Appendix III: Sunrise, Sunset, Sunrise
This is the canon ending of Not My Destiny. The story is complete at this point.
The ceremony was utterly spectacular. It had been held, by tradition, in Ponytopia, as it had been every ten years for the last two thousand. As it was such an important date, and in such an important place, all three Royal Princesses had taken part. Luna had first provided a night-long display of comets and meteor showers, Twilight had brought the glorious dawn, and Celestia had sent the sun thundering high into the sky for this, the longest day of the year.
The three thousandth Summer Sun Celebration was the biggest ever. Three days of festivities and holidays had preceded the day itself, and there were three more days of celebrations to follow. From the balcony of the enormous castle, the Royal Pony Sisters looked down on the vast crowds gathered below in the plazas and walkways and streets of the bustling capital city, and all three of them smiled.
"Well, Little Sister, that went magnificently."
"You're not kidding, Big Sister," Twilight replied to Luna. "There must be ponies here from all over Equestria! I don't think I've ever seen so many smiling faces in one place before. How about you, Biggest Sister?"
Celestia closed her eyes briefly. When she opened them again, a single golden tear, a tear of joy and love and wonder and celebration, shimmered in the corner of her large magenta eye. "Never, Littlest Sister. Never, in more than eight thousand years. Our stable has grown beyond my wildest imaginings."
"I do miss the old place," Twilight said softly. "But time marches on. Progress..."
I miss a hell of a lot more than just this place, back when it was called Ponyville.
...think about that later.
Time was the greatest paradox of all. The last two thousand years had passed in a rapid blur of memories and events and grief and joy, yet every single individual second of time had seemed to stretch and grate on as if it were years and centuries, every minute lasting thousands and thousands of unbearable years. She put it from her mind, hitched her regal expression back onto her face, and smiled down at the crowd, wondering if she could stand to stay alive for another second.
She'd lasted another ten months. Somehow. But enough was enough.
She'd made up her mind.
She was saying goodbye for the last time.
Set near the back of the palace, the lovingly-cared-for Royal Memorial Garden had been closed to the public for the afternoon. The ushers apologised to the tour groups from Old Canterlot and Manehattan, but there were VIPs attending a private ceremony.
The VIPs in question could be clearly seen through the tall, graceful fences and gates that served to partition the graveyard off from the rest of the enormous, flowing palace grounds. The tourists could see why they weren't allowed in. There were no Ponies more Very Important than these three.
As Celestia and Luna sat watching, heads leaning on each other for support, wings around each other in a rare public display of emotion, Twilight stepped reverently up to the first of the seven special headstones that stood together on a slightly elevated patch of ground near the centre of the graveyard. Bowing low for a moment, she raised her eyes and looked at the familiar, grief-filled monument. A simple cylinder of marble with carved wings emerging from the side, a small, well-polished brass plaque adorning the front.
Here She Rests In Sleep
Bearer of the Element of
Died Aged 43
It always seemed so unfair that pegasus ponies lived such short, rapid lives. This was probably why it was tradition for a pegasus to marry an earth pony or unicorn - though nopony liked to dwell on the reasons behind this, of course. Rainbow Dash shunned tradition anyway. Her Wonderbolt husband and herself had had three beautiful fillies, all of whom inherited their mother's unique hair colour, and all of whom became orphans in their early teens. Pony society was set up for such events, and a little royal attention certainly didn't hurt their chances of individual fame either. They had all followed their famous mother into the Wonderbolts, and they had all managed to perform Sonic Rainbooms. She would have transformed into the Element of Pride if she'd seen them.
A murmur of worry crossed Twilight's grief-stricken face for a moment as she said her last goodbyes to her most loyal friend. She had gone to the Vault of Harmony to retrieve the Element of Loyalty, to hang it proudly about Dash's neck as the pegasus lay in state in the old Canterlot Castle, only to find that it was missing from the chest they were kept safely in. Gone. Shocked, she thought to take the Element of Magic instead, only to find that one of the small jewels below the crown's star-shaped gemstone had transformed into a tiny thunderbolt-shaped ruby...
The shocked conversation that followed with Celestia and Luna was still vivid inside her head. Twilight had locked the Elements away again, afraid of what she would find if another friend passed away. She attended the funeral of her short-lived friend and somehow managed to manage her grief and loss for almost three decades.
And speaking of the short-lived pegasi, just as her next friend had shunned the sky to live on the ground, she also seemed to have shunned the relatively short lives of the noble flyers. No pegasus had ever reached fifty. Fluttershy shattered the record for all time. Twilight looked towards the softly-rounded pillar entwined in stone butterflies.
