draw this back to Cold In Gardez's last comment:

I'm conflicted now, though. As a satire I'm fine with it doing well in the rankings -- however, we both know that's not why it did well. It did well because plenty of people were fine with it on its merits as a sadfic.

That was my objective, and I think I accomplished it nicely.
#16 · 3
I realize that you might not see this comment, but I didn't have time to reply until now.

So where's the parody?

The parody is in how ridiculously over the top it is.

To paraphrase a discussion I had with Chuck Finley when submitting this: First all the Elements died, sure. AND Rainbow died young AND Rarity killed herself for her art AND Discord died. AND Twilight died, what a twist. AND Pinkie had dementia AND she couldn't have kids AND her last words were missing Dash but forgetting she was dead AND Applejack is the last one AND she's dying too AND so is the tree of harmony AND Celestia is crippled by mourning AND Tyrant Celestia overtones AND Luna is sad AND harmony magic is dying too.

Perhaps it does say something about the entire sadfic genre that all of that still seems entirely reasonable to me. Part of the problem might be that you set this far enough in the future that we expect them all to be dead. That makes AJ's part more interesting and improves the straight interpretation of the story, but doesn't help your satire. And death is practically tragic by definition, so it's not exactly unexpected that the stories of how these ponies died would be sad. There was practically no other way for this story to go.
Basically, A Modest Proposal doesn't work in a world where canabalism is commonplace.