Bearer Of The Element Of
Died Aged 71
Friend To All
White-maned and white-coated at her death, the friend of every single living thing had spent her final morning feeding all of the animals she cared for around her cottage and grounds, as she'd done almost every morning for over half a century. She'd died on her rounds, and no bird sang anywhere in all of Equestria for more than a month.
That had done a great deal to wrench her heart from her chest, but somehow she managed. She held on. She endured. And just over thirty years later, she met the hardest test she'd had at that time.
PINKAMENA DIANE "PINKIE" PIE
Bearer Of The Element Of
Died Aged 100
The saddest day in Equestrian history. The birds silencing their morning chorus for Fluttershy was bad enough, but this...
She fought to both remember and forget Pinkie Pie, who'd passed away, still pink-and-poofy, the day after her hundredth birthday. The party itself was still legendary. Her dozens of great-grand-children had been planning it for over a year, and, typically, Pinkie herself had completely forgotten the date, even though she'd sadly remembered her beloved Gummy's birthday the day before, as she had every year since the tenacious little alligator had passed away. She was very, very surprised, and happier than she'd ever been.
Maybe that's why she died? She knew she'd never be happier?
At this point, Twilight hadn't dared to examine the Elements, though she thought she knew full-well what was happening to them. She had vowed she would never open the chest they were stored in again, not ever.
She kissed the top of the spiral pillar with the engraved balloons entwined around it, and moved on to the one on its right.
The simple three-foot-tall marble slab had a stylized apple carved into the top-right corner. Twilight gave a sniffly chuckle through her tears, thinking of what the orange earth pony with the simplest of tastes would have made of being laid to rest in such a place as this.
Bearer Of The Element Of
Died Aged 102
As Dependable As Sun And Moon
Barely eighteen months after all the happiness seemed to have vanished from Twilight's life, Applejack, the most dependable pony in the world, had died while applebucking, passing away while involved in her self-imposed duty, just like Fluttershy. The only thing that could stop her was her own death. She herself had greatly increased the numbers of the Apple family, not to mention Macintosh's and Applebloom's efforts, but even with all the help in the world, she was always out there, working the farm with the rest of them. Stubborn to a fault, and Twilight loved her dearly for it.
Pausing to wipe fresh streamers of tears from her face, Twilight bowed low before the tall, slim, diamond-shaped stone memorial. The tears were really starting to flow strongly now, despite the fact that she'd had more time to spend with her unicorn friend than she could have possibly hoped for.
Bearer Of The Element Of
Died Aged 321
Giving Until The End
Twilight was immensely proud of her most generous friend. When she'd passed away, two centuries older than any other unicorn in history, her family had been absolutely enormous, though she'd had no foals of her own. Over three hundred of Sweetie Belle's own descendants had been in attendance at the funeral, but the vast majority of the three or four thousand mourners were orphans, each one known personally to the most generous spirit to exist in living memory.
Spike and Rarity. What a pair. What had started as childhood infatuation from the dragon, and gentle humour and indulgence from the unicorn, had developed into one of the greatest, truest loves the world would ever see. Nopony thought it the least bit odd - love is where you find it, after all. And Spike and Rarity were very, very much in love.
Something about the magic of Spike's own slow aging had carried through to his wife, allowing her to reach her phenomenal mortal age. A good thing, too, because the inseparable pair had set themselves several lifetimes' worth of work to do. Unable to have their own children for the obvious reasons, they'd used their mutual fame, and Rarity's vast wealth from her to-this-day-popular fashion lines, to open the most spectacular orphanages possible in every city in the world. They ended up 'having' tens of thousands of children, and the trust-fund that still managed the places wouldn't be depleted for another three thousand years.
Of course, Spike was a dragon, and though he'd somehow slowed his wife's aging as she stood by his side - Twilight liked to think that love had a lot to do with it - he did, after all, have a lifespan measured in the thousands of years. Just after the funeral, the seven-foot-tall dragon had said goodbye to Twilight and the Princesses and flown away, to see if a hundred years of slumber would ease his broken heart.
It didn't, but he came back anyway. He really couldn't bear to stay away from Twilight. He was her number-one assistant, after all.
Honoured Above All Heroes
Killed In Battle Aged 987
He Gave His Life To Protect
His Princess, His Big Sister, His Friend
The dragons were petitioning for much longer nights and much shorter days, so Twilight and Spike had gone to see if they could reach some compromise. It was like just any other ordinary day-to-day diplomatic mission, boring as boring can be, until the dragons had attacked her, wanting to capture a Princess to use as a bargaining chip. She'd held seven or eight of them off, but there were more than twenty at the conference, and Spike, her magnificent lifelong number-one assistant, had taken on the rest of them. Alone. A half-grown dragon taking on fifteen or so fully-grown ones.
He'd killed them all, even the ones that Twilight was managing on her own, before being overcome by his wounds. Bursting into green fire during Twilight's mad dash back to Canterlot with him, he'd burned away to nothing, not even ash remaining to bury here in the garden. What was interred under the marble winged-flame pillar was a magnificent radiant-cut topaz, Spike's most treasured possession, given to him by his one true love long, long ago, and, as he often said, the only reason he'd never really started a proper hoard. What was the point if you already had the most important gemstone in all existence?
The dragons had been shocked by these events. Knowing what an alicorn could truly do, and fearing the wrath of all three Princesses, their peace treaty was binding and eternal. And it had been signed within hours. And somehow, Twilight didn't forget her oath to never open the Vault of Harmony, take what she found there, and wipe every last dragon from the face of the world. Spike would never have forgiven her. And she would never have forgiven herself.
With a burning pain in her chest, at least as hot as Spike's own leaking dragonfire in which he perished, she turned to the seventh, and final, pillar of stone. Shaped like a tall, six-sided crystal with a broken top, it was no larger than the others, yet it seemed to radiate importance of a kind the others didn't have, massively important as they all were.
This was the real reason she was here. She missed her friends enormously, but this... This was different. She visited these graves every day, but she would usually only nod at the others with respect and grief. But she would always sit down in front of the final marker, with its two criminally-small plaques, for a few minutes. The thoughtful groundspony at the time had fitted an intricately-carved flagstone just for her.
The greatest joy and the greatest sadness of her life. For more than eight hundred years after the death of Spike, she'd shunned friends, had become aloof, confided only in her two Sisters. The very model of the detached monarchy. But at Celestia's urging, she'd begun teaching in the new school for talented unicorns that had just been completed in the newly-built city of Ponytopia.
She'd taken students under her wing, taught the very best to be better. And then, she met him. Starburst, her most faithful student. He even shared her Cutie Mark exactly, showing enormous latent magical ability. A magnificently-talented young unicorn colt, he grew into a fine stallion under her watch. They became more than teacher and pupil, they became friends. The first friend she'd had in centuries.
And her heart began to thaw.
And he asked her on a date.
Her! Royalty! Going on a DATE!
Well, she wasn't really royalty, after all. She never wore any regalia. And she still didn't think of herself as a Princess.
Beloved Husband Of Princess Twilight Sparkle
Died Of A Broken Heart Aged 44
It was all she could put on the plaque. If she'd tried to put anything more on it, this plaque would be a hundred feet wide and a hundred feet tall. And there still wouldn't be enough room to say what she needed to.
Her eyes flicked from the small plaque to the equally-small one just above it. Her resolve cracked. Her silent tears became wracking, shuddering sobs as she collapsed to the ground.
PRINCESS TWILIGHT GLIMMER
Beloved Daughter Of Princess Twilight Sparkle
Tragically Died Aged 13
They had told her. Celestia and Luna had told her. Over and over, they told her of the grief to come, and how she would manage it, how she would come to terms with it, how she could live her eternal life with relative ease. How all of her massive stores of emotion could be safely bottled away.
It wasn't working out that way.
Her beautiful daughter, a wonderful deep-purple winged unicorn. Not an alicorn, which is what everypony thought at first. She was mortal. She was so very talented in magic, and was already a fantastic flyer when...
No, she would not remember. She would die right here if she remembered. Starburst HAD died right here, on this very spot, refusing to leave, becoming sick, dying. Dying of a broken heart, and breaking her heart even more.
No, she wouldn't die. She would fall to her grief, as Luna once fell to her jealousy. She would exile herself, probably back to the moon, probably forever.
But she might not. She might become a new Night Mare, and impose her grief and suffering on every creature in the world.
She could not take that risk.
Standing up, at long last, she noticed the sun had set and the moon was halfway up the sky. She'd been here for hours, sobbing on the ground at the foot of her daughter's memorial. She brushed off her legs and turned her back on the seven graves, walking back to her Sisters. They rose to meet her.
"We know," Luna choked.
"You must do this, Twilight," Celestia said, wiping at her own tears. "You must do this or it will eat you away."
The three Sisters, two of them biological, one through honour, embraced for what seemed years, but was only a few minutes. Then, they slowly began to walk up to the special room in the tallest tower.
There was only one item of magical jewellery remaining in the chest that had stayed firmly locked for almost two thousand years.
The sparkling golden tiara, gleaming as though somepony had just finished polishing and shining it for hours, was lifted reverently out of the chest by Celestia and Luna, their hooves shaking slightly as they held it up to Twilight. Underneath the large magenta stone of Magic were five smaller gemstones.
The ruby of Loyalty, shaped like a lightning bolt.
The delicate-looking butterfly-shaped pink diamond of Kindness.
A happy-looking balloon, the glowing tourmaline of Laughter.
The warm, welcoming apple-shaped citrine of Honesty.
And the magnificent diamond-shaped purple sapphire of Generosity.
There were small filigree threads of glowing gold linking each of these gemstones to five of the six points on the star of Magic. The final point held a tiny golden six-pointed star, exactly like her Cutie Mark and the gem of Magic itself.
The Eternal Sisters placed the Element of Harmony on Twilight's lowered head, behind her horn. As Twilight's head came up, Celestia and Luna bowed.
"It suits you," Luna said.
Twilight smiled. "I'll see you again?"
"Undoubtedly." Celestia looked as if she was about to crack in two from trying not to cry.
After more than two thousand years, the three alicorns found that there was nothing more that needed to be said. There was only time for one more embrace, and then, Twilight stepped to the balcony, opened the doors, spread her wings wide, and lifted off into the night sky.
The stars above her winked out into blackness. The moon faded from view.
Luna's giving me the whole sky to myself.
Thank you, Big Sister.
Once, long ago, she had used her phenomenal magical ability, channeled and amplified immeasurably through the Elements of Harmony, to destroy something that could not be destroyed, to kill something that could not be killed.
On this night, two thousand years later to the hour, she would do so again.
The six jewels set into the Element of Harmony blazed bright magenta and purple and pink and red and blue and orange. Memories of her very best friends strengthened the coming spell beyond estimation.
Magical spells all over Equestria sputtered and flickered. Unicorns dropped the things they were levitating as their powers seemed to briefly falter. Magically-kindled candles and fires went out. Magically-locked doors sprung open. Magically-powered clocks ran backwards as Twilight Sparkle, now high over the capital and still rapidly climbing, gathered all of the magic in the world for her spell. And far below her, gazing skywards from a balcony in Ponytopia, the magnificent forms of two regal alicorns shimmered and wavered, briefly showing two small winged unicorns in their places, a white one with a curly pink and green mane, and a slightly-younger one whose sky-blue hair set off her coat of midnight. Tears were streaming down each small, childlike face.
Causing ethereal ripples all over the world, the most powerful spell ever cast flowed from the mind of Twilight Sparkle and into her rightful crown.
Her horn cracked in a spiral, right along the mother-of-pearl fluting. She didn't object, she didn't complain, she didn't fight as the magic burned away her indestructible flesh and bones. She wanted to go. The sun seemed to be momentarily aloft in the night-time sky as the Element of Harmony detonated.
I'm coming, girls...
With a vast rippling crack of multihued light, like a massive spherical rainbow exploding high in the otherwise empty night sky, Twilight Sparkle died.
The sun didn't come up that morning. It sat just below the horizon, brightening the edge of the sky, but not itself peeking above the edge of the world. The moon had just set, leaving a faint silver glow on the horizon, but the stars burned above, far brighter than usual. For seven days, the enormous ball of warmth and light slowly moved around the horizon, always staying just out of sight, while the stars remained perfectly still overhead. A gloriously melancholy display of midnight black with blazing points of light above, and red, gold, purple and blue streamers of the coming or leaving day around half of the horizon, counterpointed by a shimmering silver hint of the moon directly opposite. An entire week of unchanging star-strewn dawn and dusk in memory of her.
Seven days of sparkling twilight.
And then, the stars went in, and the sun came up.
The start of another brand-new day.
The sunlight revealed an eighth stone erected to the right-most side of the line in the Royal Memorial Garden. A large marble cylinder, slanted at the top, with an inset six-pointed star carved in the face, surrounded by five smaller stars. The small brass plaque in the middle of the pillar was newly-made.
HER ROYAL HIGHNESS
PRINCESS TWILIGHT SPARKLE
Master Of The Element Of
Bearer Of The Element Of
Died Aged 2019
Friendship Could Not Make It All Complete
But Magic Found A Way
She gently touched the ground. Warm, green, luscious grass, thick and soft underhoof. She didn't look up for the moment. There had never been such perfect grass, not anywhere. Not ever.
The light filtering down was so comfortable on her hide. It was just perfect. She breathed in deeply through her nostrils, held her breath for a moment, and then exhaled. The air. The air was perfect.
Suddenly, a confident, laid-back, incredibly-familiar voice sounded just in front of her. The voice, too, was just perfect.
"Well there y'are, sugarcube. Took ya' long enough! We was gettin' tired a' waitin' fer ya!"
She looked up, just as another voice cried "Momma! You're here!"
They were all beaming at her. All of them.
With tears of joy in her eyes, she smiled back.
She wasn't at all surprised to see that Pinkie Pie had thrown her a party.